Support for Gaudiano

To the Editor:

Infrastructure is a complicated issue in Connecticut. The General Assembly has been wrestling with how to move forward, and it’s time to create a long-term plan and implement it.

This is an election year for the General Assembly, and I believe Ashley Gaudiano is the right person to represent us in Hartford. She will work to develop a smart, sensible infrastructure plan that will benefit residents and businesses alike. Ashley is running for the 134th General Assembly seat, which covers parts of Fairfield and Trumbull.

Please support Ashley Gaudiano in November.

John Brannelly

Fairfield

Cut gym

To the Editor:

As recommended by a pair of Fairfield citizens recently, does recess in the middle schools have merit? If there were no gym, I suppose it would be a reasonable alternative. Recess would require supervision much as some elementary school teachers provide supervision for middle school students, or it would require non-certified personnel, well, maybe some certified in first aid if it were needed to enable supervision on the playground.

But one cannot have both, gym and recess, I would imagine, as the two are related nowadays.

I recall reading the story advocating recess, but I do not recall any suggestion as to how teachers might be engaged. Would recess require teacher supervision or engagement, much as a coach or gym teacher would or would it eliminate the teacher and place an aide in the job of supervised free play on a jungle-gym complex, maybe a hockey rink in the winter or on the courts of one kind or another, pickle-ball? Sun-tanning along the sunny walls of the closed gyms?

But, cut gym altogether and the school day would be much shorter and the pickup time would be much earlier. And a parent, sitter, or guardian would have to be at home much sooner.

Gerard Coulombe

Fairfield

Anti-Semitic

chants a symptom

To the Editor:

On May 30, the Fairfield Prep lacrosse team defeated Staples 11-10 in overtime. It was a magnificent win for the Fairfield team, but a horrible loss for our community. As reported by people who attended this match, a group of fans from Fairfield Prep, known as the Bomb Squad, yelled anti-Semitic chants and slurs when Jewish players had the ball or scored a goal.

Some people might dismiss this as an isolated incident and blame rowdy teenagers cheering for their friends to win a game, but for me, this is a symptom of a much greater problem. This incident is sadly part of a trend that is surging in our society and in our country. Last year, the Anti-Defamation League reported that anti-Semitic incidents dramatically increased by 57 percent across the country. Forty-nine of those incidents occurred right here in our home state of Connecticut, including acts of vandalism and harassment. A recent study released this past April, showed that nearly two thirds of American millennials don’t know what the horrific concentration camp Auschwitz is, and 22 percent of American millennials said they haven’t heard of the Holocaust.

I applaud the recent legislation signed by Governor Malloy requiring local and regional school boards to include the study of the Holocaust and other genocides in their curriculum. This is a great step forward, but what happened at that lacrosse game shows us that legislation is not enough. We need to work holistically. We need to educate parents, teachers and community leaders to serve as role models to our children. We need students, adults, staff and coaches who are prepared to stand up to bigotry and hate in any form and stop horrendous acts like this while they are happening.

Anti-Semitism is not only a Jewish problem, it is a problem that impacts all of us. Throughout my career, I have worked with wonderful and committed Jesuit ministers. They were loving, caring and embodied the values of compassion and tolerance taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola. These Bomb Squad students showed that we have a ticking bomb in our hands. I call on our local authorities, leaders and parents to investigate this incident so that the instigators and participants in this hateful act can be shown there is no place for this kind of hatred and cruelty. We must do everything in our power to dismantle this bomb before it explodes in our midst.

Rabbi Marcelo Kormis

Congregation Beth El

Fairfield

Barrett was incorrect

To the Editor:

Sue Barrett wrote a letter last month regarding the RTM budget vote and a public forum held by the District 3 RTM representatives. Aside from getting the number of RTM representatives attending the forum correct, Ms. Barrett was inaccurate on every other number.

She wrote that, “The mill rate increase was focused on 2 mills.” I can only assume she meant 2 percent, not 2 mills. A 2-mill increase would have been an almost 7.75 percent increase in the town budget. Fairfield’s mill rate did not increase 2 percent, but 2.09 percent — a 4.5 percent increase from Barrett’s “focus” in the letter. In either case, she was inaccurate.

In addition, according to Barrett, when Jacky Durrell was First Selectman, “the mill rate was never as low as the one First Selectman Tetreau has presented.” In fact, according to the Tax Assessor’s office, Fairfield’s mill rate under Durrell was lower on multiple occasions.

Barrett’s letter also questioned my commitment to the Holland Hill School project, which is nothing short of comical. Her letter stated, “I believed that all of our representatives supported the improvements,” implying that I do not support it. In fact, Holland Hill’s renovation was verbally endorsed by only one citizen or publicly elected official at the RTM meeting last year when it was approved — me.

Barrett used to be a teacher as well as an elected official. I am sure she recalls the importance of being both factually correct and not being complicit or unethical in trying to undermine an elected official. Fairfield recently has experienced enough self-inflicted wounds that need to heal in order to make our town sustainably grow its low commercial tax base and Grand List by methods besides building large dwelling units and increasing property taxes.

According to the news media, the town budget increase was 2.36 percent. Due to an unexpected increase in state funding to our town, the final mill rate tax increase for homeowners was almost one-seventh less than the 2.43 percent increase originally reported. Based on the numerous communications I received by members of both parties as well as independents in our town, I feel that at least 1/40 of the property taxpayers in Fairfield — a list that, according to the Fairfield Citizen News, does not include our current First Selectman — feel that the mill rate increase can be held down or remain flat, such as it is in nearby towns as Westport and Shelton, which are prospering. I literally know what it is like to dig through my children’s piggybanks to deposit enough money in order to pay the property taxes on my family’s house. I have needed to do so more than once in the last few years. (Make no mistake, I always pay them back — with interest.) As a husband, father, homeowner and lifelong resident, I am committed to making Fairfield a better place in the future for everyone, not just for me or my party.

During her brief stay at the District 3 public forum, Ms. Barrett never took the time to ask me my thoughts on the budget. Instead, she made assumptions. If she had asked me, I would have openly shared my thinking. What is right isn’t always popular and what is popular isn’t always right.

I am proud to represent our district as well as work with others throughout the town to improve Fairfield. While I appreciate Ms. Barrett’s community service, I must respectfully ask that she get her facts straight. Better to be right than righteous.

Alex Durrell, RTM-3

Fairfield