Letter: Criticism of Councilor Sweeney’s actions is inappropriate

Posted 1/22/21

It is very unfortunate that a former dedicated public official, Louis Cirillo, has been thrust into the maelstrom, while questions of the propriety of actions of due diligence on the part of one of …

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Letter: Criticism of Councilor Sweeney’s actions is inappropriate

Posted

It is very unfortunate that a former dedicated public official, Louis Cirillo, has been thrust into the maelstrom, while questions of the propriety of actions of due diligence on the part of one of our Town Councilors, Timothy Sweeney, are swirling.

Each of my interactions with Mr. Cirillo was positive and professional, and I acknowledge that his exemplary record of public service is completely distinct from the issues being raised. Equally, all of my interactions with Mr. Sweeney have also been positive and professional.

A recent letter to the editor spoke of Councilman Sweeney’s “right and even obligation to insure taxpayer monies are being properly spent” but questioned the “timing and nature of Mr. Sweeney’s objection.” In response to pointed expressions of concern from another council member and the town administrator, Councilman Sweeney explained that he had received the agenda and supporting documents on Wednesday, Dec. 23, and opened the document at the conclusion of the work day. The following two days were Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, followed by the weekend. The next work day (Monday, Dec. 28), Mr. Sweeney stated that he attempted to contact the appropriate municipal officials seeking supporting and clarifying information, however the individual who could provide that information was on vacation that day.

He then made the request for the information on Tuesday, Dec. 29, and according to Mr. Sweeney he was assured he would get it but had not yet received it. The council meeting in question was on Wednesday, Dec. 30. Thus the letter writer’s contention that Mr. Sweeney “had a week to review the severance documentation” is simply not based in fact.

Of more significance to me, however, is the letter writer’s contention that Mr. Sweeney was seeming to question the credibility of several town officials and Mr. Cirillo himself. I was in “attendance” throughout the entire meeting in question and never heard him do such a thing. In fact, he stated on more than one occasion that he was in no way questioning anybody’s integrity or value of their service to the town. If anybody’s credibility and intentions were questioned, it was Mr. Sweeney’s, and these were raised by other municipal officials at the same meeting.

A second letter to the editor also criticized Mr. Sweeney for raising questions about the severance payment as it “hardly makes up for low compensation.” I believe this is conflating two different issues. We absolutely should pay all of our municipal employees and officials appropriately, but this does not absolve our council from making certain that funds are only expended with the appropriate documentation.

This letter does “give credit to the council for proposing that all terms and conditions regarding compensation and benefits for elected town leaders be defined either in the town code or town charter, as this will prevent matters such as this from becoming an issue in the future.” I could not agree more strongly with this.  

Regardless, to criticize Mr. Sweeney for asking questions and seeking documentation for a large expense for which his approval is being sought is inappropriate.

Charles L. Kellner
Bristol

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