LETTER: Where Do Local Democrats Stand On S.B. 1024?

Submitted by Frank Salomone

I have heard about S.B. 1024 (the Zoning Bill) for several months. Now we’ve arrived at the stage where public testimony is being given, and the public is speaking out in opposition to the bill. Local Republican officials have made clear, public statements against the bill, and stood up for their constituents. So, where are the Democrats?

The bill itself exemplifies government overreach in its most diabolical form. The notion that big government can fix all ill’s is antithetical to Republican thought. In this case, we are being told what to do by a party that has presided over the systematic deterioration of our state’s economy for more than a decade of one party rule. 

Let’s face it. To be defeated, this awful excuse for a bill will have to be opposed by both Republicans and Democrats. For the past few months, I was under the false impression that this would be an issue that might help bring the parties together, especially after the divisiveness of last year’s election. I naively assumed (as did many) that we would see our elected officials in Greenwich stand together against a bill that was crafted to cause harm to our town, its taxpayers and homeowners. Sadly, only the Republican Party has stood up for our residents and spoken out publicly in opposition to this bill. 

Fred Camillo, Lauren Rabin, Harry Arora and Kimberly Fiorello have all written extensively on the topic and gave testimony (Monday) against the bill. Each has been a passionate advocate for keeping our zoning local, and for continuing to pursue opportunities for affordable housing at the community level. Greenwich Communities (formerly the GHA) has worked in tandem with our P&Z Board to expand housing diversity in ways that also fit into our Plan of Conservation and Development. They should be left to continue their fine work. They are making great progress. What they have done at Armstrong Court is testimony to their success.

What does it say about the leadership qualities of Senator Alex Kasser, Rep Steve Maskers and Selectwoman Jill Oberlander, the three highest ranking Democrats in Greenwich that they have collectively gone M.I.A. on this issue and not come out against it? They couldn’t possibly be for it, could they? 

In the end, it is the job of elected leaders to LEAD. This is especially true in the face of adversity, or at times where a controversial issue is worrying constituents. Local Democrats have done anything but lead on this issue. They have not provided any clarity as to where they stand on this extremely controversial legislation, nor have they given any comfort to concerned constituents who are looking for answers. Maybe it’s because their party is the one presenting it and supporting it. Maybe, for Democrats, this is a choice between party fealty and responsibility to constituents. 

Either way, it’s really disappointing.