Selectman Kit Devereaux is urging New Canaan’s highest elected official to allow those attending public meetings to speak on any topic they wish, instead of only those on the agenda.
Given that speakers would be limited in the time they could address the Board of Selectmen, they “should be allowed to speak about items that are of concern to them,” according to Devereaux.
“Not just what’s on the agenda,” she told First Selectman Kevin Moynihan during the most recent meeting of the Board of Selectmen, held July 21 via videoconference.
Moynihan responded, “We are not really a policy board. We make administrative and operational decisions. It’s one thing to make comments to the Town Council…. I think it’s always been this way. Tom?”
He appeared to address Tom Stadler, who has worked as administrative officer to the first selectman through multiple administrations. Stadler did not respond.
The exchange took place during a discussion of general matters before the selectmen, and at one of the final meetings Devereaux will attend as a member of the elected body. She is moving out-of-state later this month.
After Moynihan steered the general discussion in a different direction, Devereaux returned to the topic of public comments.
“I think that a lot of people are interested in having you, in particular, hear what they are feeling and thinking,” she said.
This exchange followed.
Devereaux: And their way to do that would be—
Moynihan: —Kit, I get emails every day. I know what people are thinking. So reiterating in public meeting—
Devereaux: —I think it’s comforting to the public to be able to express.
Moynihan: You want me to publish my emails? I’d be happy to publish all my emails on a website. And you can see what people are concerned bout. They’re all subject to FOIA.
He referred to the Freedom of Information Act.
Moynihan and Devereaux both agreed that they could discuss the matter again at the Aug. 4 Board meeting. (During a committee meeting scheduled for the same time, Moynihan and Selectmen Nick Williams are expected to discuss appointing a successor to Devereaux in the Democrat’s selectman seat—the Democratic Town Committee has suggested former Councilman Kathleen Corbet.)
Devereaux said, “We can talk about this in two weeks, too, but I don’t understand what the resistance to it would be. Why we would not allow people an opportunity to express what they are thinking?”