Letters to the Editor - The Lakeville Journal - 10-15-20
We need Ohler for the 64th
It is my honor to support the candidacy of Brian Ohler for state representative and to urge my fellow citizens to vote for Brian enthusiastically.
Our area of Connecticut has had a rise in theft and other lawlessness in the past few years and we unfortunately have very few State Troopers to protect our area, although after a possible break-in of my own home, two Connecticut troopers showed up promptly and were terrific.
We need someone in the state Legislature who is an expert in public safety and who can protect our interests, not only legally but fiscally as well. Brian has dedicated his life to serving others. He is a public health professional.
He is a decorated veteran of combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He understands what we Northwest Corner citizens need both in terms of protection, continued funding of law enforcement and a business-friendly atmosphere, three areas that have been lacking in the last term of our current state representative.
He always remembers those in need, as is evidenced by his own many charitable activities and affiliations with local nonprofit organizations.
But this kindness does not in any way impede his strength of character in pursuing the benefits needed by his constituents. In his prior term he was very effective and that is what we need renewed today.
Therefore I urge you to vote for Brian Ohler for state representative.
Holley Place is too big for the block
We are all for building much needed affordable housing in Salisbury/Lakeville. But it was our understanding that construction of it at Holley Block (the corner of Route 44 and Holley Street leading to the Grove) would be sized and designed to fit in with neighboring buildings, including several affordable rental buildings already there.
Readers may be as surprised as we were to discover that the proposed Holley Block Plan is now a 13-family, 33-foot high complex with a 13,290 square foot footprint fronting Route 44 in a design that resembles modern ski chalets.
It seems to us there has been virtually no outreach effort to consult with or even alert owners of property and businesses who will be most affected by a building with a mass and scale far exceeding that of buildings nearby and a design glaringly discordant with Federal, Victorian and other Early American-style architecture in a historic district.
It’s incorrect to say that the town “voted” on Holley Block. The “vote” was not a vote. It was simply an invitation to put a sticky on a map of several proposed locations for affordable housing. When we applied our stickies, we assumed that a real vote would be held after the costs, finances and risks of each of the sites, including the Pope property, had been assessed, compared and clearly presented to the public.
Several P&Z meetings to discuss this project were held over the summer. Notice was not made public enough, in our opinion. We found out about the one last Thursday by chance and Zoomed in just in time to hear a traffic consultant hired by the project declare the corner of Route 44 and Holley Street safe because no data proved otherwise. But if he’d spoken to neighbors, he’d have discovered that no “data” exists because people know not to walk there. All of us who live in the area caution children to stay away from this corner. Thankfully, a crosswalk has recently been installed but unfortunately truck drivers barreling down the hill don’t seem to see it. For our town to site housing for 13 families on this corner seems an irresponsible invitation for “data” to occur.
There is one last meeting before P&Z votes whether or not to approve current plans for the Holley Block project. The meeting is virtual; anyone with a screen can attend. It is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 9, at 5:30 p.m. The Zoom link will be posted on the town website under “Planning and Zoning.” We urge all of our neighbors to attend and become fully acquainted with the details of this project, which can now be viewed on the town website at www.salisburyct.us/offices/planningandzoning/meetingdocuments.
You can also make your voice heard by sending an email to Land Use Administrator Abby Conroy at email@example.com. Any correspondence with your name and address will be considered before the vote if it is received by Oct. 25.
Helen and Donald Ross
In support of Holley Place Housing
Holley Place will be a major benefit for our town’s healthy future.
I am a member of the Salisbury Housing Committee. I have participated in a number of long-range planning sessions for Salisbury over the last 35 years. The unvarying result: Keep Salisbury the same, and we need more affordable housing. Affordable housing is always identified as a pre-eminent need in northwest Connecticut towns as it is in Salisbury’s Plan of Conservation and Development, and affordable rental housing is the greatest need. Holley Place adds 13 affordable rental units, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom apartments. And this project goes better than keeping the town the same, it restores a building to the Holley Street corner that had to be torn down. Historic restoration. Holley Place helps answer Salisbury’s greatest housing need as the gap between working peoples’ wages and the cost of housing becomes a canyon.
