Letters to the Editor - The Lakeville Journal - 8-20-20
Embracing smallness in Falls Village
Talk about getting it with “both barrels”. We “got it” from the Falls Village Housing Trust (FVHT) on these pages last week. Our small growing group of “dissenters” here in Falls Village has never criticized anyone. FVHT has said FV citizens “have nothing better to do than criticize”, that “citizens efforts to manipulate public opinion makes no sense”? Well, we respond thusly: To quote Harry Truman, “ I don’t give’m Hell. I just tell’em the Truth…and they think it’s Hell”.
We weren’t, originally, housing advocates. But we sure became’em fast when we witnessed in April 2019 what the FVHT in league with the NW COG and FV P+Z were trying to “sneak though”.
This entire endeavor has, to me, been cloaked in secrecy. Failure to notify, suppression of public comment and participation. A “done deal” “open and shut”. On these pages last week, Salisbury resident and FVHT treasurer Martha Miller disparaged and amplified our lovely proud little town’s “civic warfare” of the early 90’s. The fact that she, as a resident of a wealthy town resplendent with high-priced tax-yielding estates, can cross the river and tell us what’s good for us, the second smallest town in Connecticut, is disturbing, to say the least. We do what we gotta do. And we “dissent” when pushed. It’s the nature of the beast. And we do our “civic duty”. And, sometimes, it ain’t “pretty”.
We in Falls Village are working with small budget numbers, compared to Salisbury. The state is going to spend $3.5 million on a 29-bedroom “splat” that will raise our already sky-high mill rate above 27.5? How about the state subsidize the added cost to us? Pay the added cost of an extra 10 students for 10 years? Five years? $250,000 a year?
FVHT stated last week “The CT Dept of Housing does not currently have funds available for smaller projects”. Really ? You mean, like funds that could be available for the scale Falls Village actually could USE: to “in-fill” in Town, renovate existing properties In-Town, do it right.
FVHT said last week that they are not required to use an “Incentive Housing Zone” to proceed with their project. Fine, go by the original, legal FV zoning regulations. Two-acre zoning, dividing up 10 acres = 5 houses. Sell the other 56 acres to conservation. Problem solved. Happy Home OWNERS, paying property taxes. A bona fide conservation offer was put on the table. Habitat didn’t want to hear it.
We humbly ask the FVHT to withdraw their ill-conceived, out-sized, budget busting behemoth. In this time of COVID stress and dysfunction, tornadoes and hurricanes, desist from taking advantage of these unusual circumstances. Begin anew to approach Falls Village’s housing “problem” with fresh eyes, with citizen input and town participation. All the years we in town lamented being off the beaten path? Guess what? That has turned out to be a REAL blessing. Embrace our smallness, uniqueness and create Something REAL. Yes, we can!
Horn is doing a great job for the 64th
Now that most of us have our power back, I’d like to take a moment to thank our state Rep. Maria Horn (D-64). During the outage, just as during the ongoing pandemic, Maria’s “State Capital Update” has been an informational anchor for me. It is current, accurate, easy to digest and really helpful.
Maria Horn is a great example of servant leadership. Working with all of us in her self-effacing and humble style, she makes it look easy. It’s important to be aware of what she does and her results.
Maria digs in, does her homework, and follows through. She has the capacity to look at the big picture and look to the future while being willing to pitch in in very basic ways. She has proven herself to be indefatigable.
If you don’t already subscribe to “Maria Horn’s State Capital Update,” please try it. You can get it through Maria’s website, through email or Facebook.
We are so blessed to have such an aware, alive and energetic champion who is using her big brain and her big heart every day to protect what we have and to grow it.
Thank you, Maria, job well done. Let’s keep it going!
Janet Andre Block
Thanks to Sharon’s town clerk
I want to express our committee’s appreciation and admiration for Sharon Town Clerk Linda Amerighi, whose tireless work, steady hand and expert understanding of election rules made sure the voters of Sharon were able to properly vote either in person or by absentee ballot in the Aug. 11 primary election. These are extraordinary times, even without the widespread post-storm power outages that plagued our region, now that White House officials are attempting to undermine trust and the processes of our election system.
Not only has Linda been available to answer the many questions from residents that have arisen from the necessarily complex process of voting by absentee, but she has also been willing to raise important issues with the Secretary of the State’s office about its process of mailing ballot applications and the ballots themselves. It was clear from her participation in an online forum held by state Rep. Maria Horn (D-64) about absentee balloting that Linda is a trusted expert.
