Letters to the Editor
April 27, 2007
Dr. Alida Begina’s death marks the passing of a truly distinguished lady, a dedicated professional and a very kind person. I was out of town for the birth of my first grandchild, Clara Maxine McKnight, when I heard the news about Alida’s untimely passing, but wanted to express my deep sympathy and share my thoughts with the community concerning Alida.
She was a model superintendent and always worked to better Hamden’s public school system. As chair of the Goals and Evaluation Committee on the Board of Education, it was my responsibility to convey the Board’s positive and negative comments and to direct the improvements we elected. She frequently bore the brunt of the public’s anger in carrying out the Board’s goals but always managed to maintain her dignity.
We worked together for over 11 years serving Hamden’s children, parents and staff. I, along with many others, will sincerely miss Alida. I send my deepest sympathy to her husband, daughters and their families and especially to her precious grandchild, Jackson, whom she adored.
April 26, 2007
This is in response to Tony Mentone's column intertwined with a tribute to the Doves, the Ramseys and the Shias -- the three families that deserve the real credit for bringing the game of lacrosse to Hamden.
Let me tell you the real story, Tony. These three families started and supported girls' lacrosse in the early '90s through Parks & Rec. Along the way, while Dr. Begina was the superintendent of schools, these families petitioned the Board of Education to institute the varsity girls' lacrosse team into the high school. Most surrounding schools had already added this sport to their rosters, and it had become harder to find teams willing to play a non-varsity team. Needless to say, these families were always turned down, always given the same reason by Dr. Begina -- that Hamden High School was totally balanced according to Title 1X, and another girls' team would uneven the scales.
My daughter started playing lacrosse in the latter part of the '90s with Ali Ramsey and Shia as their coaches. One day in 1998, my daughter stopped by the sports director’s office (Vin Iezzi, who officially retired in 2005 as Hamden High principal) and asked about having a lacrosse varsity team. She was told the exact same excuse. She then asked me to call Mr. Iezzi and I did. Sure enough, he told me the same thing, too.
Now, lucky for me I made at least one correct phone call that day, because after I got off the phone with Mr. Iezzi, I called Sacred Heart’s sports director who just happened to be Dick Gagliardi. For those who do not know, he was also very active in Hamden and very involved in Hamden hockey. Mr. Gagliardi introduced me to the world of Title 1X. You’ve got it. Apparently Hamden High was not even close to being in compliance with federally mandated rules such as these. Mr. Gagliardi told me how to get Begina to approve a team.
And don't you know the BOE acted surprised and shocked with the large discrepancy in the quotas versus what they had been told by Iezzi and Begina. I was approached by one member who had been sent to ask me if I would drop the investigation if the Board approved two teams right away -- a varsity and a junior varsity.
If Hamden had been found in noncompliance, it would lose federal funding. And trust me, Tony was no fan or supporter of lacrosse either, back then when lacrosse became a shotgun sport at Hamden High. Maybe it’s the good ol’ boy mentality or the arrogance of his buddies, but he was one of the many who made it very difficult for my daughter and her teammates during that time.
So correction please. The birth of lacrosse in Hamden High’s athletic repertoire is owed to the Doves, the Ramseys, the Shias and Dick Gagliardi. If it wasn’t for him being a veteran who knew his way around the shady fields of Hamden’s dirty politicking, there would be no teams as long as that administration had its way.
Tony, you may talk out your back end all you want, it doesn’t mean anyone forgets. And it doesn’t change the way it was. I haven't even gotten into how the boys' lacrosse team was started and what you and your cronies did to try to stop it as well. Begina was not a supporter of lacrosse. Everyone knew it and knows it and if you think you can rewrite history, you really should hang it up.
To all others who have similar questions needing answers by the BOE or from anyone left from the deceitful, slowly crumbling and hopefully soon-to-be-behind-us group of school administrators, make sure you never take what is told to you at face value.
April 25, 2007
I am writing to let your readers know that full-time library staff work 37.5 hours per week (not 35 hours per week, as mentioned by various writers and speakers over the past 10 days).
