Letters to the Editor
February 28, 2008
When I first read about the improper dog disposal, I was disgusted. The whole idea of someone witnessing a dead dog being tossed off of a cliff repulsed me. I honestly felt like I was living in a Third World country. I toiled for a couple of days with the idea of writing into the Hamden Daily News or calling the mayor directly, but as the weekend passed I decided against doing anything.
Then I read Ms. Marchand’s response.
I certainly appreciate her right to voice her opinion on the subject, but I do not appreciate her callous attitude towards the people who have taken issue with this. Many folks don’t have children or have children that are grown so they do think of their pets as family. I would not call anyone who loves their pet or has an issue with the policy an “obsessed pet owner.”
How anyone thought that just tossing a dead animal off a cliff was proper disposal puzzles the heck out of me. And to save a few thousand dollars?
The real issue here is the questionable acts that seem to follow Henrici all over town. We have a department that cannot balance their books. A mayor who cannot fill out a mileage log. And now we are cutting corners when it comes to animal disposal?
And once again the response from the people who should be held accountable is finger-pointing and dumb looks on their faces. I consider this lowest act to save a couple of bucks to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. We have a completely dysfunctional administration in this town and thanks to this story appearing in the HDN and then on WTNH, more people are becoming aware of it.
I am sorry Ms. Marchand if you feel that folks are not concerned with the Board of Education budget, but do not try to equate people's passion for their pets with what you see as a lack of passion towards the BOE budget.
I am certainly not trying to begin a "war of words," but I would like to comment on Ms. Marchand's letter published Feb. 27.
My grandson attends Wintergreen School and both of my daughters had a Connecticut public school elementary education. We have always been involved in animal welfare; in fact, one daughter incorporated the link between animal abuse and long-term criminal behavior in her Ph.D. thesis. If each person espoused a belief and fought for it with a passion, it would be a wonderful world. (As Napoleon Hill says, "Activism is the true measure of intelligence.")
To label those of us who are distraught over the disposal of DEAD animals as "obsessed pet owners" is unfair. Of course a good education is imperative and we owe that to our children. But respect for animals, and integrity and good moral values are not found in books, instead they are taught by example. As a country and a community, we seem to be lacking in good values lately. So what are WE teaching our children?
Like most other Hamden taxpayers, I’ve been outraged at the recent reports about how the town’s domesticated animals are being disposed of. Sharon Bass deserves a lot of thanks for breaking this important news story that has since been picked up and reported on by the other media outlets. Thank you, Sharon.
Without Sharon’s investigative nature, would this story ever have come out? Within the current political climate in Hamden, I think that it’s doubtful. Unfortunately, certain media outlets are reluctant to report Hamden news unless it comes from a source with certain political connections.
I happened to see a report the other day on WTNH-News Channel 8 on the subject that included an interview with Hamden’s mayor. His position was that there was a “miscommunication” about the domestic animal disposal policy and that there was now an ongoing investigation to find out who “dropped the ball” on this issue. In other words, we’re investigating the issue to find out who we can use as the scapegoat to blame for the administration’s recent policy change.
Most unfortunately, this is another example of politics in action in Hamden within the Henrici Administration. Not only do we have to deal with the largest tax increase in the town’s history, now we have to deal with the media embarrassment over the issue of how we dispose of our beloved friends and companions. Thank you, Mayor Henrici, for your continued leadership and compassion for the needs of Hamden’s citizens.Joseph P. Tetreault
After attending this past Council meeting concerning the dumping of dogs at our town dump, a couple of things struck a nerve with me. Although most of the Council asked great questions, the question was never asked why Mayor Henrici wasn't present.
I think from the outrage of this issue and for the sole reason that Henrici was the one who implemented the policy change from cremation to dumping domestic animals at the dump, he should have been present to explain why this policy change occured. In fact not one person from his office spoke at the meeting. The silence was deafening.
As this tragedy is unfolding many questions are still left unanswered:
Who was supposed to bury the dogs?
Why and for what purpose did Mayor Henrici really change the policy?
Will there be a meeting where the public can ask questions?
Will this fade away and just be another forgotten Henrici moment?
It is a sad day in this town when the mayor feels he doesn't have to address this issue to us, the citizens of this town. His policy change alone led to these atrocities. It is also a sad day for this town when you hear about these atrocities in the New York Post (page 25). This policy change not only was disgusting and cruel, but now it has branded our town nationally.
