Letters to the Editor
July 31, 2007
The Republican mayoral candidate has been using bold rhetoric and creative math, attempting to confuse Hamden residents about the state of our town’s finances. There isn’t an elected official in town, Democrat or Republican, who is happy with any increase in taxes. But we must keep in mind that our taxes took an extra hike last year because of the state-mandated revaluation process of all property.
The town had no choice but to undergo the process and move forward as best we could. Ron Gambardella’s attempt to confuse people with undocumented statistics that aren’t backed by real numbers is dishonest, misleading and a disservice to our taxpayers.
The truth is that during the last two years of the Henrici Administration, the town’s overall financial picture has improved dramatically.
Last year we had a budget surplus and we expect the same as we close out this year. This comes after a rocky road of numerous deficit budgets.
The town has addressed our pension crisis head on, contributing $9 million and $12 million in the last two budgets, while seriously investigating the option of pension obligation bonds. These contributions are stabilizing our pension fund.
The town maintained its bond rating on Wall Street, which noted improvement and stability in the town’s administration and Finance Department. Our most recent temporary borrowing resulted in an outstanding below 4 percent interest rate!
The taxes have not had the “31 percent increase” that Gambardella keeps referring to. He should meet our tax collector and use real information instead of misleading everyone.
The Henrici Administration is on the right track and they are mindful of Hamden’s financial future. The mayor’s leadership has produced results. Leading independent bond-rating agencies have declared Hamden’s financial position as vastly improving. This is undeniable -- as stated from independent experts.
Taxpayers and voters: Do not be misled. Gambardella is simply trying to get newspaper headlines by misconstruing the facts. Hamden’s financial status is vastly improved because of the work of the last two years.
July 30, 2007
I am writing in reference to my late brother-in-law, George "Dordie" Reilly. He passed away June 30, 2006, at the age of 38. He died from a heart attack and a pulmonary embolism.
There was a dinner at Laurel View Country Club and he was presented with a plaque (obviously we accepted it in his honor). The plaque will be put up at Hamden High School in memory of him.
Our whole family attended the Laurel View dinner. I gave the speech. It was definitely bittersweet. It is a beautiful plaque but he is no longer with us -- at least physically that is. He never missed a varsity game since 1983. He did everything for the team and they all loved him.
On behalf of all the children, families and staff affected by the recent closing of the Hamden YMCA's daycare program, I want to thank Mayor Craig Henrici for stepping up to save the day. Learning of the urgent need for childcare created by the closing, the mayor acted quickly and decisively to ensure there would be no gap in service.
He set up a fair process whereby all parties interested in running the site interviewed with a committee of town and education officials. Additionally, the state Department of Public Health Daycare Licensing Division was consulted regarding the compliance history of the contenders.
The new daycare at Alice Peck School, now called The Community Children's Center, opened on July 24. It offers weekly tuition rates somewhat below the area's market prices and accepts the state subsidy Connecticut Care 4 Kids.
Despite lower than anticipated enrollment at the start, the Carrot Patch, with the mayor’s support, is committed to staying the course. Interest has been strong with spaces already filling fast. We believe this center has an important role to play, and we will give it every chance to succeed.
Again, our hats are off to Mayor Henrici and the Hamden Board of Education for their genuine concern for Hamden's working families.
Suzanne M. Miller
July 27, 2007
I announced my intention to seek the Hamden Democratic Town Committee endorsement for council-at-large in March -- the first to do so. Immediately, a small group of supporters (committee members and private citizens) rallied around me. Thank you.
I touched and spoke to most committee members. I sent a resume and letter of intent to every member. When invited, I attended district meetings and was never bashful in asking the man on the street to let his district committee know of his support for me.
The decision to withdraw was extremely difficult. I felt a strong allegiance to my supporters. I promise to continue my involvement with the issues in Hamden that impact us all. I felt that a role as a spoiler scrambling around behind the scene to make a deal would only be an ego-stroker and possibly cause a rift in the party.
We Democrats have put together an impressive slate of dedicated, experienced candidates that with our customary hard work and attention to detail will result in another resounding victory in November.
Hamden Daily News: “I have been let down time and time again by Henrici,” said McCarthy. “I don’t care what you say. I only care about what you’ve done.”