Library staff are also assigned to work at least one night per week -- and every third Saturday during the school year -- as a routine part of their 37.5 hours per week. Furthermore, we deliver powerful resources 24/7 through our Web site, www.hamdenlibrary.org, which, in effect, functions as an additional library "branch." Thank you for the tremendous resource you provide to the town through HamdenDailyNews.com.
April 24, 2007
Watching the line of respectable citizens humiliate themselves during the public budget hearings -- begging the Council to not increase taxes -- was depressing. The Board of Education budget hearing was worse. Passionate parents begging the Council to fully fund the BOE budget, while glaring at the taxpayer who wants relief. It was as if our need for lower taxes would take away great programs from Hamden's kids and/or shortchange the library.
We live in an interdependent community. We are all in this mess together.
Today's kids are challenged like no other previous generation. I am in favor of giving Hamden's kids every possible opportunity to face tomorrow's challenges. And I feel the library is an extension of our educational system allowing Hamden's citizens to continue to grow. Therefore, I am in favor of keeping the library fully funded.
What I am not in favor of are those secretly negotiated, super generous, irresponsible packages distributed by the town unions, with the taxpayers footing the bill.
I know of a woman in her 80s looking for work; a disabled veteran borrowing from his teenager to pay his taxes; seniors paying their taxes with their credit cards -- all fearing the inevitable. They will be forced out of their homes and out of Hamden if this current spending trend continues.
When we say we want relief, it's not to deprive the library or any child a fine education. We're saying we cannot afford to pay for these fancy union-contracted packages. The age of entitlement is over. The private sector cannot support these fantastic greedy plans.
When these contracts come up for negotiation, who has the realism to understand the taxpayer can no longer support the town employees' health care for life, and their super comfortable pensions? It's certainly not the mayor, who continuously shows a shameless disregard for the average taxpayer, as can be seen in his need to give himself a raise.
This is an open letter to all who read the HDN. This cyberpaper goes all out to not only bring you all of the news from your town, but it keeps you updated as well. The editor makes it a point to discuss all sides of the issues, and quotes from those for and against a topic.
Sharon Bass is very thorough and open-minded, and her opinions display this. How can you, the readers, take this for granted? The only way to keep this treasure alive and well is to donate. Think how you will miss the insight this paper shares with you of local politics, as well as all of the other features dear to us. How Ms. Bass is able to function at this level is just amazing. Do not take it for granted. Donate. Keep it alive.
Hamden is my town.
Lt. Edward R. "Foxy" Vreeland
April 16, 2007
There is no excuse or defense for the three-word remark that Don Imus made on his show about the Rutgers women college basketball players. It was insulting, tasteless, hurtful and harmful. However, what is equally indefensible is the hypocrisy on the part of Imus' employers along with Jessie Jackson's and Al Sharpton's crusade to bring Imus down and get him off the air.
Had NBC, Imus' TV employer, and CBS, Imus' radio employer, been truly morally outraged, they would have yanked Imus off the air immediately after he uttered the infamous remark. But it took them a full week to discover their moral outrage. What happened during that week? Some advertisers pulled out and more threatened to. Plus, Sharpton et al launched an anti-Imus campaign creating negative publicity for NBC and CBS. So the decision -- a week after the fact -- to fire Imus was nothing more or less than a business decision. NBC and CBS lost the moral high ground when they waited that week and only acted after their economic interests were threatened.
As for Mssrs. Jackson and Sharpton, they are the last two people on the planet who deserve to cry foul about ethnic insults. Have we all forgotten Jessie Jackson's reference to New York City as "Hymietown" during his 1984 campaign for the presidency? Where was the moral outrage at this blatant anti-Semitism? Why was Jackson given a free pass?
And, Mr. Sharpton, as for your moral outrage at the hurt directed toward the Rutgers women players, I have two words: Tawana Brawley. Remember the young black woman you exploited without regard to facts or evidence, to build your own standing with the public? Mr. Sharpton, where is your moral outrage at the music of rap or hip-hop artists, whose lyrics about black women are so much more demeaning than anything Imus said. Tell me, Mr. Sharpton, why aren't you equally willing to shut down those artists and the companies behind them that make millions from this hateful exploitation?
