Letter to the editor from John Cooper, Greenwich
The only time history fails to properly inform one’s decision making is when that history is unknown. Well here is a history lesson about the governance of Greenwich over the past 100 years plus.
Since 1905 Republicans have held the position of First Selectman for 106 years, Democrats for 8 of those years. In the elections of 2018 two local Democrats ended Republican control of a Senate seat and a State Representative seat that had existed 80 to 100 years. Alex Bergstein and Steven Meskers have brought fresh new viewpoints and voices to Hartford, they are not rubber stamps and the sky did not fall.
Having lived in Greenwich for 51 years (correct, I am not “Of Greenwich”) I’ve lived with and suffered from the intransigence that comes with monopoly representation.
I went to Greenwich High School on Field Point Rd for two years and graduated from the “New” school on Hillside, one that for the lack of $5 million was not built to plan but scuttled to a shell of its design. Funny, the upgrades required over the last 48 years have cost the town over $100 million – Ah the wisdom of pay as you go.
“One of the wealthiest towns in Connecticut” has ceded the delivery of most social services to local non-profits that often struggle to raise adequate funds to meet the needs of Greenwich residents.
Two years ago, when the state ended their financial support of Kids in Crisis, a model local non-profit, the town should have stepped in with the funds to keep the nursery, the only one in Fairfield County, in business.
Rather, the Republicans huddled and worried about their Golden Calf, the mill rate without concern for those who don’t even own homes.
Their singular focus on the precious mill rate has protected the wealthy in town, while sacrificing the ability to shore up the social service network for those who fit the United Way’s acronym of ALICE – asset limited, income constrained, employed.
Recently, a well to do Greenwich resident told me, “for needy residents, living is easy in Greenwich, as all of their services are met.”
For those residents living paycheck to paycheck their needs are not being met, and the struggle is real. (4,524 individuals in Greenwich live below the US established poverty line).
Oddly, this same Mill Rate protectionism has caused a complete breakdown of capital maintenance in town resulting in the complete replacement of three elementary schools, the fortunate saving of the Western Greenwich Civic Center through a huge donation from a private foundation, the evident tear down that the Ekman Center has obviously become, and unusable town fields like at Western Middle School. Mismanagement? Perhaps, but more than likely not rocking the boat.
Our current First Selectman is a nice guy, as is Fred, but Peter has been nothing more than a caretaker, a manager in the Republican model for governing Greenwich. Don’t do anything bold or progressive, maintain the status quo, shake a lot of hands, but don’t ask hard questions.
I am very confident that Jill Oberlander and Sandy Litvak represent an incredible upgrade to what we have had managing a $400 million + budget (it was $43 million in 1968).
I’d ask you to look at the incredible opportunity we have before us for positive change, empathetic management, smarter use of technology (I am in the same house for 39 years) why do I have to prove I live in Greenwich to get my beach card every year, because the assessor sure knows I’m still here!
This year let’s try to get this right and bring new leadership to my beloved Town of Greenwich.
John B. Cooper, Greenwich
The letters to the editor deadline for candidates in the Nov 5 election was Oct 29 at 5pm.