10 thoughts on “‘His Conduct Caused It’: Moynihan Points to Complaints, Issue of ‘Respect’ in Emergency Management Director’s Ouster

  1. Mr. Moynihan and Mr Handler: you are both talented individuals. Like the rest of us, you each have great reason to be stressed. For the good of the town and the 20,000+ people who live here, how about cooling off over the weekend and meeting on Monday to work things out. This shouldn’t be about either one of you. It should be about working out your differences and doing what’s best for New Canaan…which includes reinstating Mr. Handler.

  2. This entire sequence of events smells very much like the outstanding leadership, commitment and communications of volunteer Mike Handler throughout the crisis earned so much praise from the community that it upstaged the career politician, resulting in dismissal on a pretext. What a loss for the people of New Canaan if Mr. Handler is not reinstated.

  3. Sorry, if the Health Department is overworked, get them some help. Don’t peremptorily fire the person who has accurately informed and reassured the community through this and other crises. Mike Handler has earned the trust, respect and gratitude of the town.

  4. Conflict resolution was called for and apparently not used. This is a time when we need talent and leadership. The result is a loss for everyone.

  5. As a longtime CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member who has worked with Mike for many, many hours in the Emergency Operations Center during the many crises we’ve faced in the last 20 years, I want to commend Mike’s leadership, devotion and unpaid service. Mike is the ultimate professional…always listening to others with thoughtfulness and respect. His extraordinary skills will be sorely missed.

  6. Proposed Solutions:

    1. Assuming Stamford Hospital is available & amenable, increase New Canaan Covid19 and immunity testing to at least 5 days/week, preferably 6 days/week. That new test slots open & are filled within a few minutes, indicates persistent HIGH LOCAL DEMAND for tests & testing. We are far from meeting demand; we should do much better.

    Without population-wide testing & test results, we “fly blind”, absent facts. We make decisions based on conjecture, instincts, hunches or pressure from local businesses or interests. We reopen businesses, announce that summer camps will run, etc, but do so without the ability to measure or predict the health risks we impose on the trusting citizens of New Canaan. That is irresponsible management.

    For example, the risk of even one child becoming ill, or worse, dying, from Covid19 contracted (however unwittingly) at one of our delightful summer camps, is a risk far too high to tolerate. A responsible risk mitigation strategy might require all persons involved, counselors, children, management, etc, be tested pre-, during & post camp sessions, w/ daily temperatures taken of all involved, before parents leave when dropping campers off. This strategy alone requires increasing the rate of testing & quicker return of test results.

    The more tests, test results, collection, organization & analysis of test results, the more facts, evidence & knowledge we will possess with which to make informed decisions on statistical health risks involved in any move towards town-wide gradual return to “normalcy.” Though increasing tests, testing, data collection & analysis, requires increasing workloads on those involved in the process, doing so will eventually result in increased skills & efficiency in all the above; this is the basic rule of “economies of scale.”

    2. Immediately hire (or recruit volunteers) appropriately educated or skilled, as support staff for the Health Office & if needed, for the Emergency Management Office.

    Citizens of New Canaan are impressively educated & skilled. An announcement from the town to residents, seeking volunteers with medical, data collection & logistics management experience &/or education, will likely generate offers of short-term, skilled, experienced volunteer help.

    Whether staffed by volunteers, or short-term employees, increasing work loads during crisis periods creates predictable, unreasonable expectations on existing staff, resulting in stressed-out over-burdened staff; that work load & stress MUST be mitigated by additional help. (The increased work load, & resultant stress, is not mitigated by firing beloved volunteers) If no skilled or educated residents volunteer, paid short-term support staff should immediately be recruited & hired.

    Unemployment is staggering, even locally. Many would embrace the opportunity to work in a short-term paid position (how about NCC nursing students?) It is cruel & unreasonable (& quite probably illegal) to expect employees or volunteers to work 7 days a week, 16 hours a day. We are not cruel or unreasonable people.

    3. An important lesson from the federal failure to supply desperately needed support & materials to states, during the C-Virus pandemic, is the need for a thoughtful intelligent emergency plan, by town, and with it, short-term, line-item funding, for emergency management & staff, in our town’s annual budget. If a plan, and funding to enact it, are not already part of our annual budget, they should become so.

    4. Reinstate Mike Handler immediately, if he is willing, with our gratitude & apologies. MH is impressively educated & experienced; he’s been GIVING his skill/education set to the town of New Canaan for a few decades, the last 9 yrs to this office.

    99.9% of responses to the news of Mr. Handler’s “firing,” both here & elsewhere on social media, have been shock, dismay, anger, gratefulness to Mr. Handler, & questioning the wisdom of Moynihan in having impulsively dismissed him. Many question whether Moynihan possesses the authority to act as he has. It appears that Moynihan’s act to remove Handler lacks support of 99.9% of those who have taken the time to publicly post their reactions. Moynihan is an elected official, not a CEO, as he claimed in his statement to the New Canaanite. Barring a town-wide demand of his resignation, or removal from office, we must wait until our next election to vote Moynihan from office. Were Moynihan a CEO, as he alleged, those dissatisfied with his treatment of town employees & volunteers, could demand his immediate dismissal.

    Therefore, I recommend:

    5. The initiation of a non-partisan committee/commission, whose sole purpose is to conduct a careful, thoughtful review of the actions & management of our current first selectman. His recent & abrupt dismissal of a long-time, valued, beloved volunteer is, allegedly, not his first such act, but rather one act, in a string of similar acts. Again, we are not cruel or unreasonable people. Like any other elected official, the first selectman serves the public who elected him. As such, he should incorporate the collective will of the citizenry into every act in, & on behalf of, our government.

  7. Mr. Moynihan alleged that Mike Handler is not a medical person. I beg to differ. Mike has been an Emergency Medical Technician for at least twenty years. This position requires continuing education and relicensing every two years or so. As a member of the NC Ambulance Corps Mike has had training in mass casualties of every kind. As Captain of the Corps he has had to familiarize himself with every possible medical and accidental emergency. He was also responsible for the training of all members, and the planning for natural and man-made disasters. This is a serious position and I am sure he was vetted by the town’s and Corps’ insurers. The Corps is also regulated by the state and must pass rigorous inspections. In his position as Emergency Operations Director he has had more than a passing familiarity with disasters. He must have attended many conferences and seminars to increase his expertise. So he is certainly knowledgeable about the subject. And by the way, EMT’s are used in place of nurses in Norwalk Hospital’s Emergency Department and in many doctor’s offices and hospitals across the country. Mr Moynihan has been acting very Trumpian lately. He should remember that we are all his neighbors, not his subjects and will not take actions like this lightly. I concur with others that an immediate investigation is warranted.

  8. Demanding the resignation of Emergency Management Director during the worst Emergency in living memory, disrespectful, derogatory remarks to the press. Does this behavior pattern seem familiar to anyone?

    This is New Canaan. It would seem that the citizens should be able to expect elected officials to behave in a reasonable manner. Differences between personnel or differences of opinion on policies should be discussed and mediated. No arbitrary decisions would be allowed in personnel matters with union employees. Why should this be an acceptable action when taken on someone who has given twenty years of volunteer time to the town. To those if us on the receiving end of Mr Handler’s efforts it seemed he was doing an outstanding job.

  9. We lost a really good town employee in Mike Handler. What a shame. Apparently Moynihan did not like the spotlight being put on another town employee other than himself. Egos can be very harmful. Fortunately, November is right around the corner.

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