What Imus said was reprehensible. No one admits it more freely than Imus. He apologized repeatedly in the strongest possible terms, saying that there was no excuse. A far cry from the non-apologies we hear from so many public figures, who, when caught doing wrong, say "IF I have offended anyone" or "to anyone I MAY have offended, I'm sorry."
Imus admitted it. He offended. But then he reached out to the Rutgers women, offered to meet and heal the wounds, and then clean up his act. He did not do so to save his job. He said as much. He doesn't need any job to live comfortably ever after. The Rutgers women are victims, to be sure. They are hurt and deeply offended. But "scarred for life," as one has said? Hardly. If you are scarred for life by an ill-conceived three-word slur, how can you be mentally tough enough to play Division-I basketball on a national stage?
What about the hypocrisy on the part of the countless politicians, journalists, authors and musicians -- of all races and genders -- who repeatedly appeared on Imus' program over the years to bolster their careers or sell their books and CDs? They are nowhere to be seen now. Perish the thought of coming to the defense of the man who helped them become wealthier and more famous over the years.
Imus should have been disciplined, not removed. There was a huge opportunity here that has been missed to heal and to raise the quality of public discourse with an improved Imus program. But Messrs. Jackson and Sharpton were less interested in healing and uniting than in dividing and conquering to build up their own stature on the public stage.
Jason Whitlock, a columnist for the Kansas City Star, got it right in his April 11, 2007, column when he wrote:
"Has (Imus) at any point glorified selling crack cocaine to black women? Has he celebrated black men shooting each other randomly? Has he suggested in any way that it’s cool to be a baby-daddy rather than a husband and a parent? Does he tell his listeners that they’re suckers for pursuing education and that they’re selling out their race if they do ... No. We all know where the real battleground is. We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show. There’s no money and lots of danger in that battle, so Jesse and Al are going to sit it out."
Oh, in case you were wondering, Jason Whitlock is black.
April 13, 2007
Dear Legislative Council members,
I am writing to you to voice my strongest feelings about the upcoming budget discussion. I understand that things are tight and that many people feel that the way to loosen things up is to cut spending. That may be the solution, but I want to make it clear to you that any further cuts to the Board of Education budget will have serious and long-term negative consequences.
I have three children in the Hamden Public Schools, and I see how facilities are becoming run down, books are getting old and teachers are asking parents for help buy supplies. This is not the type of school district that will improve and provide the education that my children need and deserve. I know that some of you have problems with the way the BOE functions, but the schools are at a critical time, seeking to find a new superintendent.
Suppose the BOE finds an outstanding candidate, one who is able to turn a school district around with an intelligent combination of innovation and experience, one who is fiscally conservative and able to set budget priorities in ways that strengthen needed programs and eliminate underachieving programs, and also develops new programs that work both fiscally and educationally. Suppose this individual is very interested in taking on the challenge of increasing test scores and bolstering art and music education.
Now suppose this dream candidate looks at the current budget and sees that on average, it does not keep current with inflation, and that the process is rife with acrimony and accusation. What do you think the chances of attracting that individual will be? I want my kids to get a better education than I received. Sending a signal that Hamden supports and values education above all else is the only way to attract the type of superintendent that we need at this critical time. Please don’t cut the current budget for Hamden’s children.
Respectfully to Mr. DeLuca and anyone else with this position, the ability to speak about internal racial issues, concepts, perceptions and misconceptions is the right of anyone no matter race, gender, sex or persuasion. What Mr. Imus did was enter into an arena for which he did not know (if he had known, he would have stayed quiet).
For Chris Rock to go on the air and start making comments about the Jewish community (true or untrue), using a national platform in which to do it, would warrant a backlash to the likes that no one has seen before. We are Americans and we can pick and choose who we will allow to make jokes and who we won't allow certain comments from (ask Bill Cosby). Prestige, position and the company which Imus works for speak to the world, not just a small population. What the exact punishment for him is I am uncertain. But as for your comment, a moment in the thinking corner would suffice for me.
Shutting down speech is not the way to cure ignorant comments. Awareness, sensitivity and concern for fellow human beings is.
April 12, 2007
I would like to just state for the record that what Don Imus said did, in fact, step over the boundaries. However, I do have this burning desire to voice my opinion. If the exact same comment was made by comedians Chris Rock or Dave Chappell, there would be no outcry. What Don Imus did in my book was make a mistake, and for that he will have to apologize and live with it.
