Letters to the Editor

Send your letter to the Editor to Wendy at CTBuzzNews@gmail.com

Bethel Resident Shows Support for State. Rep. David Scribner’s Re-election

Posted by 

Bethel Resident Shows Support for State. Rep. David Scribner’s Re-election
Editor’s Note: The following is a Letter to the Editor, sent in by Bethel resident Kitty Grant. The opinions expressed in the Letters to the Editor column are the viewpoint of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Bethel Buzz or its editor. 
State Representative David Scribner, an effective leader, a champion for the 107th District!
The voters of the 107th District have a job interview to conduct. I continue to support our current State Representative David Scribner.  From a dedication standpoint, his 100% attendance record says it all. The greatest endorsement  comes from the  percentage of voters who have returned him to office in record numbers, over and over again.  He has earned up to 7,700 votes and 85%  of our vote! He has a voting record as a true fiscal conservative in Hartford . He is appointed to three leadership positions in Hartford.
Some of the accomplishments that David Scribner has achieved on behalf of his constituents include: proposing and passing the states Graduated Drivers License laws for teen drivers. Cardiac Care Unit authorization for Danbury Hospital.  Hospice Regulations to allow the Regional Hospice of Western CT to build an in patient facility in Danbury
As the Republican Leader on Transportation, the Route 7 Bypass in Brookfield (previously stalled for 30 years) completed, expansion of Route 7 South from Danbury to Ridgefield, secured funding to improve the I – 84 Corridor through Danbury,  improvements to the Danbury/Norwalk Branch Rail line of Metro North, $2 million for expansion and upgrades to the Bethel Rail Station,  grants for the Still River Bike Path in Brookfield.
He saved the Danbury Department of Motor Vehicles office from closure, he prevented  the Welcome Station and Weigh Stations at the entrance to CT on I-84 in Danbury from permanent closure, he has prevented the re-implementation of tolls in CT.
He secured $6 million in  grants for economic development projects  in Bethel & Brookfield, and road resurfacing in the Stony Hill section  following sewer installation, $4 million for Bethel to purchase as open space, part of the contiguous property of Hutchinson State Park.  He had the historic train station and parking conveyed, free of charge from the state to the Town of Bethel.
In addition:  $1 million for the expansion of the Bethel Library,  $2.3 million for the environmental clean up of all four of Brookfield’s public schools,  $30,000 to the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Co. for clean up of an underground fuel storage tank,  $1.3 million for the expansion of the Brookfield Senior Center, $500,000. for the Regional YMCA of Western CT to enhance its exterior pool allowing year round use, $250,000. for  Ann’s Place for cancer victims in Danbury.
Impressive results for any legislator!  The choice is clear. He has continued to earn our support. Vote for State Representative  David Scribner on Tuesday, August 14th!
Sincerely,
Kitty Grant

Library Volunteer “Says Vote No” on Tuesday

Posted by 

Library Volunteer “Says Vote No” on Tuesday

Editor’s Note: The following is a Letter to the Editor, sent in by Bethel resident Win Brickmeier, library volunteer, regarding the demolition of  the Old Town Hall. Those who oppose razing Old Town Hall in order to complete the library have obtained enough signatures to force a referendum. The referendum will be held on Tuesday, July 17th. A “NO” vote means you want the building to be demolished so the library can be completed. A “YES” vote means you want the Old Town Hall to be preserved so the town can sell it and/or use for other purposes. The opinions expressed in the Letters to the Editor column are the viewpoint of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Bethel Buzz or its editor. To read more Letters to the Editor regarding this issue click here.

Vote NO in the Bethel 7-17-12 Referendum

I rarely write a letter to the editor.  The referendum situation in Bethel is somewhat complex, because in order to help our Bethel Library renovation continue, we need to voteNO on Tuesday, July 17.   The Board of Selectmen was unanimous in their May 30 decision that the derelict former town hall would be taken down in order to create some space for the required parking spaces for the expanded library. Voting NO would be a vote not to overturn the selectmen’s decision.  Bethel has a grant that will cover the cost of the demolition.  To bring the building up to code would cost a tremendous amount of money.   A delay would mean that some of the grants the library is eligible for may run out.

Friends and supporters of the Bethel Public Library have worked since 2005 to put together the money required to complete the second floor of the library, so we can see it in action.  We met our financial goal early this year.

The idea of having the town voters make the decision is a good.  I have never voted NO on a referendum.   This is the first time I will vote NO, in order to support the demolition of the old town hall.  We need to get the library renovation on the road, so we can see the second floor of the library in our lifetime.

~Win Brickmeier, Bethel, CT.

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker Speaks on Old Town Hall Issue

Posted by 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker Speaks on Old Town Hall Issue
The following is a Letter to the Editor sent in by Bethel First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker–
Dear Editor:
The information concerning the upcoming referendum to overturn the Board of Selectmen’s vote to raze Old Town Hall published on this site by Mr. Gaita and others is factually wrong and must be corrected.  Our town is at a very critical decision point.  If enough people vote “yes” to overturn the BOS vote on the basis of a mistaken belief that the building can be saved and reused, the building will sit empty for years to come and the library will not be completed.  I have constructed the following question and answer guide to help voters understand the facts and the complex factors related to this issue.
Again, I urge all Bethel residents to vote NO on Tuesday, July 17th.  It is the only way to guarantee completion of the library as well as a healthier business district.

Q:        Why did the Board of Selectmen vote to raze Old Town Hall?

A:        There are several considerations, but the primary purpose is to preserve the town’s ownership of this valuable and strategically located property for the future.  The property was deeded to the town by the Seelye family in 1914 to provide a library for public use.  Selling the property for private use violates the intent of the Seelye will; if the family wanted to sell it, they would done so many, many years ago.  The small piece of the lot on which Old Town Hall rests serves as the “connector” between the library property and the municipal center complex.  The Board felt strongly that the town must maintain ownership of this piece of land for use by future generations.  There are additional reasons for this decision:

1.      Making our retail district more successful.  A study by an independent urban engineering consulting firm identified lack of parking as a major obstacle affecting the economic health of the town’s retail district, as well as inhibiting future economic development.  “Spillover” from the library parking lot is a major contributor to this problem, with library patrons forced to use spaces on Greenwood Avenue that are needed by the retail district, as well as taking up spaces on private business property without permission.  Providing adequate parking for the library would help fill our vacant storefronts and improve business.

2.      Growing the grand list to keep property taxes in check.  Also inhibiting the kind of commercial development that would boost Bethel’s tax base is a shortage of sewer capacity.  Removing Old Town Hall will release capacity that can be used for new developments that will boost tax revenues.

3.      Library parking.  It is not a matter of convenience.  The town is required by code to provide 16 more parking spaces designated exclusively to the Bethel Public Library in order to complete the renovation that began nine years ago.  Library usage continues to climb and routinely exceeds 10,000 visits per month.

Q:        Did the Board consider selling Old Town Hall?

A:        No, it was not considered for sale for the following reasons:

1.      The property was originally donated to the town by the Seelye family for public use as part of the library, and the town should to retain ownership of the lot for that purpose.  The Board felt it would be short-sighted to lose control of a strategic piece of property in the middle of our town hall/library complex.

2.      The building cannot be sold because of the size of the lot on which it sits.  Without its own dedicated parking lot, as required by our zoning board, it can not be converted to commercial use.  Also, the parking requirement can not be waived.  There is no such thing as a “hardship waiver” in this instance.

