Originally and sequentially posted Sept. 30 – October 14, 2020:
Enfield Board sets November meeting to fill Mehaffey vacancy
by Robert Lynch, October 14, 2020
In a meeting marked with collegiality, not rancor, the Enfield Town Board Wednesday (October 14th) agreed to move quickly—but not too quickly—to fill the Board vacancy created by Councilperson Mimi Mehaffey’s sudden resignation October 5th.
In adopting procedures that members said would provide maximum transparency, the now three-member Board set its next Regular Meeting, November 11th, as the target date for filling the Mehaffey vacancy. Before that meeting, members will solicit interested candidates through both the Enfield Republican and Democratic Parties, the Town’s website, and by other means.
“[W]hile in a more perfect transition, filling this Councilperson vacancy might default to the voters,” Councilperson Robert Lynch (this writer) wrote to his Board colleagues in an email the day after Mehaffey resigned, “I believe it cannot in this instance,”
“If we fill the vacancy properly, I hope the residents, the voters will understand,” Lynch wrote.
Urgency is dictated by reality, all on the Town Board agreed Wednesday. With Beth McGee having resigned as Town Supervisor September 30th, and then Mehaffey departing less than a week thereafter, the Enfield Board now finds itself dangerously short-handed. State law requires three affirmative votes to approve any issue on the five-member Board. The Board now has no votes to spare.
Lynch noted that if any member became ill, was called up for jury duty, or left town to deal with a family emergency, the remaining members would find themselves powerless to act. Furthermore, he said, the current requirement for unanimity on every issue leaves no room for member disagreement; something he said was both inherent in and healthy for democracy.
Though the Board did not cast its timetable in stone, members’ unofficial consensus called for candidates to come forward by a Tuesday, October 27th special meeting, already scheduled to discuss the taxing arrangements for the newly-proposed Norbut solar farm on Applegate Road. Candidates might be interviewed at the meeting and perhaps questioned by the public as well. Board members would then select their preferred candidate November 11th.
Because the Board would continue short-staffed through that vote, all three continuing members, namely Lynch, Acting Supervisor Stephanie Redmond, and Councilperson Virginia Bryant, would need to concur on the choice.
In an effort to apply what he termed a bit of “affirmative action” to the selection process, Lynch suggested that the Town reach out to the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission and perhaps similar organizations to solicit candidates from what he termed “under-represented” racial and/or ethnic minorities. To qualify, all candidates would need to be Enfield registered voters.
Already one such minority member, James Ricks of Rothermich Road, who called into Wednesday’s meeting and spoke under privilege of the floor, and who identified himself as African-American, said he might be interested in filling the vacancy.
Any candidate the Town Board chose to succeed Mehaffey would serve just 14 months. He or she would need to seek election in November 2021 to retain the seat into a new four-year term. Had Mehaffey not resigned, her term would have come up for reelection then, anyway.
As with the Councilperson’s position, the Town Board could similarly fill Supervisor McGee’s vacancy, either selecting an outsider or one of its own for the appointment. Councilperson Redmond has actively sought the elevation, but Lynch has resisted her appointment, at least for the time being, citing a citizen petition that urged any new Supervisor be chosen only by voters, not by the Board.
The current stalemate could leave the Supervisor’s post unfilled for months, perhaps until January 2022. Yet all three remaining on the Board acknowledged the Mehaffey seat, its role confined to Town legislative matters, could not wait until next year’s election.
Lynch predicted that should the Mehaffey seat be filled through his recommended procedure, which the Board accepted, “not only would we find a final choice more to our own liking; our constituents would not feel they’ve been cheated, shut out of the process; they’d feel they’d had a voice in the selection as though they’d voted.”
Enfield’s Mehaffey resigns; Town Board strength falls by 40 per cent in five days
Posted October 6, 2020
As it stands today, the Enfield Town Board has only as many members as the law requires for it legally to conduct business.
Capping one of the most tumultuous weeks in Enfield’s political history, one-term Councilperson Mimi Mehaffey announced her resignation Monday evening following adjournment of a brief, yet significant, Town Board meeting [See related story.]
