Letters to the Editor
Got a problem with traffic management in your neighborhood? Don’t like the latest increase in your sewer use fee? Take those problems directly to the top elected executive board, the Board of Selectmen. The elected BoS serves as both the traffic authority and the sewer authority in town. The BoS has all the powers and duties granted those authorities by state statute to solve the problems.
Want to see better regulations and more intelligent signage in the town parks? Would like to know the rationale for setting fees for recreational activities in town? You can take those issues directly to your elected representatives on the town legislature, the Representative Town Meeting, or RTM for short. The RTM has the final say on all of that.
Both those two paragraphs would be true if you lived in Westport. Neither is true if you live in Fairfield. In Fairfield, the town charter and town code hands those and other responsibilities off to a myriad of separate executive authorities and commissions stacked with appointed (i.e., unelected) officials. The map to follow how Fairfield government works is more complicated than the map of the subway in New York.
The first selectman says many have asked why Westport has been able to hold its tax rate in line over the last two decades, while Fairfield has let its tax rate soar to new heights. The first selectman, the town’s chief elected executive, claims that’s because Westport’s property values have climbed at a greater rate than Fairfield’s have. Amazingly, the first selectman does not understand that the very reason for the dichotomy is that Fairfield’s increasingly high government borrowing and spending has suppressed the growth of property values in Fairfield.
The Fairfield town charter and town code assure lack of transparency and lack of accountability in how too many decisions get made in this town. There is no single reason why Fairfield’s spending is too high. But a governance system lacking transparency and accountability by elected officials is a big one. Unelected officials making basic decisions on how and where a town goes is the antithesis of local democratic process.
The current first selectman leads the town like a cheerleader leads a crowd.
What we need is a first selectman who will lead the town like an interested and engaged, experienced manager. What we need is a first selectman who will set the town on a modern-day footing and get our tax rate back where it needs to be. What we need is a new direction and a leader who will take us there.
To the Editor:
This is my third time appealing to the citizens of Fairfield to elect my father, Tom Flynn, to the board of finance, but this time it’s different. This time I can vote, too, and my dad has to earn my vote just as much as he has to earn yours.
For the past 12 years, my dad has served as a member of the board of finance and during his tenure, he has brought change to our town and helped to shape policy that directly affects us. Given the current state of Connecticut, it is vital that our town has leadership that understands the crisis we are in and is willing to stand up to state government when they neglect the financial needs of towns.
My dad has done a lot of good for Fairfield and is dedicated to continuing to help Fairfield during this time of massive change. Connecticut has seen multiple Fortune 500 companies leave in the past few years — this includes GE, right here in Fairfield. I saw the effects this departure had on my dad; he was concerned for the people losing their jobs and the impact this would have on the fiscal state of our town. That’s why my dad is different than other politicians — he actually cares about the people.
I know you are reading this saying, “She has to say this — he’s her father,, but I don’t just say stuff to say stuff. Trust me, my dad couldn’t pay me enough to rave about him. Dad has done a lot of good for this town and he takes the time to listen to the people of the town. He doesn’t just make cuts to make cuts, he takes the phone calls, emails, Facebook messages and random stoppings on the street to listen to what people have to say. Sometimes you hear from people and they aren’t too happy, but that’s part of the job. My dad has listened to all the people that have reached out to him regarding our town because he loves Fairfield.
Twenty years ago, my mom and dad chose Fairfield to settle in because their then 1-year-old daughter needed a backyard to play with the puppy she didn’t yet know she was getting. Since Memorial Day weekend in 1997, my parents have made Fairfield their home. Between serving on the board of finance, the board of directors at the Beardsley Zoo, a lector at our church, a baseball coach (even though my brothers and I might have wished he hadn’t), my dad has dedicated his adult life to bettering this town and all that surrounds it.
So on Nov. 7, I’m casting my vote for Tom Flynn, and not because he’s my dad, but because he’s proven he’s the best candidate for the job. If I can make one last appeal to the citizens of Fairfield it will be this: If for no other reason vote for Tom Flynn to get him out of the house — my mom and brothers can use the break.
