Submitted by Mike Warner, Greenwich
Republicans in Greenwich consistently run disciplined, well financed political campaigns, always accompanied by slick brochures and touting the importance of conservative fiscal governance, together with vaguely worded aspirations of town improvements. Their campaigns are financed by town budget hawks who are fixated on keeping their property taxes low, no matter what the cost to the town or the welfare of its citizens. They contend that austerity and tight Republican control of the BET is necessary to prevent spending on the long-term investments, like schools.
At the last election, riding a wave of hard-right Trump conservatism, Republicans again won control, and then abandoned any fig-leaf of bipartisanship by dominating the town’s powerful BET with party line votes.
And they have used their power to boldly enact sweeping changes to how citizens are taxed – changes that benefit their wealthy, low-tax constituents, at the expense of Greenwich’s growing middle class.
Here’s just one example of how they did it. Last year the Republican BET, in a party line vote, shamelessly cut from the town’s budget a line item that pays for the Town’s Holly Hill Transfer Station. The result? Reduced taxes, primarily benefiting those with the largest homes and largest property tax bills, and those who seldom use Holly Hill. But here’s the catch: To pay for their cut, the Republican BET brazenly transferred the cost of Holly Hill directly to middle class, charging them to use the transfer station and, at the same time, charging middle-class consumers more through their trash haulers. So, while middle-class citizens line up to pay their Holly Hill fees, the BET’s wealthy constituents enjoyed lower tax bills.
Republicans have been demonstrating that same hostility for middle-class parents for decades by ignoring our crumbling schools. Only now do we hear how Republicans are “Shocked! Shocked!” to learn that the roof fell in at one of our schools this year, even when for decades, Republican BETs have blocked any attempt to pay for replacing even one school, that would require long term investment.
But Greenwich Republicans are nothing if not audacious. One only need look at the Republican BET Op-Ed that appeared in the October 15 Greenwich Free Press. One might have thought this was a joke or they were reading a satirical article from “The Onion” when the Republican BET candidates, pictured beside the heading: “Modernizing Greenwich Schools,” then shamelessly stated: “Prioritization of our capital investments is most important.” But Greenwich citizens know the truth:
It’s the Democrats who have long been fighting to invest in our school facilities but losing to town Republicans who would rather maintain a pristine balance sheet. Even our Republican First Selectman has said little about Greenwich
schools but is proud to promote a plan to commercialize the waterfront. Democrats in Greenwich have a big problem, however, one that has caused them to lose election after election — Democratic and moderate voters just don’t show up at the polls. And voter apathy could sink the Democrats once again in November.
Republicans have a problem, too. Will moderate Republicans follow the reactionary Trump faction now in power or will they vote for investments in our schools and our town? Will Democrats, moderates, parents, and middle-class
voters finally join together and vote to invest in Greenwich and its people? We’ll see.
Mike Warner, Greenwich
Deadline to submit letters for candidates in the Nov 2, 2021 Municipal election is Oct 26, 2021 at 5:00pm (one week before election)