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Letters: Lundeen Diminishes Efforts of RTM

'Volunteer members spend dozens and dozens of hours each year researching the issues at hand so that they can make an informed decision,' writes John Sini.

Lundeen diminishes efforts of RTM members

To the Editor:

Since 1951, the nonpartisan Representative Town Meeting of 100 members has acted as Darien's legislative body. Volunteer members spend dozens and dozens of hours each year researching the issues at hand so that they can make an informed decision as representatives for their voting districts. Members are all divided into one of eight standing committees so that the body can review capital projects, ordinances, and finances from a different point of view.

In the case of the shuffle proposal, every standing committee had the opportunity to review the capital project. Tours of the facilities were conducted. All meetings on the proposal were held in public, all documents associated with the project were prominently displayed on the town's web site, and the issue was avidly followed by the town's four local news providers.

After thorough review, last Tuesday the RTM's standing committees reported the full body with a unanimous recommendation to approve the proposal. After almost two hours of discussion and debate, with presentations by almost a dozen elected and appointed officials, the RTM logged a decisive 58-28 vote in favor of the shuffle. The voting record shows that Democratic members, Republican members, and unaffiliated members of the RTM voted both for and against the proposal. Moreover, the margin of approval was even greater than some of Darien's most recent capital large projects put forward by the previous administration.

In a letter to the Darien Patch, published Nov. 3, 2011, John Lundeen wrote the following regarding the RTM's decisive vote in favor of the shuffle:

"Seeing the historically nonpartisan Representative Town Meeting in Darien fall into lockstep with the misguided leadership of the local Republican party has had, and continues to have a galvanizing effect upon the voters of Darien..." "I am saddened to see how out of step the RTM has become with Darien’s voters. Committee reports and minority committee reports made it clear that normal standards of legislative review have been swept aside in an unseemly rush to complete this one accomplishment before next week’s local elections."

I realize it's campaign season, but in the almost twelve years that I have lived in Darien, I have not once seen RTM's volunteer membership disrespected in such a manner. Moreover, I didn't witness Mr. Lundeen participating in any of the board or commission discussions, the building committee meetings, the facility tours, the RTM committee meetings or even make a statement at one of the two meetings that the RTM formally discussed the shuffle. I'm frankly saddened to see that a person that has put in so little effort was willing to stoop to such a level that he diminishes the time and efforts offered by so many town volunteers. In light of those comments, perhaps Mr. Lundeen should look inward when he thinks of people that are truly "out of step with Darien's voters."

John Sini

Birch Road

The author is a member of the RTM and treasurer of the Darien Republican Town Committee.

 

Jayme, Dave, and Jerry are dedicated, levelheaded, and truthful

Tuesday, Nov. 8, Darien voters will have choices to make. The first choice is to exercise one of our most precious rights, that is to vote! The second choice will be who to vote for. The issues have been debated, the mailers have been sent, the ads have been placed, the letters have been written, the calls have been made, the emails have been sent, and finally the candidates have been out and about talking to voters. So how do you decide who to vote for? Here are some facts.

Over the past two years Darien has been fortunate to have three of the most dedicated, levelheaded, truthful people serving on the Board of Selectmen. Jayme Stevenson, Dave Campbell and Jerry Nielsen have demonstrated common sense, rational thinking and sensible decision making. They have tackled many problems and come up with sound, realistic solutions. Jayme, Dave, and Jerry chose to run a truthful, straightforward campaign that I have been proud to be a part of. They have delivered results and realize there is more to be done. If you care about results and the truth please join me and vote for Jayme Stevenson, Dave Campbell and Jerry Nielsen on Nov. 8.

Susan Marks

The author is the campaign manager of We Are United 2011.


