KRUMEICH: Letter on Republican stewardship of Greenwich displayed remarkable ignorance

Submitted by Elizabeth K. Krumeich, Former Member of the BET (2015-2021)

To the Editor:

Joe Montanaro’s August 25, 2023, letter, (MONTANARO: Greenwich lifestyle has been created by Republican stewardship) which credited everything good in our Town to “Republican stewardship” and touted the current Republicans on the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) as responsible stewards, displayed remarkable ignorance about our Town and our system of government.

The BET by Town Charter is divided equally between Republicans and Democrats with the Chairperson selected from the party whose members received the most votes; the Chair is granted a tie-breaking vote. Committees, like the powerful Budget Committee, are evenly split between the parties. For many years this fostered government by consensus. Very few issues were resolved on a partisan basis.

Moderate Republicans and Democrats worked together for the benefit of our Town. In recent years, however, as the local GOP drifted to the right, the Republicans began to use their tie-breaking votes to steer the BET away from good stewardship and toward ideologically-driven measures that were shortsighted and unnecessarily restricted Town budgets.

As the recent study by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Greenwich demonstrated, these rightist policies have drastically underfunded infrastructure and important institutions like the public schools and steered the town away from sensible financial policies. According to the study, there are $1.5 billion dollars in backlogged projects. Included among the projects mismanaged by the BET Republicans are the projects to replace Central Middle School and the renovation of Julian Curtiss and Old Greenwich Schools.

Two years ago the capture of the Republican Town Committee (“RTC”) by far right extremists that swept moderates out of the RTC has accelerated this trend to divisive hyper partisanship.

As Mr. Montanaro’s letter illustrated, the prevailing view of these extremists is that Democrats deserve no credit for their contributions to our Town, but instead are the “enemy” to be marginalized, castigated and discredited.

Montanaro even has the temerity to suggest that the scurrilous “groomer” signs that mysteriously appeared at Town Hall after the Pride celebration may have been a Democratic false flag operation, which smacks of the same conspiratorial propaganda that portrayed the January 6, 2021, insurrection as a false flag operation by the FBI or Antifa or other enemies made up by the fevered right-wing media.

The only cure for this chronic mismanagement by Republicans on the BET is to vote for every Democratic candidate, and none of the Republicans, so the Chair will be held by a Democrat. The last time this happened, and the Chair was a Democrat, the Town’s finances were controlled by a BET majority that was governed by the best interest of the Town not a MAGA fever-dream.

Under Democratic leadership the BET budgets funded priority projects and necessary services, including public education and social services, while maintaining a low tax rate.

Please join me in voting for all six Democratic candidates for the BET on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.