After spending some time investigating Kelly McCarthy, I think she would make a very good Legislative Council member. She knows the politics of this town and what has to be changed. She understands what low-income people have to go through to pay their extremely high property taxes. At 29 years of age, she has a better understanding of the needs of the citizens of Hamden than some older members of the Legislative Council.
As reported by the Hamden Daily News: “She said she won’t be supporting Henrici in his bid for re-election this November and will instead throw her political weight on Republican mayoral candidate Ron Gambardella -- despite the vast social and ideological differences between their parties."
“I don’t agree 100 percent with Ron’s ideas,” the Green said, “but I think he has his head and heart in the right place. And his focus is on Hamden and the people who live here. And that’s what a mayor should do. And I can’t ignore the fact that he was one of the only people on the Legislative Council who was willing to listen to the phase-in and about other financial problems.”
In my opinion she will be an excellent member to the Legislative Council from the 5th District. I wish her the best.
July 23, 2007
I was disappointed to read the press release published last week by the Republican running for the 6th District seat on the Hamden Legislative Council, Richard Reilly.
Instead of telling residents what he would do for our community, he spent the vast majority of his time attacking me with uninformed rhetoric and negativity. In these days of political cynicism and empty talk, it is unfortunate to see such stunts. But this should tell everyone what kind of candidate and what type of elected official this individual would become.
I don’t plan on spending much time in this year’s campaign talking about my opponent. An elected official’s job and the responsibility of a quality candidate is to tell his/her constituents what you believe regarding town issues and what you would like to work on in the town and cistrict you represent.
Instead, my opponent used the opportunity of his formal announcement to attempt to mislead residents of the district he claims to want to represent, and attack me by name a full six times in a one-page release. Is this the kind of leadership we need?
What makes it worse is that his attacks against me are full of misleading statements and outright lies. I will not dignify all of them by responding point by point, but I will give you a couple of examples.
Mr. Reilly attacks me for being one of the “chief architects” of tax increases in Hamden over the last two years. That is a lie. In fact, I voted against the last two town budgets because I felt that the tax rate increase could have been reduced further. I work hard each year on the budget and many of my fellow Council members will tell you that I make every effort to cut the budget throughout the process.
My opponent may have been confused regarding this fact because he hasn’t attended even one budget meeting or workshop, of the probably 30 that have been held, in the past two years. Is this the kind of leadership we need?
He speaks of increased blight in our district. Perhaps Mr. Reilly is living in another town because the 6th District has seen a revival over the last several years.
Much of the blight that plagued us is gone. The district’s business center is bustling, with a new supermarket and beautiful streetscape. The entire southern Welton Street neighborhood has benefited from the fabulous results of a Municipal Development Grant years in the making, that paved six roads, installed curbing and curb cuts, new traffic signage and ADA curb cuts. Look no further than the tire pond articles you’ve read to see the progress we’ve had on people that put blight on our community.
The Republican opponent didn’t even mention the tire pond in his announcement. How can any substantial candidate who wants to represent us in the 6th District not speak of the tire pond front and center? Is this the kind of leadership we need?
The reason for my opponent’s confusion has a common thread. He hasn’t attended one Legislative Council committee meeting -- one regular or special meeting -- one School Building Committee or any 6th District neighborhood meetings that I am aware of over the last two years. He hasn’t been involved and isn’t informed about what’s really happening in our district or our town. Is this the kind of leadership we need?
Over the past 11 years working in town government, I have been very proud to work for honest and effective government and to be a vocal advocate for financial responsibility and a watchdog for any kind of government waste and abuse.
During this term on the Council, I have been given the opportunity to serve as the chairman of the Finance Committee, the School Building Committee and our Town Audit Review Committee. In these capacities, I have worked hard with fellow elected officials, town-appointed officials, Board of Education officials, vendors, contractors and financial professionals to help our town. Hamden is on much better financial footing after the last two years of work from the mayor and the Legislative Council. This can be best stated by the independent auditors and bond rating agencies that have given Hamden undeniably improved marks.
We have a new middle school, on budget and on time. The 6th District is near the end of the nightmare with the tire pond. While far from perfect, we are seeing improvement.
