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Trumbull GOP has Kept its Promises

by Dee Chiota

To the Editor:

Republicans in Trumbull heard the voters loud and clear in 2009. Voters were tired of out of control spending, tax increases that averaged six percent, stagnant economic development and misaligned priorities. The voters overwhelmingly indicated on Nov. 3, 2009 that they wanted a fiscally responsible and sensible approach to government. That is why the people of Trumbull elected First Selectman Timothy Herbst and his team in 2009. Over the course of the last two years, the Herbst Team has not just talked about reform - - they’ve done it!

First Selectman Herbst made tax stabilization and the Town’s financial health his top priority. When First Selectman Herbst took office, he was faced with a $3 million budget shortfall, a grossly mismanaged pension fund, excessive debt and stagnant economic development.   In two years, a $3 million deficit was turned into a $1.6 million dollar surplus and the tax rate has been stabilized, with an average increase of 1.91 percent -  less than the current rate of inflation.   

While the First Selectman has stabilized the tax rate, his administration has also recognized the importance of public education.  An additional $4.8 million has been invested in public education over the last two years. There have been meaningful investments in technology and student test scores are up. Trumbull children are among the highest achieving in all of Fairfield County. The high school renovation will proceed and be completed on time and under budget.  Since the first selectman took office, the town has been able to reduce the cost of the high school renovation by $9 million while maintaining the town’s reimbursement from the state.    

The Herbst Administration has accomplished a great deal in the area of economic development. This year, Trumbull’s Grand List grew by $93 million, an increase of two percent. A historic renovation of the mall was recently completed, along with the first phase of the downtown revitalization. Twenty-six new businesses have come to Trumbull this year alone.  

Now, nearly two years later, another election season has begun. The Republican Party has announced candidates for First Selectman, Town Clerk and Town Treasurer, and we are looking for candidates for several other elected offices including: Town Council, Board of Finance, Board of Education, the Zoning Boards, Board of Assessment Appeals and Constable. If you would like to join our volunteer network and assist the campaign with mailings, phone calls, lawn sign placement or walking door-to-door, please visit our website at www.trumbullgop.org . 

