`We the People' grades system based on independent audits

We the People of Fairfield attended Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Finance and the "full to capacity" meeting of the Board of Education in December; both meetings presented the findings of independent audits they had done. Attendance alone could have been the harbinger of things to come. The Board of Finance meeting was sparsely attended.

The audit of the town side revealed departments "leanly staffed, both employees and department directors rolling up their sleeves to get the job done." Sherri Steneck, selectman, commented that only $300,000 in savings was identified. Bob Stone, Board of Finance member, was the first to note that the town's audit was not going to save the taxpayer any money and WTP will tell you why. Since 2008, WTP has attended just about all meetings held regarding the budget before its approval in May. This is no easy task since there are many of them. Last year, in particular, WTP watched -- fascinated - as the Representative Town Meeting interviewed every town department head about their budget. The department heads welcomed the ability to defend their budgets to the town's people. To WTP, this was a sign that the town side of things does, in fact, run efficiently and effectively. The RTM did, however, make torturous decisions to cut sometimes vital funds from various town departments. Again, an indication to WTP that the RTM is doing its job in this terrible economy!

Now, let's talk about the educational side. The independent audit found $5 million worth of ways to save the taxpayer money! Are we shocked? No. John Mitola, current head of the Board of Education, publicly stated a year ago that the budget process for the educational system is a game, and he is right. Dr. Clark told the public last year that her budget was "bare bones." She had shamefully requested a $5 million increase when her teachers had given up both salary and step increases! The Board of Finance cut $3 million of the $5 million Dr. Clark had requested and the RTM, unfortunately, caved to pressure from their members and did not cut any more. Two weeks later, Dr. Clark finds excess funds to the tune of $1.6 million to cure part of the $3 million in cuts.

WTP was outraged! This is not how a "healthy" system should work. This is back-door politics at its worst. So, it is not without an "I told you so" that WTP feels it is time to give the educational budget its "comeuppance." WTP met with Dr. Title in July -- a week or so after his tenure began -- to give him an earful of what happened last year under Dr. Clark's tenure. Pam Iacono, subcommittee chair for the independent audit, also attended the meeting at our request. She confirmed what we had to say. Dr. Title told us that he believed in putting forth an honest budget and WTP intends to hold him to his promise.

In the near future, the Board of Education expects to hold a meeting, open to the public, where they will lay out how they will utilize (hopefully implement) the recommendations of the independent audit. WTP sincerely hopes this meeting is as well attended by the public just as the last Board of Education meeting was well attended by the teachers. If the public does not turn out, it will continue to be "business as usual" for the Board of Education.

In summary, WTP gives the town an A-plus on its audit and requests that Ken Flatto turn his attention to attracting commercial development to the town's third train station area and Kings Highway as a means of increasing tax revenue and decreasing taxpayer burden. Further, WTP gives Dr. Clark and the educational system (administrators and central office) a D-minus for thwarting the process intentionally, flying in the face of the taxpayers, RTM, parents and, yes, the teachers who trusted them in what they said. WTP believe the teachers should also receive an A-plus for recognizing the hardship of the taxpayer in this difficult economic time and agreeing to an unprecedented zero-percent increase in salary and no step increase this year.

Finally, in this year's budget, WTP would like to challenge the Board of Education to do what the RTM did last year and interview every department head in the educational system allowing them the opportunity to defend their budgets or cut.

Kate Daniello

Bob Forcellina

Co-founders

We the People of Fairfield

Thank you, Fairfield

As my term as state representative is ending, I would like to thank you, the residents of Fairfield, for the privilege of serving. My time serving in the Connecticut Legislature has truly been an extraordinary and rewarding life experience. As, from the beginning, my goal was always to create genuine progress for all in a bipartisan manner, I am extremely thankful to the extent I was able to have a direct impact in creating that kind of progress as being a state representative has been inspired work of the soul for me.

I congratulate Brenda Kupchick for her very effective campaign and win on Election Day. I, too, wish her success in creating that genuine progress for the people of Fairfield and Connecticut.

The overwhelming dedicated support I received from my campaign volunteers during the recent election campaign has warmed my heart in a way that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I especially wanted to let those friends and volunteers know how much their friendship and support has meant to me by thanking them publicly, including Susan Barrett, Lauren Bove, Liam Burke, Jennifer Carpenter, Mark Corcoran, Helen and Joe D'Avanzo, Heather Dean, Trudi Durrell, Jodie Eisemann, Dan England, Judy Ewing, Kevin Flynn, Glen Franklin, Josh Garskof, Eleanor Gonzalez, Bob Greenberger, Keane Harkrader, Jennifer Hochberg, Kevin Hoffkins, Richard Jacobs, Allen Marks, Joanne McMaster, Marilyn Miller, Christine Ostrowski, Devon Pfeiffer, Khorshed Rhanderia, Sheryl Santiago, Linda "Ida" Snelham-Moore, Karen Sussman, Lisa Winjum, Jay Wolk and Debbie Zieff. For those who I may have momentarily missed, thank you for your friendship and understanding.

I also thank those many dozens of large and small contributors to our election campaign.

We all especially want to acknowledge and thank our campaign manager, Patty Jacobson. Patty, your dedication, commitment, leadership through action, friendship, and espirit de corps has inspired us both during our election campaign and beyond.

We decided to dedicate our election campaign and service to all those who are out of work and otherwise suffering through this awful economic time with a renewed hope that we have already begun a steady and strong economic rebound and that those who govern will do so wisely to advance your economic opportunities.

Above all, I would like to thank my wife, Madelen, whose patience, support, friendship and sacrifice during my service were truly beyond anything that could rightfully be expected or requested. I also thank my children, Mallory, Andres and Joseph, who all willingly sacrificed in many big and small ways over a number of years.

My hope is that we will come together truly as Americans first and do what is necessary to create that genuine progress with real freedom and real opportunity for all in a manner that advances these uniquely American virtues.

Tom Drew

State Representative

132nd General Assembly District

Fairfield

Sees liberal hypocrisy on

tax cuts

With the two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts passed, the liberals have admitted that they lied to the American people for the last 10 years.

The liberals have constantly said that the Bush tax cuts were only for the rich. Yet, now President Obama has said that if the Bush tax cuts were not passed, the middle class would face a $3,000 tax increase. Further, the liberals have blamed everything on the Bush tax cuts, Hurricane Katrina, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the real estate collapse, the bank failures, the Gulf oil spill and global warming. Yet, Obama said that if the Bush tax cuts were not extended we would be facing a double-dip recession.

So, why did the liberals lie to the American people about the Bush tax cuts? Could it be that Reagan economics works and their Keynesian economics is a failure?

In 2012, I bet President Obama will extend the Bush tax cuts once again for all those evil American people! Maybe by then we will get a handle on our economy and liberals can stop lying about sound economic policies.

Ssg. Wynn S. Allen,

USA (Ret.)

Fairfield