Jonathan P. Cesare
What is crazier than animal dumping? Sounds like a lead line to a very bad joke. Dumping domestic animals in the town’s transfer station is no laughing matter. Nevertheless, what I do find “funny” (by that I mean odd) is not the outcry against the act but the lack of outcry against everything else this administration has done.
For the most part, Hamden’s citizens have just rolled over and played dead when it comes to acts and decisions this administration has made. If as many people had spoken out about everything else that has gone on in town -- as they have against the horrific policy reading expired animals -- I could only hope things would be different.
§ Where was the public outcry against hiring a completely unqualified animal control officer?
§ Where was the public outcry against proposing to fire the director of the library?
§ Where was the public outcry against doubling our property taxes in two short years?
§ Where was the public outcry against creating an unnecessary “help desk” position?
§ Where was the public outcry against undocumented mileage the mayor has racked up?
§ Where was the public outcry against the mayor for not following through on any campaign promises to better Hamden?
§ Where was the public outcry against implementing policies that have never been followed through, such as seeking revenue from cars registered out-of-state that should be registered in Connecticut?
§ Where was the public outcry against the mayor violating the Town Charter’s hiring regulations at least three times, that we know of?
§ Where was the public outcry against paying town employees undocumented overtime?
I could go on and on about the blatant problems Hamden now has that this administration has caused. I put a call out to every citizen to stand up for Hamden and say enough is enough! Hamden simply will not tolerate being run this way and we deserve far better!
As a pet owner and animal lover, reading the article regarding the town’s policy was beyond disturbing -- it’s just plain vulgar and probably produces some sort of health and safety violation. That being said, I wish Hamden’s citizens would react this way to every disturbing and crass thing this administration has put forth.Sarah Morrill
Vice chair, Hamden Republican Town Committee
February 27, 2008
While I certainly agree that dumping dead dogs and not burying them is not a very good practice, I think that people need to realize that the animals are DEAD. They cannot tell if they are being cremated or covered with dirt or left exposed.
Most of them are probably strays, or their owners can't always be located to claim their bodies. If your dog dies and you want to bury it or cremate it at your expense, that should be your decision. As a taxpayer, I do not want to pay for someone else's pet or a stray dog to be "humanely" disposed of if it is an expensive choice.
I consider myself an animal lover and have had many dogs, cats, fish and reptiles over the years. I've treated my pets very well, sometimes like children, however I knew they were not my children. I think there are a lot of obsessed pet owners out there getting all upset over a stupid decision that the town made to try to save some money.
Well, obviously this was not a good way to save money and now the mayor is changing his tune. If people got this upset over the fate of education in this town (and the lean budget request by the Board of Ed) we might have all the necessary tools, teachers and supplies to give all our students the quality education that they deserve.
I attended the town meeting Monday night where the Hamden dog-dumping policy was addressed at length. I walked away from the meeting pleased with the policy reversal and pleased that the Town Council members were clearly outraged and presented tough questions to those responsible for the policy change.
However many unanswered questions remain.
Where are statistics on how many dogs were actually picked up, surrendered to the town and what is the placement record? Why was a dog, who was ultimately euthanized, kennelled for 91 days (did anyone ever hear of kennel stress?)? And what was done to promote his adoption? Who assesses the dogs' temperament and how qualified are they?
There are numerous outlets to present a dog on death row to the public, including evening newscasts, outreach to rescue groups, etc. I was asked if I would post a board in my shop with dogs who were picked up in Hamden. In the 19 months that I have been in business, the board has been updated twice.
The cost of $100 per dog was endlessly presented as fact Monday night. What is the actual cost of cremation?
All of the discussion addressed stray dogs. What about cats? Are they automatically euthanized and dumped? Is there any rescue attempt? Are they not also "domestic" animals? If they're picked up, is any effort made to find the owner?
Outraged and disgusted were words that were expressed frequently at the meeting. Count me among those who are outraged and disgusted, but also looking for some accurate answers to numerous questions.
I would like to offer my organization’s support of Animal Control Officer Christopher Smith.
The Ferret Association of Connecticut (FACT) has operated a private, nonprofit shelter for domestic ferrets in Connecticut for the last 19 years. The first contact I had with Hamden animal control was in September of 2007. Officer Smith went out of his way to research and locate a place for a ferret found abandoned on the street.