If we truly want to become a culture that is not based on racism or sexism then comedians need to not use their own racial or ethnic issues as jokes. If Chris Rock is allowed to make fun of African Americans because he himself is black then in my mind that is racism in itself since.
In order to fully rid ourselves of this sort of issue, no one should be allowed to say what was said, regardless of their race or sex. You cannot pick and choose who is allowed to say something and who isn't. It is wrong no matter who would have said the same exact comment, plain and simple.
April 10, 2007
I thought Mr. Carusone's recent rant deserved a response since it contained so much misinformation. In regards to the WMD issue, many Democrats who sat on the Senate Intelligence Committee saw the same intelligence data the Bush Administration saw and chose to vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq. And Bill Clinton has said that his administration also thought that Saddam Hussein had WMD.
"If I had been in the Senate I would have voted for the resolution that would have given the president the authority to use force." Bill Clinton
Last year, Mayor Henrici and the Legislative Council levied the largest tax increase in Hamden’s history and the average homeowner took the biggest hit. And guess what? The mayor is proposing another tax increase this year.
We represent Hamden Alliance for Responsible Taxation, or “HART” www.hamdenalliance.org, formerly called Hamden Homeowners for Tax Relief, and as our new name suggests, we are an “alliance” of citizens dedicated to finding creative, affordable, fair and equitable solutions to Hamden’s unfair tax structure.
Come join us for the first annual “Budget Hearing Parade.” The town will be holding its annual public hearings on the mayor’s proposed budget next Monday (April 16, municipal budget) and Tuesday ( April 17, school budget) in the Legislative Council Chambers at Memorial Town Hall, beginning at 7 p.m. Tired of just watching the show? Join in! We will begin the parade at 5:30 p.m. in front of old Town Hall (rain or shine). Bring your tax-related frustrations and comments to the hearing. (And don’t forget your sense of humor!)
Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 281.0345, or attend one of our upcoming meetings: April 24, special potluck dinner (Miller Senior Center Social Hall, 6 p.m.-9 p.m., please RSVP); and May 23, regular meeting (Miller Senior Center Activity Room, 7 p.m.-9 p.m.).
Carol Christmas, Kelly McCarthy
April 9, 2007
I would like to add to two recent letters regarding Quinnipiac University. Like any large institution, it is an asset as well as a burden. Unfortunately, due to its tax-exempt status and unwillingness to contribute for services it uses basically for free in Hamden (such as fire and police protection), its continued purchases of valuable residential and commercial property for its own private use -- and its decisions to expand its undergraduate population well beyond its ability to house them -- have increasingly become a burden on the town and its citizens.
As to the student housing issue, QU itself already owns over $7.5 million of assessed value (which is 70 percent of fair market value) of residential houses (according Vision Appraisal), which equates to over $200,000 in lost tax revenue (some of which is reimbursed by state funding, but not all).
QU is now proposing a major addition of student housing, ostensibly to house all those students it decided to admit that had no place to live. To do so it needs a special permit from the Planning & Zoning Commission. I hope that the P&Z and the citizens of Hamden -- through such groups as the Westwoods Neighborhood Association and Concerned Citizens for Hamden's Neighborhoods -- are demanding that QU actually commit in writing as part of the approvals required for this project, that it sell its now unneeded houses that it rents to students and agrees to limit its undergraduate admissions to the number of beds it has in its dormitories. Without such commitments, QU's spoken words of assurance will, as they have so often in the past, turn out to be just a convenient way of getting what it wants.
The special permit process that QU is required to go through to get its dorms built is probably the only way Hamden has to control QU's growth and channel that growth in ways that benefit the town and not just QU. For instance, until QU's decision to buy the Anthem campus in North Haven, the "York Hill" (formerly called Rocky Top) area was for student housing and graduate programs. Now the graduate programs are going to be housed in North Haven. Does that leave more space in Hamden for continued undergraduate expansion beyond the capacity of even these proposed dorms? There will always be some students who decide to live off campus as long as they are allowed to do so.
