Letters to the Editor
September 28, 2006

Deny the Pit

My wife and I have been residents of the Mt. Carmel section of Hamden since 1988, and residents of New Haven County for 35 years. We are deeply concerned about the negative impact of the sand and gravel mining
operation proposed for the site bordered by Whitney Avenue and the Farmington Canal Trail, which is near our home on Brooksvale Avenue.

The operation will be dirty, dusty and noisy, and the fumes from the trucks
will pose a public health hazard. It will result in massive environmental
degradation to an area identified as a critical part of the region's watershed and located at the very center of the town's best open space and parkland.

It will threaten the great recreational and significant historical resource of the canal trail. The so-called "ponds," left after the mining is completed, will pose a safety hazard to neighborhood children.

This proposed mining operation is completely contrary to the town's Plan of Development, which calls for low-impact development and open space for the northern portion of the town's Whitney Avenue corridor. It is obviously inappropriate to permit an industrial operation to exist in the midst of a quiet residential neighborhood. The dozens of heavy trucks that will enter and exit the site every working day will play havoc with traffic on already-crowded Whitney Avenue, and will pose a significant safety hazard.

Indeed, I will be interested to hear, at the public hearing scheduled for
Oct. 10, whether the proponents can come up with a single positive feature -- other than their own enrichment at the expense of the health, safety and welfare of the Mt. Carmel neighborhood and the towns of Cheshire and Hamden. I hope that as many concerned citizens as possible turn out for this hearing. You do not need to be a resident of Hamden to attend and make your opinion heard.

Many proposals for development are hard to decide, involving a careful
balance of pros and cons. But this is an open and shut case. I urge the
Hamden Planning & Zoning Commission to do the right and lawful
thing: Deny this application for a special permit.

Johnny Faragher
Brooksvale Avenue

September 27, 2006

The Pits

If the special permit to excavate approximately 15 acres of property in northern Hamden west of Route 10 by the Sunwood Development Corporation of Wallingford is approved by the Hamden Planning & Zoning Commission Oct. 10, the residents of this area are facing a dramatic change in their quality of life.

As proposed, the mining excavation of 250,000 cubic yards of sand and gravel will last two years and dramatically change a now pristine wetland area. The loss of habitat for over 10 species of animals and native fish along with plant life in this area will be catastrophic.

According to results of an independent review of the project, the local water table will also be disrupted so the area will likely lose most surface water during the drier parts of the year. Residents who rely on artesian wells are also fearful of water contamination.

For two years, the mining operation will cause heavy truck traffic to enter and exit onto busy Route 10 and travel south through Hamden and/or north through Cheshire. The noise, air contamination, dust and traffic problems will affect not only local residents but all who travel Route 10 on a daily basis.

When the excavation is completed, the property affected will have four large pits scooped from the earth of a total size of approximately 4.8 acres. Each pit will have standing water to a depth of 35 to over 45 feet. The creation of these pits will be a natural breeding area for mosquitoes that carry the West Nile Virus. In addition, with easy access from Route 10 and the Farmington Canal Trail, these pits will be a natural attraction for young people riding off-road vehicles. Will the drowning of even one young person be worth the profit made by the excavation?

Southern Hamden is still dealing with contamination caused by man. Is this the beginning of northern Hamden’s fight to save its environment? At its Oct. 10 meeting, the Planning & Zoning Commission can act on the special permit and allow residents in northern Hamden to retain their quality of life. The commission should summarily deny this permit.

Edward Bartolini
Huntington Circle

September 25, 2006

No Excuses, UI

Over the past year the cost of oil and gas has risen to historical highs, and we saw consumer goods and services rise alongside the increases. Now that oil and gasoline prices are dropping dramatically, I can’t help but wonder if the increases attributed to high-energy prices will now lower to levels prior to the spike in oil and gas prices. I am sure that customers of United Illuminating can take solace in the fact that with lower oil prices, the 50 percent or so increases that UI predicted a short while ago now will not happen.

Or will it?

We are hopeful that the Connecticut utility oversight board will monitor the negotiations of a new energy supplier contract that UI will be signing soon to supply customers with electricity. We should be reassured that rates will not be kept artificially high. The cost of energy is coming down and thus there is no excuse for electric rates to be raised, as first thought. No excuse at all.