Q:        But couldn’t parking for Old Town Hall be provided nearby or on the street?

A:        No.  In order to meet the requirement for the library plus the minimum spaces that would be required by code for commercial use of Old Town Hall, the town would need to build a parking lot large enough to hold about 35 cars on the lawn of the Clifford J. Hurgin Municipal Center.  This would encompass about half of the total lawn space of the center and would greatly restrict use of the property (Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day ceremonies, Scotty Fund Town Picnic, St. Mary’s carnival, Relay for Life, etc. would no longer be possible).  The Board was adamant that these properties remain available for public use.

Q:        Couldn’t parking for the building be located along the street?

A:        No.  Zoning code requires all business and residential properties to have dedicated, on-site parking.  Street parking is considered “public”, not dedicated to the building.

Q:        Instead of building a big lot on the lawn, could angled parking be constructed along School Street?

A:        No.  Angled parking, like that found around P.T.Barnum Square, is no longer permitted due to the high incidence of vehicular collisions that occur with this design.

Q:        Could the town acquire parking spaces from the lots next door to Old Town Hall to make it possible to sell the building?

A:        No.  The two adjacent properties are subject to the same zoning requirements and must maintain a minimum amount of space of their own.  In addition, these are private properties and neither owner has expressed any interest to the town in selling their property.

Q:        Couldn’t people who use the Old Town Hall building also use the library lot?

A:        No.  The library lot is restricted by the Seelye family deed and can be used for the library only.  In fact, selling Old Town Hall for private commercial use would require the town to restrict access to the library lot and hire enforcement personnel to police it.

Q:        But wouldn’t expanding the library parking lot make the traffic congestion at the intersection worse?

A:        No.  It would relieve traffic congestion with the proper flow of entrances and exits.  In fact, selling Old Town Hall would actually make traffic congestion much, much worse by adding new businesses into an area that is already congested and has insufficient parking.  Old Town Hall would never be approved for commercial use for this very reason.

Q:        The original library approval called for a lot to be constructed at the side of the Municipal Center.  Can that still be done to save Old Town Hall?

A:        No, for two reasons:

1.      The original 16 space design can no longer be accommodated due to the placement of the municipal center emergency generator (which was installed after the library plan was approved).

2.      Now that Bethel is the seat of the District Probate Court, any future constructed on the west side of the municipal center should be dedicated for court and town hall use only.

3.      Even if parking library parking was relocated elsewhere, parking must also be provided for the Old Town Hall building in order to make it conform with zoning regulations before it could be sold.  There is no other area for parking expansion other than the front lawn of the municipal center, and this is an unacceptable solution.

Q:        How would razing Old Town Hall help our retail district?

A:        A 2010 study by Milone & McBroome, an engineering and planning consulting firm, found that Bethel’s lack of parking was a major factor limiting the success of our Greenwood Avenue retailers.  Contributing to the problem is the fact that library usage has grown to 10,000 to 12,000 visits per month.  During times of peak usage the library lot is filled to capacity, causing a spillover on to private businesses and on to Greenwood Avenue, taking parking needed by retailers.  Razing Old Town Hall would greatly alleviate this problem by providing adequate parking for the library as well as extra spaces to support business activity.

Q:        How would razing Old Town Hall help promote future economic growth?

A:        As mentioned previously, our downtown district suffers from a lack of sewerage capacity.  The town has already been forced to turn down a proposed retail and residential development that would have boosted tax revenue because of this problem.  By reassigning the sewer capacity now allocated to Old Town Hall, future developments will be possible.  One under consideration by the Planning and Zoning Commission could bring as much as $650,000 in new tax revenue.  Razing Old Town Hall will release its sewer allocation and make new economic development possible.

Q:        I heard there were people “waiting in the wings” to buy the building.  True?

A:        There is absolutely no truth to this rumor.  There have been no offers of any kind, verbal or otherwise, to buy the building.  One developer did contact this office to inquire about taking over the building for free, but with the condition that the town also give away the lawn of the municipal center for parking in order to make the building to comply with zoning codes.  Upon further discussion of that and other factors, the developer withdrew his inquiry.

Bethel Resident Says Vote No to Remove “Decrepit” Old Town Hall

Posted by 

Bethel Resident Says Vote No to Remove “Decrepit” Old Town Hall

Editor’s Note: The following is a Letter to the Editor, sent in by Bethel resident Jenny Tesar, regarding the demolition of  the Old Town Hall. Those who oppose razing Old Town Hall in order to complete the library have obtained enough signatures to force a referendum. The referendum will be held on Tuesday, July 17th. A “NO” vote means you want the building to be demolished so the library can be completed. A “YES” vote means you want the Old Town Hall to be preserved so the town can sell it and/or use for other purposes. The opinions expressed in the Letters to the Editor column are the viewpoint of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Bethel Buzz or its editor. To read more Letters to the Editor regarding this issue click here.

From Jenny Tesar–

It is critical that Bethel residents go to the polls and vote NO on July 17. Failure to do so will result in an unfinished library, at the expense of an unsafe, unsound, unsellable building next door (the town hall until 1996).

Unless the July 17 resolution is defeated, the Bethel Public Library will not have the parking required to begin work on finishing its second floor. This delay is apt to result in loss of at least some of the grants arduously obtained for the second-floor construction, and possibly the loss of some private pledges as well. Reminder: all costs of removing the decrepit, asbestos-filled building next to the library—if done now—are at no cost to taxpayers.

In contrast, any sale or use of the “old town hall” will involve many hundreds of thousands of dollars in remediation costs, to remove hazardous materials. This is in addition to the costs involved in repairing and renovating the building. And the building could not be used until the 20-plus parking spaces it requires are constructed. Where would the parking spaces be located? Who would pay for them?

If after a year or two or more of watching the building continue its decay, will Bethel residents finally realize the stupidity of keeping it? And then be happy to pay for its removal, at a cost they will have to bear?  And pay to put parking spaces there for the library? And pay to finish the library?

~Jenny Tesar, Bethel, CT.