I look forward to talking to all of the residents of the 6th District through this campaign and hope to continue representing you in our town government. If you have any questions or any town issues you’d like to talk about, I can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 20, 2007
At the June 12, 2007, meeting of the Hamden Board of Education, Chairman Michael D’Agostino made a motion to approve “salary differentials” for Portia Bonner, assistant superintendent, in the amount of $8,000, and Hamlet Hernandez, assistant superintendent, in the amount of $6,600. These “salary differentials,” as stated in the meeting minutes, were “in recognition of the additional responsibilities assumed during a difficult time of transition, during and after the final illness of Dr. Alida Begina.”
They cover the period of March 1, 2007, through May 31, 2007. Of course, Mr. D’Agostino pulled the strings of the puppets which comprise the Board of Education and these bonuses were unanimously approved.
As reported by the Hamden Daily News, in calendar year 2006 Portia Bonner received a salary of $123,551 and Hamlet Hernandez a salary of $123,641 -- not bad! As administrators of the school system, isn’t it part of their job to cover in the absence of the superintendent? In the “real world” it is not uncommon to assume added responsibilities on a short-term basis without additional compensation. To give them “salary differentials” of approximately 6.5 percent and 5.3 percent respectively of their 2006 base rate of pay for some added responsibilities during a three-month period is outrageous -- and another example of how this Board is mishandling the taxpayers’ money.
If the Board of Education had an extra $14,600 of disposable money, it should have purchased much needed school supplies for the children or returned the money to the town’s general fund. The Board could have purchased a lot of pencils for $14,600!
To the parents of Hamden’s school-aged children: This is a prime example of why so many of us wanted the 2007-2008 Board of Education budget flat lined from the previous fiscal year. The money isn’t going to the children. Instead, it is going into the pockets of the administrators at 60 Putnam Ave.
I am a registered Democrat. I vote Democratic in most elections. I voted for Henrici, believing that Hamden was in a financial crisis. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the only existing financial crisis is the one in the individual Hamden homeowners' budget, as a result of last year's astronomical tax increase.
I have met the mayor, spoken to Council members, read the Town Charter, made phone calls and met with like-minded citizens. We studied issues and offered solutions that met with constant resistance from Hamden's Democratic government.
In short, I feel the party of my choice has let us all down. The monopoly of Democrats has absolute control. All committees are filled with friends and associates. It is a closed, smug system. There's no balance and no room for change.
We've cried and pleaded, but they don't listen. They don't have to. They're betting that you and I will behave like robots and vote them back in -- or not vote at all.
Over the last year, I've spoken to hundreds of Hamden taxpayers who are unhappy and angry and don't know what to do. The good news is with this election year, we are in a very timely position to make a change in Hamden. It's now or never. You have a lot of power with your ballot. I urge you to make an intelligent, informed decision to benefit the whole Hamden community.
We need to vote in new faces, and more than one, to shake up the stagnancy that exists in our local government. I am going to vote for Ron Gambardella. I've met him and watched him at Council meetings. I appreciate his intelligence, honesty, openness to new ideas and his financial expertise. I feel he has fine leadership qualities which Hamden desperately needs.
Get informed and vote differently this November.
July 18, 2007
In January 1954, I was a new Hamden police recruit and I entered the police building, which was new. My first impression was of a building much too small for a department of our size.
At that time, the building did not reek of odors as it does now. I served my 27 years working from there and as our needs grew we had to make the best of it by moving things around.
The locker room was on the second floor. We moved it to the basement and installed the Detective Division in that vacated space. I could go on but suffice it to say, the building was outdated the day it was finished. I retired in 1980 and it is unbelievable that this department is still housed in that decrepit building. At one point, an architect was hired to plan a new building, but the plan never moved forward.
If I returned to Hamden, a town I love, I would be ashamed to point out that building as my police department home. Come on all you pols, get it together and give this fine department a new home.
Edward R. Vreeland
July 13, 2007
It seems to me that whenever someone suggests reducing an education budget, all hell breaks loose. "You are against education! How can you deprive our children!" and on and on.
