Kelly: GOP Should Stick to Issues

by Tom Kelly

I'm writing in response to TRTC Chairman Jack Testani's recent letter questioning Mary Beth Thornton holding a fund raiser at Testo's Restaurant in Bridgeport.

Mr. Testani says it's "unsettling" that Ms. Thornton "had to go to Bridgeport" to hold her first fundraiser. It's amazing to me that with so many important issues facing Trumbull, Mr. Testani focuses on a non-starter like where a fundraiser was held.

Indeed, some of the issues, such as a regional sewer authority, new sewer contract, and magnet school construction/land swap rely on working effectively with the City of Bridgeport. Yet Mr. Testani and the Republicans seem to throw Bridgeport under the bus at every opportunity.

It seems that Mr. Testani thinks that making reference to Bridgeport will somehow scare Trumbull voters. Also, Mr. Testani was so busy criticizing Ms. Thornton for holding a fundraiser in Bridgeport that he forgot to mention that candidate Tim Herbst held one of his political fundraisers in 2009 at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in....you guessed it...Bridgeport.

What is really "unsettling" is that Mr. Testani seems to not recognize that he is the pot calling the kettle black. So it seems clear what the Republican strategy is for the 2011 campaign. Thus far, they have waged negative attacks against Ms. Thornton and have avoided discussing the Herbst record and issues of vital interest to the Town of Trumbull.

I don't think Trumbull voters want to hear such negativity from the Republican Party. If they are so proud of their record, why not run on it and stop the petty (and hypocritical) attacks? Let's talk about the issues, Mr. Testani.

For starters, can you tell Trumbull voters why Mr. Herbst deprived Trumbull residents of witnessing the transition of power when he chose to be sworn in at 12:01 a.m. in his parents' home? Can you tell us why he didn't give the outgoing First Selectman the courtesy of letting him know he was no longer First Selectman? Can you tell us why Mr. Herbst asked an armed police officer to escort a community leader out of a Town Council meeting in front of his children?

Can you tell us if these two examples of Mr. Herbst's decisions indicate mature decision-making? Can you tell us how and why the deal with Bridgeport regarding the magnet school that would have meant millions of dollars to Trumbull fell apart? Can you tell us where the First Selectman stands on Sewer Regionalization? Can you tell us where he stands on the relocation of the Nature Center? Can you tell us where he stands on the 173-foot cell tower that is scheduled to be built in a residential neighborhood?

These, and many more issues, are what Trumbull voters are interested in. Please stop with the nonsensical attacks on Ms. Thornton and focus on things that are meaningful to the future of Trumbull. Thank you.

