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Trumbull's Tom Kelly Defends Videotaping at Meeting

Kelly serves on the Board of Education.

To the Editor:

On Tuesday, January 29, I went to the Trumbull Housing Authority (THA) public meeting at Stern Village.  I attended this meeting, along with a number of other Democratic elected officials, in order to show support for the residents of Stern Village, who have seen an entirely new THA appointed over the past month.  Three of the new THA Commissioners are Republican insiders, two are members of the Trumbull Republican Town Committee, leaving the THA without even one Commissioner with historical perspective or experience.

I brought my camcorder and I shot three short videos of this public meeting.  It is important to note that Connecticut State Law expressly ALLOWS the videotaping of a public meeting.  I put the videos on YouTube so that Trumbull residents could get a flavor for the way the THA is running things at Stern Village.

After I posted these videos, I was contacted by Mrs. Deborah Herbst via email, stating that if I didn’t take down the video, she would contact her attorney.  I politely replied that I had every right to tape a public meeting.  Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by her husband, Mr. Michael Herbst, who told me that he was going to contact the Police.  Again, I politely told him that it is perfectly legal to videotape a public meeting.  Meanwhile, Deborah Herbst, Michael Herbst, and First Selectman Timothy Herbst, all contacted Trumbull Times Editor Donald Eng, demanding that he take the videos down from Trumbull Chat, which is moderated by the Trumbull Times.

It would seem to me that Trumbull’s First Family should be standing up for transparency, and diligently defending the rights of citizens to see a public meeting.  It is shocking to me that instead, they demand that clips from a public meeting be removed.  Mr. Herbst is the top elected official in our town, and he should defend the laws of our State, which expressly allow videotaping of all meetings.  Why would he demand that the video not be seen by the public?  What is going on at Stern Village that Mr. Herbst doesn’t want anyone to see?  What is he trying to hide?

I applaud Don Eng and the owners of the Trumbull Times for not capitulating to demands to take this video down.  I also agree with the Times’ editorial last week. I believe Mr. Herbst should be focused on more important matters than trying to squash the tape of a public meeting.

Some local Republicans have since been throwing around terms like cyber-liber, cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking, apparently without regard to the legal definition of these terms.  In my opinion, nothing in those videos could possibly be construed as anything other than the taping of a public meeting.

What is currently going on at Stern Village is very important to all the folks who live there.  I hope that Mr. Herbst will listen to what the residents have to say, and stop trying to keep this issue out of the public eye.

