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Letters to the Editor

October 3, 2007

New PTA Prez Offends, III

Let me first say that I applaud anyone who volunteers their time, effort and talent to get involved in any organization that benefits children, schools and the community. Leaving aside the obvious offense that new PTA Council president Marjorie Clark engendered among the parents of the so-called “low-performing” schools in Hamden, there are so many issues in her seemingly free-association interview that I winced throughout the entire reading.

As a former PTA Council president, I would beg Ms. Clark to please educate herself on the business of education before giving public interviews on the subject, and worse, representing herself as the conduit between parents and the new superintendent. Find out what Title I “means” before you theorize on how and why those federal dollars are spent. Realize that schools that seem to emphasize improving CMT performance (yes, that’s CMT not CMAT) in their goals are doing so because they are required to demonstrate efforts to meet the NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress standards.

Those schools that do not specifically mention the CMT can strive for the loftier “increased student achievement” goal (it’s all the same) because they have no specific AYP requirement. Don’t assume that the students at West Woods and Bear Path do best because teachers there aren’t “teaching to the test." It’s a Catch-22 situation.

And, please, tell me where you got the idea that there is some disparity in funding, staffing or expectations across Hamden’s schools. Is your comment about wanting to see more equity in these areas based on perception or fact? Because the fact is that [Hamden's new superintendent] Mrs. Rabinowitz would probably be dismayed to find you have publicly implied that West Woods receives more money, teachers and attention than Church Street or Helen Street.

Finally, I would suggest you become more familiar with the mission of the National PTA -- it may prove to be a guiding voice for you in your future goals for PTA Council. It’s not about the parents, it’s not about the teachers and it’s certainly not about the money.

It’s about the CHILDREN. Supporting and speaking on their behalf, and encouraging parents to become involved in their children’s education, schools and community. Personally, I’d move that “more gym” thing to the bottom of the list.

Susan Palisano
Columbia, Conn.
Hamden PTA Council president, 1997-99


PTA Prez Apologizes

I am in the process of educating myself about the families and students of Hamden Public Schools, meeting each of the PTAs and administrators, and have much to learn before I make any further statements regarding the Hamden Public School system.  I sincerely apologize if I have offended anyone with my naïve remarks in the Hamden Daily News.

Meeting the needs of all students equally is a strong concern and I have expressed that concern to Superintendent Rabinowitz and the BOE Curriculum and Goals Committee members.  I’m sure they will do their best to address this issue.

I understand that CMT testing is necessary to be in compliance with No Child Left Behind.  I also know that NCLB has had little effect on improving the EDUCATION of our children and that the bar for TEST improvement keeps going up.  I know that instead of rewarding schools for doing well, the NCLB law punishes those schools and districts that do poorly on the tests by taking away the funds they so desperately need to do better.  We need accountability and measures, but NCLB is not a fair or productive law and needs to be repealed or rewritten.

I have asked all the Hamden PTA presidents to answer a survey that will give me a better idea of their size, health and goals, as well as their ideas on where the HPS central office and BOE could focus more attention.  I’ll publish my findings at HamdenDailyNews.com so everyone can see how much the PTAs contribute, not only in money but in time and support to our school system.

I wish the HDN article had focused on the other part of our conversation, which was about three of my main goals for the coming term:

1. Reaching out to parents through PTA Web sites and e-mail.

2. Publicizing and promoting the good work of the schools and PTAs, so the public hears about us at other times than budget season.

3. Increasing volunteerism in each PTA/school by 10 percent (not necessarily PTA membership), because of the strong correlation between parental involvement and successful students.

Again, I am sorry if my remarks have caused you or anyone else to question my representation of the Hamden PTAs. I thank you for your honesty and comments and look forward to being a better leader because of them.

Marjorie Clark, President
Hamden PTA Council

October 1, 2007

An Open Letter to the Democratic Chairman

Mr. McDonagh:

Please reconsider your position and urge Democratic candidates to participate in the Oct. 30 forum sponsored by the Hamden Alliance for Responsible Taxation.

No one has asked me to write this and to the best of my knowledge we have never met. Except for what I read, I know very little about HART. I don’t think I have met any of the principals and I can tell you that no one has suggested I go easy on one side or another. If they did, I’d stay home. As a journalist the only thing I have to “sell” is credibility and I am not about to toss that away for a candidate forum.

I have a personal stake in asking you to reverse your decision. With no one to challenge the “irrational exuberance” of one side of the aisle, the forum can rapidly degenerate into the intellectual equivalent of taking a nap on a bus. From my perspective, what is the fun in that?

