Letter: Everybody Matters in Greenwich

Letter to the editor from Mike Warner, June 22, 2018

Every day, NYC cops are confronted with the stark differences between citizens who have abundant wealth and those struggling to keep food on the table. That’s why the police take pride in a motto that sets a standard of fairness for how all NYC citizens should be treated: “Everybody Matters, or Nobody Matters.”

In Greenwich, with our own large disparities in personal wealth and position, our town can also can take pride in our tradition of applying a similar standard of fairness regarding how our fellow citizens are treated, expressed in how we allocate resources to our citizens.

When given the choice between applying our tax dollars to those neighborhoods or schools who are already strong and self sufficient, and those that need a little more assistance, Greenwich voters have consistently chosen to devote resources where they are most needed.

Why? Because voters know that our reputation as a diverse, sought-after community depends on the accomplishments and standing of all our citizens, not just a chosen few. They also know that any neighborhood or any group left behind, diminishes us all; that as far as our town’s reputation is concerned, we rise or fall together, and we are only as prosperous and desirable a town as the sum of our parts. Recent votes by our RTM and the results of the last election show that Greenwich voters repudiate attempts to divide us.

Take the last the election for the BOE for example, where one candidate’s platform of “equal distribution” of school resources (It sounds so fair and reasonable, doesn’t it?) actually would have taken dollars away from the schools that needed it most. Fortunately, Greenwich voters saw through this mean-spirited attempt to divide us on class grounds and that candidate was defeated by a large margin.

The RTM fight over funding for the Byram Pool is another example, where the Town had an opportunity to balance our jewel at Tod’s Point in the east with the construction of a lovely pool complex in the west, where the rocky Byram shore isn’t easily accessible to local citizens. The primary opposition to the project was from budget zealots who are always worried that any town improvement might increase their mill rate (already the lowest in the state).

They argued strongly against the RTM approval of the project, under the guise of “incomplete” construction estimates, and even questioned whether the Junior League could fulfill their bold commitment to raise $2.5 million toward the project’s completion. Of course, it turned out that the town’s cost estimates were completely accurate and the Junior League’s generous promise is nearly fulfilled, bless them.

Even our wealthiest citizens “get it.” When the Dalios donated $350,000 to the town parks, did they devote their resources to splashy improvement at Greenwich Point with a conspicuous bronze placard? No. After quietly consulting with the town, they donated to Byram Park to improve walking paths, provide playground equipment and trim trees. A placard? No thank you.

That’s why I’m proud to be a resident of Greenwich, Connecticut. Not because it’s a town of wealth and reputation, but because this is a place where we put into practice the motto everybody matters, or nobody matters.

Mike Warner