Since that time, FACT has accepted two more ferrets from Hamden that came to us via Officer Smith. Each time he was professional, courteous and appeared to have a sincere fondness and concern for all animals.
Private citizens have the freedom to dispose of deceased animals practically any way they choose. Even as a shelter operator, while I answer to my donors and board of directors, I have considerable latitude in day-to-day operations.
As a municipal employee, an ACO is subject to the constraints placed upon him/her by the chief of police and board of selectmen or mayor. I urge Police Chief Wydra and Mayor Henrici, along with the Hamden Town Council, to give Officer Smith and his coworkers the tools to perform their job duties in a humane and responsible manner. I have no doubt that, given the ability to care for the remains of animals decently, they will do so.
L. Vanessa Gruden
The Hamden PTA Council would like to publicly thank Superintendent Rabinowitz and her finance department for making this year’s Board of Education budget so transparent and user-friendly. (All budget materials are available at the Hamden Public School website.)
We’d also like to thank the Hamden Board of Education, especially Finance Chair Ed Sullivan, for working with Superintendent Rabinowitz to craft an austere budget that does not require us to sacrifice any programs or staff.
Thanks also to the 100-plus parents and citizens who came to the Board of Ed budget hearing on Feb. 25 to voice their opinions. Democracy is not a spectator sport and we applaud everyone who came out to play.
We encourage all who love this town and the excellent services it provides to join us on the eve of March 12 in supporting the Board of Ed’s portion of the mayor’s budget when it is presented to the Town Council. Please tune in to www.hamdenpta.org or join your local PTA unit to get announcements and updates on the budget process.
Hamden PTA Council Executive Board
Marjorie Clark, president
Mary Clough, vice president
Karen Leeper, secretary
Melissa Stasiak, treasurer
Cheri Brooks, corresponding secretary
February 26, 2008
It is said that one can judge the quality of a government by how it treats animals. In these last two years, Mayor Henrici has thrown a majority of the Hamden taxpayers into a financial ditch.
But that is history, and unfortunately, too many voters were not awake last November to change much. Imagine, I ask you, that that is your dog in the ditch! Are you awake NOW?
Hamden needs an animal shelter and compassionate personnel to work there. Destroying dogs and cats and hurling them into the landfill to save a mere $30 cremation fee, it's an outrageous insult. The practice of nickle and diming the public has gone too far, while the mayor and too many of his friends get hefty raises and multiple perks. Now even our pets are at risk.
If this "dog-dumping" policy makes you angry, do something, speak up. Call the mayor to voice your outrage at 287.7105, or better yet, call Councilman at-large Craig Cesare at 281.4705 and support his demand for an investigation into this matter.
What's the alternative? Do nothing and if your dog is caught roaming in Hamden, he could be shot and end up in next spring's compost!
I was born and raised in Hamden and have always been very proud to claim it as my home. The columns I have been writing for the Hamden Daily News have brought me many e-mails from friends and strangers who remember many of the places and people that have been a part of the story of my childhood years. Their comments about Hamden, both from my stories and from other articles they read in the HDN, reflect a genuine like for the city.
That all ended with the Feb. 22 article "Dog Dumping." My friends have written asking what kind of people can do such things. I have no answer. No answer. These kinds of things are heard of in Third World countries, not in the United States of America.
I am ashamed for the actions of a few people in the town I have been so proud of all my life. The policy of dumping dogs (and other animals) is criminal. I agree with Mr. Gambardella that the mayor has "disgraced his position." He is the one who should be ashamed.
Raymond K. Johnson
February 25, 2008
As a citizen (and taxpayer) of the town of Hamden I cannot adequately articulate how dismayed and saddened I am by the town's policies regarding animal control. Hamden, previously known for its dog-friendly atmosphere, is now an embarrassment. The animal control policies of our current administration brought on this shame. While some may see our town's animal control policies as a cost-saving venture, I see it as a callous, cruel attempt to pinch pennies from the town's over-inflated budget.
The administration's policy of disposing dead animals in the Hamden landfill may be within the law; but it is also despicable. Other Connecticut towns facing similar budget challenges manage to dispose of animal remains in a decent, respectable manner. While within Connecticut state animal control regulations, the policy of holding dogs for the seven-day-stray-hold period then euthanizing them is unconscionable.