Mehaffey’s departure, after that of Supervisor Beth McGee, who tendered her resignation five days earlier, September 30th, leaves the five-person Enfield Board with only three members, the bare minimum State law requires to constitute a majority. Without unanimous concurrence, any motion offered for consideration would now fail.
“This has been an extremely difficult year for me, personally,” Mehaffey wrote in her seven-paragraph departure letter. Mehaffey referred to the death of her sister in April and the challenges she’s faced in keeping her family’s successful bakery business running in the face of COVID-19.
But the resigning Councilperson cited politics as well and leveled criticism at other players in Enfield town government, including Town Clerk Ellen Woods and Highway Superintendent Barry “Buddy” Rollins.
“Now, as a board member,” said Mehaffey, “I am being publicly attacked on social media and in the press by our town clerk for refusing to increase property taxes, and for working to prepare the town of Enfield for an uncertain economy ahead.”
She faulted Rollins for allegedly permitting his staff to work through lunch breaks in potential violation of State labor law, “as well as refusing in my mind to have a reasonable discussion with the board about almost anything.”
“Frankly, I have neither the will nor the energy to engage in this kind of negative exchange. I prefer to spend the time I have left doing something more positive,” the Councilperson concluded.
When she finalized her long-expected resignation the week before, Supervisor McGee voiced many of the same frustrations and targeted the same perceived adversaries. However, McGee offered her comments in a public zoom meeting. Mehaffey reserved her criticism until later, having given no indication at Monday’s session that she planned to step down.
Since the Town Board declined Monday to elevate Councilperson Stephanie Redmond to succeed McGee as Supervisor, Mehaffey’s departure leaves two vacancies to fill. Though the Supervisor’s post will likely remain vacant at least until mid-November, Mehaffey’s seat could be filled faster, since an illness or absence of any of the Board’s three remaining members could leave the Town Board powerless to act.
“Upon a board of 5, a majority for quorum and for passage of any resolution or motion is always 3,” wrote Guy Krogh, Enfield’s retained counsel, in a memo issued Monday seeking to guide the Board during reduced membership, one written before Mehaffey’s announcement. “This rule holds even if there are vacancies upon the board. Thus, whether the board has one or two vacancies, 3 votes are still and always needed,” Krogh continued.
The Board has yet to establish procedures or a timetable for filling Mehaffey’s seat.
Mehaffey joined the Enfield Town Board in January 2018, having been nominated without opposition at a 2017 Democratic caucus and then elected at an uncontested General Election. Since joining the Board, she has focused on environmental and land use matters, heavily involving herself in drafting Enfield’s controversial 2019 Wind Law. Mehaffey said the Town’s earlier debate which led to Enfield’s ban on fracked gas exploration sparked her interest in local politics, a mission she believed has now been fulfilled.
“I learned a lot and feel I did my best to represent the interests of the citizens of Enfield,” said Mehaffey. “It is time now for me to step down.”
[Councilperson Mehaffey’s full statement follows this related story]
Also: Enfield Board Deadlocks; Fails to elevate Redmond to Supervisor
by Robert Lynch, October 5th, 2020
Stephanie Redmond, elected only last November as Enfield Town Councilperson, had hoped Monday’s Town Board meeting would provide her the votes she needed—everyone’s vote—to elevate her to succeed the recently-resigned Beth McGee as Town Supervisor.
It didn’t happen.
With Redmond’s colleague, Councilperson Robert Lynch (this writer), holding firm to his decision of last week not to designate anyone to fill McGee’s seat until it can be filled by the voters, the Town Board fell one person short of the unanimity the Town’s lawyer said the law required. Consistent with the attorney’s advice, Redmond recused herself from the balloting. With little else to do, the Special Meeting adjourned in less than an hour.
Visually saddened by Monday’s outcome, Redmond declined to accept Lynch’s parting words to her that his objection to her appointment was on principle, and not personal.
“If I’d pandered to your paternal instincts it would have been fine,” Redmond responded tersely as she closed down the Board’s zoom meeting.
