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Trumbull's Herbst responds to Greg Stern's Letter

By Timothy Herbst

Mr. Stern is entitled to his opinion, however,  I would like to point out that several statements in his letter are untrue:

1.)    Mrs. Polansky did not dismantle a security camera;

2.)    Mrs. Polansky never ordered portraits of the founders to be discarded.  That is absolutely false;

3.)    The long-standing secretary that Mr. Stern references started in 2005, not 1992 (according to an appointment letter from Mr. Wise) and the administrative assistant he references stepped down of her own volition; 

4.)    Mrs. Polansky had her weekly meeting with residents today in the community room and the door to her office was open.  This was observed by more than one person and therefore, it is not closed at all times;

5.)    I have difficulty understanding how one can make statements of purported fact, as Mr. Stern does in his letter, when he has not been to Stern Village in recent weeks or months to make these observations personally and to the best of my knowledge, no longer lives in Trumbull;

6.)    In late November, after Hurricane Sandy, I met with Mrs. Stern to discuss the emergency reports that had been generated by Emergency Management and the Fire Marshal.  Also at this meeting was the Town Attorney.  I voiced my concerns with the reports and the response from the Housing Authority after the hurricane.  Mrs. Stern defended the actions of the authority and did not believe that further action was required;

7.)    My decision to not re-appoint Mrs. Stern had nothing to do with politics.  My decision not to re-appoint Mrs. Stern, in addition to another commissioner dealt exclusively with the response from the THA in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy;

8.)    Today, nearly fifty seniors attended a coffee with the new interim Executive Director.  This meeting was covered by the Trumbull Times.  I encourage you to read the article and I would also encourage Mr. Stern to read the article as well:

http://www.trumbulltimes.com/6218/polansky-talks-with-stern-village-residents/

[Editor's note: Trumbull Patch's story is here.]

The comments from the residents are very clear. 

I have been honest and candid as to why I elected to appoint new people to the Trumbull Housing Authority and in the coming weeks, I hope the new THA and their interim executive director will work quickly to address the following:

1.      Fully implement the emergency readiness plan;

2.      Install emergency generators that will allow the community room to function as a shelter, should the need arise;

3.      Develop a safety manual for residents;

4.      Implement computerized systems;

5.      Develop a capital improvement program that improves lighting and walkways throughout Stern Village.

These are some of many priorities that need to be addressed.

I respect what Sam Stern, his wife and his son, did for Stern Village.  I also respect many of Judi’s contributions.  However, I cannot ignore the recommendations of emergency management professionals and I certainly cannot ignore actions at a meeting that disregarded the findings of those professionals.  When you are the leader of a community, you have to make difficult  and sometimes unpopular decisions.  We have a moral obligation to protect the public health, safety and welfare of our residents.  I think the people of Trumbull know how seriously I take this obligation in how the Town has responded to Irene, Alfred, Sandy and Nemo.  The actions I have taken have always kept as my highest priority the health, safety and welfare of the residents of Stern Village and every resident of Trumbull. 