However, without limits on the numbers of such students, Hamden will end up with new dorms, more traffic, more property off the tax rolls and still have students living in residential neighborhoods. I would urge all residents concerned about these issues to attend the P&Z public hearing on the special permit application for York Hill, this Tuesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. in Thornton Wilder Hall.
April 6, 2007
As co-president of Concerned Citizens for Hamden Neighborhoods, I feel compelled to respond to Michael Cuddy’s recent comments concerning Quinnipiac University and the town of Hamden. Yes, Quinnipiac is a prestigious university and its sports complex is state of the art with an awesome view of New Haven and Long Island Sound. However, for those of us who live in close proximity, the view is not so rosy.
Quinnipiac University sits right in the middle of suburbia. Family neighborhoods surround it. As Quinnipiac grew from a college to a university, the dorms on campus did not. Consequently senior students were not given housing and began moving into neighborhoods. Therein lies the problem. Attitudes, cultures and beliefs of 20-year-olds are different from their next-door neighbor who may be 40, 60 or even 80. At 20, you are going out at 10 p.m.; at 40 you are going to bed because you have to work the next day. These differences in lifestyles impacted hundreds of Hamden residents. CCFHN was formed to address this issue.
Since its inception in the fall of 2005, CCFHN has held three town-wide forums. We have met with both town and university officials seeking solutions. As a result, Quinnipiac University now plans to build dorms on the York Hill site with enough beds for every full-time student. This reality is at least two years away. In the interim, students continue to live in the community in houses owned by out-of-state landlords. The houses are not kept up so the property values decline.
To suggest to Hamden residents that we stop complaining is ludicrous. We have a problem here and we are working with the town and the university to solve it.
April 5, 2007
Thomas Alegi's letters to the editor are usually great ones and hold truth. However his last one on school uniforms was out of line. Maybe he wore school uniforms as a child, but for one he went to Catholic school which requires them and it is known right from the start. And secondly, this is a different generation.
When are some of these people gonna accept kids the way they are today and quit saying, "Well back in my day.” Unfortunately, we are no longer back in "your day.”
Now, the reason I say he is out of line is because he accuses the choice of clothing as being the reason for girls being sexually assaulted. That is one of the most ignorant statements I've ever heard. Yes, girls nowadays tend to dress a little on the risky side and I can see why some people blame the clothing. However, there are plenty of sexual assaults on women who are fully dressed. The reason girls are sexually assaulted is because of the sick minds of some people who have no control over themselves -- and no other reason. Now maybe Thomas Alegi can come up with a reason boys are sexually assaulted. Maybe it's the jeans hanging off their bottom?
I read with complete disgust Mr. Alegi's letter regarding school uniform and would like to respond to this archaic way of thinking. Obviously, he has never known anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault. The clothes we wear do not make for an “invitation” to sexual assault on us or our children.
Was your letter just a cruel April Fool's joke or are you the April Fool? Wake up, sir, and come into the real world. Sexual assault is not about the clothes you wear. It is all about control. It doesn't matter what we wear, or where we wear it. It doesn't matter if a parent said a child could or couldn't wear something. Approval or disapproval of clothing choice doesn't make the parent guilty if their child is attacked. Go spend a day in a rape crisis center. Do some research on sexual assault. Try giving your opinion to a victim of sexual assault and their family and see if they don't lay you out in roses. You obviously need some help. Although we are all entitled to our opinions, yours seem to deviate from the norm.
I'd like to voice a short response to Michael Cuddy's editorial concerning the benefits of having Quinnipiac University in the area. I agree with him on many points, namely the monetary aspects and the fact that the school is gaining an excellent reputation, however the quality of life for Hamden residents is definitely being negatively affected.
I've lived in Hamden all my life, growing up off Evergreen Avenue, a mere five minutes from the QU campus. While the school was still considered a college and relatively small, no one seemed to mind it much. As it's grown over the years, though, the students seem to have taken over parts of the town. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen cars with out-of-state plates and QU stickers on the rear window race down Evergreen at speeds in excess of 50 mph. I've seen the one stop sign on that very same street blown through right in front of me as I'm trying to enter the roadway with my 18-month-old son in the back seat. Lines at package stores are delayed as underage QU students try to pass their fake IDs off as real. And it's nearly impossible to pass in front of Side Street Bar & Grill to get onto Route 40 Wednesday through Saturday nights, due to cars (again, with QU stickers) parked right in front of the "no parking" signs on Dickerman.
