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Unusual Email Dispute Roils Easton Town Hall

EASTON, Conn. – There appears to be an unusual disagreement between Easton officials over the use of email in Town Hall.

First Selectman Thomas Herrmann says an outside Internet technology specialist found on Jan. 9 that both assistant town clerks, Joan Kirk and Deborah Szegedi, had not accessed their town emails since Dec. 13.

The issue is important, Herrmann says, because email is one of the most popular ways that town board members communicate with the town. If employees within the clerk’s office are not accessing emails, that could mean important town information is being ignored — such as meeting agendas and minutes, Herrmann says.

But Town Clerk Derek Buckley says he is puzzled by Herrmann's claims. Though he admits to installing a “brand new computer system” at his office recently, “there has been no interruption in service.”

“Everything is fine, all emails have gone into my office as they usually have,” Buckley said.

Hermmann says there was a problem Jan. 11, when an Animal Shelter Building Committee was scheduled to meet. Herrmann said the committee’s secretary, June Logie, emailed Kirk several days earlier notifying her of the scheduled meeting, including an agenda in the message.

But because the agenda wasn't posted publicly, the meeting had to be canceled just hours before it was set to start. Committee members, and Herrmann, were notified of the cancelation by Di Barriga, of the Police Department, via email stating, “Problem in Town Clerk’s office - Joan Kirk claims they never received June’s e-mail dated 1/9/11 @ 1132 AM. Not received, not clocked in, not posted = NO MEETING per Althea [Falco].” Falco is the administrative assistant in Herrmann’s office.

“No one really knows what is going on in that office," Herrmann says. "Clearly this begs the question, how many other town boards and commissions have sent emails to that office that have gone unanswered?”

The first selectman said he attempted to contact Buckley on the matter Wednesday afternoon but said his office was already closed for the day. Buckley also went on vacation for the long weekend. Herrmann said he expects the matter to be looked into by the Board of Selectmen at its next meeting.

Buckley said he was confused as to why this question was raised through the media. “He (Herrmann) could have easily come to my office to discuss the issue.”

“If he wants to talk to me about this, then he knows how to reach me," Buckley said. "But as far as I am concerned, we have had no interruption in service."

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