To the editor:
I read a letter to the editor in another newspaper entitled “Pursuing an Energy Strategy.” It was written by Michael Riccio, Chairman of the Southington Town Council, and it seemed to be a call for all citizens to come together, a call for us to teach our children what true compromise is.
In short, it was strong on a call for patriotic fervor in the development of a town wide energy initiative.
Mr. Riccio misses the major point in all the controversy revolving the use of solar panels near Hatton School and its neighboring properties. The key issue is: open government and transparency in the political process. These issues have been brought to the forefront of the news by the legal actions of a local citizens’ group.
Please note the following:
- The Town of Southington used a statue called the “8-24” designed to circumvent the codified board and approval process in town.
- The Hatton neighbors have brought this misuse of the statute to Connecticut Superior Court to seek its interpretation of the use of the ‘8-24.’ This case is currently pending.
- The Hatton neighbors also utilized the ‘Freedom of Information’ statutes to secure all documentation regarding the so-called ‘solar initiative’. The Town Council had placed a financial obstacle in front of the Hatton folks, seeking to charge them for this public information. Three Democrats and two Republicans disagreed with Chairman Riccio and the FOI documents eventually flowed to the Hatton people.
- For the record, I am in favor of alternative energy solutions, but I voted against the solar initiative at Hatton. As a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, I felt strongly, and still do, that the open process of government has been curtailed. I still have serious questions as to the contractor selection process utilized by the Town Council. I have a problem with the efforts of the Town Council to limit ‘FOI’ documentation.
In conclusion, I think Mr. Riccio would help us and our children, by trying to instill a process of open government and transparency. His goal to teach our kids true compromise is fine but please start with the basic facts of good citizenship: the government and its processes belong to the citizens, not to a few politicians. Good old Woodrow Wilson clamored for “open decisions, openly arrived at.” Although his grammar might be suspect, his message is clear: transparency in government is our goal and our right.
Stephen Leggett, Plantsville