‘She Was Never Notified’: Longtime Parking Commissioner Out

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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.

4 thoughts on “‘She Was Never Notified’: Longtime Parking Commissioner Out

  1. So Kevin says: “…we’ve got too many Democratic chairmen already of these commissions.” Really?! But then, when I ran for First Selectman I repeatedly heard ‘I would vote for you, if, you were a Republican.’ We have too much party loyalty and party entitlement over character and qualifications, not just in Washington DC but right here in New Canaan.

  2. When it comes time for the town charter to updated, I strongly urge us all to revisit the process of elected officials and appointments. Here are some examples from neighboring towns: Darien and Westport requires P&Z members to run for office. In Darien and Wilton there are 5 selectman which allows both parties to more actively participate in government. It is clear we need to make some changes. Lets have these Commissions reflect all of our views instead of a single individual or party and move forward with a more balanced and equal government including term limits.

    • Couple things here. First, some municipal bodies derive their authority from local ordinance (the Charter and Town Code) while others are empowered by state law. The Parking Commission falls into the latter category. And under state law, only the head of a town appoints members of a Parking Commission, though it long has been New Canaan’s practice to have the full Board of Selectmen vote on appointments and re-appointments. In this case, the selectmen approved Jennifer Donovan’s appointment to the Parking Commission Dec. 15 in voting once on a larger slate and without reading out the names of the appointees. In addition, the agenda did not indicate whose seat she was moving into (as it sometimes does, “appoint person X replacing person Y for a Z-year term” etc.), and as noted, there already was an open seat on Parking with Chris Hering moving to P&Z (in fact, his appointment to that body was made in the same vote). It goes without saying, none of this falls on Donovan herself—as you hear Commissioner Peter Ogilvie say at the start of the recording embedded above, the Commission welcomes her with open arms. To your point about processes: One thing you sometimes hear at public meetings from those who volunteer on New Canaan’s municipal boards and commissions is that they read about being reappointed for three-year terms without realizing it happened. I imagine the same thing can happen when you are not reappointed, and may have happened here had the chair not reached out to this commissioner ahead of Thursday’s meeting.

      • Thanks Mike. It would help if we had 5 select people voting instead of just 3 on state appointments that would allow more dialog and reduce one party dominating the selection.

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