The usual neighborhood suspects came out to affirm their devotion to affordable housing before throwing all their oppositional dry spaghetti at the wall in hopes that some of it might stick: Too big! Too dangerous! Too much traffic! Not enough parking!
And there were suggestions as to where opponents might want to have affordable housing built: somewhere else, and at a location without any near term path to funding.
Too big? It mirrors what was there.
Too dangerous? Many people noted too much speeding on Route 44. Let’s address this problem. Someone made the suggestion that having children in the apartment would inevitably lead to their injury or death. I believe working parents will keep their children safe. My recollection is that it is the older pedestrians getting injured crossing the street. In any event, except for trips to Deano’s, I believe almost all exiting from Holley Place, whether on foot, bike or car will be onto Holley Street, a very safe entry into the outside world. And how lucky for families and children to be able to walk very safely to the Grove
Increased traffic? I suggest 13 apartments might mean 20 cars.
If each makes two trips a day, that’s 80 trips between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. or about six cars an hour onto Holley Street, which is by no means a busy street.
Not enough parking? This is a manufactured problem. There appears to be sufficient parking there. Most of the apartment parking is under the building, and the design consciously maintains some public parking.
Holley Place is a great opportunity for our town to get state funding to increase its affordable rental housing. In the public gatherings to discuss housing options, this location scored the highest. Holley Place will bring change and will inconvenience some, but it is extraordinarily important for the successful future of our town.
Vote for Horn, she knows the needs of the 64th
The letter by Janet Lynn that ran in the Oct. 8 edition of The Lakeville Journal isn’t informative. It’s the “us versus them” argument, around which a lot of the support for Brian Ohler is built. The argument goes like this: Because Brian Ohler is from here, he knows and cares more than Maria Horn who, because she moved here to raise her children, is somehow out of touch with local people and issues. This thinking is counterproductive.
What if instead of state representatives you were choosing between mechanics to fix your car? Mechanic 1 has lived in the area for only 10 years but knows his stuff, gets the job done quickly, and for less money. Mechanic 2 was born and raised in town, you’ve known him all your life, but you’ve heard that his turn-around time has slowed and his prices are creeping up. Are you going to take your car to the guy who won’t do as good of a job because you’ve known him for longer?
Don’t assume that because Brian Ohler is from here that he is voting in your best interest.
During his 2017-2018 term Brian Ohler voted for a budget that raised more than $1 billion through a combination of tax increases and fees on middle-class families, voted to end the earned income tax credit for working families, voted to cut funding to UConn which is a backdoor tax to residents, voted to cut pensions for state employees and teachers forcing them to take a paycheck cut to fund it themselves, voted NO on a needs-based scholarship program for community college students, and voted NO on increasing the minimum fair wage to $15 by 2021.
We can’t fall prey to an “us versus them” mentality because we are all in this together. Brian Ohler is from here yes, but Maria Horn chose to live here. She has successfully worked to increase educational and economic resources and protect our environment so that people will continue to choose to live and work here, and more importantly, choose not to leave here.
Eliza A. Little
Fighting for our children, and the soul of America
At around 2 a.m. on Friday night, a pickup truck in need of a new muffler slowly pulled up in front of our house and stopped. Attracted by the four Democratic candidate signs planted in our front yard, a young male emerged from the vehicle, ran onto our property and went about the business of trying to steal signs. How do I know this? Because my husband was working late and witnessed it from his home office window.
With the crime in progress, my husband banged on the windowpane, interrupting the thief who fled back to his truck with only our Biden/Harris sign. He sped away before he could pilfer the remaining signs. About 15 minutes later, the thief returned, stopping his truck in front of our house, and turning off his headlights. Presumably, he came back to steal the Jahana Hayes, Maria Horn and David Gronbach signs he left behind during his first attempt. This time, my husband was near the front door with a flashlight in hand. He shined his light on the truck, and the thief sped away empty-handed. I learned about these nocturnal happenings on Saturday morning. I must say that I was appalled but not surprised. These last four years it seems like our standards of decency have taken a nosedive.