How does it make Hamden look, to be one of the few towns without an animal shelter? A town that dumps its dead animals in a landfill rather than cremate, in the name of saving a few dollars? One of the only towns in New Haven County that does not make an attempt to re-home and adopt out lost animals? New Haven, West Haven, North Haven, East Haven, Wallingford, Branford, Meriden, Milford, Oxford, to name a few, all make attempts to find homes for adoptable stray dogs via their Petfinder sites, volunteer groups and local rescue organizations.
I question the origin of the dogs at the landfill and their cause of death. Were these dogs stray animals hit by cars, or were these companion animals, euthanized and dumped in the landfill before their owners had an opportunity to reclaim them? Perhaps it's time to autopsy several of these animals to determine the cause of death.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, friends from Wallingford were visiting relatives in Hamden. Their border collie, Rosie, slipped her collar and went missing. Despite their continued efforts, Rosie has yet to be found. I was dismayed to see what appeared to be a black dog in the photo and wonder if the dog in the photo is their Rosie. Last month a small Maltese mix was loose in our neighborhood. Was his fate the landfill? I fear for my dog ever being in Rosie's situation, slipping a collar and going missing. If it ever happens I hope it doesn't happen in Hamden.
Jean Murray's retirement, followed by the removal of Gina Cahill as animal control officer, were sad days for Hamden's animals. Thanks to the actions of our current administration a dog impounded in Hamden has no chance at life. The town of Hamden needs its own animal shelter and we need an experienced, compassionate animal control officer who knows how to properly enforce reguilations for the protection of both the public and our companion animals.
February 23, 2008
I sit here in tears reading about dog dumping in Hamden. Is this what the current administration has sunk to? There is no excuse for this, not with the property taxes I pay in Hamden.
The person who made this decision should be fired for his inhumane treatment and total lack of respect for domesticated animals. I can't help but think about how many people will read the Hamden Daily News and now know what happened to their family pet. My heart goes out to them.
I have been a resident of Hamden for 15 years, and have had very close ties with the community and its politics since my husband, Steve Cahill, became a Hamden police officer in 1984.Over the last 24 years I have seen many things take place in this town, good and bad.
Anyone who follows local politics knows I have certainly been affected by this mayor's administration. That being said, the new policy to dump dogs at the transfer station is by far the lowest, most outrageous, disgusting policy this man, we are forced to call "mayor," has ever put into place.
As a former animal control officer, I had learned very early on that the job with all its glory certainly had its very gory and repulsive responsibilities. I loved my job and to this day miss the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of displaced animals and the people who would potentially give them homes. There were many duties to be performed that the average person probably couldn't stomach. People would stop me and say, "I don't know how you do your job, it must be very difficult."
They were right. There were certainly aspects of my job that were very difficult, but the good outweighed the bad. I had the opportununity, on a daily basis, to save lives. And I did.
I learned from the best. Jean Murray ran the Hamden Animal Control Division for 27 years. She was the animal control officer for 22 of those years. The techniques and skills used to run our division all came naturally to Jean, and she passed them onto me with great ease. Of the qualities it takes to be a good ACO, I found compassion to be key. Jean was the epitomy of that and it is with great pride that I tell you it came naturally to me as well.
Where is the compassion of this mayor and his administration? How does this man lay his head on a pillow at night? I wonder, mayor, if you were dumping leaves with a child, would you have any reaction to a pile of dead carcasses thrown together as if they were yesterday's recycling ? As a matter of fact, we here in Hamden are more concerned with the dumping of our leaves and recycling matter than we are with the proper ending for "God's creatures."
I remember well the way the mayor defended his decision to fire me. I had never been reprimanded or written up for not doing my job. I have stacks and stacks of thank you notes from people praising me and thanking me for a job well done. To this day, people still approach me and apologize for the mayor's outrageous decision to fire me without cause.Yet, the mayor claimed I was being let go because he needed someone who worked better with his administration.
Translation folks: The mayor and all his cronies needed to get rid of me for fear I would blow the whistle. Blow the whistle on their new policies.
As an employee of the police department, I was told that while I was out on worker's comp last fall, the mayor and the heads of the Police Department put forth a policy that all dogs found stray would be held for the state's required eight days and then humanely euthanized.
It was explained to me, if we as ACOs felt an animal was unusually friendly and placeable, we were to go to the captain and ask for an extension of time. It was also made very clear to me that this policy was being set forth solely for the purpose of saving money. Another policy put into effect was that deceased wildlife would be the responsibility of the public works department. and deceased domestic animals were our responsibility.
