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Losing A Sense Of Transparency

To the Editor:

(The following letter, to the Fairfield Hills Authority, has been received for publication in The Newtown Bee.)

 

Dear All,

I have noticed, and recently mentioned, the FHA’s growing lack of lack of transparency.

The “minutes” of a July 9th meeting of our subcommittee, for example, as delivered and posted, were effectively blank. They mention that the meeting began at 8:30 am, that there was “discussion,” and that, at 9:30 am, those present voted “unanimously,” to adjourn. It was not the fault of the minute-taker. She was doing her job. It is the authority’s new penchant for secrecy — coupled with a reluctance to ask questions or to look at documents closely and to keep accurate records — that accounts, I think, for our “failure” to carry out our mandate and our eagerness to rush into projects that may be briefly profitable to their proposers but will, from beginning to end, cost Newtown taxpayers enormous sums, ruin the campus, and leave our successors with more to clean up and remediate, more expensively and less safely, than what we have now.

The Letter of Intent, from Heroes Villages, is a careless parody of what such a letter should be.

In fact, one of the few specific reports of anything the organization has actually done is an account of East Haven’s rejection of a prior project — not involving a greenhouse, or a restaurant, or a brewery, or a tavern, where “moms and dads can relax after the game” (what game?) The project East Haven rejected was housing, and one of the reasons set forth for that rejection was Village Heroes’ “poor planning and presentation.” Mr St. Lorenzo said the true underlying reason was “racism.”

I wonder what Letter of Intent East haven received. Ours, with its many cobbled-together buzzwords, obliges Newtown taxpayers to take on a huge, immediate expense, for “plumbing, mechanicals,” etc. — right at the start, without any indication what such expenses for a greenhouse, a bar, a restaurant, an “on site” brewery might be. As for the greenhouse (which will, of course, not help “local farmers” but ruin them), when the project fails, as it will (look up “greenhouse,” “hydroponic lettuce,” for that matter “rate of failure for first-year restaurants”), Newtown taxpayers, and the FHA’s successors will bear the responsibility and expense of trying safely to remove the shards of a deserted 80,000 sq. ft. “state of the art” greenhouse.

Meanwhile, among other absurd and overreaching demands, the Letter of Intent requires Newtown to support the proposers in their search for funds, grants and loans.

The FHA voted, 6 to 1, to reserve two buildings, for Heroes Villages’ project (such as it is) for six months — thereby, incidentally, closing out a proposal for one of those buildings by the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission. I abstained.  I should of course have voted No.

Regards,

Renata Adler

Member, Fairfield Hills Authority

198 Hattertown Road, Newtown                                                                                    July 24, 2013

Comments

Are there any guidelines for minutes?

Does any State Agency (FOI, Secretary of State) put out guidelines for what should be included in minutes of public meetings? I too have often seen "XXX was brought up, Motion made by Mr Z, seconded by Ms Y, discussion followed".

I don't think we need to be like The Congressional Record, (a verbatim transcript of everything said on the floor) but we do need more information and when correspondence s referenced it should be included as a supporting document.

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