Thomas Kelly

Joey Jabone February 17, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Just curious why a video tape machine brought in the first place thanks Joey
Tom Kelly February 17, 2013 at 02:16 AM
Easiest question of the night. I knew the meeting wasn't going to be on Channel 17/99 Trumbull Community Television and we wanted to preserve the highlights so that the people of Trumbull can see what is going on. Anything wrong with that?
Joey Jabone February 17, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Oh - sorry I didn't realize you work for channel 17 Thanks Joey
Tom Kelly February 17, 2013 at 03:47 AM
Joey-taking video of public events when no other cameras are going to be there has been going on in local politics for a long time. Everytime Tom Christiano runs for office, a youtube video shot by the local Republican party at a public event surfaces and is put up on mulitple Facebook and local social media by one of the Trumbull Republicans. I guess it's ok with them as long as it's them on the other side of the camera shooting the video. But when they are taped at a public meeting, they object, because they don't want the public to see how they act at meetings. And yes, I am on the Trumbull Community Television Channel 17/99 Commission....any input you have on our local TV station is welcome...
Sad Dem February 17, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Poor, poor Mr. Kelly. Your so sad. You and hudak are like two peas in a pod. You have an unhealthy obsession with the fs. This is a fact and you have proven that over the last few years. Noone cares if you you videotape a meeting. Bring Scorsese in next time. It was the implication of some type of conspiracy you tried to portray. You know what you did. Stop trying to be cute. Mrs. Herbst is clearly telling the attorney that you were videotaping her. I, and most people, would find it bizarre if someone was videotaping me. Your latest pathetic attempt for attention and destructiveness was extremely transparent. Your beef is with the fs, not his family. How would you like it if someone did something to your family? Think hard about that? You spend the majority of your days writing and blogging about Tim Herbst. Is that even healthy? If you are so smart and seem to have all the answers to the towns problems, why dont you run against him? And you do have an answer for every problem, i ve read your posts. Dont say its a time issue your blogging day and night. Lastly, you have the right to your opinions as does every American. Although I disagree withmost of them I do find one specific thing offensive. You like to describe yourself as a Christian. Which i hope you are, but you wordsand actions are not of that. Good luck to you. Im getting ready for Church
Emily P. February 17, 2013 at 03:24 PM
I have never found anything Mr. Kelly, or Mr. Tesoro for that matter, offensive, caustic, distorted or attacking. Their opinion happens to be based on their observations and they feel that they need to inform the public of what appears to be secretive, manipulative, and vastly different than what is being portrayed in newspapers. Why are so people afraid of those expressing dissenting opinions? This isn't Nazi Germany is it?
Tom Kelly February 17, 2013 at 04:45 PM
I wasn't taping Mrs. Herbst. I had no idea she would even be at the meeting. The only reason she appears on camera at all is that she sat so close to the table where the Commissioners sat, and she got up from her chair and interacted with the THA's attorney DURING the middle of the meeting. Every single person who has viewed that videotape, except apparently a select few, agree that it is benign. Don Eng told me that it was the most boring video (all 65 seconds of it) that he's ever seen on YouTube. As for my posting schedule, I used to post a lot more when Baldwin was First Selectman. Ironically, "Sad Dem," I was praised by the Republicans then, and no one accused me of having an obsession with First Selectman Baldwin. None of the folks that currently personally attack me had anything but the highest praise until I had the audacity to comment about them. Personally, I think it would be in everyone's best interest to talk about issues, and refrain from personal attacks. The current attacks on Carol Hudak are beyond the pale. This is a woman of tremendous character and charity. Why don't you do me a favor and if you must attack someone personally, direct it at me. Leave this good and decent person alone. Thank you.
celtictee February 17, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Mr. Kelly please just ignore "Sad Dem" and other posters like him/her. The number of people who are seeing the light expands exponentially relative to the number of people who are stepped on and abused by our "administration." Very sad that many people are oblivious to their rights, to the rules governing committees and governmental groups. Emily P is right, this isn't Nazi Germany. Funny thing is that before Hitler rose to (abusive) power he was viewed by most as a charismatic new leader type who would bring Germany prosperity and power. It only takes a small group of fanatics to control the masses.
Bruce B. February 17, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Recording a public meeting is okay if that's what you wish to do. But, please record and post the whole meeting, not just the parts you like or don't like. That allows people to form their own opinions without prejudice or bias.
Sad Dem February 18, 2013 at 02:59 AM
Really? Thats it? I must have really hit a vein with you. I would never want to hurt anyone, especially over small town politics. I truly apologize if i said anything to hurt ms. Hudak. As far as my comments towards you, i believe every single word i said. I also feel in your heart of hearts i spoke some truth
MAC February 19, 2013 at 07:19 AM
Speaking of "charismatic new leader," how do you feel about your "American Idol" would-be dictator president, and his "administration?" Oh, let me guess--you probably defend him and see nothing wrong with his incompetence at foreign relations and protecting American lives, such as in Benghazi, or his coldness and lack of concern over 4 American deaths there, including his ambassador. To him, it was a result "less than optimum."
DS February 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM
WHO CARES !!! Screw Stern Village.... Trumbull has a lot more issues to worry about.
John Belsky February 19, 2013 at 12:49 PM
I think videotaping a woman by a man is creepy and to some can be viewed as a form of Voyeurism. There are so many ways to capture the essense of petty small town polics without a video camera. Futhermore, they then get posted on the internet. DS is right-WHO CARES!
Tom Kelly February 19, 2013 at 12:58 PM