[Courtesy of WHCU, you can hear that exchange here]:
Though denied the titular role of Supervisor for now, Redmond, as Deputy Supervisor, will preside over Town Board meetings and conduct Enfield’s business as its functional chief administrator. She’ll do so until such time as McGee’s successor is officially chosen either by the voters or by the Town Board.
But by leaving the Supervisor’s position vacant, the deadlock leaves the Town Board one member short indefinitely. Redmond can only cast her vote as Councilperson, not as Acting Supervisor too.
Beth McGee, reelected to a second, two-year term as Supervisor in November of last year, had disclosed as far back as last March that she intended to resign, yet delayed her departure for more than six months, purportedly blaming the COVID-19 pandemic. McGee, without forewarning, made her resignation official at a budget meeting last Wednesday (Sept. 30th). Many who’d failed to attend Wednesday’s online session stood unaware of the announcement until days later.
On the late-September evening that McGee resigned, Councilperson Mimi Mehaffey had quickly moved to name Redmond as McGee’s replacement. Then, as at Monday’s meeting, the Board split two-to-one on Redmond’s promotion, the roll call halted then because of uncertainty over whether Redmond could vote for herself (which would have produced the three-vote majority) or whether she’d need first to resign.
Earlier Monday, Enfield’s designated counsel, Guy Krogh answered those questions. He advised Board members that while in his opinion the law did not require Redmond’s prior resignation, conflict-of-interest rules pointed in the direction of recusal.
“There is nothing per se in [a section of State statute] that prohibits self-voting, but public policy, the appearance of impropriety, and the voting to give one’s self a significant salary would all stand in opposition to this being proper or ethical,” Krogh wrote to the Board.
Redmond, at the Monday meeting’s outset, accepted the attorney’s conclusion and withdrew herself from not only the vote, but also Board discussion, ceding the zoom meeting’s control to Mehaffey.
By the time Mehaffey took over, Lynch had already, during Privilege of the Floor, signaled his plans to dissent. Mehaffey wondered aloud whether she should even bother with Redmond’s nomination. But Lynch encouraged such a vote, and Councilperson Virginia Bryant said she wanted to nominate Stephanie so as to show her support. The vote failed and the session ended shortly thereafter.
Had Redmond been elevated to Supervisor, her own Councilperson’s seat would immediately have fallen vacant. The Board could then have filled the Councilperson’s vacancy by a similar three-vote majority. At least one person’s name had been privately speculated as Redmond’s replacement, yet no one had announced for the post publicly.
In a quietly-spoken, yet passionate appeal, Councilperson Lynch urged his colleagues to delay filling McGee’s vacancy until at least after the November election, a time when Enfield voters will decide whether to make the elected posts of Town Clerk and Highway Superintendent appointive.
“If the voters approve those Local Laws, it’ll tell us Enfield voters really don’t care about their vote all that much; they’re willing to toss it away; give it to the elites who supposedly know best,” Lynch reasoned. “But if voters reject those two laws decisively, it’ll tell us something else: That residents cherish their franchise, their right to decide.”
Lynch suggested the Board revisit the vacancy issue at its November 11th meeting.
In July, 115 Enfield residents had petitioned the Town Board urging in part that any expected Supervisor or Councilperson vacancy be filled not by the Board, but by voters in this November’s election. But now, the deadline for placing McGee’s vacancy on next month’s ballot has already passed.
Sentiment among the eight residents who addressed Monday’s meeting was roughly evenly split between fervent Redmond and McGee supporters and those either supportive of Lynch’s position or questioning why the procedure had defaulted to the Board and not the voters.
McGee, herself, accessed floor privileges. “I’m appalled as a resident and a taxpayer,” McGee said of the process, asserting that she’d prepared Redmond as Deputy Supervisor to succeed her in the job, “to do it well, and do it effectively.” McGee blamed the failed vote on “personal grudges.”
McGee’s frequent ally, Julie Schroeder, without mentioning Lynch by name, directed implied criticism at him for his alleged “paternalistic lectures” and “stony silence,” fostering an “us versus them mentality.”
Though obviously saddened by Monday’s outcome, Redmond acknowledged at one point that McGee did her a favor by delaying her departure.
“I did not feel ready at that point,” the Deputy admitted when the former Supervisor first announced her plans.
