JASON ZANDRI – FROM WALLINGFORD
Clearly, quite a bit of interest has spun up over the supporters of Mayor Bill Dickinson, wanting to honor his service to the town.
People that know me well enough know that I give the mayor his credit where it's due and have gone after him on issues where I feel he is not being open, objective and proactive with respect to our fine town.
It's also fair to say I do more of the latter than the former.
If the mayor's supporters wish to collectively pull together their own resources in order to have a testimonial for him and to celebrate his 25 years of service to the town, they should be allowed to do so - provided it is kept above board and does not consume tax dollars, I see no issue.
There is of course the matter of statute 9-609(b) that needs to be ruled on. (It can be found on my blog as cross-posted from the Connecticut General Assembly website.)
One lawyer has viewed it as not applicable to this testimonial and another has. As you can imagine, these views are not without the possibility of bias as one came from the Republican camp and one came from the Democrats.
Personal opinions on this abound, so we'll need an actual, legal ruling to be definitive.
My biggest concern comes from Robert Prentice, the chairman of the Republican Town Committee and his comments as quoted from the Record-Journal regarding cancelling the event:
"It would be very difficult to do that. Plus, the money we put out to Villa Capri already for down payments, that's money out of our own personal pockets," he said. "We got 200-plus tickets sold. You know what? We'll go through with it because what are they going to do to us, fine us?"
It concerns me when anyone is so full of bravado that they might willing disobey a law/statute/ordinance and boast of it in the newspaper.
To be fair, this hasn't been ruled on yet, so he may not be in violation of anything. If you read the quote, it certainly comes across as if it doesn't matter which side the ruling falls on. He's willing to move ahead, regardless.
People in a the place of public view such as celebrities, sports figures, politicians and so forth should understand that every-day Joe and Jane will hold them to at least an equal, if not higher, standard than themselves.
When they see this kind of cavalier attitude, how do you think they are going to respond? "If the law/statute/ordinance doesn't apply to them, why should it apply to me?"
Why should someone shovel their walk? "All they can do is fine me."
Why should they clean up their property? "The town doesn't self-police on the blight rules."
Why should they mind the parking regulations? "There are town cars illegally parked; they don't get ticketed so I don't expect to either."
I could go on, but my point is made.
You can't expect every-day people to follow laws/ordinances if public figures can't be bothered and are brazen enough to be quoted in the newspaper to that effect.
Laws, statutes and ordinances need apply to everyone equally.
There are two weeks to the testimonial; I would think a ruling could be had by then.
If the ruling on the statute shows that it does not apply, then the supporters should be able to have their event. If the ruling goes the other way, the event should be canceled. For all the difficulties in having to do that and some potentially lost monies, that is the right thing to do.
The mayor has been quoted as saying he is a reluctant participant to this event. I hope he doesn't end up in the category of "guilt by association."