James Palen November 05, 2011 at 06:59 PM
John - Very good article. As 1 of the 100 RTM members and 1 of the 14 members of the RTM's Finance and Budget committee which had the primary responsibility to review the project, I was extremely dissappointed to hear Lundeen's comments about the RTM being "out of touch" with Darien residents. I would add to your point that the Finance and Budget committee voted 10 in favor and 2 opposed to recommend the project to the broader RTM. Those who were opposed where provided great opportunity to discuss their views which were respectfully debated with others in the committee. Finally, I would add that Mr. Lundeen was not in attendance at the Finance and Budget meeting to discuss his views on the project. This meeting was open to the public and attended by other officials and constituents.
Carolyn Schoonmaker November 05, 2011 at 10:31 PM
Every elected body in Darien (BOS, BOE, BOF, P & Z, and RTM) studied and approved bonding $6,979,000, NOT $12,000,000 alleged by the Lundeen campaign, to pay for "The Shuffle". These town bodies spent 12 years under 6 Rep. and Dem. administrations studying the use of town-owned properties and needs of its residents. The Lundeen tickets reaches $12 million by adding in the value of 35 Leroy, but not subtracting the value of the Edgerton St.senior center which will be sold and developed for senior housing at an affordable price at no cost to the town.
sebastian dangerfield November 06, 2011 at 03:23 AM
John, Well said. For the democrats who have made their observations of what they deem disrespect. ( not waiting for bayne for the meaningless swearing in ceremony) a central theme of this campaign...to assign an F to the rtm , simply because they didn't agree with his position...scary. Isn't he the guy promising discussion, civil debate, and inclusion of other opinions? Strange that he concluded that of 86 people who , may have spent more time studying the merits of the issue, 58 ( roughly 2/3) to be simply out of touch and wrong. If that is his brand of inclusion and respect for other peoples opinions, then I honestly have no idea what his complaint is. Truly confusing.
Chris Noe November 06, 2011 at 11:58 AM
The "shuffle" is a blunder of the highest order. The plan fails on all three phases and never justifies the cost. I do not understand the "leadership" aspect of the Republican majority by placing Darien taxpayers 100 million dollars in debt. Consider these points: Is town hall a good location for our seniors? Yes, a gym, a large auditorium. Is it mandatory we move the BoE administrative offices? No, design around them. What are the negatives? It will be the excuse the Republican majority uses to build a pool at town hall instead of at the high school where it belongs, the town owns 3.5 acres adjacent the high school, an olympic size pool needs a 1/2 acre. Conclusion: Good location for seniors, don't move BoE administration or build a pool. 35 Leroy is an awesome downtown location. Build administrative offices there? No Build senior townhouses there? Yes The old senior center: Remodeled? Maybe Raze, start new? Yes, many different floor levels are hazardous. Is this a better location for senior housing than 35 Leroy? No. It's half mile to Palmer's, no sidewalks. Sidewalks are expensive. Does the "Senior-Community Center" concept work? No, directors of the new Westport and Groton facilities say their seniors want expanded evening programs. Summary of what works: Senior Activity Center (only) at the town hall. Senior townhouses at 35 Leroy. Raze the old senior center, add ball fields to the middle school. Half the cost, 3.5 million dollars.
Deb Ann November 06, 2011 at 12:37 PM
The delay is not the fault of anyone but the current administration. There was plan in place for 35 Leroy, it had been vetted, a lease agreement signed. It was cancelled unilaterally by those in power. And this is not a partisan issue. Many Republicans hate this shuffle. It's been forced upon us by a certain element of the party that has taken over the town and become angry at any other Republican who disagrees with them. This adamant, aggressive stance against any affordable housing, even twenty units in our control not a developers, has become so entrenched that spending all this money to stop it is done with a shrug. We had a chance to display our willingness to bring affordable housing into our community. ( Affordable is teachers, policeman, not drug deals and thugs. ) Twenty units could have brought our projected needed points from 60 to 40 in four years. But more importantly it shows something about us. Now we are in the crosshairs of the Department of Justice who have become tired of our arrogance. Debbie Ice
John Boulton November 06, 2011 at 04:24 PM