Meghan K. Flynn
To the Editor:
I am writing as a friend and supporter of Tom Flynn, who is currently up for re-election to the board of finance. During the past two years, I have come to know Tom well after he stepped forward to spearhead several fundraisers on behalf of my daughter, Cora.
Cora was born with a congenital heart defect. Two years ago, doctors determined Cora’s heart was slowly failing and she was listed for a heart transplant. Although our family always knew this was a possibility, the reality was shocking. As my husband, myself and our three children slowly began to digest the news, plans for assistance were already in motion.
It was during this time that Tom Flynn became aware of my daughter’s situation, and without introduction or prying, he stepped forward to help. Tom generously gave his time and energy and he mobilized his network of political and professional colleagues on behalf of my 11-year-old daughter and family. I was, and remain, impressed by Tom’s approachability and his quiet altruism. Tom provided an introduction at the Fairfield Gaelic Club. Members there embraced my Irish-born husband and organized an impressive golf and dinner fundraiser. Tom brought Cora’s story to colleagues, who organized a basket raffle. At Tom’s urging, state and local political leaders arrived to embrace our family, help raise awareness by issuing proclamations in recognition of Cora and other children with congenital heart defects. Our family was deeply touched by Tom Flynn’s kindness, as well as the kindness and generosity of the Fairfield community.
I have no doubt Tom is an excellent candidate for the board of finance. He has shown my family and I the best of what we should all expect in our leaders — integrity, empathy and heart.
To the Editor:
I’ve known Tom Flynn for 20 years. We got to know each other when I was a headhunter. I helped him hire his staff, and I enjoyed working with him because he was a good business man with an outstanding knowledge of accounting. As important, he approached his job as a problem-solver. He was practical, he was flexible, he was never overly political and he never made the process about him. This is why I sincerely believe he is needed on the board of finance here in Fairfield.
Idealogues sound great. They get us stirred up, but their rigidity is one reason why, in my opinion, nothing substantive is being
accomplished in Washington. Tom is a Republican and a fiscal conservative, but this is his world view vs. his job. During all of the years that I have known him, I would characterize his work as a problem-solver. In work and in his service to our town, he has always been open-minded and practical because he believes that, no matter what party we represent, we want the same thing: a town we can feel good about and be proud of.
Our town has some challenges. We need as many-problem solvers, from both parties, as we work through them. Tom has been, and will continue to be, one of the better problem-solvers our town has working for us. Please vote for him.
To the Editor:
Regarding the column, “There is hidden turbulence in airline travel safety,” Sept. 25, 2017, Jim Cameron should stick to his trains. I think he may have some qualified knowledge in the train travel industry.
As far as his exposé on airline travel, he is doing his best to scare passengers with his weak and somewhat incorrect knowledge. The airplane that was landed so skillfully on the Hudson River had the fuselage breached when it struck the water.
Additionally, a passenger opened a door in the aft of the airplane which contributed to the flooding of the airplane. All that said, the airplane floated long enough to allow every single passenger and crew member to exit the airplane. Pictures clearly show that the passengers outside waiting for rescue boats.
Trains, like airplanes, are not designed for water landings. How long would a commuter or Amtrak train float if it jumps the tracks and goes into the water?
And, where are the emergency exits and personal flotation devices?
Not all airliners have personal flotation devices and rafts, but they all have emergency slides.
If the airplane is not used for over-water flights, personal flotation devices are not required to be part of the safety equipment.
Many airlines spread the use of their airplanes over many different routes, so often, even airplanes like the airplane that landed on the Hudson River are equipped with personal flotation devices.
Remember to never inflate a personal flotation device inside the airplane. As far as 99 percent of the cargo not being checked before it goes on a passenger airplane, I think Mr. Cameron needs to review his sources. The risk is too great for Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration to leave the flying public exposed and vulnerable. Mr. Cameron should definitely stick to trains and ask qualified experts if he plans to write about airline travel in the future.
