Westport Town Hall
Westport Town Hall
RTM Moderator Jeff Wieser
RTM Moderator Jeff Wieser

By Thane Grauel

WESTPORT — Representative Town Meeting Moderator Jeff Wieser has asked the committee that drafted the body’s “Conduct Guidelines and Expectations” to reconvene and take another look at the document.

He also walked back some statements he made to member Sal Liccione, District 9, in an April 19 email. Wieser rebuked Liccione for comments he was told were made at an RTM Transit Committee meeting two days earlier.

Liccione had questioned the qualifications and experience of a town employee to tackle the future of the town’s Transit District.

Sal Liccione. / Photo by Thane Grauel
Sal Liccione. / Photo by Thane Grauel

Four members apparently contacted Wieser anonymously, and he emailed Liccione without asking him for his version. Read the earlier story here, which includes an audio clip of the conversation in question.

Wieser’s email reminded Liccione of the code, and said the matter would be recorded with the town clerk as “an unusual event.”

The email upset Liccione, and raised questions about the code restricting free speech. (Part of Wieser’s email referenced outdated text that was removed from the final version for that very reason.)

On Friday, Wieser emailed Liccione once again:

Sal:

My email to you last week has raised a number of issues, many of which were unexpected, and none of which was meant to be publicly embarrassing to you. The public discussion cannot be undone; however, I want to clarify a few things.

I realize that my email reminding you of the Conduct Guidelines should not have implied a warning of any future consequences and should not have been copied to the Town Clerk, and I apologize. The Guidelines, by design and by their own terms do not have an enforcement mechanism. While they set forth the RTM’s own agreements on what we consider respectful behavior, they are not meant to stifle or curtail free speech. To the extent that my letter stated or implied that there were warnings, offenses, or future consequences, I retract that. Please rest assured that there is no file or record of any violations of the Guidelines. 

I hope with this letter, we can move on as you continue your active role as a productive and respected RTM representative of District 9. 

All the best,

Jeff

Wieser told the Westport Journal on Monday that he had asked Stephen Shackleford, District 8, the chairman of the committee that drafted the code, to take another look at it.

“I did ask the committee to reconvene and look at this …,” Wieser said. “And see what the future holds for the conduct code.”

Liccione said he is still upset.

“I think that it can be used in this aspect was very hurtful,” he said.

“We have to have a rethink of everything, look at all aspects of this thing,” he said, “especially the freedom of speech issues.”

“I would also say I want some outside attorneys to look at this,” Liccione said.

Thane Grauel grew up in Westport and has been a journalist in Fairfield County and beyond for 35 years. Reach him at editor@westportjournal.com. Learn more about us here.