Having flaws is part of human nature, how we then handle those flaws when they occur defines our character. As the ranking Democratic Commissioner on the Planning and Zoning Commission, I was previously asked by First Selectman Tim Herbst to be on the bi-partisan interview panel for the Town Planner, I accepted and that went very well.
Additionally, I recently participated in the interview process for the Zoning Enforcement Officer (ZEO) candidates, after the fact it has been made clear to me that there was a flaw in that process. P&Z commissioner Tony Silber brought to light the provisions from both the Town Charter and the Zoning Regulations which clearly state “The Planning and Zoning Commission shall have full authority, at any time, to appoint or re-appoint a Zoning Enforcement Officer, who shall act on behalf of the Commission”; definitive language, that admittedly I had not been aware of, (not having memorized the several hundred pages of rules and regulations).
So, when I was recently asked again by the First Selectman to participate in a bi-partisan interview committee for the ZEO, I was glad to help. I accepted under the assumptive security that with the First Selectman, the Town Attorney, the Town Planner, and the Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission also on the panel, that all necessary procedures were in proper order.
In my subsequent conversation with the First Selectman he explained to me his “legal” interpretation of; a past administration’ err, combined with precedent and the “spirit” of the rule, along with Civil Service requirements, being a sufficient justification for non compliance.
My position in that discussion with Selectman Herbst was that I understood his perspective, but the flaw was in him making the final decision; that having an application and interview process conducted by Civil Service and a bi-partisan committee was fine, but I now understood that the finalist of the applicants should clearly have been brought before the full P&Z Commission for approval and not chosen by Selectman Herbst.
Having been part of the open process, and saw no malice of forethought, I further suggested to Selectman Herbst that he appear before the Planning and Zoning Commission to describe the ZEO hiring process he spearheaded and the err of interpretation. It is now up to the character of the individuals involved to make bi-partisanship work.
Fred Garrity, Jr
Planning and Zoning Commissioner