Trumbull GOP: Dems Have 'Amnesia' Over Bolton Concert

Everyone knew the risks going in, said RTC Chair Jack Testani and First Selectman Tim Herbst.

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.” 

trumbulite09 September 28, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Ouch - Board of Finance where you hurt when the bus ran you over? Why would Testani and Herbst try to blame you when you unanimously voted against the concert? Members of the Town Council that voted for it, your buddy threw you under! Was it worth it?
Tom Kelly September 28, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Fact: No Democrats on the Board of Finance voted for this concert (neither did the Republicans). Fact: Only two Democrats on the TC voted in favor of it. TEN Republicans voted for it. Bipartisan support? Really? Fact: Ms. Jankovic-Mark, Democratic Minority Leader, asked the Town Council to go into executive session to discuss who the perfomer would be. Mr. Herbst refused to name the perfomer, yet he claims to have given enough information to the Town Council. He told Ms. Jankovic-Mark that if she wanted to select the perfomer, she should run for First Selectman. Why did the First Selectman ask the Town Council to gamble with the taxpayer's funds without even telling them who the perfomer was. IMPORTANT FACT: Mr. Herbst says that the money in the concert account was NOT taxpayer funds. About $45,000 of that money was surplus from a prior concert. $12,000 was transferred in from the old Trumbull Day account. If those were not taxpayer funds, whose funds were they, Mr. Herbst? Yours? Absolutely not. The PROFIT from the TRAIN CONCERT belongs to the PEOPLE OF TRUMBULL, Mr. Herbst. No one else. Your statement that they are non-taxpayer funds is very disturbing. Please tell us....whose funds were they, if not taxpayer funds?
Paul G. Littlefield September 28, 2012 at 03:40 PM
As a registered republican in Trumbull, I resent this being characterized as a wholly republican vs democrat issue. There are many republican and unaffiliated voters, I am sure, who were opposed to the scheduling of the MB concert. I have publicly stated my opposition to government being in the "fun" promotion business. It is not the essential business of government to put tax payer funds at risk for concerts, etc. If Trumbull were such a profitable site, then the professional promoters would be all over it. But they aren't. The First Selectman is not being straight forward and forthcoming with the public when he tries to save face with distortions and lies. He needs to be up front with the people of Trumbull and answer Tom Kelly point by point.
Thomas Tesoro September 28, 2012 at 03:48 PM
I am glad Mr. Testani quoted me in his latest statement. I believe the Board of Finance must be a partner with any adminisration when Trumbull Taxpayer money is at stake. That advice was sound when I gave it in 2010 and recent events confirm that it is sound today. Had Mr. Testani and the Republicans listened to me, this current debacle would have been averted. As we now all know, the Board of Finance (BOF) Unanimously voted against funding the concert. Please note, I was not at this particular meeting becuase I was travelling or else I would have joined my colleages in voting no. Also, as Mr. Kelly points out above, any money, no matter the source, that is in Town coffers is TAXPAYER money. To make believe it is something else is simply wrong and misleading. As I said in a differnt comment, now is the time for sober reflection and time to accept responsibility for your own actions not try some weak attempts at deflection or misiformation. Last year's concert would have also been a disaster had not nature intervened and I worry that the Republicans seem unable to learn from their mistakes. We should have events that promote Community spirit and we should work together to achieve that end. That begins by accepting responsibility, learning from past mistakes and reaching out to a broad section of our Community for input and advice. I am glad Mr. Testani and the Republicans remembered my advice, next time they should follow it.
trumbulite09 September 28, 2012 at 04:19 PM
On a serious note. I suggest those Town Council members that voted for this travesty come out with an official mea culpa and distance yourself from these two that cleary will blame anyone for their mistakes. It's amazing how residents can forgive when people are honest. BoF and Town Council members that did the right thing and voted against the concert. Thank you!
