On Party Politics and Ground Rules for CT Examiner’s Political Coverage

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On Monday, October 14, CT Examiner will roll out its local campaign coverage for the region beginning with the race for First Selectman of Essex. Reporters Cate Hewitt, Julia Werth and Christopher McDermott have spoken to dozens of Democratic and Republican candidates in competitive races across the region from Stonington to Essex. That’s night and day from Old Lyme, where — with notable exceptions of Jim Lampos and Jane Cable who sat for interviews — every other Democratic candidate we asked declined to be interviewed (most frankly didn’t respond at all) that includes Sarah W. Bowman, Jason L. Kemp, and

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A Call For Connecticut Port Authority Hearings

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If you believe in the ability of government to accomplish great good – think Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — then it’s incumbent on you, when you see government misbehaving, to hold it accountable. To say that accountability has been lacking in the case of the Connecticut Port Authority is an understatement. If you think you know why the quasi-public agency, with oversight over millions of dollars of public money, all but dissolved this past summer, you are mistaken. Even David Kooris, the current acting chair of the port authority, by his own account has never once met with the

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Letter: Focus on Region 4 Superintendent “misplaced and distracting.”

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To the Editor: Singling out newly-hired Superintendent Brian White as the focal point for your editorial about Region 4’s finances is misplaced and distracting. (“Hard look at Region 4” September 29. 2019.)   Mr. White became superintendent of Region 4 Schools in July 2019 (only three months ago) when Dr. Ruth Levy retired after 11 years in office with two years remaining under her current contract. By the time of his arrival, the district had also changed facilities directors, business managers and many board members from those involved in the Mislick property purchase and decisions about capital accounting. So it

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A Hard look at Region 4 — Essex, Chester and Deep River

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Perhaps you don’t live in Essex, Chester, or Deep River and have decided to skip over Julia Werth’s remarkably damning news story detailing years of failure to follow state law and to exercise adequate financial oversight, both by the superintendent and the school board. Well don’t. If ever there was a learning moment, it would be a forensic analysis of how the Region 4 school district managed to spend more than $379,000 on a piece of property, without a public vote as required by law and without having money set aside to pay for it. We’ll have more on that

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45-Day Window for Connecticut Port Authority Hearings

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It’s remarkable that former board chairs Scott Bates and Bonnie Reemsnyder have so far not answered a single substantive question from either the press or state legislators about their leadership roles in either the pending wind energy deal with Eversource and Ørsted, or in the near dissolution of the Connecticut Port Authority. The same can be said for Executive Director Evan Matthews, who for all we know may still be be drawing a salary from the state of Connecticut. In that regard, I’d like to join State Sen. Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) and State Rep. Christine Conley (D-Groton) in calling for

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Reporter Christopher McDermott Joins the Staff at CT Examiner

We are very excited to announce the hire of Christopher McDermott as staff reporter at CT Examiner. Chris joins senior reporter Cate Hewitt and staff reporter Julia Werth. His hiring marks a deepening commitment by CT Examiner to covering the towns of Essex, Deep River, Old Saybrook, and East Lyme, and an added emphasis on capturing more voices from the business community. Chris comes to the Examiner after writing for Manchester’s Journal Inquirer and for the weekly Berkshire Record in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He also worked as news editor for the Daily Campus while completing a degree in English at

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Editorial: Sexual Misconduct, and Taking Responsibility for our Schools

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Young people are the pivot around which everything turns. In southeast Connecticut, education budgets dwarf the size of most other town expenses. Old Lyme will spend about $27.5 million of the $38.9 million FY 2019/20 budget on education. Hand me a hot button issue – whether it’s 8-30g affordable housing or the balance of revenues between property taxes and income taxes – and I’ll show you most likely that a good bit of it comes down to how and where we raise our children. Quality schools are a major driver of property values, which attract the young, but also provide

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Letter: Comments on Zoning Change Not From DEEP

To the Editor: The CT Examiner article published on September 10, 2019, entitled “Old Lyme Zoning Commission Proposes Limits on Waterfront Building” referenced a letter written to Jane Cable, Chairman, Old Lyme Zoning Commission from Karen Michaels, DEEP Environmental Analyst, Land and Water Resources Division.  The article referenced a comment from Ms. Michaels’s letter saying that the “DEEP would like to take this opportunity to applaud the Zoning Commission on this initial revision of Section 4.3 to increase protection of critical coastal resource management areas within the community and addressing the impacts of future sea level rise to people and

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Letter: Wind Energy News is Lipstick on a Pig

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To the Editor: RE “Ørsted and Eversource Pitch “Non-zero-sum Game” for Agreement with Port Authority” (Sept. 12, 2019): This is quite simply just a politically driven charade the cost of which, assuming it ever gets permitted, will all fall on the backs of the ratepayers. Just ask the Danes who now pay the highest electric rates in Europe even with their wind farms being able to depend on cheap hydro from Norway and Sweden for backup power, or the Germans who have had to import more coal to keep their baseload plants going which has actually INCREASED carbon emissions. Where