Dee Chiota

Recommendations Chairman

Trumbull Republican Town Committee 

Cindy Penkoff June 24, 2011 at 04:15 AM
Tom since the BOE is the only entity that can decide how they spend their money, the actual discussion of a specific program is irrelevant. We could have all stood there and said do not cut Freshman sports and the reality is you can do whatever you want. That pesky no strings attached law gives you total control. We do not have line item control so exactly how would that be done at the BOF or TC level? The BOE is also the only entity that can do anything about the portables as well. A platform again that you ran on and knew about. I think it would be pretty obvious that that should be on your agenda. The FS also had on his list, a 5 year capital plan. Guess what? Every department submitted what they thought should be on that list, it got done and is being implemented already. That's how it works. Again, we disagree on the unspent funds. You could have split the usage and restored Freshman sports and just return the rest. You didn't do that either. I don't understand that and won't pretend to. Tom, I believe that you have the best interest at heart for the children of Trumbull. Guess what? so do I; I do have a child in the school system so it is very important to me. We just disagree on how to go about doing that.
Tom Kelly June 24, 2011 at 09:15 AM
I stated at the meeting, and I began by saying, "I am saying this as politely and as respectfully as possible" and I went on to say that again, in my opinion, we have an opportunity to try to build trust in the budget process and that if the BOE is returning every penny of surplus to the town, that is evidence of good faith. If the BOE basically asks for it back, and say it's going to be used to pay for certain things, if there is no trust that this is what will happen, then we have a process that is broken and completely lacking in trust. I think that's a shame. All I can say about that is this. I made a motion to request that supplemental, and if it is granted, I intend to vote to use it for the things we say we are going to use it for and I am confident that the Board members are men and women of good faith. As for the portables, we all ran on a ticket. However, that doesn't mean we all supported or even knew about all the things that were in the platform. For example, Mr. Herbst said right in the platform that he would veto any budget request that was greater than inflation minus 1%. He also said he would insist upon an ordinance requiring that any company who had a contract with the town over $5,000 would not be able to make political contributions to either town committee or local candidates. Is the Town Council responsible for not passing that ordinance and is the BOF and TC responsible for passing two consecutive budgets greater than inflation minus 1%?
trumbulite09 June 24, 2011 at 12:07 PM
Cindy - selfish is: Asking for and taking a raise the same year you ask and receive tax paying resident teachers not to take a raise. Selfish is: requesting additional secretarial support the same year secretaries are being layed off leaving elementary schools with one for the entire staff. Selfish is: asking for a raise for the HR Director, the Town Council saying no and vetoeing it. Selfish is: pulling lawyers in to fight every little thing you don't get your own way on. Selfish is NOT: Wanting the best for the children of Trumbull
Richard W. White June 24, 2011 at 01:11 PM
Camden, NJ? An interesting read, but I don't see how the lessons learned in the article apply to Trumbull. Using the same data as the author, Trumbull is 117 / 166 in per student spending in Connecticut and 19 / 26 in Fairfield County. Using state data and our DRG grouping there are similar cost results. Our student's graduation rates and test scores are the envy of the state and above average in the county. Similar in our DRG. Are you saying that Trumbull is overpaying for our results? The data by no means supports that.
Cindy Katske June 24, 2011 at 02:38 PM
To say that diplomas were "held hostage" is silly. Weeks before graduation, parents received a packet that clearly stated: "Students owing money will be permitted to participate in the ceremony, but will not be issued their diplomas until all indebtedness is cleared. You are to see the Media Center staff for library obligations; see House Secretaries for all other obligations." Nowhere does it state that notice of indebtedness will be given to the families. It clearly states that the student has the responsibility of checking. Notices of indebtedness were distributed in homeroom and lists of affected students were posted all around the school. There was even a table at diploma pickup where you could pay your indebtedness; how convenient was that?
Afreedman2011 June 24, 2011 at 03:03 PM
John F. You are about to get a vacation from this board for speaking the absolute truth. Believe me I know. Ms. Penkoff's hypocrisy on this issue needs to be more widely disseminated. She's getting her benefit from the taxpayers. The rest of us can suffer.
Cindy Penkoff June 24, 2011 at 03:13 PM
For the record, for annonymous posters that think it is ok to bring a child into a discussion that has nothing to do with it; my son receives nothing special except a once a week gym class. He voluntarily gave up all other services as he believes that there are other children who need the services more than him and doesn't wish to use things JUST BECAUSE HE IS ENTITLED to them. He was not brought up to be selfish or petty, unlike John F and Afreedman2011 it seems.
Cindy Penkoff June 24, 2011 at 03:22 PM
