March 2023 Newsletter

We will bring you regular briefings which will include an update on current events, insight into our community, opportunities for involvement and segments such as "Greenwich 101". We welcome feedback and requests for topics for our future briefings; click the link at the end of this edition to email us. Welcome!   

 

If you have any qualms about the entrance of private funds, or affiliations from external groups into the registrar’s office, or if you have reservations about the voting confusion in January that invalidated a considerable number of voters, please utilize the following link to voice your misgivings. (RTM email link)

Alexis Voulgaris recognized the voting issues in the January RTM vote and has since made numerous corrections to the system. The goal is to assure every vote is counted properly and integrity reigns supreme. We hope this has now been accomplished going forward.

Phil Dodson and Mike Spilo have both released noteworthy RTM updates on the disruptive January CTCL grant election and the steps taken in light of the technical misfortunes that occurred.  There is a potential prospect to overturn the vote at the March RTM gathering because of the numerous technical failures. (Mike Spilo article Link).

On March 13th, the RTM will be taking a vote regarding the registrar's membership to an external non-profit as well as possibly deciding on CTCL’s $500,000 donation to the registrars. With more than half of the United States prohibiting this action, why would the town of Greenwich risk tarnishing its outstanding record of election excellence by allowing any organization (political or not) to gain influence in the Registrar’s office and jeopardize its current success?

Please sign the petition to prevent private funds from the power to shape our electoral integrity.

 

On the Calendar

District 8 residents please attend the Cos Cob Association Meeting on March 9th, 7PM at the Cos Cob Firehouse (2nd Floor).

In Case You Missed It

If you missed the 3/2 "The Future of Greenwich Elections: 3rd Party Money & Influence" information session hosted by Susan Schieffelin and Ed Lopez, please feel free to watch here. (Passcode to be typed in: ^8C2C=Mn)

Action Items for You

"When RTM members experience voting problems or are unable to have their votes recorded properly it should be of great concern to everyone. Maintaining the integrity of RTM voting must always be the highest priority and is important to retain public trust and confidence in RTM decisions."

Continue reading an important RTM update from Phil Dodson regarding the disputed January CTCL grant vote, and the upcoming opportunities for a revote in the March RTM meeting.   

Further, email the RTM to express your concerns and your wish for the disputed January vote to be rescinded, and for the RTM to vote to reject the CTCL funds when given a revote. 

 

These are real bills that have been introduced in Hartford by the Democrats of CT. Click on the image to learn more. Needless to say, we need to fight hard to beat these bills!

***Important: Upcoming State Central Vote***

Read more here:

"Ben Proto and the Big, Bad Bylaws Proposal"

 

What is DesegregateCT

DesegregateCT is a NYC based lobbyist group largely funded by developers and real estate interests. They are behind the "Live Work Ride" bill to be raised very soon in the legislature. Desegregate CT has proposed bills that attempt to greatly reduce the decision-making of local zoning commissions, create housing density (and not affordability) near our transit/train stations; and require the elimination of parking mandates related to housing.

Why is this controversial?

The intention behind this bill is to change local zoning so that dense housing (30 units per acre!) can be built within a half mile of every transit hub. To create “transit oriented communities”. This means apartment buildings (up to 5 stories!) and cluster housing could be built around the Cos Cob, Riverside and Old Greenwich and main Greenwich stations and other transit hubs. It will completely change the fabric of these neighborhoods and, in fact, our entire town. It will over-tax our infrastructure.....schools, parking, and hospital to name a few.

Why should you care? 

DesegregateCT is pushing Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and the numerous 8-30g proposed developments in Greenwich (and other towns) has become an issue that requires our immediate attention.  Affordable housing and TOD are commendable goals, but to what extent it gets done and in whose hands it rests to determine that process is a very complex debate. If the bill is passed it will give our local zoning control to outsiders! Greenwich residents will have no say in how these projects are developed. Effectively, someone residing in California could have more input than a long-time CT, tax-paying resident!

Further, consider how exactly “Live Work Ride” regulations would impact our town at the same time state statute "8-30g” stays on the books. For those of you that may not be familiar, "8-30g" mandates 10% of our town's total housing stock to be deed-restricted, low-income affordable housing. This sounds good, but the way that the 10% is calculated is not always equitable; there is affordable housing here in Greenwich that is not counted within the 10% so we (as well as other towns) are constantly under the threat of developers creating large-scale urban developments in our neighborhoods. How do you think our housing stock ratio will be impacted by “Live Work Ride” which allows “as of right” building privileges to developers to build up to 30 units per acre, without requiring any % of it to be low-income housing?!

