The Board of Selectmen at its most recent meeting approved a $26,750 contract with a Bridgeport-based company to replace the fuel dispensing pumps that serve town vehicles.
The Department of Public Works had been looking to budget for the replacement in the next fiscal year, but the pumps are failing now, officials said. “We’ve had to do several patches to get everyone up and running,” Public Works Director Tiger Mann told the selectmen at their regular meeting, held Jan. 3 at Town Hall and via videoconference. “We need to replace them now, so that’s the reason for bringing this forward,” Mann said. “I did have the first selectman, due to the fact that this was of an emergency nature in fact our pumps were down, the first selectman approved the expenditure on Dec.
New Canaan owes a debt of gratitude to Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams for showing real leadership in recent months. What may be mischaracterized by some as political infighting—a series of 2-1 votes with First Selectman Kevin Moynihan in the minority—is, in fact, a sign that our local government is functioning as designed. Though checks and balances are built into the Board of Selectmen as a three-person elected body, putting the single-minded Moynihan in check still takes real fortitude and resolve, especially with a first selectman who has appeared increasingly unstable. We’d seen flashes of Moynihan’s anger and petulance in the past—for example, when he twice physically handled Williams during an October 2021 Board meeting after the latter poked holes in the first selectman’s arguments for building a new police station on a Saxe Middle School playing field, prompting Williams to tell him, “Stop pushing me.” Or the following month, when he denied Corbet’s simple request to move a Board meeting back one day, and—tellingly—described her request as a Code of Ethics violation when, we found out later, he himself was the subject of a newly filed ethics complaint. But it wasn’t until the second half of last year that Corbet and Williams were compelled to consistently manage Moynihan.
In another break with First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams last week voted 2-1 in favor of a new policy that sets out the role of their elected body with respect to the hiring of all town employees.
Drawn up by Corbet after working with municipal staff members and consulting with the town attorney’s firm, the policy formalizes in black and white a policy already on the books New Canaan’s governing documents, the Town Charter and Town Code, and what had been a past practice of the town, she said during the Board of Selectmen’s Jan. 3 meeting.
In short, the policy calls for the full Board to approve all full-time, part-time and seasonal employees of the town.
The process “has not been followed with respect to part-time employees,” Corbet said during the Board’s meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
Under a resolution that Corbet and Williams voted in favor of—and which Moynihan opposed—the selectmen retroactively approved the hiring of 11 part-time and 25 seasonal employees. The part-time employees include a “Waveny wedding coordinator,” part-time town planner and “special projects staff” member, according to a resolution that forms part of Corbet’s Dec. 29 memorandum on the matter, obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a public records request.
Moynihan, in a discussion that grew contentious at times, said he disagreed with Corbet’s interpretation of the Town Code. At issue was the following definition of “Town Employee” as spelled out in Chapter 44 of the document: “Means all salaried officials or employees of the Town whose appointment or dismissal is under the jurisdiction of the Board of Selectmen or the Police Commission.”
According to Moynihan, that definition doesn’t include part-time or seasonal workers.
“You are not an attorney, Kathleen,” Moynihan said.
Citing legal advice from the town attorney’s firm, town officials this week withheld their support for a request for American Rescue Plan Act funds for a local church’s proposed new preschool program.
Pending further information, the Board of Selectmen during its regular meeting declined to move Saint Aloysius School’s request for $150,000 to New Canaan’s two other funding bodies, the Board of Finance and Town Council, effectively stalling it. Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams both spoke favorably of Saint Aloysius’s plans for a new school and “education and faith center” for its downtown campus. “I think it’s terrific in terms of what you plan to do—I saw the whole plans for the campus, it looks great,” Corbet said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “I just wonder—we have not had a chance to talk about it—but there’s a lot of preschools in New Canaan, both commercial and not-for-profit and I am just wondering this is really to my colleagues here whether we ought to be thinking about if there is going to be a distribution from the ARPA funds, whether it’s not more appropriate to consider all of the preschools that we have here in town rather than just singling one out,” Corbet continued.
Williams agreed with Corbet, noting that New Canaan has “a number of preschools in town that have survived COVID and it’s been difficult, so I would want to rethink this and maybe look at supporting more than one particular preschool.”
Addressing the Rev. Rob Kinnally, who presented the ARPA request to the selectmen, Williams added, “The other thing and I have to mention this, Father, and I’m not sure about the law on this with respect to the use of ARPA funds to support educational facilities that encourage or include religious teaching. I think we have a mix in town.
During a tense and highly unusual meeting Tuesday, New Canaan’s highest elected official was outvoted 2-1 by fellow members of the Board of Selectmen, who reappointed a long-serving volunteer on a prominent municipal body. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said he’d spoken two weeks ago with Police Commission Chair Paul Foley, whose most recent term on the appointed body technically ended Dec. 1.
“I have other candidates who want to serve on the Police Commission,” Moynihan said during Tuesday’s selectmen meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “Paul has served well. I asked him to step aside… I just think it’s time, and Paul increasingly spends most of his time in Florida.