Letters to the editor
to Mitch Fuchs,
I read your comments following the recent election. Full disclosure, I am a Republican and one who voted for Barack Obama ... I totally regret it. I believe there are growing number of voters who feel like I do (probably moreso Independents, judging by the recent election results but the implications are the same).
You blame the negative media for the Democrats losses but I see it otherwise. I, and I believe a growing number of voters, see it as a rejection of policies. If anything Obama has been a huge media darling despite the efforts of SOTUS Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Harry Reid to the contrary. This administration from the outset embarked on what I view as the biggest power grab and social engineering initiative I have ever seen or known. This administration has shown to be a Trojan horse of giveaways and social programs all under the guise of stimulus and now health care (now referred to as health insurance) reform.
Voters like myself are concerned by the direction we are headed. Our national fiscal situation is a disaster made worse by this administration and now other major programs are being rammed through with further negative implications for deficits. We all know, once signed into law, these programs never disappear, are never managed well and spiral out of control.
I voted for change but not this kind of change. I voted for more disciplined governmental management and strong foreign leadership. Thus far neither has been evident.
Policies matter and this is what voters are voting on and have always voted on. Our numbers our growing. You and your local party effort have likely been splashed on as the national Democratic truck rolled through but, nonetheless, it is about policies. To claim otherwise is a weak tactic of distraction that may work in Washington but will not work in our community.
What does "sharing"
The teachers of Fairfield's public schools are receiving praise for their willingness to accept a 0 percent salary increase next year, including no movement in steps, followed by a miniscule raise the following year. They are being lauded for, "willing to have a shared sacrifice" in light of the current economic problems. This will help keep our educational system strong and our taxes from rising. Two areas that help Fairfield earn the rating of No. 1 town of our size in Connecticut. This sounds like the ideal solution to a complex problem, and one with which few could find fault.
My concern comes from the use of the word "share." As bad as this current economic problem is, and there's little debate that it is likely the worst since the Great Depression, this too shall pass in time. Over the next few months and years our economy will continue to rebound, as we've already seen with the swift return of enormous bonuses in the financial field. The residents of Fairfield, and the town itself, will once again be among the wealthiest in the nation.
Will we, the people of Fairfield, then share the wealth with the teachers, police, firefighters and other civil servants? Will we, the people of Fairfield, then give these hard working heroes a 10 percent raise as a thank you for their sacrifices, or simply have them return to the standard 3 percent they have always received? I certainly hope we do the former. If not, what truly is being shared?
In a recent article about the Merritt Parkway, Connecticut Department of Transportation's (ConnDOT) supervising engineer, Mary Baier's comments were either audacious spin or pure fantasy. As a board member of the Merritt Parkway Conservancy, a nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to celebrate the scenic, cultural and environmental assets of this remarkable parkway while working to protect, preserve and enhance the road, I feel the following is an accurate portrayal of the work being done on the Merritt.
Unfortunately, ConnDOT, in undertaking the Merritt Parkway Resurfacing, Safety and Bridge Improvements, project has not followed the Merritt Parkway Landscape Master Plan, 1994, to which all parties had agreed. "The design goal of the Merritt Parkway Landscape Plan for the Parkway should be to re-establish the quality of the landscape as it existed at its peak approximately 30 years ago when it had a park-like quality." Further, the Master Plan provides consistency, --¦so that each of the individual elements that give the road its identity are treated uniformly throughout the 38 miles of the parkway." The clear-cutting of sections of the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield and Trumbull, leaving homes and back yards exposed to parkway traffic was never intended; nor were specimen trees tagged for preservation meant to be cut down.
Furthermore, Baier's misleading assertion that the end result "will look like we were never even there" would be laughable except for the seriousness of the issue. Take a drive to the areas of North Street in Greenwich, and Long Ridge Road in Stamford, and you will see these areas which ConnDOT has replanted are very different looking than what Weld Thayer Chase had originally designed. It has been his vision of a "road through a park" that gives the Merritt Parkway its unique character and along with its original 69 distinct bridges designed by George Dunkelberger, that have earned the road designation as a National Scenic Byway, a State Scenic Road, listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and just last month placement on the World Monuments Watch List.
The ConnDOT's lack of respect and sensitivity for the parkway's historic landscape can also be seen in the placement of its salt shed in New Canaan on the Merritt which looms over the parkway as though it were a modern 15-story fantasy/carnival cruise ship coming into a quaint New England harbor.
The conservancy is mindful of the need to improve safety along the parkway. To this end we have for several years raised money from private donations and with the permission of ConnDOT hired professional arborists to clear miles of invasives and remove dead trees. At no time did our arborists find it necessary to strip the landscape bare.
Already more than 300 trees have been tagged to be removed along the roadway in Stratford without funding for replanting. Tree removal will continue in other areas of the parkway. If they are not stopped from destroying the landscape, as done here in Fairfield, the historic value of the Merritt Parkway will be lost forever.
The conservancy earnestly wants to work with ConnDOT to remedy the devastation to the landscape in the Fairfield/Trumbull area. We have landscape consultants willing to work ConnDOT on designing a new replanting scheme and to be in the field in the spring as many plants will require on site placement.