I told our 17-year-old son of the theft, and he likewise was not surprised, but he did not seem to be appalled. When I asked him why he was not outraged, he said that this sort of thing is just “normal.” He added, “All sorts of awful things happen, and nobody cares because it’s normal.” His words made my heart hurt, but his take on things makes sad sense to me. Normalization of outrageous behavior is the natural outcome of our near-daily exposure to the Trump administration’s lies, deceit, cruelty and callousness. When we turn on the news or read in the newspaper of Trump’s latest infraction, we become numb to it and begin to think of it as just another day in America. The list of Trump administration disappointments is endless. Some of the more memorable outrages include: Trump lying to the public about the coronavirus because he cares more about the election than he cares about us. Trump saying that white supremacists are “fine people.” Trump calling fallen soldiers “losers” and “suckers.” Trump separating children from their families at the border, while the First Lady wears a coat that screams, “I REALLY DON’T CARE DO U?”
The fact of the matter is that there are many people who care deeply, who don’t think the shameful things that are happening in our nation should be normalized. Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Connecticut Democrats are fighting for fairness, honesty and decency. They don’t want our children growing up in a nation where bad behavior, callousness, and cruelty are “normal.” As Joe Biden so often says, we are “fighting for the soul of America.”
We need David Sullivan
At stake in the upcoming election is the congressional seat held by first-term incumbent Jahana Hayes. Ms. Hayes won election in 2018 as a Democrat who would represent all constituents in our widely diverse 5th District.
Since taking her seat in Congress, Ms. Hayes has tacked strongly left, supporting such economically unsustainable programs as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. While representing a district composed of cities and towns of wildly varying characteristics, and constituents whose views encompass the entire range of the political spectrum, Ms. Hayes has been consistently far left on virtually every issue. In fact, Ms. Hayes has the most far-left voting record of the State’s entire congressional delegation; of the 435 members of Congress, she is ranked by the Luger Center among the lowest, 4%, in terms of bi-partisanship.
Voters in the 5th Congressional District have an opportunity to elect a congressman who will represent the broad cross-section of voters in this district. David X. Sullivan is a mainstream Republican who holds views and advocates positions on crime, taxes, the economy, immigration and foreign policy that are more in keeping with the values of most voters in this district.
David has been visible and vocal on the key issues — re-opening our schools with sensible precautions, achieving effective and bipartisan police reform, stopping the rioting and violence plaguing our cities, restarting our economy and re-shoring jobs from China. These are the key issues that are important to families in the 5th District.
David is a career federal prosecutor who has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Hartford for 30 years. Anyone who has met David will readily see that he is intelligent, mild-mannered and soft-spoken — traits that are sorely needed in our overly loud and boisterous political environment.
Vote for David Sullivan for the Congress, he will serve us well.
Chair, Salisbury Republican Town Committee
Privileged beyond the law
Amy Coney Barrett is nominated to be a Justice on the United States Supreme Court. She is nominated to join a powerful constitutional body whose decisions shape the nation: upholds life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Ms. Barrett is the mother of seven, on the faculty at Notre Dame, a former clerk for Antonin Scalia — impressive credentials. The SCOTUS nominee celebrated her nomination (not her confirmation) at the White House with a few hundred others — 200 politicians, news celebs, Trump campaign staff, Notre Dame faculty and five of her children under 10. Her splendid shindig was held in Washington, D.C., where wearing a mask, limiting social encounters to 10 or less and social distancing are all locally mandated to protect public health at the height of a pandemic.
However, inside and outside the White House on Sept. 24, partying participants mingled in pre-pandemic social glee, including firm handshaking, hugging, cheek kissing, as they are privileged, they are in, they are people to be admired, they are behavioral exemplaries. Present at the White House super event, Amy and her compadres showcased they are beyond responsible citizenry, beyond their oaths, beyond public health stipulations and recommendations. They are privileged beyond the law. Amy attended at the request of the president, what else might she do for the president — at his invitation, his behest?