Thank you,

Tim Herbst

Tom Kelly February 27, 2013 at 12:09 PM
Mr. Herbst talks about protecting the safety and welfare of the residents of Stern Village as the primary impetus of his actions. That may sound reasonable, but the facts of what has transpired at Stern Village in the last two months contradict it. Try as he might to disclaim the obvious, how can the First Selectman reasonably claim that he has the safety and welfare of residents at heart when he appointed a new resident Commissioner who was on warning for smoking in the Congregate Building around people who are on oxygen in violation of the Stern Village rules? How can he say he's improved the safety at Stern Village when he has appointed four new Commissioners with no previous experience in public or senior housing, two of whom are Republican insiders and members of the TRTC, and the third is a long-time political supporter? How can he reasonably claim that safety has been approved when those four Commissioners with no experience bought out the contract of the long-time Executive Director and hired an "interim" replacement that had no experience in public housing during the height of the winter snow season? How can the First Selectman reasonably claim that the best possible candidate for this job simply "stepped forward" after reading about Stern Village in the newspaper and volunteering to help out? Was any type of scrutiny or effort made to find a more experienced person, even on an interim basis? Mr. Herbst, you can't change the facts.
Tom Kelly February 27, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Mr. Herbst also fails to acknowledge how he had politicized the Boards and Commissions in Trumbull, in my opinion to the detriment of all Trumbull residents. He appointed long-time local Republican Party Chairman Jack Testani to be Chairman of the Trumbull Police Commission. The Vice-Chairman of the TRTC, Karen Egri, is now Chairman of the WPCA. This is the same body that promised Trumbull last February that it would lower the sewer use rates to lessen the impact of the change in billing method for the summer months, but then increased them instead. This is the same body that has effectively transferred almost $10 million that was bonded as part of the North Nichols sewer project to become a responsibility of all taxpayers. Loading the Boards and Commissions with friends, family members, and political bosses while getting rid of long-time community servants may be an efficient way to exert control, but in my opinion, it does not improve the performance of those Boards and Commissions. To paraphrase Scripture, no man (or woman) can serve two masters, and as long as so many of Mr. Herbst's appointments continue to be TRTC leadership and insiders, politics will always be at the center of these important matters. Trumbull deserves better.
Greg Stern February 27, 2013 at 12:50 PM
Tim - I do not ever question the fact that you are in charge of the safety and welfare of the residents and that it is a tough job that I respect wholeheartedly. Unpopular decisions come with the territory. But you miss one main point of my letter. It is way you go about your business is what many people, including myself, have a problem with. You degrade people publicly. You question integrity. THAT is the problem more than anything else. And no, I do not live in Trumbull but why does that even matter? My love for Trumbull has never waned and my connections to the town continue to run deep. I have read all the articles. I have spoken to people. I do my research.That is why I did not submit a response immediately after your comments came our about my mother. I took my time to make sure my facts were correct. And the security camera was taken down and yes and the the portraits were ordered to be thrown out (but luckily they were spared before they hit the trash can) and the secretary did start in 1992 - ask her!. It remains to be seen how your appointees will fair at their positions, but why wouldn't you appoint people with more experience in things like a THA-type of group? That does not show regard for the welfare of residents. And are you keeping records of who comes and goes from Stern Village? Whether I have been there or not, how would you know? What was done at Stern Village and the THA is done. I just felt it necessary to stand up for those who you debase.
Anthony Musto February 27, 2013 at 01:38 PM
One thing Mr. Herbst continuously states is the recommendations of the emergency management professionals that he claims precipitated his actions. Has anyone read them? Well, here they are: (my comments on them are in parentises at the end): 1. The director should be able to be reached at all times, prividing the director with a cell phone could help with this situtation. (THA heard this and planned to provide the director with a cell phone). 2. A current list of residents should be available at all times. This should be updated at least monthly. (Such a list is available, but due to the power outages and other, more pressing problems an old list was delievered to the fire marshal in error.) 3. Asking residents to check in with the director, and keep a written list when residents plan to be away for more than one night to keep an accurate track of the population. (This completely misses the point of THA. THA does not keep track of its residents' comings and goings, ever. It is a rental complex, not a caretaker.) 4. Having a plan to help relocate these residents when needed, especially those with medical needs that the shelter cannot accomodate. (Again, THA does not keep track of these things, and the shelter issue did not arise until after the storm.) 5. Providing the community room with a generator to allow residents to have a warm place to go with proper lighting (continued)
Anthony Musto February 27, 2013 at 01:58 PM
