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OPINION




Letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or partners of Litchfield.bz. Letters to the editor must be 300 words or less. We reserve the right to edit and shorten the text. Please avoid CAPS, BOLD and underline for emphasis. We encourage letters providing positive solutions for current issues. Letters should be brief and refer to current or recent local events. Please include your full name, a street address and a daytime telephone number for verification; only the name and town will appear. Letters should be e-mailed to editor@Litchfield.bz 

 
To the Editor:
 
It seems that there is never a shortage of questions in the small town of Morris. I post these questions here, as I would not expect any answers from any of our elected officials.
 
1: Now that both First Selectman Tom Weik and Selectman Erica Dorsett-Matthews are both full members of the Morris Fire Company {per the MFC March minutes}, can we, the taxpayers, expect them to abstain or recuse themselves from any voting on MFC issues that are connected to town funding or policies? 
 
I believe this will not be the case and that this will only feed into what appears to be a tainted, self-serving, egotistical administration’s attempt to control more of what goes on in the town. 2019 is after all an election year.
 
2: After listening to MFC Charter member Richard Skilton eagerly urge all Morris residents to help the town and join the MFC, I find it rather discouraging that at the MFC March meeting the membership voted to not accept a certified interior firefighter {per MFC March minutes} who is capable of driving and operating each and every piece of equipment in the MFC firehouse. Has the need for qualified firefighters been filled in Morris, or is the need become something more?
 
Having served on the MVFD for 10 years, I have nothing but respect for the volunteers who put it on the line each and every time the tone goes off. I do not, however, have any respect for the handful of people who continually create situations for their own gain at other’s expense. It is too bad that an organization such as the MFC will ultimately pay for the actions of these few.
 
In the end, everyone in Morris will be left with the bill and still have no answers.
 
Kevin Deroehn
Morris
 
Editor’s note: Kevin Deroehn ran unsuccessfully for first selectman in 2017.
 
 
 
To the Editor:
 
I believe I am the third member of the Board of Finance, after Jim Stedronsky and Sky Post, recently to write to you about school issues. Although none of us necessarily reflects the views of our colleagues on the Board, my views on school regionalization largely do mirror those of Mr. Stedronsky as expressed in his letter. However, I would like to reinforce a few points.
 
School collaboration, consolidation, regionalization or whatever you call it, is not just the only means available to us to sustain our schools economically over the long term, given our ever declining population and the economic conditions of our region and of the state in general.
 
If I believed that continuing with our present school structure (heading toward 50 students in the senior class of the high school) was providing a substantially better education for these students than “regionalization”, I would be inclined to support the status quo as long as possible. However, there is simply no way to get a really good education with tiny classes of students with varying abilities.
 
Right now the high school has very few AP classes with more than 8 or 10 students and very few classes at all with more than 20 students. Critical masses of good students in a class are largely unobtainable and course offerings are necessarily limited. Creating a larger student body by joining with WAMOGO or some other district would certainly help address these and other quality of education issues as well as save money with one administration with fewer personnel and probably fewer teachers.
 
Yes there would be some disadvantages including loss of the “local control” and some longer rides to/from school. (Note, however, that with all the Federal and State mandates, local control has been substantially eroded anyway.) Another disadvantage alluded to above-which is the flipside of greater efficiency-is the loss of some jobs for the school administration and the teachers.
 
One can hardly expect these groups to promote regionalization any more than a company employee would promote a merger of his employer with another company. However, this is where the Board of Education must assert itself. While of course the BOE should be supportive of the administration and the teachers, it has greater responsibilities to do what’s best for the students and to the taxpayers to avoid ever higher property taxes especially given the declining or stagnant property values in the Litchfield area. 
 
As Mr. Stedronsky points out, the present majority of the Board of Education has shown no enthusiasm for any movement toward regionalization. It appears to want to continue with the present structure until the bitter end. And, if we don’t start to control developments now, there will be a bitter end.
 
Either the taxpayers will rebel or the state will require regionalization on its terms, as Mr. Stedronsky stated. Therefore, this November changes in the composition of the BOE are critical to making real progress toward better and more fiscally responsible schools.
 
Richard Quay
 
Editor’s note: Richard Quay is a member of the Litchfield Board of Finance, but his views do not necessarily reflect those of the other members of the board.
 
 
To the Editor: 

The issues that are relevant to our schools should be of interest to all in this town. Refer to the opinion piece “A Tale of Two Districts.”  Change is likely to come on us from many fronts, including the state of Connecticut.

We should make every effort to become informed on this subject including the time horizon.  It is a work in process and is pretty messy with input from many sources.  As a member of the Board of Finance I will make a strong effort to become informed. 