trumbulite09 I actually disagreed with the raise for the HR director. And since the FS took no raise last year, he deserved one this year. Just like the teachers will get no raise this coming year but will the following. Selfish is also assuming that you and how you dictate is the only way to provide the best for the children. We all want what is best; we just disagree with how to go about it.
Cindy Penkoff June 24, 2011 at 03:25 PM
Mrs. Sheehan, It has nothing to do with supporting the FS or not. My opinions are mine. But, t the end of the day all I care about is that the job being done is one that seRves the ENTIRE town well and is what I voted for him to do. If he wasn't, you can bet your boots, everyone would be hearing about it.
Cindy Penkoff June 24, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Cindy as we discussed in person, when I get 6 calls from parents, I have to ask the question.
Cindy Penkoff June 24, 2011 at 03:32 PM
But then again as long as you are anonymous you can claim all kinds of things without anyone being able to do the same to you. Must be nice to be hypocritical that you can hide behind a curtain and take pot shots at people that you know nothing about nor have you taken the time to do your home work. Must make you feel pretty good to take shots at a 13yr old child. Kind of like the class bully that does things behind peoples backs but can't take responsibility for himself or his deeds. Nice going. Real men take responsibility for their actions and their words.
Thomas Tesoro June 24, 2011 at 03:34 PM
I think we lose the validity of our arguement if we make this about Ms. Penkoff or her family. I am an unrepentant supporter of funding special education based on the principle that every person should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential. From all I have heard, Ms. Penkoff's child has made the most of his opportunities and I congratulate him for that and wish him continued success. In my opinion, that is all that should be said. The real issue is that Trumbull has an above average system at a below average cost. As Mr. White, above, points out, communities wonder how we do it. That is why it is so mystifying that our BOE has been the vitim of such awful attacks. When they were approached by the Citizens Review and Audit Committee, they openly cooperated and in fact won awards for their cooperation. They have in good faith for the past few years returned unspent money to the Town, money unspent because of insurance and energy variances that were favorable. To be accused of sand bagging for this exercise of good faith is mind boggling. Further, in the last 5 years that I am aware, the requests of the BOE were reduced by the FS or the BOF or the Town Council all of whom scrutinized the budget and the assumptions therein thoroughly. If by maintaining the "status quo" in these difficult times means that we continue to offer this good program but do not look to enhance the education product until times improve, that to me seems very sensible.
Cindy Penkoff June 24, 2011 at 03:35 PM
No Richard, what I am saying is money is not the only thing and for us to keep using something as arbitrary as "status quo" shows lack of imagination growth and the proof of it's necessity to continue to grow at the rate that it does.
Cindy Penkoff June 24, 2011 at 03:38 PM
I also disagree with the 10.3% raise given the BOE business manager the other night, when teh rest of the administrators got 3.85%. It sends a mixed message and was in poor form.
Cindy Penkoff June 24, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Thank you Tom. For the record, Jeffrey is a straight A student who was also just accepted to We The People, and Algebra 400 for next year. He is also working on Eagle Scout as well as Order of The Arrow. We consider him to be kind, considerate and a loving person that does not look for entitlements but how he can participate and accomplish his goals while living within his restrictions. He is proud of his school, his town and his country.
Thomas Tesoro June 24, 2011 at 04:15 PM
I and others assist the We the People Constitutional studies team in preparation for the Stae and hopefully national competitions. I look forward, if given the opportunity, to working with Jeffery and his Classmates. You will find it to be one of the best experiences he has in THS. I think it would behoove many of the critics of the BOE (I am not referring to Ms. Penkoff here) to take the time to understand all that is offered and the growth the students achieve as a result of a Trumbull education. I think it would mute some of the more divisive commentary and further the appreciation of all we have here and why some of us fight so hard for it. Tom Tesoro
Kristy Waizenegger June 24, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Hi Tom T - Thanks for bringing the discussion back to the issues . The personal attacks are so disheartening and so unnecessary. For those who criticize the FS for recommending a 10% raise for a town hall employee (FTR I voted against this raise), are any of you willing to call out the BOE for the 10.3% raise for the BOE Business Manager? John F - Applying your standard, do you consider it "selfish" that Mr. Iassogna has 2 full time secretaries? Many are quick to criticize the FS for asking to put back the .5 he went without last year and restore 2 full time secretaries. Are any of you willing to call out the Superintendant/BOE for this? Agree or disagree, but don't apply a double standard to make your point.
JR June 24, 2011 at 04:48 PM
There would be no We the People team if they relied on the BoE to fund it. Remember to thank the ACE Foundation for your son's opportunity.
Cindy Katske June 24, 2011 at 04:50 PM