Well done, Mr. Sini. Unlike John Lundeen, I´ve actually had to ask the RTM to pass budgets and resolutions when I recently served as Board of Ed Chair I can assure everyone the RTM does its homework, and you can´t order it around, it makes up its own mind about what its going to do. A 58 to 38 vote is a decisive margin by a group of very informed citizens. Protestations to the opposite are sour grapes (no matter how clever the allegory), and attacks on the RTM - our neighbors - show a lack of understanding about how Darien government works.
sebastian dangerfield November 07, 2011 at 05:33 AM
Oh man--the claims by debbie ice about teachers and policemen . Why do you say such nonsense? Debbie-what is the income cap level for affordable housing for the 1br apartments that were proposed? What is the starting salary for a policeman in darien? Same teacher? "Many republicans" hate this shuffle. Really? Sure--not surprising. Many love it. Many are indifferent. Are you saying that ALL democrats hate it? If thats the case, then you are blind followers. Im thinking that many people like it , dont like it, and are indifferent. We are in the cross hairs of the Dept of Justice? Tony? are you going to react to this 'scary speech? The cross hairs, hmmm? deb -what is the worst thing that can happen in the dept of justice decision. deb, what is the basis for the doj investigation? Wasnt it inclusionary zoning, that the former administration advanced? It was meant in good faith--but stop the twisting-contorting, scary speeches and PLEASE stop using the argument about policemen and teachers that was valid 20 years ago, but owing to far higher compensation these days, no longer applies. Youre right that in 1987 teachers could have taken advantage of affordable housing. Its no longer the case. Debbie--dont you think its insulting to teachers to always say they are poor people who need state sponsored living arrangements? Of the top 100 salaries in darien, Im sure that 85 are paid to people who work at the schools.
John Sini November 07, 2011 at 01:27 PM
Mrs. Ice, It sounds like you need a little assistance recalling the facts. I can help. The DOJ investigation surrounds the inclusionary zoning regs written during the former administration led under Mr. Bayne and Mrs. Klein. Is Lucsa mentioned, it was well intentioned but the language was clearly flawed and modified under the current administration. Moreover, there's been more units of affordable housing added in Darien these last two years, than the previous six years combined under the Klein/Bayne adminsitrtation. Lastly, under the current admin, Allen O'Neil has been supported by the current administration with the road abandonment and tax abatement regulations The option-to-lease (it was not a lease as you falsely claim) was NOT approved by either P&Z, BOF, or RTM. This option was only executed by the previous BOS. This raised many an eyebrow among RTM members as was a seen as a crafty "end around" the required approvals for such a contract. In fact, that was a unilateral decision that would eventually need approvals from other key bodies. What’s even more interesting is that the option came shortly before the last municipal election day. This current team delivered this town the MORATORIUM, something Mr. Bayne and Mrs. Klein failed to do, even though we had the points for several years. I really wonder if they were so focused on affordable housing at 35 Leroy, they willfully neglected to pursue the moratorium.
Chris Noe November 07, 2011 at 02:28 PM
It's about the seniors??? Why mixed use Senior/Community. Seniors want expanded evening programs. We don't have any evening activities now while our neighbors who have new facilities see necessary increases in their evening activities. This plan is a total blunder and I support those who rally to shut it down.
sebastian dangerfield November 07, 2011 at 02:50 PM
The biggest myth that Democrats always advance, is the notion that Republicans are cold hearted people with little or no charity in their heart. Somehow they think that , by establishing a false moral superiority, they can win things. Unfortunately, in Darien, the approach is no different. The real difference is the approach. Republicans are for affordable housing, where it makes sense, and also not on taxpayers dime. They encourage private development in appropriate spaces. Democrats, feel that we should raise taxes, and utilize government resources to achieve all goals. Thats an ideological difference. And one perhaps worth debating, as to their relative merits. But what is entirely unfair, is to say that Republicans are against helping. As John Sini says, more affordable housing has been built under this current administration, than the 6 prior. Of course Demorats will want to explain, and twist and contort, but the truth is, what the truth is. And if Republicans were as opposed to AH as Dems want you to believe certainly the prior 6 should have at least equalled the last 2. Republicans are pro charity and democrats are pro government. Its what it boils down to. Not mean and nice. Its just categorically unfair.

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