Martha Jankovic-Mark September 28, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Mr. Herbst was not interested in there being any transparency in this matter of the summer concert.The BOF and TC were called together to vote on this summer concert in mid-July. As the Democratic Minority Leader on the Council, I moved to go into Executive Session in order for Herbst to reveal to us who he was considering choosing to perform. Since this was an unbudgeted supplemental expenditure, I felt the extra information should be given to aid our decision.The chaos which followed my motion led to it not being seconded nor voted on. Herbst stated to me that we didn't need to know this information because it was his prerogative to choose the performer for the concert. He then rhetorically asked me why I don’t run for first selectman so that I could make such decisions. Mr. Palo’s statements were not inconsistent. At our meeting, he stated that the Town should not be putting on a concert unless the funding for it had been properly included in the annual budget. Palo made similar statements about full day kindergarten. Like many, he simply wanted these initiatives properly funded by budgeting for them. In making these sorts of decisions, taking into account short and long term effects and methods of financing our desires is critically important. He acted prudently. The excessive number of special meetings and supplemental, unbudgeted expenditures requested by the Herbst administration indicates disorganization and bad management of our Town. We need to do better.
TrumbullProgressive September 28, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Jack, you really crack me up. Your posts are always so hilarious. I only stopped laughing when I remembered that you and your clan are running our town right now. How the voters of Trumbull didn't see this train wreck coming is beyond me. Young, ambitious, inexperienced, bullying, arrogant folks in positions of power - what could go wrong?? It is very interesting to see the parallels here with the Romney campaign. When things get tough, they just double down on the lies. Oh and by the way, how many tickets did we really sell for this train wreck. First it was 300 to 400. Then I saw 400 to 700 and then later 700 to 1000. Somebody's nose is getting very long. Pretty soon we will have reached the 4000 to 5000 ticket number we needed to break even and people will wonder why we cancelled the concert at all. Truth and transparency - where art thou?
louis September 28, 2012 at 06:35 PM
"Said I loved you but I lied 'Cause this is more than love I feel inside Said I loved you but I was wrong 'Cause love could never ever feel so strong Said I loved you but I lied With all my soul I've tried in vain How can mere words my heart explain This taste of heaven so deep so true I've found in you" So what are we to believe? Was it the storm last year or the sunny weather this year that caused two cancellations? We might never know if Michael Bolton really was going to perform or did he jilt Quality Street like an impatient lover. Perhaps he stopped returning Tim's calls...'stop calling, stop calling....I don't want to talk anymore......'and perhaps it was too late to get Kenny G....brush yourselves up fellas, there are lots of fish in the sea
Kathleen McGannon September 28, 2012 at 06:52 PM
According to Jack, the "democrats' statement that "$77,000 of taxpayer money was lost on the concert" an "absolute lie." Huh? The money came from the general fund, the concert fund, and the Trumbull Day fund. ALL three belong to the Trumbull taxpayers!!! And the total was $77,000. Whether I take money from the checking account, the savings account, or the family coin jar, I am using my family's money. I don't care what account Tim takes it from, whose money is it if not the taxpayers? I remember a meeting with former FS Ken Halaby concerning the Education budget and and his then Finance Director angrily stated that "she had given us enough money" and we should be happy! Someone shouted at her that it wasn't "her" money to give, it was ours. The meeting degenerated very quickly! People in office must remember that it the taxpayers' money--not their own personal stash! $77,000 would go a long way toward funding much needed improvements!