Frank Baldino
Washington Avenue

September 21, 2006

Remembering Little Ones Lost to Cancer

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. In 1997, we lobbied Gov. Rowland to have Connecticut join the rest of the country in proclaiming September NCCAM. He did and we held our first ceremony up at the state capitol.

We have been honoring the month in Hamden for the past seven years. This year, with the lack of volunteers and family illness, we were unable to host a ceremony but we would like everyone to take a moment on Sep. 26 and remember those little ones and their families who have been touched by cancer.

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. 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, government and the private sector -- to take a moment on Sept. 26 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 in 1996. We are happy to say that Jordan is 10 years cancer free this year. We are planning to have a ceremony next year for the 10th anniversary of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Thank you and God bless you and yours.

Paul and Leslie Jacques


We Must Curb Spending

Did you get your escrow bill yet? If not, rest assured you’re up for a big surprise. Your taxes have just gone through the roof. Next year it will happen again. Who is getting our money? 640 town retirees are getting $13 million a year. Board of Education folks -- second best paid bunch in Connecticut. Current town employees’ contracts have an automatic 5 percent increase built in, so like it or not, they will go up next year and the year after -- forever.

Corporate America adjusted to reality. It is impossible to carry these liabilities. Our town simply cannot pay for these fat, unreasonably high contracts. Around 85 percent of the budget is spent on salaries, benefits, pensions, etc. Our money is not spent on roads, sidewalks, dead trees and repairs. Going bankrupt will not help anyone, and that’s the direction we are heading.
Who did this to us? The Democratic Town Council and the mayor for many years. This year they passed the highest budget that resulted in the highest taxes in town history. The astronomical amount is needed mostly to pay for their past mistakes, miscalculations and fat contracts.  If they only remembered second-grade math of adding and deducting. Now they are pointing fingers.

Option? Let’s borrow more money to pay for contracts we can’t afford. Now the town has to pay interest on the borrowed money, in addition to still paying for the remaining obligations. Of course they’ll invest the borrowed money in a volatile market and earn interest -- or not! The reality is the town’s gotten into much deeper trouble because the loss of the invested funds. During the sour years of 2000, 2001 and 2002, the town’s liabilities doubled. Does anyone care? Do we address the disease and not the symptoms?

Not too many residents were present and four Council members were absent at Tuesday night’s meeting. As usual, few questions were answered in depth and as always, mostly there are assumptions rather than facts. Hamden residents have no direct say in how their money is being spent. We must defeat this budget or say no to the Council’s crazy spending habits. We need to change this and bring the budget to a direct vote to the taxpayers of Hamden.

Marianna Andriska
Hamden Homeowners for Tax Relief

September 20, 2006

In Defense of Gambardella

I find it quite remarkable that Councilman Fitch would have the audacity to criticize Councilman Gambardella for being close-minded and neglecting to do his homework regarding the recent issue of a revaluation phase-in.

Quite to the contrary, I would imagine it is Fitch and his supporters that are actually guilty of this. With almost every town in the area at least investigating the possibility of a phase-in, the Henrici administration chose quite early on not to pursue the matter.

Did they gather up their data and present it early on to the fiscal authority of the town? Was the Legislative Council presented with the choice of pursuing the issue or rejecting it 10 months ago when the experienced finance director came on board?

Did Mr. Fitch and his fellow councilpersons conduct their own examination of the possibility of a phase-in when there was still time to initiate one? Or did they just take it on blind faith that the administration knows best? It is my understanding that the Legislative Council, not the mayor's office, is the determiner of fiscal policy. Mr. Fitch was always willing to clash swords with the Amento Administration over its fiscal policies. Why not in this case? Was it because his mind was already made up? Or was he just following Henrici's lead like a good little soldier?

I think Mr. Fitch's concept of democracy is the one that is lacking. Not Mr. Gambardella's. The people depend on their elected officials to look out for their best interests by being open to ideas and by being well informed. The Council, by its own admission, had next-to-no knowledge about the possible benefits of a phase-in from the moment they took office to the time budget deliberations began. In December when there was still a chance for a phase-in, did they request an analysis from the administration?

If they did and the response was negative, did they initiate any
investigation of their own? Did they seek public input in any way? The Henrici Administration, when put on spot about the issue, offered up a litany of excuses why it couldn't be done, and in truth, some of them were quite valid. Due to their unilateral decision early on not to consider a phase-in, there was simply not enough time to implement the program and that reason was legitimate. Others were not. For instance, the lack of computer capacity. I find it very hard to believe that there are no accounting companies out there that could accomplish the task on an out-sourcing basis.

