Is the RTM serving democracy lite?

Greenwich-Voices-von-KeyserlingThe RTM  offends me greatly, as it should all who it is supposed to serve. Its actions should embarrass all connected with it.

Why don’t I quit, as my family and friends urge me to? Because there is nothing so sacred and fundamental a gift as the unique life which U.S. democracy affords myself and family. Far from cynicism, my optimism forces me to believe that, eventually, good government and responsibility will return to our beloved Greenwich. To quit would be a dereliction of duty and encouragement to the corruption which flourishes.

An entrenched RTM “leadership” kisses up and spits down on the membership, town officials and, worst of all, the constituents they swore to serve. This ‘power clique bullies,’ misapplies RTM rules, misstates facts and uses any and every sly trick they can to get their personal way. The moderator and moderator pro tem of the RTM have ruled this way for decades and are suffered because no respectable candidate wants the job at the price of a personal mud fight and too many members like the way they “run” comfortable and convenient meetings.

Their corrupting standards are accepted by the rank and file who think, “It must be correct, since no one of our crowd would be that blatantly wrong.” This lets all of the fringe ideologues loose on the floor and the worst are the “penny pinching extremists” who have cost the taxpayer millions more then the “pennies” they have fought to save.

The latest kerfuffle in the RTM battle of the midgets has been the hostage taking of an upstanding and civically energetic group of citizens, the Mianus River municipal boat club, who took a town mudflat and sewage treatment yard and turned it, through their own expense and labor, into a thriving town service to local boaters. Now the RTM won’t act on the club’s new lease until they can force the selectmen (who have the charter authority) to bend to some of its view of economics and administration and innocent boat club members suffer from this miscarriage of governmental responsibility.

The RTM punted the lease to two of the standing committees, whose chairmen booted it to a “joint subcommittee” (JSC) of the chairs (not the standing committees). The JSC then decided by itself to write a policy statement on town lease policy in general. After two months, it has not addressed the boat club lease but has violated several rules of notice, met on public holiday, held illegal closed sessions and illegally added a prejudiced member. They must have known their faults since they twice requested police protection for their meetings.

When Selectman Drew Marzullo tried to untangle the mess last Monday by bringing the lease back for action and creating an RTM Special Committee on Lease Policy, all hell broke loose. The moderator deflected and avoided questions from the floor on rules and procedures and, despite being required to be neutral in debate, directed the members to vote against this “bad” legislation.

When challenged on this, he blustered his way through and badgered with interruptions the only speaker willing to speak in favor of Mr. Marzullo’s motion (for the record, it was yours truly). No speaker against the motion really addressed the problems Mr. Marzullo raised and the moderator got his vote, defeating even a discussion of Mr. Marzullo’s proposals.

It’s important to read the Declaration of Rights section of the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution which has been regularly cited by the U.S. Supreme Court that says “… to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men.”

Unless we wish to settle for another reality show on GCTV, we all, including the members of the RTM, had best look deeply into our hearts and souls. Repent and sin no more!


Christopher von Keyserling is a Republican and a longtime member of the town’s Representative Town Meeting, though the opinions expressed in this column are his own. 

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