Letter to the Editor: Old Town Hall Letters — Bethel Action Committee Responds

Posted by 

Letter to the Editor: Old Town Hall Letters — Bethel Action Committee Responds
Editor’s note: The following letter to the editor was sent in from Billy Michael, founder and president of the Bethel Action Committee, Bethel, CT. The opinions expressed in the Letters to the Editor column are the viewpoint of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Bethel Buzz or its editor.
The current emotional outpouring and vigorous debate over the fate of the Old Town Hall/Teen Center reveals just how divided the citizenry of Bethel is on this issue. Each point of the debate represents the tip of a multi-faceted iceberg of point/counterpoint. This letter addresses some of the procedural questions that have surfaced.
While Bethel’s Town Charter does not outline a specific procedure regarding the demolition of town buildings out Town Meeting form of government guarantees that the townspeople are the ultimate decision makers concerning municipal affairs. The legislative powers of the town are vested in the Town Meeting and the Board of Selectmen. The Charter’s multiple provisions describing the petition process for Special Town Meetings and the Override of Decisions by Board of Selectmen make it abundantly clear that the citizenry assembled at Town Meeting/Referendum are coequal to the Board of Selectmen.
Although we elect citizens to “represent” us, the Charter limits the  power of these duly-elected “representatives” and allows the electorate to respond when elected officials take actions deemed harmful or inconsistent with the general welfare of the town, without having to wait for the next municipal election. These safeguards were put in place by our nations’ founders, who were very much aware of the tendency of those who govern to disregard the will of the governed.
Allowing three Selectmen to dispose of public property without prior public approval sets a dangerous precedent. Voters were promised that the Old Town Hall/Teen Center would remain. At that time, it was way to garner voter support for a costly library renovation. By the same token, voter approval should now be required to effect their major change of plans.
If we, the Bethel taxpayers, had not exercised our petition rights, we would essentially have yielded power to every future Town Attorney to justify every future Board of Selectmen’s power play. In effect, we would be giving future Boards of Selectmen the power to dispose of any town property where the project was financed through State grants which bypass the oversight of the Board of Finance and the voters.
This past winter various citizens called for either a Town Meeting or a Referendum on this polarizing issue at multiple Board of Selectmen meetings. After pressure was put on them by concerned citizens, a Public Hearing was conducted on March 21, 2012, the results of which only confirmed the lack of consensus for demolition of the Old Town Hall/Teen Center.
There was ample time and reason for the selectmen to add  the demolition question  of  to the May 17 budget referendum ballot at  minimal cost to the taxpayer but there was no support for measuring voter sentiment on this issue.  We are fortunate that those who preceded us left a process by which a voting bloc of citizens (546 petition signers) could restrain their elected representatives when they act without voter consent. We are also fortunate that Bethel has a citizenry that reacts when our two major political parties choose to exclude the voter from the Town’s decision-making process.

Letter to the Editor: Board of Finance Member Says “Vote YES!” to Preserve Old Town Hall

Posted by 

Letter to the Editor: Board of Finance Member Says “Vote YES!” to Preserve Old Town Hall

Photo credit: Wendy Mitchell

Editor’s Note: The following is a Letter to the Editor, sent in by J. Philip Gallagher, Board of Finance Member, regarding razing of the Old Town Hall. Those who oppose razing Old Town Hall in order to complete the library have obtained enough signatures to force a referendum. The referendum will be held on Tuesday, July 17th. The opinions expressed in the Letters to the Editor column are the viewpoint of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Bethel Buzz or its editor.

SAVE THE OLD TOWN HALL TEEN CENTER FOR OTHER VALUABLE USES

There is an old saying that where there is a will there is a way.  The Bethel Board of Selectmen has never had the will to save the Old Town Hall Teen Center, which was solidly constructed in 1961.  They are and have been determined to demolish the building, since they first took office in December of 2009, when they refused to award a State grant of $64,000 to remove all asbestos from the building. This goes against established precedent in Bethel where older public buildings are always   put to new and valuable uses.

For Example:

The Old Center School (built in 1895) was converted to apartments and brings in $22,000. a year in taxes.

The Old Drum Corps building now brings in $3,100. 00 in Taxes.

Grassy Plain School (built in 1895) is now the YMCA bringing in $30,000 a year in rent.

The old Whittlessy House now brings in $9,000,00 in taxes.

The old Train station is now the Bicycle Shop and brings in $25,000 per year in rent

The Plumtrees School built in 1867 has been preserved for historical and educational purposes.

The Municipal Center (built 1938) originally was a high school and middle school.

The current Board of Selectman have not honored the wishes of the voters of Bethel who authorized the approval of the Library project in December of 2000 only after the Library promised not remove the Old Town Hall Teen Center.  This promise was made at a Public Hearing conducted by the Board of Selectmen on September 7, 2000. According to the minutes of    this Public Hearing, Architect David Jepson, on behalf of   the Library Board of Directors Chaired by Eileen Goodrich,

…”gave an overview of the Library renovation project.  He explained that     Plan “B” is a revised version of plan “A”; however it is a smaller building, has fewer parking spaces, and retains the old town hall building.  He advised that, during construction, the library would utilize their current space at the old town hall.”

On July 30, 2001, the Board of Selectmen directed the Library Board to seek parking space on the West Side of the Municipal Center or with neighboring property owners or to seek a hardship ruling from the Zoning Board of Appeals since most times parking is available on the Library Grounds, along School Street or Library Place. At this meeting First Selectman Judith Novachek promised to negotiate with nearby property owners for permission to lease zoning required parking.

A handicap ramp was built in anticipation of putting parking spaces on the West side of the Municipal Center.   Instead of trying to tear down the old Town Hall Teen Center and making that intersection near the Post Office even more dangerous, the Board of Selectman should finish the handicap ramp project and provide parking on the West side of Municipal Center that would accomplish three things:  It would allow the handicap and elderly better access to the Municipal Center. It would reduce the dangerous congestion around the Post Office and it would give the Library its required parking spaces that could be used by its employees and free up its parking lot for Library Patrons.

The Selectmen have had offers to convert the Old Town Hall Teen Center for apartments or offices. One local developer has spent his own money on a feasibility study that showed the building could be used for apartments with adequate parking spaces to meet all zoning requirements.  Several citizens have suggested that if the Town retained ownership of the building that it could be used as a Museum.  These offers have all fallen on deaf ears because Mathew Knickerbocker is determined, no matter what is said, to demolish this $700,000 asset. The only way to stop him is to vote YES because once this beautiful, cape cod style brick   building that is located on a whole street of brick buildings is demolished, it will be gone forever!!

~J. Philip Gallagher

12-year member of the Bethel Board of Selectmen

Current member (11 years) and Former Chairman, Bethel Board of Finance

4-year member Bethel Board of Assessment Appeals

Letter to the Editor: “Old Town Hall – Why I’m Voting YES!”

Posted by 

Old Town Hall – Why I’m Voting YES!

Editor’s Note: The following Letter to the Editor was sent in from Dan Gaita, Bethel, CT. The opinions expressed in the Letters to the Editor column are the viewpoint of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Bethel Buzz or its editor.

A little known bit of information that our First Selectman continues to ignore, or intentionally misrepresent, is the fact that the status of the Old Town Hall has no effect on the completion of the library renovation.  It only impacts the completed library obtaining a certificate of occupancy following completion of construction. But he won’t tell you that.

He also seems to have forgotten that the state has given us the money to take care of the lead paint and asbestos issue in the building. Library Renovation and completion can begin now.  But Mr. Knickerbocker is stalling. We, as a community worked very hard for a decade to raise the needed money only to now be held hostage as our Current First Selectman risks us losing precious state grants and donations so he can use the completion of the Library as a leveraging tool to tear down the Old Town Hall.

Mr. Knickerbocker has said “no one wants to buy it,” yet it has never been announced as being for sale nor has a request for proposal for the space been published. Why?

Mr. Knickerbocker says “zoning regulations would make it useless,” yet he has never designated what section or chapter of our zoning regulations specify that claim.  Why?

I’d like to see the future of our Old Town Hall go through all the steps promised by Mr. Knickerbocker and allow the people of Bethel a fair opportunity to refurbish, sell, buy, renovate, or re-create that little historic slice of Bethel history.

I’d also like Mr. Knickerbocker to stop attaching the completion of the library to the status of the Old Town Hall. It’s exactly what he did in 2003 when he attached the Schools Accreditation status to our students chances of getting into college. This type of intentional misrepresentation has got to stop.

I am looking forward to the completed library and also looking forward to more parking. But misleading the tax payers and residents of Bethel is no way of going about it.

Mr. Knickerbocker, finish the library – stop playing politics.

