As published in the Record Journal – Friday October 23, 2009
By Dave Moran
WALLINGFORD — Supporters and opponents of an attempt to revise the Town Charter are ramping up the heat as the Nov. 3 referendum nears.
Incensed at what he termed “misrepresentation” of the charter referendum, Michael Brodinsky, Democratic chairman of the Town Council, challenged Stephen Knight, a former Republican councilor, to a debate to be aired live on the town’s Community Access TV station next Monday.
Knight, who writes a biweekly column for the Record Journal about Wallingford issues, declined by e-mail earlier this week, arguing that since neither he nor Brodinsky are running for public office this year their debate would overshadow the candidates.
“I am no longer an elected official, nor am I even an officer in the Republican Town Committee. I am just an individual who has had the privilege of writing a column in the Record-Journal,” Knight wrote. “Neither you nor I are running for political office, and a debate between us would be a disservice to those who are candidates and are working hard to attract voter support for the election on November 3rd.”
Brodinsky, who has served four non-consecutive terms on the council, said he intends to show up at the station’s 128 Center St. studio at 7 p.m. Monday anyway to “give the other side of the story” in response to Knight’s position that charter revision is an effort to diminish the power of Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr.
“I’m going to talk about his article and highlight how he’s wrong and talk about the changes proposed to the charter and how they (would) benefit the people of Wallingford,” Brodinsky said, noting that there are proposed revisions that don’t affect the mayor’s powers and some that increase them.
Dickinson, the town’s current Republican mayor, has held office since 1984. Knight served seven consecutive terms on the council before choosing not to seek re-election in 2007.
Brodinsky also serves as the moderator of a roundtable discussion on the proposed revisions produced by Robert Gross, who is running for a seat on the council as a Democrat this year and was involved in forming a charter revision commission.
Gross said his intention was to reassemble the entire nine member Charter Revision Commission for a dialogue on the proposed revisions, but that only Democrats Deborah Gross (his wife) and Jeffrey Knickerbocker and Republican Vincent Cervoni were able to attend the Oct. 12 taping. He said several members of the commission declined his invitation, while others simply couldn’t fit it into their schedules.
“I was going to do it whether there was a vote no or vote yes campaign,” Gross said. “The idea was there were seven unique questions on the ballot and if people wanted to learn what these seven questions were about, who better (to answer) than the people who came up with them.”
The one-hour-and-17-minute program will air at least once daily on Channel 18 for Comcast Cable subscribers through Election Day and is available online at http://www.blip.tv/file/2742094/.
Wallingford resident Wesley Lubee recently filed a complaint with the state Election Enforcement Commission alleging that the “Save Our Charter” political action committee formed by Christopher Diorio, a member of the Republican Town Committee, violated the state’s election laws because it spent money to influence the outcome of an election before filing the necessary paperwork to legally establish the committee.
Diorio said that Lubee’s complaint was another example of how “politically partisan” the revision process has become.
Lubee recently changed his voter registration status to Democrat. Prior to that, Lubee was a registered Republican for many years.
Adopted in 1961, the charter has been revised four times since, the last in 1989. An attempted revision was voted down by residents in 1993.