Tom Kelly

Tom Kelly August 04, 2011 at 10:09 PM
Ms. Penkoff, if you want to attack me, go right ahead, I won't get upset. But I will not let you try to illegitimize the importance of what happened on the night that Mr. Collins was escorted from the Town Council chambers. Why did Mr. Herbst station an armed Trumbull Police Officer right in the doorway of a Town Council meeting regarding a SWIMMING POOL? Did he expect the citizenry to get out of hand over a pool? Or was it to demonstrate his power, and an attempt to intimidate the citizens? Are you stating that you believe it is OK for an armed police officer to escort a dedicated community volunteer who has headed up youth swimming programs in this town for more than a decade? In front of his children? Yes, I was there. All he did was ask to speak. Was he out of order? Yes. Was that grounds for that public display of force? Absolutely not. This is Trumbull, in the United States, a free country and we are proud of our freedoms, particularly the right to freedom of speech. Men and women have died to protect that freedom. This is not Cuba, or China, or Iran. Mr. Herbst should have let the Chairman of the Town Council handle the matter. THAT's WHY HE HAS A GAVEL. But on Mr. Herbst's order, the Trumbull Police Officer removed the community volunteer. It was then, and remains today, one of the most disgraceful acts I have witnessed and it is one of the low points of Mr. Herbst's administration. I think that all elected officials should repudiate that action.
Bill Holden August 04, 2011 at 11:07 PM
Perhaps the police office was armed because on-duty officers are ALWAYS armed. Perhaps there ws an expectation that the meeting could be disrupted by the audience based upon the prior behavior of certain individuals.? (yes, these pool supporters were very passionate about forcing everyone to pay for their activity.) Wasn't the individual asked to display proper decorum and he refused, rerpeatedly? The right to the Council floor does not extend to anyone except a Council member, except during a public hearing. While not common, on-duty police officers have been assigned to attend the Council in the past.
Bill Holden August 04, 2011 at 11:18 PM
I neglected to mention: go to the state legislature or US Congress and try to assert your supposed right to free speech. See how long it takes the state or capital police to escort your sorry self out of the building, without them even being requested to do so. And, an arrest is usually the result, not just removal from the building.
Afreedman2011 August 04, 2011 at 11:28 PM
Funny how these things didn't occur in Trumbull until young Timothy became the FS. You never know when these pool supporters will get violent right? Maybe they're packing heat in their Speedos.
Bill Holden August 04, 2011 at 11:36 PM
Well, when the pool supporters were getting what they wanted from the big spenders, they had no reason to get angry... a cool $5 million all at local expense, no state funding.
Tom Kelly August 04, 2011 at 11:45 PM
It is amazing that the Republicans continue to defend the indefensible. I was there. We are talking about a community leader, who has dedicated thousands of hours to this town to run the youth swim programs. We are talking about someone who is widely respected. He was not warned repeatedly. He asked to speak and was told no, and asked to speak again and he was removed. It was, in my opinion, an unnecessary show of force and completely uncalled for in our town. And our Republican Registrar of Voters defends it to this day?
trumbulite09 August 05, 2011 at 12:30 AM
Okay so I wasn't at the meeting where the citizen was escorted out but the behavior of the town council this season has been absolutely horrific. I've been to many of them and can completely understand why a citizen could get frustrated and want to speak. I was at the one when after all the citizens spokes, the committee took a break and than voted on insurance as we now find out was illegal. I was also at the meeting when after all of the people spoke one Republican and I think it was Ken Smith but am not familiar with everyone, decides he wants so reinstate 1 para for 1 school just because two people supported that specific para. Even when no one else knew this would even be an option. So before you escort citizens out and publicy put them down like you are so good at doing, look in the mirror and see your own behavior. I am horrified that the Republican party thinks a candidate like Cindy with no higher educaiton or experience is qualified to make decisions on my childrens behalf.
trumbulite09 August 05, 2011 at 12:36 AM
Mr. Holden - your comments are the reason this administration is ruling like dictators. This is not Hartford, it is not US Congress. It is a small town where we are all neighbors. An unarmed citizen, tax paying resident, that volunteers his time with the town, someone people know is not a physical threat to anyone, should not be escorted from a meeting by a policeman, armed or not armed. Do you really want Trumbull behavior to be the same as the US Congress???? Didn't they already embarrass the nation throughout the world?
Tom Kelly August 05, 2011 at 12:43 AM
I am going to take back my reference to the "Republicans" in this case, because now that I recall, most of the Republicans I spoke to that night were equally horrified that the First Selectman ordered the police to remove such a pillar of the community. There were only a few who supported that type of public display of power. This meeting is on videotape, and that videotape will verify that Mr. Collins said nothing disrespectful at any time, he was simply asking to speak. And Mr. Holden, the pool supporters were not asking everyone to pay for their activity. That evening, many were making the argument that the pool could be a source of revenue for the town and through user fees, it could actually pay for itself and make money for the town. There were comparisons to the golf course. When millions were spent on the new 9 hole golf course, no one was stationing police officers at the door of the Council chambers. This is Trumbull, Mr. Herbst. Not the Soviet Union, or North Korea.
Bill Holden August 05, 2011 at 01:14 AM
How much revenue was a pool projected to bring in? Was any study conducted? Were the supporters just speculating that say, $50 or $100K of annual revenue could be realized? If $100K, how many years would it take to pay off the bonding? And what were the annual operating expenses? The golf course expansion has had no impact on taxes.
