Moynihan: Emergency Management Director Out After ‘Disagreement’ Over COVID Testing [UPDATED]

Update 9:45 p.m. Wednesday 

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan late Wednesday issued a statement regarding his request that Mike Handler resign as director of emergency management. According to the statement (printed in full below), Handler’s “role as EMD was to coordinate and communicate as the ‘voice’ of the EOC [Emergency Operations Center], but not as the ultimate decision maker.”

“Throughout any crisis, and especially during this pandemic emergency, decisions must be made after thoughtful and respectful discussion and debate,” Moynihan said in the statement. “While all of this coordination may have appeared seamless to the greater community, regrettably, recent circumstances have required me to make this change in staffing.”

Update 12:45 p.m. Wednesday 

Mike Handler issued the following statement via email: “There are so many reasons why I love to call New Canaan home, and why I have spent over 20 years volunteering for our town — the last 9 years as Emergency Management Director. I have always promised that I would only do what is in the best interest of the people of New Canaan. This promise is one that I am unable to keep under Mr. Moynihan.

VIDEO: Emergency Responders Roll Out ‘Happy Birthday’ Drive-By’s for Local Kids

Happy Birthday Valentina Chavez Del Campo

On April 20, 2020, members of New Canaan Police, Fire, EMS and Public Works with a Happy Birthday Valentina Chavez Del Campo, age 6. Credit: Michael Dinan

Members of New Canaan Fire, Police, EMS and Public Works on Monday morning sounded their sirens and honked their big horns from emergency vehicles for six elementary school kids on their birthdays. As part of a newly launched birthday celebration effort, the row of public safety vehicles rolled slowly past East School kindergartner Valentina Chavez Del Campo’s home on Cross Street at 10:16 a.m. She appeared in the doorway with her family just as EMTs began serenading her with the “Happy Birthday” song, waving back. Neighbors emerged from their own homes to see what was happening and, on realizing their young neighbor had a birthday, called out “happy birthday,” too. “It’s the least we could do to brighten the spirits of kids in town, and everybody in town, and show people we are still here and there are still positives going on in town that we can collectively celebrate,” said Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico. Others receiving the special birthday salutes Monday included South School kindergartner Alice Duan (six), East School fourth-grader Theodore Pemberton (10), East School kindergartner Spencer Weiner (six), West School third-garden Brady Hibbert (nine) and West School third-grader Jacob Fisher (nine). 

The idea was shared by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bryan Luizzi during a recent daily call of emergency operations officials, DiFederico said. 

More celebrations are planned for the 10 a.m. hour.

Police: Jeep Reported Stolen from Thurton Drive Home

Police say an SUV was reported stolen from the driveway of a New Canaan home before dawn Friday. The 2013 Jeep Cherokee stolen from a Thurton Drive home was unlocked with the keys inside, Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said in a press release. 

The theft was reported at 2:35 a.m., he said. “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, criminal gangs are active throughout Fairfield County,” Krolikowski said in the release. He added that the criminals “don’t work from home.”

He referred to a practice now typical throughout New Canaan amid the coronavirus disease 2019 emergency, which has seen schools, parks and many businesses close in the past few weeks. Emergency Management Director Mike Handler said Saturday that New Canaan has 70 positive cases and has lost eight residents to the virus.