There was a time when people were planning to tear down Grand Central Station but preservations prevailed. So, too, today, I hope preservationists will prevail in saving this beautiful road whose uniqueness now has attracted not only local and national but international attention.
for opportunity to serve
I am honored to have been elected to serve as a member of Fairfield's Board of Finance. Thank you to all who voted for me; I pledge to earn the trust of those voters who did not.
The campaign is now over and the governing begins anew. I promise to uphold my pledge that the town's interests will always come before political considerations. I am confident that the other board members will act in the same fashion. I look forward to working with a dedicated group led superbly by Chairman Kevin Kiley.
This budget year will most likely be a difficult one. I would encourage residents to attend our meetings and offer comments or suggestions. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve.
Member, Board of Finance,
To the residents
of Fairfield's 8th District:
On behalf of myself, Liz Hoffmann, Kathy Braun, James Takami and Larry Kelly, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who demonstrated your support and confidence in the five of us for the RTM, on this past Tuesday. Thank you for coming out to vote in an off year election. I can assure you that we do not take your trust lightly, and we will work to keep it.
Back when I attended grade school, as a matter of consequence for being generally disruptive in class I was compelled on more than one occasion to completely transcribe both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. Aside for a mild case of writer's cramp, it did leave me with a better appreciation for our form of government, and an understanding that it only works when all of us are engaged.
RTM District 8,
Honored to have
I would like to thank the voters of District 4 for your overwhelming support on Election Day. As promised during my campaign I will strive to make objective, informed decisions in the best interests of all Fairfielders. I would also like to thank my wife, Michelle, and all of the other candidate spouses who supported their significant others who sacrificed time away from their home and family during this important election season. I would also like to thank the RTM District 4 Democratic candidates for their efforts and service to the community. I look forward to working with my fellow freshman RTM members, particularly Joe Palmer, who worked tirelessly with me over the past several weeks and months to "get the word out." I am truly honored to have this opportunity and I look forward to serving Fairfield and the citizens of District 4 over the next two years.
RTM District 4,
We will make you proud
I want to thank the voters of District 9 for re-electing me to the RTM. We worked extremely hard to get our message out to the community and it paid off. We will continue to work to provide the highest quality services while seeking out and eliminating wasteful spending.
I was honored to run with such a qualified and dedicated team of RTM candidates. To my fellow residents, I can tell you with confidence that we will all work hard to make you proud. Thanks again for your vote of confidence.
RTM District 9,
Deputy Minority Leader,
I am deeply humbled by the outpouring of support for my candidacy for the Town Planning and Zoning Commission. The voters of Fairfield spoke loudly, over 4,700 times, 700 more than my closest Democratic opponent and for that I am truly grateful.
However, due to minority representation rules, I will be unable to take a seat on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Minority representation is a very important tool to prevent one-party rule and although it worked against me personally, I support the continued practice. I hope that James Kennelly and Richard Jacobs heard the voices of the voters as well and will change their approach to the way they represent the citizens of Fairfield. I will continue to work as hard as I can to better Fairfield and look forward to working with your neighbors and friends to make Fairfield an even better place to live and raise a family.
Thank you all again for your support and I hope to garner it again in future endeavors.
Michael E. Hahn
to next term
I thank the voters of District 5 for their choice to have my colleagues Ruth Smey, Joseph Gall, Chris McAleese Josh Garskof, and me represent them for the next two years. I salute every other person, incumbents and first timers alike, who stepped up to represent their constituents. I firmly believe that each of us, no matter what our party, asked the voters of Fairfield to choose us because we want what is best for our town. No matter what our philosophical differences, we each have taken on a difficult role. We devote many hours every week to the business of Fairfield. We spend many hours studying ordinances, budgets, resumes, proposals. We come together several times a month to discuss the Town's business. We spend countless hours alone and together reviewing proposals, resumes and budgets.
In December, 2007, Nello Ceccarelli, who had served Fairfield for decades, found he was unable to continue to serve. I was invited to run to take his place, an honor indeed. My colleagues voted to give me the opportunity to serve, and in the ensuing two years, I did my best to understand what the residents of District 5, voters and non voters alike, needed from their town. I am sure I pleased some and disappointed others. Most importantly, I did try to understand the issues, hear what my neighbors thought, and vote my best judgment of what would serve the men, women and children of our town. I believe most of the candidates running for office this year had the same motivation.
I also had the opportunity to work with nine other individuals of both parties on my committee, Legislation and Administration, on the RTM. Each month, as we discussed and debated the various ordinances, appointments and other matters that came before us, I saw my colleagues in both parties bringing their best logic and their personal experience to bear to make the decision each felt was in the best interest of the residents of Fairfield. I respected every member of this committee, in agreement or disagreement, because each was acting honorably, and recognized that I was doing the same. Yes, we differed, but always with respect. Our differences were only rarely based on party affiliation. Most often, they arose from our personal histories and our life experiences. Sometimes our votes were unanimous or almost so. I look forward to working with my colleagues of both parties in the next term.
