First Selectman Tim Herbst said he was up front about the risks of the town funding a concert, and rebutted a statement from the Trumbull Democratic Town Committee Thursday.
He said Board of Finance member Andy Palo and Planning and Zoning Commissioner Tony Silber, both democrats, are "concerned about transparency at the same time they have amnesia,” he said.
According to Herbst, “On July 6, 2012 I sent a letter to the Board of Finance and the Town Council articulating the costs and risks associated with the annual Town concert and on July 12, 2012 I asked the Town Council and the Board of Finance to make a policy decision as to whether they wish to continue the tradition of annual Town Concert. Included in my letter was a detailed breakdown of all the costs associated with this event, as well as the number of tickets that would need to be sold to break even.”
In his July 6 letter to both boards, Herbst said, “[e]very person should understand that with these events comes associated costs and liabilities to the Town and those costs and liabilities either increase or decrease depending upon the success or failure of an event. I should also point out that these events are also impacted by weather, which is entirely outside of our control.”
He added that the Town Council "voted to move forward with the concert on a bipartisan basis, with Republicans and Democrats agreeing that the Town should continue the tradition.
"In fact, as early as Sept. 16, 2010, Tom Tesoro, a ranking Democrat on the Board of Finance, said that when it came to the annual town concert, the Board of Finance should be 'a partner with the administration in producing the annual event,'" the release states.
The release then turned to the 2011 municipal election.
“As we saw in the last municipal campaign, Mr. Silber and Mr. Palo were among the principal architects of one of the most mean spirited campaigns in the history of Trumbull politics - - a style that was utterly rejected by the voters,” said RTC Chairman Jack Testani. “It appears the 'Baldwin Democrats' have reared their unpleasant tendencies yet again. They have such revulsion for the administration that they will even throw their fellow Democrats under the bus and misrepresent the facts to try and score political shots.”
He called that democrats' statement that "$77,000 of taxpayer money was lost on the concert" an "absolute lie."
Some $54,000 of non-taxpayer funds, the result of net profit revenues from previous concerts, offset expenses and mitigated the loss to the Town, Herbst maintained.
“First Selectman Herbst made a business decision and if he did not act in the manner that he did, the Town would have lost $150,000-$170,000. We know that Trumbull Democrats didn’t have this concern with previous concerts under the Baldwin Administration because someone else was footing the bill," according to Testani.
The democrats' press release contradicts Palo's statements at the July 12, 2012 Board of Finance meeting, Herbst charged.
“Mr. Palo issues a press release yesterday saying that the Town of Trumbull should not be sponsoring an annual concert and on July 12, 2012 he actually stated on the record that the funding for a Town concert should be included in the annual town budget. I’m perplexed by Mr. Palo’s inconsistent statements.”
The RTC also accused Palo of changing sides, among other things.
"Before Mr. Palo makes a statement, perhaps he should clear it with his alter ego.” Chairman Testani alluded to the fact that Palo’s latest flip flop is part of a larger pattern. “Mr. Palo told everyone as a candidate in 2009 that he was in favor of full day kindergarten. During last year’s budget, he told everyone that he was in favor of it, yet when it came time to fund this important educational initiative, Mr. Palo was the only member of the Board of Finance to vote against funding it,” stated Testani. “Mr. Palo ran for the Board of Finance on a platform of fiscal conservatism and during his tenure on the Board of Finance, he twice opposed the First Selectman’s budget because he wanted to increase spending and taxes at rates higher than what was proposed. These are the facts that Trumbull Democrats don’t want to discuss.”
Chairman Testani went on to state that Trumbull Democrats talk about transparency at the same time they hope Trumbull residents have a poor memory of how the former Democratic First Selectman funded previous summer concerts. “Let us not forget that the Baldwin Democrats, of which Mr. Silber was an effusive cheerleader thought that there was nothing wrong with a $50,000 annual cash loan from a Town contractor - - a loan obligating the Town to a third party without Board of Finance or Town Council approval. This same contractor donated generously to the Baldwin Democrats. This same contractor has received millions of dollars of sewer work over the last decade. Trumbull is now suing this contractor for millions of dollars of damages as the result of defective construction. With Baldwin Democrats, it’s all about do as I say, not as I do.”