LETTER: Politics trumps dialogue every time

Letter-to-the-EditorNEWTo the Editor:

Tom McCarthy, Republican and Representative Town Meeting (RTM) Majority Leader, recently wrote a letter to the editor about the State budget cuts to Educational Cost Sharing (ECS).

He stated: “Majority Leadership of the RTM remains committed to working through these serious issues with First Selectman Mike Tetreau, BOE Chairman Phil Dwyer and our RTM Democratic colleagues. Accordingly, we have requested a legal opinion from Town Attorney Stanton Lesser to confirm that postponement of a budget vote for several weeks would not in any way represent a violation of the rules as set forth in the Town Charter.” 

Given Mr. McCarthy’s “commitment” to discuss these matters, I was disappointed by the RTM Republican leadership’s recent efforts to block discussion and a postponement of the budget vote. At Monday evening’s budget meeting, RTM Moderator Iacono argued with the Town Attorney over procedure and centered debate not on whether to postpone but rather on how to postpone.

I understand that it’s important to follow correct procedures, as I was on the RTM for 12 years and for 4 of those years I served as the Minority Leader. But I am heartily disappointed that procedural issues were at the forefront of discussion rather than the pros and cons of a possible postponement. Given the republicans refusal to discuss postponement, how do we rectify Tom McCarthy’s promise of “working through these serious issues” with the straight party line votes by Republican RTM members, all of whom voted no on the option to move a postponement forward? The answer is simple: politics trumps dialogue every time.

At this point, the Board of Finance has refused to consider adjusting the mill rate to offset cuts from the State to ECS, which will most likely force the First Selectman to make severe cuts to those departments that most affect our quality of life, including the BOE. Given the extraordinary circumstances under which this budget was passed, the BOF may want to reconsider their position, as they have an important role to play in mitigating the impact to our town and school services.  Let’s all get some skin in the game and ask the BOF the make the tough call.

Hal Schwartz

Fairfield

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