Opinion: Town will miss Nuovo; ‘petty political tactics’ decried

I was deeply saddened to read that Victor Nuovo has resigned from the selectboard. Saddened by the fact that Middlebury will be losing the wise counsel of someone who has been a dedicated public servant for eight years. And saddened because some in our town seem to have sunk to petty, vituperative political tactics. Such have unfortunately become all too common in Washington, but Middlebury — and indeed all of Vermont politics — have seldom seen such outrageous behavior.
Mr. Nuovo’s “sin” is that he was long employed by Middlebury College, prior to his retirement over a decade ago, a past association that makes him “tainted” by conflict-of-interest in voting on a matter that involves the interaction between college and town. There is no conceivable way that he might benefit personally from the approval of the plan under discussion to relocate the town offices and recreation facility — at least no more than any other citizen. If past association with the college might produce bias in favor of this project, how is it that some of the most vocal opponents are themselves Middlebury College employees? (Full disclosure: I too am a retired college employee.)
Where were those who insist that “it’s all about adherence to conflict-of-interest rules” during the planning that led to construction of the new bridge across the Otter Creek — also made possible with significant financial help from the college? Victor Nuovo was one of the selectboard leaders in bringing that project to fruition. He had the vision — which I will admit that I lacked — to see what the bridge, roundabout, and the new traffic pattern might do for the town.
Once completed, virtually all of us, certainly including myself, appreciate how this project has opened the town and facilitated traffic flow. We owe Nuovo and others who led this project, and the college that helped finance it, a huge debt of gratitude.
No, the suggestion that Nuovo’s judgment is somehow tainted in the current instance is an opportune political tactic by a small number of citizens attempting to derail a project they disagree with by whatever means possible.
I hope that all of us in Middlebury can pause to recognize Victor Nuovo and celebrate his long service to the town. And I hope that we can put aside petty politics to have a rational discussion of the pros and cons of whatever approaches may lead to municipal facilities we can all be proud of and can afford — recognizing that compromise may be necessary. Then let’s decide the issue through a timely vote, and move on to action.
Frank Winkler

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