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Editorial: On “Churnalism” and Town Public Relations

On September 4, like many local residents, I opened a news story on a local media outlet, only to receive the same news story the next day in an email from the Town of Old Lyme. It’s not clear whether the story was written by town staff and forwarded in advance to the media outlet, or whether the media outlet wrote the story and it was later forwarded to residents by the Town of Old Lyme. Both stories are word-for-word the same, and neither are attributed, so it’s a bit of a chicken and an egg. On the one hand,

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Notes From the Editor

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I am very excited to announce that on Friday we hired a third reporter with an immediate goal of increasing our coverage of Essex, Old Saybrook and East Lyme. He starts work for us on September 16. That follows a strong launch on May 20, stronger than anticipated growth over the last three months. Perhaps nowhere was that early success more apparent than on the editorial page of the The Day on Friday, where pointed criticism of the paper in an editorial earlier that morning sparked an unexpected change of course on the port authority issue. One more thing. We

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Deeply Wrong at The Day

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Let’s just say that it is an open secret that something is deeply wrong at The Day, from its wildly gyrating attitude toward the port authority story, to its sometimes snarling headlines, to its willful disregard for context at the expense of the truth. This is not a case of the blind leading the blind, it’s worse—the newspaper of record in southeast Connecticut eyes-wide-open walking off a cliff. “Gov. Lamont spits on New London” is perhaps the most egregious example of a headline by the paper’s much-read “news columnist,” David Collins. We’re not exactly sure what rules govern a news

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Editorial: Unresolved Questions and Today’s Port Authority Hearings

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Twelve weeks ago, someone filed a whistle-blower complaint alleging some sort of misdoings regarding Connecticut Port Authority finances. At the time, Scott Bates was board chair of the Connecticut Port Authority. Bonnie Reemsnyder was finance committee chair. Evan Matthews was executive director. Gerri Lewis was office manager and ethics compliance officer. All have since departed. First, Bates stepped down as chair. He was replaced by Reemsnyder. Gerri Lewis was fired by Matthews. Matthews was then placed on leave. Then Reemsnyder resigned, and finally Bates. It’s frankly damning that twelve weeks later no one has been able to provide a half-plausible

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Editorial: Strategy, Liability, and Planning for Sewers in Old Lyme

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Now that the votes are counted, and the referendum to borrow up to $9.5 million approved, I guess it’s too late for the relatively tiny neighborhood of Sound View to reconsider a strategy which, when you think about it, amounted to convincing the vast majority of residents what a fantastic deal they’d be getting by approving the plan. Whether that deal holds up remains to be seen — Sound View residents have hired a lawyer and are mounting a well-funded legal challenge — and the actual text of the resolution (you did read the full text of the resolution, didn’t

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Letter: Pappalardo Weighs in On Sound View Referendum Result

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Today’s referendum vote in favor of a $9.5 mil bond for sewers creates a number of questions that must be answered. First and foremost is cost recovery: How the town expects to pay for the bond. The WPCA and our Board of Selectmen have gone on record stating that the entire bond cost will be paid by the property owners in Sound View and area B. This unprecedented method for a public works project cost recovery should be troublesome to all taxpayers. What’s to prevent other town projects to be paid only by those that are affected? Will Rogers Lake

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Editorial: Six Questions for the Connecticut Port Authority

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It seemed unlikely that Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder would have the last word with her announced resignation from the board and as chair of the Connecticut Port Authority following a growing media storm sparked by news that more than $3000 of public money was spent to purchase artwork by Erin Reemsnyder to decorate the authority’s Old Saybrook offices. Now that Gov. Ned Lamont has joined Republicans and Democrats, including State Sen. Cathy Osten (D-Sprague), State Sen. Heather Somers (R-Groton), State Rep. Devin Carney (R-Old Lyme), in calling for hearings on the matter, I’d like to cautiously put forward

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Letter: Reply to Defense of Roger Tory Peterson Center

To the Editor: RE “Roger Tory Peterson Center Will Enhance Not Blemish Old Lyme” (Letters, August 1) Sydney Williams’ letter in support of the Audubon Society’s choice of Ferry Road for its new headquarters requires some clarification. First, no one doubts the importance and good works of the Connecticut Audubon. It is the choice of its new location that is at issue. The omission of key elements for the planned uses of this new facility needs to be corrected. The following are the additional facts, per the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center website, and as presented to our neighborhood at

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Letter: Roger Tory Peterson Center Will Enhance Not Blemish Old Lyme

To the Editor: No site selected by the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center (RTPEC) will ever be without controversy. What must be weighed are the needs for a center, which includes the community, versus the concerns of those who might be affected, due to increased traffic, lights or noise. As a supporter of the RTPEC and former board member, I understand the need. As a former owner of a home on the estuary in Old Lyme, I have some sense of the concern. And, as someone now retired and living across the River in Essex, I recognize there are never

