Selectmen Devereaux and Williams Thank Mike Handler for Years of Effective Community Service

Print More

Selectmen Kit Devereaux and Nick Williams on Tuesday thanked New Canaan’s recently ousted emergency management director for his years of effective volunteer work on behalf of the community.

Mike Handler. Credit: Michael Dinan

Citing a petition that has garnered more than 1,800 signatures calling for Mike Handler’s reinstatement, Devereaux during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen said he’s owed “a huge ‘thank you’ for the years of service that he volunteered to our community.”

“Mike’s was a voice we heard over the years during times of emergency and he diligently and clearly and eloquently kept us informed and calm,” Devereaux said during the meeting, held via videoconference. “In my opinion, New Canaan should be celebrating the years of volunteer work that Mike gifted our town and for his dedication to our wellbeing. And whatever the misunderstanding that caused this event, it should not keep the town from acknowledging MH’s long and effective volunteer service to the community. I don’t think he has been thanked.”

The comments came during a general discussion of matters before the town.

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said, “I have already made my statement about the circumstances, Mike knows why he resigned and I think Nick knows why he resigned. I did thank Mike for his service.”

Moynihan referred to a statement he issued June 3 after news that he’d asked for Handler’s resignation leaked. It ended with, “We certainly appreciate Mike’s past service and wish him well.”

Weeks later, it remains unclear why Moynihan asked him to resign, though  Handler called the first selectman’s allegations—that Handler’s own “conduct” had brought on the request for his resignation, that there was an issue of “respect” and that complaints regarding Handler had come in for an extended period of time, from health officials and others—“hurtful and baseless” lies. 

Longtime colleagues of Handler with the Office of Emergency Management have called him professional and respectful.

Williams spoke publicly about Handler’s ouster for the first time, calling him “a great asset to the town of New Canaan” who “has been an outstanding director of emergency management.”

“The use of Facebook during storms to convey and collect pertinent real-time safety information is just one example of his wisdom and his innovative spirit,” Williams said. 

He added, “Yes, I am uncomfortable with the circumstances surrounding Mike’s resignation, as many of us are. Our first selectman is on the record as saying it wasn’t policy differences but rather other interpersonal issues that prompted the decision. Having spoken to both individuals on multiple occasions, I believe that to be the case.”

12 thoughts on “Selectmen Devereaux and Williams Thank Mike Handler for Years of Effective Community Service

  1. I believe Mike Handler should be brought back to continue with the amazing service he provided – this time he should be paid.

  2. agreed that Mike should come back and be paid. It is HUGE loss to our community. We would be better off without Moynihan replacing volunteers and the news that they are winding down the EOM while we are still in the midst of a national emergency is a total sham. The CEO needs to go!

    • Disagree. On Tuesday’s town call it was discussed that the Governor is also winding down the EOM to once a week, New Canaan is following a similar process.

  3. We all understand that these are trying times that are exhausting for all. Tempers can fray under the Herculean task presented by the overwhelming Coronavirus pandemic. We, as New Canaanites, are grateful for the dedication of both health care workers and volunteers in mitigating this terrible scourge. This dissension between individuals should never have happened. Why was this not settled with a third party intervention immediately? Instead, our town is embarrassed by wide communication coverage of a distasteful internal struggle culminating in equally distasteful, damaging press release by our first selectman regarding Mr. Handler. We are enjoying a brief respite from the virus. Good time to prepare for the next wave. It is coming. We need all volunteers.
    Iron out the differences, prepare for the next wave, swallow pride, reinstate the popular Mr. Handler and move on.

  4. This is a relatively small issue which has taken an inordinate amount of energy and time that should be spent on getting through the current pandemic-related challenges.
    Whatever occurred is irrelevant at this time. Covid 19 is still a virulent virus. We cannot drop our guard. Mike’s standard for succinct, informative, and calm reporting is the benchmark for emergency updates.
    Why is this still an issue? Look at the comments on the New Canaanite when his dismissal was announced, and 1,800 signatures support his reinstatement as well. Does all this mean nothing? Is there someone, somewhere falling on their sword to also block this reinstatement?

  5. As a psychiatric social worker who has lived in New Canaan for 35 years, I feel gratitude towards Mike and want to express my thanks to him. I hope that he can be reinstated, because in my mind he’s not replaceable by an elected official. Mike’s phone calls have been a rallying point for me for my family and for our wider community through many tough episodes. His calming considerate tone meets us and affirms the best in all of us. The fact that he is not political and his complete lack of self aggrandizement make the messages he delivers soothing and rallying. When every phone in my home rang at 7 PM during the first chapter of a pandemic, I felt cared about. Thank you Mike for conveying confidence and competence to your community. I am hoping that you’ll be reinstated soon, and that the town can find a way to compensate you for your contribution to our well-being.

  6. Do we need to say anymore!!! Get Mike back… he has helped our town thru difficult times and did not deserve the treatment he got.

  7. Thanking Mike Handler for his years of service is inadequate to say the least. Time and again everyone that has worked with Mike speaks to his character, experience and skills over their years of working with him. There seems to be a lack of information from our town administration addressing the concerns of citizens. There has not been community wide forum to ask questions or express views. We, the residents, have been clear that we would like to see Mike to reinstated. Is anyone listening ?

  8. Thank you Kit and Nick for recognizing Mike’s long and valuable service to New Canaan. Mike was amazingly helpful to my family and all of New Canaan during the height of the covid crisis – as well as during previous emergencies. He made us feel part of a connected community that could weather the storm. The right thing to do is bring Mike back as a paid employee.

  9. More and more it seems like the people “running” the town of New Canaan are turning a deaf ear to the voices of the townspeople they represent. It couldn’t be made more transparent that Mike Handler has been exemplary in every regard. He has earned the respect of his peers as well as the confidence and gratitude of the residents he is guardian to. His wisdom and guidance have led us safely through many storms and I hope he will continue to do so.

    Eighteen hundred signatures and numerous positive and passionate reviews. What more needs to be done to have our voices heard?

    My family and I are deeply grateful to Mike Handler who’s swift action, clear thinking and utmost dedication have kept us all safe and well.

    We miss you Mike, and await your return.

  10. Mike Handler is a tremendous resource to the New Canaan community and he should be reinstated immediately. His contributions especially but not only during the pandemic have been invaluable. His mistreatment smacks of petty small town nonsense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *