Better Government???
There has been a lot of discussion lately about how Newtown’s government hasn’t served its residents very well. While improvements can be made in most any process or organization, many specific points have been illustrated by IPN as to its deficiencies.  But is Newtown as broken as IPN would lead you to believe?
Lets compare the facts to the positions taken by IPN:

Claim: IPN says it will broadcast meetings and encourage other boards to do the same allowing the public to view the process.
Fact: The Town does record and broadcast its meetings as evidenced by the last budget process. With the help of the Newtown Bee and Channel 17, the meetings are available as well as being placed on You Tube.
Did you know the new town hall was constructed with the facilities to record and broadcast all Town meetings?

Claim: IPN says it will post agendas with detail on specific topics.
Fact: All town agendas and all town meetings are warned publicly in the town clerk’s office, advertised in the papers and available on the Town website.
Did you know the Town has always done exactly that and it’s the law?

Claim: IPN claims they will hold executive sessions, where sensitive information is discussed that cannot be public like labor negotiations and land purchases,  “only when absolutely necessary” and that the “public will be advised as to exactly what the topic of discussion will be”.
Fact: By law, executive sessions can only happen for very specific reasons and the specific reason for executive session must be warned.
Did you know any board holding an executive session must comply with the law by indicating the specific reason for the session and it must be warned?

Claim: IPN claims it will encourage consistent sharing of agendas and minutes among town boards.
Fact: Currently, most boards email each other their agendas and minutes.  All agendas must be warned and the minutes must be posted in the Town Clerk’s office and appear on the Town website.
Did you know the Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Law requires agendas to be posted 24 hours prior to a meeting and the minutes and motions must be posted within 2 business days?

Claim: IPN claims it will establish a method for residents to sign up to receive email notifications of meetings.
Fact: Any citizen can call the Town and request to be added to the distribution list for pertinent agendas and minutes.
Did you know Towns must email such information to any citizen requesting it and Towns must send the information for a year by law?

IPN leads us to believe the Town of Newtown is broken and, as IPN’s first selectman candidate would put it, “Communication and transparency are not just catch words”.
They are not “just catch words”.  It is the law.  Many volunteers, on many boards and commissions, devote many hours of their time to effort the best interests of the Town…all the while operating not only within the law, but also with common sense and a tremendous sense of civic duty.
Come to think of it, It’s pretty nice in Newtown!