Supervisor or not, Redmond holds down Enfield’s administration at the moment. She’ll have help.
“I will shoulder my share of the burden and then some,” Lynch promised his colleagues in coping with the rigors of a now short-handed Board. Whether that help will be accepted, only time will tell.
“Others on the Board and some in our audience would never understand it, but I am not smiling tonight,” Lynch later told an associate, a seasoned veteran of Enfield politics. “I feel bad for Stephanie. But I had to do what I had to do, the toughest decision of my new term.”
Now, Mimi Mehaffey’s Resignation Letter:
Oct. 5th, 2020
Dear fellow board members and citizens of Enfield,
I wish to resign my position on the Enfield Town Board, effective immediately.
Three years ago, I was encouraged to run for a position on the board. I had been active on committees and had regularly attended meetings for years.
After I was elected, I brought my knowledge and experience as a business woman to the board, working hard to ensure that the town operated on solid financial ground. I was also interested in the town’s energy policies. Getting a moratorium on fracked gas was the issue that got me involved in local politics. As a member of the board, I helped research, write and adopt policies on solar and wind energy. I learned a lot and feel I did my best to represent the interests of the citizens of Enfield. It is time now for me to step down.
This has been an extremely difficult year for me, personally. In April, I lost my sister, and that has left a huge hole in my life and increased responsibilities. Since February, I have been working overtime trying to reinvent our business, which is profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as a board member, I am being publicly attacked on social media and in the press by our town clerk for refusing to increase property taxes, and for working to prepare the town of Enfield for an uncertain economy ahead. Highway Superintendent Rollins has, in defiance of NYS labor law, allowed his staff work through their lunch as well as refusing in my mind to have a reasonable discussion with the board about almost anything. Given that such a huge percentage of the towns budget is directly related to the highway department, this makes it nearly impossible to manage the towns funds in a responsible way.
Frankly, I have neither the will nor the energy to engage in this kind of negative exchange. I prefer to spend the time I have left doing something more positive.
I wish to thank my fellow board members for continuing to work hard for the people of Enfield, and to the people in this town who continue to work for the best interests of its citizens.
And Now, What I Told the Board (and You):
Monday night, October 5th, I had a tough vote to explain, the toughest vote of my nine months in office. I had to disappoint a colleague, Councilperson Stephanie Redmond, by denying her elevation to the position she most fervently seeks, namely to succeed Beth McGee as Enfield Supervisor.
No, Stephanie and I do not always agree. But she’s a good and decent person, a loving wife and mother, and a passionate steward of our community. That’s not patronizing. That’s just a statement of fact.
But I must listen first to the voters and respect the power of Representative Democracy, a principle this Nation… and this Town… was built on. The voters should determine our next Supervisor, not us on the Town Board. When Democratic Principals run headlong against personal ambition (even my own), I must award Democracy the benefit of the doubt.
Here’s what I spoke:
Robert Lynch, Councilperson, 175 Gray Road
Let’s start fresh.
We begin tonight a new era with a newly-constituted Town Board. Let’s change our habits a bit.
Last meeting I was angry; and I believe, for good reason. The meeting’s final minutes went too perfectly to have been left to chance. Plans for resignation and succession were clearly choreographed not only behind my own back, but more importantly, behind the backs of those we serve. Collectively, I believe, we insulted our residents with our arrogance. Supervisor replacement was not on last Wednesday’s agenda. But it is tonight. Let’s keep substantive discussion to that one topic and that one topic alone. I will insist that we do. And let’s behave differently.
I’m not too proud to admit that I, too, can make mistakes. And perhaps I made one mistake not too long ago.
Back in July, at a Public Hearing, our neighbor and former Councilperson, Becky Sims stated—I quote:
“I think ballot referendums are great because it’s really putting specific decisions to the people, and I appreciate that opportunity.”
Ms. Sims continued (quote): “I think [they’re] a really a great way for residents to let the municipal officials be very clear about how they feel about things” —close quote.
I voted against putting those two Local Laws on November’s ballot. I think I voted correctly; but in light of recent developments, maybe I did not.