What can you do about it?

We need to stay engaged. Thank you to all of the dedicated residents who tuned in and to those who spoke up at the P&Z meeting that DesegregateCT presented at on February 22nd. The impact that those speakers had was tremendous! We will inform you of further opportunities to speak up on this issue. 

In the meantime write to your State Representatives and let them know that you strongly oppose "Live, Work, Ride" and DesegregateCT's efforts in our town.

FYI on 2/28 the CT Housing Committee held a public hearing which discussed the housing bills which put our town at risk of overdevelopment. The ONLY Greenwich representative to speak on behalf of preserving the unique and fragile character of Greenwich was Senator Fazio and notably, former Representative Kimberly Fiorello. Arzeno, Khanna and Meskers were nowhere to be found. Why is that?

Our state representatives need to hear from you: email Stephen Meskers, email Rachel Khanna, email Hector Arzeno

Finally, read this Letter to the Editor, a great personal account that details the extreme point of view towards affordable housing that DesegregateCT actually represents.

 

The Central Middle School renovation is a hot topic of conversation amongst Greenwich residents this month, and we want to address the fundamentals behind ongoing discussions within the BET. The following was submitted by Republican Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation members Nisha Arora, Bill Drake, Karen Fassuliotis and Harry Fisher, and contains the financial details regarding the project. 

Op-Ed: Creating Consensus On Public Projects In Greenwich 

"All members of the BET, across party lines, favor an expeditious build of this school. However, we believe we need some revisions to the timing and scope of this project to build it faster and bring it into budget."

"As elected members of the BET, we owe it to our residents to be thorough in our analysis and ask the tough questions. We have the responsibility to find compromise and build consensus. For CMS, we need to be open to building the school faster and be open to considering a slight 10-15% reduction to help the project stay within budget. These changes will serve our community well. In conversations with the community, these tradeoffs have overwhelming support – our community wants this school construction finished as early as possible, and they find it reasonable to build a more sustainable school that is still 25% larger than our maximum needs while saving each household roughly $1000. We look forward to working with our colleagues on the BET and the BOE to find the right balance on budget and need, and finding a compromise that works for all."

 

Parents Speaking Up

Dana Francks op-ed in GFP
"If our children grow up disagreeing with our opinions, as long as they came to their conclusions using their own minds and not as a result of systematic brainwashing, we will have done our job."

Douglas Kechijian op-ed in CTExaminer
"Conflating parental deference in elementary school and demands for curricular transparency with indifference to the mental health of children or ingratitude for teachers weaponizes compassion to suppress important dialogue and discredit concerned caretakers."

Where in the world is Jeremy Boland? UPDATE

"I can't get past the parents anymore..." (Jeremy Boland). Remember the assistant principal at Cos Cob School who was caught telling a woman about how he uses age and religion, among other things, to weed out conservative applicants for teaching jobs? Boland has now resigned but is still under contract and will be paid through June.

Back in August of last year, Jeremy Boland was filmed in a 12-minute video explaining how it is done.  It was headline news for a minute and then it disappeared. Since then, the story has been largely out of the media.

Has it been swept under the rug in the hopes that it will go away? 

 

What's All The Noise in Greenwich Schools?

If you've recently attended School Board meetings (enter upcoming meeting schedule), you'll notice that there isn't much discussion about education or academics but lots of talk about school buildings. This follows the pattern of the last few years, but parents had hoped after COVID the Board of Education might focus on the recovery of "lost learning" and repairing the damage from "remote learning", "social distancing", and "mask mandates". Instead, it's buildings.

The largest current BoE project is the rebuilding of Central Middle School. In 2017 the Republican-led Board of Estimate and Taxation commissioned a study of all school facilities. Expert architects and engineers identified CMS as the most critical building in need of replacement. Oddly, the Board of Education ignored these experts and decided to replace GHS Cardinal Stadium and update an under-capacity elementary school instead. They pushed any consideration of CMS out 10 years. Then disaster struck.

In 2022, parts of Central Middle School were deemed unsafe. How did the Board of Education maintenance staff not see this coming and pull the proverbial fire alarm? Regardless, the Board of Estimate and Taxation promptly funded a rebuild of CMS following the recommendation of architects and experts' Master Plan, providing and committing more than $60Mil for the buildings approx. 80,000 sq. ft. The money to hire architects, get contracts and get moving became available on July 1, 2022.