I can tell you that good moderators (of which I would like to consider myself one) do much more than act as “hosts.” Our job is to guide the program and ensure questions actually get answered. I know it is hard to believe, but every once in a great while a candidate or elected official tries to dodge a question or obfuscate the issue. I’ve been known to actually interrupt people when I hear gibberish.

And even if you truly believe that this is planned as a one-sided forum (which it is not) all the more reason for you to encourage Democrats to show up. Nothing makes you more of a winner than showing up in your opponents’ room, looking him or her straight in the eye and saying: “You’re dead wrong. Now let me tell you what the facts are and what I know.” Courage of your convictions is always a laudable trait.

I almost never speak for others but I think in this case I’ll go out on a limb and say that like me both Mr. Venit and Mr. Knapp are hoping for a fair-spirited forum on a wide range of issues. I don’t know Mr. Knapp personally but his reputation speaks for itself. As for Kenn Venit, we’ve been close friends for 25 years and I can say without equivocation that I know of no one who better exemplifies the terms “professional, fair and honest.”

In short, there is no “fix” here. Urge the Democratic candidates to show up, ready willing and able to “take on” their opponents. We’ll have a good time.

Your folks may get a little bloody but no more so than the folks on the other side of the aisle.

And most importantly, the public will know more than when they walked into the room.

I look forward to your reply.

Steven D. Kalb


McDonagh’s Boycott Hurts Candidates

In the back-and-forth argument as to whether the Hamden Alliance for Responsible Taxation is the moral equivalent of MoveOn.org, the League of Women Voters or something in between, we may have lost sight of the most telling aspect of this drama -- the Democratic Town Committee is hamstringing the campaign opportunities of a majority of its own candidates to vindicate the feelings of its chair and a small group of incumbents.

It has become abundantly clear that DTC Chair Joe McDonagh and a handful of councilpeople felt personally offended by HART’s circus-themed 2007 budget hearing demonstration last April. Yet it seems that the “offensiveness” of that action was truly in the eye of the beholder. In fact, some of the lampooned councilpeople told us at the time that they were entertained, not offended. It appears that others were much thinner-skinned.

Frankly, I can understand both reactions. At that time HART was being intentionally dramatic to grab the attention of the public at a critical time for civic participation. So I’m able to respect (though not agree with) an individual candidate who was personally offended deciding not to patronize a HART-sponsored event. What I cannot respect is an attempt by one or more of the offended to coerce other, non-offended candidates to join them in some sort of “team” boycott. Such an agenda is just plain selfish and short-sighted.

What kind of Democratic leadership limits the campaign opportunities of its “new” candidates -- Jim Leddy, John DeRosa, Ozzie Brown, Gina Cahill and Jack Kennelly -- simply to vindicate an old personal grudge of a small group of its incumbents? But then again, this is an election year in which just about everything is being stood on its head.

Mark Sanders
Hamden Alliance for Responsible Taxation


New PTA Prez Offends

After reading Marjorie Clark's interview with the Hamden Daily News, I was very disturbed by some of her comments. I am a member of the PTA at Helen Street School, one of the "lower performing schools" that you referenced in your interview.

I was surprised that you would make comments in an interview about a subject you seem to know so little about. It is great to be enthusiatic and energized about a new position, however I would suggest that you take time to fully educate yourself before you make comments about a subject that is so sensitive and speaks to the "invisible divide" that seems to exist in Hamden. Every time you make a public statement, you must know that you are speaking for the entire Hamden PTA. As a loyal PTA member, I was appalled at your comments and you were not representing me or any of the parents at Helen Street or Church Street.

I am no Title I expert but I have learned a few basic things. The purpose of Title I is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments. Our state achievement tests are CMTs (Connecticut Mastery Tests). You did not name them properly in your interview. All children who attend public school in Connecticut take these tests so I am not sure why you think "there's no mention of CMATs (your misnomer) at West Woods and Bear Path."

I assure you that the children at those schools do take the tests and it is mentioned to students and parents. Teachers in all HPS are very cognizant of the material the tests cover and prepare the children.

You said you didn't understand "why a Helen Street or a Church Street is so focused on CMATs (again, your misnomer)." The reason is the No Child Left Behind laws mandate that certain standards are met. I'm not sure if you are aware, but Hamden has been identified as being "in need of improvement," which means that for two consecutive years we have not met the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) for one or more subgroups.

