Concerned Citizens vindicated

For the past two years, the Concerned Citizens have been courageous in their efforts to make the public aware of the failures of our town officials to protect the interest of our taxpayers in their administration of the Fairfield Metro Center train station project. During the same two years, those officials have tried to deflect attention from their failures by vilifying the efforts of the Concerned Citizens. They have falsely accused us of wanting to stop the project from going forward and they have characterized the facts exposed by us as "silly," "ridiculous," etc., while they failed to challenge those facts.

The truth is that the Concerned Citizens have never opposed completing the train station. What we have opposed is the irresponsible manner in which our officials have failed to protect the interests of the taxpayers as well as their misuse of the authority we have given them for the benefit of a single developer, Black Rock Realty (BRR) all at our expense. Those were serious matters, not "silly" ones.

It should now be clear that the Concerned Citizens were exactly correct in their efforts to expose these failures and there is no longer any place for the Ken Flatto administration to hide from their responsibility for failures that have forced the taxpayers to pay for their mistakes.

In answer to our request, we have now received an outline of the new plans submitted by the state Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) for the temporary completion of the train station and the cost of those plans. This outline consists of three phases. In the first paragraph of each phase the following quotes appear:

Phase A: "Blackrock Realty ... failed to complete its commitments. ... Since the developer did not complete the work, ConnDOT is forced to finish the drainage system."

Phase B: "Phase B is a result of the fact that the private developer, Blackrock Realty, has failed to complete its commitments to construct a roadway and drainage system that is required to construct a surface parking lot for train commuters."

Phase C: "Phase C is a result of the fact that the private developer, Blackrock Realty ... has failed to complete its commitments."

The approved bond issue that taxpayers are now forced to bear as a result of those failures amounts to $19.4 million and the station will still be incomplete.

In addition, the DOT cover letter also states: "Once these funds are made available, the department will complete preliminary engineering of the final phase. At which time, a second request of funding will be submitted." There was no estimate provided for such a second request but there will surely be more significant costs for taxpayers to bear as the state continues to perform other BRR obligations. We're already getting close to the $100 million we predicted.

The obvious question that arises from these failures of BRR is: Why was there no provision in the agreement to provide recourse against BRR for failure to perform its commitments?

The only reason you have someone sign an agreement is to hold them liable to perform their commitments. However, this agreement not only failed to provide that protection to the taxpayers, it even provided a clause that would allow BRR to not only escape its liability for failing to perform, but reap the benefits of having the state perform its commitments. Since Flatto negotiated the agreement and town attorney Saxl participated in its preparation and review, they must bear full responsibility for forcing the taxpayers to assume the cost of BRR's failure to perform.

Add to this failure, the misuse of authority by Flatto in his unprecedented and illegal removal of the Conservation Department from oversight of the project in response to BRR's demands coupled with Town Attorney Richard Saxl's defense of that action without ever giving the department the opportunity to respond to BRR's unsubstantiated claims, and we see a clear pattern of accommodating BRR at taxpayer expense.

There has been no answer whatsoever from these officials to explain their failures to hold BRR contractually liable to perform its obligations while also allowing BRR to benefit enormously at taxpayer expense now that the state is forced to perform them.

There are a number of other serious questions that are still unanswered by the new DOT plans among which is the necessity for extensive and costly remediation of the internal roadway to be built and other remediation on the site; the building of the train depot, etc., that were to be BRR's responsibilities. That remediation is essential to protect the public health from the toxic waste on the site but we are being denied the oversight of our experienced Conservation Department to protect us.

We now also learn from DOT's letter that another developer on a property adjacent to BRR's site is planning a large residential and commercial development on his property besides BRR's development. How much development can this small area take -- Home Depot, Whole Foods, BJ's, two mega theatres and two major developments?

We have tried to make the public aware of all of these failure and issues and, while we are disappointed that the general public has not yet seen fit to demand answers from these officials, we will continue to demand the same and to closely monitor further developments that are sure to surface as the FMC project continues.

Edward J. Bateson III, Alexis P. Harrison, Jeanne Konecny, Philip Meiman, Pamela Ritter, Les Schaffer, Joy Shaw, Jane Talamini, DeeDee Brandt

Fairfield

The latest bribe

for unions

The latest health care bribe involves the labor fat cats of the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). President Obama negotiated for two days behind closed doors and promised his loudest and biggest "special interest" group, Big Labor that union members would be exempt from a 40 percent tax on high cost private insurance plans. Nonunion workers like Walmart employees will have to pay more in taxes for doing the same jobs. The extravagant tax will hit the middle class which includes everyone making less than $250,000. The tax would hit those plans exceeding $8,900 for individuals and $24,000 for families. Is this discrimination against a whole segment of society that are nonunion members?

This "Cadillac Tax" was supposed to raise $60 billion to fund coverage for the uninsured and reduce the cost of the health care bill. Where will the money come from now? Obviously those who support the Democrats' agenda will be spared and others will just have to pay more.

It is a shame that Americans are not allowed to see the final negotiations on C-Span as President Obama promised over and over throughout his campaign. Was it too much to ask for?

Julie Criscuolo

Fairfield

Shut out

There is something very shady going on in Washington and most Americans are ignorant to what is happening. The House and Senate have passed their versions of health care reform legislation and now will work to mesh the two bills together but instead of both houses working together on the open floor of Congress, the democrats are hijacking this time honored tradition. They have gather a select few democrats to sit behind locked doors to pick through both bills and create a final bill that will be shoved down the American peoples' throats.

Democrat supporters of national health care reform have called this the most important piece of domestic legislation since the Great Depression. You would think that they would be proud of their work. Instead, Democratic leaders intend to go underground, meaning the public won't be able to follow the final negotiations between the few Democrat elites in the House and Senate. This decision couldn't be more wrong-headed, not to mention arrogant, elitist, autocratic, defensive and politically paranoid. Why are they so afraid to allow the public to see the negotiations?

Pres. Barack Obama made a straightforward health care reform promise on the campaign trail in 2008. He stated, "We'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so the people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who is making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies." At the time, he hit all the right notes: populism, transparency and good government. But today, Obama is allowing the debate to go in the opposite direction. He is allowing the American people and their representative to be shut out of the health care debate; there will be no argument, no transparency and no good government. The American people will be shut out!

Ssg. Wynn S. Allen, USA (Ret)

Fairfield