Sky Post
 
 
To the Editor:
 
A Tale of Two Districts……
 
Last Tuesday evening I heard the budget report which Region 6 Superintendent, Chris Leone, gave to Morris.  He informed the Morris taxpayers that there was an operating surplus of over $350,000 from last year, and, for the second year in a row, the operating budget for 2019-2020 will have zero increase on the total assessment to the three towns in the district. 
 
The next night I attended the budget meeting of Litchfield’s Board of Education.   The Litchfield BOE approved a budget with an approximate 5-percent increase.   That’s’ approximately an increase of $1 million. 
 
Leaving, the Litchfield BOE budget meeting, I decided to announce my candidacy for Litchfield’s Board of Education in this fall’s elections. I’ve been thinking about this for several months.
 
Over the past year I have attended, on behalf of the Board of Finance, many of the BOE’s regular meetings along with meetings of its finance, curriculum and school collaboration sub-committees.   Great progress was being made on collaborating with Wamogo.   At the board level negotiations with Wamogo were expertly handled by John Morosani.  At the administrative level, the Litchfield business manager, David Fiorillo was regularly working with his counterpart at Wamogo.  And at the educational level, Superintendent Turner and her staff made real progress coordinating with Wamogo on educational and extra-curricular matters. 
 
Unfortunately, this progress has been slowed down because the Board’s newly appointed Long Range Planning Committee has not yet been charged to continue its work with Wamogo.  Hopefully this will be done at the BOE’s next meeting. Two Board liaisons, David Pavlick and Frank Simone, are attending Region 6 Board meetings to facilitate collaborations between the boards, but, as I’ve been told, not to discuss the merging of schools. Also, as many of you have read, the state is starting a serious campaign to merge school districts. If we don’t start taking action now on our terms, the state will force us to do so on their terms. 
 
Now it is fully time that both districts, Litchfield and Region 6, hire one administrative and business office with one superintendent to run both districts.  First, it is a waste to have two such sets of offices for our small, similar districts.  Second, a joint office can immediately start the important work of merging our middle and high schools.  It should not take more than one year for a joint administrative office to work out the details for such a merger.  This joint office should be open June 1, 2020 at the latest.   We should merge our middle and high schools no later than the fall of 2021.
 
If elected, it will be all but certain that there will a majority of BOE members focused on merging our upper schools.   The job will finally get done:  one great middle and high school offering our students opportunities they now do not have. 
 
As always, please inform me of your thoughts on this important local matter. 
 
James Stedronsky
 
(Editor’s note: James Stedronsky serves on Litchfield’s Board of Finance, but his views on school regionalization do not necessarily reflect those of his colleagues on the board.)
 
 
To the Editor:
Commercial truck parking, ongoing for free at Bantam Annex since last summer, “is a consistent practice” that was allowed at Litchfield Firehouse previously, according to Litchfield selectman Jeff Zullo. First Selectman Leo Paul concurred: “The agreement is the same we have done for years,” i.e. a commercial company featuring heavy trucks is allowed free parking on town-owned property simply because they’re doing work in the area (2/5/19 BOS minutes).
In fact, Bantam Planning & Zoning (P&Z) officials did not receive an application for a required special exception use permit from the trucks’ owners, Eversource contractor LewisTree Service. Instead, Mr. Paul and Public Works Director Raz Alexe were “contacted about the safety and legitimacy of Lewis Tree parking there … There is a non-written agreement with Eversource and Lewis Tree [and] no monetary benefit” (minutes). Why not? Why did town officials approve free commercial parking against our own land use regulations? The BOS needs to provide better answers than *it’s been done that way in the past,* which only serves to shed light on officials’ ongoing financial irresponsibility.
Below is financial information re: Lewis Tree and Eversource:
Lewis is the second largest tree service company in North America. Top executives at such companies earn about $1.5 million per year (Bloomberg Research).
The Eversource CEO earns $9 million annually. Several other executives at Eversource earn well over $2 million per year (salary.com).
The Eversource standard offer rate is increasing almost 19 percent from 8.53 cents to 10.14 cents per kilowatt hour” (WTIC 2019).
Connecticut residents pay the highest electricity rates among all 48 continental states” (U.S. Energy Information Administration)  
Clearly, Eversource charges consumers ever-increasing rates, the highest in the nation, not only to cover the cost of operations but also enough to pay executives million$ per year. Yet Paul, Alexe and BOS allow an Eversource contractor free parking at a time when Litchfield is $26M in debt and scheduled to pay millions more this year to repair the Annex, current town hall and other neglected town buildings. Instead of requiring Lewis Tree to adhere to town regulations and pay the town, officials had taxpayers fully fund repair of Annex potholes, worsened and hastened by Lewis’ heavy trucks. The BOS’ generosity to millionaire executives while sending taxpayers the bill is stunning and needs to be reversed.
Instead of focusing on developing new revenue sources, officials continue to charge the Town Hall Review Committee with making recommendations for a new town hall or renovations/ additions that will only increase the tax burden on residents. The town needs to review the cost of repairing and maintaining all our buildings and decide on consolidation vs. selling vs. demolition, while working to enhance revenue. Such efforts are needed immediately at a time when residents are exiting Litchfield and leaving behind a graying population, half-empty buildings requiring millions of dollars to repair, and lax leadership that refuses to charge millionaire executives for commercial use of town-owned property.
Sincerely,
Betsy Glassman

