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Odds and Ends

Talk about odds and talk about ends.

Odds:  Michael Bolton Concert Cancelled

Let me first give credit to Mr. Herbst for releasing a press release which didn't try to blame the cancellation on the weather or something else beyond the First Selectman's control.

Now that this concert has been called off, it's time to review this debacle for lessons learned.

First of all, Mr. First Selectman, you owe an apology to Town Council Minority Leader Martha Jancovik-Mark, who appropriately questioned who the performer was before voting on the requested $60,000 appropriation.  You not only refused her request, refused to let the Town Council go into executive session to discuss it, but did so with a snide and disrespectful comment.  This undignified retort was unbecoming a First Selectman in an official meeting of the town's legislative body, and an apology is sorely needed.

Second, the Town Council should NEVER again vote to appropriate $60,000 in taxpayer funds without knowing the name of the performer.

Third, Mr. Herbst said in his statement that the Board of Finance approved the funding for the Michael Bolton concert.  Unfortunately, Mr. Herbst forgot that the Board of Finance voted unanimously, 6-0, against the funding request for this concert.  The Town Council overrode the Board of Finance to approve this.

Fourth, Mr. Herbst stated that he cancelled the concert to avoid the loss of $190,000 in taxpayer funds.  This raises two questions, and both must be answered.  Mr. Herbst, how could a concert lose $190,000 when you only had legislative authority to spend the $58,000 in the concert agency fund, plus the $60,000 appropriated by the Town Council?  By what authority can you contract for potential liabilities that exceed what is in the account and what was appropriated?  What would happen if you presented a bill to the Town Council for an additional $72,000 loss and the Town Council voted against the appropriation?  The second question is:  How much did the concert actually lose this year?

Fifth, you cancelled Trumbull Day, when the only cost to the town the last year it ran was police overtime.  This ended a town tradition that dated back decades, and the loss of the annual fireworks display is terribly missed in Trumbull.  Mr. Herbst, it's time to put Trumbull families first.  There is a lot of support in this town for a town-wide celebration in the vicinity of the Fourth of July that would include fireworks.  If it is within your ability to do so, it's time to reach across the aisle and get bipartisan support for a town-wide event everyone can get behind.  Let's bring back Trumbull Day.

Last, with no disrespect intended for Michael Bolton, I think it would behoove you to leave the selection of performers to others within your administration.  I suggest you delgate this task in the future to Jamie Bratt.

Ends:  President Obama Takes the Lead in the Polls

It's hard to believe that Mitt Romney could run a more incompetent campaign.  He has made the wrong choice or said the wrong thing at virtually every opportunity.  His campaign bungled the schedule for the Republican National Convention, choosing to put 82 year-old Clint Eastwood in primetime on national TV instead of a well made video about Mitt Romney.  Eastwood proceeded to have a debate with an empty chair (and I think the chair won).  Romney then proceeded to give the most important speech of his life, when he accepted the nomination of the Republican Party as their presidential candidate....and didn't mention one word about our 87,000 brave troops in harm's way in Afghanistan. 

Romney and Ryan then did the Sunday talk shows and bungled them as well.  Mitt Romney appeared on Meet the Press, and when asked by David Gregory to name one tax deduction he would eliminate, was unable to do so.  Specifics are not Mr. Romney's forte.

The most embarrassing display was earlier this week, when Mr. Romney was guilty of premature articulation when he issued a statement condemning American foreign policy and a statement issued by our embassy in Cairo while our embassy there and our Consulate in Benghazi, Libya was under attack.  Romney showed little understanding of world affairs, and his remarks were made before he knew what had actually happened.  When he called a press conference for the next morning, he neglected to say anything to commemorate our fallen embassy staff.  Not a word of sympathy to the families, or a word of recognition for their brave service.  Romney demonstrated for every American to see that he's surely not ready to lead this country.  It appears that his campaign is in disarray, and things are falling apart quickly.

Just 52 days until the election.

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HL September 18, 2012 at 12:18 PM
"Mr. Herbst, how could a concert lose $190,000 when you only had legislative authority to spend the $58,000 in the concert agency fund, plus the $60,000 appropriated by the Town Council? By what authority can you contract for potential liabilities that exceed what is in the account and what was appropriated? What would happen if you presented a bill to the Town Council for an additional $72,000 loss and the Town Council voted against the appropriation? The second question is: How much did the concert actually lose this year?" - I think these are all very poignant and fair questions (which may by all means have a valid response). Mr. Kelly, please let us know the answers you get on these.
Roy Fuchs September 19, 2012 at 03:16 PM
First Selectman Herbst deserves kudos for community building with the once and former concert. But brickbats for execution. He never sought community input – no volunteer committee to help select the act, set a summer date, start word of mouth, or work at the event… He never took heed of the BoF’s 6-0 no vote, nor to Ms. Mark’s request, choosing instead to side with his party’s backing on the Town Council. He ended third party funding (by a source willing to take a loss) without a viable alternative and placed $116,487 of taxpayer money at risk. Not a good decision. Even worse, we learn that the town’s potential liability far exceeded any authority the Town Council or BoF had granted. One change that must be made is to form a 501(c)(3), a tax exempt entity enabling individuals and businesses to support such events with tax deductible contributions. Westport's Levitt Pavilion is one. It provides more than 50 summer nights of live entertainment, most free to all. Likewise, the Annual Milford Oyster Festival, a one day happening that draws great crowds. And the Westport BBQ Festival, as Councilman Meisner noted, was funded by the business community. It drew 10,000 people on Saturday. My hope is that next year we have a better thought out, better financed and better managed concert – as a part of Trumbull Day.

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