The two subgroups are (black students and those with disabilities). Being an African-American parent, this is particularly disturbing to me. It means that the Hamden Public School System is not doing enough to serve all the children. If you don't see that as being a problem for all of HPS, then I would ask that you reevaluate taking this position.

You mention that possibly a shift of focus from the CMTs "teaching the test" to reading, writing and arithmetic is needed. I have not queried the Curriculum Committee at the Board of Education but my guess would be there are not any big curriculum differences. So what are the differences between Helen Street/Church Street and Bear Path/West Woods? In a nutshell, level of income of families, and the number of minority families. So, what does this say about HPS?

Throughout your interview there were comments made that seem to suggest that the parents and teachers at Helen Street and Church Street are uninvolved, and we don't know enough to ask the right questions. I take offense to that. How many Helen Street and Church Street parents do you know? How many have you talked to? I know you've never talked to me and I'm very involved with things that happen at Helen Street.

And it's my guess you haven't talked to many at all. Comments such as yours make the "invisible divide" greater instead of helping to bridge the gap. What we need to do is work together to make our school system stronger.

The PTAs, the teachers and the school administrators need to share ideas, talk about what is working and what is clearly not working. There needs to be a collective effort to repair some of the damage in our school system. A collective effort requires that we take the time to educate ourselves on all the issues and make comments and suggestions to try to bridge the gap. Let us not make judgements and comments about important issues without having done the necessary homework.

Michele Carpenter
Helen Street School PTA member


New PTA Prez Offends, II

Excuse me, PTA Council President Clark, I would like to interject some comments based on your interview that you so willfully subjected yourself to.

As a college professor, allied health professional, oh yes, and a Helen Street parent, I find that your comments to the Hamden Daily News were inappropriate. You indicate that coming from an "affluent neighborhood" makes you more privy to town resources that other schools may not get because they aren't aware of "how to ask for them."

I feel that if you are going to interview as the PTA Council president, you should better prepare yourself. As a master's prepared professional (Web designer, right?) you should know that any comments that you make in the public eye will be scrutinized and you will be held accountable for any judgmental comments that you make regarding the "less affluent" citizens of this town.

Do kindergartners need tutoring? Absolutely not. After all, in your part of town where lawyers, physicians and the more educated individuals reside, the mothers should be home educating where the school leaves off.  Why don't you focus more on giving equally to the other seven  elementary schools in the district?

You indicate during your interview that you would like to give back to the children in the town. Well, there are more children in the town outside of the West Woods district. I grew up in the Alice Peck district, attending the schools that are so well taken care of in the town. I've been in the Bear Path School district with my son attending kindergarten and first-grade.

Sadly, the differences are evident. Luckily, I have the ability to further my child's education because of my background. There are many families in the districts of Helen Street and Church Street that do not have that advantage. I would hope that you will take your role as council president seriously and place emphasis on equality in education for all Hamden students, regardless of residential location.

Do us all a favor and think before you speak. Do what's right for the children of Hamden and not your CV or portfolio. You need to be an advocate for our kids. After all, you are in the position to be heard. Let's make sure you are sending out the right message.

Bernadette Mele
A concerned parent in the Helen Street district


Playground Gratitude

As the chairperson for the Dunbar Hill Elementary School Playground Committee, I would like to thank the Board of Education for their part in the playground that was recently approved by the town.

Originally, we had spoken before the Board of Education about our playground. We expressed our concern about having to raise a large sum of money to pay for the playground and how some PTAs can raise a large sum and others cannot.

The Board Of Education decided that to ensure an equitable environment for all students in Hamden, regardless of race or income,  that they would include the cost of elementary school playgrounds in the town's capital improvement budget. Our playground will soon be installed.

This project was a collaboration of many people, including Councilman Mike Colaiacovo, who advocated  for our school at the state level; PTA parents, who gave their time and support; the Board of Education that enabled us to start this project; and the people who supported our fundraisers.

A big burden has been taken off the PTAs, which provide funding for a variety of ancillary school activities for the children.

Alicia M. Panayotakis

September 27, 2007

Gambardella, the Right Choice

As a lifelong Democrat, I would normally be voting Democratic in the coming November election for Hamden mayor and Legislative Council, but this year I cannot. Instead, I am writing this letter in support of the Republican mayoral candidate, Councilman Ron Gambardella, and the Republican Legislative Council candidates.