Editor’s note: The writer is president of the Friends of Sikorsky Airport, in Stratford.
To the Editor:
I am responding to Jim Cameron’s commentary, titled “Hidden turbulence in air travel safety,” that you published on the Opinion page Sept 23. I know that Mr. Cameron writes about commuting issues and I suggest that he limit his “opinion” to trains, buses and highways. His opinion on air safety was filled with alleged facts which were, in order, partially true, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. He was restating urban myths, outdated practices and participating in the all-too-common sport of airline bashing. I am a senior captain with one of the three major U.S. airlines, with 34 years of experience, and prior to that I spent nine years as an aircraft commander for the USAF flying cargo jets. I would like to correct the record.
Rear-facing seats. Mr. Cameron is correct on the research and that the military fly cargo/passenger planes with rear-facing seats. Please consider that these planes are designed to fly their passengers into hostile airspace and land at airfields that may be in war zones. Their chance of coming under attack and landing with “incident” is many times greater than on any airliner. Furthermore, airlines cannot force passengers to buy tickets for rear-facing seats, whereas the military does “order” its personnel onto flights whether they prefer forward-facing seats or not. Rear-facing seats have been considered by airlines, but the flying public objects and the increased safety benefit is not significant enough to force the issue.
Seat belts. Mr. Cameron objects to the term Bumpy Air. I never use it and most of my colleagues don’t either. I report light or moderate turbulence. In 34 years of airline flying, I have never experienced severe turbulence, nor the worse level, called extreme. This is mostly because the FAA prohibits flying U.S.-based aircraft into known or forecast areas of severe or extreme turbulence. On a very rare occurrence, some aircraft inadvertently experience severe turbulence when forecasts and reports are wrong or conditions in the atmosphere change. Yes, we try not to scare our passengers with announcements that suggest doom and gloom, and most passengers would not know the exact delineation between “light” and “moderate” so some pilots might simplify their terminology to the very basic “bumpy air”. But when there is turbulence of any level, passengers are told to return to their seats and wear their seat belt. Most airlines recommend wearing seat belt whenever seated just as is required of the pilots on the flight deck. There always is the chance for unforecast turbulence. As for “Clear air turbulence”, which Mr. Cameron seems to think describes all turbulence, it exists, but is only one of many types of turbulence that an aircraft may encounter. My company is spending hundreds of millions of dollars per year on forecasting, reporting and disseminating information on turbulence to its flight crews in a real-time, worldwide basis. Every passenger should understand that the plane flies just as safely in light or moderate turbulence as in calm air. This is a matter of comfort, not safety. The only risk is for passengers not belted in if the aircraft is “bumpy.” So, take safety into your own hands and WEAR YOUR SEATBELT AT ALL TIMES!
Life jackets. I am exposed to accidents reports for all major and most minor aircraft accidents and incidences. As far as I know, during the jet age (mid-’60s onward), only one jet aircraft has ever ditched and as you and I saw on TV, Capt. Sullenberger’s plane floated very nicely. I’m sure the passengers on that flight were very happy to know where the exits were, and to have their life vests on, as they waited in ankle-deep 31-degree water for the ferries and police to rescue them. So far, all planes that have been ditched (1), have floated. I’m not sure why you state that “Planes don’t float.” And your dismissal of detachable slides is equally disturbing. This is a self-inflating device capable of carrying up to 70 people at sea equipped with boarding ladders, heaving rings, survival tools, signaling equipment, repair kits, storm canopies and more. It doubles as the egress slide for land evacuations and is quite an engineering marvel. If you look at the pictures of U.S. Airways Flt 1549, you will see many passengers awaiting rescue while standing or sitting on the slide/rafts in the freezing Hudson river.
