New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio's letter to the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, announcing that his city was withdrawing because it could not pay its dues, was just the latest example of the mayor's penchant for needlessly creating controversy.
This silly hullabaloo stems from the City Council decision to remove the dues for COG from the council budget. The reasoning was sound. With the transition to the mayor-led government, and the end of the council-manager system, it does make sense that the dues and responsibility for working with COG should rest with the executive branch.
But Mayor Finizio said the money did not come along with the change in approach. Therefore his administration did not have the $15,191 to pay its annual dues to the regional council. And that led his honor to write to COG Executive Director James Butler saying New London was dropping out of the regional council.
The idea that New London would leave the regional agency is absurd. COG has been critical in obtaining millions of dollars in state and federal grants for New London. As one of the three largest municipalities in the region, a transportation, commercial and cultural hub, it is vital that the city have a place at the table when it comes to regional planning.
There was no need for sending alarm signals, and generating a front-page headline, by announcing New London's withdrawal. The mayor could have gone to the council before taking that step and asked for the transference of the dues money to his office's account. The City Council appears amenable.
Short of that, Mayor Finizio could have written to Mr. Butler, or better yet made a phone call, explaining that because of a bit of budgetary confusion tied to the transition in governance, New London's bill would arrive late. We don't imagine leaders of the other communities would have voted to kick New London out.
Everyone knows how this ends. Expect an announcement soon, maybe at a mayoral press conference, stating that the city is back with the COG.
Failing to handle such a simple matter in a simple fashion does not reflect well on the mayor as an executive.