To the Editor:
We’re all familiar with the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This is how Greenwich Republicans choose to frame their almost one hundred years of control of the Greenwich Finance Board (BET). However, a continuing litany of delayed school infrastructure maintenance and replacement issues has raised serious concerns about the willingness and ability of the Republican BET to manage our town’s capital budget. On November 7th, we have an opportunity to vote for the next two years of Greenwich Town leadership and, in the case of the BET, it is time for a change.
The most important role of any local government is to provide for public safety. This includes providing safe and adequate facilities for our schoolchildren. The Republican BET delays until there is a crisis. Hamilton Avenue school was rebuilt only when mold was found in the walls. The Glenville school was rebuilt only when the leaking roof became unbearable. The Byram elementary school was only funded for replacement when students were being bused to other schools and taught in hallways and closets. Cardinal Stadium was closed and condemned before it was rebuilt. The Old Greenwich school is delayed despite well-documented problems. Central Middle School (CMS) has been delayed despite its temporary closure due to safety issues. This delay resulted in significant cost escalation and jeopardized potential reimbursement from the state. Despite the BET’s recent vote to finally approve funding for CMS, none of the four current, incumbent Republican BET candidates running for re-election cast their vote to support this measure. All six BET Democrats strongly supported it. This speaks volumes.
We write this as two lifelong Republicans who know how the town budget should work. Dan serves on the RTM and, as a former Chairman of the RTC, helped manage winning elections during a time of national political discord, changing local demographics, and voter registration unfavorable to Republicans. Jim chaired the BET Budget Committee for six years and proposed Town Budgets for four more as First Selectman. For most of the 2000’s, budgeting was a process that relied on honest give and take – not anymore. In recent years, BET Republicans have routinely exercised their tie-breaking vote to delay and defeat any spending proposals other than their own, including over 50 times this year. That is not how local government is supposed to work. The Republicans would have you believe that Democrats will bury the Town in debt and raise your taxes 50%. That kind of talk is fear mongering intended to frighten voters and is unhelpful at best, mendacious propaganda at worst. Putting the needs of our residents ahead of party and politics should still be the overarching goal, particularly on the BET.
For ninety eight of the last one hundred years the Republicans have had their chance. The Democrats have nominated excellent candidates for the BET, each of whom is exceptionally qualified to manage our Town’s finances. The current state of affairs on the BET is broken. To fix it, on November 7th, we strongly urge you to vote for all six Democrats for the BET and give them a chance to get things moving again for the residents of our wonderful Town.
Jim Lash is the former Republican Chair of the BET Budget Committee and First Selectman. Dan Quigley, is former Chair of the Greenwich Republican Town Committee