First Selectman Kevin Moynihan has unceremoniously cast off a longtime volunteer from the municipal body that oversees off-street parking in New Canaan, according to one of its members.
Moynihan never notified Parking Commissioner Pam Crum that she hadn’t been reappointed to the panel, according to Commissioner Peter Ogilvie.
During the Commission’s regular meeting Jan. 7, Ogilvie said he was “disappointed in the Parking Commission and town government for not having any conversations whatsoever with Pam Crum.”
“This clearly has been in the works for months and she was never notified, she was never told that she was no longer on the Parking Commission until she got email from you just a couple of days ago, Keith,” Ogilvie said during the meeting, held via videoconference. He addressed Chair Keith Richey.
Richey responded that he and Crum began emailing each other in November regarding both of their terms on the Commission.
“And at the time, we were both under the delusion that my term ended this December, or I should say December 2020, and hers ended December 2021,” he said. “And then we both looked at it, and it was like, oh my gosh, and then we had this flip. And then we both reached out to Kevin who was mum about what he was doing with her. And I thought—because I was willing always to resign, part of my charm—and he said no, you know, I’ll leave you on, we’ve got too many Democratic chairmen already of these commissions. So I was good for another year, and I said, what are you going to do about Pam? And he said, well I haven’t decided. And I think he and Pam had had a discussion. It may not have been definitive, let’s just say. And she may have been left hanging in the wind. I agree that’s probably true. But, you know, let’s face it, that happens. But she knew her term was ending on December the first.”
The discussion arose during the Commission’s elections for chair and secretary. Crum, who had served as secretary, often voted differently from Richey, a fellow Republican, when adjudicating parking ticket appeals, and in May raised concerns when he reported to the Commission that four appeals, including one from a New Canaan woman who’d parked in a disabled space, had been granted without input or a vote from the group. During appeals hearings and at other times during Commission meetings, Crum openly voiced concerns about those violating parking rules.
Crum did not attend the meeting.
Moynihan did not attend the meeting, though one of his staff members, Tucker Murphy, did. It appeared that she didn’t record it. (NewCanaanite.com‘s audio recording of the relevant section is embedded below.)
Moynihan during his second term has come under fire for what some have described as mistreatment of community volunteers, most recently in ousting widely respected former Emergency Management Director Mike Handler with vague explanations that Handler himself called lies. In February 2020, longtime Police Commissioner Sperry DeCew resigned in a pointed letter to the first selectman that described Moynihan as having a “puerile, narrow-minded position to have Republicans chair every town committee.” The same month, another appointed town body, the Health & Human Services Commission, saw its Democratic chair and one other member resign amid a change in chairmanship to a Republican.
Ogilvie said he was “disappointed in the Parking Commission and the town of New Canaan” regarding Crum.
“I think it was handled very poorly,” he said.
“I have had a discussion with Pam and she is quite clear-minded and very definitive that she was never told,” Ogilvie said. “And that sort of mistreatment of volunteers and/or employees simply makes running town government more difficult, when you know that you may be abused.”
Richey said in response, “This was something I was aware was coming.”
“Again, I was thinking it was happening in reverse,” Richey said. “But Kevin was pretty honest with her. Ever since he got elected—which goes back to November 2017—that he has been saying that people shouldn’t be serving on commissions for more than 20 years. And I have been telling him for the last two years, if he wants me to resign at any time, I am ready to go. I’ve hit my 20-year mark. I got my expiration date.”
Moynihan and the Board of Selectmen last reappointed Richey in December 2018, municipal records show. He originally was appointed to the Parking Commission in July 1998, according to records on file in the Town Clerk’s office, and has been its chair since March 1999.
In May 2019, NewCanaanite.com in an editorial called for Richey to resign as chair after he menaced the head of the New Canaan Parking Bureau at a public meeting. Richey and Commissioner Jennifer Donovan were elected chair and secretary, respectively, during last week’s meeting. Those voting included both of them as well as Ogilvie and Commissioner Laura Budd. A fifth seat on the Commission that had been held by Democrat Chris Hering has not been filled since his appointment to the Planning & Zoning Commission.