You see, the outcome of those referenda—deciding whether two Town Offices will be elective or appointive—will tell us much about the state of Enfield Democracy. Is it alive or dead?
If the voters approve those Local Laws, it’ll tell us Enfield voters really don’t care about their vote all that much. They’re willing to toss it away; give it to the elites who supposedly know best.
But if voters reject those two laws decisively, it’ll tell us something else: That residents cherish their franchise, their right to decide.
We, the Town Board, will ask ourselves tonight to bypass the electorate, and choose for ourselves our next Supervisor. A petition bearing 115 names we may toss in the trash. We will replace the voters’ say-so with our own.
No, I will not go there. If I hold the power to stop this coronation, I will. I mean no disrespect to the person you will nominate. As she has stood on principle in the past, so must I tonight.
We can work for now, even for the next 15 months, with a four-person Board. I will shoulder my share of the burden and then some. But I believe we should delay further action at least until our Regular November meeting. By then we should know whether Enfield’s citizens view their votes, their personal Democracy, as expendable… or as priceless.
Supervisor McGee Officially Resigns; Redmond nominated to succeed her
First Posted September 30, 2020; Updated Oct. 1, 2020
Moments after the Enfield Town Board Wednesday, September 30th adopted its final 2021 Town Budget, Town Supervisor Beth McGee officially followed through on her earlier promise and tendered her resignation as Supervisor to her Board.
Board member Mimi Mehaffey sought immediately to designate her fellow Councilperson, Stephanie Redmond, as McGee’s successor. But after Councilperson Robert Lynch (this writer) and Town Clerk Ellen Woods raised objections as to the move’s legality—most importantly, whether McGee and/or Redmond could vote on Redmond’s own promotion—the Town Board postponed action on Supervisor succession until Monday night, October 5th, to enable members to first obtain legal guidance.
A vote to elevate Redmond to Supervisor was stopped dead in its tracks at midpoint in its call, after two Councilpersons supported the appointment, Lynch opposed it, and Redmond’s ability to vote for herself was called into legal doubt and never obtained.
“You’re ridin’ for a fall!” Lynch angrily admonished his colleagues as they sought to speed confirmation of Redmond as McGee’s successor. Lynch, referencing what he said were the words his own late father had used in scolding him as a boy. Lynch bluntly predicted that the voters would remove each of his fellow Board members in the November 2021 election because of their action. If Redmond is elevated to Supervisor, she would need to face the voters next year, as would Councilpersons Mehaffey and Virginia Bryant, as well as any yet-to-be-chosen Councilperson the Board might select to fill Redmond’s current seat.
As the Board attempted lightning-fast action on McGee’s replacement, Town Clerk Woods cautioned that attorneys from the New York State Association of Towns had advised her that neither McGee nor Redmond could vote on succession, since McGee had already resigned, and Redmond could not vote for herself without raising potential conflicts of interest.
“They were very, very clear on this,” Woods said following multiple consultation with Association lawyers. Even though with Redmond recused, a two-to-one ballot would technically constitute a majority, “there need to be three full (affirmative) votes” for Redmond’s elevation to be binding, Woods said. If that legal opinion holds, any of the three voting members, including Lynch, would hold effective veto power.
Lynch, meanwhile, reminded the Board that in neighboring Ulysses, Councilperson Nancy Zahler was recently elevated to fill a Supervisor vacancy only after she’d first resigned her Board member’s position hours earlier. Lynch pledged to secure his own legal advice.
Supervisor McGee, who’d first announced resignation intentions in March, but then put those departure plans on hold after the COVID-19 pandemic struck, left with parting words for those in Enfield Government she liked, but caustic criticism for those with whom she often disagreed.
“I applaud Councilpersons Mimi Mehaffey, Virginia Bryant, and Stephanie Redmond who have worked valiantly together to get much work done in the midst of COVID-19 and in spite of the obstruction and toxic environment created by Councilperson Robert Lynch, Clerk Ellen Woods, and Highway Superintendent Barry Rollins.”
McGee continued: “As a resident and taxpayer, I look forward to a new board that will continue to overcome and outshine the negative voices that seek to hamper responsible and positive stewardship and community connection in the Town of Enfield for all who live here. I will continue to support the Town Board in these efforts.”
