Former Norwich school board member chosen as city ratepayer representative to CMEEC board

Norwich – The City Council on Tuesday selected former Republican school board member Rashid Haynes as the city’s new ratepayer representative to the board of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative.

The position was created as part of an overhaul of the state statute that created the energy cooperative, calling for the elected governing body of each CMEEC member municipality to name a direct representative to the board. The City Council also approved a new ordinance creating the ratepayer position, spelling out the criteria for the new position – taken mostly from the state statute – and specifying that any compensation the member will receive will be paid by CMEEC rather than the city.

Haynes, 48, was appointed to the Board of Education last February to fill a vacancy, but failed to win re-election in November. He is a financial analyst at Electric Boat in Groton and was credited with helping the school board absorb $1.5 million in budget cuts ordered by the City Council last spring while avoiding teacher layoffs.

Haynes was one of about a half dozen applicants for the municipal ratepayer representative to CMEEC, said Alderwoman Stacy Gould, a member of the council Appointments/Reappointments Committee. Haynes “rose to the top” of the candidate pool, she said, for several reasons. Haynes has a background in finance, is available to attend the daytime CMEEC board meetings and showed himself to be nonpartisan over the controversy surrounding CMEEC over trips the cooperative hosted to the Kentucky Derby. The trips led to ethics violations findings in Norwich and Groton against participants in the 2016 trip.

“He didn’t have an ax to grind,” Gould said. “Some people we interviewed said ‘we’re going to get …,” I’m sorry. That’s not what we’re here for.”

Haynes had applied for the position before the Nov. 8 election and was the unanimous choice both by the previous City Council appointments committee and the new committee appointed after the election. Gould is the only council member on both committees. New committee member Alderman Joseph Delucia agreed the committee picked the best applicant for the position.

Haynes did not attend Tuesday’s council meeting and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Per the new ordinance approved Tuesday, the position will have a two-year term beginning Jan. 18. The appointee must complete the city’s ethics training program prior to attending any CMEEC meetings.

Alderman Samuel Browning said he would like to amend the new ordinance soon by adding a requirement that the ratepayer appointee report to the City Council periodically.

Haynes will be asked to report to the City Council about CMEEC activities in the spring, Gould said. His financial position at EB also will help him to understand what utility information is considered proprietary and what would be public information, Gould said.


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