This whole matter involving the mayor's waffling over debating in a FREE and OPEN forum with Democratic mayoral candidate Gary Goncalves has gone from the ridiculous to the absurd.
Today, The Fairfield Weekly wrote a piece on the m wrote a piece on the matter which produced more questions about the mayor's response to the League of Women Voter's invitation than answers.
It’s municipal election season, so that means it’s time for arguing — and in Danbury, they’re arguing about how they should commence arguing.
Gary Goncalves, Democratic challenger to Republican Mayor Mark Boughton, is blasting Boughton over his non-commitment to a debate the League of Women Voters tried to schedule for Oct. 20 or 22. Boughton says he can’t make those dates, and the only debate currently scheduled between the two is a $45-a-plate luncheon hosted by the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce (Oct. 14).
“It’s unfair to me as a candidate and even more so to the community and taxpayers of Danbury that the mayor will not commit to a free and open debate,” says Goncalves.
Boughton says he didn’t get the League’s invitation until Sept. 24, and by that time he’d already made plans. “I can’t make those dates,” he says.
It's almost laughable that the mayor is using the excuse that he didn't get an invite from the LWV until Sept 24 seeing that Goncalves sent a press release asking Boughton to accept the LWV's invite AND that the mayor responded to Goncalves' request in an News-Times article that was published on Sept 20th.
"There are already several events planned for next month," he said. "Anything beyond that may be difficult to fit into our schedule."
While keeping that in mind, take a look at what the last honest man in Danbury said about the invitation from the LWV back on SEPTEMBER 25 2009
In response Boughton said he only received the invitation to the league debate late last week and he will evaluate whether he can attend the event.
Now, using Boughton's own quote, in an article that was PUBLISHED on Sept 25, the mayor stated that he received the invite from the LWV "late last week." If you check a calendar, Sept 25th was on a FRIDAY, which means that "late last week" would had been anywhere from Sept 16 to 18. The LWV send the first invite to Boughton's campaign on Sept 10th and, according to the Fairfield Weekly piece, hand delivered the SECOND invite to City Hall on Sept 24th.
Carol Elder, president of the LWV Danbury Area, says invitations were sent to the campaign headquarters of both candidates on Sept. 10. “Gary got his and agreed to the debate and I never heard back from the mayor,” Elder says.
She eventually had a second invitation hand-delivered to City Hall two weeks later. “I don’t know why he didn’t get [the first invitation] unless his campaign isn’t passing his mail to him,” she says.
…are you catching on?
Lets go back and look at another quote from Boughton from Sept 25th
"It's already late in the (election) cycle and we do have a full schedule of events," he said. "I also have a responsibility to run the city of Danbury."
In face of a News-Times editorial that was critical of the mayor's action in the matter, and continued blasting from Goncalves, Mayor Mark is giving the impression that he's having a change of heart.
“However, in the interest of public discourse I proposed, as an alternative, a TV debate, which can be seen [on the Comcast government access channel] anytime they want to show it.”
On one hand, the mayor states that his schedule is too busy from now until election day to do any other debates AND that he has a "responsibility to run the city" and SUDDENLY Boughton has found time in his "busy" schedule to participate in a debate on public access television...a debate that would be next to extremely hard to pull off.
Notwithstanding the fact that a debate that's done at Comcast studios would need a moderator, an agreed format, and scheduled on an agreed date and time (a.k.a., something the LWV had already set up last month), in order to do the event, the show would also need a crew to run the studio (director, two to three camera operators, audio operator, graphics operator, etc).
Now as a person who's involved in a several shows on public access, I can tell you that:
- finding an hour in the evening to do a debate in the studio,
- finding a full studio crew (who are volunteers) that can be at the studio at the agreed time,
- a moderator that both parties would agree upon,
a debate on local access at this late date is pretty much next to impossible.
At the very least the "debate" would have to be taped during the morning when more studio time is available (evening studio time at Comcast is most likely booked from now till well past Election Day) Finding a crew to tape a debate at the studio in the morning/early afternoon is all the more difficult seeing that people who volunteer their time at local access work during the day.
…and then there's that thing about the mayor having a "responsibility to run the city of Danbury".
…are you catching on?
Unfortunately, the mayor's waffling on FREE and OPEN debates has resulted in the possibility of the League of Women Voters hosting a debate very slim...if not impossible.
Elder says the LWV’s chances of hosting a debate this cycle are shot as they probably couldn’t organize one before Election Day.
In short, because of the mayor's recycled excuses and insulting everyone's intelligence, just as in 2007, once again, the resident of Danbury are the big losers.
Day 25: fundraising for candidates are more important to Boughton than FREE and OPEN debates
Day 24 and no word from Boughton
Democratic Town Committee chairman weighs in on Boughton avoiding FREE and OPEN debates
News-Times to Boughton: Stop waffling on FREE and OPEN debates
Avoiding free and open debates is nothing new for Boughton
Goncalves blasts Boughton over not agreeing to open debates