Cowardice of the Anti-Democratic Movement Embarrasses Lyme


TwitterFacebookCopy LinkPrintEmail

To the Editor:

On September 5, 2023, I forwarded a copy of my letter, “Accountability and the Anti-Democratic Movement in Lyme,” to the town’s DTC chair, John Kiker, and to the chairwoman of the nominating committee, Liz Frankel, seeking a public response. They failed to oblige, despite the fact that I am a registered Democrat.

On September 13, 2023, I sent the following email to the Lyme Select Board (Republican David Lahm and Democrats John Kiker and Kristina White) and to the DTC and RTC as a citizen of the town concerned about the deliberate lack of elections:

“Attached please find my latest letter to the editor in CT Examiner, which follows a series of letters accessible at the same website: ‘Appeal for Donations in Lyme is Grift, Not Honest Electioneering’

I look forward to your response in that newspaper. I will also assume that no response means that you agree with my assessment regarding the anti-democratic movement in Lyme.”

It has been two weeks since my request. I think it is safe to conclude that none of them intend to respond—and accordingly, all of them must agree with my assessment of a growing anti-democratic movement in Lyme. They should agree; they are its main proponents.

I do not appreciate the cowardice, but I do appreciate the clarity. In this letter, I wish to summarize three important corollaries of their failure to do the right thing.

First, there is a serious problem in Lyme. It is a town without democratic leadership. And the people liable for that dearth are no profiles in courage. Why are the Select Board and political committees so afraid of answering a call for accountability? Their collective decision to cower demonstrates precisely why we need elections in town rather than a scheme of prearranged board members, as detailed in my previous letters. We need vibrant political parties who offer truthful alternatives to voters and loyal opposition to keep each other in check. We do not need a club of the select few who answer to no one and who hide at the first sign of civic responsibility.

Second, the Lyme DTC and RTC are clearly broken. It does appear, however, that they are broken in distinct ways.

The RTC is barely functional. As one example, it does not have a website and has not updated its Facebook page since November 2022. David Lahm is obviously incapable of fulfilling the duties of both First Selectman and RTC Chair; he should have the common sense and humility of stepping down from at least one. Rebuilding their party with good people may require asking those who are not the usual suspects or by knocking on doors to recruit potential members. But do I, as a progressive, really need to remind my conservative friends of their belief that competition benefits us all? Get your house in order, Lyme RTC—we all need you to be strong so there is choice and accountability in town.

The DTC, having lost moral authority under the anti-democratic scheme cooked up in 2015 by then chair Steve Mattson and continued under his apprentice John Kiker, is becoming a gathering of dishonest intent. As seen in their recent grift for donations, its members are fine with lying, virtue signaling, and cosplaying as candidates instead of upholding consistent ethics. Furthermore, Lyme DTC members simply cannot be trusted to adhere to democratic values and principles of good governance, as they have routinely demonstrated a commitment to the anti-democratic practice of preventing elections in town. Unfortunately, nothing will change on the DTC until key members go—and hence all the more need for a reinvigorated RTC to counterbalance them and for independents, minor parties, and true moderates and progressives in the Democratic party and beyond to demand better.

Third, the poor judgment of the Board of the Lyme Land Conservation Trust to support this anti-democratic program is striking. The optics are horrible of having their Executive Director, Kristina White, be an active participant in the Select Board non-election that robs voters of choice. Admittedly, Lyme Matters—the newsletter of the Lyme DTC—is essentially now a long advertisement for the LLCT, but at what cost? After White’s predetermined “election” this fall, it will be incumbent upon citizens of all political persuasions to be watchdogs, so as to guarantee that no conflicts of interest arise or that the Land Trust does not receive questionable benefits from the town. And it begs the question: Does the LLCT support undemocratic practices that result in the end of elections and the lack of accountability for public officials if it benefits their agenda?

The sheer spinelessness of the Select Board, DTC, RTC, and their apologists is an embarrassment to Lyme. Indeed, perhaps that is part of their strategy for keeping the town in the hands of the privileged few—that is, to scare others away by showing utter disrespect to the democratic process. It would be a sad day for the town if they succeed. We citizens must reject their shameful anti-democratic practices and insist upon the restoration of viable and honest elections.

Stephen Gencarella
Lyme, CT