Indeed, McGee, locked horns with Lynch, Rollins and Woods until the bitter end. Minutes before her resignation announcement, McGee led her Town Board’s majority to grant final approval to a $1.97 Million 2021 Budget, one which raises Supervisor’s pay by 20 per cent, but cuts more than an equal percentage from the Highway Department’s workforce. One of Superintendent Rollins’ five road workers will lose his job. Lynch attempted to restore the cuts, but to no avail.
One by one, the Enfield Board rejected, for lack of a second, Lynch’s proposed revisions to restore the fifth position; grant continuing Highway department employees a two per cent raise; either eliminate or cut by half the Supervisor’s $4,000 raise; and cut by half the controversial $10,000 stipend awarded earlier this year to Redmond as Deputy Supervisor. The Board also rejected a sixth budget revision sought by Lynch that would increase by $11,000—raising to $25,000—the Contingent Account, a financial reserve saved for emergencies. McGee had seconded this final motion, but then opposed it on the final vote. Lynch said the uncertainty caused by COVID and the cuts inflicted on Highway staff warranted the added reserves.
Woods, meanwhile, brought to McGee’s final meeting her recurring complaint about being underpaid. Though the new budget grants the Clerk a $4,000 raise, equal to that of the Supervisor, Woods maintained she deserves far more; insisted that her job is full-, not part-time; and warned she now makes so little she may need to apply for food stamps.
Lynch, as he did last week, called the Clerk’s pay an “embarrassment,” comparing Woods’ current $20,000 annual compensation to that of the more than $56,000 paid the Clerk in neighboring Ulysses.
But in remarks he delivered at the meeting’s earlier Public Hearing, the maverick Councilperson focused on the Highway cuts.
On the day Rollins terminates his fifth worker, Lynch said to his colleagues, “I want each of you to look that same man straight in the eye and explain to him why you’ve chosen to keep your own job, but not his.”
“This is a short-sighted budget; a vindictive budget; a cold-hearted budget. This is not the way to run a Town.”
Others agreed. “It’s a little off balance, as far as I’m concerned,” said hearing attendee Roy Barriere, a former Town Supervisor, referring to 15 per cent spending increases in the General Fund, but budget cuts for Highway.
Mackenzie Newhart, wife of a highway worker, alleged the Board trimmed the Department’s budget “because you don’t like Buddy,” further suggesting the all-female Board majority cut the staff “maybe being (because) they’re all men.”
Councilperson Mehaffey, by contrast, called the budget “amazingly progressive.” She prided McGee for drafting a spending plan that placed increasing emphasis on non-road investments, given that only a fraction of residents live on Town roads that Rollins maintains. And Mehaffey, acknowledged the unavoidable economic pain brought by COVID, brought nearly to tears in recounting how she’d “in one week laid off 200 people” in her bakery business earlier this year.
In July, 115 people, under the banner of “Enfield’s Democracy is in Danger,” petitioned the Town Board requesting, in part, that the Town’s next Supervisor be elected by the people, not appointed by the Board. With McGee delaying her departure until beyond the date to place the Supervisor’s replacement on this year’s ballot, many residents have sensed McGee has played with their freedoms, a point Lynch drove home in a raised voice:
“My late Dad used to say these words when I did something that wasn’t quite right: ‘You’re ridin’ for a fall, Bob.’ And I’ll tell you; this entire Board with this community is ridin’ for a fall. You don’t realize how arrogant you are acting. When we had a petition with people who said, ‘No, Don’t coronate; let us decide.’ Now, here you go, doing what you please. And I would highly predict—and I would bet money on it—that in November of 2021, everybody who sits in an elected governmental position on this Board—aside from me, because my term won’t be up—is going to be voted out of office. So get ready for it.”
While Supervisor McGee’s breakneck pace toward budget adoption may have tipped her hand to some observers, her resignation announcement near the conclusion of Wednesday’s budget meeting caught some, including Lynch, by surprise.
