Meeting in a room occupied mostly by firefighters, the Charter Revision Committee took to the 4th floor cafeteria of the Stamford Government Center Tuesday night to hear from the public.
Following the meeting, they took to the Republic Caucus Room to discuss what they'd just heard and open the floor for amendments or re-voting on various issues that would be included in their recommendation report. That report will be issued to the Board of Representatives by next week's deadline of Wednesday, May 23, 2012.
Lots of issues were covered by the few that chose to take to the podium in front of the committee, including the controversial unified fire plan, the proposal to institute term limits for the mayoral position and limiting elected officials to one elected position at a time.
"I am concerned about the proposals that will effect the volunteer services," said Belltown Fire Chief John Didelot during the public hearing. "Since 2008, Belltown members have responded to nearly 3,000 calls and put in thousands of hours of training that literally saved lives in our district and all for a fraction of the cost of career personnel."
Didelot explained he felt the committee was making a plan too convoluted for easy implementation in the city, and said his concern was that volunteers were not going to be a concern for officials. After the meeting, Didelot gave an additional statement about his feelings toward the recommendation.
"I think everyone recognizes the amount of hard work the department has done," he said. "I think we need to refine a few of the points. I didn't hear anything controversial here at all. I would like to see a resolution process included in the charter."
The committee only heard from a handful of people, including Didelot and Representative John R. Zelinsky (D-11), who clarified he was there in his capacity as a citizen only.
After the hearing, Charter Revision Committee Co-chair Jay Sandak said he was satisfied with the feedback and the opportunity the public hearing presents.
"We gave full opportunity for people to be heard and now we're going to go back into our meeting and see if anybody wants to reconsider any votes," Sandak said. "We're getting in position to being able to turn this report in to the Board of Reps—by next Wednesday."
During the later meeting, the vote for a unified fire department was reopened to the committee members. Unanimously they were in favor of item 115 this time, including two votes that had previously been register against the idea.
The recommendation for proposing term limits on the mayoral position—previously a recommendation supported by the board—failed when put to a vote, 7-7, a recommendation being considered by the committee after it was submitted to them by current Mayor Michael Pavia, according to the committee.
When the Charter Revision Committee turns in all of their recommendations to the Board of Representatives, the board will do one of two things. They will either wholly accept the recommendations and that will be the end of the process, or they will send the recommendations back to the committee with additional comment for further review.
The Committee will have to turn their initial and, possibly, only report to the Board by Wednesday, May 23, 2012.