Respectfully,

Dan Gaita

Letter to the Editor: Bethelite Urges Residents to “Vote NO” on July 17th

Posted by 

Letter to the Editor: Bethelite Urges Residents to “Vote NO” on July 17th

Editor’s Note: The following Letter to the Editor was sent in from Christopher Brown, Bethel, CT. The opinions expressed in the Letters to the Editor column are the viewpoint of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Bethel Buzz or its editor.

On May 6, 2012 I was lucky and honored to participate in a unique fundraiser for the Bethel Public Library. The event was titled “Tau 2000,” named after the world record that was set by a 12-year-old 7th grader in Bethel Middle School. Ethan Brown recited over 2,000 digits of the Mathematical number “Tau” from memory. It took him 4 months to memorize it. In the process he raised over $3,000 for the Library Construction project that has been in the works for 9 years. Many in the community came together for a celebration that included contests, magic shows, and raffle prizes.This day meant even more to me because Ethan is my son. It was one of the proudest days of my life.

While this was an incredibly special event for my family, the money raised on that day is simply the tip of an enormous iceberg. The people of The Bethel Public Library have been working tirelessly for 9 years to raise enough money for a thorough and badly needed renovation project. They met the goals they set out to meet. They raised the necessary money. All the red tape has been taken care of. The figurative wrecking ball is ready to swing. Hold everything. Not so fast.

Behind the library sits an asbestos ridden building that is unusable and unsellable. It needs to be taken down. The library needs parking. The town owns the land and the building. Without the additional parking, the library project cannot proceed. There is no other space for parking. There is no other use for this building. At risk of oversimplifying, this is a “no brainer.”

The Board of Selectman voted unanimously to approve the razing of “Old Town Hall.” In response, a small group of residents decided to gather signatures to force a referendum to reconsider knocking it down. We now need to spend $8000 dollars of town money on a vote to decide whether to use this land to finish the library, or thwart the entire project in favor of keeping an unusable structure as a town eyesore.

Join me and many others on July 17th to VOTE “NO.”  Join us on our Facebook Page at:http://www.facebook.com/events/479362938759333/480116955350598/?notif_t=event_mall_comment

-Christopher Brown
Bethel Resident

Bethel Action Committee Petitions to Overrule Decision to Demolish Old Town Hall

Posted by 

Bethel Action Committee Petitions to Overrule Decision to Demolish Old Town Hall
Editor’s note: The following letter to the editor was sent in from Billy Michael, founder of the Bethel Action Committee, Bethel, CT. The opinions expressed in the Letters to the Editor column are the viewpoint of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Bethel Buzz or its editor.
Bethel residents opposed to the way their Board of Selectmen are disposing of the Old Town Hall should be aware that the Bethel Action Committee is petitioning to overrule the May 30, 2012 authorizations that would demolish this public building.
Whether viewed as an asset or a liability, the fact remains that David Jepsen, the library project architect, assured voters at the Town Meeting on December 5, 2000 that the “Old Town Hall will remain” and that “parking as required by zoning would be provided nearby offsite.” The Library supporters approved this plan!
Since the basic premise of the library project is now being drastically changed it would seem only natural that Selectmen operating under town meeting form of government would want to ensure that the assembled citizenry at town meeting agree with the substantive changes they are proposing.
However, this is not the case. By voting to authorize demolition outside of a referendum, the Bethel Board of Selectmen are catering to the Library constituency at the expense of the taxpayers-at-large, as well as circumventing Bethel’s Town Meeting form of government.While not illegal, their actions are inconsistent with the spirit of our town meeting form of government.
First, how well-publicized was the May 30th Special Selectmen’s Meeting? How many of those reading this letter were aware that demolition of the of the Old Town Hall was on the agenda? Shouldn’t an issue that generated a citizens’ rally and a sharply divided Public Hearing deserve a modicum of publicity? Although the meeting complied with all legal notification requirements it was essentially unknown to the citizens at large.
Secondly, those who would argue that a referendum is not necessary because we elect representatives to make these decisions for us might  be reminded that the elected  Board of Finance unanimously voted to preserve the building in question!
There is simply no consensus of support for the demolition. There is only a transparent attempt by the Selectmen to wrap the decision-making process in a protective cocoon, thus insulating them from taxpayer scrutiny.
Thirdly, how does the use of State grant money exempt this project from the oversight of the Board of Finance and the Town Meeting? Doesn’t the fact that these grant monies are derived directly from Bethel’s 8000+ state income tax filers as well as other locally paid state taxes and fees in reality make this local money? What precedent is being set here? Does receipt of State grants  henceforth allow the Selectmen to do whatever they want for the benefit of a favored voting bloc, and thus free from the oversight of both the Board of Finance and the town citizenry?
Fourth, isn’t it reasonable that in a Town Meeting form of government, disposal of a public building should require the consent of the public? We do not give unbridled power to our neighbors at election time – the founding fathers were adamant about diffusing power over the many in order to deprive excessive power to the few.
The right to petition this decision to as wide an audience as possible is one of the safeguards provided by our Town Charter.
To partake in this most fundamental exercise of democracy please visit www.bethelaction.com for information on signing the petition online. We will then find you for an in-person signing of this Petition to Overrule Decision to Demolish the Old Town Hall.

Bethel Resident Questions Library, Government Salary Increases

Posted by 

Bethel Resident Questions Library, Government Salary Increases

Editor’s note: The following letter to the editor was sent in from Dr. John A. Opinski, Bethel, CT. The opinions expressed in the Letters to the Editor column are the viewpoint of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Bethel Buzz or its editor.

The April 24, 2012 News-Times Online Edition column entitled, “No money for libraries? That’s criminal!” and published in the Bethel local section seems to more appropriately fit the Opinion section. The author, Kendal Rautzhan, writes under the impression that funding for books could be endangered by budgetary concerns during tough economic times. It is unclear how the author gained this impression but it is encouraging that offering children’s books in the Bethel Public Library is mentioned.

What Kendal Rautzhan may be unaware of is public sentiment in Bethel concerning a March 29, 2012 closed door meeting by the Bethel Executive Committee of the Board of Directors which was announced just a little over 24 hours prior to the meeting. In the meeting, the Board voted as follows:

“…Ms. Kahn made a motion seconded by Ms. Bickford to recommend to the Library Board of Directors that full time staff receive 2 additional paid personal days for 2012-13FY. Motion passed unanimously.

Ms. Kahn made a motion seconded by Ms. Bickford to recommend to the Library Board of Directors that part-time staff receive a 15 increase in vacation time for 2012-13FY. Motion passed unanimously. Ms. Kahn made a motion seconded by Ms. Bickford to recommend to the Library Board of Directors a change in Personnel Policy beginning 2013-14 FY to grant full-time staff two 2 Personal Days annually Motion passed unanimously. Ms. Kahn made a motion seconded by Ms. Bickford to recommend to the Library Board of Directors consideration of a salary increase for the Library Director for a total of $2,274.00 from line items to be determined by the Board and to authorize the Chair to discuss with the town Comptroller the effect if any the increase might have on benefits and payroll deductions Motion passed unanimously.

Ms. Kahn made a motion seconded by Ms. Bickford to authorize the Chair to approach First Selectman Knickerbocker regarding the Library Director’s potential eligibility for the town’s post retirement Medical Insurance Benefit Optional Program Motion passed unanimously. Ms. Kahn made a motion seconded by Ms. Bickford to recommend to the Library Board of Directors that a one time two 2 week paid vacation be granted to Library Director Rosato after the completion of the Library Building Project Motion passed unanimously…”

(source:http://www.bethelct.org/documents/On-Line_Documents/public_library/2012-03-29m%20sp.pdf).

