The incident began during the January P&Z Board meeting, when they were tasked with choosing a new chair. After the November election, the board was evenly split, with five Republicans and five Democrats seated.
When nominations were submitted, the Democrats nominated Susan Shaw while the Republicans nominated Mark Bender. But then before the nominations closed, the Democrats also nominated Republican Kevin Liddy. When the votes were cast, the five Democrats voted for Shaw, four of the five Republicans voted for Bender, and Liddy voted for himself. Which resulted in Democrat Susan Shaw winning the chair.
I was there that night, taping the meeting for our government access channel. Trust me, there were a few Republicans in the room that night who were supremely cheesed off by this turn of events. Subsequently, Kevin Liddy was nominated for Vice Chair, and he won that seat.
After the meeting, City Attorney Smith sent an email to several prominent Republicans including Mayor Jim Richetelli, which was exposed through a Freedom of Information Act request from Democratic Town Committee chair Rich Smith (no relation; this town is absolutely lousy with Smiths) that said in part, "Wow. All a big mistake. Then I think Kevin should resign as vice chairman."
From Brian McCready in the New Haven Register:
Richard Smith said he was disappointed to see Winthrop Smith was playing party politics, and targeted Liddy because “he had not followed, lockstep, the Republican Party’s dictate on how to vote.” “This Stalin-esque behavior has no place in City Hall and is not what we expect from a city attorney,” Richard Smith said.The Republican chair, Tom Jagodinski countered with,
“Richard Smith has been digging through electronic trash bins like a National Enquirer reporter looking for some sleazy story and is desperately trying to make something out of nothing. Win’s comments were made using his own e-mail address and on his own time. Just because you’re city attorney doesn’t mean that you have to give up the right to free speech that every American enjoys."McCready noted that the argument continued with Rich Smith stating,
Freedom of Information laws exist in order to expose corruption and mismanagement in government. “Tom apparently has a problem with transparency,” Richard Smith said. “Tom’s strategy of going on the offense to distract people from the real issue will fall flat here.”Jagodinski then retorted by saying "Richard Smith should be embarrassed that he’s wasted the time of city employees on this nonsense.”
Richard Smith also said Jagodinski’s claim that the city attorney was speaking on his own time is “ridiculous.”
“Would Tom argue that we should only expect our city attorney to comport himself with the dignity the job demands only during certain hours of the day?” Richard Smith asked.
Ah, politics in Milford. It may often be slow, but it's never boring.