LITCHFIELD — Residents and town officials tore into Selectman Tim Lachapelle, who is the subject of a recall election and who has made multiple accusations about malfeasance by town employees, at an emotional public hearing Monday.

Lachapelle, who did not attend the meeting, has previously accused town employees of stealing and not working their full hours for the town, questioned the legality of the hiring of the town manager’s husband to manage the transfer station, and filed numerous Freedom of Access Act requests with the town, sometimes as many as 10 in a single day, according to Town Manager Trudy Lamoreau.

Selectmen and others defended town employees Monday before about 40 people at a public hearing on the upcoming election to consider recalling Lachapelle from office and said they’ve looked into his accusations and determined they are baseless.

Selectman George Thomson noted Lachapelle’s absence at Monday’s meeting and at other recent selectmen’s meetings shows he’s not doing the job he was elected and is paid to do.

“He has refused to participate, he’s got a job, he’s getting paid, but he’s not here,” Thomson said. “The town’s business must be conducted, and we can’t do that job if Mr. Lachapelle refuses to participate. All these things he said, I checked up on. I want to assuage any anxiety people may have about malfeasance. We’re not in cahoots. If he’s so concerned about people getting paid and not doing the work, where the heck is he?”

During an interview on October, Lachapelle said he would not attend selectmen’s meetings until the outcome of the recall vote is clear, because he does not agree with the way the town is being run.

Resident Keith Nuzzo said if he were a selectman and people voted to remove him from office, he wouldn’t come to meetings either. He said the issues raised by Lachapelle should be looked into and addressed one by one. He said if Lachapelle was wrong about them, he should be removed from office.

A total of 213 residents signed a petition seeking to recall Lachapelle from his position as a selectman, more than the 172 required for the petition to go forward. Selectmen, in response, scheduled a recall vote for Dec. 20.

The Dec. 20 recall election is scheduled to take place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Litchfield Town Office.

In October Litchfield residents, at a special town meeting, adopted a new ordinance that allows them to recall local elected officials. Petitions to do so must include the signatures of more than 10 percent of the number of voters who participated in the last gubernatorial election.

Since Lachapelle was elected narrowly to the board in a three-way race last June, he has accused several local officials of misconduct.

In a letter he distributed to residents, Lachapelle accused Code Enforcement Officer Steve Ochmanski of stealing from the town by claiming mileage reiumbursement for miles he didn’t travel and questioned the legality of the town hiring Bryan T. Lamoreau, the husband of Town Manager Trudy Lamoreau, as the town’s transfer station manager in the summer of 2015, among other allegations.

Both Lamoreau and Ochmanski have said Lachapelle’s accusations are without merit.

Residents submitted their recall petition the same week Lachapelle wrote his accusatory letter.

Lachapelle also has complained about the time it takes town employees to fulfill requests under the Freedom of Access Act.

Lamoreau said he has filed up to 10 such requests in a single day. She also said he harasses her with emails, called her a liar, followed her and documented her activities. She said town employees are not stealing, and she invited residents to come in and review the books and talk to her.

She said her husband, Bryan Lamoreau, was hired by the selectmen and works for the selectmen, not her.

Longtime Fire Chief Stan Labbe said he saw Lachapelle “blow up” at some selectmen meetings, making unfounded accusations against town officials. He said he would trust the current group of town officials with his life.

“I can’t believe a public servant sets here and makes those kind of accusations,” Labbe said. “When I left those meetings, I hung my head, ashamed of what this gentleman was saying.”

Resident Dori Upham said she voted for Lachapelle and thought, then, he had some good ideas. But she said he seemed to be contentious at his first meeting as a selectman, making potentially libelous accusations without evidence.

“This town is not Mayberry, but it’s not Gotham City either,” she said. “I’m thrilled to live here, and I’d like to see a board of selectmen that can work together. And that is not happening now.”

Selectman Mark Russell said if Lachapelle is recalled from office at the Dec. 20 secret ballot election, the town will need to hold an election to fill his spot. If he is not recalled in the election, he will remain a selectman.

Resident Gary Parker urged voters to research who they are voting for and get an idea of how they feel about issues and how their mind works. He said disagreements in government are inevitable, but people can’t be hostile about it and “can’t go into something with an agenda and both guns blazing.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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