Kristy, I disagreed with the 10% raise for the Town Hall employee, and I disagree with the raise given to the BOE Business Manager the other night. While I think the Business Manager deserves the raise and is worth every penny, I don't think that now is the right time to make that type of salary adjustment. I would have supported a much lower incremental increase to be followed by additional increases when feasible to get his salary where it belongs. That's not a perfect solution either, but I think it's reasonable under the circumstances.
Kathleen McGannon June 24, 2011 at 05:36 PM
Kristy, A slight correction. Mr. Iassogna has an executive assistant and a secretary. Mr. Herbst has an executive assistant (Chief of Staff) and TWO secretaries. But no, there should not have been the raise on the town side nor the raise from the BOE. Both may be very deserving, but it sent a bad message in both cases.
Thomas Tesoro June 24, 2011 at 06:24 PM
Hi Kristy, I don't need to call anybody out on the subject. As in the case of the FS raise, the individuals involved are worth every penny they receive. Unfortunately, in a politically charged environment and in a situation where economic times are not good, even worthy individuals are often asked to sacrifice for the greater good. I think both the BOE and the FS were in error in granting that amount at this time. As for Mr. Herbst and his second secretary, I was prepared to let that position become full time. Why? Because Mr. Herbst admitted he was in error reducing the position from full time to part time in the first place. Sometimes the zeal to prove yourself better than your predecessor gets in the way of what is actually the right thing to do. Mr. Herbst recognized that he was in error and I believe a person who admits error should be given the opportunity to correct the mistake particularly, as in this case, where the taxpayer suffers minimal impact. Our Town Council felt differently and quite frankly I think they were in error. IMHO, of course. Tom Tesoro
Kristy Waizenegger June 24, 2011 at 07:16 PM
I too really had no problem with the FS request for the .5 (though not exactly for the same reason as Tom T) but I did vote against it on principle in the spirit of shared sacrifice. I also voted against the 10% raise although I don't doubt the employee is worth it, as Tom said above. I was not at the meeting but understand from a member of the board that the basis of the requested increase was quite similar to the basis of the FS request, which makes it all the more interesting.
Cindy Penkoff June 24, 2011 at 07:24 PM
Tom I do hope he gets to work with you as well. You have a similar sense of humor and I think you will both get along famously. I also believe you will teach him a great deal and he may just teach you a thign or 2.
Thomas Tesoro June 24, 2011 at 07:28 PM
I do learn quite a bit from all these young people. It also gives me hope for the future if we can produce such bright and highly motivated individuals. They are the reason I fight so hard for education...these young people deserve the opportunities education afforded me. Tom T.
Trumbullparent June 24, 2011 at 10:23 PM
As much as I disagree with Cindy on most issues, that was a cheap shot John. Parents of children with special needs don't revel in the fact that their children receive extra services. If anything, these parents wish their children never needed special services in the first place. It's not an easy road for these kids or their parents. Her son is quite a remarkable kid and I'm sure hasn't wasted a penny of your tax dollars nor taken away from "the regular kids." Your comments are truly inappropriate.
Jose June 25, 2011 at 03:13 AM
The criticism of anonymous posts is curiously convenient. I missed some of the hullabaloo as briefly I read the alleged personal attack before it was deleted. I believe the person actually pointed out a contradiction exposing personal, but relevant information? It appears that when confronted, people, especially those who have been very aggressive, all of sudden claim they were victims. You always have the choice not being involved in Town politics or to moderate your views. You also have the choice of not participating in an online forum.
Cindy Penkoff June 25, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Jose you also have achoice of being a human being. I am used to being attacked. It is always easier for cowards to attack people than to talk about facts. That includes the facts of what they have accomplished vs what they have not, but to attack a child is a completely different thing. If you are going to take cheap shots and be a bully, you should be required to own your comments.
Cindy Penkoff June 25, 2011 at 01:45 PM
Tom, We will agree to disagree. I do not believe for a minue this was done on a good faith effort. I believe it was a political move that by design will do nothing but upset the children and rock the boat on these programs by delaying them an additional 2 months. The BOE IS responsible for the portables. They have the sole responsibilities for everything that falls under the education budget. You have all been very clear about that. You are the only ones who can do anything about the issue. To blame the FS because you didn't follow through is wrong. I firmly believe that and there is nothing you can continue to type to change that opinion.
Jose June 27, 2011 at 04:37 PM
Transparency is a two-way street!
trumbulite09 June 27, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Tom - I very seldom disagree with you but on this one I do. Fortune 500 company CEOs and CFOs do just fine with one assistant. Some even share one. I can not fathom why anyone whether it is the First Selectman or the Superintendent would need more than one assistant when an entire school is expected to get by with one.

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