At the Jan. 13 meeting of the Board of Education, School Superintendent David Title proposed a 3.29 percent budget increase. The Board then passed an additional $5.5 million capital-spending request.

Hours later, a fractured board voted 5-4 to amend its bylaws, imposing unprecedented limits on the public's ability to speak at meetings and censuring individual board members for requesting factual data from central office.

The vaguely worded language appears to leave these two fundamental democratic rights to the sole discretion of two people -- Dr. Title and board Chairman Phil Dwyer. Voting to approve were: Dwyer (D), John Convertito (R), Jessica Gerber (D), Marc Patten (D) and Jennifer Maxon-Kennelley (D). Not in favor were Donna Karnal (D), John Llewellyn (R) Eileen Liu-McCormack (R) and Paul Fattibene (R).

These four actions are and should be closely related in the eyes of parents, taxpayers and the voting public.

I'm on the RTM Finance Committee. We count things. But I think it was Albert Einstein who said, "Not everything that is counted counts." We must take into account not only the numbers request for next year's budget expenditures and capital debt -- but the process, the soundness of rationale and supporting facts behind those numbers.

I wonder if school board members voting for those repressive bylaw amendments believe they will inspire public trust or help build confidence of other town boards in the numbers they present for our approval this spring? If they suppress legitimate parental concern and tie the hands of their own members attempting to make honest inquiries, what does that say about the board's regard for the public they serve?

I believe a third amendment got tabled, a possible violation of Roberts Rules. It required only a simple majority to pass these sweeping changes but a supermajority to repeal them. What does that say about regard for democratic principles, and for future school boards serving after this one?

My advice to angry parents and others who watched this on Fair TV: Don't get angry. Vote accordingly. Five seats on the school board will be up for election this November.

RTM Rep. Ellen Jacob,

District 9

Penfield Pavilion gives access to greatest asset

Fairfield has five beaches along our coastline -- Jennings, Penfield, South Pine Creek, Sasco and Southport. These beaches are available to all our residents. The Parks and Recreation Department has a comprehensive plan for these assets. Their vision is to provide a complete range of alternatives for our residents.

Pine Creek Beach is the smallest and provides the fewest features. Southport and Sasco beaches are larger and provide a minimum in amenities, such as a food truck concession for beachgoers. Jennings beach is the largest, stretching from the marina with fishing, kayaking and boating to the private Fairfield Beach Club. Jennings provides services and rest rooms along with a modest pavilion. Penfield provides the most in services with a full-service pavilion, including a large covered deck, lockers and changing rooms, an expanded concession stand, plus handicap-accessible walkways and bathrooms.

Fairfield's most dramatic and compelling asset is our coastline, beaches, harbors, marina and fishing pier. These assets should be shared and enjoyed by all residents. The Penfield I pavilion makes Fairfield unique with a one-of-a kind facility. It adds value to our town.

For the last 30 years, our town has enjoyed both Penfield I and Penfield II (the Jacky Durrell Pavilion). Penfield I was a private beach club until purchased by the town. Penfield II was built in the 1980s recognizing the need even back then for a second option. Penfield II is not heated and is only used during the warmer months. It has a capacity for approximately 125 guests. It just meets the minimum for handicap accessibility. Most importantly, it is not open to the public and is only available to those people or groups that pay to rent it. It has no shaded deck. It is not easy for seniors or disabled persons to access.

Penfield I is open to all residents. It provides a large shaded deck. It provides handicap-accessible walkways and rest rooms to ease access for seniors and disabled persons. It has a large concession stand. It has lockers and changing rooms. Most importantly, all these areas are open to the public daily -- not just to those people that rent the large gathering room. Penfield I is heated and can be used year-round.

Penfield I's gathering room can be rented out, providing a reasonably priced facility that can be used for celebrations, reunions, youth-sports-team parties, weddings and other special events. This lets those residents that don't belong to a private club have a place to bring together family, friends and neighbors to enjoy each other's company. There is no other place that allows those residents that don't live in the beach area to enjoy Fairfield's most precious natural resource -- our shoreline.

Simply, Penfield Pavilion fits perfectly into the overall vision and plan for our shoreline. It provides the opportunity for everyone in town to share our beach. This was why the town acquired it in the first place and why we still need it today.

Mike Tetreau

First Selectman

Town of Fairfield

Prefers pharmacy to

Stratfield Road blight

The former Stratfield Market on Stratfield Road has been empty now for several years. It is an eyesore to the neighborhood in its blighted condition and is seriously affecting property values.

While at one time there were good intentions by the neighbors (me included) to restrict its use and thwart a Walgreen's pharmacy from opening there, we should admit defeat at this point and move on.

The zoning should be changed back to what it was originally, and Walgreen's should be allowed to put a store there (if it still wants to). At the least, Walgreen's should have an opportunity to sub-lease the space without all the restrictions being placed on the property, which limits the type of tenants to which it could lease.

At this point, almost anything would be better than an empty, deteriorating building, which is doing a lot more harm than good to the Stratfield neighborhood.

Bob Stone

Fairfield

Himes proving

he's Pelosi's puppet

Barely days into the new Congress, Jim Himes wasted no time getting back to his ideological partisan grindstone. Two important votes came up the very first week and our 4th District Congressman voted his ideology over the interests of his constituents and the American people.

First up was the Keystone pipeline. And he followed Nancy Pelosi's lead, as he does on every issue important to her. He voted "no," but the bill passed. This is a no-brainer industrial infrastructure project with a positive jobs and energy impact for the country. Himes is always touting the need for infrastructure ... just not THIS infrastructure. Why? Because the liberal ideologues must vote as the radical environmentalists who fuel their campaigns demand.

Next up was a vote on raising the ObamaCare mandate from 30 to 40 hours per week to be worked by employees before the company is required to offer health-care coverage. The result would be to return millions of workers back to full-time from forced part-time status. This was a targeted fix to increase employment and income. He voted "no," but again the bill passed. Himes has stated many times that ObamaCare is not perfect and he would favor some fixes ... just not THIS fix. Again, Pelosi called for his vote, and he plainly delivered to her rather than his constituents. Nancy Pelosi owns Jim Himes' votes -- she just gives one back occasionally for cover if she doesn't need it.

And to prove the point, Himes was still smarting from a bruising December battle in which Pelosi passed over him for chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, when she decided to throw him a bone for his ideologically loyal votes. She just named him to the House Democrat Task Force on Communication. His role there will be to "develop bold messages that will deeply resonate" with the people. These liberals still don't realize that we heard their socialist message loud and clear, and it was rejected outright by the American people in last November's election.

At every chance when in Fairfield County, he tells us he's a "moderate" in a swing district. But when in Washingtonm, he votes extreme liberal on every vote that matters to the liberal leadership. Check his voting record here: http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/106744/jim-himes

The district is represented by nothing more than a smooth-talking charlatan. He's representing the corporate and other interests that fund his campaigns. There is nothing in his actions that represents his constituents, and he'll continue to vote against the will of the people until we wake up and hire a new representative

Bob MacGuffie

Fairfield