WATERS: From the Front Lines – The Republican BET’s Descent into Madness & Incompetence

Submitted by James Waters

As a lifelong Republican, it brings me no joy to deliver this report. Residents cannot trust the Republican candidates for the Board of Estimate & Taxation (BET), all of whom are on the ballot on November 7.

For the past two years, I have been privileged to represent District 12 (North Mianus) on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) and the town on the Old Greenwich School Building Committee. In these roles, I have had close and regular dealings with BET members.

What I have seen will shock you.

The Republican BET members, known for decades for touting “fiscal responsibility”, have gone all-in on fiscal incompetence. They have no interest in solving challenges for the town, preferring them to fester. They don’t care about adding costs for taxpayers, choosing the least efficient, most irresponsible way possible to adjudicate matters before them.

Let me give you two examples, among many.

The Republican BET rejected construction funds for the Old Greenwich School renovation three times in the past six months. By doing this, they have guaranteed taxpayers will pay $3 million more in costs and jeopardized nearly $7 million in state reimbursement. That $10 million equates to almost 25% of project costs.

From the outset, the OGS renovation has been a bipartisan priority for the Board of Education, the Old Greenwich community, and the entire Greenwich Public Schools community. Yet BET Republicans have shown no intention of ever following through on the project, despite campaign promises made two years ago. When asked to make good on their promise, they make up excuses and move the goalposts.

These same BET Republicans have repeated this process of delay and denial with the Central Middle School project. Fortunately, just last week full funding passed because of the BET Democrats and two Republicans who broke with the extremes (and are now retiring). Tellingly, none of the BET Republican candidates on the ballot supported full funding for Central Middle School. You can’t make this stuff up!

It gets worse.

To avoid accountability, BET Republican Nisha Arora shares demonstrably false information about construction costs and child safety. This information has been thoroughly rebutted and debunked…and yet Ms. Arora shares it to “muddy the waters” (her words). Last weekend, Ms. Arora and her husband (a former state rep who is not serving in any capacity) shared a fake “survey” with our community. They assembled this “survey” despite a clear lack of understanding of the project, and included misleading questions and inaccurate options, allowing some residents to submit multiple responses.

I have witnessed this before, attending multiple public meetings where hundreds of residents urged the BET to approve something – only for BET Republicans to ignore them and vote “No”. On multiple occasions BET Republicans urge us to “follow process” – only to create new process steps when everything has been followed by the book. This wastes both time and taxpayer dollars.

It is also a betrayal of the public trust. It is a betrayal of all residents in Greenwich, including Republicans. We should not stand for fiscal incompetence and disinformation from a board whose job is to manage our taxpayer dollars and act in the best interests of Greenwich residents. They do not deserve even one of your six votes for BET.

I hope you will join me on November 7 in voting for all six Democratic candidates for BET. I will happily vote for Stephen Selbst, Elliot Alcheck, David Weisbrod, Matt DesChamps, Scott Kalb, and Leslie Moriarty. The BET Democrats have outstanding qualifications and I have worked closely with them on the RTM and the OGSBC. They will be excellent stewards for our town.

The BET Republican track record is broken infrastructure. Their last-ditch attempt to preserve power relies on fearmongering, propaganda, and intimidation. In contrast, BET Democrats have demonstrated fiscal conservatism, a solution-oriented approach, and routinely voted to fund our essential capital needs.

Most importantly, they have earned the public trust. We need to give them the decisive tie-breaking vote to move our town past the fiscal incompetence and madness of recent years. The choice is clear, perhaps most especially for conservatives like me.

James Waters is a Greenwich native and resident. A Republican, he works at a private investment firm and served in the Bush Administration’s White House Office of Management and Budget and then as a US Navy SEAL officer. He is an incumbent candidate for Representative Town Meeting in District 12 and also serves as the Chairman of the Old Greenwich School Building Committee. The views in this letter are his own and aren’t endorsed by any of the town bodies on which he serves.