(number 5 continued) This would also allow residents to charge any medical devices that require electricity. The community room could also act as an onsite shelter for those who could not relocate to family or friends. (The common room was being used for heat and gathering, as a letter from Mr. Littlefield stated, and a generator was being considered as well by the THA). Note that NOTHING in any of these recommendations was cause to dismiss long-time employees and volunteers and denegrate them publically. Nothing shows any lives put at risk. Nothing shows any needs were ignored. Several also misconstrue the purpose of THA entirely and suggest the residents are unable to manage their own lives and need THA oversight. Unless the residents of THA want to be overseen by THA, their commings and goings should not be recorded, nor their medical needs inquired into. The simple fact is that the commissioners disagreed with Mr. Herbst and decided the current executive director had been there for years, done a great job, and should be retained to impliment these and other improvements. Mr. Herbst disagreed, cleaned house, and dirtied their names in the process. (continued)
Anthony Musto February 27, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Lastly, of the 5 things Mr. Herbst says the interim director will "work quickly to address," only 2 are in the recommendations. The lighting and walkways plan was updated a few years ago. There has been no complaint regarding the computer system or showing how updating it would help the residents. These, together with the generator, will costs money, and the sole source of funds is residents' rental payments. Of course, nothing in the new executive director's resume shows that she has any expertise in buying computers, creating a safety manual, impliementing an emergency plan, or creating a capital plan for sidewalks and lighting. I still haven't heard the justification for appointing Commissioner Meehan. Anthony Musto
Bill February 27, 2013 at 02:23 PM
People just can't do the right thing anymore without allowing politics and political affiliations get in the way. Anyone in the political arena needs to understand that they are employees of the people, start acting like grownups, and earn an honest living. Both Herbst and Tom Kelly: get over yourselves. If you are truly working for the betterment of Trumbull, quit the public bickering, it only makes you look foolish. Both Democrats and Republicans at all levels have nothing to be proud of these days; without communication and conviction to the people, we continue spiral downward. Learn to work on solutions, and compromise if needed to get to aresolution. We try to teach our kids that bullying is not acceptable, however both Herbst and Kelly seem to relish the public fight and back stabbing. Enough already.
jg February 27, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Aaron, Amusingly, I see that Tim's response is time stamped 1 minute earlier than Mr. Stern's original letter. Is it policy to give the First Selectman advance notice of material to be published? Are people referenced in the First Selectman's frequent missives also given advance notice in order to publish a simultaneous response? I appreciate your desire to serve both sides as long as it is policy to give such treatment in all instances. Thanks.
Peter Preko February 27, 2013 at 07:40 PM
My mother has friends in Stern Village. Those portraits werre taken down before Ms. Polansky arrived and according to the people who saw it, Mrs. Stern took them. Facts are facts. BRAVO. Check with the person who does the SV newsletter. He has told many that Ms. Polansky Had nothnig to do with those portraits and they were down before her arrival just a week ago. Furthermore, I understand there is much to this story that has yet to be told. Stay tuned and BRAVO to Mr. Herbst.
celtictee February 27, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Peter - you really need to become more imaginative with your made up profiles, really.
Tony Silber February 27, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Wait, what? There's "much more to be told," Peter Preko? Let's review: Tim Herbst has written something like three separate opinion pieces/letters on this topic. And counting. Here and in the Trumbull Times. His surrogates have written letters. Tim and Acting Chairman Friedson got Aaron to let them respond point-by-point to all criticism. The fire marshal issued a report on this subject. And yet, there's more to be told? Really? If there's more to be told, what the heck is Tim Herbst waiting for? "The whole story hasn't come out" is usually the refuge of people with nothing plausible left to say.
Kathleen McGannon February 27, 2013 at 09:24 PM
I found this information to be enlightening: From Tim's response on Trumbull Patch: "...during the recent blizzard [the THA was]... communicating with the police department to ensure that there were regular patrols to guarantee adequate emergency access." From the Police Commission minutes: " By 1:30 a.m. the Police Department was not able to respond to any calls as the snow was too deep for he patrol cars to drive through. "Chief Kiely's report. My question: Did the police make regular patrols of Stern Village during the blizzard on snowshoes? According to the Chief of Police, the police were unable to get out of the police station because the snow was too deep. So which is it? Regular patrols or parked police cars? It is hard to believe anything that Tim says anymore. The nurse at Stern Village was removed by Tim. Now he says she must become a part of Stern Village. He says regular patrols were made during Nemo. The chief of police says that no cars could get out. Perhaps you can see why I am skeptical?
Patty Sheehan February 28, 2013 at 12:37 AM
I imagine that the current administration must get dizzy form all the spinning.
Aaron Leo (Editor) February 28, 2013 at 12:44 AM
I can't set things to post at exactly the same time. It messes up Patch. Purely a technical issue. And when accusations are made, I do try to give those being accused notice so they can respond. I also asked Russ Friedson for a response as well. If I knew how to reach Judith Stern, I would have notified her too.
Peter Preko February 28, 2013 at 01:01 AM