RTM District 5,
Last month I had the opportunity to participate in Fire Ops 101, the fire training school for elected officials sponsored by our regions' firefighters. It was by far one of the most challenging, hands on learning experiences of my career. For a few short hours on a Saturday morning the veil of mystery that surrounds the occupation of a firefighting was pulled away as I dove head first, literally, into a fire.
I suited up in the 60-plus pounds of gear, adorned with air tank and breathing apparatus and joined a team of professionals as we carried our hose into a burring building, performed search and rescue drills and maneuvered onto roofs and across ladders to simulate actual fire rescue scenarios. It was physically and mentally challenging and has forever impacted my appreciation for those that have chosen to dedicate their lives to this work.
Not only have I gained a new level of appreciation, words cannot explain my level of admiration and respect for those who work so hard in often difficult or life threatening situations everyday. I am particularly grateful to Bill Tuttle one of Fairfield's finest, who shadowed me through the drills and stayed close to make sure I was protected and felt safe. Bill to say thank you is not nearly enough for the memories I have that will last a lifetime and impact the remainder of my career. I also want to thank Chief Richard Felner and Assistant Chief Chris Tracy for your enduring dedication to our town and all of the other Fairfield firefighters with the IAFF local 1426 and rescue workers that shared their skills and passion with me and open my eyes to the essential, very important work you do. You truly are amazing people.
State Rep., District 133,
Thank you to everyone who joined The Life is Good company store of Fairfield in collecting new pajamas and books on behalf of the Pajama Program. The Pajama Program is a 501(c)(3) charity that provides new pajamas and books to needy children, many of whom are hoping to be adopted. We will continue to collect new pajamas and books through this weekend, so please bring your donations to Life is Good, 1539 Post Road (next to Borders), Fairfield. Feel free to call Life is Good at 292-8202 for store hours and other donation details.
The Life is Good team,
In Tuesday's election, Democratic Town Chairman Mitchell Fuchs felt obligated to take a stab at the Republican Party for representing the Democratic Party as socialists and death panels.
I am a lifelong Republican with conservative views as they relate to fiscal policy, small government, free markets and a strong defense. I lean independent because the Republicans have lost their core focus in keeping government small but I believe the party will realign itself. President Barack Obama won because of the people's disenchantment with President George W. Bush. I can understand this as I believe that a conservative view along with big government is not the answer. The Republican Party was sent a huge message and, as a result, needs to regroup and reevaluate its true purpose and views. Sometimes its takes one step back to move two steps forward. Obama's bigger government, including the nationalization of medicine and industry, and socialist agenda are coming out and will be his undoing along with the Democratic Party unless the party reevaluates itself. Make no mistake that if you support the current administration's policies, you are supporting a march towards socialism and it will fail.
Getting back to the real issue of this years recent election, Republicans won because national and state Democrats, led by union agendas when it comes to real policy and the love affair with the current administration, is showing its wrinkles. At some point, there won't be enough makeup to cover it up. Look at where the major Democratic support comes from: A large portion comes from labor and government unions, education and the legal community. Unions are out of touch because they dissuade competition which, in turn, stifles innovation. Why is the teachers union against charter schools? Education is a monopoly in the United States. Charter schools pose a serious threat to those who prefer tenure over merit. I believe teachers should be paid more but it should be earned through achievement and not tenure. That is how a great many of us advance in our career.
At our local level, many issues are being resolved for the short term and have been for a long time. The fixes are expensive and our taxes continue to rise. In the end, we are imposing a huge burden on our children. The Republicans won these last elections because of conservative views and using good business acumen to solve problems. From an outsider reading a magazine, our school system looks great. Real Estate agents tell prospective buyers how great our system is. Do you think they mention that there is a yearly debate over redistricting? I doubt it. That is our ugly little secret. It can be fixed, however, and the answers are right in front of us.
Take Oldfield School for example. First Selectman Flatto has been vehemently opposed to the reopening of the school because it costs too much and we will displace the seniors. What a shortsighted and narrow viewpoint. We continue to spend money every year to add portables and annexes to the other elementary schools and build new schools in locations where student population is decreasing. We overspend for these schools and get poor workmanship. If these decisions were made in a true business environment, many people would have been fired for incompetence. Yet, we continue to fix the short term without looking at the long term. Spend the money now, fix Oldfield, bring the students back that live in the neighborhood, and lessen the overcrowding that is a direct result of not having another school. It may sound like a lot of money now but compare it to what it will cost to maintain our existing policies over the next 20 years and try and quantify the pain of dealing with yearly redistricting. It seems simple to me.
In the end, the Democrats made a statement on the national level by electing Obama. However, ultra-liberal policies pushed by Obama, Pelosi, and Reid, including larger government and huge entitlements are not the answer. What happened to the transparency we were promised? Republicans (I suspect many Democrats and Independents as well) are on to it. Next up, the rest of our locally and state elected officials. You know who you are. Think twice before you support old hat policies and despite your party affiliation, do what is right for our country.