 
Dear Editor,
 
To everyone who works at Litchfield BZ, please accept my sincere condolences on the passing of Doug Parker. Litchfield BZ has been a much loved life line for me since I moved to New Hampshire in September 2012.  My late husband Tom and I lived on Cathole Road for 50 years and were very involved in Litchfield life.  I
volunteered with Doug at the Red Cross blood mobiles. 
 
Sincerely,
Barbara Francis
 
 
 
Dear Editor,
 
I just read about Doug Parker's passing!!!!  That is so very sad to hear! He was an excellent man to be the BZ's editor and chief public communicator!!!!!

Sincerely,
T. Dennie Williams
 
 
 
To Dennie Williams:
 
Huh? What earlier letter are you referring to? Evidently Choate and Middlebury didn’t learn you about irony, among the literary and sub-literary devices that keep editors and readers begging for more. And then there’s sarcasm.
 
Not to mention humor . . .
 
As ever,
Paul Mordecai Rosenberg
 
P.S.: We’ll all miss Doug Parker. But no doubt John McKenna will carry on in Doug’s tradition and memory.
 
 
  
Dear Editor,
 
Paul Mordecai Rosenberg's comments in his recent letter to the editor praising Donald Trump appear to be conflicting with his earlier letter.  He now says: "He alone kept us out of a hot war with North Korea. Not only should he be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the ignominious tradition of Albert Gore Jr and Barack Obama, but he should be canonized without delay."  
 
As I wrote earlier: "I did not have a hard time understanding Paul Mordecai Rosenberg's use of the word "ignominious" to describe Trump in Paul's letter to the editor.."   And, Trump has definitely not solved our serious problems with the threat North Korea poses to peace. In fact, he is now having even delays meeting with the country's leader. When Trump does, we will see whether he goes anywhere from the deadly threat North Korea still poses with its deadly hidden bombs. 
 
Sincerely,
T. Dennie Williams
Litchfield
 
 
To the Editor:
 
I have followed local, state and federal government activities as a news and investigative reporter, and as an interested Native American reader for well over five decades. During that period of time, I have never observed such a disgraceful so called national leader or politician as President Donald Trump in my professional news experience, or as one who has followed these affairs as a concerned citizen.
 
So I did not have a hard time understanding Paul Mordecai Rosenberg's use of the word "ignominious" to describe Trump in Paul's letter to the editor. Yes, this resident of the the high office is, as defined in the dictionary with that word, as "discreditable; humiliating and deserving of contempt." SEE https://www.dictionary.com/browse/ignominious

Sincerely
T. Dennie Williams
Litchfield
 
 
To the Editor of Litchfield.bz:
 
Bless Donald Trump. He alone kept us out of a hot war with North Korea. Not only should he be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the ignominious tradition of Albert Gore Jr. and Barack Obama, but he should be canonized without delay. 
 
And I’d love to be the Devil’s Advocate . . .
 
Yours faithfully,
Paul Mordecai Rosenberg
Litchfield
 
 
Cable TV rates out of control
Are you fed up with constant cable TV rates going up with no way to stop it?
 
Cable companies have raised rates once or twice a year on set top boxes, sports surcharges and Broadcaster surcharges that have no benefit to us. They raise our monthly payments and fill cables greedy pockets. Remember that these are monopolies and we cannot get services from any other supplier than the one connected to our home. The only alternative suppliers are Frontier that uses old phone lines for data or satellite services that have low speed for video and data with data speeds cut after you used your allotted bandwidth for the month I am happy to say that there is now a proposed bill (6421) in the CT house to create regulations on the rates.
 
There are a few other things that cable has done to make more money at our expense. Cable has quietly moved TV signal off standard TV video transport that had FCC regulations and quality standards for and moved them on pure data transport that has absolutely no regulations or quality requirements. They have loaded the transport more each year and the signals to the home have been lowered to the point that you can now see video freeze, pixilation and audio issues. Note: a home that had perfectly good cables for TV signal on RF cables will not work under the new data loading and Cable can send their techs in and charge you to fix your home wiring. Great way to get each home owner to pay Cable for the problem created by cable companies.
 
Please contact your CT representatives and support this.
 
Stephen Simonin
Northfield