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.