The public has been brainwashed to believe that all problems in education are the result of not enough funding. Nothing can be further from the truth. Throughout the nation it has become a fact that pouring more and more funds into a school system has very little to do with a quality education. Most foreign countries', Japan comes to mind, public school systems thrive on just a fraction of the money our public school systems spend, and have a dramatically better outcome than the United States in terms of grades, respect and dicipline.
Of course, those systems are held accountable whereas ours are not. Our educators have an unlimited number of excuses for why they cannot compete with others and our culture seems to swallow them hook, line and sinker.
It is quite refreshing that a candidate is willing to stand up and voice his idea that just maybe it is possible to reduce an education budget and be creative in other areas to achieve a better result. As an independent voter in Hamden, I am willing to vote for someone with the courage and backbone to stand up and say so on this issue alone. An issue that is costing Hamden taxpayers huge amounts of treasure and getting very little in return.
July 12, 2007
There are a few things Carusone conveniently forgot to mention about the Clinton pardons in his recent column.
Comparing Rich and Libby is like comparing apples and peas because President Bush did not pardon Libby, he commuted his sentence. Carusone apparently does not know the difference. (Editor's note: Carusone wrote the "probable decision to pardon.")
Marc Rich's socialite ex-wife donated an estimated $1 million to Democratic causes, including $70,000 to Hillary Clinton's successful Senate campaign and $450,000 to the Clinton presidential library fund. She also lobbied heavily for Marc's pardon.
Susan McDougal, who was also pardoned, was a former real-estate business partner of the Clintons. She was convicted of four felonies related to a fraudulent $300,000 federally backed loan that she and her husband, James McDougal, never repaid. One-tenth of the loan amount was placed briefly in the name of Whitewater Development, the Arkansas real-estate venture of the Clintons and the McDougals.
In eight years in office, President Clinton pardoned and commuted the sentences of 456 people. So far, President Bush has pardoned and commuted fewer than than 100.
After Ms. Kozak’s retirement, the purchasing department still has two “purchasing technicians,” with a salary of $44,922 each. They work 35 hours with full benefits. It’s hard to believe that they cannot perform the tasks Ms. Kozak left behind and keep the department running in the summer months.
Logic would tell to find part-time assistants and promote one of the purchasing technicians to the post that Ms. Kozak left. It should have been done with the animal control department this way as well.
When do we see a real effort to save money for taxpayers? No wonder that the pension fund and medical self-insurance is still under-funded -- or rather simply overspent.
The arrogance of individuals in power is mind-boggling. [Board of Ed Chair Michael] D’Agostino’s recent remarks are simply shameful. It’s amazing that he wants to teach our kids to be polite, respect others, be honest, admit mistakes, correct missteps and overall be humble, when he himself is lacking all of these qualities. He proved this over and over again to taxpayers. Why is he still around? Residents must ask themselves if this is the right leadership.
July 10, 2007
This is going to be a tough election season here in Hamden. That being said, I think there needs to be a link directly to the Legislative Council. There should be a feedback section in your news publication so that THE PEOPLE of this town can make their voices heard instantly.
The people need a common place to meet and voice options to what they see as an increasingly overbearing and underperforming government. The town of Hamden, as of late, demands much of its citizenry and in certain areas gives little in return, it would seem. Your electronic newspaper would serve well as that meeting place. It’s the only place to go and be truly heard. I think your subscriptions would rise dramatically were this kind of a response section added. For example, America Film Studios, Inc. is now pledging $100 to your electronic news publication to help ensure continued coverage of what WILL BE a political turning point for this town this fall.
A pleasant place is what Hamden has been called by visiting Hollywood friends and associates over the years. But many of the citizens of Hamden, both corporate and private, have been noticing a troubling trend as of late. A certain cavalier approach to status-quo politics, which is now translating into real financial concerns for the people.
I believe the upcoming election will determine the future path the town will take for many years to come. It will affect the lives of people who have lived here for generations, but may soon be forced by financial circumstance to now leave. I feel that the issues are so compelling this year that the election must not be treated as just one more election as usual.
I hope that the people will come alive this election season and realize that they must put Brittney, Monica, the Mets, NYY, Boston, Celebrity ( this and that) and everything in between on hold. They need to spend Monday night away from the boob tube and in their local meeting halls. They need to, in the simplest terms, become citizens of their town and decide how they wish to be governed and how they want there diminishing dollars spent.
