Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Nothing Became Him So Much...."

Your scribe has not always been kind to First Selectman James A. Lash in these posts. In the recent tensions between him and the Representative Town Meeting, your scribe has sided with the latter (being a member thereof, and all that). But even as spring-like weather is arriving in Greenwich today, a thaw in Town Hall-Town Meeting relations may be expected in the months ahead.

Your faithful reporter was present in the First Selectman's office this morning for the long-awaited announcement as to whether Mr. Lash would seek a third term in that self-same office. Present were the Local Rag and the two weeklies, as well as the radio station and Channel 12 television. Surprisingly, there were no other RTM members in evidence, so your scribe took it upon himself to indirectly represent that body by his presence and participation in the proceedings.

Said proceedings began with a prepared statement which Mr. Lash handed out and then read aloud. Being both curious and a quick reader, your scribe allowed his eyes to race through the page, where they alighted on the following words:

"...I will not seek another term as your First Selectman."

What followed was a question-and-answer period, mostly by the press, with the occasional assist from yours truly. After the first few questions I raised my hand, and Mr. Lash nodded at me, so I asked if he thought Peter Tesei might run as his replacement, and if so, whether he would endorse Peter. The response was a gracious suggestion that there were many good potential candidates to succeed him, including at least two in the room - the other two Selectmen. But Peter Crumbine reiterated that he was only running to remain in his Selectman post, and Penny Monahan allowed as how she had as yet made no decision on whether to run as the Democratic candidate for the top seat. So the field, it seems, is wide open at this point.

In response to another press question, Mr. Lash noted that he had made his decision while on vacation last summer, thinking that perhaps time off was not such a bad thing. He further noted that he has been in key Town government posts for eight years (BET budget chairman and top dog), and felt it was time for new people to take over. While not espousing term limits, he noted that he believes turnover on the various Town boards is a good thing, including on the Board of Selectmen.

Someone asked what qualities his successor might need, and your scribe helpfully suggested "thick skin", which brought a smile. Someone else asked what he thought his accomplishments in office had been, and it was clear that he was proud of having addressed issues of deferred maintenance and long-range planning. He further noted the fact that the level of discussion and debate had risen during his tenure; as he said in his prepared statement:

"If we do not talk about the important issues, they will not be addressed. If the important issues are not addressed, they will not be resolved. If they are not resolved, Greenwich will suffer."

Good point. He has certainly raised a lot of issues, and for that he is to be thanked.

As the press conference was drawing to a close, your scribe mentioned one other accomplishment that should not be overlooked, as it is one that will certainly outlast us all: the purchase of the Pomerance property on Orchard Street. This process began while Mr. Lash was on the BET, and he played a significant role in the acquisition. He gave us the welcome news that the Aquarion property may well be added to the Town's open space before his term ends in December.

The meeting ended with a round of applause for Mr. Lash, who, be it said, seemed to be in a relaxed frame of mind now that his decision not to run again had been made public. Yes, dear reader, whatever your feelings about our First Selectman may be, nothing in his two terms in office so became him as the manner of his announcing his decision to leave the position. Your scribe predicts that while the issues raised by Mr. Lash in recent months will not just disappear - nor should they - the manner in which they are discussed in the months ahead will be considerably more cordial.

And, to peer further into the crystal ball, your scribe forsees a standing ovation for Mr. Lash at the October meeting of the RTM, the last such meeting he will attend in his capacity of First Selectman. Remember, dear reader, you heard it here first.


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