As for McGee’s departure, “Given what she said about me in her resignation letter, perhaps my best response is no response,” said Lynch, acknowledging the now ex-Supervisor’s lingering animosity. “Oh, I will say this,” he added: “Long Live Enfield.”
The official text of Supervisor McGee’s resignation letter, read to the zoom online Town Board meeting and simultaneously emailed to Town Board members Wednesday, Sept. 30th at 8:17 PM
To whom it may concern:
Please consider this letter notification of my resignation as Town Supervisor of the Town of Enfield effective immediately. I’m grateful to the great number of residents who have supported and trusted me to take on this role for them.
I am extremely proud of the work I’ve accomplished with community members and previous boards over the last seven years, and I thank them for their commitment to the work of the Town. I applaud Councilpersons Mimi Mehaffey, Virginia Bryant, and Stephanie Redmond who have worked valiantly together to get much work done in the midst of COVID-19 and in spite of the obstruction and toxic environment created by Councilperson Robert Lynch, Clerk Ellen Woods, and Highway Superintendent Barry Rollins.
Although I had hoped to resign in April of this year, I was asked to stay on as Town Supervisor to provide stability and safeguard the integrity of the Enfield town board and its work during the COVID-19 response at great personal expense. I feel that I have met that request to the extent that I am willing to and also to the extent that is necessary to achieve those goals.
I have worked hard during my terms as a Town Councilperson and Town Supervisor to employ policies and follow the law to help Enfield emerge as a productive and engaged community. I’ve been determined to empower the Town Board and restore a long-lost understanding of the authority and responsibility it holds on behalf of the residents it represents. As a resident and taxpayer, I look forward to a new board that will continue to overcome and outshine the negative voices that seek to hamper responsible and positive stewardship and community connection in the Town of Enfield for all who live here. I will continue to support the Town Board in these efforts.
And now, my Public Hearing testimony, delivered by me, Councilperson Robert Lynch, before the Enfield Town Board, Wednesday, September 3oth:
Robert Lynch, Councilperson, 175 Gray Road.
Twenty-five dollars. What can you buy with it? It won’t even buy me pizza and beers with a friend. But if you own a $100,000 house, you know what it can buy? A year of avoiding sub-par maintenance of Enfield’s roads.
Fifty dollars? My monthly cell phone bill is bigger than that. But if you own a home worth 200 Grand, it can buy you that same peace of mind.
Tonight, you, our Town Board, may adopt a next year’s budget that cuts 20 per cent of our Town’s highway work staff, somebody’s job. My math tells me that for less than $80,000 more—raising the per Thousand tax rate just 25 cents over last year—you could keep that man on the job, and maintain our roads as Buddy Rollins says they should be maintained… and give each of those men a two per cent raise to boot.
It’s so easy in September to forget last February. Enfield has snow—lots of it.
“Where the—bleep—is the Damned snowplow?” you may shout to your dashboard as you slide down Aiken or Harvey Hill this December, all because Buddy doesn’t have the manpower he needs to keep up with the storm. Let’s pray no one loses her life.
But cuts hurt other people too. One of the five men on Buddy’s team will lose his job, his paycheck, his livelihood. “Honey, I guess you’ll have to take that second job until I can find work,” he’ll say. Any remorse?
I want you, each of my colleagues on this Town Board, to join me—if Buddy will let us—and go down to 475 Enfield Main that gloomy someday morning when Buddy takes one of his dedicated employees aside and says: “Son, please turn in your keys. The Town Board cut your job.”
At that moment, I want each of you to look that same man straight in the eye and explain to him why you’ve chosen to keep your own job, but not his.
I, too, will look him in the eye. But I’ll have a different message: “Man, I’m sorry. I tried. But I was outvoted. Best to you, your wife, and kids.”
This Board has raced to adopt a 2021 budget faster than Mitch McConnell can confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. I can only speculate as to why.
Some on this Board have said I “pander to politics;” that I “appease the Good Old Boy system.” No, I’m just trying to do what’s right by our community; what I think our residents want: To save a job; and maybe, also, a life.
This is a short-sighted budget. A vindictive budget. A cold-hearted budget. This is not the way to run a Town.
All for $25 Dollars! Enjoy your pizza.