Thomas Tesoro September 28, 2012 at 07:26 PM
I think the Republicans and Mr. testani in particular need to come clean with the people of Trumbull. Do the Republicans really believe that the funds belong to someone other than the Taxpayer? Who then I would ask? It is disturbing to see this kind of misinformation. Itis even more disturbing to see the distain for the Trumbull Citizen this entire letter displays. Do the Republicans and Mr. Testani think that the voters are so gullible that these weak attempts at distraction and silly finger pointing will be enough to obscure the real issue, that is the gambling with taxpayer funds? Do the Republicans and Mr. Testani believe that trying to cast this Republican fiasco as "bipartisan" when only two Democrats signed onto it is going to fool anyone? I know the people of Trumbull will see right through this and in fact, this letter is a recognition that the people are asking the right questions, namely: Why was the BOF and Council involved only at the last minute? Why was this a Special meeting when this had to be know well in advance? Why was the Republican Town Council so quick to approve this without sufficient information to make this decision? Why did the Republican Leader of the Town Council not go into executive session to discuss the performer when such a discussion was vital to making a decision? Where is the transparency and Community involvement in this process? Why won't they admit the mistake? Enough questions..time for answers!!
Johana September 28, 2012 at 08:15 PM
I wish Mr. Herbst would just admit he made a mistake. This little issue has become huge because he continues to bury the truth and rally supporters to distract from his mistake. How can we now believe him about anything moving forward? Sewers? Magnet School? Trumbull High renovation? Is being unable to admit your wrong an impeachable offense? I know that I have lost faith as he lost his credibility.
louis September 28, 2012 at 08:44 PM
What did the concert planners know and when did they know it? Thus far we have spent 10 million dollars to replace the lockers at the High School, money which in part is bonded and we will have to pay back, $70,000 for a concert which did not happen, taxes going up. There is precedent for automatic removal for misfeasance and malfeasance, even if such a thing is not contained in the charter (state precedence would be sufficient, but a consultation with an outside BPT independent attorney appropriate), but I would not suggest an emotional response. Hearings held before the the council would achieve a finding of fact, they have that authority, then we can talk of such things, but please we must be responsible, fair and objective in such proceedings.
Patty Sheehan September 28, 2012 at 09:46 PM
So the strategy is to attack Mr.Palo (who was one of the BoF members who UNANIMOUSLY voted against the concert) and Mr.Silber in an effort to get the heat off the TC & Administration. Nope...not working....sorryyyyy...... Took a look at the meeting minutes. As far as I could tell from the meeting minutes, those who voted yes to appropriate the money without having all the pertinent information, such as the performer's name, which has resulted in the $73000 loss to the town, are: Suzanne Testani, Jeff Donofrio, Fred Palmieri Jr., Jeffrey Jenkins, Debra Lamberti, Kristy Waizenegger, Ann Marie Evangelista, Chad Ciocci, Mark LeClair, Mike London, Tony Scinto, Thomas Whitmoyer. Martha Jancovic-Mark and Jane Deyoe voted no. Thank You! James Meissner abstained David Pia, Gregg Basbagill, James Blose, Vicki Tesoro and John DelVecchio Jr. were not in attendance. The Chair exercised his right not to vote according to the minutes. At least now folks know who to thank (or not) for wasting their money. Meeting minutes....very interesting....there's a pretty clear indication of Mr. Herbst's enthusiasm for the concert in them. July 12, 2012 minutes can be found on the town website.
TrumbullProgressive September 28, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Since taking office, Mr. Herbst has established a pattern of pushing through his agenda without regard for any decent and his TC majority has show no backbone in standing up to their leadership when legitimate questions should be asked. When speaker after speaker called for a postponement of the sloppily revised Charter Revision, the Republican majority ignored their pleas and voted to accept this flawed document. When 14 out of 16 speakers at the Redistricting public hearing pleaded for the TC to reconsider the radical restructuring of town government in favor of a more modest proposal that would have better satisfied the requirements of the mandated 10-year redistricting, the Republican majority ignored their pleas and all but Mr. Pia voted to adopt this idiotic plan. And now we see once again that the Republican majority rubber stamped another foolhardy plan from the FS and once again we see the town paying the price for their poor judgement. It's time for a change.
Joe Smith September 29, 2012 at 10:28 AM
Jack and his clan running the town? Heaven forbid... have you met the clan? You know what they say about apples and trees....
