To The Editor:
The first time I had heard that the mayor was considering such a committee was from this article. As a planning and zoning commissioner, I should have been made aware of this by well before the announcement. By charter, there is already an existing Harbor Review Committee and the question as to why a second "task force" or essentially a committee is needed should be questioned.
Immediately after reading the Courant article, I submitted my name to the mayor and asked to be considered for the committee as a representative from the P&Z Commission. I believe my training in architecture, planning, historic preservation, and sustainability could be useful.
Because I work in the planning and architecture field for a living, I was volunteering my skills as a professional out of my dedication to Middletown. I only received an answer three days later, after a second request, from the mayor's assistant that my request was received and being reviewed.
This was all ruse. The mayor had already chosen the committee by the time the Courant published the article asking for volunteers.
The problem I have is not that I was not considered, it is moreso none of my Republican colleagues on Planning and Zoning, who have more than 30 years
combined experience on Planning and Zoning, were not chosen — a wealth of knowledge that is being wasted.
Equally as troubling is that the only minority representation on the whole seven-person committee is a single council member.
Furthermore, Mayor Drew neglected to choose to add the Harbor Master, any representatives from Harbor Improvement committee, Design Review and Historic Preservation, the Conservation Commission, or most importantly, the public.
As commissioner, and a tax-paying citizen of Middletown, I am disappointed that the mayor is once again playing politics when choosing committee members to make crucial decisions about Middletown.
When people go to the City of Middletown website, there is no indication of what committees are open. When I have asked the Council Clerk for a list of open committee seats, I have only been given the runaround. I have asked to be a part of other committees, only to receive no answer to my request.
Despite this mayor's mandate for evening meetings, committees regularly meet during workday hours and not always at public locations. This is disturbing because the transparency of such committees is then an illusion because they are purposely inconvenient to the majority of full-time working citizens who are entitled to access to their government.
At the last P&Z meeting, we were informed that the Midstate Regional Planning Committee which comprises various towns, was being dissolved and transformed into the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments. Middletown needs to send a representative from the commission and an alternate.
Commissioner Michael Johnson (D) has been the representative for the past four years. Yet, attendance to P&Z meetings is rare because of his job as a lobbyist in Hartford. Commissioner Fazzino nominated me to be the new Middletown representative to replace Johnson.
He felt my professional background in architecture and planning would serve Middletown well.
Again, at the meeting, Johnson was not present. The vote was taken, and the Democrats voted along party lines to keep Johnson as the representative, and offered me to be alternate. Johnson has never in my history on P&Z or before my time provided the commission with any reports about what goes on at these monthly meetings, or comment on his ability to attend.
Citizens concerned with Middletown being adequately represented at this important board should direct questions to Johnson.
If this mayor and the Democratic majority keep choosing the same people to make decisions, and acquiesce to the same desires of those chosen, we as citizens will only be burdened with the same mediocre results that stagnate us as a community.
Molly Salafia, Assoc. AIA, LEED GA, Planning and Zoning Commissioner, (R), Middletown