The problem residents have is both the closed-door forum of this meeting and the increase in salaries and benefits when money for books is assumed tough to come by and at a time when Bethel property taxes were just increased over 3% and an additional property tax of over 3% is sought by the Bethel Administration. This problem is compounded by the decreases in income and property values that Bethel residents have experienced over the course of the current economic recession.

The Bethel residents have forgone employment, salary increases and benefits in recent years in order to support a growing town government and library. Is the Bethel Executive Committee of the Board of Directors willing to forgo its recent motions in favor of books? This would seem to address Kendal Rautzhan’s problem quite well. The answer to that question does not lie in where money is appropriated from. It all comes from the people.

–Dr. John A. Opinski, Bethel, CT.

Bethel Action Committee Urges Residents to Vote “No” on Budget

Posted by 

Bethel Action Committee Urges Residents to Vote “No” on Budget
 
The following is a Letter to the Editor sent in by Billy Michael, president and founder of the Bethel Action Committee. The opinion expressed does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Bethel Buzz or its editor.
Last May Bethel school officials emphasized a tiny 1.2% increase in school spending to garner voter approval. It worked – the budget passed by 300 votes.
At that time, the Bethel Action Committee disclosed the inconvenient truth that school spending was really increasing by 2.59% and criticized the school administration for excluding the $476,000  Education Jobs Grant (a gift to the teachers union from the President and Congress) in the way they calculated the spending increase.
We warned that the one year federal “gift” should not be used to help implement a permanent program like All Day Kindergarten because the costs would eventually become the responsibility of local taxpayers.
Think of how many times this proposed budget has been described as “budget neutral’ and “status quo” in order to reassure taxpayers that costs are being contained.
The April 4th budget hearing revealed that since the recession started, student enrollment has DECREASED by about 8% and that the total per pupil spending is now at $13,177!
Supporters of this budget perceive that this money is essential for student achievement and well-being. With roughly 85% of this amount consumed by staff salaries and benefits, the real beneficiaries here are not the students.
Keeping this in mind, are raises for Bethel’s 15.45 administators currently costing nearly $2.5 million in salaries and benefit really necessary to achieve academic excellence in the schools?
Nearly one-third of the $1.6 million (4.4%) increase in proposed school spending makes up for the loss of the Federal Jobs Grant. There is nothing “status quo” or “budget neutral” about the impact of this budget on local taxpayers.
Vote No – Too High on Thursday May 17th.

Bethel Resident Says Rude Behavior Ruled at Monday’s Town Meeting

Posted by

Bethel Resident Says Rude Behavior Ruled at Monday’s Town Meeting
Editor’s Note: The following is a Letter to the Editor sent in by a reader. The viewpoint expressed here does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Bethel Buzz News or its editor.
Bad Behavior at May 7 Annual Bethel Town Meeting by Cynthia McCorkindale

Although I have previously attended the Annual Town Meetings in Bethel, it’s only in the past few that I have gone to the microphone.  So last night, filtering my questions through the moderator, my first query was answered by one of the panelists. I turned back to the moderator to ask a followup. As I was speaking, another panelist began to speak, even though I was in the middle of asking another question! I looked pleadingly at the moderator, hoping she would step in, to no avail. So I addressed the panelist myself and said, “I’m sorry. I don’t believe I’ve asked the question yet.”

A loud “boooo” rose up from the crowd. It appeared that by speaking out and challenging this particular panelist, I had offended at least two-thirds of the room! The audible groaning continued as several other residents made unpopular comments, with applause breaking out when their motions failed. The moderator did not intervene. Those who comprised this unruly majority were mainly the supporters of the budget as it stood. The minority, like myself, asked questions and made motions to reduce it.

Interestingly, Bethel’s school system maintains a strong policy against bullying and celebrates diversity, so it seems paradoxical that the very people who support its budget would engage in such flagrantly rude behavior towards those whose points of view do not exactly mirror their own.

To the parents who attended, many of them with their children, here’s what your behavior teaches them: “Don’t ever express an opinion that goes against the popular majority, because if you do, you will be publicly derided. Make sure if you ever hear someone challenging the status quo, that you are vociferous in your contempt of them.”

It’s interesting to note that those in the minority sat quietly and spoke politely.

Anyone who speaks at any official Town gathering should be treated with respect and should be able to express his or her point of view without fear of public attack. That’s just part of being an adult in a civilized society.

~Cynthia McCorkindale, Bethel, CT.

Resident Claims Bethel Schools Improperly Use E-mail

Posted by 

Resident Claims Bethel Schools Improperly Use E-mail

Letter to The Editor from John Milne, Mar. 6, 2012

Dear sirs:

Bethel Schools Improper E-mail Use

The Bethel school system has e-mail addresses for those homes that have students in the school system.  This is so the homes can be notified of changes in hours, closings, or other circumstances that could affect attendance.  This communication mode is NOT intended for political use, or for the Board of Ed to hammer home a position that they (the Board) support such as budget (tax) increases.

However under the direction of the Superintendent of Schools such direct e-mails are being sent to the student homes calling for parental support of issues the Board wants to see adopted.  That is NOT the purpose of the e-mail availability.

If the Board of Ed. Wants to emphasize some particular proposal they can do so by placing an ad in the newspapers, letter to the editor, or  U.S. mail to all households. The general public, who’s taxes pay for the Board of Ed. to use e-mail, have the right to know what the Board is proposing and these type of e-mails should be in the public forum, not hidden to a select group such as the homes of students.

Using these targeted e-mails is against the policy of such use and may even be illegal.  Such mailings can also work against the best interests of the general public, by keeping them uninformed.  It is surprising the Board of Ed. Does not take a stand to discontinue such use.

–John Milne   203 797-1328

Bethel Action Committee Speaks Out Against Town Hall Demo & Tax Increases

The following is a letter to the editor sent in by Bethel Action Committee Chairman Billy Michael:

Dear Bethel Taxpayers:  Federal state and local political forces are raising property taxes as they do every year regardless of the economic hardships being experienced by homeowners and businesses.

Dr. Chesley, our “retired” $755 per diem school superintendent just unveiled a budget proposal reflecting a nearly 5% spending increase!  Some $476,000 of that spending results from the temporary Job’s Grant Program; a component of billions in federal stimulus spending that Michelle Obama called a jobs-guarantee program for teachers.

Governor Malloy has raised every imaginable tax and fee in our state catering to every constituency except local property owners. It’s no wonder Connecticut is rated the worst state for retirees nationally.

Bethel’s Selectmen plan to demolish the Old Town Hall to provide 16 parking places for the town library   whose annual cost to taxpayers is $1.8 million! A budget that size needs tax revenue provided by grand list growth. I believe the library would benefit by the sale of the building and the annual tax   revenue generated thereafter.

Unrestrained spending on three levels of government is making property taxes unbearable. But don’t despair; the Bethel Action Committee is still fighting for taxpayers. We’ve spearheaded a petition drive for a special town meeting to act on the ‘All or None Public Alert Ordinance.” The ordinance would prohibit all town agencies from using taxpayer-funded communication systems to provide “voting reminders” to one cherry picked voting bloc.  Simply stated, if taxpayer money funds “voting reminders” then all taxpayers are notified. If it can’t be distributed to all then it is distributed to none. Political action committees will get out the word as they did prior to Dr. Chesley.