The Trump family plus the White House Chief of Staff formed the front row of the first presidential debate audience in Cleveland, Sept. 28, highly visible in their refusal to comply with agreed-to rules as members of this highly select audience. They in their privileged front row seats were highly visible, highly defiant of public health mandates, ignorant of ethical concern for others at the event and staging the event, proud to be a Trump-gifted in many financial and political matters. What was the Trump front row collective message to the American public watching — a display of dapper attire, a disregard for others, a disdain for public health? They are Trumps, they are privileged beyond the law.
How and when Trump contracted COVID, like most things Trump, is unclear, not recalled. Trump can almost never recall what he did and when he did it or the whats and whens are deemed classified, private, HIPAA. Trump coined a phrase, “Trump Defeats COVID,” on a commemorative coin for sale from the White House four days after he commenced a drug bonanza at Walter Reed. COVID recovery isn’t a sprint — a dash — it’s a long-distance trek. The president can’t executive order a reprieve, can’t declare an infection over, can’t invoke executive privilege against COVID.
Missing totally in the executive superspread is contact tracing and protocol quarantining. Trump is beyond treatment protocol for the COVID infected, he is beyond consideration of the health and safety of others (entourage, donors, essential service personnel), he is devoid of leadership principles and he certainly considers himself privileged beyond the law.
Time to air out the White House, reinstall presidentialism. Vote.
Ohler is the right one for the 64th District
I write this letter to express my support for Brian Ohler for election as 64th District State Representative.
I was aware of Brian before I knew him personally. This was about twenty years ago when I was an ambulance driver for our town’s ambulance service and Brian was a 16-year-old member of the North Canaan Vol. Ambulance Service and Fire Department. Subsequently, at 17, Brian joined the military and was caught up in the post 9/11 attack scramble of war. After three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan during which he was seriously injured in combat operations, Brian came home a Wounded Warrior.
Of his wounds, Brian shook off what he could shake off and tolerates what he can’t shake off but nothing has dampened his commitment to public service.
In or out of office, Brian shares his training, knowledge and experience with all who turn to him for advice and assistance with problems and concerns covering a wide range of subjects.
When I was an idealistic high school student, I could hardly wait to vote as an adult. I never imagined then that so many of my future votes would be default votes, that is, where I voted, with reservations, for the presumptive better of two unsatisfactory candidates.
When I cast my vote for Brian I will do it affirmatively without reservations knowing that Brian has the presence of mind and the strength of character to both defy his own party’s bosses when warranted and to provide counterpoint to the “group think” that is, to some extent, a characteristic of both parties. Certainly change is needed to reverse the downward spiral of the once-vibrant Connecticut economy.
I am proud to support Brian as an agent for that necessary change.
Louis G. Timolat
What COGs really do
Two recent letters to the editor revealed some misperceptions about who and what our Northwest Hills Council of Governments is. I would like to shed some light on this, particularly for residents who may have moved here from states with county governments. The state of Connecticut disbanded county governments in the 1950s. Instead, our first-level political subdivisions consist of nine Councils of Government constituted by the State Department of Policy and Management.
In 2014, two former regional planning organizations, the Litchfield Hills Council of Elected Officials and the Northwestern Connecticut Council of Governments, were consolidated to form the NHCOG. Councils of Governments bring together the Chief Elected Officials of the municipalities in the region to discuss matters of mutual interest and to address shared problems. The Council of Governments develops a regional plan for transportation, a regional growth plan and is also involved in planning for housing, economic development, emergency management and natural hazard mitigation.
These are usually five-year plans. Individual towns are themselves mandated by state statute to develop their own ten year Plans of Conservation and Development. Connecticut state law permits Councils of Government to apply for any grant money offered to county governments or their equivalents. Federal, state and private grant money is then distributed to the municipalities involved in the COG. All such funding must be pertinent to attaining the goals set out by both the regional as well as the town plans.
