Or Meet Me In The Cereal Aisle At Shaw's ...
Enfield mayor calls for probe of GOP chief's talk with contractor
By Anne Pallivathuckal
ENFIELD - Democratic Mayor Patrick L. Tallarita has asked town officials to investigate whether Republican Town Chairwoman Mary Ann R. Turner engaged in misconduct related to a conversation she had with the contractor doing the athletic field renovations at the town's high schools.
Tallarita said Wednesday that he asked Town Attorney Christopher Bromson and Town Manager Matthew W. Coppler this week to conduct the investigation.
Tallarita said he wants to determine whether Turner acted inappropriately when, during a conversation with an official at the Atlantic Lining Co., she reportedly disparaged a town employee working on the athletic fields renovation project.
Tallarita would not identify the town employee. He would say only that the person does "work closely with the project."
Turner admitted Thursday that she did contact an official at Atlantic Lining Co. after reading in the newspaper in April that the firm had been awarded the contract for the high school renovations. She denied, however, that she spoke about a town employee.
According to Turner, she just told the contractor, "If he's doing business in Enfield, just be prepared to do business."
Asked what she meant by that, Turner said that the contractor should make sure the contract is met and "be a little careful."
In a statement today, she questioned whether the town manager and town attorney have authority to conduct an investigation. She dismissed the move as an "obvious attempt to stifle public input."
Tallarita said the Town Council had learned that the official with Atlantic Lining had been contacted by someone whom he couldn't identify for certain but who had claimed that she was "a powerful and influential woman in the town of Enfield."
The official believed he had spoken to a Town Council member, and so the council asked town officials to find out who it was; they learned it was Turner, Tallarita said.
Tallarita claimed that Turner's comments could have "jeopardized the time- and cost-sensitive project."
"She stepped over the boundary here," he said, adding, "She should be held accountable for her actions."
Turner said she never claimed to be "powerful and influential" to the official and had identified herself.
In her statement, Turner characterized Tallarita's move as political, calling it "reprehensible and far beneath the level of the type of town leaders we deserve."
"Mayor Tallarita has resorted to personal attacks on me as the Enfield GOP town chairman in hopes of besmirching our team" of Republican candidates, "hoping the diversion will draw voters' attention from his administration's dismal record," she said.
Councilman Scott R. Kaupin, Republican minority leader, responded Thursday to the investigation, saying, "It seems to be a little overreaching on the part of the Democrats."
Kaupin said the investigation appears to be politically motivated, with the municipal election less than two months away.
"It has something to do with the calendar and the elections coming up," Kaupin said, adding that Tallarita is "making requests like this of the town attorney in the height of a campaign season."
Kaupin added that he would have preferred it if Turner had not spoken to the contractor, but defended Turner's right to do so as a private citizen and a taxpayer.
"Any private citizen can speak to anybody," Kaupin said.