Submitted by Greg Piccininno
The Vice-Chair of the far-right RTC has become a prolific fiction writer. While my literary preference is fiction, when that fiction is political, it violates one’s senses.
The most recent decision to not place political signs on public property has nothing to do with concern for the environment, rather has to do with name recognition and the power of incumbency.
The RTC has figured out what I have, which is that many Republican and Independent Voters are not closely following local issues and are less familiar with the Democratic candidates. After nearly 100 uninterrupted years of GOP leadership in town, this is not surprising. So, when I engage with friends and neighbors about the pressing issues facing the town, in particular the negative repercussions of short-term thinking on the part of our GOP Finance Board (BET), they agree that the town is miss-managed by the GOP but ask who is running for the Democrats…. The only saving grace is that they are so disgusted with the current leadership by the GOP, that they are willing to vote sight unseen.
This apathetic approach to local elections is not unique to Greenwich. For those of you who may not be up to date on the issues, let’s take a closer look at some of them.
I am purposely excluding the new school building or renovation projects because most are aware of those issues (CMS/OGS: a lot of information has been shared). Below I site a few inane decisions by the GOP BET that I recall. The list below is not all encompassing but things I happened to notice while watching a very small part of the BET Budget Meeting or saw in the local media. I am sure the readers of this paper can add many others.
1. Safety: Removed a much-needed Fire Department Ladder Truck from the budget despite 2 of the 3 ladder trucks being beyond replacement age. Recently we had to borrow a truck from Stamford when all three were out of service. This sort of decision could put the safety of our residents at risk. Yesterday I learned this was the second year in a row the GOP BET delayed this purchase and in just one year, the price increased by $750,000 to $ 2.4 million. Paying more for the same is not sound fiscal management and what will that truck cost next year? (GOP BET DECISION).
2. Safety: Reduced the size of the Greenwich High School Safety Vestibule. We know the building committee had to make significant changes to the design from what was the optimal choice. We do not know how that affects safety because those are kept secret for obvious reasons. However, we know a significant reduction in size, while a money saver, may not be the most prudent decision when it comes to the people this project was designed to protect (GOP BET DECISION).
3. Safety: Eliminated the installation of a multi-carrier cell phone system to enable cell service at the High School. The installation of this equipment was part of the overall safety review conducted a few years ago and it’s easy to see how this would be essential in the event of an active shooter. Currently there is limited cell phone coverage in the HS and in an active shooter situation and there is almost no manner for the police or administration to communicate with students in lock down. That means there no way to tell our children where the shooter is. This was a $ 600,000 budget reduction; how much is your child’s life worth? I know that if they GOP BET did not delay the purchase of a fire truck last year, we could have funded this and lowered taxes at the same time. When the GOP BET voted to remove this, BET Member Arora stated it needed more analysis? Not sure why this is the case given this was well vetted during a safety review (GOP BET & Member Nisha Arora).
4. Safety &Maintenance: Eliminated the filter maintenance for the Byram pool. This did not even make it to the BET for consideration. GOP BET Member Tarkington removed it in committee sating, “I don’t think this is necessary”. The pool filter has exceeded it useful life, but it was not replaced. This is another example of the GOP BET’s shortsightedness and a violation of the BET’s policy on equipment replacement which GOP BET Fisher recently cited in his GFP Letter defending his votes. (GOP BET Member Tarkington).
5. Safety & Maintenance: Eliminated Funding for High School Safety Vehicles (campus carts). Seems they are 20 years old and always in disrepair. Once again, an item beyond its useful life was ignored and deferred. Again, a violation of policy since the BET used the age of their personal cars as the determining factor for removing this request and ignored the lifecycle of the equipment in question (GOP BET DECISION).
6. ADA Compliance: Returned $2.4 million dollars to the State that would have funded two additional curb extensions on Greenwich Ave and brought those intersections into compliance. Mind you, there is an order that the Town do these within 12 months so the burden of finding this will now fall on the shoulders of taxpayers. To put that into context that is almost 1% of the total budget for the Town excluding schools. How can someone return this money to the State and claim fiscal prudence? This money would have purchased the much needed fire truck at 2023 prices. (Mike Spilo, GOP RTM and Chair of the Public Works Department).
7. Spent $385k on an unnecessary fourth investigation into a dodgy Project Veritas video in an attempt to further a false narrative about biased hiring practices by the GPS. All investigations determined that there were no violations in the GPS hiring process. (RTC and far-right group Greenwich Patriots).
I am a moderate, registered Republican however I and folks like me are considered a “RINO” by the current leadership of the Greenwich RTC. I imagine there are a lot of local, registered Republicans who feel as disillusioned as I do. My national and local party no longer represents the traditional Republican values of my party. Instead, our party has become obsessed with culture wars, deep state paranoia and extremist ideology. They cite their right to remove access to knowledge they don’t like, but do not acknowledge your right to access. As a parent, I do not appreciate this. The schools allow opt outs and as parents, we know what our children are reading.
I am voting Row A to elect the Democratic BET candidates. They are pragmatic, intelligent, and collaborative. I hope other Republicans will join me in sending a message that the divisiveness, the lying, and the hate for fellow Americans is anathema to the United States of America and to the Constitution.
NOTE: Deadline to submit letters to the editor regarding the Nov 7 election is October 30, 2023 at 12:00 noon. Not every letter will be published. Include your phone number and address (not for publication).