Former Republicans Jim Lash and Daniel Quigley (and in a separate missive, Jim Waters) call on voters to vote an all-Democrat ticket in next week’s elections: Parsimonious Republicans are threatening our wonderful town.
Quigley begins by recounting and denouncing a history of
spending restraint delays that previous Republican-controlled Budget Estimate and Taxation (BET) boards imposed on proposed spending plans even though Lash sat on the BET and voted for those restraints while he spent six years on the BET, and Quigley as Chairman of the Greenwich Republican Party was responsible for putting those niggardly cost-cutters on the board. Here’s their newly revised history of Republican malfeasance:
The most important role of any local government is to provide for public safety. This includes providing safe and adequate facilities for our schoolchildren. The Republican BET delays until there is a crisis.
Hamilton Avenue school was rebuilt only when mold was found in the walls. [Lash] The Glenville school was rebuilt only when the leaking roof became unbearable. [Lash] The Byram elementary school was only funded for replacement when students were being bused to other schools and taught in hallways and closets. Cardinal Stadium was closed and condemned before it was rebuilt. [Lash] The Old Greenwich school is delayed despite well-documented problems. [Lash, while First Selectman] Central Middle School (CMS) has been delayed despite its temporary closure due to safety issues [Lash and Quigley hd the watch while the school deteriorated]. This delay resulted in significant cost escalation and jeopardized potential reimbursement from the state. Despite the BET’s recent vote to finally approve funding for CMS, none of the four current, incumbent Republican BET candidates running for re-election cast their vote to support this measure. All six BET Democrats strongly supported it. This speaks volumes.
We write this as two lifelong Republicans who know how the town budget should work. Dan serves on the RTM and, as a former Chairman of the RTC, helped manage winning elections during a time of national political discord, changing local demographics, and voter registration unfavorable to Republicans. Jim chaired the BET Budget Committee for six years and proposed Town Budgets for four more as First Selectman. For most of the 2000’s, budgeting was a process that relied on honest give and take – not anymore. In recent years [Quigley was Chairman of the RTC until he was deposed in March, 2022] BET Republicans have routinely exercised their tie-breaking vote to delay and defeat any spending proposals other than their own, including over 50 times this year. That is not how local government is supposed to work. The Republicans would have you believe that Democrats will bury the Town in debt and raise your taxes 50%. That kind of talk is fear mongering intended to frighten voters and is unhelpful at best, mendacious propaganda at worst. Putting the needs of our residents ahead of party and politics should still be the overarching goal, particularly on the BET.
For ninety eight of the last one hundred years the Republicans have had their chance. The Democrats have nominated excellent candidates for the BET, each of whom is exceptionally qualified to manage our Town’s finances. The current state of affairs on the BET is broken. To fix it, on November 7th, we strongly urge you to vote for all six Democrats for the BET and give them a chance to get things moving again for the residents of our wonderful Town.
What a difference just two years makes.
Sadly, BET Democrats have characterized this unfortunate and unforeseen event as confirmation of their tired and empty mantra that Republicans have ignored our school infrastructure. The facts argue strongly against this. Engineers have determined that this situation was unrelated to any deferred maintenance or neglect by the BET or the Board of Esucation. [sic — I believe Quigley meant to spell it “Eduskation — Ed] Instead, it appears to be a product of 1920 construction techniques combined with poorly designed renovations that took place in 1999. This was not even mentioned as an item of concern in the BOE’s 2018 Master Facilities Plan. Despite everyone’s best efforts and intentions, accidents do happen.
All of this debate raises the obvious questions of why has this issue become so acrimonious and why are North Mianus parents so worried? Unfortunately, an unforeseen accident like this is being used by BET Democrats to sow confusion among local parents and label their Republican counterparts as being against schools in hopes that it will result in votes in the next election.
It is important for all school parents to understand that politics are at play here. Despite the fact that the proposed town budget included the 5.5 percent increase ($9 million) in the school operating budget requested by the BOE, the BET Democrats voted against the budget. Let me restate this. The BET Democrats voted against a budget that included every dollar requested by the BOE, while every Republican voted for it. Under the Town Charter, the Republican BET chairman had to cast a tie-breaking vote to approve the budget opposed by the Democrats. Without this tie-breaking vote, the budget would have reverted to the prior year’s budget which would have had severe consequences for the schools.
It’s been a long year since last spring’s fear mongering, and ultimately unnecessary debate surrounding the school budget proposed during the unprecedented COVID shutdown. Remember, the outcome of that debate was that our schools were so flush with funds that they returned $3.5 million dollars to the town.
Despite the fact that the BET’s Republicans have given the BOE everything they asked for, the town could still be subjected to months of loud, unfortunate and unnecessary outrage over education issues. Rest assured, I am confident everything will work out in the end, just like it did last year; despite the angry Democratic discourse, not because of it.
Mr. Quigley’s impassioned defense of the Republican-controlled BET two years ago was written before he was thrown off the Republican Town Committee (RTC) and with it, his chairmanship of the party. Suddenly, like an angry three-year-old, he’s looked back at what he and his predecessors did to block Democrat spending demands and “discovers” that it was the Democrats, not his former party, that had the right of it. Give him a pink binkie and a teddy bear and send him off to his bedroom to regain his composure behind a soundproof door.
What is his new party’s plan for public spending? Exactly what they’ve pushed for for decades: ending Greenwich’s traditional “Pay-As-You-Go” policy and returning to the long-term borrowing that bankrupted Greenwich during the Depression. Greenwich weaned itself from debt after that disaster; Quigley and Lash want to bring it back.
Greenwich Democrats demand that we use long-term debt to pay for their dream projects. “It will be cheaper”, they claim, and “Why should current residents pay for capital projects that future residents will enjoy?” (Because by the time capital projects are paid off after 20-30 years, they’ll be obsolete and have to be replaced?). But the trouble with giving governments unlimited spending powers is that — surprise! — they use it for everything they want, but can’t afford. Every project that a progressive like Quigley can dream up will become “an urgent need”, or even an “emergency”. To quote P.J. O’Rourke, “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys”. (Parliament of Whores, 1991).
Don’t put these two clowns’ new party behind the wheel.
* (explained here) :
— “Known as “pay as you go”, the cash collected from annual taxes would cover 100% of the cost of the project with one-fifth of the cost included in the tax calculation annually in each of the five years.
Taxpayers paid no interest as pay-as-you-go was funded internally through property tax payments. It was a simple plan that enabled our town to fund essential infrastructure projects without burdening future taxpayers with debt service costs.
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This post originally appeared on Christopher Fountain's website and has been republished with his approval. Fountain is a popular real estate writer in Greenwich. You can find his work here: https://www.christopherfountain.com/