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TEAM Westport Membership Challenged

An attorney representing 2 Westporters has charged TEAM Westport with violating the town charter, and state statute.

In an email to 1st Selectman Jen Tooker, Vincent Marino — representing Zack Alcyone and Camilo Riano — says that since its formation in 2005, the town’s multicultural organization has “failed to satisfy the minority representation requirement and has included ineligible members. As a result, the Committee has conducted business in violation of the law, and in recent years, in absence of a quorum.”

Marino says that TEAM Westport includes 14 members, and that by charter and state statute, no more than 9 can be from one political party. He lists 11 Democrats, one unaffiliated, and one resident each of Weston and Redding, along with a 15th ex officio member. (Click here for TEAM Westport committee members, as listed on the town website.)

He charges also that “only electors of the Town may be appointed to serve on elected or appointed boards and commissions of the Town.” Two other members, he says, no longer live in Westport.

Marino says that at least 5 members — including chair Harold Bailey Jr. — have served longer than the charter allows.

He demands that 9 members be advised that they are no longer eligible to serve; that “all prior action of the Committee is to be considered void,” and that the 5 remaining members cannot conduct business in the absence of a quorum.

If Marino’s concerns are not addressed by Friday, he says his clients are “prepared to seek a writ of mandamus” (judicial remedy).

Members of TEAM Westport — the acronym stands for Together Effectively Achieving Multiculturalism — “live and work in Westport or Weston,” its website says. Members are appointed by the first selectman.

The committee was created in 2003, by Democratic 1st Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell. “Westport’s traditional ties with neighboring Weston quickly added volunteers from Weston with the sponsorship of Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss,” the website notes.

In 2005, the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) voted to name TEAM Westport an official municipal committee. Democrat Gordon Joseloff and Republicans Jim Marpe and Jen Tooker have continued their support of the group.

Tooker’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

(Full disclosure: I was a member of TEAM Westport at its inception in 2003. I resigned when I began the “06880” blog.)

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