The fact that the Council felt that it had to hold a meeting after the
budget had been set just to gather information about the phase-in
proposals says a lot about how much they knew about it from the start.
The Council's own chairman of the Finance Committee and the overseer
of the whole budget process voted against his own budget due to the
flawed nature of the process leading to its creation, and the inability
or refusal of the Council to entertain new ideas.

I have no opinion for or against the phase-in concept so I consider myself to be an impartial observer. However, it is obvious to me that the phase-in concept was never seriously considered by the Council at a time when its relative merits or disadvantages would have made it more than an academic question.

Finally, Mr. Fitch's supercilious remarks about how Mr. Gambardella and Mrs. Wetmore are only on the Council because of the charter are
insulting and uncalled for. In a town comprised of mostly Democratic and
unaffiliated liberal voters, the Town Charter is the only guarantee that one party will not totally squash any opposition or opposing viewpoint.

As a lifelong Democrat, I have no great love for the Republican Party
but I do recognize the need for a loyal opposition. The old adage that
"Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" has never
been truer.

We have only to look at national politics to see what one-party
domination of the House, Senate and presidency has done to the nation.

Ed Beaudette

September 18, 2006

Gambardella Hasn't a Clue

Councilman Ron Gambardella’s recent column was utterly lacking in substance and truth. His imagination produced absurd and deliberately false arguments, supposedly by his 13 Democratic colleagues. Naturally, Mr. Gambardella chose not to identify who said what. What was clear is that Mr. Gambardella does not have a clue as to how democracy works, or how a legislative council caucus comprised of more than two members might function.

Mr. Gambardella complains about what he perceives to be a lack of open-mindedness among Democrats, but he apparently defines open-mindedness as agreement with his position.

It is Mr. Gambardella who suffers from closed-mindedness; he is the councilperson who walked into the Council Chambers that evening with his mind made up. It was apparent to anyone attending the meeting that Mr. Gambardella didn’t bother to listen to any expert advice from town officials, and his column ignores 100 percent of the information they provided. After listening to the concerns of town officials, most Council members clearly understood the complex issue of a revaluation phase-in and decided against it. I can assure you that the only agenda for Democrats that evening, as every evening, was getting it right for the town and its taxpayers.

Sometimes that means making tough decisions that are not popular, instead of grandstanding, because we believe it is simply the correct long-term choice. Perhaps the most ironic statement of the evening was his opinion that this phase-in could be accomplished because of the great skill and professionalism of our assessor and tax collector. While I certainly agree that these two professionals are experts in their fields, these were the same two town officials advising us that this was a bad idea. Apparently, Mr. Gambardella’s great respect for their abilities does not include listening to their counsel.

Mr. Gambardella did not understand this complex issue, and his behavior that evening -- alternatively trying to provoke or demean town officials -- was an embarrassment to everyone present. It appears he believes that bad manners are appropriate for an elected official. What he fails to grasp is that elected officials have a responsibility to represent the best interests of their constituents, to work cooperatively with their colleagues, to make our community a better place. I am proud that my colleagues on the Council understand and appreciate that concept. Moreover, it was readily apparent that he didn’t even do his homework on this issue. Instead, when questioned on specifics, he admitted that he was relying entirely on documents provided to him by a citizen’s group.

It is regrettable Mr. Gambardella is so angry. Perhaps he fails to understand that we have an obligation to govern first. It is very easy for him to rant and grandstand about this issue. After all, if we attempted this questionable and risky strategy and failed, no doubt he would bash the implementation of it by the administration. Perhaps Mr. Gambardella fails to grasp that obligation. Unlike the Democratic caucus, all of whom were elected by a plurality of the voters, Mr. Gambardella holds his seat because of a provision in the town charter that guarantees minority representation despite vote outcome. Seventy-five percent of the voters voted against him last November.

It is perhaps fitting that his next crusade will be for charter reform, because he would like -- you guessed it -- more guaranteed minority seats. With his conduct on the Council and his championing for more guaranteed seats, it seems obvious that Mr. Gambardella’s first priority is to himself.

Matthew Fitch
Democratic majority leader
Hamden Legislative Council


What Happened to My Hamden?

I have lived in Hamden for over 30 years. Hamden in earlier times was probably one of the most desirable towns, more so than North Haven, Madison, Guilford, Cheshire, etc.