I thought that Deputy Chief Bo Kicak was mistaken when he told me we would no longer be paying the crematorium to properly dispose of these poor creatures, instead tossing them into a pile at the transfer station. Just minutes after telling me this last December, I was relieved of my duties as assistant animal control officer. Although I was very concerned and upset about the changes made and the effect it would have on many precious animals, it was no longer my battle.
I felt beaten. I felt I had lost the fight that Jean and I and so many other humane law-enforcement officers had fought. It was now new animal officer Chris Smith's battle. I wondered how fiercely he would fight.
Well, fast forward to today, Feb. 22, 2008. The Hamden Daily News uncovers the horrible truth. Mayor Craig Henrici and his administration have no regard for the stray animals of Hamden. It was obvious to me when I was let go to make way for an unemployed friend of the mayor's [Smith], who had no experience. But now, thank God for all of Sharon Bass' hard work, it is blatantly obvious to the citizens of Hamden. I am outraged and disgusted that anyone would put forth this policy to save a buck. The mayor continues to raise our taxes and cut our services up to and including the decent handling of our strays.
I leave you all with a few questions I know I am needing the answers to. Where are all these dogs coming from? Are they strays that the town won't bother to house until they find homes? Are they being humanely euthanized, or is there more to this story yet to be uncovered? What kind of Neanderthals are running our town that would put these policies into place to save a buck? How would any of us feel if we were to find the body of one of our beloved pets thrown into this heap of bones?
Last but certainly not least, what kind of person is Chris Smith that he would follow through with these disgusting deeds because he's told to and never blinks an eye?
Again, Sharon, thank you so much for being the excellent investigative reporter that you are and leaving no stone unturned. Without people like you these things would go unnoticed and I certainly appreciate the attention these poor souls have been given.
A mass cremation of animals would cost the town $30, but Mayor Henrici wants to save that $30 by throwing dead animals into the town transfer station, so other animals can eat their diseased bodies and spread diseases to the rest of the animal population in Hamden.
Mayor Henrici, you are pennywise and six short of a dozen with this dead animal protocol you put into place.
Historians have written that all great mayors of this country had outstanding leadership skills. Sorry to say from what I have seen, historians will not be writing that about you, Mayor Henrici.
February 21, 2008
Imagine the scene at last week’s Town Building Committee meeting where the architectural team presented its directive from an apparent closed-door process -- an expensive and reckless plan to destroy two lovely historic buildings in Hamden’s town center and compromise the architectural character and public purpose of Memorial Town Hall with an impressively offensive and massive addition for the building’s conversion to a police headquarters.
The team tried to persuade the committee that a vast 200-space parking garage, partially shielded by a pedestrian-cruel 200-foot-long pile of dirt, would be a good investment of the millions of dollars that the project will total -- inevitably bonded and paid for by significant future tax hikes for Hamden residents.
There is no question that the Hamden police need and deserve excellent facilities; there is no question that our Town Hall should be honorably restored. The questions is does this plan give us either and what else do we lose?
There are many good solutions for a new and even better, more expeditiously built police station. Combine it with the new fire station planned for the Dadio Farm on Putnam Avenue as a state-of-the-art emergency response center. Move police headquarters into Government Center and town offices into, well, Town Hall. Or build a nice new police headquarters in a place where town center traffic and resulting lower emergency-response times will not be a concern.
Restoring our Town Hall and other historic buildings in town center could be done creatively and affordably with historic restoration grants and volunteer labor in small steps that will not trigger expensive code updates. Town Hall rightfully belongs to the law-abiding people of Hamden (although the unlawful will be quite cozy in over 20 new jail cells planned for the new headquarters).
Buildings live a long time so it’s worth some investment in the time, intelligent thinking, expertise and effort it takes to properly plan and design them. This requires an open, honest and transparent design process and public dialogue; it’s what I insist on as a consultant for every building design project I am assigned.
Everyone at the table will say the police station is a done deal and that the work of the last three months of planning and design is irreversible. Hogwash! Architects, engineers and planners work on projects all the time that never get built because of finances, feasibility questions, code requirements or public protests.
Which is where you, good citizens of Hamden, come in. Click here to eview the plans, consider signing the protest petition at www.gopetition.com (search Hamden) and call your council representatives and our mayor.
You don’t need to be an architect or a politician or a town-planning scholar to know the difference between good building and bad building. Or the difference between value and destructive economic waste.
