New Canaan’s Chris Falsetta told a stadium full of community friends and supporters Sunday morning that his then 12-year-old daughter, Gracie, was diagnosed with leukemia almost exactly one year ago, on Oct. 13, 2022.
Since that time, many people have approached Falsetta and asked how the past year has been, he said. “And I say, ‘It’s been incredible,’ and I usually get puzzled looks,” Falsetta said from midfield at Dunning Stadium under sunny, warm skies minutes before the 2023 N.C. Combine began. “ ‘What do you mean incredible?’ Well, it’s been incredibly tough, right? You know that.
New Canaan’s Michael Mauro, an attorney for 20-plus years who has served on the Town Council for six years, this week announced his candidacy for re-election to the legislative body. We put some questions to Mauro ahead of the July 25 Republican caucus, where he will seek party backing. Here’s our exchange. ***
New Canaanite: What is your background professionally and in terms of living and volunteering here in New Canaan? Michael Mauro: I have been a practicing attorney for over 20 years.
In a rebuke of New Canaan’s highest elected official, the Town Council last week declined to appoint a nominee for a municipal committee that helps oversee financial reporting for the town government and school district. The legislative body during its April 5 meeting voted 6-5, with one abstention, against appointing Roy Abramowitz to the Audit Committee.
As they have in the past, Councilmen opposing the appointment voiced concern with the process that landed the Abramowitz nomination in front of them. Specifically, they reiterated that since the Audit Committee is a creation of the Town Council itself, they should be involved earlier in vetting candidates. One of the Council’s vice chairs, Penny Young, said that nothing’s bothered her “more than the events that have accompanied the nomination of the Audit Committee.”
Appearing to read from a prepared statement at the meeting, held in Town Hall and via videoconference, Young said, “Transparency and process are key components of sound and healthy government. And that includes the Town Council in making our decisions, as over my tenure on the Town Council I have stood strongly in support of these two dynamic concepts—transparency and process.
The head of the Town Council last week called for the legislative body to get involved earlier in bringing new members onto a prominent committee that helps oversee financial reporting for the municipal government and school district. The Audit Committee serves as a kind of “financial arm” for the Town Council, the municipal body that created it, and as such the Council “should be in the process earlier,” according to Chair Steve Karl. That the Town Council isn’t part of the initial vetting of candidates “is considered to be sort of a blind spot in the ordinance” that established the Audit Committee, Karl told fellow Councilmen during the elected body’s March 29 meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
He added, “The Council is getting candidates for this committee without any input prior to populating the committee, and that is a concern because of checks and balances that should be out there. And I’ll open it up for comment, but we have been passed a candidate which we can vote on—we can vote on at our next meeting—or we can send this to the [Town Council Bylaws and] Ordinance Committee for a look as far as: Do we want to have input in this process sooner going forward?”
The Town Council had a say in populating the Audit Committee when that group was created in 2014, yet “we weren’t consulted at all in this process” recently, Karl said, and the nomination of a new member has “gotten all the way through the process to us.”
“So the question is, given the fact that it’s a committee underneath the Council: Does it make sense for the Council to have a say in vetting candidates prior to going through the whole process and then coming back to us? As it stands right now, the Audit Committee was formed by the Council.
Saying they need to improve recruitment and retention, leaders from New Canaan Fire Co. No. 1 and New Canaan Emergency Medical Services are asking the town to offer members incentives such as tax abatement, Waveny Pool membership and use of the Transfer Station. Surrounding towns already offer plusses such as property tax relief, pool passes and fuel reimbursement to volunteer emergency responders, according to New Canaan Fire Co. Assistant Chief Russ Kimes and New Canaan EMS Capt. Phil Sheibley.
The volunteer ranks of their organizations have declined, as they have elsewhere, and now stand at record or near-record lows, Kimes and Sheibley told members of the Town Council at their March 24 meeting.