SOUTHINGTON – Board of Finance Member John Moise has filed a Freedom of Information complaint about an alleged “secret meeting” involving some members of the town council and calling on those councilors to resign.
“This is about a process and transparency in our local government,” said Moise. “This has nothing to do with the individual, male or female, selected for the position of Southington Town Manager. There are 44,000 residents that live in Southington. The residents and taxpayers have a right to know what is happening with the elected officials and decisions that are being made in public, not behind closed doors under the guise of a ‘candidate meeting.’”
Moise’s complaint was filed Monday in response to Democratic Councilor Chris Palmieri and Republican Councilor Ed Pocock III accusing Republican Councilors Mike Riccio, Tom Lombardi, Paul Champagne and Victoria Triano of meeting and calling Democratic Councilor Dawn Miceli to secure the five votes necessary to ensure that Deputy Town Manager Mark Sciota is appointed as Town Manager. Palmieri and Pocock have said that this was done to ensure that there isn’t an open selection process for Garry Brumback’s successor after he retires in February.
Champagne has denied there being any secret meeting and said that any conversation about Sciota was a “straw poll.” He said that the Republican Town Committee met to discuss campaign strategy and that Pocock and Republican Councilor Cheryl Lounsbury were not invited because they are not running for council this year. He said that Miceli was called because she is a member of UNICO and they had been discussing UNICO’s proposed Christopher Columbus statue.
Moise’s FOI complaint said that the meeting was called by Riccio took place Aug. 1 at 7:30 a.m. in the office of local accountant Michael Fasulo. Moise points out that Republican council candidates William Dziedzic and Peter Santago did not attend. His complaint attests that “these individuals did in fact meet illegally and violated Connecticut General Statues and/or regulations under the FOI Act and by doing so we, along with the population of Southington, have been denied a right guaranteed by the Freedom of Information Act.”
The document goes on to state that Pocock spoke to Lombardi around 5 p.m. Aug. 1, at which point Pocock was informed that Riccio had gathered the five votes to support the immediate hiring of Sciota and “that Mr. Riccio would be cancelling the regular meeting of Aug. 14 so that one of the five who could now attend to make this action occur and that he supported the hiring of Mr. Sciota without a process.”
On Aug. 3, the Aug. 14 meeting was cancelled and rescheduled to Aug. 21 to “accommodate Ms. Triano, yet exclude Mr. Pocock, who would be away but could have attended the Aug. 14 regular meeting date.” The document states that Pocock filed a protest on the rescheduling and that Riccio had not replied.
The FOI document also states that Pocock will testify that he received an email from Triano where she “notes the lack of any misdeeds.” Moise noted that Triano, as a former Council chair, “is acutely aware of what constitutes an illegal meeting and Mr. Pocock’s testimony will produce said email and its erroneous contents to protect Mr. Riccio’s illegal actions.”
Moise said he wants the councilors involved in the alleged meeting to be “held accountable.”
“This has to stop,” he said. “In my mind, the five members involved should resign. The town council is losing the faith of the 44,000 residents of Southington. Government should be an open process.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is the summary of John Moise’s Freedom of Information Complaint:
Moise summarizes his complaint as follows:
“Find that under oath, Mr. Riccio did arrange, deceive, concoct and enact plans to hold such an illegal meeting and carry out activities that would make such illegally discussed matters occur under his authority as Chairman of the Southington Town Council.
Find under oath Ms. Triano’s assertions to Mr. Poccok were a combination of fabrications and omissions designed to deceive Mr. Pocock and that Ms. Miceli was, in fact, called on two issues of concern to the Town Council as an official matter was discussed.
Find that under oath, Ms. Miceli did in fact collaborate with Mr. Riccio, Mr. Champagne, Ms. Triano and Mr. Lombardi to discuss two issues of concern to the town council as an official matter.
Find that under oath Mr. Champagne will affirm his statement concerning Ms. Miceli being called and that he was deceived into believing this was an actual campaign meeting by Mr. Riccio, when, in fact, Mr. Riccio knew about Mr. Brumback’s retirement and schemed to promote his agenda.
Find that under oath, Mr. Lombardi will affirm that such discussions as described herin did take place, to which Ms. Miceli was a participant and that he was deceived into believing this was an actual campaign meeting by Mr. Riccio, when, in fact, Mr. Riccio knew about Mr. Brumback’s retirement and schemed to promote his agenda.
Find that under oath, GOP candidates William Dziedzic and Peter Santago, who are running for Town Council in Mr. Pocock and Ms. Lounsbury’s respective seats, were not invited, nor did they attend, a meeting that was supposedly meant for “campaign” reasons further exposing the scheme.
Find that under oath, Mr. Barry, Mr. Palmieri, Mr. Pocock and Ms. Lounsbury were not party to this illegal meeting or the activities conducted to enact items discussed but will provide information concerning other information that may not be included in this document.
Find that the meeting held Aug. 1 2017 by Mr. Riccio was illegal and in violation of the FOI act and any other applicable general statutes.”