February 18, 2008
To set the record straight, I did not suggest anywhere in my letter that we do away with entitlements. Where did I say the entitlement programs were "overly broad and/or inappropriate”? (Editor's note: The letter writer is referring to a response from HDN columnist Steve Kalb.) Their growth is out of control, just as welfare was before it was reformed by the Republicans during the '90s.
Claims by Democrats that people would be forced out of their homes and onto the streets and starving did not materialize. They always seem to use scare tactics to keep their precious programs from being reformed. Just as the claim by Mr. Kalb that people will go broke if we privatize Social Security. There are many pension plans tied to investments and none have gone broke. The Democrats claim they are the party of "change," yet all they want to do is tax and spend, never reform.
Kalb also said "he used the numbers for illustrative purposes." If you can make the numbers go whichever way you want, as he says, why did he use them? It appears to me he tried to shore up his weak arguments with falsehoods.
Kalb would like to blame only the Republicans for the deficit and then he criticizes others for what he does not do himself. He did not account for inflation or population growth. He failed to account for business cycles. So what is his claim based on? It seems to be pure prejudice.
I could just rant as Mr. Kalb does, but I think information is more useful.
In 1995, the House of Representatives passed a balanced-budget amendment but it failed by one vote in the Senate in 1997. The Democrats, including President Bill Clinton for the most part, opposed it. In 2003, another amendment was introduced by Rep. Ernest Istook, a Republican from Oklahoma, which was not passed. I am disappointed that the current Republicans are not as fiscally conservative as they were in the '90s, but to suggest that Democrats care about balancing the budget is ridiculous. They absolutely oppose a balanced-budget amendment. The state of Connecticut must balance its budget by law, as most other states do.
The Republicans gained control of the House and the Senate in January 1995. Republicans had not held the majority in the House for 40 years. After the 2000 election, the Senate was divided evenly between the parties. In the 2006 elections, Democrats won both the House and the Senate. So the Republicans have had control of Congress for five out of the last 55 years.
Since the Great Society programs were enacted there has been a budget surplus in 1968, and 1998-2001. The budget surpluses during the later period were mostly due to the economic dot.com boom and business investments for the Y2K conversion. Or perhaps you could conclude it was because the Republicans had control of Congress.
There is plenty of blame to go around, and until people can discuss the issues in a civil manner, this country will remain as deeply divided as it is now. Mr. Kalb, you are part of the problem, not the solution.
February 14, 2008
In response to Bill Fasula's letter, you can tweak numbers to make them look however you would like and the more you put in the more you obfuscate the larger issue. I used minimal numbers simply for illustrative purposes. The letter writer conveniently forgets to allow for inflation and population growth, both of which tend to make revenues grow regardless of tax policy.
He also fails to allow for business cycles. Revenues from trough to peak always look better in that direction than in the reverse. See why I simplified the numbers? Do we really want to have a class today in economics?
I am sure the writer of the letter will be more than willing to forgo any and all proceeds from entitlement programs he finds overly broad and/or inappropriate. He should start with returning his Social Security check. And skip that Medicare, too.
And God forbid he has kids going to college. Don't they need those government-supported student loans and grants? And may he always be healthy and not need Social Security Disability Insurance.
It was George Bush who signed the prescription rider to Medicare but removed a requirement that drug companies had to negotiate with Medicare. We pay the highest rate for prescription drugs and you can thank the Republicans for that.
All those "Democratic" pesky entitlement programs. Let's get rid of 'em. People lose their savings and go broke because we "privatized" Social Security? Let 'em live in boxes. Who cares? No money for medicine? Just don't give what you got to me -- and please die quietly.
The reality is that any change in the tax code takes a while to filter through the system. The Reagan and Bush administrations have given our GRANDCHILDREN a legacy of debt.
But reality is so inconvenient.
February 12, 2008
Tax cuts actually do work. Mr. Kalb has misinterpreted his own numbers. He states in his column: "You might recall that the 1980-1990 period was when President Reagan cut taxes and guess what happened? Tax receipts dropped. Lower taxes didn’t mean more revenue, it meant less revenue."
Many people have difficulty with percentages so to set the record straight, a 19 percent increase during 1980 to 1990 does not mean less revenue, it means the revenue growth rate was not as high. But Mr. Kalb also quotes statistics for a period of time that does not match the presidential terms of Reagan, let alone the time period after which the tax cuts were actually enacted.
