Goldrick: What Camillo and the Republican BET Candidates Won’t Tell Us

Letter to the editor submitted by Sean Goldrick who served two terms as a Democratic member of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation. He lives in Riverside.

Republican Fred Camillo, running for first selectman, and the Republicans running for the BET, make very clear what they will not talk about, and exactly what they will not do.

What they will do remains a mystery. When candidates for office refuse to tell us what they intend to do, voters should be wary.

Camillo and the BET Republicans refuse to tell us if they support the Trump/GOP bill that capped deductions on state and local taxes that hits 40% of Connecticut homeowners (and a far higher percentage of Greenwich homeowners), with a $10 billion federal tax increase, a tax increase equivalent to half of Connecticut’s entire state budget.

Camillo, who co-sponsored numerous anti-abortion bills in the Connecticut legislature, refuses to tell voters if he supports the Trump/GOP “gag rule” that prohibits Planned Parenthood from counseling patients about abortion, requires it to perform abortions in separate clinics, and stops it from referring patients to those facilities. That bill forced Planned Parenthood of Southern New England to reject $2.1 million in federal funding, putting at risk medical services for tens of thousands of Connecticut women, including women in Greenwich.

Camillo and the BET Republicans refuse to tell us whether they support Trump’s immigration policies that have sown terror among Connecticut’s immigrant communities, nor if they back Trump’s policy of deporting the more than 18,000 “Dreamers” in Connecticut, including Greenwich.

Camillo and the BET Republicans refuse to tell us if they back Trump’s cuts to food stamps and subsidized school lunches, putting 11,000 low-income children in Connecticut at risk. Given that one in seven students in the Greenwich Public School system receive subsidized lunches, it would punish many families and their children in our town with the loss of subsidies for food.

Camillo does makes clear that we will not put an end to Greenwich’s nearly $4 million dollar annual taxpayer rip-off that permits commercial trash haulers to avoid paying tipping fees.

Camillo, who benefited directly from this taxpayer rip-off while serving as CEO of a commercial trash hauling business, claims that implementing the fee would constitute “an additional tax on our residents… and camouflage increased costs for every town resident and business.”

In fact, tipping fees, imposed on commercial haulers by every other town in Connecticut, compensate taxpayers for dump overhead, transporting municipal solid waste to a land fill, and the landfill’s own tipping fee.

So collecting tipping fees, far from constituting a “new tax,” would compensate Greenwich taxpayers who are wrongly being forced to pay the bill for the trash haulers. That’s why former town administrator John Crary stated that commercial trash haulers are “lining their pockets” at the expense of Greenwich taxpayers.

A responsible first selectman would immediately put an end to this taxpayer rip-off. Camillo and the BET Republicans, however, have decided to protect the profits of the trash hauling companies, rather than standing up for Greenwich taxpayers.

Camillo and the BET Republicans are adamant that they will not implement long-term financing. Let’s be clear: long-term financing is not controversial anywhere else in our state; it’s accepted as the basis for common sense fiscal and financial policy. Indeed, every other AAA-rated Connecticut municipality utilizes long-term bonding to finance school construction, build and repair sewer systems, and for other capital projects that last for decades.

A 2016 RTM debt white paper stated that the town’s policy limiting financing to short-term instruments, “fails to take into account the useful life of the assets or facilities financed…fails to fairly place the burden of paying for those assets or facilities equally on the citizens who will most directly benefit from their use… and reduces its financing capacity given its self- imposed budget restraints.”

Failure to utilize long-term financing leaves taxpayers vulnerable to rising interest rates, potentially sharply increasing debt service, since the town would have failed to lock in historic low interest rates.

So the failure of Camillo and the BET Republicans to support implementation puts taxpayers at risk of interest rate shocks, and belies a shocking lack of understanding of financial common sense.

So Camillo and the BET Republican candidates refuse to tell us whether they think the $10 billion federal tax increase on Connecticut homeowners was a good thing for our state; whether they support the cruel policy of cutting off as many as 11,000 Connecticut children, including kids in our town, from free and subsidized school lunches; whether they support restricting Planned Parenthood from offering family planning services, putting the health of tens of thousands of Connecticut women at risk, including women in Greenwich; whether they support reversing Obama policy, and putting 18,000 “Dreamers” in Connecticut at risk of deportation to countries they’ve never even seen.

But they do tell us that they won’t stop the taxpayer rip-off by commercial trash haulers. And they will not implement common sense financial policy.

When candidates for public office evade questions about things you care about and only talk about what they won’t do; when they leave unclear what they will do; when they are willing to line the pockets of their friends at your expense, voters know what to do: vote for the other candidates.

The deadline for submitting letters to the editor about candidates for the Nov 5, 2019 election was Tuesday, Oct 29 at 5:00pm