CAMILLO: BET Democrats Unnecessarily Attacked Town Staff on PAYT

Letter to the editor from Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo, Feb 27, 2020

While I am in strong disagreement with the BET Democrats opposition to an environmentally friendly and economically beneficial solution to the town’s waste and recycling dilemma, I  am more disturbed by their recent letter to the editor. (BET DEMOCRATS: Pay As You Throw Is a Rushed Attempt to Address Budget Gaps, Feb 26, 2020.)

Democratic members Leslie Moriarty, Laura Erickson, Miriam Kreuzer, Beth Krumeich, Jeff Ramer, and David Weisbrod, in their attempt to further distort the Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) proposal,  went a step too far by unnecessarily attacking Town staff. Greenwich is fortunate to have a great team of professional, non-partisan public servants. It is one thing to come after me – I’m the elected official directing and managing the Town. If you’re against my policy decision, swing away. But it is a really low blow to strike those who don’t strike back, dragging Town professionals into what has become a partisan conversation.

I have had a growing concern about our elected Democrats treatment of professional Town staff, whether in public meetings, private encounters, or in writing to the press, because it is preventing our ability to have real conversations about real issues facing our Town.  It is uncalled for and needs to stop.

This budget discussion has highlighted the BET Democrats continued efforts to bring national political divisiveness into our Town. In their letter about PAYT, the BET Democrats continue to ask questions that I’ve repeatedly provided answers to – almost as if they do not want to hear the right information. They constantly peddle misinformation, raise doomsday scenarios, and slow walk every initiative rather than sit down with me or call me up so we can chat about what is right in a productive manner. Waste management is complicated and it’s irresponsible to exploit that for political gain. PAYT has been a program with national bi-partisan support. It is also  in 43 states.  I was looking forward to coming together and working on a program, sure to have its kinks and concerns, but that could ultimately work for all of Greenwich. Unfortunately, BET Democrats have chosen a different path. Furthermore, I asked them in public meetings if they had another solution and the ones that answered the question replied that they did not have another solution.  So, their letter calling this ‘ not well thought and rushed” is baffling and can only be viewed as what it is, an attempt to slow walk, distort, and undermine an initiative that works all over the country. A few of them asked some really good questions, and I welcome them to present more, but playing politics on important issues does not serve them nor their constituents well.

I believe PAYT is the way of the future, but also know that even the most worthwhile programs take time, time to present to the community, and time to answer the questions. With that said, I would be happy to continue this discussion and move the implementation back a year or so and support a tipping fee to act as a bridge until the public has had enough time to see the true benefits of the program and its value to the community.

We all don’t have to agree. It is surely one thing to come after me in doing so, but bringing others who are just doing their jobs into the fray is one thing I will not tolerate. We cannot allow this to become a norm here in Greenwich because that will forever change the fabric of our community. It is not who we are. I want to end this by reminding Town staff that these are just a few folks and our Town is tremendously thankful for the dedicated service you provide every day.