Let's compare Clinton's best three years -- 1997 to 2000 -- during the "Dot Boom" and Y2k frenzy. In 1997, individual taxes were $737,466 which increased to $1,004,462, a 36 percent increase; and corporate went from $182,293 to $207,289 -- a measly 14 percent increase.
In 1961, national defense spending was about 50 percent of total government spending. Human resources, including Social Security, made up about 30 percent.
In 2007, national defense was down to 20 percent of federal spending and human resources up to 63 percent. Of course when President Bush wanted to save Social Security, because it will be bankrupt in 20 years, the Democrats were opposed, they would rather just raise taxes.
Democrats like to say how much they like people. Sure they pat you on the back with one hand and pick your pocket with the other.
February 11, 2008
I wanted to write a note of thanks to Hamden’s Democratic voters, who came out in record numbers to vote in last Tuesday’s presidential preference primary. For the record, here are some statistics:
In the two months leading up to the primary, over 500 Hamden residents either registered to vote as Democrats, or switched from unaffiliated to Democrat. I welcome all of you into the party. I believe that your decision to register as a Democrat is evidence of the vitality and energy that the Democratic presidential campaign has in 2008.
With your help, we will take back the White House in November and return the federal government to the people of the United States. With your help, we will get our troops back from Iraq, and redirect American priorities to solving our problems of health care, the environment and the economy.
Thank you again for your support. If you need to reach me, please contact me at email@example.com.
Joseph P. McDonagh
February 5, 2008
We are experiencing the second great surge in recent times in Democratic Party registration in Hamden. The first was the Ned Lamont/Joe Lieberman primary in 2006, when I think Hamden Democrats reached their highest number ever, just about 14,000. At the time, unaffiliated voters still outnumbered Democrats, by about 1,000.
I don't know voter registration history well enough, but I know that, at least in the past 10 years, this is the first time that Democrats have outnumbered unaffiliated voters. My job as Democratic town chair is to make sure that those newly registered Democrats stay Democrats. The presidential candidates that brought them into the party -- U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- epitomize the direction the Democratic Party is taking. Fresh, exciting ideas, a commitment to social justice, civil rights and economic growth. It is also my job to encourage those new Democrats to take an active role in the party.
A hotly contested primary always encourages voters to register with a party, and this year Connecticut Democrats are blessed with two excellent presidential candidates.
The Barack Obama event in Hartford yesterday evening was extraordinary, I think. The last time I was at the Hartford Civic Center it was for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Well, last night it was just as crowded. I heard from someone that the place holds about 16,000, and I think every seat was filled.
First, we heard from three of our congressional delegates -- John Larson, Chris Murphy and our own Rosa DeLauro -- all of whom have endorsed Sen. Obama. Congresswoman DeLauro introduced Caroline Kennedy, who took the stage with her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and Sen. Obama. Caroline Kennedy explained the reasons she decided -- unusual for her -- to endorse Sen. Obama, quoting from her recent New York Times article: "I never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president, Barack Obama."
As one of those who was inspired by her father, those words hold great meaning for me.
Sen. Kennedy gave a marvelous speech. He seems to be gaining energy from this campaign. Then Sen. Obama spoke, for well over half an hour.
He challenged the audience to join him in changing our country for the better. He made promises, but some -- like his promise to provide assistance to allow more people the chance to attend college -- included a requirement of public service, to earn that college aid. The crowd was as diverse an audience as I have seen at a Connecticut political event. And certainly one of the largest.
February 4, 2008
It seems that Mike Iezzi didn't bother to read my letter to the editor, or at least not very carefully. If he had, he might have chosen to address the issues that I raised, rather than re-fight last year's mayoral race. Apparently, he is still shaken by the fact that Hamden voters rejected his mayoral candidate and virtually every member of the Republican Party's slate.
Mike ignored the implications of a political party funding an attack piece by a nominally non-partisan organization. He did address one point, the fact that the majority of HART's contributions came from outside of Hamden. He wrote, "Perhaps many individuals contributed who do not live in Hamden but may own property or a business here."
No, Mike. According to the records, none of the contributors own a business here. Maybe you'd like to guess again?
I am supporting Barack Obama for president. I think we Democrats are most fortunate to have two highly qualified finalists in the competition for the 2008 nomination. However, there are several reasons I encourage fellow Democrats to vote for Barack Obama.
