Congratulations to First Selectman Tim Herbst for outlining his accomplishments in his State of the Town speech last week. As a member of the Trumbull Democratic Party, my desire for Trumbull to succeed is paramount, and so my congratulations is indeed heartfelt.
But the state of the town is not what it should be. And sadly, the first selectman himself needs to shoulder some of the blame.
Our Democratic Party’s vision for the Town of Trumbull includes many things. It includes real financial stability, and moving the conversation toward reducing taxes. We believe that raising budgets again and again, as Mr. Herbst has, and using revaluation to then tell our residential taxpayers that they won’t see an increase next year, even while the tax burden shifts to our much-needed businesses, is not the best approach.
Our vision includes developing a long-term plan for our amazing parks—perhaps connecting them in a grand trail, with a Riverwalk through Trumbull Center. It includes maintaining and improving our extraordinary schools, and even doing some real educational innovation.
We seek relief for the residents of North Nichols, who’ve had to endure an endless sewer project and years of terrible roads—and face a massive assessment. We want vibrant office parks, with 100 percent occupancy. We want more restaurants and amenities for our citizens. We want to see the real Trumbull Day—a wonderful Trumbull tradition—return.
Perhaps most of all, we want to see a return to collegiality and civility in local politics.
None of these things are fully possible under the polarizing leadership of Mr. Herbst. His abiding love of political warfare, both within the town and outside our borders, diminishes his efforts. Just in the last couple of weeks, he “declared war” on two members of the Board of Education for their perceived opposition to his plan for full-day kindergarten. Mr. Herbst says full-day kindergarten is a top priority, and yet, in his 2012-2013 budget, he declined to fund it.
Mr. Herbst in his address painted a picture of a town in 2009 on the brink of financial collapse, when he took office. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Trumbull enjoyed the highest ratings at that time, and our fund balance was robust. He claimed the town was facing a $3 million budget shortfall. But that claim was demagoguery.
Mr. Herbst describes the need for regional cooperation, but the truth is, Trumbull’s bilateral relationship with our largest and most important neighbor—Bridgeport—is now at an all-time low. Mr. Herbst’s management of the magnet-school project was a golden opportunity to work with our neighbor, but he botched it in nearly every way possible, losing for our young people 100 seats at the school and giving away a major piece of Trumbull for the “right to negotiate” for another piece of Trumbull!
Mr. Herbst notes that our contract with Bridgeport for sewer services expires this June. He noted that many months ago. He even created a committee to develop a path forward. That committee hasn’t met in months and is effectively dormant.
Mr. Herbst often talks about the need for bipartisanship, but his actions say otherwise. It’s rare that any major policy initiative in Trumbull is undertaken without a legal opinion as “air cover.”
No one who truly believes in bi-partisanship would have taken the move—as Mr. Herbst did this week—to radically transform the Town Council to nearly eliminate minority representation.
So, congratulations to Mr. Herbst for his hard work on the town’s behalf. Trumbull Democrats believe that if he’d learn to work with others, instead of trying to tear them down and destroy them, much more might be accomplished.