RTM stubbornness

FI-EditorialThe majority of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) did not exactly cover itself in glory this past Monday when it refused to take a fair and smart way out of the town lease mess it created.

After close to two months of needless waiting, Selectman Drew Marzullo had come up with a way forward that not only allowed the body to continue its work, but also provided the members of the Mianus River Boat and Yacht Club with what they wanted, a simple up or down vote on the extension of its lease with the town. By approving Mr. Marzullo’s motion, the subcommittee now considering the town’s policy of leasing properties would have been discharged and the lease, which has been held in limbo since January, could come back to the floor for the vote it has been denied.

But instead of taking this opportunity to end this embarrassing mess that has pitted RTM members against the Board of Selectmen with the members of the boat club needlessly caught in the middle, the RTM stubbornly ignored this sensible escape hatch. In fact it did so by a large margin, through a 60-122 vote against the motion, which leads one to wonder if the majority of the body has any sense at all about how bad all of this looks and the disservice this is doing to the taxpayers.

Had Mr. Marzullo’s motion been approved, the boat club lease could have been taken care of in a matter of minutes. On the merits there is absolutely no reason to deny continuing the $1-a-year lease with the town. While there are no doubt some members of the RTM who hate the idea of $1 leases and see this as a lost chance for revenue (which is their chief concern, apparently), those members seem very much in the minority.

All along, the members of the club have been told that their lease is fine and that it’s nothing personal. It’s time for the RTM to prove that and end this by holding that vote on the merits of the lease. While Mr. Marzullo’s motion would have discharged the special joint subcommittee made up of Finance and Legislative and Rules Committee members, there’s no reason a new committee appointed by the full RTM and not just those two committees couldn’t continue the work.

The actual subcommittee, which has shown itself to be diligently working on crafting policy with no personal animus toward anyone or any group, is not the problem. And with a simple reboot it can work without needlessly keeping community groups in limbo.

But instead, 122 members stubbornly made sure this process continued for no good reason. Is it ego? Are these members so committed to showing the Board of Selectmen who is boss that they will continue to hold this lease hostage and disrupt the fine Greenwich tradition of offering $1-a-year leases to strong community organizations that enhance this town at no cost to the taxpayers?

What other conclusion can be drawn when the Board of Selectmen already has a good lease policy in place that is working and provides a chance for full RTM oversight? Nothing is broken, but the RTM feels it needs to be fixed anyway, regardless of the message this sends the community.

First Selectman Peter Tesei has speculated that this is the RTM trying to impose its will on the selectmen, and it’s hard to argue with him since the RTM members here, not the whole body, mind you, have picked this fight and refuse to see reason.

If the subcommittee has not completed its work by April, then the RTM owes it to the boat club to once again hear the motion and this time vote in favor of it instead of forcing it to wait until June at the earliest.

Through all of this, the Board of Selectmen has shown it represents the wishes of the community as a whole. Who do these 122 members of the RTM represent?

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