Letter: Tesei Should Demand the Resignation of Hess and Budkins

Submitted by Laura Kostin, April 7, 2018

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Currently at Town Hall, there seems to be systemic failures in management and a lack of competent leadership needed to right the ship.

For readers who might be unaware… an audit of the Town Clerk’s office resulted in an a rather unflattering picture of its operations. The findings include “numerous, serious deficiencies in the Office’s practices and procedures.” The Office was also criticized for employing a self-styled technique of cash handling that is “needlessly convoluted” and “rife with multiple fraud and financial reporting risks.”

The most damning portion of the summary reads, “The deficiencies and weaknesses over revenue processing identified in this review represent a level of financial risk to the Town that is unacceptable.”

The findings are an abomination.  But, given that this is not the first time an audit of a Town department revealed serious issues, it’s particularly upsetting. You’ll recall the Parking Services Bureau suffered repeated thefts over a decade, due in part to the repeated failure of the Town to implement controls recommended during audits.

According to documents, members of the BET Audit Committee discussed the report’s findings at a meeting on October 4th.  At the meeting, Town Clerk Carmella Budkins said she had “taken a few steps” to implement recommendations. It should be noted that this took place prior to the November election.  The audit report wasn’t released until March 8, 2018.  So, voters were not privy to information about the latest mess at Town Hall before they went to the polls.

But there’s more.

According to Bob Horton’s March 19th column in Greenwich Time, Budkins “disliked the tone of the draft and wanted substantive changes made.” Debra Hess, a republican candidate for the BET and an official working on First Selectman Peter Tesei’s re-election campaign, apparently didn’t like the sound of it either.  According to Horton, she found it “requiring immediate amending,” which is outrageous.

Political operatives working toward the First Selectman’s re-election effort should not try to interfere with the audits of Town offices, including ones that could (potentially) have negative political consequences, nor should they attempt to amend the findings.

This chain of events not only smells bad, it raises serious questions about Debra Hess’s behavior, as well as Carmela Budkins’s judgement and job performance.

Our First Selectman should not stand for any of it.  He should be asking for their resignation. But he hasn’t and that’s a problem.