Evacuations. You state that the certification tests are rigged. Sure, the tests are rigged, so that a threshold of performance can be established for a newly designed aircraft. If the tests work in 90 seconds, it indicated that a real evacuation will not be hindered by design flaws. Every load of passengers is different, including age, fitness, language, and attitude. Every evacuation will be different. The common factor is the flight attendants are professionals and experts at conducting aircraft evacuation and will get you off a plane as expeditiously as possible, when the need occurs.
In-flight snacks. Since I can’t see how this topic impacts safety, I will place this in the category of Airline bashing, but will still respond. Your suggestion that airlines push the booze and turn down air recirculation to “keep passengers sedated” is not only wrong but more urban myth. Air entering the aircraft is reduced at cruise to reduce fuel burn, which is an automated feature of the pressurization system, designed by the aircraft manufacturer. It is not to sedate the passengers. Electric Recirculating fans and HEPA filters compensate for this and the result is that air is refreshed in the cabin many time more often than in your home, office, or a crowded theater. The last thing that flight attendants want is a 12 foot wide metal tube flying through the sky with 200+ drunk passengers aboard. They never “push the booze”. Most flight attendants that I work with take pride in providing great service to our passengers and your suggestions are inappropriate, to say the least.
Security. Sir, you just don’t have a clue as to what goes on behind the scenes with respect to cargo and baggage and I would need a book to describe it and clearance to do so. I will simply refute your statement that “a person can easily ship a bomb.” It is a ridiculous oversimplification that is simply not true.
Liquids. You state “The real explosives-perfumes and duty free booze-are still allowed.” Sorry but these are both flammable liquids, not explosives. There is a big difference. Yes, they could hurt someone if used as a weopon, but they could not cause a plane to crash or be taken over to be used in a 9/11 type attack. Almost any item that you carry onto a plane could be “weaponized” in some way or another. Every aspect of our lives has a level of risk and flying on an aircraft is no different. We work to reduce the risk of major catastrophes to the lowest possible level and recognize that some minor risks will always exist. These in turn can be mitigated by our well-trained flight attendants and onboard security officers. What you suggest, an attack using a bottle of liquor or an ounce of perfume is not a significant threat. These liquids are prohibited from the outside, since TSA cannot expeditiously differentiate these liquids for much more dangerous explosive liquids. They are then made available from airport vendors, after security screening, who are selling secure and sealed known products, that travelers desire.
Your conclusion is that you “hate to sound like a grouch, but flying is no longer fun. It is neither glamorous nor safe”. Not fun and glamorous is your opinion, but not Safe is absolutely wrong. American aviation is absolutely the safest industry there is. The industry is currently boasting amazingly good safety statistic. We have gone for quite a few years without a significant air crash or death caused by an air accident. That is millions of flights and billions of passengers carried safely. As far as fun and glamour, it is all there for a price. If you shop at Walmart, you have a particular type of shopping experience, probably not glamorous, yet at Mitchell’s, I’m sure it would be glamorous. You might pay 10-50 times as much for a suit, and that would be your choice. MacDonald’s vs. Don Pietro’s at dinner time would be similar. So if you want glamour and fun, just move to the front of the cabin. The executive airport lounges with all the amenities are superb. The lie flat beds with duvet covers and home size pillows are spacious and comfortable. The wines are great, and meals are tasty, preferential boarding, free checked luggage, and even Porsche Cayenne gate transfers. It’s all there for the full price, it can be quite glamorous and fun and you are welcome to give it a try. However, when you prefer, the airlines offer discounts, big discounts, and even bigger discounts, with each level of price discount offering less space, less privileges, and less services. It is your choice to forgo some or all of the glamour and fun, and just get from point A to point B. That is your choice, but I guarantee that you will get there in an ultimately safe manner.
I am immensely proud of working for my company and equally proud of our safety record and of the product that we provide the flying public. The United States airline industry is one of America’s greatest industries. My guess is that 99 percent of my passengers are happy and satisfied or even delighted with their travel experience on my flights. I take great pride in that statement. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what to do for the 1 percent who are grouches.
Capt. Lawrence Rehr