Afreedman2011 August 05, 2011 at 01:22 AM
Holden you are really giving the Trumbull populace reason to vote for your boy. Could you be more antagonistic?
Bill Holden August 05, 2011 at 01:43 AM
What are you referring to...a comparison of a golf course expansion which has not cost anything vs a pool which might bring in some revenue? Tim is no one's "boy." Should anyone refer to Mrs. Thornton as your "girl?"
Bill Holden August 05, 2011 at 01:45 AM
typo correction..."expansion which has not cost taxpayers anything."
CTPati August 05, 2011 at 02:08 AM
Pot meet kettle! You could hardly be more "antagonistic" in your bitter partisanship as displayed in your abundant posts insulting the FS and other Republicans and conservatives. It is quite infrequent that you post anything not designed to insult them; and many are slanderous and totally beyond the pale.
Tom Kelly August 05, 2011 at 02:19 AM
Bill, the point of this wasn't the merits of the pool. But yes, the pool proponents had the financials from another pool in another town in CT that was self-sufficient and even made revenues for the town. And the vote was not an up and down on whether to build the pool, it was simply to find out how much it would cost to build so a cost-benefit analysis could be made versus repairing the Hillcrest Pool. But the point here is whether it's OK to have community leaders and volunteers removed by armed police officers in front of their children. You are entitled to your opinion, and I won't dispute that. I think it's an awful thing to do. That's not the kind of town I want to live in. I don't agree with a lot of what you say, Bill, but I will darn sure defend your right to say it. You should never feel like your right to free speech is in danger, and you should not be intimidated, thrown out of a meeting by the police, or threatened in any way.
Cindy Katske August 05, 2011 at 02:43 AM
And speaking of the pool, let's not forget that Tim Herbst unilaterally decided to fix the HIllcrest pool, getting no bids, involving neither the Board of Finance nor Town Council and thus having no oversight whatsoever, paying dozens of hours of overtime pay so a small number of residents would not have to miss a few weeks of swimming. There was zero transparency and zero checks and balances in that misuse of power. It was another low point in the Herbst administration.
CTPati August 05, 2011 at 03:04 AM
It is sad that several posters on Trumbull Patch continue to nurse their grievances over the past. It's like they are opening up a scab over a scratch to try to create some sympathy. Good grief! You spend dozens of hours rehashing this stuff, as IF it is going to make any difference in Nov., when maybe 1/3 of 1 % of Trumbull residents even read Patch!!
Tom Kelly August 05, 2011 at 03:13 AM
Well, if that's the case, CT Pati, you should examine your own posts. You seem to devote a lot of passion and you pay attention to detail in your posts, all for such a small audience. I applaud you nonetheless for advocating for what you believe, even if they are meaningless and insignificant due to lack of readership. By the way, I am pretty confident that you are the most prolific poster on PATCH, by far.
CTPati August 06, 2011 at 06:00 AM
While most Trumbull Patch posters seem *obsessed* with Trumbull politics, I post so "prolific[ally]" on PATCH" because I care so much about all Americans' future--and the very survival of our nation as that of FREE people! I have been hoping to awaken some people to the fact that while they are obsessing about Tim Herbst their futures are being STOLEN by incompetent politicians in Hartford and D.C. When I see or read about the closed restaurants, stores, and other businesses (or those relocating to other states) I often want to cry, because of all the millions of Americans who can no longer support their families. And this is all so needless--if we had not had a giant Ponzi scheme of entitlements, PORK, and "stimulus" spending run up by INCOMPETENT and/or CORRUPT career politicians (of both parties)!! Instead, it now looks like there may be no way back to any semblance of the prosperous country we used to live in. "Thank you Mr. Obama" "In scenes reminiscent of the Great Depression these are the ramshackle homes of the desperate and destitute U.S. families who have set up their own 'Tent City' only an hour from Manhattan. More than 50 homeless people have joined the community within New Jersey's forests as the economic crisis has wrecked their American dream. "And as politicians in Washington trade blows over their country's £8.8 trillion debt, the prospect of more souls joining this rag tag group grows by the day."... http://dissectleft.blogspot.com/
Tom Kelly August 06, 2011 at 02:10 PM
CTPati, I don't agree with much of what you say, but I know you are a good person and I respect the passion of your beliefs. I mean this very sincerely. I, too, feel horrible when I see closed storefronts, or people out of work. When you see despair in people, when people lose hope, it is particularly sad, especially when it affects children. Where you and I differ is I will not point the finger of blame at one President or one party. It wasn't "PBO" who began the shift in culture towards greed and profits. "Yuppies" and this trend emerged in the 80's, although I won't blame it on "PRR" either. But that's when our culture started to change. It became "OK" for employees to be laid off and that trend became accepted. It became "OK" for companies to move much of their operations offshore and give those jobs to lesser paid workers. Some of those jobs went to countries with no wage laws or child labor laws or environmental protection. For this very reason, it is very likely that most of the clothes you own and most of the TV's, radios, and appliances in your house were made in other countries, much of it from China. More than 40% of cars sold in this country are made by foreign auto companies. And my family has two Jettas, so I guess I am part of that problem myself. At any rate, I choose to try to solve this problem by finding common ground. President Obama inherited the worst economic times since the Great Depression. He's only been President for 2 1/2 years.
Mark E Smith August 06, 2011 at 02:30 PM
