Corona Not Reappointed to Middlefield's IWWA

First Selectman calls decision 'administration's prerogative.'


Marianne Corona has been a member of Middlefield's Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency for four decades.

But when the commission meets tonight for its regularly scheduled meeting, Corona will be forced to attend the meeting as a member of the public after town officials decided last week not to reappoint her to her seat on the commission, of which she served as vice chairman. 

While no specific reason for the decision was given, Middlefield First Selectman Jon Brayshaw did send Corona a letter last month informing her that he did not intend to reappoint her to the commission which serves to protect and preserve wetlands in the town.

At the Jan. 7 Board of Selectmen meeting, Corona questioned Brayshaw about his decision and asked that he provide her with his reason for not reappointing her.

"It's the prerogative of the administration to appoint people. It's that simple," he said.

Corona, in her own words, had been a very active member of the commission, serving in a staff capacity and had even recently completed wetlands training that no other commission member had.

"I've spent decades in the wetlands world," Corona said. "I feel it's only fair to come and ask you to tell me why I would receive this kind of letter, and for what reasons."

While Brayshaw would not provide Corona with a reason for his decision, several members of the public at the meeting spoke on her behalf.

"She's irritating, at times, very persistent, ornery but I think we need that," said James Brown, who sat on the commission with Corona for the past four years.

Brown, who wrote a letter to selectmen urging them to reappoint Corona, said no other members were as dedicated to the role as she.

"It's hard to get volunteers to serve on boards and commissions and when you get someone that's willing to still stick in there, I think that should carry a certain amount of weight," said resident Seb Aresco. 

While Brayshaw's letter left open the possibility that Corona could be nominated by either of the town's two other selectmen, Dave Burgess asked the board to delay the approval of appointments to give him more time to talk to members of the Democratic Town Committee about nominating Corona, who is an unaffiliated voter.

"She's done an excellent job and she does her homework," Burgess said, calling Corona "irreplaceable."

"She's like a watchdog for the community. I just can't make arbitrary nominations," he said.

Following several comments, including those by Corona, that she was able to provide the commission with legal guidance, resident David Lowry said he didn't think the commission should lean on her for legal advice. 

"I think that's the role of counsel," he said. 

Lowry also called Corona's behavior on an ad-hoc committee that both were part of, "abhorrent"

Corona was further disturbed that the list of appointments had not been made available prior to Jan. 7, the same day as the meeting.

"There's been no notice anywhere," Corona said. "It's not a healthy process." 

Selectmen eventually approved the list of appointments, unanimously.

The IWWA will meet tonight at 7 p.m. at the Middlefield Community Center.

Brigid January 17, 2013 at 02:45 AM
Michael, Are you sure she's been on there constantly for four decades? I ask because I'm pretty sure Middlefield has term limitations.
Michael Hayes January 17, 2013 at 02:54 AM
I'm not sure exactly, but I do know she's served in the 70's, 90's and more recently, hence the four decades. Suffice to say Marianne has been a volunteer commission member for a very long time.
Concerned January 23, 2013 at 03:43 PM
It is a shame that one of our community's long term volunteers was not re-apponted. This is especially grievous to the town, as the chairman is going to have to recuse himself from deliberations due to working for Mr Hayes' projects at Powder Ridge. Inland Wetlands regulations are complex, and vital to the health of our town. Mrs. Corona has long been involved in helping to oversee the health of Middlefield's wetlands. To appoint another, merely based on prerogative, is a disservice to our Town. Yes, Mrs. Corona, based one one's personal viewpoint, can be abrasive, but more often than not, she is on the correct side of an issue. It is always displeasing to be told "No, you can't do something". Regarding Mr Lowry's comments, the whole Ad-hoc cmte was abhorrent, and they still - 2 years after the end of that cmte- have not presented the BOS & the Town a written report. The cmte almost exclusively operated under executive session, which doesn't serve the town at all. We need more transparency in our local goernment, and have not been getting that at all. Mr Brayshaw has bit by bit been stacking the boards and commissions, Why not, as Mr. Burgess suggested, delay an appointment?
William Glueck February 05, 2013 at 06:22 PM
PDY, term limits generally only apply to elected officials and not appointed commissioners. The appointment of commissioners and chairmanships has long been a part of the spoils system of winner take all electoral systems. Selectman and Mayors need the ability to appoint people that support the agendas for which they were elected with the understanding the agenda must remain within the confines of general statutes, wetlands laws and so forth. I have no opinion on the matter but from a political standpoint Mr. Brayshaw is doing nothing unusual.
Brigid February 05, 2013 at 07:22 PM
I appreciate your help in clariying this matter, William Glueck.


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