The reasons are clear and simple. Mayor Henrici’s style of Democratic leadership has ignored the deep concerns of Hamden taxpayers and has caused a great deal of damage to our financial prosperity. He disappointed taxpayers by requesting a substantial raise for himself and others in his administration, and increasing spending by almost $20 million over the last two years. Meanwhile, he instituted the largest tax increase on middle-class residents in our town’s history.

Henrici shifted the tax burden from commercial to residential, giving some of our wealthiest residents a break at the expense of the rest of us. He also didn’t listen to taxpayers when we hoped the tax increases could be phased in. Instead, he hit us all at once with the full tax-increase burden.

As a Democrat, I’d expect a Democratic mayor to fight for seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes. Yet I know of several retirees who have had to go back to work simply to pay their taxes. Hamden seniors are struggling to make ends meet, and Henrici's tax increases have hurt them.

This year, our local election is far more personal and impacts us much more directly than national politics. And so I hope Hamden Democrats can separate the two and vote for someone who cares about our local values as Hamdenites first.
I firmly believe that change is needed in Town Hall. I would urge Hamden Democrats to vote for Ron Gambardella this fall. While many of us firmly agree that the national Republican Party is not taking the country in the right direction, we should not deny Ron Gambardella our vote simply because he is a Republican. Ron has shown over and over again that he is honest, that he will listen and that he will fight to give all Hamden taxpayers the voice they need in town government.

Jacquelyn Menefee


Honor Children Struggling With Cancer

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Back in 1998, we lobbied Gov. Rowland to have Connecticut join the rest of the states and proclaim the month. He did, and we have been honoring this every year since that time.

We have been honoring this here in Hamden by having an annual ceremony for the past eight years. This year, because of  family illness, we were unable to host a ceremony but would like everyone to take a moment on Sept. 30 and remember those little ones and their families who have been touched by cancer.

With many things going on in September -- Labor Day holiday, back-to-school shopping, 9/11 and other events -- let us please take just a moment to bring awareness to the illness that is the No. 1 killer of children. Cancer is the second leading cause of death during childhood, exceeded only by accidents.

Each year, about 2,300 children and teenagers die from cancer. The median age of diagnosis in children is 6 years old. Every year, more than 12,000 children and young adults are diagnosed with cancer. On any school day, that’s approximately 46 children, or two classrooms of students.

We need to work together towards the ultimate solution -- a cure! We can only do this by first bringing awareness to this problem. We are asking everyone (schools, places of worship, the government and private sector) to join in, and on Sept. 30 take a moment to remember these forgotten heroes.

You can help further by donating blood or signing up to be a bone marrow donor. This is what saved our son Jordan’s life back in 1996. We are happy to say that this year Jordan is 11 years cancer free.  Next year, we hope to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of National Childhood Cancer Month and have a ceremony in September. Thank you and God bless you and yours.

Paul and Leslie Jacques

September 26, 2007

How Sweet it Is

Monday night I attended the Town Council meeting and listened to the discussion on the tentative agreement with the Pubic Works union. Just about everyone praised the terms, particularly the increased co-payments for health insurance and "restraint" in wage and other increases. The discussion involved the usual piddle and inconsequential details as the Council failed to address any substantial issues.

I have now personally reviewed the contract, including the detail changes and carryovers alike. As I feared, the contract is basically business as usual with many of the fundamental problems being ignored. These problems include excessive time off, medical and pension costs and other benefits.

Much praise was given to the increased co-payments and out-of-pocket caps on health insurance in the new contract. No argument that this is positive, but let's consider how much it really saves.

The old co-payment was only 5 percent. Now it can be as high as 11 percent (increasing to 12 percent next year) for the best plan, but with much lower percentages for the lesser plans. The out-of-pocket maximum is $2,000 for an entire family, increasing to $2,250 next year. This is still a great deal for employees, considering that the $85,000 estimated savings is only .3 percent of Hamden's $25 million budget for health care.

By comparison, as a private-sector contractor, I pay all my insurance, totaling over $7,000 with deductibles, for a single person with no dependents.

Regarding base pay, Hamden workers are doing well, considering that a private-sector employer in the same fiscal mess as Hamden is in would probably give their employees no raises. Public Works employees are getting retroactive pay increases from July 2005 at 2.5 percent, July 2006 at 3 percent, and July 2007 at 3 percent, which will give most employees a combined windfall of more than 10 percent of their annual pay and a going-forward, compounded increase of about 9 percent compared to 2005.

In addition, the new contract provides for increased anniversary bonus payments of between $699 and $1,124 each year after the fifth of the anniversary month.