I was right behind Mr. Collins and it was quite correct for him to be escorted out. He wanted to impose his will over the whole forum in an inappropriate manner that was disruptive. As for a police officer removing himl, who else should have? That is what they are paid to do. Would you have someone from the Parks department stand security? I don't think their union would like that. The Police officer was professional, quiet and quite accomodating. There was no force, again it happened right in front of me. Mr. Collins had his opportunity to speak just like anyone else, what gave him the right to cause a disruption in that meeting? The Question still remains why does Ms. Thornton want to build a Pool in this economy with so many out of work? See what the U.S. Credit rating is today? Did you see what the Stock Markets did this week? Did you see Unemployment is still above 9%?
Tom Kelly August 06, 2011 at 02:52 PM
Mark, you've just asked everyone to stick with the facts, now please do so yourself. The vote that night was NOT to approve building a pool. It was to go out and get bids to FIND OUT HOW MUCH IT WOULD COST. We have an estimate of $1.44 million to renovate the Hillcrest Pool which is 43 years old. We have already invested $250,000 in the design of the new pool, which is money down the drain if it's never built. In this very competitive bidding environment, it's prudent to find out how much it would cost to build BRAND NEW rather than remodel a 43 year old pool, which is not ideally located INSIDE a school building. A vote to find out how much it would cost was not a vote in favor, and indeed, Mr. Pia, a very conservative Republican, also voted in favor. As for Mr. Collins, he was not impolite. He did not deserve to be escorted out. I was right there, too, and heard every word. Mr. Massaro could have easily handled that situation. There was no need for the police to step in. That was a show of power, in my opinion, and an attempt to intimidate those whose opinions differed from the First Selectman.
Thomas Tesoro August 06, 2011 at 03:25 PM
Actually Mr. Herbst referred to Ms. Thornton as "sunshine", one of your candidates for public office referred to her as "prom queen" and other supporters called her Ray Baldwin in a skirt. It seems rather disingenuous for you to make this kind of comment. I think you need to clean up your own backyard.
Thomas Tesoro August 06, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Mr. Smith is quick to criticize Ms. Thornton for wanting to build a pool. That is factually incorrect. Ms. Thornton wanted an actual bid on a new pool to compare with the cost of renovating the existing facility. As a taxpayer I would think that you would want to know the relative costs of both before proceeding with either alternative.. The real question that should be asked by every taxpayer is why did the administration fail to get all the facts? Would you do that if you were doing renovations on your own home?
Thomas Tesoro August 06, 2011 at 03:33 PM
Regarding the indefensible action of escorting a Citizen out of a meeting, the real question is why can't the chair of the meeting handle such a situation and why were the police there in the first place? A couple of years earlier Ms. McGannon was confronted by a large number of Citizens (around 600 or so). The meeting was very contentious but at no time did Ms. McGannon feel the need to have an officer present and at no time did Ms. McGannon lose control of either the meeting or herself. The contrast could not be more telling.
trumbulite09 August 06, 2011 at 08:20 PM
CTPati - I'm not sure if you are just plain crazy or comical. But one thing I'm really tired of hearing from the Republicans is the hypocrisy. Everything wrong with Trumbull is the fault of every Democrate that ever held office. But the mess the United States is in is Obama's fault after 1 1/2 years instead of the 8 years of Republicans. Give me a break. Plus CTPati can you write a letter to the editor with all you crazy rants and stop changing the topic on stories about local politics. That way if we are interested we can read it, if not we can dismiss it.
CTPati August 06, 2011 at 09:45 PM
What is "comical" is that you feel compelled to read my posts in reply to someone else, such as tp or Tom. ;-p Also, that you have been in Sleepy Hollow, to think that Obama has only been president for "1 1/2 years." Two other points: 1) The DEMS had *complete* control of congress since 2007, and thus the spending and legislation, for the last two years of George Bush' presidency. 2) I have never blamed PBO for the *entire* "mess the United States is in." I am consistent in BLAMING "incompetent and/or corrupt, career politicians" of BOTH parties!! "A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government." - Jefferson
Cindy Katske August 07, 2011 at 05:14 PM
I thought that since this forum is public, everyone is free (and encouraged) to read comments that are made in response to someone else. I mean, isn't that the whole point of a public comment site? To engage all readers in the discussion? Otherwise, if you intend a post to be solely between you and one specific person, you should respond to the person via their account page. And while the "crazy or comical" statement was quite unnecessary, I am dismayed that CTPati does turn just about every discussion of local issues into a state and federal government rant. There is a time and a place, but the place isn't all these local issue discussions, in my opinion.
CTPati August 08, 2011 at 02:08 AM
Of course it is Cindy, but tr09 was *complaining* about my posts, which he does not HAVE to read! ;-p Many of my replies are in *response* to gratuitous insults made about the tea party, Republicans or "conservatives" etc. I made no reference to national issues in this thread until directly addressed by Tom K. Thursday night, to which I responded as to why I post so frequently. Cindy, why are you so disinterested in the state and national issues?
Cindy Katske August 08, 2011 at 02:25 AM
CTPati, it's a simple matter of making difficult choices in how I spend my time. It's not that I'm disinterested, it's just that there are only so many hours in a day. I am a mother, I have been very active in PTAs at all levels for many years, and I am a small business owner (a freelancer actually). I have recently spent a great deal of time following the town charter revision process, and I spent hours and hours of my family vacation reviewing the commission's final report. I simply have to choose the issues on which I spend my time, and for now my focus remains on local issues by choice. My husband is valiantly trying to get me to read some Op-Ed writers on a regular basis, and they generally cover national issues. He is wearing me down!


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