QUIGLEY: Keep the Public Discourse Civil

Submitted by Dan Quigley, Greenwich RTC chair in Response to James Waters’ letter published Thursday, titled, “63 Million Gold Bars In The Land Of Privilege,” June 4, 2020)

As we approach the start of summer, there is a sense of discomfort in the air. The dual national tragedies of the COVID virus and the public heartbreak over George Floyd’s senseless death make it almost impossible to feel excited about the advent of summer. Instead of looking forward to vacations, down time with family and weekends at the beach, our thoughts are plagued by the specters of social distancing, a reeling economy and civil unrest. As if that wasn’t enough, enter the deteriorating public discourse in our local debate over the budget.

Yesterday, a letter to the editor titled “63 Million Gold Bars In The Land Of Privilege” was published in our local press. Why was this article in particular so bad? Because it was, at its core, an act of baseless character assassination during a time of real upheaval and stress in our everyday lives. I have written several Op-Ed’s about the debate over the budget, but in doing so I have never criticized, demonized or bullied anyone on the other side of the debate.

Our Republican BET members acted in what they considered the best interest of the community. No one on our side of the fence has belittled Democrats on the BET, BOE or anywhere else. We have not issued warnings to RTM members about their electoral fate should they not vote the way we wish. Our bi-partisan BET, BOE, our non-partisan RTM and other local committees are comprised of volunteers who dedicate hours of their time to helping manage our towns affairs and ensuring that Greenwich is well run.

Every, single Republican who’s caricature appeared in yesterday’s unfortunate letter to the editor is someone who cares a great deal about this community.

I know them each very well. In the case of most of them, they dedicate upwards of 50-60 hours per week to their roles as volunteer public servants.

For them and their families to have to endure this type of public
treatment is disappointing at best, and an embarrassment at worst.

The RTC and its members have engaged in the public debate in a constructive manner, and without insulting our Democratic friends or the intelligence of our fellow neighbors. I hope that going forward, our community will learn from this experience and conduct our public debates
in a more productive manner. I am big believer in the adage that crisis reveals character. I am extremely proud of how our town Republicans have conducted themselves throughout the budget debate, and I strongly believe that our BET has rightly fulfilled their fiduciary responsibility to our town.

As for the budget debate, the arguments have been made on both sides and the RTM will decide its fate at the upcoming meeting. It is my hope that in the future, our public discourse will be used as a mechanism to solve our problems rather than exacerbate our differences.