Other benefits to the union include increased allowances for custodian differential, meal allowances for extra time worked, clothing and increases to standby pay. Note that each employee on standby gets over $1,000 extra for the four-month snow season, plus a minimum of four hours overtime when actually called in.

The biggest deal is the time off afforded these employees. For many long-term workers, time off exceeds 58 days per year. Let me list them:

· Holidays: 13, including the employee's birthday and a provision for one extra if declared.
· Sick Time: 18 days with unused days carried forward.
· Vacation: 5 days the first year, increasing to as much as 24 days after
only 17 years.
· Personal: 3 days per year (increased from two last year).
· Other: Bereavement time, unlimited jury duty plus time off for doctor visits

I'm sure the benefits paid other town employees are similar. One good part is that Public Works has a 40-hour workweek, compared to Town Hall employees at 35 hours and teachers at 180 days per year, not including sick and personal days.

I have not included pension provisions in this discussion. Suffice it to say, that is a huge problem but I haven't learned enough to comment. Positive changes, rightfully acknowledged, include the removal of cumulative sick payments from the pension calculation and a requirement for new retirees to continue making co-payments for health insurance.

It is time to fight for serious benefit reform. We all know that will not be easy.

George Levinson
Shepard Avenue

September 25, 2007

Gambardella, Lupo for a Change

I had the pleasure of meeting Republican mayoral candidate Ron Gambardella and Republican 2nd District candidate Gabe Lupo as they were walking through my neighborhood in the 2nd, the weekend of Sept. 15.

I was amazed at the genuine concern both Ron and Gabe had for what has not been happening in our neighborhoods, which concerns most of us here in southern Hamden.

I arrived in Hamden 13 years ago, and our taxes have gone through the roof during the last two years. My requests on behalf of our neighborhood have gone on deaf ears with the current administration. Our streets have not been paved in almost 30 years, but have been torn up and patched numerous times. I called asking why we were not paved -- when streets around us were being paved over the years -- and I received no legitimate answer.

We need to take the politics out of street and sidewalk paving. Ron's plan for a sidewalk and street authority made up of residents from all over town is right on and is needed.

The 2nd District has seen a big change since the housing market increased over the last five years. There are more young couples with small children, a few years away from starting school, and others like myself, who are single and career people. We are tired of the high taxes and getting nothing for our money, except getting the garbage picked up.

The mayor has no trouble finding time to give himself a raise, but he can’t see our streets need to be cleaned, and that overgrown trees and bushes cover the broken sidewalks we used to walk or run on.

Ron Gambardella and Gabe Lupo will help us out in the 2nd District. I urge all residents in the area to get out and vote for a change in leadership. The change will help our neighborhoods and the town's financial problems, which Ron Gambardella has been fighting for during his time on the Council.

It's time for a change. Let's make it happen on Election Day.

Linda Dellacamera



Regarding Steve Kalb’s excellent Sept. 24 “I'M GONNA SAY IT ANYWAY” column, I would like to add my two cents about the pandering by our politicians and media pundits.

One unnecessary death by a criminal is certainly one too many, and Steve quotes that “the most recent report from the FBI states that in ALL of Connecticut there were 100 murders.”

What is missing is that the same politicians and media pundits fail to get excited by the over 125 annual murders committed in Connecticut by drunken drivers. Just Google the latest release by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the 2006 data on the number of fatalities in alcohol-related traffic crashes, DOT-HS-810-821, and weep.

George Alexander


At-Large Candidates Wanted

Last week, the Dunbar Hill Civic Association extended an invitation for the two mayoral candidates and the four Council candidates from the 7th and 8th districts to attend our meeting on Oct. 8 at 7:15 p.m., at the Dunbar Hill Volunteer Fire House, 428 Dunbar Hill Road.

Upon further reflection, the officers of the association felt we should extend the invitation to all at-large candidates since they represent all residents of Hamden. Quinnipiac's Q30 team will film the event.

Michele Mastropetre
Dunbar Hill Civic Association

September 21, 2007

Wi-Fi & SUV & the Fire Marshal

I came across the following list written by Tom Alegi published on one of Hamden’s online gossip sites. Mr. Alegi has certainly kept abreast of the Henrici Administration’s “accomplishments.” I cut and pasted the list for your review and displayed it here with Mr. Alegi’s permission. I felt it captured the essence of why people are clearly fed up.