Dear Uninformed: During the crisis Mr. Herbst (with our police and fire) heroes, went door to door at Stern Village.. The previous SV administration failed to show up when ordered to report to the crisis command center. As for the portraits, MRS. STERN TOOK THEM DOWN. The Stern family is still a well respected family in town despite Mrs. Stern's confrontational attitude.. As for my Hybernian brother, I grew up here unlike you. I have much in stake in the success of this community and chose to raise my family here. I watched Mr. Herbst on the THS football field and I am glad he in our leader. It is not about party affiliation. It's leadership. Tim has shown us that he will confront the uniformed, fix the wrong and deal with the highest level of integrity. I know many will disagree. However, there is a silent un-bloging majority that supports him and his vision for Trumbull.
celtictee February 28, 2013 at 01:22 AM
Mr. Preko stop wasting our time with your imaginary self and all your fake profiles created from the same IP address. You are actually doing more damage to the people you are trying to protect.
John Jameson February 28, 2013 at 02:30 AM
In reply to Mr. Leo's response--if you were writing a story yourself based on the letter, I could see contacting the first selectmen, and the letter-writer as well, for comments for a story. But letting the administration know every time you receive a letter that is critical of them doesn't seem quite right.
John Jameson February 28, 2013 at 02:33 AM
Aren't the apartments at Stern Village simply apartments for seniors? Did the police and fire departments go check on all seniors in town? I'm still not getting the town administration's take on this--it is NOT assisted living.
Greg Stern February 28, 2013 at 02:57 AM
Some people do not read properly or fact check and then spew garbage. My mother did not take the pictures down. She took them away from Stern Village when she found out they were to be thrown out. THAT is why she went over there and THAT is why she has them. Stop disrespecting her and calling her confrontational. She has never been. She stands up for what she believes in. If you have a problem with me and my comments, direct them at me. Not her.
mary isaac February 28, 2013 at 04:58 AM
PP, please tell us what day Mr. Herbst went door-to-door, along with the police/fire depts. Wasn't the previous SV commissioners already ousted by Mr. Herbst, so not sure why you believe they should be "showing up?" Did Mr. Herbst and the police/fire department reps go door to door to all the other senior housing areas in town? On that Saturday afternoon, Mr. Herbst told me, on We Are Trumbull, that I should be ashamed of myself for responding to an inquiry from my district council rep as to "how we were doing." I had no concern that my road was not plowed as we were safe at home, with no where to be and knew the plows would get to us eventually. I did, however, post a comment by Mr. Littlefield, a Stern Village resident, who said that he was concerned about the lack of assistance from the town. Here is his post (continued:)
mary isaac February 28, 2013 at 05:00 AM
"Stern Village was not plowed by the town, as far as I know. It was opened by the maintenance staff with undersized equipment for a blizzard of this size. The 35.4" of snow is packed by the wind. We have a cul de sac of 20 units that is not open. Most units have their front doors blocked with snow. Cabin fever and worse, the feeling of being trapped and helpless is beginning to take hold. A dreadful feeling to experience. There are people on Meals on Wheels who can't get fed. There are people who need oxygen delivered and can't be reached. These are people for whom the volunteer firemen showed up in "good" weather, Hurricane Sandy, but conditions with this storm are dangerous to health, safety and welfare. I have been assured that if there is an emergency call, fire or ambulance, a town plow will clear the way. Not down this cul de sac they wont, and there could be a complete loss with people trapped in their unit. Where is the care and compassion of the FS? Just been told not to expect any volunteers to be called out by the town. Do NOT believe the erroneous report that Stern Village roads are cleared by a 'private contractor'!"
mary isaac February 28, 2013 at 05:01 AM
(and the final long-winded continuation!) Mr. Herbst responded, after chastising me for posting the message from the Stern Village resident, that crews and police had been sent to check on a regular basis. As Mrs. McGannon states from the Police Commission minutes, if the police cars could not get out, as they themselves hadn't been plowed, how could they be responding to the needs of Stern Village? Why was the resident who called on Saturday at 7:30, 11:30 and 3:30 told that Stern Village was not a plowing priority? And then the after-spin is that all that could be done was done, on a timely basis? This was a mega-storm. No one disputes that. But why should the FS shoot the messenger vs. stating that they couldn't keep up with the storm. Why make someone trying to help look like the bad guy and that they're throwing rocks at the dpw crew? Why not say we couldn't get there until the next day. Why make it look like they were there when they weren't? So, PP a few questions about what actually happened, and when, at Stern Village.
TrumbullSr February 28, 2013 at 01:24 PM
Every time Tim opens his mouth, ugliness ensues. This is one angry, power-hungry youngster who appears not to have matured at all. His actions and especially his words are hurtful and mean spirited. In his quest for ultimate power and ways to impress and ingratiate himself with power brokers for higher office, he has destroyed the tranquility of the "Mayberry" he inherited. Tim should learn to keep his mouth shut and his ears open.
mary isaac February 28, 2013 at 02:17 PM
Don't know how to fix a typo in a comment section..."Wasn't the previous SV commissioners already ousted by Mr. Herbst," typing quickly - meant to way "weren't"
Peter Preko February 28, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Hybernian bro. you make my day.
Peter Preko February 28, 2013 at 04:41 PM
Hybernian-Hibernian..oops. Did not mean to disrespect your proud heritage. In advance Happy St. Patricks Day. You are the best.

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