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Letter: Location and Haste of CT Audubon Center in Old Lyme Raise Questions

To the Editor:Re “Architect Chosen, CT Audubon Plans Center in Old Lyme” (News, July 8). The Connecticut Examiner has described in detail the plans for a new site for the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, which as outgrown its current space on Halls Road. The 1.1-acre site was purchased for $200,000 in early spring. The acreage adjoins sixteen acres of town open space and state-owned property. Visitors are to have access to trails (which are currently being cleared) as well as to “the river, estuary, town dock, open space and the beach.” It seems an unusual choice for an environmental

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Letter: RTP Estuary Center Takes Open Space for Own Use in Residential Neighborhood

To the Editor:Re “Architect Chosen, CT Audubon Plans Center in Old Lyme” (News, July 8) My wife and I recently built a house on Sandpiper Point Road, two lots over from RTP Estuary Center’s proposed new headquarters on Ferry Road, and also bordering on open space property and Shippee Pond. We first became aware of Connecticut Audubon’s acquisition of the property by a form letter sent to the residents of the neighborhood, and we were all subsequently invited to an informational meeting at the center’s current offices on Hall’s Road, which was well-attended. The meeting started with an overview of

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Editorial: On Reemsnyder’s Resignation from the Connecticut Port Authority

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I take no pleasure in First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder’s
resignation from the Connecticut Port Authority (CPA), nor in the remarkably abrupt
change in coverage from The Day that would end her brief tenure.

That ‘news’ columnist David Collins chose only yesterday to
notice that Ms. Reemsnyder had a professional background in daycare, rather than
in transportation or finance, speaks as much to the performance of The Day as
to the performance of the quasi-public agency ...

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Editorial: A Few Questions Before A Vote…

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On August 13, the Town of Old Lyme will vote to decide whether to borrow $9.5 million to finance the installation of sewers for commercial and residential properties in Sound View, and an adjacent neighborhood just north of Shore Road called “Miscellaneous Town Area B.” It’s our understanding that state law gives municipalities broad discretion in how they choose to charge for sewers – fair or not, that’s a high bar for shoreline property owners now considering legal avenues if the referendum is approved. But, how is it fair that seasonal residents are forced to pay for a school system

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Letter: Sound View Homeowners Should Be Aware of Obligations

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To the Editor: Thank you for your coverage of the Sound View sewer project. One correction: the cost per EDU as stated by the WPCA will be $25,007, not $15,000. $15,000 is the minimum a homeowner would be assessed. Thus, according to the WPCA slide presentation, the “typical average house of 1 EDU (1,242 square feet)” would be charged a “$6,000 connection fee plus a $25,007 betterment assessment” for a total of $31,007. The per EDU assessment will be calculated on a sliding scale, thus a 2,500 square foot house would be charged for 2 EDUs. In my case, my

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Is Zoning a Promise?

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To hear Stonington resident Laura Graham tell it, in Joe Wojtas’ coverage for The Day of a July 8 hearing of the Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission, “Zoning is a promise … When a family puts their life savings in a home they count on town officials to protect them.” It should surprise none of our readers that Connecticut was among the very first states to make that promise, when the Connecticut General Assembly passed a law in 1917 enabling towns to elect planning commissions. It was a promise later upheld by the Connecticut Supreme Court in Windsor v. Whitney

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Ferdinand the Bull and Lyme Academy of Fine Arts

We have become addicted to immediate gratification. We want greater rewards with less work. We see that attitude in a stock market driven by traders focused on every move by the Federal Reserve, while fundamental research has been relegated to the back burner. We see it in the news where every mis-step by a politician is recorded on the front page, while little attention is paid to the longer-term consequences of his or her policies. We see it in a decline in community volunteerism. In Old Lyme, we risk losing a cherished institution that is the Lyme Academy of Fine

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Letter: CT Audubon Center at Odds with Nice, Quiet Neighborhood in Old Lyme

To the Editor: My wife and I live a couple of parcels away from the proposed Audubon Center on Ferry Road. We moved here four years ago because we wanted to live in a nice, quiet neighborhood in Old Lyme close to town.  We found the perfect spot here. We are adamantly opposed to construction of an office building to house daily office workers in our residential neighborhood, and the vast majority of our neighbors have signed a petition against this plan. 

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Letter: Reemsnyder Contacted Two Years Ago on Beaver Problem

To the Editor: Thank you for your article, “As Beavers Flood Properties Old Lyme…”.  I’m grateful that you investigated the issue including meeting with Old Lyme town leadership. Unfortunately, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder’s statement, that she only found out about the beaver’s destruction from my letter to the editor, is not accurate.  Two years ago, Dave Berggren met directly with Edward Adanti, the town director of public works, and asked for help only to be told that he couldn’t do anything without the selectwoman’s approval.  Berggren then met directly with Reemsnyder about the damage to his property and was told that they could not

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