The primary reason is because he is more electable than Hillary Clinton. He seems to have the ability to attract more votes from unaffiliated voters than does Hillary. Though Hillary has many people who passionately support her, there are also many who would NEVER vote for her. Her "high negatives" (somewhere in the range of 40 percent or more ) will make it difficult for her to have the kind of general election victory that is needed in order to get a margin of "60 plus" in the Senate and pass progressive legislation.
I believe Barack Obama has a better chance to lead the ticket to a working majority in the Senate.
I was impressed by the civilized and informational debate that Barack and Hillary had in Los Angeles this past week. It made clear that they are in agreement on far more issues than where they differ. However, I believe Barack has a superior position regarding Bush's war in Iraq. Barack opposed this war from the beginning. It seems that Hillary has tried to have it both ways. Unlike John Edwards, she is unwilling to admit that her initial vote in favor of the authorization for using military force in Iraq was a mistake. She opposed the Levin Resolution, which would have required President Bush to seek Congressional authorization if the United Nations refused to send in inspectors again. In 2007, Hillary supported the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, which declared that part of the Iranian military was a terrorist organization. She should have known from her "experience" that it is unwise to give Bush-Cheney what amounts to a blank check.
I believe Barack Obama has the judgment, experience and ability to inspire that should make him an outstanding president. He demonstrated his ability to make wise decisions by opposing back in October 2002 what he called a "dumb war" in Iraq.
I grew up in the Chicago area, and I know that Barack's eight years in the Illinois state Legislature gave him the experience necessary to work effectively with Congress. Though it isn't the U.S. Congress, I can say with certainty that the Illinois Legislature is far from a tea party, and to succeed as Barack did there requires the ability to work with legislators of all parties and backgrounds.
My wife and I have been inspired by the performance thus far of Barack Obama -- more so than we have been by any other politician since Bobby Kennedy. That is why I found Caroline Kennedy's column in last Sunday's New York Times to be so compelling, and why I encourage all Connecticut Democrats to vote for Barack Obama.
February 1, 2008
Iezzi Blasts McDonagh’s Blast
It is clear in his letter that he is still shaken by the fact that thousands of Hamden voters expressed their complete dismay due to the current tax situation in Hamden. It is obvious that he is also bothered by the fact that Ron Gambardella came within 651 votes of defeating a mayor who garnered the largest victory in town history, only two years previously.
The so-called “misleading" mailer Mr. McDonagh refers to is the one HART put out during the recent mayoral election, showing the tax increases many homes in Hamden have endured as well as the amount of money each household would have saved had the Democratic-controlled council and the Democratic mayor supported the phase-in proposed by Ron Gambardella.
I wonder which part of the mailer Mr. McDonagh is referring to as being untrue or misleading? Certainly it is not the part that accurately lists a Hamden Plains home suffering a 59 percent tax increase, or the home in Whitneyville which saw a tax increase of nearly 40 percent.
Perhaps he was referring to the home in the 8th District valued at $911,000, which showed the regressive nature of the tax increase by getting a $4,439 tax cut?
With the growing number of foreclosures in Hamden, and the countless homes now for sale all over our town, it looks quite obvious that many Hamden residents have endured enough. Many seniors cannot afford to stay here, and many families have decided to move away. With the huge wave of voters saying enough is enough in the past municipal election, Hamden has sent a clear message to the Democratic Party. We are growing tired of excuses and demand change.
A final point I wish to address is when Chairman McDonagh said, "How much of that (money raised by HART-PAC) came from Hamden residents? Less than half. I’m not sure why people from Bethany, Branford, Cheshire, New Haven, North Branford and Orange wanted to contribute to an organization whose focus was solely on Hamden. But they did."
While I am not speaking on behalf of HART, perhaps many individuals contributed who do not live in Hamden but may own property or a business here and have a vested interest in what is going on in our town.
In conclusion, I am not a member of HART. I do not serve in any capacity in its leadership, but I can tell you that this group is bipartisan. Hamden Alliance for Responsible Taxation does not seek to work with any political party; it supports individuals and causes. They, like any person or group, are entitled to express their views to town officials who are elected to represent their interests. HART’s mailer was accurate and reflects the reality that many Hamden taxpayers are facing.
We should encourage HART's participation in government. I welcome its ideas and commitment to the town of Hamden. It is time that we put political and personal agendas aside and work together to find solutions that will help solve the problems facing our town.
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