GOP politics take factious turn in Bridgewater
Published 12:35 pm, Thursday, June 7, 2012
In a letter to the editor this week, nine disgruntled Republicans cite Mr. Bandler for leading a climate of "exclusion" and "continued pattern of a lack of transparency" in the RTC's dealings.
The final straw, they say, was being asked to leave an RTC special meeting May 29 when an executive session was called.
They complain the executive session was improperly warned and was "unwarranted" -- called to specifically exclude them from the proceedings.
"There's a different set of policies for those who agree with Ned Bandler and those who don't agree with him," said Tom Seger, son-in-law to Democratic First Selectman Bill Stuart and a Republican who signed the letter.
Mr. Bandler denied the charges Tuesday. He said the May 29 special meeting had been properly noticed and political party committees are exempt from Freedom of Information statutes, making the late agenda change acceptable.
Mr. Bandler noted a January 1976 FOI Commission decision. He added anyone unhappy with a caucus election could petition, which no one did this January.
"The concept that an independent RTC that challenges some of the imperfections of the current town government is attacking the first selectman is unfounded," said Mr. Bandler.
Inclusion versus exclusion from the RTC has become "whether you want to attack Bill Stuart and not about what's right for the party," countered Mr. Seger, a former RTC member, alleging Mr. Bandler "has stacked the nominations committee to control who can be on the RTC."
Mr. Bandler has another perspective.
"We've questioned the lack of checks and balances that should be in place through the oversight of the town treasurer," he said.
He noted Amy Allingham's resignation from the post in 2010 and an interim-treasurer with what he termed "no financial background" then being installed.
Yet Mr. Seger is not alone in his allegations.
Selectman Ed Bennett, who resigned from the RTC and registered as an Independent after the 2009 election, said he lost confidence in the RTC when it "cross-endorsed Democrats over nominating Republicans for seats" in that election.
"I was nominated from the floor at the caucus and unanimously endorsed," said Mr. Bennett, "but my name was not put forward by the RTC nominating committee, nor were some other Republicans names."
"The bone of contention is that I have worked with Bill Stuart in what will be my eight years as a selectman," Mr. Bennett said. "My record shows we have disagreed, but always resolved our differences for the good of the town."
Mr. Bennett added he will run for first selectman in the 2013 election. Bridgewater selectmen have four-year terms.
Mr. Bandler said cross-endorsing an incumbent doing a good job is not unusual. Mr. Bennett's name was not put forward by the RTC nominating committee in 2009 because he did not carry through on his 2005 election year promise to form an ethics committee in the town, Mr. Bandler said.
Mr. Stuart declined to comment, saying he is a Democrat and it is not his place to comment on Republican issues.