Linda, the voters of Sharon are in good hands with you as our town clerk. We know you are doing everything you can to be sure that our elections are secure, that they run smoothly, and that every vote counts, regardless of whether the voter will cast a ballot in person on Nov. 3 or vote by absentee to protect themselves from the possibility of contracting COVID-19.
We are responsible for judging fact from fiction
Last week I followed a link on the Weather Channel that took me to a survey on holding organizations accountable for fake facts, and an invitation to donate to the Trump campaign, because it declared, if the Democrats win, they will defund the police.
I thought that to be an odd declaration in light of the very real fact that Democratic Connecticut had just voted for police reform, and for increased financial support for those few officers or precincts that might have a legal battle to fight.
As I understand it, our towns will now have more authority in choosing to keep on, or not, the police officers they pay for. At the same time, towns will be held more accountable and responsible in finding the funds to support legal defense costs so individual officers will not have to pay.
I like that greater authority comes with greater responsibility. We ought to apply similar thinking to citizens at all level: for us as individuals, with lots of rights and choices in this country, this would imply that we exercise lots of responsibility when it comes to judging fact from fiction. The fictional statement that I was presented with did not convince me to donate to the Trump campaign.
Tropical Storm Isaias response
We were without power here in Norfolk from Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 4. Understandably, that led to serious inconveniences to daily life. That said, Eversource, aided by crews from Maine to Florida to Illinois, restored our power yesterday afternoon, Aug. 9. We find it objectionable, although regrettably expected, that our political leaders in Hartford responded to this crisis with angry promises to “investigate” Eversource for its “lack of preparedness” for the worst windstorm we’ve seen here in 20 years.
Gov. Lamont, Atty. Gen. Tong, and the sitting members of PURA do not string high-powered lines or remove trees blocking roads. The heroic workers of Eversource and related utilities across the U.S. did so, and for that we are deeply grateful.
Instead of an investigation, Gov. Lamont, with the support of the Legislature, should declare a day of statewide appreciation for the utilities workers who got Connecticut powered up again.
Save the US postal service now
This is a letter the writer sent to the below Connecticut public servants as well as to the editor at this newspaper. — The Editor
Dear Maria Horn, Kevin Witkos and Christopher Murphy,
I urge you to immediately do whatever you can, at any level, both governmental and personal, to rescue the U.S. Postal Service and the rapidly disappearing ability of U.S. citizens to vote freely by mail.
The Postmaster General, who has conflicts of interest, is actively working to slow down the mail. All over the country sorting machinery has been taken away and scrapped, mailboxes have been removed and postal workers have been kept from doing their usual good job. The next step (maybe it’s happening already) will be to close small post offices like ours in Norfolk.
If we want to have a free, fair election on Nov. 3, this issue is of the utmost importance.
If you are doing anything now, or if you have any suggestion for what an individual citizen can do, please let me know. Thank you.
Horn does a great job
for her district
I wanted to give a shout out to state Rep. Maria Horn (D-64) for her tireless work during the Isaias storm power outage last week. She understood that the laggard nature of Eversource’s response did not just inconvenience her constituents but represented safety issues and endangered the sick and elderly. She was on the ground to deliver aid, she was in constant contact with the power company, she asked folks to report outages directly to her that Eversource wasn’t registering, she worked tirelessly to make sure Eversource was held accountable to get the power on.
The statistics she published regularly online helped paint the true picture of Eversource’s abject failure. The video she posted days after the outage as she drove her car around the district, still showing downed trees on power lines across the roads, helped drive home the disdain with which Eversource treated its customers.
Maria is up for re-election on Nov. 3. She has served our district well, communicating with her constituents via video, newsletters and on Facebook. She is very accessible. She shows up. She listens. Even if a decision she makes is not to your liking, she always gives an explanation as to how she arrived at her decision.
Being a pragmatist and a realist is very useful to improving our daily lives in the Northwest Corner. In today’s divisive political environment, she is someone trying to get things done, finding the real world solutions for which she showed us this past week, she is deeply involved.
Holding Eversource responsible
I remember the first time I met Maria Horn. Tall, slim, smart, hyperactive, she seemed to be on top of every issue, every legislation. But what I didn’t know then, but I do know now, is that Maria is a very empathetic person. She identifies with every one of her constituency, she is there for them, she listens and tries to help. She treats the people in the 64th District like her family.