To sign or circulate a petition contact me at 203 743-2456 or billy@bethelaction.com

–Billy Michael

27 1/2 Fleetwood Ave. Bethel

203 743-2456

Occupy or Tea Party: To Which Do You Belong?

Posted by 

Occupy or Tea Party: To Which Do You Belong?

The following is a Letter to the Editor submitted by Danel R. Gaita–

At least this is the choice our congress and the media would have you subscribe to. Yet, these two options are not all that is upon the table in America’s lifecycle.

First and foremost is my firm belief that the answers to our nations quandary lies within the commonalities of both present popular social uprisings, be it Occupy Your Street or The Tea Party Movement.

Specifically that the American people have quite obviously lost confidence, faith and trust in our elected leaders. Be it angry college grads that can’t get a job due to high unemployment or baby boomers just now realizing that retirement may not be “as promised” due to continually changing tax laws and complicated oversized ineffective government bureaucracies.

The politicians love this. It gives them a population with which to capitalize on and raise lots of campaign donations too.

Obama and the Democrats will use the Occupy Movement to demonize Republican conservatism as greed while the Republicans will use the Tea Party movement to battle against the alleged evils of socialism.

Unfortunately, We The People, in either case have been directed away from the underlying issue in all of this. That being the reality that most, if not all of us have lost faith in our governing institutions to go to work for us rather than themselves.

We don’t trust them, we no longer believe them, and we can’t even rely on our elected leaders to faithfully execute their duties as sworn in their oaths when taking office.

So long as our local Municipal Charters and State Laws have no mechanism of enforcement when elected officials violate their sworn oath this downward spiraling democracy, we all know as America, is destined to fail.

That’s just bad for everyone.

Daniel R. Gaita

121 Dodgingtown Rd

Bethel CT 06801

Local Photographer Praises Caraluzzi’s Service During Storm

Posted by 

Local Photographer Praises Caraluzzi’s Service During Storm

                                                                                       The following is a letter submitted by local photographer Elisabeth Levy–

To the Editor,

I would like to praise my local Caraluzzi’s market in Bethel for going above and beyond my expectation of service this past week. I had special ordered over $75 worth of tropical flowers for my one-day art show that was scheduled to take place on October 30. When the storm forced a last-minute postponement of the event I decided to bring the flowers back to Caraluzzi’s in the hope that if they were able to resell some of them they might give me a partial store credit. Manager Dave was so compassionate towards my situation that he immediately offered to accept all of the flowers back and refund the entire purchase amount right back to my credit card. Since my budget had already taken a large hit with the loss of advertising for the now canceled event I was incredibly grateful for this extremely generous gesture. This small local family owned business deserves high praise for this kind of service and makes me proud to have them in my town.  (And nothing makes a loyal customer like this kind of service.) Kudos.

Sincerely,
Elisabeth Levy
Bethel, CT

ejL

Elisabeth J. Levy Photography
914-261-3509

“Mahalo Hawaii” Photography Show ~ Rescheduled for January 8, 2012 ~ 3-7pm, 24 Clapboard Ridge Rd., Danbury CT.

Billy’s BBQ Endorses Knickerbocker

Posted by 

The following was sent from Dionne Craig, owner of Billy’s BBQ–

Bill and I have a small BBQ catering business called Billy’s BBQ.  When Bill and I decided to start this business we wanted it to be a part of downtown Bethel.  We began looking for a commercial kitchen we could sublease which is not easy to do.  We began working with Robin Grubard at the Daily Fare and came to an agreement we would rent space in her kitchen.  Since Daily Fare is in the Bethel Train Station it had to be approved by the Town of Bethel and The Department of Transportation.

We received quick approval from the Town of Bethel but the Department of Transportation was another matter.  In the big scheme of things it just wasn’t that important to them and when you aren’t that important then you get looked over, again and again and again.
That is when Matt Knickerbocker came in, he saw our vision, tasted our food and knew that our small business would be good for Bethel.  He made numerous phone calls on our behalf, followed up on several dead ends and was relentless in finding who could move this process along.  He called Bill and I to let us know what was happening and to keep us motivated in moving ahead.  In the end we were able to get the paperwork signed and started out catering business this past summer.
Matt had a vision for us and Bethel.  He knew that as much as Bill and I wanted to be a part of downtown Bethel we would begin our business where we could.  Since becoming a catering business Matt has pulled us in and invited us to be a part of many downtown activities.  He has helped our business grow and we hope that Billy’s BBQ will become a part of downtown Bethel for many years to come.
Sincerely,
Dionne Craig
Billy’s BBQ

RTC Chairman Encourages Bethel To Vote For Fiscally Conservative Cleary

Posted by 

The following is a letter to the editor sent by Paul Improta, Chairman of the Republican Town Committee–

Letter to the Editor, Monday, Nov. 7, 2011:

As we are in the final stretch of the 2011 Municipal Election Season, we have heard from all the insiders. They have tried to make their case why their candidate should be elected, and in some cases why their opponents shouldn’t be elected. Most of the insiders’ reasons have little to do with the needs or the future of Bethel, but to influence voters’ opinions for this election. We need to listen beyond the immediate chatter, and look at history. Each candidate has a track record.

Matthew Knickerbocker came on the scene as a candidate for the BOE. Matt’s a nice guy, but his orientation is that of a big spender. His philosophy coincides with that of the Teachers’ Unions. He’s from Michigan, one of the bluest states in America. Matt interviewed as a Republican for a seat on the BOE in 1997, but was rejected by the RTC Vacancy Committee because he was too liberal. In 1999 Matt was picked up by the Democrats and cross-endorsed by the then-liberal ProBethel Party to run on the “Star Team” ticket. Their mantra was “let the professionals do their job”, which was code for let the BOE be a rubber stamp to the administration and the Teachers’ Unions, and so it was until the Republicans took the majority in 2005. They have held the majority ever since.

Many will remember during Knickerbocker’s tenure on the BOE, the town experienced some of the most bruising budget seasons, with the Democrat-crafted school budgets always asking for more from the townspeople than they were willing to fund. The Democrats on the BOE along with some of their surrogates in the community would engage in scorched earth campaigns – letters to the editor, sign waiving, and accusations that schools were being shortchanged. It just so happens that those they accused of underfunding education were the same people who voted in the majority at each referendum. In other words, the majority of their neighbors.

Who could forget the “no – too low” campaign where a Resolution of the Democrat-controlled BOE –with Mr. Knickerbocker was Chairman – encouraged voters to vote that the presented budget was too low, but every time the budget was voted down, those who voted “too high”  outnumbered those who voted “too low”, and each time the budget was cut further. That was Mr. Knickerbocker and the Democrats putting politics over our children. Since the Republicans have held a majority on the BOE, the rubber stamp has ended, the politicizing of our children and schools has ended, the schools have never done better, and lo and behold the BOE has consistently returned allocated funds unspent to the town General Fund.

Let’s look briefly at Mr. Knickerbocker’s orientation toward his job as First Selectman. One of his first initiatives as First Selectman, two years into the worst recession since the Great Depression, was to borrow $8.5 million on our already maxed-out credit limit for road paving. There is no way the town has the capacity to pave that much roadway in a single year, which means the town would’ve been making interest payments for years on money yet used. Again, this demonstrates a propensity to recklessly spend the taxpayers’ money. Luckily for the taxpayer, the Board of Finance whittled the amount down to a manageable $2 million, but even with that allocation, Mr. Knickerbocker has been too slow to implement the plan with the majority of the money still sitting in escrow almost two years later.

