Town manager resignation surprising and premature

Some townspeople expressed surprise and others simply chalked it up to Winsted politics Wednesday morning when the news broke that Town Manager Keith Robbins had submitted his letter of resignation to Mayor Candy Perez. But there is no question that the decision came without warning and arguably prematurely.

While it was clear the new Democratic board was preparing to hold an executive session this week to discuss Robbins’ performance, no board members had given an obvious indication of their feelings about the town manager’s work to date. Granted, Robbins was chosen by a group of Republicans from the previous board, but the newly elected Democrats did not seem ready to oust him just yet.

During the selectmen’s debate last month at The Gilbert School, Democratic candidates said they would seek to meet with Robbins to review his performance and establish short- and long-term goals. While that sounded like it would be a challenge, it did not mean the town manager was necessarily going to be fired.

Perez has had problems with Robbins in the past, particularly when it came to getting budget numbers and other information she requested at board meetings, but that problem may also have been the result of the previous board’s Republican leadership, which paid little attention to the suggestions of the Democratic minority. Robbins works for the Board of Selectmen, no matter who is in the majority, and he does what the majority tells him to do.

For the record, we think Robbins is a good town manager who tells it like it is. If his resignation comes because he already knew the Democrats were going to fire him, then he might as well move on to greener pastures and avoid the mess. But if the Democrats have not made up their minds and are willing to work with Robbins, it would be nice to see the Board of Selectmen offer him a olive branch and ask him to stay on. The gesture would amount to a giant first step toward reconciliation and a more balanced, less disrupted political system in Winsted.

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