A form of voyeurism when the taping occurred in front of a room full of 80 people, including the Editor of the Patch and the Trumbull Times? Videotapes are taken at most public meetings. Allowing the public to see a public meeting is not voyeurism. I believe that the local Republicans just don't want anyone to see how they are running these meetings. My recommendation is for the residents of Stern Village to immediately contact their State Senator, Anthony Musto, and their STATE Representative, David Rutigliano. I also urge them to contact STATE Representative Tony Hwang. I believe all three of these elected officials will be responsive to their concerns and WILL NOT play party politics! They will also put their STATE responsibilities ahead of local partisan interests, including the whimsy of Trumbull's First Selectman. I urge them to invite them to a future meeting. And while I cannot speak for them, I believe they will come. Additionally, I would urge them to contact Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, Attorney General George Jepsen, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Secretary of State Denise Merrill, and Treasurer Denise Nappier. I would invite them to come to a meeting to see first hand how local politics have impacted a state housing authority. Maybe the Governor will come to one of their meetings. Last but not least, please contact Congressman Jim Himes. He is very popular here in Trumbull, and I believe he will be responsive to your concerns.
John Belsky February 19, 2013 at 01:19 PM
There has to be a beter way to capture the essence of small town politics. A man videotaping a women is some eyes is a personal violation and can be construed as lewd. There are minutes and processes to capture what is happening. I find it invasive.
Tom Kelly February 19, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Nothing in that 65 second video can possibly be construed as lewd by anyone. To suggest that women should be exempt from being videotaped at a public meeting in which they are participating is actually a very sexist statement, and most women in politics would be outraged by that. This is just another red herring to try to distract from the horrible way this entire Stern Village matter has been handled by Mr. Herbst. I think it's time to alert the state officials as to what is going on here.
John Belsky February 19, 2013 at 01:52 PM
Video tape the whole meeting. However, your essentric focus is on one woman. Public access videotapes your meetings, but does not focus on one person, man or woman. I think you are hiding behind the lens of personal vendetta.
bsg February 19, 2013 at 02:27 PM
It was creepy. I saw the video and you followed this woman across the room. There was no question in my mind you were targeting her. I also heard you say 'this is good stuff" as you were filming her. And you sir see nothing wrong with that behavior. .
John Belsky February 19, 2013 at 03:23 PM
If in fact that was heard on the video tape and can be documented, it should be brought to the same authorities (state, local and federal) and be offered as evidence to remove him from public office.
jg February 19, 2013 at 05:39 PM
The videos of the meeting that were posted on YouTube also included a segment of the chairman, so the recording was not just of Mrs. Herbst. It only followed her (probably about 5' so hardly "across the room") when she inappropriately got up to speak with the THA attorney during the meeting. That was not the first time she stepped out of line as she also walked over and whispered something to the chairman during the meeting - so it would be perfectly rational to follow her and get a shot of her subsequent interference. Mrs. Herbst had no official role at that meeting so she should not have been permitted access to the board or its staff that had previously been explicitly denied to the public by the chairman.
John Belsky February 19, 2013 at 06:17 PM
I have not viewed the video and it is not available from what i can telll. However, if a female feels threatened by unwelcomed communicsation or the such, then there is a real problem.
Jim Flynn February 19, 2013 at 08:26 PM
So this is the Herbst line of counterattack. Pathetic!!
jg February 19, 2013 at 08:37 PM
That female has served alongside Mr. Kelly on the BoE for more than 3 years. It's hardly credible that she considers him to be a personal threat. Furthermore, I doubt the male chairman that was also filmed and posted to YouTube considers him much of a threat either. More likely, she felt threatened by the fact that she was caught interfering with a meeting whose intent was to buy out the existing director with a few months left on his contract. To top it off the job was then given to an associate of hers (who also just happened to be at the January meeting) with absolutely no experience in facilities or housing management.
Tom Kelly February 19, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Mr. Belsky says he has not seen the videos, but he feels he is qualified to comment on them and about me without seeing them? That doesn't sound very credible. Forming an opinion based on hearsay....not very American. The focus is not on one person, at all, it's on the meeting. I am not even going to defend myself from these ridiculous statements. I believe that some folks are trying to distract Trumbull residents from inquiring further about what's going on at Stern Village. I will let the people of Trumbull decide for themselves about these short videos, which I think are benign and innocuous. See for yourself, here they are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G919uyr5Q0c http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfSLSqWRc1g http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKhiUNmLQCE And here's a youtube video of my dog for anyone who wants to see him...His name is Kramer and thus far, he hasn't threatened to sue me or take police action for posting his video. He's a good boy! You will also notice that my dog is licensed each year at the Town Clerk's office as required by law and she's never had to call me to remind me to renew it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVxQ1ObLPmM
Kathleen McGannon February 19, 2013 at 10:30 PM
Will Mr. Belsky feel better that I video taped the next meeting? Or, because I taped Mr. Littlefield and Mr. Friedson, is that "creepy" as well? Mr. Kelly, from now on, you tape the guys and I'll tape the gals (or girls, women, ladies, fairer sex. Not sure what the proper term should be). That should make Mr. Belsky feel better. This is pure nonsense, meant to distract readers from the real problem here.
Sad Dem February 19, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Pathetic? Who's the pathetic one. A guy who videotapes a meeting in attempt to hurt someone who he worked along side of for years. Just because he has an unhealthy obsession with her son. R U KIDDING ME? The fact is this, the democratic party in this town is on it's last leg. When Herbst wins this election, it's game over.
jg February 20, 2013 at 05:07 AM
The "this is good stuff" is in the second video when the camera wasn't on Mrs. Herbst (she's only seen in short periods in that video, mostly in the background). At the time, the THA was running around like the Keystone Cops trying to find a room for exec session after originally proposing that a room full of senior citizens be forced into the cold so they could have the space to themselves. It was the THA's embarrassing performance that was the "good stuff." In fact, the chairman returned to the room seconds later in the video to announce a change in plans. So much for bsg's credibility and you might want to actually watch the videos before proposing ridiculous actions in response.
Rizzo February 28, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Tom Kelly: Trumbull's very own Helen Thomas
joseph goebbels February 28, 2013 at 06:29 PM
Tom Kelly - Town agitator. Get a hobby....please.
raymond jaroszewski March 01, 2013 at 12:50 AM
joseph goebbels ???...... is that your real name?

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