Charter Revision: Panel Questions Role of First Selectman on Finance Board

A panel charged with studying New Canaan’s governing document is weighing whether to recommend a change that could see some duties removed from the town’s highest elected official with respect to one of its major funding bodies. New Canaan is unique in that members of its Board of Finance are appointed by a group led by the first selectman, who then serves as chairman of that same finance board and, as an ex-officio member, casts tie-breaking votes (and no others), as per the Town Charter. Though no problem has emerged or is expected to develop now, with First Selectman Rob Mallozzi in place, it may pose a problem of “down the road,” Kate Hurlock, a member of the Charter Revision Commission, said at the group’s regular meeting. “It is not an issue now, it’s down the road creating checks and balances so that if there is an appointed board, that there is then a balance on the other side,” Hurlock said during the meeting, held at Town Hall. “If the first selectman is appointing the board then there is a balance on the other side in terms of setting the agenda and voting.”

Members of the commission are charged with studying the Town Charter, with an eye on recommending updates for a town-wide vote on Election Day.

Icon and Inspiration: Lydia Franco O’Neil, At the Store and Behind the Mousse Cake

[This is the third installment in a four-part series “Matriarchs of Main & Elm,” profiling the women behind New Canaan’s great business families.]

Thomas George Franco II—‘Tom,’ as he’s known today on Elm Street, site of the family’s eponymous wine and liquor shop, a fixture of downtown New Canaan for nearly a century—recalls the challenge he faced as a young man in 1975, trying to acclimate back to civilian life upon being discharged from the Army following a three-year tour during the Vietnam War. Fortunately for the newly made U.S. Army veteran, Tom was one of 11 Franco siblings—all students of St. Aloysius School and graduates of New Canaan Public Schools—who knew a remarkable woman named Lydia Franco O’Neil as ‘Aunt Lee.’

At the time, Aunt Lee had a condominium in Florida with her husband, longtime local U.S. Postal Service worker Bill O’Neil, and the plan was for Tom to drive her down to the Sunshine State so that she could have a car there, and he would fly back. “That was the perfect reintroduction back into civilian life,” Tom recalled on a recent evening. “We talked all the way down—about Uncle Bill, the family, what I was going to do now, and just things in general.

Meet the New Canaan Charter Revision Commission


Members of a newly formed commission charged with studying the governing document of New Canaan—with an eye on recommending updates for a town-wide vote on Election Day 2016—on Wednesday voted a former delegate to the state legislature as their chairman. John Hetherington of Valley Road will serve as chairman of the Charter Revision Commission, following a unanimous vote at the group’s first meeting, held at Town Hall. See the gallery above for some background on each of the commission’s 10 members, as they introduced themselves in turn at the meeting. After commissioners been sworn in by Town Clerk Claudia Weber, Town Council Vice Chair addressed the group. Asked during an interview after the meeting about the importance of the task before them, Karl said: “The importance is that these folks who know New Canaan like the back of their hand are going to look at the Charter, the DNA of the town, and review anything that should be changed or revised, and it hasn’t been done in 10 years.”

Commissioners agreed to set a schedule whereby they would meet twice per month with an eye on getting a draft proposal to the Town Council next April.

Did You Hear … ?

It’s Spirit Week at New Canaan High School, and Tuesday was “Costume Day.” The photos above were snapped at ABC House of New Canaan Tuesday morning (thanks, John). ABC House is set to hold its 42 annual fundraiser at the Country Club of New Canaan. The gala will include a live auction and raffle, and will be attended by ABC scholars, their families and host families. Here’s more information on the event and how to get tickets. ***

Boston, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Tulsa, Detroit … New Canaan.