He wrote the following:

I disagree with mayor Henrici on:

  1. The unneeded Wi-fi service for the town
  2. The unneeded ambulance service for the town
  3. The unqualified people the mayor gave town jobs
  4. The SUV the mayor had the town buy for him
  5. The monthly travel allowance the mayor wanted
  6. The amount of money the mayor paid our purchasing agent to come back and work for the town after she retired
  7. The high salaries [sic] increases he gave his friends in town hall
  8. The way the mayor picks what roads are to be resurfaced in our town
  9. The way the mayor put [sic] his unqualified friend as animal control officer
  10. The way the mayor is handling the fire marshal position
  11. The way the mayor what’s [sic] to bond the town pension fund
  12. The money he pays a town employee to answer a telephone help desk line
  13. The limited vision the mayor has for the town of Hamden
  14. The way the mayor uses no bid contracts
  15. The biggest issue I disagree with the mayor is: The 31% increase in our property tax he give us in two years

Wow! What a list. I think Mr. Alegi has done a nice job summarizing the mayor’s contributions to the town. It is no wonder people are ready for change. I cannot imagine another two years of this. No amount of spin, advertising, politicking, mailings or campaigning will change any item on this list.

The mayor and I are scheduled for four debates in October. At the conclusion of the debates the voters will have a clear idea of what I bring to the table versus what the mayor will continue to do. Based on the above list, I don’t believe anyone in town is prepared to sign on for another two years.

One can only imagine what new items he is prepared to add to the above list. Unlike the current administration, I will put Hamden’s taxpayers first. It seems clear to me, the status quo has got to go!

Ron Gambardella
Republican mayoral candidate

September 19, 2007

McCarthy Withdraws Candidacy

It is with a conflicted and heavy heart that I am officially announcing my withdrawal from the race for Hamden’s 5th District Legislative Council seat.

My mother, in Florida, is currently enduring some severe health problems and, because I am having to go out of town unexpectedly and frequently, I cannot put forth the effort required to run a good race this fall. This was a very difficult decision for me, but the health and well-being of my family is my first priority.

I truly appreciate those of you who supported my candidacy in 2005 and during this election season. Many of you made a conscious decision to look beyond political labels, judging candidates solely upon their merit and proven commitment to our community, and for that I applaud you.

I am certainly not pleased with the state of affairs in Hamden and I urge you to redirect your energies to candidates who encourage transparency in government, challenge the status quo, have a demonstrated commitment to tax equity and do not prioritize party politics over the welfare of citizens.

Despite what many will claim, I am not the enemy of all Democrats (or Republicans), nor do I cast groundless criticisms. I am not a politician. The dire situation facing southern Hamden compelled me to move from simply being a concerned citizen, taxpayer and voter, to a candidate for office.

My Democratic opponent, Kathleen Schomaker, may now face no opposition in the 5th District this November, and this is certainly regrettable and a gift the Democrats do not deserve. Ms. Schomaker’s initially promising two-year term on Council has been marred by her demonstrated commitment to the Democratic Town Committee’s own political agenda, which culminated in her decision to relinquish her at-large position on the Council. This seemingly benign decision literally cut the 5th District’s legislative representation in half, and forfeited the only at-large seat held by a resident of southern Hamden, ensuring that the needs of this district will continue to be ignored for at least another two years.

Do not allow yourself to be fooled by fair-weather politicians, who are always busy and find much with which to credit themselves during election season, but are noticeably absent the remainder of the year.

Please remember that we all have the choice to abstain from voting for candidates whom we believe do not represent our interests. Leaving a ballot line blank may not win a seat, but it will send a message.

Kelly McCarthy
Treadwell Street


Open Letter to Candidates and Residents

I have been watching with interest how the political run for the “gold” is shaping up. This will not be an “election as usual” this time around in Hamden. However, the candidates have already started to shape the political conversations to fit the traditional mold of every election, saying they will fight for the middle-income taxpayer (with no specifics), will cut wasteful spending (no specifics) and will clean up the blighted district in which they serve (no specifics).

OK, folks, for those of you running for office, let’s start by researching more than the number of votes needed to win, shall we? Let’s start with specific answers to the concerns of the people. I think everyone would agree that it would be refreshing at any level of political discourse. If you wish to govern, tell us how you will do it -- specifically.

Now, this process is not just reserved for candidates. Citizens of Hamden must also participate by being as prepared as the candidates will hopefully be at next month's numerous debates and forums to see any real change in this town. You may have to actually make phone calls, talk to people in the know and look things up at the library or Town Hall.