In his first term, Mr. Knickerbocker has put together “Ad Hoc” committees to “study” various aspects of town government, including much-needed economic development to generate industrial and commercial tax receipts to offset residential taxes. I call these “look busy” committees because they never conclude with an implemented plan. These committees have generated talk. They might’ve even generated some photo ops for campaign literature, but in two years they have not resulted in anything tangible for the taxpayer.

We can go further on the tax-and-spend theme regarding the Bethel Democrats and Mr. Knickerbocker specifically. One only needs to consider the Working Families Party Cross-endorsement. The Working Families Party is on off-shoot of ACORN, labor unions and far-left community organizations. Mr. Knickerbocker, along with his running mate Richard Straiton have both accepted the Working Family Party’s endorsement. Peculiar, there is only one registered Working Family Parties Elector in the entire town, so this cross-endorsement action has just as much to do with an ACORN-based political party gaining credibility in Connecticut as it does to assist the Democrats in our local election.

Seeing where the Democratic Party has gravitated in the last decade or so, it’s not unreasonable to find many fiscally conservative Democrats could no longer relate to the agenda of the national Democratic Party. In Connecticut and Bethel, the Democratic Party is in lock-step with the direction of the national party, which has served to alienate many now former Democrats, many who were involved in party politics on the local level. Phil and Steve Gallagher, along with our Republican Candidate for First Selectman Kevin Cleary come to mind. Americans of Irish-Catholic descent, these men share the Yankee ideals of self-reliance, fiscal conservatism, individual responsibility and public service. To paraphrase the words of Ronald Reagan;  they didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left them.

Contrast Kevin Cleary’s work experience and public service with Mr. Knickerbocker’s, and you will see a man who by his very orientation has the inclination to examine a situation from all angles to determine its value and efficacy before accepting it. If he can improve the situation, he will give his recommendations. His training tells him to manage each situation as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Mr. Cleary has demonstrated this over and over in the past as Chairman of the Board of Finance, and as a Selectman. He would’ve never extended our debt to the extent Knickerbocker tried to snatch-and-grab with the excessive bond deal, because he would’ve known the town hadn’t the capacity to construct that many road miles, and that we’d be paying interest on debt for unused funds.

Let’s forget the Republican or Democrat moniker for the time being. Yes, Knickerbocker was a Republican, and Cleary was once a Democrat. So what? On the local level, one must examine the person, that person’s values and make a conscious decision whether that person’s values mimic your own values. Are your values supported by an ACORN-based, tax-and-spend liberal agenda? If so, than Mr. Knickerbocker is your man. If you are concerned about over-spending and residential taxes increasing during these tough economic times, then your choice must be no one other than Kevin L. Cleary, a proven fiscal conservative to be the next First Selectman for the town of Bethel.

Paul K. Improta, Chairman, Republican Town Committee

Town Attorney Martin Lawlor Asks Voters To Consider Thomas O’Leary For Town Treasurer

Posted by 

Town Attorney Martin Lawlor Asks Voters To Consider Thomas O’Leary  For Town Treasurer

Editor’s Note: The following is a Letter to the Editor from Town Attorney Martin Lawlor. The viewpoint expressed here does not necessarily reflect with the viewpoint of Bethel Buzz News or its editor.

“The Bethel Town Treasurer  shall supervise the investment and expenditure of all town funds,” so says the Bethel Town Charter. Bethel voters and taxpayers will be well served by electing Thomas O’Leary on Nov.8th.

In a previous term, as Town Treasurer, Tom’s active involvement in investing the town’s operating funds earned the town over $500,000. During his term of office he reviewed every invoice before the town issued payment. He also presented the Town’s financial condition and policies to the credit reporting agencies. As Board of Finance Chair he testified before the State appropriations committee.

Tom has more elected and appointed experience than any candidate currently running for office, including twelve years on the Board of Finance, three as Chairman, the Economic Development Commission, Assessment Appeals Board, Library, Building Committee, Senior Tax Review Commission, Transfer Station Review, Committee and Town Treasurer. As a result of this public service, he has a singular knowledge of the workings of Bethel’s government.

Tom O’Leary’s greatest trait in each of his elected and appointed assignments is asking questions. He asks, studies, and asks again until obtaining a full picture. It is not unusual to find him in the Town Hall reviewing Annual
Reports.

Tom O’Leary also has a heart. Ever since moving to Bethel forty-six years ago, he has been an active volunteer for church and community. He has long been an advocate for people with disabilities. He turned Brotherhood In Action of Bethel, into a federally recognized organization. He continues to be its principal fund raiser and still answer calls, day and night to provide food or other assistance.

Please join me in voting on Row A for Thomas O’Leary as Bethel’s Town Treasurer.

Martin J. Lawlor, Jr.

Town of Bethel Attorney

Gallagher Urges Voters To Re-Elect Current Board of Finance Members

Posted by 

Gallagher Urges Voters To Re-Elect Current Board of Finance Members

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter sent by J. Phillip Gallagher, Board of Finance Member. The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of Bethel Buzz or its editor.

October 24,  2011

To the Editor:

The Knickerbocker Administration in Bethel has been caught on several occasions of not following proper financial procedures

In April of 2010,  the Knickerbocker Administration illegally altered a bond issue approved by the Board of Finance that included funds for the repair of Weed and Walnut Hill Roads, which caused those projects to be delayed for a year.

In June of 2010, the Knickerbocker Administration violated the Town Charter when it attempted to raise the Transfer Station Fees without a public hearing.  They eventually held a sham public hearing and raised the fees the same night thus penalizing the elderly and working people who mostly use this facility.

It was at the Public Utilities Commission meeting in December of 2009 that the Knickerbocker Administration first learned of the deficits in the Water & Sewer Accounts yet they did not begin to address this issue until the latter part oaf 2011.  While Mr. Knickerbocker procrastinated, the deficits increased.

In each of these cases it was the Bethel Board of Finance or its Chairman who blew the whistle on Mr. Knickerbocker.  Now Mr Knickerbocker wants to elect candidates to the Board of Finance who will work for him rather that the taxpayers.

To help Mr. Knickerbocker gain control of the Board of Finance, the leaders of  Bethel Democratic Party have  added a sinister note to Bethel politics by seeking the endorsement of the Working Families Party, which is an extreme left-fringe group that has brought chaos to Bridgeport and caused the State to take over the Bridgeport Board of Education. This party is too  extreme even  for many local Democrats as more than half  their candidates have wisely  declined to take the Working Families Party endorsement.    We don’t need  chaos and fringe politics  in Bethel and we don’t need   a rubber stamp Board of Finance.

In these times of falling incomes and declining state aid, Bethel needs a Board of Finance that works for the people and does the job that our town Charter requires which is  to advise the people on how best to spend their hard earned tax dollars.   We need to re-elect John  Dietter, Bill Slifkin and Jim Roden who have been doing a  prudent and conscientious job on behalf of the people of Bethel.

J. Phillip Gallagher
Bethel Resident
Board of Finance Member 

October 17, 2011

RTC Chair Reminds Voters of Positive Change Under Republicans

Posted by 

RTC Chair Reminds Voters of Positive Change Under Republicans

The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by Paul K. Improta, Chairman of the Republican Town Committee.

