To the Editor:
Last night was a sight to behold. Packed house full of passion and energy. It is the way town politics should be. Public, transparent, on record, and viewable for those who could not attend in person.
Common sense was spoken and heard a lot last night. However, there was way too much emotional rhetoric, misplaced anger, and false words of certain self-serving members of building committees.
As an example, more than a few people parroted the talking point “trust the experts” or “trust the ed-specifications.” This was a gaslighting muzzle to any Finance Board official who dared to ask a question. These presenters must not know that the “expert specification creators” themselves admitted they botched the ed-specs. Work is being done now to rewrite them.
How about we get the specs right first? Like ASAP. Then see where we are at. How about we get some actual subject matter experts on what the Old Greenwich expanded repairs should cost and the exact scope before putting $36-$40 million towards it? Like ASAP.
Another parroted word was “underfunded. ” Half a billion dollars has been allocated by the Board of Estimate and Taxation for school capital since 2006. In what bubble world is that figure, plus the normal $200+ million annual operational Board of Education funding, considered “underfunded?” No building should be falling into disrepair. How is it possible? These projects and many others will be funded. In the meantime, the efforts of our groups, committees, administrators, parents, and PTAs should be directed at getting answers to mounting questions from within the schools. Not lecturing and calling “shameful” the people who cut the checks.
Instead of rallying parents to come chastise, threaten to not vote “Republican” and attempt to intimidate the BET into giving their schools more and more money every couple of years, the PTA and PTAC should press harder at holding the people who work at the buildings they represent accountable. School administrators, the BoE, the PTA and parents should put their friendships and allegiances aside. Focus on the truth and band together as a town. This way we can all move forward with clarity and success.
School budgets keep going up, academics continue to decline. It’s a terrible precedent and we are on the same trajectory here. We need more local oversight and audits of where our money goes.
We know how towns, cities, states and even countries get in trouble. They spend spend spend until they start to borrow. It is a failing method. Our town has increased revenue, that does not mean we have to spend every penny and beyond. Someone must put a stop to this runaway train. Traditionally it has been Republicans and moderate Democrats who have stood up for fiscal responsibility. I hope we have more than 6 total currently on the BET. When the projects are vetted properly and approved by subject matter experts, fund them to the max. We can all agree on that. Get it done.
Cos Cob, CT
Montanaro is Vice Chair of the Greenwich Republican Town Committee