There I was, minding my own business, strolling across the street to get my mail and wondering how I was going to manage to pay any more bills when . . . Surprise! Surprise! There in my box was another complimentary copy of our illustrious new hometown news source, the Bethany Beacon! How could one small town be so lucky as to get a double dose of so much toxic venom in one month?
I checked the front page to see if this one was clearly labeled with the organization and the treasurer paying for the campaign literature and was not disappointed – Nope! It was, yet again, printed on the very back page, on the bottom, in tiny point lettering. It was, yet again, illegally impersonating a real newspaper (and yet again I have already printed out the paperwork to file my second complaint with the State Election Enforcement Commission.) If there is one thing we have all learned from this election, it is NOT illegal to lie in campaign literature, but it is illegal to try to camouflage said campaign propaganda by not labeling it thusly.
I couldn’t bring myself to read the entire piece of “literature” because I find the nastiness of the tone so upsetting. I’ve lived in Bethany for 15 years and have never seen anything like this. Hell, as a journalist I’ve covered elections in Milford, Stratford, Hamden . . . seriously politically contentious cities . . . and I’ve never experienced anything quite as vicious as what the Republicans are doing this election season. What ever happened to running on your merits? Your accomplishments? Your qualifications? Your ability to trash your opposition with nasty half-truths? Oh wait, they’ve got that covered . . .
Despite my reservations I perused the front page during lunch (again, a front page devoid of the appropriate identifying information) and almost choked on my spinach salad.
The headline read, “Working to Obtain Transparency of Town Finances.” Did they really want to go there? Once again they are trying to accuse First Selectman Derrylyn Gorski of hiding, embezzling, misappropriating, or whatever, state grant money awarded to us to build a highly anticipated community center that a bipartisan committee has devoted THOUSANDS OF HOURS to bring to our town. A completed investigation cleared Gorski of any wrongdoing and firmly stated that she didn’t have to give the Republican selectmen or the town treasurer access to any of it. Which was cool, because here’s what was happening behind the scenes and the reason the funds had to be kept separate.
At a BOS (Board of Selectmen) meeting, the Republican selectmen stated that they had no intention of ever signing any checks made out to any vendors involved with the airport hangar project, of which they do not approve. They then followed up with an email to Gorski emphasizing their intentions. Because for some reason they don’t feel we deserve a community center (you know, like every other town has) they planned to stall the entire project. By then, they had already refused to sign other checks and held up payments to town vendors, causing quite a bit of embarrassment for everyone; they weren’t bluffing. The selectmen had proven more than capable of holding town money hostage.
At this point, you may still be wondering why our first selectman didn’t race right down to the bank to give away signing privileges to anyone who wanted them . . . but I hope not . . .
I’m not sure why the Republican selectmen take such issue with Bethany having nice things that are paid for by grant money. Whatever party you belong to, the truth is we have a first selectman who knows how to write for grants and get them. Grants are FREE MONEY. The Republicans keep making snarky comments about Gorski’s “pet projects,” such as the playground and the hangar. Someone has yet to explain to me . . . why the hell don’t Bethany resident deserve these things, paid for with FREE MONEY, maintained by the public works department whose job it is to do this, anyways (it’s not like they had to hire any extra people to babysit a playground 24-7.) We use the new pavilion! We use the playground! We use Lakeview Lodge! And we will use the community center when it’s done!
But here’s what really irks me – I know, you thought I’d already spewed that out . . . but . . . no . . .
The residents of Bethany voted to approve the hangar project at a town meeting, with the stipulation that it not be started until the majority of the funding was in place. The STEAP grants kept coming, the funding was complete, THE STATE HAD ALREADY APPROVED THE PROJECT AND THE VENDORS. The facility was going to be built at no cost to the town . . . and despite the will of the townspeople and the state which funded the project, the Republican selectmen were going to deny payments . . . LEGAL AND NECESSARY PAYMENTS . . . to the vendors doing this service for our town. I mean, it’s not like anyone was going to sue the crap out of Bethany to get their money and cost us even more than what the referendum did (see previous blogs.)
I dunno. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m a little overly sensitive in my menopausal years. But if you want to get snarky about transparency with the town’s money, well, there’s a little more transparency for you!
But enough of this – I’m going to feed my horses and then take a walk up to the airport grounds and admire our new community center as it grows before our very eyes. I voted for it, you know . . . oh yeah, all of us did . . .