Joe Smith September 29, 2012 at 10:31 AM
"How can we trust anything you say?" Give me a break. Anyone who ever trusted these hucksters was a dupe to start. How do you know they are lying? Their mouth is moving.
Tim Hendrie September 29, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Herbst recognized the concert had turned into a Boondoggle and he terminated it The difference being previous administrations would have doubled down on stupid.
Jim Flynn September 29, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Mr. Hendrie It was Herbst who doubled down on stupid. First, last year's concert needed a hurricane to avoid a financial meltdown but this year Herbst had no such luck and it cost us, the taxpayers $70K. No boondoggles under Baldwin. Nothing but successful concerts year after year. Your blind devotion to Herbst is clouding your ability to see the truth.
Rick September 29, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Absolutely Jim. Maybe he'll make a good candidate on the reelection ticket for Town Council. Last year's almost concert would have been successful had in not been for the hurricane distraction. It appealed mostly to people in the 25 to 45 year old age group which is large town and concert demographic. And there was no corniness factor. Ray Baldwin was a great guy who picked up after years of neglect and poor planning, especially with the lack of planning for the serious rise in school enrollment that began in the last decade. He was also a community guy which was a natural extension of an experience as a good father and husband. Life experiences that our current 1st Selectman does not have on his personal leadership resume. Community events like the Town Concert and Trumbull Day don't directly benefit him or his career. That's why there will never be any personal accountability and the future looks bleak.
TrumbullProgressive September 29, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Rick, I agree with most of what you said, but last year's concert was heading for ruin also before it was cancelled. Less than 2000 tickets were sold. Nowhere near the breakeven point. While the three groups chosen may have had a following from the younger crowd, most people I talked to had never heard of them. And the cancellation due to the hurricane is very dubious. No one I know ever saw any of the "damage" the FS claimed. It was impossible to get up into the park to see for oneself as the FS made sure the Park Rangers kept the gate closed and the road blocked. Once the park reopened, I never saw any evidence of damage, downed trees or freshly cut tree stumps. If transparency had been desired (which it never is for this administration), then where were the pictures in the Trumbull Times of downed power lines and damage in Indian Ledge Park.
Quaestor September 29, 2012 at 08:21 PM
A cancellation for hurricane is dubious?? For the next time there is a hurricane, I volunteer TrumbullProgessive to stay at the park and monitor the dead fall. Afterwards, if you are able to get up and open the gate, we'll know there was no problem. If not, well, you'll have your proof.
TrumbullProgressive September 29, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Quaestor you're really funny. Thankfully we have something called photography and video tape that can document storm damage after the fact. I believe it is what insurance companies use all the time. Where is the photographic evidence from the town insurance company or from Don Eng or Aaron Leo? Who paid for the clean-up? Did the town spend money to repair the damage? Show me the money. I drove around the park as soon as it was opened and I could see nothing damaged on the main level of the park. The debacle this week shows we can not trust anything this administration is telling us. Of course we should have known that from the very start. That 11.6% tax increase which propelled Mr. Herbst into office was a fiction.
louis September 29, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Look, we can game this all you want, and there are reputations to consider of course. You have to ask yourself this, what is the probability that for two years in a row the public concert was unprofitable, and if that was the reason for the cancelation last year, then we were lied to. There is only one way to discern the truth, but on the macro level, really what the people should be doing is selecting politicians that work for them, not the ones that appease some political faction only concerned with their jobs. Until we get to that point, and its not difficult to see the differences among us, the perhaps a hearing is in order. Were I majority leader on the council, it would my duty and obligation to find the truth, if just to fulfill my oath of office. Now there is a difference between a precautionary cancelation when public safety is concerned, and there were dangerous power lines last year, but the same consistent reasoning was not employed during Halloween, and certainly there is no excuse this year other than mismanagement
Tom Ragonese October 01, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Trumbull Day Funds??? I thought we were led to believe that Trumbull Day was a losing event? Why would it or how could it have accumulated funds? Bring back Trumbull Day!


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