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OPINION: Charges that demand a response

OPINION: Charges that demand a response

By John M. Talbot

I don’t understand why the R-J decided to publish on June 9 an op-ed by Republican Town Committee chair Sean McDonald that is filled with distortion, half-truth and innuendo, impugning the character of Miguel Castro. But now that Mr. McDonald’s charges are out there, they demand a response. I will take them point by point.

Mr. McDonald starts with mention of an “altercation” between Miguel and Manny Santos during the campaign for local offices in November 2017. He gives us no further information. Innuendo: whatever happened must have been Miguel’s fault. In fact, Miguel was campaigning outside C-Town and Mr. Santos showed up with a camera person and began to fire questions at Miguel without waiting for an answer. Mr. Santos did file a police report, but the whole incident seemed designed to get a video of Miguel saying or doing something that could be used against him. The police did not charge either of them.

The next claim is that Miguel violated the city Ethics Code. According to the reports in the Record Journal in January 2018, the minority party accused Miguel of trying to force out one of the heads of the Neighborhood Associations. They put a censure resolution on the city council agenda. The chair of the Ethics Committee told the council “that the censure was a violation of the city’s Code of Ethics and should be withdrawn without discussion.” (RJ 1/17/18, p. A3) The mayor ultimately removed the resolution from the agenda. More innuendo: Mr. McDonald says only that Miguel was charged with something, leaving the impression that he must have been guilty of it. He neglects to tell us that the charge was so baseless that it was dismissed by the Ethics chair.

Next, Miguel “was accused of altering a portion of a video recording of a subcommittee meeting.” Miguel asked City Hall staff whether it was possible to edit out a very small portion of a meeting recording that had nothing to do with the substance of the meeting. Miguel acknowledged that he had handled the matter poorly and apologized. The original video of the meeting was not altered. This is a half-truth, intended once again to leave the impression of another serious violation.

Mr. McDonald goes on to say that Miguel was charged with “unethical and illegal conduct” and “holding backdoor meetings” during budget discussions in May 2018. That charge was included in Guy Scaife’s lawsuit against the city after he was fired, as was reported by the Record Journal, using those exact words, on May 4, 2018. Miguel was among other Councilors and City Hall employees accused of various things in the lawsuit of a disgruntled former employee seeking revenge. McDonald again leaves out half the truth in order to leave the impression of serious wrongdoing.

The litany continues: Miguel “was arrested and charged with assaulting two Judicial Marshals.” This is all he tells us, but that leaves out about 95% of the truth. The state police and the state prosecutor quickly realized that they had no evidence to support the charges. The case seemed to drag on forever because they kept trying to get Miguel to plead guilty to some minor charge to get them out of their predicament, but he refused. The case has been resolved, but Mr. McDonald doesn’t tell us that because it spoils his narrative. All charges against Miguel were dropped and he stipulated that they had probable cause to arrest him. What this means in plain English is that Miguel agreed not to sue the state police for false arrest, for which he had a strong case.

Finally there is the most recent arrest. All I will say about this is that I do not know what happened and neither does Mr. McDonald. And neither does the Record Journal. That case will be resolved at some point in the future and we should wait for that process to run its course before leaping to conclusions.

There is no pattern of “unchecked, unaccountable behavior” here, as Mr. McDonald alleges. There is no pattern of wrongdoing or abuse of power. What there is, is a pattern of distortion and innuendo by the chair of the Republican Town Committee intended to smear Miguel Castro, and through more innuendo, all Democrats. Mr. McDonald never directly states that Miguel did any of these things. It is all distortion and innuendo, designed to lead readers to the conclusion that Miguel is a bad apple, who should not be involved in politics. It is disappointing to see such propaganda published in the RJ.

Sadly, this is what the Republican Party has become these days. They have no policy ideas beyond cutting taxes, gutting government services at all levels, and making the obscenely rich even richer. They realize that they cannot win the policy debate on the merits of this program. So they are reduced to twisting the truth and misrepresenting the facts in desperate attempts to destroy the reputations of their political opponents.

John M. Talbot is a member of the Meriden Democratic Town Committee. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent the positions of the Meriden DTC or the Democratic Party.