In my experience as a member of Cornwall’s Planning and Zoning Commission, I have attended many NHCOG training and informational sessions, learned of the surveys and public forums they have held to capture citizen concerns, attended annual Economic Summits that usually include well over 100 participants and generally developed a profound respect for the planning and land use expertise of NHCOGs planners. They deserve our respect and thanks for what they do.
Time to end the insanity
Insanity is not a joke
Watched on TV as he spoke
The words came out in a spate
To my ears they just grate
Every day on TV
I think we can all agree
It’s time for this all to end
And not let us pretend
That prison is coming soon
And we no longer see this buffoon.
Cornwall’s history should be protected, remembered
Open letter sent to Cornwall’s P&Z, Cornwall Selectmen and Cornwall Historical Society:
Somewhere around 1990, Cornwall voters turned down a proposal to pursue recognition for Cornwall Village as a historic district, even though most did not live here nor would have been affected by its passing. Now, before an expected sale of the Foreign Mission School Steward’s House, a National Historic Landmark, I want to advocate for the Cornwall Planning and Zoning Commission to protect our visual, historic heritage.
Before it was Rumsey Hall School, it was the Alger Institute and the Housatonic Institute, then a bequest by John and Nora Wise to the town of Cornwall. It was on the State and National Registry of Historic Property, but it was torn down. Landmark documentation in 2015 for the Steward’s House included a recommendation that the village become a historic district.
Some of the first Foreign Mission School students calculated the date of a lunar eclipse, Aug. 2, 1822; systemized the Hawaiian language and translated the Bible from Greek to Hawaiian; wrote the Cherokee Constitution and met with a standing U.S. president after winning a Supreme Court decision; took Christianity to the farthest reaches of the world. Who will tell their stories, a history significant to the early United States and relevant to today’s racial injustice reawakening? The epic tales of love, tragedy, science and religion are Cornwall’s and as great as any ever told by William Shakespeare.
This letter is not just about saving old buildings built and owned by dead white men, but about welcoming residents and visitors to share a remarkable history. It is about learning how our ancestors lived, keeping alive their stories, so that we may not repeat their mistakes, but build on their strengths and hard work. The future of Cornwall depends on the stories we tell. As essential as fast telecommunications are to the livelihood in the new economy, so too will tourism bring local jobs to Cornwall.
What stories will we tell ourselves and our visitors? Which artifacts and architectural structures will we preserve to remind us of our unique history?
Will the new owners of the Steward’s House respect their role and invite Cornwall’s school children and their parents to hear the stories of our early ancestors and how they changed U.S. history? Who will help its next residents become the good stewards of our ancestors’ stories that need telling?
My role as steward for the Foreign Mission School is ending. Thirty-three years ago, when I returned to Cornwall to raise my family, this house was not considered historic by the town historian. Now, it is among an elite few National Historic Landmarks along with the Liberty Bell and Statue of Liberty.
So now I say to the P & Z Commission: Are you ready?
Correction to a previous letter
Thank you for publishing on Oct. 1 my letter on voting. But subsequently, the state Legislature and Gov. Lamont changed the deadline for taking back an absentee ballot already submitted. For only this election, the change was made for the deadline to retrieve a ballot already submitted. You must do so by the Friday before the election at the Town Hall Registrar by 5 p.m. These days it’s always best, if you have any questions, to call your Registrar or Town Clerk. And you can sign up to receive a weekly update in text or by email from Gov. Lamont, too.
Vote for Ohler in 64th
Connecticut is on the brink of fiscal collapse with huge unfunded liabilities and projected budget deficits, thanks to decades of a Democrat-controlled Legislature. Shameless spending to lock in minority and union votes is not compassion. Sadly, within a generation, invasive political correctness has metastasized into demands for socialism backed by violence.
The progressive Democrats are driving residents away, thereby increasing the tax burden on those who are left. Having been a big city lawyer and corporate financier, Maria Horn has significant qualifications and is adored by our local progressives. But will she have the courage and common sense to oppose her fellow Democrats, who persist in over-spending and who will further erode our individual rights?
Might there be a sound reason why the Connecticut Business & Industry Association gives her its lowest approval rating at 22%? Enough is enough. Get Brian Ohler back in office.