Judi Kozak, our former purchasing agent, is going to work for the town part time from Aug. 1 to Oct. 31. She will be paid $20,000.
As happens every July and December, the burdens imposed by newly inflated property taxes appear in our mailboxes in the form of a bill. The pain is especially acute in Hamden, where thoughtless and exorbitant spending by an out-of-control municipality has brought many homeowners to the edge of the financial abyss.
Again, I find it necessary to beg and borrow from family members who are equally overloaded, but perhaps more solvent, at least for now. Like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel, many homeowners are forced to humiliate themselves simply to raise the amount of dollars being extracted by the town of Hamden. It is especially painful in the wake of tax-and-spending increases that can only be characterized as poorly conceived, wasteful and perhaps politically motivated.
A poignant reminder of these difficult times was a sign on the lawn of a home I saw recently: "My sweet home for sale." The politicians responsible, along with their partisan agitators, should hang their heads in shame. Unfortunately, that emotion is in short supply these days.
People being forced to sell their homes to escape punitive taxation is a principle as heartless as it is un-American. As a disabled family man on a fixed income, I am feeling the pinch worse than many others. Unless the situation changes dramatically, and soon, I will be forced to sell my own home to set course for more affordable surroundings.
Is this what we want for the town of Hamden?
July 6, 2007
Hamden needs new ideas, courage, a creative attitude and “young” energy to tackle problems and bring about change without hiding from the difficult task. As long as the president of the Council and seasoned Council members have an authoritative and suffocating attitude towards the public and fellow Council members, change will never happen.
Voters must remember in November to replace these attitudes. The Hamden Charter is unchanged since 1983. Would any of you drive a car from 1983 without any service, tune-ups or oil changes? Of course nobody would. Yet citizens are relying on a 26-year-old document to navigate them through the 21st century. If one can get a handle on the ancient document -- it’s one of the best-kept secrets in town besides financial information -- the failure to govern based on these guidelines will be evident. We need to complete the process of the charter revision. A new council must be willing to finish the task. We need to proceed with the long overdue and needed adjustments in the charter.
Maybe it’s time that Hamden residents are given back their right to vote on the budget and reject the never-ending tax increases. Every penny that disappears into the money pit of Hamden is taken away from our shrinking personal budgets. Yet, another property tax increase was forced upon us and the town charter would not allow residents to reject these actions of the local politicians.
There is something very wrong with the attitude of our mayor and most sitting Council members. The spending will never stop if we don’t replace them and change the guiding document to give us the possibility to stop the spending. This administration is sitting on a sinking ship still claiming that they know better. It’s time to stop them. Join Team Gambardella.
July 5, 2007
The Hamden Volunteer Firefighters Fireworks Committee would like to thank our sponsors, donors and everyone who helped make the 14th annual Independence Day celebration a success last Friday evening. All the boot and bucket donations, T-shirt sales and door-to-door contributions helped us make our budget.
The following businesses and organizations were sponsors of this year's event: Keating Bros. Motors, Harborside Healthcare, Dunkin' Donuts, Quinnipiac University,WQUN AM 1220, Hamden Memorial Funeral Home, Bessette Lawn & Landscaping, Cloudland Paint Works, Rotary Club, Howard Paving Co., Peter Torello & Son Funeral Home, Eli's on Whitney, Hamden Arts Commission, Stop & Shop, Utility Communications, Logo Gear Company and Wildman Creative Services.
We also thank all the town departments, for without their support we could not put on this show. And the International Fireworks Company for its spectacular fireworks display. Nutmeg Concessions and New England Soft Serve, our vendors, provided viewers with many food choices. We thank our vendors for their participation.
July 2, 2007
As always, a wonderful show was put on by our Hamden volunteer firefighters. I don't how they manage, but it gets better every year.
The main purpose of this letter, however, is to commend the DJ, Brian Poole. People are so quick to criticize but rarely recognize the positives. What a great job he did this year keeping the crowd entertained while waiting for the main event, and even managing to get people up and dancing. The music was appropriate to the event. I especially enjoyed the occasional instrumental pieces.
Well done, Brian. See you next year!
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