Not so any more.

What has happened? Look at what has recently happened over the tax issue. Our elected mayor and Council have hit us with the largest tax increase in Hamden history. Incidentally, the assessment appeal process to challenge your assessment is essentially a rubberstamp for the assessor. The mayor and Council would not even allow a property revaluation phase-in to blunt the hurt it would impose on the elderly and others. This would have been the decent thing to do.

Once elected these people have no respect or compassion for the citizens. Why does that happen? These people are not bad people. They cave in to the special interest and those who get the fat paychecks because the public is not there to put pressure on them to ask tough questions and protect the taxpayer from having their pockets picked.

I have been a registered Democrat for many years, but this party has failed Hamden. I would recommend that you not vote for anyone who voted against the phase-in the next election. More importantly, we need charter revision to give the people more say in their government. Maybe Hamden can come back. 

Vincent Ferraro

September 14, 2006

Too Much Green on Town Green Committee

When choosing an important medical procedure, would one consult a teacher or a lawyer? When you choose to decorate your living room, do you seek advice from an informed, experienced and knowledgeable plumber or do you call upon someone with a distinct skill with design, color, layout and fabrics?

How is it that we ended up with a group of folks, well-meaning I'm sure, to implement the future of the town green and none have a background in landscape architecture, design, parks, plant nursery and the necessary insights to make well-rounded decisions about a natural setting?

There are many skilled professionals who would gladly donate time to this important effort, if they were asked.

We need to cull our rich community beyond the confines of inside the shrinking circle of the Democratic Party. Hot dogs and Norman Rockwell? Kinda scary.

Peter Haller
Lilac Avenue


Gorman Needs to Open Mind

I was very disappointed with the comments made by Legislative Council President Al Gorman in the article "Touch The Charter?"  While claiming he would keep an open mind on charter revision, Council President Gorman repeatedly made comments which reflect insincerity on the issue including, among other things: (1) accusing another councilman of making it a political issue if a revision exploratory committee was not appointed; and (2) making incendiary comments that charter revision could result in the elimination of minority representation. 

That does not sound like someone who is keeping an open mind on the subject. Rather, those are the words of someone in power who wants to keep the status quo.

In the past year, Hamden residents have endured a substantial increase in their real estate taxes, greater commercialization accompanied by tax incentives to large businesses, and constant accusations by political leaders that others with differing opinions or ideas are politicizing issues.

Every day it is becoming more apparent that Council President Gorman (and many other members of the Legislative Council) are out of touch with the residents of Hamden. I only hope that our residents will remember this fact on Election Day in 2007.

T. Scott Cowperthwait


GOP’s ‘Docu-drama’ One-Sided & Hideous

I am addressing this letter to U.S. Sens. Dodd and Lieberman about ABC/Disney's decision to broadcast a two-part "fictionalized" Republican version of the events leading up to 9/11. The writers and producers are all rightwing zealots, closely aligned with the propaganda machine of Limbaugh, Hannity, et al.

They loaded the “documentary” up with disclaimers, and some of the players have begun to bail out publicly. Then to add insult to injury, they folded in Bush's speech right in the middle of the final episode. I assume that was to legitimize both Bush and the docu-drama.

They have every right to produce their own version of events, but it is slanderous to show the actions and conversations of those who are still alive and able to say, "Sorry, that portrayal is false, it never happened."

Steven Wilson

September 13, 2006

Welcome to the Council, Ms. Christmas

In her letter to the HDN yesterday, Carol Christmas says, "We FINALLY got our Council members to listen to us."

To Ms. Christmas, I'd like to say, "You finally came to talk to the Council."

There is (and has been since at least 1983) a "Public Input Session" before each meeting of the full Legislative Council, at which members of the public can express their views on any agenda item.

Moreover, there are (and have been every year since at least 1983) public HEARINGS on the budget before the Council's budget deliberations. One evening is devoted to public input on the town side of the budget and another to the Board of Education side.

There is (and has been since 1983, at least) further opportunity for public input on the evening of the Council meeting during which the budget is approved. There is also a public hearing before the passage of any new ordinance.

I was a member of the Legislative Council for six years (1999-2005) and participated in almost every budget hearing and deliberation. Only TWO members of the public came to 99 percent of our deliberations, and these same people often addressed the Council at budget-related and unrelated hearings.

The Council has been listening. The problem is the public has not been paying attention to the town's finances for six, 10 or 20 years. The damage was done before Ms. Christmas and her colleagues decided to start paying attention. Perhaps Ms. Christmas and other members of the public have learned a useful lesson.

Ann M. Altman


Rep. Adinolfi Does it Fulltime, Only

Many of us see state representatives serving their constituents part-time because the compensation is part time. Al Adinolfi, who represents Cheshire, Hamden and Wallingford in the 103rd Assembly District, serves us fulltime all year long. Al has an excellent record of committee votes, public hearing attendance and a 100 percent voting record on the floor of the State House.

Over the years, Al fought for and brought back to us affordable health care for seniors, veterans benefits, funding for highways, roads and school construction, among other bills that have been passed. His dedication and responses to his constituent concerns is a year-round job. As a state representative, Al Adinolfi has served on the Appropriations Committee, the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the Public Safety Committee and is a ranking member of the Committee on Aging. I don’t believe Al would have accomplished this much to date if he didn’t work in the Legislature fulltime.

Any representation short of fulltime is shortchanging the constituents of each of these towns. The 103rd District needs a strong, focused and experienced representative who will continue to work for us fulltime with a record of leadership and achievement.

The 103rd District needs Al Adinolfi. Row 5a.

Jennifer Cutrali

September 11, 2006

We Need a Few Good (Council) Men

A simple computer glitch couldn’t be resolved by the Democratic Council and administration for two and a half months. They could not resolve the issue so Hamden residents could have phased in their new astronomical property revaluations over the next three years. They voted the issue down. We’ve heard all the excuses in the book why they can’t do this or won’t do that, if they only would have known earlier.

As a result, all of us are locked in at high assessments over the next five years.  Minutes after the Council voted down the phase-in, it approved a $14 million capital improvement plan with no particular plan or details in place. Don’t let party lines fool you anymore! We need a few good men in a hurry!

It doesn’t matter what their party affiliations are. They should know basic math and be willing to help us. We had enough of waiting for the state and federal government to help. Meanwhile, people in charge point fingers, blame someone else and echo the “We can’t do this, it’s too late for that” song. We need harder-working Council members with a vision to overcome party-related arrogance.

Our state has had a Democratic-controlled leadership for a very long time as well as Hamden. For the Democrats to blame anyone else for our troubles is absurd. They just have to look hard within. The Democratic Council members happily passed the highest budget in town history this year without giving an honest thought to how to save us money. They don’t need to blame anyone; they did it themselves.

They promised not to waste all the old computers and furniture, which ended up in the trash. They approved to pay $30,000 overtime -- without knowing the reason for it -- to Public Works, and the long list of waste may go on and on. The BOE is proud of saving a dime for the kids, paying out a dollar already on salary increases. Maybe the town should send out two tax bills: one for the BOE’s costs and one for the town’s. Maybe it’s time to freeze pensions and salaries for the next three years. It’s time to lower the mil rate. It’s time to bond the pension fund -- the Democrats ruined that, too.  It’s time for charter revision so we can participate directly in our affairs. It’s time to find a few good men who care about us.

HHTR is a grassroots organization with no party affiliations. Our goal is to help take back control of our taxes. Call at 281.0345 and join us if you care.

Marianna Andriska
Registered Hamden Democrat

September 1, 2006

Phase-in Would Hurt Some

Members of the Hamden Homeowners for Tax Relief -- the folks trying to get the legislative Finance Committee to approve a phase-in of the 2005 property revaluations next Tuesday -- have provided the public with a worksheet that enables one to come to this labeled bottom line: "Net First Year Savings with Phase-in."

The worksheet was located in the Hamden Daily News earlier this summer and currently appears on the HHTR Web site. Has everyone run their numbers through? What happens when the "savings" is a negative number? There is no explanation. No, "Oops, this doesn't work for you. Hasta la vista."

Nor does the formula toggle an opposite label: "Net First Year Additional Monies You Will Owe The Town If The Legislative Finance Committee Votes In Favor Of The Hamden Homeowners for Tax Relief's Simple Phase-In." And, by the way, does this number increase or decrease in the following years of the phase-in?

I just want to make it clear -- because I don't think anyone has, especially not HHTR -- that the phase-in does not work for everyone. Some homeowners will owe more money. Will that satisfy the HHRT's mission? "A citizen group dedicated to finding creative, affordable, fair and equitable solutions to Hamden's unfair tax structure?"

Betsy Driebeek

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