Submitted by Joe Angland, Chair, Greenwich Democratic Town Committee
In his recent letter to the editor (QUIGLEY: The Politics of the School Budget Debate and its Aftermath, July 2, 2020) , Republican Town Committee Chair Dan Quigley bemoans what he characterizes as the loss of civility reflected in the recent debate within the Town about the cuts to the Board of Education budget, ascribing it to Town Democrats taking their cue from the conduct of their national party.
It is difficult to suppress laughter at the notion that the prime source of the incivility that sadly pervades national politics is anything other than our President.
And lest someone think that perhaps the Democrats started it all and President Trump is merely responding, I remind you of his behavior in route to winning the Republican nomination, which brought civility to its nadir with no Democrats involved and continues to this day.
As for the particulars of Mr. Quigley’s criticisms, many of them are curious and perplexing. To begin with, he objects that it was unfair that Republicans who proposed and approved of the education budget cuts were accused of being “against schools” when they are, he claims, all in favor of education.
What that phrase correctly signifies, however, is that those (not all) Republicans were “against” making education a high priority and protecting the education budget in a time of need. I don’t doubt that
those Republicans would prefer good education over bad education if it came at no cost, but the recent debate showed how little they would do to ensure adequate education when times are tough, even when our Town continues to have millions sitting in a rainy-day fund.
Mr. Quigley also challenges a statement by BET Democrats (all of whom opposed the Republican budget cut) that the failure of the RTM to adopt a sense of the meeting resolution opposing the budget cut at its June meeting was due to “a vocal, well-organized minority.” But there is no doubt that this was true.
A majority of the votes cast at the RTM meeting were in favor of permitting the RTM to vote on such a resolution, but under the governing rules a two-thirds majority was needed to do so at that meeting.
Thus, the minority in fact blocked consideration of the resolution. That was permitted by the rules, but the observation that the minority prevented consideration of the motion was well taken.
The complaint that Democratic members of the Board of Education needlessly roiled the waters by stating that the budget cut was expected to lead to a loss of thirty jobs and larger class sizes and that it was Draconian is badly misguided. The prospects that jobs would be lost and class sizes would increase are precisely the types of things that should be discussed in a debate over a budget for our schools. The fact that savings resulting from our schools’ remaining closed during the pandemic eventually ameliorated the problem in no way undercuts the legitimacy of raising the issues.
Finally, Mr. Quigley’s laying the criticisms of the Republican position on social media and in letters to government officials at the feet of “the Democrats” reflects a fundamental misperception of what happened. The outraged response to the budget cuts came from parents! To be sure, many of them were Democrats. But they were joined by many Republicans and Unaffiliated voters who shared their concern for the education of the Town’s children. Mr. Quigley fails to recognize that a public outcry like
this one can actually be the result of the public’s deep-seated objection to the policies adopted by some of their elected officials. He gives Town Democrats too much credit, and concerned parents too little, when he attributes the outraged reaction of so many to devious political machinations.