As the editor of the Bethany Bulletin, former editor to the Bethwood Patch and former contributor to the Amity Observer, I have followed town politics for years because of my work. Aside from that, I am not a remotely political person. However, I try very hard to be an honest person, and when I see dishonesty, especially on the part of people whom we count on to be truthful, I am appalled. The Bethany Beacon, our new fake town newspaper, arrived in my mailbox and while I normally toss campaign literature without reading it, the newspaper format upset me . . . I didn’t want anyone thinking I had anything to do with it as I do edit the legitimate town newsletter. Aside from being dishonest, it was also done illegally as according to state statute any multipage campaign literature must be clearly marked on its face with the organization and the name of the treasurer. This information was located in minuscule print on the bottom of the back page, which, along with a fake Letter to the Editor, seemed designed to deceive residents into believing this was actually NEWS. So, using all of my accumulated knowledge from attending meetings and reviewing meeting notes over the years, here is the actual truth about the content of our new and illustrious town newspaper, the Bethany Beacon. Follow along at home if you didn’t use your copy to line your bird cages, and I will start with the front page headline:
Voters say “NO” to Higher Taxes
Misleading Headline – Should have been “Voters said “No” to desperately needed road repairs . . . by accident”
This is the article that tries to say the Republican selectmen saved us scads of money by calling for a referendum, reducing the budget increase from 4.5% to 1.8%. But here’s the truth:
The junior selectmen voted for a referendum one week before the Town Meeting without notifying the Republican controlled Board of Finance, their own people. The budget failed the vote and went back to the BOF to be reduced. Most things in the budget are fixed or essential expenses and couldn’t be touched except for the roads budget. The previous year the town had been part of a pilot project for road pavement management which was presented at the town meeting. Residents spoke in favor of the work and the funding. Every vote to spend the money was an “Aye”. And then – all of this work and promise was completely undone by the last-minute referendum, which forced the BOF to ax the roads funds. The referendum vote had nothing to do with saving tax money and everything to do with losing badly-needed road repairs.
Bethany Needs Solutions, Not Excuses
Anyone who attends Bethany’s BOF meetings and town meetings knows we don’t exactly have a fat budget. Most of the boards and committees are submitting flat budgets as it is. The town had no control over the increase last year as most of it came from increased enrollment of Bethany students entering the Amity school system. Debt service can’t be touched. As the BOF found last year, the only place to cut the budget was roads, and RESIDENTS ARE AGAINST THAT! But because the budget hacking was done at a BOF meeting and not a town meeting we lost our say.
TAXPAYERS PAY FOR AIRPORT HANGAR PROJECT
This would be funny, except it’s not. The town didn’t have to pay for the removal of contaminated soil because of the community center. They had to pay for it because IT HAD TO BE DONE REGARDLESS. The hangar was condemned and had to come down. When they removed the cement slab they discovered that two administrations ago, gas tanks had been removed and the area wasn’t remediated, leaving contaminated soil. WITH OR WITHOUT THE REBUILD THE SOIL HAD TO BE REMOVED. Period. Exclamation point. WTH?
Road Repair Money Used for Airport
Here’s the continuation of the misleading “Taxpayers Paying for Hangar” headline, except this one is a flat-out lie. Like, pants-on-fire lie. The money for the removal of the soil came from the contingency fund, which, had the selectmen paid attention at the BOS meeting where it was discussed, they might have remembered. The engineering costs came out of the “Consulting Engineer” line item in the budget. The road budget wasn’t touched, it had already shrunk dramatically because the Republican selectmen forced a referendum, not because of the airport hangar.
Smart Budgeting to Support Students
Well, everyone likes this idea, except the school board is completely separate and the selectmen don’t have a lot to say about it, aside from requesting the BOE budget be kept as low as possible. After that, it’s all up to the school board members. The townspeople voted against an addition to the building and that ended that – none of the selectmen had anything to do with it.
Improving Town Services While Saving Money
About four years ago Derrylyn Gorski looked into curbside recycling and found it would cost the taxpayers a half mill in taxes, which was pretty steep. There is now a bipartisan committee working to find a remedy. Don Shea is a really nice guy, but he’s only one of a group doing the work. Claiming so much credit for the efforts of many is . . . tacky.
Preserving Open Space
Here is where they accuse the first selectwoman of trying to bring high-density housing to town. The story is this – years ago a private, non-profit organization was looking to build affordable senior housing in town near the airport. Because it was private and there would have been no federal regulations, it would have been legal to restrict it to Bethany residents or relatives of Bethany residents. A bipartisan committee including residents who lived near the site was organized to study it. There were problems with the septic, so it was never even presented. But – if you claim you want to take care of Bethany’s seniors, providing affordable housing for them is not a bad place to start . . . nor a bad use of a little open space . . . oh yes, and for the record, the only high density housing project in town, Green Haven, was approved by the Republican led P&Z. Which is fine by me – I kinda liked the idea.
Gorski Resigns as Leader of CMED
This one is kind of fun. CMED is an organization of 18 towns who all pay for emergency services response – when you call 911 that’s who puts the patch through. New Haven and West Haven had threatened to withdraw from the group, which meant as some of the largest users who paid the most money into it, the remaining budget would not be sufficient to provide services to the other towns. Since it appears that CMED may no longer be able to provide 911 services to Bethany, it makes no sense for Gorski to continue to donate her time to them. The “article” tries to infer that Derry Gorski was somehow responsible for the demise of the organization. Wildly misleading – like everything else in this “newspaper.”
And there you have it. My intention is not to be nasty – I like everyone involved, and I believe they are good people. But . . . if you run for public office you should base your campaign on ideals and ideas, maybe even offer a PLAN or two. I don’t know whose idea this was or who wrote the copy for it, but I saw none of that in the Bethany Beacon. The only apparent plan was to spread as many lies about the opposition as possible, displaying a total lack of integrity, and worse – the Beacon was an insult to the intelligence of every member of this community in its assumption that we would actually believe all that crap.
There are still a few weeks left in this campaign; I hope this was the last piece of campaign literature of this kind. PLEASE let it be he last. Far too many of us were embarrassed to see this degree of maliciousness happening in our beloved Bethany.