If people are just going to sit it out at home watching their favorite sitcom, ball game or DVD, there is no hope for any real change and you will all get exactly the kind of government you deserve. If you feel things are going well in town, then get out and support the existing administration. Don’t say the Democrats never lose, they can’t lose because they can lose and might lose if you don’t get out and let your voice be heard.  Take note, both incumbent members of the Legislative Council lost in last week’s  Democratic primary. This would indicate a certain dissatisfaction on the part of voters.  

On the other hand, if you feel political structural change must occur to ensure Hamden’s financial and social protection and growth, then you must act accordingly. If you feel things are not going as well as they might, that waste and spending is out of control, then you must act accordingly. If you feel there is no evidence of town-wide improvement or in quality of life or in the educational development of your children, then you must act accordingly.

On Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m., the Dunbar Hill Civic Association intends to have a good old-fashion town meeting with this year’s candidates. It won't be a debate with pre-selected questions or statements from the candidates. Just answers to your questions from the floor that night. That’s why I’m asking all of you to do your homework. I want you to be able to require these candidates to give specific answers to specific questions.

I look forward to seeing you at our Oct. 8 meeting at the Dunbar Hill Firehouse at 420 Dunbar Hill Road. Please do not ignore this opportunity we are providing to really get involved in your town’s future.

William F. Burns, president
Dunbar Hill Civic Association

September 13, 2007

Flanagan Wants a Recount

Just in the interest of accuracy in reporting, I never requested a recount. Even though I told you that, you obviously didn't recheck your story.(Editor’s note: As reported, Hamden election official Pete Vining told the HDN that Flanagan asked for a recount after losing Tuesday's primary race.)

A recount is automatic, by state law, when within 20 votes. And with a new machine system, why would I waive the process anymore than Paul Jacques did two years ago after the primary with the old machines? And that's what I told town moderator Pete Vining when he said a candidate could waive the recount and, thus, make his job easier.
John Flanagan
2nd District Councilman

September 11, 2007

40-Hour Workweek Saves Tax $$

Here is an example of how our tax dollars are being wasted. Seventy workers at 40 hours (2,800 hours) could perform the same amount of work as 80 workers at 35 hours (2,800 hours as well). In Hamden, we have around 105 positions at 35 hours a week on the town side alone. The same amount of work could be performed by only 92 employees working 40 hours a week.

The Henrici Administration is wasting a lot of money by paying for 13 positions that are not needed. We are unnecessarily paying for 13 full-time salaries plus longevity, overtime, vacation days, sick days, health care and ultimately pension costs. The number of positions on the school side is not even accounted for.

Many taxpayers have to take two jobs just to survive. Under these circumstances, it’s not too much to ask that town and school workers to work 40 hours a week. The administration and its Democratic rubberstamp Council are simply refusing to implement the 40-hour workweek. Councilman Gambardella recognized this unacceptable scenario a long time ago only to be ridiculed for it.

Fellow citizens, your vote for a new town leadership can’t come soon enough.

Richard D’Albis
Hamden Tax Relief

September 10, 2007

Germano's Flier Doesn't Fly

I received a piece of campaign literature from Mike Germano, who's primarying for the 8th District Council seat, in Saturday's mail. There are some things about this flyer that disturbed me.

First, as lifelong registered Democrats, I was shocked to see that Mayor Henrici and the chairman of the Board of Education, Michael D'Agostino, would publically endorse an unendorsed candidate.

Second, I went on Mike Germano's Web site that was printed on his campaign literature and received a message that the Web site was being updated over the weekend.  As the chairman of the Technology Committee and the owner of a Web site business, I cannot believe that three days prior to the election, I was unable to obtain online information.

Third, and the most inflamatory statement made on his literature, is that he misrepresented himself stating that he was vice-chair of the Public Safety Committee, which he is not.

On a last-minute mailing that cannot be disputed, Mike Germano lost all crediblity in my eyes by publishing a document with inaccurate information.

Barbara Calabrese


Cahill, Honest & Fair

The 2nd District needs new blood. Mrs. Cahill would do a fine job as the district council person. I say that not because I have lost all respect for Councilman John Flanagan.

I say that because I have spoken to people that know Mrs. Cahill and work with her and they all say the same thing -- basically that Mrs. Cahill is a hard worker and an honest and fair person and is always willing to help people no matter who they are.

This is Mrs. Cahill's first time running for public office and I am sure that Mrs. Cahill will use her skills to serve all the people in the 2nd and the town honestly and fairly.

