Letters to the Editor
Published 11:35 am, Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Fairfield Challenger team appreciates support
As the team stayed in Williamsport, Pa., a number of supporters went to the Community Theater in Fairfield to watch a screening of the Trumbull World Series win in 1989. What made this evening so special was that, while admission to this event was free, the audience was asked to donate whatever they saw fit to the Fairfield Challenger Little League team. The Challenger Division enables boys and girls with physical and mental challenges to enjoy the game of baseball just like the many other children at Fairfield American and throughout the world.
As the coach of the Fairfield Challenger team, I'd like to thank Leo Redgate, the Community Theater, the Old Post Tavern and Colony Pizza for sponsoring this event, and to also thank the people who were there for their very generous donations. These donations will be used to buy uniforms and new equipment for the team.
I'd also like to thank Steve Schwartz and the entire Fairfield American Little League organization who have been amazing partners for our team and who have consistently supported our team and its continued growth.
needs better review
There has been plenty written about this already, but at the meeting last Tuesday evening, it was clear that this plan to change the middle school feeder plan for eight of the elementary schools (basically the entire town) was presented as the work of a three-person sub-committee.
In actuality the document proposed at Tuesday's meeting, while designated as a sub-committee report, was the work of just one member of that committee. Board member Perry Liu went on record and said that the report should be re-labeled to convey that fact.
The fact that there was no financial impact study included in the study was disturbing, but more alarming than that was one of the comments made by a board member: "There will be a cost but we can afford it"
Where have we heard that before? The board appeared tired of having to deal with this issue and it was stated by one board member that, "We need to get something done."
The board formed the aforementioned sub-committee that reviewed six or seven plans; two people of the three person committee chose to make a single recommendation for the entire board to consider; again, to reiterate, with no financial impact study and prior to receiving accurate demographic information.
Indeed, that was one area where there was no disagreement among the board -- that they will, in fact, have more accurate information come this winter. One might ask then, why is this vital information not included in the process?
There was also a clear bias on the board. When Mr. Liu was speaking, he was reminded curtly by Pamela Iacono that this was a board meeting and his (Mr. Liu's) remarks should be addressed to the board and not to the audience (it was a packed house). Mr. Liu simply turned toward the group once when speaking. (clearly we were there)
When Mr. Kery spoke he not only turned toward the audience, but addressed the audience directly. Mrs. Iacono never said a word to him. It was very obvious that this board is going to vote for this redistricting, without proper vetting, without a proper financial impact study and without listening. (One board member, after having her say and just prior to the residents time to make any comments, had the audacity to say that she had to leave to pack her car and departed). These are indicators to bias, that in my opinion were also in poor taste and drive home the point that the board was not listening to the very people they are supposed to be representing.
By and large most people are concerned and find this recommended redistribution cumbersome and very disruptive. One of the criteria in building the plan was for minimal disruption, this option, the only one presented, is the option that clearly has the most disruption by relocating the population of nearly every school in town.
This plan will be most disruptive to our middle school students and their families, not to mention the impact that this plan will have on the town budget, at a time when the town can not afford any wasteful spending.
We are a large town. We deserve better. To paraphrase one speaker from the audience, we should have a proposal based on the entire school system, taking into consideration all of the schools, elementary, middle and high school.
This plan will result in the need for another plan in three years, as the obvious lack of foresight into the issues will present Fairfield with a bigger problem in the not-so-distant future.
The board should table this plan and conduct a complete and open study with input from a series of committees and professionals that will take into account accurate demographic studies and a full accounting of the financial implications and with a sound recommendation as to why this change is needed in the first place.
What is the purpose and the goal of this redistricting? What measurements are being used to prove the need and how does the board plan on measuring the intended results?
The Board of Education has dropped the ball on this, and is creating disruptive changes to our children's lives, the impacted families' life routines and leaving Fairfield with an added cost that we clearly do not need and can ill afford. This board needs to educate itself on what it is trying to do and why, and then convince the populace.
In the aftermath of a complete study, I think the response from the public would be all together different; we would be traveling down a path that made clear economic and educational sense for all concerned.
There will always be some who are dissatisfied no matter what the results, but in this case there seems to be very few who believe this plan is based on sound information and good judgment.
The recollection of the meeting is my own, as is this opinion.
Just talking trash
"Fairfield trash mystery: How could 9,000 tons disappear?" by reporter Tim Loh begs the bigger question: Why is Fairfield still in the trash handling business at all?
Just three years ago, the town had the opportunity to not only end its association with the Connecticut Resource Recovery Agency (CRRA), but to shut down the trash transfer station over at the salt marsh in its entirety. While the formation of the quasi-public CRRA in 1973 probably made sense at the time, its continued existence today as a middle man collecting fees while providing no direct services is simply stupid. And as one senior Republican state legislator recently agreed with me in a public place: the CRRA is a sham!
Under the decades-long contract between CRRA and the operator, the trash-to-energy plant in Black Rock once owned by CRRA, where Fairfield's trash has been going since the '70s despite the spin by the "ban the plastic bag" people that it goes to a landfill, is now owned free and clear by the operator. The operator is a division of the well-known vertically integrated trash company, Waste Management, Inc.
And the town took title to the trash transfer station at the beach from CRRA, which now must undergo a $90,000 upgrade to meet the DPW's state-of-the-art requirements. The money to do that was borrowed on behalf of the town taxpayers as part of this year's capital plan, which has been misrepresented by the executive branch as being austere. Despite these two changes in facility ownership, the town entered into a contract with the CRRA to act as a middle man. There was some earnest push-back by one very diligent Republican on the RTM about this at the time, but in the end, cronyism and complacency won the day.
The notion that trash collection and trash disposal for the Town of Fairfield has hit the 21st century is tantamount to saying Obama's economy is fully on the mend. The technology exists to shut down the transfer station and eliminate the CRRA contract, while slashing costs to the town budget at the same time too, but not with this crowd running the town political executive branch -- the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance and the Solid Waste and Recycling Commission.
And as long as we are on the subject of improving conditions around the salt marsh, the plans to rebuild the state's regional fire training center in place on One Rod Highway should really be questioned, too. While this recently announced project will be mostly designed and built with state funds, I really question why, in the 21st century, a state as small as Connecticut still needs five regional fire training facilities -- Fairfield, Torrington-Burrville, Beacon Falls, Wolcott and Middlesex? If you think the debt service is bad here in Fairfield, just take a look at how big it is for state government!
There is always a lot of talk from the politicians about innovation, consolidation and cost savings, but that is all it is, just talk!