April 4, 2007
Quinnipiac University is great for Hamden. The university is a highly regarded institution of higher learning that attracts many bright and talented minds throughout the Northeast. It has excellent programs in education, health sciences, communications, business, liberal arts and law. Quinnipiac also has a competitive Division I athletics program that boasts a No. 16 nationally ranked hockey team and an exceptionally talented new basketball coach in Tom Moore.
The TD Banknorth Sports Center, home to both the hockey and basketball teams, is an extraordinary facility which is a jewel for college athletics. Additionally, whether Quinnipiac is strengthening its academic programs, supporting its athletics or constructing new buildings it consistently carries itself with class. The campus is absolutely beautiful and should help to increase the value of Hamden property (especially as the university continues to build prestige.)
Quinnipiac also helps to generate millions of dollars every year for local Hamden businesses. University families and fans are often more than willing to spend money in the community. Ultimately, Hamden is fortunate to be the home of Quinnipiac University. Town residents should be happy for what they have and stop complaining. Are Fairfield residents upset over having two universities (Fairfield and Sacred Heart) in their town? Or are they enjoying the intellectual and cultural growth that these two institutions bring to their community?
Girls in Seductive Clothes Asking For it
I wore two uniforms in my lifetime. One was for St. John the Baptist School and the other was for the U.S. Army, and I was proud to wear both of them like so many people of my day.
I have read a lot about uniforms in the past few days pro and con. I have two questions I would like to ask the people who are against school uniforms: How many girls are sexually assaulted in schools in this country because of the clothes they choose to wear to school? Or I should have asked how many girls are sexually assaulted in schools in this country because the parents let the girls wear what they want to school?
April 3, 2007
The primary question that came to my mind when reading the latest attack on Ron Gambardella's integrity and veracity was this: Why is the Democratic Town chairman leading the charge? I cannot recall when a non-elected, non-administration individual has found it necessary to defend the administration from any councilperson's criticism regardless of his political affiliation. Shouldn't that be properly left to the elected administration?
I can see the rationale behind Mr. McDonagh's disagreement with Gambardella over the issue of donations from individuals. I happen to agree with McDonagh's position on the matter but he goes too far when he attributes it to nothing more than a campaign ploy by Ron. Years ago when I served with Ron on the council and when the thought of running for mayor was not an issue, Mr. Gambardella brought up the same issue of donations on several occassions. I disagreed with him then and I still think that he is being overly cautious on the issue.
April 2, 2007
To my friends at HART (Homeowners Advocating Responsible Taxation), who are planning a dramatic protest on the steps of Hamden Town Hall, I would say, "Take your show on the road.” The real debate on Hamden's budget and those of all 169 towns in the state rests in Hartford, along with the control of many of the key municipal line items, such as education.
Until we have true and fundamental property-tax reform out of the Legislature, along with fair and balanced educational cost sharing, our local council can nibble around the edges, but are not truly in a position to alter our budget to the degree that will lower the actual tax burden.
The most useful step each of us can take is contacting all of our state elected officials (Sharkey, Staples, Looney, Villano and Crisco) and demand that the majority party in Hartford do the difficult and courageous work to pass true progressive property-tax reform. Then and only then will the citizens of Hamden be able to begin the process of rebalancing the tax structure so that home rule can actually be meaningful.
I wanted to let you know that you and your readers can access the entire historical New York Times, full-text, for free through www.hamdenlibrary.org. Click on “Research,” and then “Newspapers.” Your Hamden library card is required to access this resource remotely, but is not required if you use a computer inside the library. Using our “Historical NY Times database,” I found that your article about uniforms at Helene Grant was published on Oct. 2, 1988.
Using that date and your name (Sharon Bass) as author, readers will easily find it (the article's title is "Article 8--No Title"). The photograph is blocked for copyright reasons when you click on “Article Image,” but the text is there. The photo and entire page are available if you click on “Page Map.” It's one of 69 articles you had published in the New York Times in 1988. Keep up the good work!
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