Somehow, the Rebuild Project under the leadership of Tony Turner (the former head of the Greenwich Democratic Party) has degenerated into a political mess. Despite shrinking student enrollment, the Board of Education has specified a building larger than the current building. The CMS Building Committee is clamoring for more money and has threatened the censure of a Republican committee member who is questioning runaway costs. The Democrat Party and its operatives have gotten in the act 'calling all parents and residents to vote out all Republicans" eleven months before the 2023 Municipal Elections. What a shame that a team of capable and competent construction and development citizen volunteers has been dragged into Democrats' antics.

The facts are clear. The BoE wants a building for 660 children against a current enrollment of 508 students. The BoE wants 86,000 sq ft of classroom, auditorium, gym, library, and office space. The BET has increased its planned budget by 25% from $60Mil to $75Mil. The new cost per square is now $872 per sq ft.

Republicans have traditionally stood for wise fiscal stewardship of taxpayer money. The consensus is we need good schools with exceptional instructors and a strong focus on academic achievement for every child. If you care about these issues, it's time to get involved.

 

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” —Maimonides


While we all live here in Greenwich, we know there are sometimes questions as to how key decisions are made. For example, how do the Board of Ed (BOE) and the Board of Estimate & Taxation (BET) work together? Or, what are the responsibilities of the First Selectman? In light of these and many other questions, we are beginning an educational series in our monthly newsletter called "Greenwich 101".  Our first topic, "the RTM" is below.

Further, we will be hosting local coffees where we can gather, discuss & learn together. If you would like more information on upcoming coffees please sign up here.

 


As an overview, the following Greenwich public positions are among those up for election or re-election in November, 2023. We will be reviewing and discussing each of these offices over the upcoming months!


Today's Topic: RTM

(Representative Town Meeting)

Representative Town Meeting is a method of participatory self-government that has been used since the 1600s for groups of individuals to represent the voice of the people.

There are 230 elected volunteer members of Greenwich’s RTM broken down into 12 districts proportional to the number of registered voters in each.  These districts select one member and one alternate to one of several standing town committees for example education, finance, town services, parks & rec.

 

 

 

Members of Greenwich Republicans have taken a new, re-invigorated approach to uniting with our young Republicans. The goal is to connect, share and inspire.

Connect on a personal level with College Republicans, share stories and initiatives, and inspire more involvement from those who are on the outside looking in.

These students need our support. They go through some extremely difficult challenges on campus. It is not easy being a Republican in academia these days. The ostracizing comes from not only their peers, but from some professors and administrators as well. Some even must make up a phony excuse on where they are going at night rather than disclose that they are attending a College Republicans meeting.

We have had several zoom chats with students and College Republicans to discuss issues and gather feedback. This will continue to grow and foster more involvement.

Our new Vice-Chair, Joe Montanaro, went up to his alma Mater and spoke at the Sacred Heart University College Republicans monthly meeting in February. Building these personal connections is extremely important to the Republican Party brand.

Nick Marini of CTFCR (CT Federation of College Republicans) has been invited to come speak at our March RTC meeting. He will outline some of the causes and initiatives Young Republicans are taking up on campus and around Fairfield County. We look forward to hearing from Nick.

 

One goal of this monthly newsletter is to build on the community that we have within Greenwich and to do that, we need to get to know each other. This month’s ‘spotlight’ interview is with Joe Montanaro, our newest RTC member and new Vice-Chair. 

New Vice-Chair, Joe Montanaro

"Contrary to the endless and tired words of naysayers, our principles are moderate in nature and in policy." -Joe

Family Life

"My family and I are from the Bronx. My father was a New York City Fireman, and my mother had her hands full at home raising four kids. She jumped back into the workforce later to help put us all through college."

"After graduating Sacred Heart University, I chose to enter the NYPD academy. It was a surreal feeling to be a 22-year-old rookie walking a foot post in Times Square. You have a backstage pass to NYC, all the good and the bad!"

Fun Fact

"Locally I coach in the Greenwich Youth Football League. The GYFL is an exceptional group of players, coaches and parents who come together to create a top-notch community-based experience for the kids."

Goals as Vice-Chair

1. Motivate a group effort to promote unity, transparency and clarity around a baseline of core values; including our beliefs in:

- Strong family structure, safe streets, high quality public schools free of indoctrination and CRT curriculums, reasonable taxes, small government, fiscal responsibility, election integrity, never allowing Government overreach to limit our freedoms, as it did under Covid, ever again.

2. Top-down leadership and bottom-up accountability.

3. Widen the tent through transparency on all things Greenwich. Inform the public and inspire more to become involved in local politics. This is done through our new Newsletter, op-eds from residents, emails, active social media accounts and having more people attend RTM, BOE and Greenwich Republican meetings.

Thanks, Joe!

 

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