Town Councilman Nick Kapoor's request to see correspondence between First Selectman Steve Vavrek and town department heads over their budget requests sparked a heated exchange at Monday night's council meeting. Vavrek, who is a Republican, called it nothing more than partisan politics, because Kapoor also serves as Democratic Town Committee chairman, and flat out refused to release the information.
On Tuesday, Kapoor responded with a Freedom of Information request for the first selectman's letter to department heads asking them for specific information with their budget requests.
"I would request any and all information relating to Department Heads communication with you regarding the aforementioned items," Kapoor wrote in the FOI letter. "I would also request a copy of an email you sent to all Town Department Heads dated January 7, 2013 entitled 'Town Council Budget Mtgs.'"
When he asked Vavrek for the information at Monday night's council meeting, Vavrek replied that in the past 10 years, the first selectman never shared his letter to department heads with a Town Council member.
"Are you trying to do my job?" Vavrek asked. "I think this is politically based and I won't stand for it. End of discussion."
Vavrek then pointed out that Kapoor also serves as DTC chairman. Kapoor maintains he is only requesting the information in his role as a Town Council member to assist him in reviewing the 2013-14 budget request.
"Is this not public information?" Kapoor asked.
"You are micro-managing my position," Vavrek said.
Town Council Chairwoman Enid Lipeles and Town Councilman Tony Unger tried to restore order during the meeting.
Kapoor said he may have to file an FOI request and Lipeles said he would not get the information otherwise, because Vavrek had made it clear he would not share it. "That's how he feels," she said.
"That's how every first selectman feels," Vavrek added.
The first selectman then asked Dee Dee Martin, who is a Democrat, why she had not asked for the information in her 26 years on the Town Council.
"Why are you asking me?" Martin replied.
Martin actually served on the Town Council for 18 years.
The FOI Request
The letter Kapoor is asking for was one sent by Vavrek to town department heads in November, regarding their budget requests and asking them for:
A brief narrative of the department's functions, current staffing levels and a department organization chart, the department mission statement, the department’s goals for 2013/2014, a base budget with existing staff and services, a base budget plus any cost adjustments, requests for new staff and/or service — including the detailed explanation and cost breakdown, detailed requests for capital and/or operation items, detailed list of cost savings enacted in the last budget year and a detailed five-year cost and staffing projection for the department.
"It's a shame that, since the first selectman won't share the information voluntarily, he is forcing me to FOI public documents," " Kapoor said.