Whenever Maria is working on legislation in Hartford, she thinks of us, what she can do for us to make life easier and better. She is concerned about the quality of life, clean air, clean water, affordable housing, good education, and decent jobs. When COVID-19 spread through her district, she reached out to the elderly and studied the unemployment insurance and affordable health care available in her district. She helped with the distribution of food packages in Falls Village with the young people at Housatonic Valley Regional High School.
In the post-storm disaster that swept her district, Maria continually urged Eversource to communicate with the towns, for they knew the citizens who most needed the help. Eversource failed to contact the town governments, which slowed recovery, and Maria wants to hold them accountable with an immediate investigation.
Unlike state senators, state representatives do not have paid staff. When you call or email Maria, she is the one who responds. She is the one who cares.
I cannot think of anyone who could do the job better and fight for her district more than Maria Horn.
No change required
I apologize in advance if Michael Kahler, the author of the sophomoric and inane poetry that this paper consistently wastes print space on, is an adolescent or, at best a teenager. I could forgive someone of that age for such feeble attempts at verse. Reading such nonsense put me in the mood to submit an opposing view:
I despair for our country’s
Fragile, clumsy minds
Thin skinned and splintered
All together untogether
They continue to whine
Touch their white,
at our doorsteps
Opinions among rubble and fret
They beg us to never forget
They are right and we are wrong
All becomes ear tinder
A rolling wind of
Falling down the noses
Of those employed
To tether us to our
Who are truly the intolerant?
Grant will pay for KAH upkeep
Along with the other accusations and innuendos about Falls Village Housing Trust affordable housing in letters to The Lakeville Journal are a couple of inaccuracies about the work of Kent Affordable Housing (KAH).
The funds raised for rent subsidies for COVID-19 job losses came from our many KAH supporters, not the Town. Condemning affordable housing because the tenants might lose their jobs in a global pandemic is a lot like blaming the victim.
The Small Cities $1.2 million grant KAH is seeking is not for repairs at 18-year old South Common, which is in fine shape — a real show place. We do repairs and replacements from the operating budget as they come along, and now have sufficient funds for that, as the mortgage is paid off. And we pay the real estate taxes too.
That grant is for upgrades and energy efficiency improvements over the next 20 years, and to avoid having deferred maintenance as the years approach 2040. This will include roofs, paving, LED lighting and Energy Star appliances.
Virginia Bush Suttman
Less than 100 days …
The United States today is a hybrid of a republic and a democracy. The Founding Fathers were thoughtful enough to create a system of checks and balances that insured that the rule of the majority did not infringe or impugn the rights of a minority. Combine that fundamental concept with the Constitution and subsequent Amendments, and you have the most open, sophisticated and just system for the organization of a nation that has ever come about.
Today, however, there is a growing school of thought which at its heart believes that the will of the majority in and of itself is a violation of the rights of a plutocratic minority. For this group, preservation of individual rights start in the system of education, and finally emerge as tax policy and social policy. This construct is influenced today by the investments of very wealthy individuals in media and message, as well as in education. This faction’s current agenda seeks to eliminate Social Security, public health care in all its forms, progressive tax policies, unions, seriously defund public education and eliminate hard-won protections for the most vulnerable citizens now embodied in the Bill of Rights and subsequent Amendments to the Constitution.
The last four years under the Trump administration have proven to be a slow walk on the same path as many authoritarian regimes. Privatizing education, closing our borders, promoting xenophobia, dismantling social welfare programs such as Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, employing some parts of the media as a propaganda tool, packing the courts with “loyalists”, manifesting scorn for bureaucratic institutions of the government and the debasement of journalistic freedom are just a few examples of this insidious plan. The norms which have served as the guardrails have fallen away. Telling the truth is no longer a norm, and seemingly not even a basic moral precept.
The Republican Party has become synonymous with these changes. Certainly not all Republicans, and particularly not those at the local level, but moderate voices in the Republican Party are clearly becoming fewer and quieter. The acronym “RINO” (Republican in Name Only) now exists for those fiscal or social conservatives with more moderate social or political views.
With Mr. Trump now suggesting that the general election be postponed due to the pandemic and fears about mail-in voting being ”rigged”, the agenda of this minority truly comes into stark focus.
Many may find Mr. Trump’s personal actions and statements abhorrent, but they provide cover for what is an opportunity to achieve their goal – the creation of an autocracy with a puppet at the head of the government that can easily be manipulated.
Hopefully, all Americans will come to see these actions for what they truly are – a naked attempt by a few to control the many and a rapid drift towards authoritarianism. This cohort needs to be shown the door on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.