For the past several years, under Republican-led government Bethel has experienced positive change. It is important to remind folks that it always hasn’t been that way.

It wasn’t very long ago that Democrats on the school board, along with certain activists in the community, would accuse their fellow Bethelites of underfunding education. This annual ritual went on for years, and was used as a wedge to exploit emotions and to garner votes for Democrats. Particularly after the 1997 municipal elections when the cross-endorsed Independent Party, along with the Republicans were able to gain a strong ideological majority on the BOE, ending decades of Democratic control, this tactic was employed.

This tactic was soon expanded to the greater Democratic Party, extending to the campaigns of the Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen, it became a mantra that Bethel, and particularly the Republicans wanted to cheat children out of a good education, cheat regular citizens out of a new library, a new school, a new fill-in-the-blank, and that every time a budget was voted down, it was because people were siding with those evil Republicans to deprive the rest of a better quality of life.

The problem with this tactic is that the noise generated by the Democrat campaigns and activists, along with the hysteria it generated bled into the larger community. People seeking to relocate to the area were cautioned to avoid Bethel as a result. This campaign tactic created a negative impression of our community which caused far-reaching negative implications, particularly with desirability and home prices.

In 2007 the voters of Bethel gave the Republicans a majority on all boards and commissions, and since that time the Republican Majority on the BOE has demonstrated that working with the school administrators, while also working within the town’s means, the schools have excelled, culminating with the class of 2011 of which the Superintendent wrote in his Academic Report “the Class of 2011 performed admirably in the classroom, on the athletic field and on the stage. 74 members of the class of 2011 earned a total of 83 scholarships and grants worth a total of $3,119,544. The Class of 2011 also completed more than 12,000 hours in community service. By this important measure, our school system is extraordinarily successful”. This report hardly reflects a deprived school system. More importantly, this achievement was accomplished, all the while the BOE consistently returned unspent money to the town’s General Fund.

The typical Bethel Voter is reflective of the Yankee ideal – enterprising, fiscally conservative and socially libertarian. This individualistic streak manifests itself in the form of suspicion and public dissent whenever activists threaten to disrupt the status quo, particularly if it involves spending large sums of money without reasonable justification. That being said, it is important to note that the Republican majority on the Board of Finance has been the authority to stand between an at times over-reaching Democrat –controlled Board of Selectmen.

With the jobless numbers hovering around 9% and an economy which is showing practically no growth, the last thing Bethel needs is a Democratic regime that is too quick to go into debt, borrowing against future revenues. When the citizens of the state are being punished with higher taxes by a Democratic Governor to pay for decades of mismanagement by his own party who has had a veto-proof majority in the General Assembly, the people of Bethel don’t need more taxes on the local level too.

Who is the Bethel Democratic Party today? One only needs to see which party cross endorses their candidates to see how out-of-touch they are with the average Bethel voter. See who the “Working Families Party” is, who started it and which organizations it is related to, and you will see that the Bethel Democrats do not reflect the values of the average Bethel Voter.

Today in Bethel, with the Republicans in majority, the negative noise level has subsided, the schools are as good as they have ever been, and there are steady hands on the purse. Do we really want to return to those days when the people of Bethel were not good enough for the naysayers who would spend your money and blame you for the effects of their negative campaigning? Let’s keep Bethel moving forward by electing Republicans to keep up the good work.

Paul K. Improta, Chairman, Republican Town Committee

October 10, 2011

Bethel Voter Urges Residents to Check the Facts

Throughout this campaign season I’ve watched Mr. Burke and Mr. Crnic
craftily mislead the few remaining voters that support them. Many of their
remaining supporters are long time friends and feel a certain loyalty to
their old buddy. Unfortunately, these remaining friends have allowed blind
loyalty to cloud critical thinking that would normally lead each of his
supporters to verify what their good buddy has been telling them.

I happen to have a great deal of respect for many of Mr. Burke’s die hard
supporters and I consider several of them to be close friends and personal
mentors. Therefore I direct this letter to them and to the other remaining
supporters that have listened to Mr. Burke and Mr. Crnic falsely claim their
advocacy for the tax payer, the senior citizen and the Conservative
Republican. In short, they have not been forthright and honest with you.

Mr. Burke and Mr. Crnic believe that none of you will fact check what they
tell you. But I have, and the truth is far different then the tall tales and
half-truths you have all been fed.

Here is one example. Under Mr. Burkes administration, Bob Burke himself
presented budgets during his first three years that increased Bethel
spending by over $7,700,000. Check the town records for yourself.  That is
more than any other prior administration in Bethel history. He covers this
up by telling you he kept taxes down, but he doesn’t tell it’s because the
town received one-time State and Federal grants to offset the reckless
spending increases. The grants were good for one year; the increases in
spending are with us to stay.

This is just one example. I’d be happy to provide others but this letter is
limited to 300 words. Follow this article on-line and I’ll show you the rest
of the information they are keeping from you, their loyal supporters.

Respectfully,

Daniel R. Gaita

Loyal Bethel Resident

—————————

August 22, 2011

By Daniel R. Gaita

Minor Parties are Diluting Democracy:

The very formation of the “CT Tea Party” here in Bethel is absolutely juxtaposed to the national TEA Party movement that has been adamantly against the formation of a minor party. The state and national Tea Party organizers understand that an additional ballot line will only divide the Fiscal Conservative vote and hand any non-conservative opponent a guaranteed victory.

In 1992 Ross Perot took 19% of the popular vote leaving George Bush with only 37% which proved enough to give Bill Clinton the Presidency with only 43%. Result – 56% of Americans ended up with someone they did not elect, whom went on to be impeached.

Fast Forward to 2009 right here in Bethel when former First Selectman Bob Burke was not nominated by the Bethel Republicans he went on to be defeated in the Republican Caucus, and again in a Republican Primary, yet went ahead on a third party (Pro Bethel) line, divided the Republican votes and gave candidate Matthew Knickerbocker the win with just 38% of the Bethel vote.  Result – 62% of Bethel residents ended up with someone they did not elect.

Now it’s 2011, and Mr. Burke and his running mate, Mr. Crnic, after being defeated again at another Republican caucus, are now capitalizing on the national TEA Party name and unsuspecting voters to garner political support in November.

The TEA Party’s national platform has been the reduction of government spending in order to reduce taxes and the nation’s debt, yet Mr. Burke increased the size of Bethel’s budget more than any other First Selectman in Bethel history even with multiple budgets failing at referendum. This hardly represents the TEA Party Philosophy or a Fiscally Conservative Candidate.

Please gentleman, for the sake of our community – STOP Diluting our Democracy with delusional reasoning. Divided we fall.

FULL DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: Writer, Dan Gaita was the original Chairman of the CT Tea Party when it formed in 2010. Following multiple meetings with state, national and local TEA Party coordinators and leaders he resigned as chairman and committed to not dividing the Republican/Conservative vote. The purpose of forming the original TEA Party was to ensure the TEA Party movement and its name was not used to confuse voters on a ballot. As an indirect result of his resignation, no “TEA” party candidates appeared on the 2010 state and local election ballot and Bethel Republican Candidate Dan Carter went on to defeat incumbent (D) Jason Bartlett by a slim margin. Had a “TEA” party candidate run on an additional ballot line, Mr. Bartlett would still be in office and the will of the majority of voters ignored.

Daniel R. Gaita

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: