Letters to the Editor
June 28, 2008
Ron Gambardella continued his string of distasteful rants last week with a “song” about dead dogs. Is it just me or is it time to say enough is enough?
Songs about dead dogs are offensive, at best, and downright revolting to many. There are topics that you just shouldn’t joke about and this is one of them. The entire community was united in disgust at what happened at our Hamden landfill with deceased animals. The dreadful practice was halted immediately, more humane practices were implemented and I am confident that the town will hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
Making “songs” or “nursery rhymes” about issues belittles their importance and illustrates that Ron’s real understanding of those town issues is limited. I would think that someone who really wanted to work to make Hamden better, as he claims, would take the time to research town issues so he can make informed opinions that might make a difference in the community. Hamden residents expect more from their leaders than making fun and writing songs.
Ron, why don’t you spend more time actually working to make Hamden better instead of “singing” and “writing fairy tales” about it?
Curt Balzano Leng
At first I was amused by Mr. Fitch's political epistle, published in the Hamden Chronicle, in response to Ron Gambardella's recent letter to the editor. Then I realized his sensitivity to the issues presented was motivated by his recognition that the days of Hamden residents blindly putting their trust in his party locally are numbered. The one-party dominance the Democrats once enjoyed is in jeopardy next year.
To quote Mr. Fitch: "The beauty of democracy is that if our views are out of step with the public, they will come calling on Election Day and let us know."
Well, the voters did just that last November, when they changed a whopping 8,000-vote plurality from 2005 into a small 651-winning vote in 2007 for Craig Henrici, as well as the loss of one council seat.
The people did speak. They were unhappy with the cavalier treatment of Hamden taxpayers, particularly, our senior citizens who rallied to express their indignation through their votes and actions. Did Mr. Fitch take notice of all the lawn signs that spelled out their choice of Democrats and/or independents for Gambardella?
Unfortunately, Mr. Fitch was quick to bring up the accomplishments of the administration he represents. Whatever happened to charter revision? Town-wide WiFi? Ambulance service? That pile of questionable dirt behind the new middle school which is still there?
We hear little if nothing about these promises. Mr Fitch, evidently the new defense spokesperson for the existing administration, forgot to mention the burden that was placed on the many taxpayers that have resorted to finding extra jobs, reverse mortgages and even selling their homes.
Yes, the powers that be underestimated their opposition in 2007, and the voters representing Democrats, independents and Republicans ultimately came together, which almost defeated them.
These voters will not soon forget the "only 1 percent tax increase" this year on top of two preceding years of outrageous tax increases. A phase-in period would have softened the blow considerably, but was not even seriously considered by the council. The future will hold an altogether different story for the current administration than was presented by Mr. Fitch.
June 20, 2008
A comparison of the presidential candidates' views shows quite a contrast on what I think are important issues. Right off, Obama favors Roe v. Wade while McCain opposes it. While McCain is in favor of the death penalty, interestingly Obama does not have a problem with the termination of innocent life but he does oppose the death penalty even for mass murderers and child killers.
I am not in favor of the death penalty, but believe the number of killers executed each year pales in comparison to the number of innocent unborn babies killed each year.
Obama opposes prayer in public schools, while McCain supports it.
On taxes, Obama has already voted for a tax increase for anyone in the 25 percent bracket which is about 20 percent of the people who file income tax returns. McCain opposes this tax increase.
Obama is opposed to raising the Alternative Minimum Tax and McCain is in favor. The AMT was enacted to ensure the wealthy paid enough taxes. But since it is not indexed to inflation, more and more middle-class people are being penalized by this tax.
Obama wants to raise the Social Security tax limits while McCain wants to allow people to privatize a portion of their Social Security payments in the same way as most company pensions and city and state pensions already do.
On law and order, Obama opposes a mandatory three-strikes law, while McCain is in favor. Obama supports limiting the private ownership of firearms while McCain opposes limits.
On isolationism, Obama would put limits on free trade and McCain supports free trade. Obama wanted to pull out of Iraq prematurely, opposing the surge, leaving it to the mercy of the terrorists, while McCain supported the surge and as a result the Iraq war is being won.
So in summary, Obama is in favor of the killing of the innocent but opposed to killing the guilty. He wants to raise taxes and return to the pre-World War II isolationist mentality which was disastrous for the United States and the world. He is not a candidate of change but rather an old-fashioned tax and spend liberal. He is not another JFK, who was neither a tax and spend liberal or an isolationist. He was a Democrat before the Democrats became controlled by left-wing extremists. On becoming president, JFK reduced taxes and increased the U.S. troop presence in Vietnam.
Obama wants to raise taxes and reduce the U.S. influence in the rest of the world. The only thing Obama has in common with JFK is his age; McCain has the JFK view of the world. He is the moderate; Obama is a left-wing extremist with one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate.
May 27, 2008
Newsweek's annual report of the top 100 high schools shows again how mediocre Hamden's school system is. Seven schools from Connecticut were listed this year. Hamden was not one of them.
Here's the list from the highest rated down:
Over 50 percent of Hamden's tax dollars continue to go to an ineffective, mediocre and incompetent system. Why isn't this story being told?
May 14, 2008
In former Councilman Ron Gambardella's latest column, he wrote about various subjects mainly focused on the budget and taxes. I wasn’t surprised by the swipes he took at me and some of my fellow Democrats on the Council. That is common in his rants. What did surprise me was the level of misleading information and uninformed opinions he chose to use and attempt to pass onto Hamden residents as fact.
Differences of opinion are good for politics and they are good for government. Misleading taxpayers without plan or informed position is not helpful to anyone.
The truth is that Mr. Gambardella didn’t attend ONE budget session out of the nine nights that the Legislative Council met to work on the budget, nor did he speak at ONE of the four different opportunities the public had to speak to the Council regarding the budget. If you don’t show up, then you probably don’t know the facts.
I think it’s incredibly important for Hamden’s residents to get real facts regarding next year’s budget that we just passed. The following are some highlights of the 2008-2009 budget:
1) The Council was able to produce a very responsible budget, one that keeps us on sound financial footing, with the LOWEST tax increase in six years;
2) We lowered the mil rate over one-half of a mil from the mayor's recommendation;
3) The actual tax increase in dollars on the median single-family household next year will be $56;
4) We kept our commitment to the pension plan, by increasing the contribution to $12.5 million, despite attempts to lower it to $11 million by the Republicans, which would have been less than last year and a reversal of our promise to the public and our financial managers;
5) We made sure to keep public safety a priority by funding our Police and Fire departments to allow for proper equipment and personnel;
6) In the budget, we listened to our town auditors and other financial experts and responsibly funded our medical self-insurance and worker’s compensation accounts -- both of which were in poor financial shape just a few short years ago. When these accounts are in peril, it risks the town bond rating, which has the potential for an incredibly negative effect on the interest rate we receive when bonding projects like the new middle school or the coming police headquarters.
As for his personal attacks on me, if Mr. Gambardella had attended even one of the budget sessions, he would know that this year -- like most -- I was consistently trying to reduce account after account, line by line, in department after department. It is well known to those involved that I rarely see a budget cut that I don’t like.
I try very hard to bring in the tightest budget possible to spare taxpayers every penny possible. To call me the “ultimate tax and spender” is absurd and would actually be comical if it weren’t for the fact that it is an out-and-out lie that Mr. Gambardella is trying to fool our residents with. Save the campaigning for campaign season, Ron, I’ll welcome the debate when it’s time.
Curt Balzano Leng
May 13, 2008
I was dismayed after reading Hamden Democratic Town Chairman Joe McDonagh's letter to the editor regarding reappointments to Hamden’s boards and commissions. It is sad that Mr. McDonagh has resorted to name calling and clearly has taken political discourse to a new level.
I contemplated not responding to Mr. McDonagh's comments, but I believe the issue of having qualified individuals in town government is too important to our town's future to not respond.
The purpose of my previous letter concerning the non-reappointment of Commissioners Conklin and Sosensky was to point out that it is crucial to the welfare of the town that qualified and experienced individuals, who are serving on boards and commissions, get full consideration for reappointment. This will avoid control of these commissions by the mayor’s office and/or his subordinates. The replacement of well-qualified commissioners with political cronies and/or hockey friends seems to have become the norm under the present administration.
Members of the Inland Wetlands Commission, Democrats and Republicans alike, have stated publicly that the board has become too political in recent months. I quote six-year Commissioner Santiago-Martinez (who resigned) when she indicated in a Hamden Daily News story that the "… commission was always apolitical; it was all about following the regulations. All of a sudden, the staff is making decisions for the mayor. People are not being reappointed because of staff recommendations."
A majority of commissioners even boycotted the most recent meeting in protest. Are all these individuals lying about politics influencing the commission, Joe?
In closing, I would appreciate it if Mr. McDonagh would keep things civil, and remember residents care about quality-of-life issues, their taxes being kept under control and having a responsive and reasonable town government. All of which is not happening under this administration.
I continue to respect Mr. McDonagh, however, he should recognize that my letter was written to express ideas to better serve the town, not to further a political agenda.
May 11, 2008
In his letter to the editor, Austin Cesare complains about Mayor Craig Henrici’s decision not to reappoint Steven Sosensky to the Inland Wetlands Commission. Austin writes, “Stop playing political games with the appointments to boards and commissions.” I agree, which is why I am writing this letter, and why I am betraying conversations that might have been considered private. The hypocrisy, Austin, must also stop.
First of all, as Austin knows full well, commissioners are routinely appointed, reappointed or replaced. There is nothing unusual about that. It is the prerogative of the mayor per the Town Charter. This is the first time in my memory that a commissioner who was not reappointed decided to make the matter a public issue.
Both Austin Cesare and his brother, Craig Cesare, were appointed by Democratic mayors to land-use commissions. Austin was appointed by Carl Amento to the Inland Wetlands Commission, and Craig was appointed by Craig Henrici to the Planning & Zoning Commission. Both would likely have been reappointed if they had not been elected to the Board of Education and Legislative Council, respectively. They would have been reappointed because they did a good job.
In Austin’s letter to the editor, he talks vaguely about “political games expected of [Mr. Sosensky] by this administration,” but he never explains what those political games are. He doesn’t, because as he knows full well, there are none. Mr. Sosensky’s replacement on Inland Wetlands, as Austin also knows, has nothing to do with politics. Austin, perhaps you would explain what “political games” you feel Mayor Henrici is playing, since he replaced a Democrat (Mr. Sosensky) with a Republican?
Austin actually does know the reasons that Mr. Sosensky was replaced by Mayor Henrici. Austin served with Mr. Sosensky, and previously had made very clear his feeling that Mr. Sosensky should not be reappointed. In numerous conversations, prior to last year’s election, Austin said that if Ron Gambardella were elected mayor one of the first commissioners to be replaced would be Mr. Sosensky. Politics was not behind Mr. Sosensky’s replacement; there are ample reasons he was not reappointed and Austin knows this full well.
In fact, the very idea that Austin would complain of political land-use commission appointments reeks of hypocrisy.
In 1998, after Republican Barbara DeNicola was elected mayor, I was up for reappointment to Planning & Zoning. According to both Craig and Austin Cesare, in meetings with Mayor DeNicola regarding commissions, the decision was made not to reappoint me solely because of my political activities. I believe Austin’s or Craig’s words to me were: “Joe, there was no way you were going to be appointed again.” I knew that, of course. I knew that the decision not to reappoint me was completely political. But I also knew that these decisions are the responsibility of the mayor and his/her advisors, and I never objected. I never even considered objecting.
When Austin and Craig Cesare and I had those conversations, we were not Democrats or Republicans -- we were colleagues talking about what was best for Hamden, and what we wanted to see in Hamden’s future. I am not comfortable revealing those private conversations, but the dishonesty of Austin Cesare’s letter requires a rebuttal.
Shame on you, Austin.
Joseph P. McDonagh
I find it appalling that the Council voted in favor of the new police station at Memorial Town Hall. It is a huge building project that will bring nothing but destruction to the center of our quaint little town.
I applaud Ms. Wetmore for having the commonsense to at least abstain from the vote. Yes, the Police Department needs a new facility now; that is why they should start looking for a place to build it immediately. To tear down those two beautiful historic buildings to make room for a monstrosity of a complex -- that will not promote families walking around the town center by any stretch of anyone's imagination -- is a disgrace.
I also think it is a shame there will be yet another tax increase. We just can't afford it any longer. How many people have to move away before they get it? And, again, I do applaud Ms. Wetmore and Mr Cesare for voting against the budget increase.
We used to have a mayor and a town council who cared. What happened?
Cathy A Mosher
May 9, 2008
First IWW Commissioner Mike Conklin. Now IWW Chairman Steve Sosensky? Who next? How many more honest, well-qualified, hardworking public servants have to be tossed off boards and commissions in this town?
I had the privilege of serving with both Commissioner Michael Conklin and Chairman Steve Sosensky during my tenure on the Inland Wetlands Commission. I found these two individuals to be experts in their fields, and they always did what was right for our town. I found that they love Hamden, and I believe they wouldn't play the political game expected of them by this administration. How unfortunate the mayor's actions are for our town.
Hamden lost out with their removal from this commission. At what point do councilmembers, especially those Democrats with intentions of seeking the mayor's job next year, speak out against the shenanigans of this mayor? They, too, will appear guilty by their silence.
I urge Hamden residents to write the mayor and tell him to stop playing political games with the appointments to boards and commissions. Tell him enough is enough!
Austin T. Cesare
Former Inland Wetland Commissioner
Current Board of Education member
I read with great interest the story of the stray dog Wiley, but some of your facts are not exactly accurate. I am ecstatic that he has gotten a permanent home with someone who loves him. But one fact that was omitted from your article is that Wiley was taken care of by many families in the neighborhood, not just one.
My family was one of them. He would come to our house on a daily basis until the past two weeks when we didn't see him any longer. My husband and I were very worried and concerned for his safety. The abrupt end to his visits made us think he was hurt somewhere or worse dead.
He would come by to play with our dogs and we would give him treats and food and provide him with water. We kept a water dish on our front stoop in case he came by, and if we were not there he would have something to drink. My husband and I even named him Simba. There were several nights when he slept on our front porch. I had provided him with a blanket on which he could sleep. He would also bark on our front lawn until we let our dogs out to play with him.
He is a gentle soul, and we will miss his visits to our home. We wish Ms. Scirocco every good wish and hope that Wiley can recover and live the life he is entitled to.
Maureen and Chris Cellini
May 5, 2008
‘Trivial’ in Eye of Partisan Beholder
"All in all, I suppose the fact that dogs and cats and miles are the issues that make it onto the front page, I suppose that really demonstrates that we’re in pretty good shape."
Pretty good shape? It may seem trivial in Mr. McDonagh's eyes, but residents do in fact care about where their pets are being disposed of after their death. They care and want to know why the mayor would ever enact such an abhorrent policy in the first place. It may also seem trivial to Mr. McDonagh, but residents want to know whether their mayor has fudged travel logs for his own benefit.
When all of this is added to the continued political cronyism which has dominated this town over the last four years, no wonder so many are unhappy with the style of leadership this administration has given our town.
Mr. McDonagh, these are not trivial issues. People do care.
Craig F. Cesare
May 3, 2008
A review of recent headlines in the New Haven Register would show the following:
If we examined the budgets proposed for our neighbors, we’d find that virtually every community is considering tax increases that are many times higher than what is proposed for Hamden. Yet, over the past two months, debates in Hamden have centered on dead dogs and feral cats, mileage logs and stray dogs. We’ve even seen idiotic proposals to cut some town employees’ salaries to minimum wage, all because of unsubstantiated allegations that are being investigated.
I don’t mean to dismiss or demean legitimate concerns about these issues, but I think we need to start paying some attention to the bigger picture. Schools: I have to give credit to last year’s Republican mayoral candidate Ron Gambardella for his recent, extensive review of Hamden’s school system. Although he spent last year’s campaign arguing for cuts to the school budget, he apparently recently found religion and described a school system that is far more a success than a failure.
Finances: We are in good shape, with a healthy future thanks to the changes to future employees’ retirement plan.
All in all, I suppose the fact that dogs and cats and miles are the issues that make it onto the front page, I suppose that really demonstrates that we’re in pretty good shape.
Joseph P. McDonagh
Hamden Democratic Party chair
April 30, 2008
Peggy Rae has been an exceptional registrar of voters. She and [Republican Registrar] Tony Esposito have been a marvelous team, and the office has functioned on the highest possible level.
I don't say this to demean any registrars of voters prior to Peggy, but when you consider what has happened in the past 10 years -- extraordinary population growth, Quinnipiac University students added to the voting rolls (and two or three student candidates who helped register hundreds of students), record voter registration and voter turnout for primaries (the 2005 Democratic mayoral primary, the 2006 U.S. Senate primary and the 2008 presidential preference primary) -- Hamden's registrars office is the envy of cities and towns around the state.
There is no doubt that Peggy will be missed. I have had a marvelous working relationship with her for the four years that I have been chair, and I am sorry that she is leaving.
Yes, I am supporting Rose Mentone to replace Peggy. I am confident that Rose Mentone will do an exceptional job. Rose is smart, knowledgeable and patient -- three necessary assets for the job. I know that she is patient; she has been the town committee's secretary for nearly two years, and she's had to put up with me.
I am thrilled that Rose is willing to do the job, and I am confident that she will have the unanimous support of the town committee.
Wiley eluded capture for over eight months. It seemed Wiley found a home with Gabrielle Scirocco of Hot Diggity Dog. Rather than triumph in a positive outcome, Animal Control Officers Chris Smith and Steve Gimler chose to further alienate a community already suspicious and distrusting of their abilities and practices. To the credit of Mayor Henrici and Police Chief Wydra, Ms. Scirocco was granted custody and ownership of Wiley.
Sadly, it appears when Officers Smith and Gimler were unable to come to an understanding with Ms. Scirocco, they chose to involve Connecticut State Animal Control, further staining Hamden's reputation. Once again, Hamden is on the map and not in a favorable light.
From a practical standpoint, I wonder how many tax dollars and resources have been wasted thus far in this tug of war over a previously stray dog who finally found a home.
I understand the primary purpose and mission of animal control is to protect the public from nuisance animals; placement of homeless animals is an additional perk. I also understand animal control officers, like any public servant or public official, represent their community. In the wake of the dog disposal controversy, I find the actions of Officers Smith and Gimler in the issue of Wiley absurd. While arguably legal, their actions show lack of good judgement, compassion, and above all, positive community relations.
Hamden needs its own animal shelter to better enable the community to take responsibility and care for its homeless animals. We also need animal control officers cognizant not only of their primary responsibilities but willing to demonstrate grace and compassion to their community.
I have been following with interest the controversy over the proposed new police station and renovations to the Town Hall When I viewed the renderings available to the public of the proposed new structure on the town website, I have to say I was shocked.
I am no expert, but all I can say is to me it is ugly and ruins the existing Town Hall, which is focused on the intersection of Whitney and Dixwell.
Hamden has very few architecturally appealing buildings, and if this plan is followed it will lose one. I have no objection to the concept of a police station and a fire station located in this area. Both have been there for many years, and I think this location serves the town well.
I also am not objecting to the present proposal for political reasons or because I think the Dadio Farm piece is better suited (there is only one police station and that location is too far from much of Hamden). So I am not in the Hamden Alliance for Responsible Taxation or former Councilman Ron Gambardella camps.
I just think that the present proposal is an abomination and ruins an appealing and stately public building. I would suggest that the architects and the Town Building Committee literally go back to the drawing board and rethink this whole proposal. One main problem with the proposal (other than its sheer ugliness) is that it is trying to squeeze very tightly into a small footprint. The town should consider expanding the site over to School Street by acquiring some of the residential properties between the existing edge of the site and School Street. This would allow easier access to the site and allow the building footprint to be shifted away from Dixwell Avenue, so that it would not so totally obliterate the existing Town Hall structure.
The additional cost of this land acquisition would be minimal in the overall cost of the project and would radically increase the flexibility allowed for in the siting of the structures. I would also hope that the plans are redrawn so that the focal point of the combined structure is on the existing Town Hall, specifically the steps that lead to the rotunda, rather than the overly imposing entrance to the new police station.
The overall concept of having the police station as an addition to the Town Hall is not inherently flawed; however the present execution of that concept is.
April 21, 2008
I don't mind paying my fair part of the tax bill, but I don’t like paying for unqualified people holding down town jobs. These people didn’t get their jobs by their qualifications or abilities; they received their town jobs by knowing the mayor or some other politico in town.
These unqualified town employees cast a negative shadow on all the good town employees that received their town jobs by their qualifications and abilities. They must be very disheartened to see the negative media coverage that these unqualified town employees bring onto all good hardworking town employees.
The citizens of Hamden have a bad habit of lumping all town employees in the loser class due to a few bad apples. Mayor Henrici has done nothing to dispel this loser class image of town employees. He has increased the negative image by hiring and promoting unqualified people. No wonder morale is very low since Henrici became our mayor.
One way to ensure that all town employees are qualified is by the town doing what a lot of union and non-union companies are doing. They test their employees every few years to see how well they understand their job and how well they perform their job. The employees that fall below the norm after retraining and testing are let go.
The better qualified a town employee is the more money we taxpayers save in the long run.
April 18, 2008
On Nov. 3, 2006, Hamden High School lost a “shining and rising star,” an honor roll student who was respected and loved by the staff and her peers. Janee Wallace, a 16-year-old young lady, lost her life in a horrific car accident on I-91.
She aspired to become an engineer like one of her aunts. In her honor, the Hamden High School Culinary Department and the Black and Hispanic Student Union began a memorial scholarship in her name. Fried dough and pizzas were sold last year within the school as they will again this year. As a result in May 2007, two Hamden High seniors -- Leslie Rivera, a student at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., and Christopher Rogers, a student at the University of Connecticut in Storrs -- received the first Janee Wallace Memorial Scholarships of $1,000 each.
Additionally, the Black and Hispanic Student needs community support with the first annual Janee Wallace Memorial Scholarship Potluck Dinner which will be held in Hamden High’s cafeteria on Friday, April 25, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The price is $5 with a dish for 10 people or $10 without a dish.
Come help us help qualified youngsters in their quest for higher education while honoring a young lady who would be graduating this year if not for her untimely death. Donations should be made out to Janee Wallace Memorial Scholarship Fund and sent in c/o Miss Henderson, Hamden High School, 2040 Dixwell Ave., Hamden, Conn.
Miss Leonora Henderson
April 15, 2008
The Henrici Administration has proposed their third property tax increase. Our only hope is that Council members are able to find ways to keep taxes unchanged. There are two upcoming projects that will result in a significant tax increase again.
The town must build desperately needed police and fire headquarters. The question is, how good or bad the plan will be and how large is the price tag for us to pay. We’ve seen many times before that when there is a rush to action with no proper planning, there is a price to pay. Costly mistakes occurred with the middle school. Almost daily the entire building is still lit up until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. The reason: no proper on and off switches, the building is fully lit or totally dark. Taxpayers are paying for the waste, thousands of dollars each month.
We must not allow an even worse mistake with the police-fire project. The town is in possession of a large piece of land on Putnam Avenue (Dadio Farm). The new fire headquarters is to be built there and the town will sell excess parcels. Residents and experts recommended that a combined fire-police headquarters should be at Putnam Avenue utilizing the entire land. Only two satellite stations should stay at town center. The combined project would speed up the process for a well-deserved occupancy and could save taxpayers a significant amount of money.
Instead of the above plan the administration is moving forward with their ill-conceived idea of a 50,000-square-foot addition to Memorial Town Hall coupled with a huge parking structure. Beside the sky-high cost of retrofitting and the cost of a parking lot, we can expect traffic nightmare and slow emergency response from the Dixwell-Whitney intersection. This monster project would only serve the police.
If the sale of the excess parcels at Putnam Avenue goes through, we will not have the option for a combined fire-police project. In addition, the proposed income of $1.2 million from the land sales wouldn’t even cover the cost of the parking structure. We need your help! Sign the petition against bad planning at www.gopetition.com (Quick Search: Hamden).
Richard and Marianna D’Albis
Talk To Us
Letters to the Editor
Copyright© 2005 Hamden Daily News
Site designed by Joanne Kittredge