New Canaan’s highest elected official said Thursday that the town had asked its former emergency management director “for weeks” for access to a Facebook page dedicated to the Office of Emergency Management.
Yet the former director—Mike Handler, who resigned June 3 at First Selectman Kevin Moynihan’s request—“told us he didn’t have it,” according to Moynihan.
“And [Wednesday] night we learned that, in fact, his wife had it and has been operating Facebook for him,” Moynihan said during a press briefing held via videoconference. “So we finally had got the credentials to operate the Facebook page.”
Moynihan added, “He was asked for it early early weeks of July he said he didn’t have it.”
Reached by NewCanaanite.com, Handler said in an email, “I have always done my best to help New Canaan in every way possible and always will.”
The OEM Facebook page had been an effective tool in the past for communicating with residents in real-time during weather-related emergencies, as well as the first several weeks of COVID-19. It has more than 3,800 followers. On Thursday afternoon, Handler was still listed in its “About” section as director of emergency management in New Canaan.
Yet he resigned at Moynihan’s request for reasons the first selectman has never made clear, referring only vaguely to an issue of “respect” and Handler’s “conduct.” Handler called the first selectman’s allegations—including that complaints had come in for an extended period of time, from health officials and others—“hurtful and baseless” lies. Longtime colleagues of Handler with the OEM have called him professional and respectful. Hundreds signed a petition calling for Handler’s reinstatement.
It’s unclear what steps town officials took at the time of Handler’s resignation to ensure the town had administrative access to the widely followed OEM Facebook page.
Moynihan said during the briefing that a resident had administrative access to it but that those “privileges were withdrawn.”
Asked why that happened, Moynihan said, “You’d have to ask Mike and his wife.”
The OEM Facebook page started giving its first updates since June 1 around 12 p.m. Thursday, after the press briefing.