Goldrick: When is An Official “Unfit to Serve”?

Letter to the editor submitted by Sean Goldrick

“Unfit to serve.” That’s what Richard DiPreta, the chairman of the Republican Party in Greenwich said recently about Democratic state representative Stephen Meskers (Old Greenwich, Riverside, Byram). Why? Because Representative Meskers employed his sharp wit to tell an uninformed and pestering frequent letter-writer to back off.

It seems ironic that in the same week that GOP chairman DiPreta declared Representative Meskers “unfit to serve” and demanded his resignation, E. Jean Carroll accused President Donald Trump of raping her, an allegation backed up by two of her friends who stated publicly that Carroll told them about the rape at the time it happened. Ms Carroll joins two dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape. But despite those shocking accusations, the chairman of the Greenwich GOP is silent on Trump’s alleged crimes. Despite those horrendous allegations, he believes that Trump is “fit to serve.”

In the same week that DiPreta made his “unfit to serve” accusation, the press revealed that President Trump is running concentration camps on our southern border that keep hundreds of children behind razor wire in conditions that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet declared “appalling.“ Bachelet stated she was “deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions.” But DiPreta is silent about Trump’s humanitarian outrage. His silence tells us he believes President Trump is “fit” to hold office.

In the same week that DiPreta declared Representative Meskers “unfit to serve,” we saw yet another revelation in the unfolding scandal in the Greenwich parking services department under Republican First Selectman Peter Tesei, a scandal that internal auditors claim involves the misappropriation of $2 million. But in the face of that major scandal, DiPreta is silent on Mr. Tesei’s fitness for office.

And let’s recall the revelation of illicit, possibly felonious, surveillance of Peter Tesei’s Democratic opponent and supporters in Town Hall. We don’t know exactly what happened, because Mr. Tesei and his fellow Republican on the Board of Selectmen, John Toner, blocked a motion to open an investigation. Most people would surmise that the crime and the coverup were ample evidence of Mr. Tesei’s and Mr Toner’s unfitness for office. But Richard DiPreta remains silent.

Let’s recall that the elected representative to the Connecticut GOP’s central committee from Greenwich, Ed Dadakis, was found to be in possession of photographs from that surreptitious surveillance of Tesei’s political opponent, which he published online. But Dadakis has not been questioned about his involvement in that illicit surveillance, because of Tesei’s and Toner’s stonewalling. Surreptitious surveillance of his Democratic opponent? Blocking an investigation? Possessing evidence of a possibly felonious act of surveillance? Apparently none of that bothers GOP chairman Richard DiPreta, or makes those elected Republicans “unfit” to hold office.

Let’s consider how Republican Peter Tesei earlier this year violated the rules regulating the use of Town Hall to permit Republican Carl Higbie, who was too racist and bigoted even for the Trump administration, to bring his hate-for-profit media show to Greenwich. And consider that Republicans Peter Tesei and Fred Camillo legitimized Higbie’s hate-fest by agreeing to appear with him. But not even that moved DiPreta to conclude that either Republican was “unfit to serve.”

And let’s consider that Republican state representatives Livvy Floren and Fred Camillo, who is running to succeed Tesei as Greenwich first selectman, opposed giving hard-working, low-income Connecticut residents a desperately needed raise, voting against increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. Floren and Camillo refused to help working people earn a living wage, even though the state’s minimum wage is lower today in real terms than it was in 1968. Stephen Meskers voted for it. Those cruel votes should make them “unfit to hold office.” But DiPreta is silent.

Let’s keep in mind that Stephen Meskers voted to provide paid family and medical leave for Connecticut families, a right that is guaranteed to new mothers and family members in every other developed country on the planet. Republicans Floren and Camillo, however, both voted to deny to Connecticut women the right to take paid time off to care for their newborn infants, and adults to take paid time off to care for sick family members. But GOP chairman DiPreta sees no problem with Republicans who vote to deny those rights to the people of Connecticut. To him, their votes do not make them “unfit to hold office.”

When it comes to Republicans, GOP chairman DiPreta sees absolutely nothing disqualifying with sexual assault, sexual harassment, with corruption and malfeasance, with illicit surveillance of one’s political opponents, with denying basic rights to families to care for their newborns, or denying a living wage to struggling, low-income families. It is outrage at that amorality and hypocrisy that has mobilized thousands of people across this town, and millions across this state and nation to oppose Republicans at every level.

The people of Greenwich will keep that cruelty and amorality firmly in mind when they next go to the polls and determine who is truly “unfit for office.”

Sean Goldrick served two terms as a Democratic member of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation. He lives in Riverside.