Thomas Alegi
Benham Street


Rell Adds Spark to Gambardella’s Campaign

Thanks to everyone that attended the governor's reception at Colonial Tymes on Friday night. What a wonderful and successful evening for Councilman Ron Gambardella, candidate for mayor.

Gov. Rell, who won Hamden last year by a huge margin, gave a tremendous speech. She continues to be a governor Connecticut can be proud of, and one who knows how to work across party lines to get things done. The governor's endorsement of Ron only shows that his campaign has been noticed at the state level as one to watch this fall.

It was refreshing to see such a bipartisan event, which brought together residents from all walks of life. With close to 200 people in attendance, there were many Democrats, Republicans, Greens and independents at this function, and all were impressed with Ron's ability to listen and to hear their concerns.

Ron Gambardella's campaign continues to gain in momentum, and the success of events such as Friday night's cocktail reception with the governor, clearly shows that residents are listening to his message, and that this message is indeed resonating with voters.

Austin Cesare
Campaign Manager
Gambardella for Mayor

September 4, 2007

Cahill Helps Fallen Doe

I am writing in complete disgust over a recent event that had me in tears. 

The night of Aug. 15, on my way home from practice, my cell phone rang from my brother-in-law telling me that a baby doe deer had been hit and lying critically hurt in the middle of the road on Gilbert Avenue by the underpass of the Merritt Parkway. He had parked his truck in front of the animal in fear that she would inevitably be hit again.

I immediately called for help (thank you, dispatcher Matt Erff), knowing full well that our animal control officer(s) go off duty at 5 p.m.

I drove to the deer site and parked my car with the flashers properly on in front of this poor, defenseless animal awaiting help. Shortly afterwards, my sister arrived at the scene. Knowing that Gina Cahill is one of our town animal control officers, my sister went over to her home and told her of the dilemma. Gina did not hesitate to come and help.

She estimated the fawn to be around 10 weeks old. Mrs. Cahill took the critically injured animal to the hospital where it had to be euthanized. Thank you, Gina, for coming out and helping. Even though we couldn't save the fawn, it helps to know that there are caring people out there still.

My reason for writing the editor is to try and make people aware that we live amongst wildlife and they don't have the common sense that we should have. I would like to express to the callous, insensitive, heartless person who hit this poor animal and left it for dead to hear the cries of pain that I heard from this poor little fawn who was robbed of her life.

To all others, make yourself aware that at night these animals do come out.

Jeanine Aceto

Fire Department secretary

Mayor's Police Plan 'Horse Hockey'

I read with much interest the mayor's rationale for transforming a 1920s era town hall into a modern 21st century police facility. The purpose of Memorial Town Hall was for the townspeople to meet, and to conduct town business. It is currently registered as an historic building, and should be maintained as such.

I am totally in favor of a modern police facility as well as a new fire headquarters, however, renovating Town Hall for a police headquarters is not the answer.

I had the privilege of working at the Town Hall fire station for several years. The traffic congestion at Dixwell and Whitney is awful during the workweek. It makes no sense to put a police station at that intersection in this day and age. I'm sure the "paid consultants" would dispute my claims and state that traffic flow, renovations, asbestos abatement, demolition costs to the current police facility can be done on a cost-effective basis.

But I've been around too long. I know that is just horse hockey. No pun intended, Mr. Mayor. My solution is to build a state-of-the-art police facility separate from the fire facility on Putnam Avenue. If any headquarters needs to be "centrally located" it's the fire.

The old Town Hall should be renovated as an historic building and utilized for town meetings, ceremonial gatherings and Legislative Council meetings. But that's just my 2 cents. Whatever happens, I hope the building is no longer neglected, as it serves as the gateway to Hamden. I will agree with the mayor on one point, "They don't build 'em like that anymore."

Tim Sullivan
Former fire chief


Second-Hand Cops

Convert Hamden Town Hall for use as a police facility -- BIG, BIG MISTAKE. The Town Hall building, while it is a great piece of architecture, would be unsatisfactory as a police facility mainly because of its age and its innards.

Another setback is the difficulty of access. How they would be able to master this problem, I don't know. Do you remember the song sung by Barbra Streisand, "Second Hand Rose?" I'm sure the police department has that old feeling, and this is a big problem for morale. The police department began in the Town Hall basement and now the town administration wants to move it back there. They found a place for the Town Hall offices easily enough, but for the police?

I say let's do it right this time.

Edward R. Vreeland
(retired Hamden police lieutenant)


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