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Letters to the Editor

August 22, 2007

Gambardella Wants to Lower Labor Costs; Henrici Does Not

Republican mayoral candidate Ron Gambardella is looking into ways to lower the cost of providing health insurance and other benefits to our town employees, in a way that benefits the town employee and the taxpayer. That can’t be said about Mayor Henrici and his gang because all they do is pass the increased cost of these benefits onto the backs of overburdened taxpayers without finding new ways of reducing costs.

Councilman Gambardella's concerns about the high cost of union employees' benefits is not a form of union busting, as Councilman Flanagan has suggested.

What Councilman Gambardella has suggested is when union contracts come up for negotiations that the town union negotiators do something different, and that is calculate what the cost of these negotiated benefits are going to cost the taxpayers of Hamden in the long run.

When town contract negotiators find the cost of these benefits to be too high for the taxpayers, they should go back to the negotiation table and negotiate new ways to lower the cost of these benefits. That may be different, but in no way shape or form is that union busting. Councilman Flanagan should know that, seeing he worked as a union organizer some years ago.

I think Councilman Flanagan still plays the role of union organizer at the Legislative Council table when he tells the media and his fellow Council members that Councilman Gambardella is trying to bust the unions. Remember, union organizers are trained to use words that will paint a negative picture of anyone who questions the cost or wording of union contracts.

Union organizers and negotiators of the past would tell union members that they need more in their contract no matter what the cost is to the employer. That type of thinking has caused more union employers to close their doors and have forced other employers to go nonunion.

Councilman Gambardella has suggested so many times to his fellow Council members that they should cut back on unnecessary spending of tax dollars, like trying to convert Town Hall into a modern police facility. But as we all know, his words have fallen on the deaf ears of the Democrats that sit at the Council table with him.

Thomas Alegi
Benham Street

August 20, 2007

Badamo Reacts to Westervelt

I would like to respond to the comments of previous Fire Marshal Robert Westervelt that were reported in your paper. I would like to once again reiterate my statement that the Leeder Hill school is not a safe place for the children to attend school. The fire safety code violations at Leeder Hill do in fact present a “critical life safety issue.” I have thoroughly researched and reviewed the code concerning this issue and have consulted with Fire Chief David Berardesca, who is also a certified fire marshal.

The chief is in full agreement that these smoke partitions are necessary to ensure the safety of the schoolchildren. I can tell you that the old middle school building does comply with the fire safety code. As far as the contamination of the property being unsafe, it is not for me to determine.

Currently, the school at Leeder Hill is located in one large room. This room is separated into individual classrooms by partitions that are between 6 and 7 feet tall. The height of the ceiling reaches to around 12 or 13 feet high. Right now the partitions are not fixed but are movable and are often pushed aside dangerously blocking exit areas and making the corridors narrower and a safe evacuation less likely. These partitions do not comply with fire safety code requirements.

The code requires that smoke partitions (in essence walls that will prevent smoke from spreading) be fixed and reach the ceiling. These smoke partitions are necessary because in the event of a fire these smoke partitions will contain the smoke in one area and inhibit the spread of smoke to other rooms. The partitions that are currently in place do not prevent the smoke from spreading throughout the entire school because they do not reach the ceiling. If a fire were to occur today, the smoke would rise up and over those partitions and into other classrooms and the corridors as well. Although there is an adequate sprinkler system in place, it will not protect the children against the dangers of smoke inhalation. The majority of deaths in a fire are not from being burned but from smoke inhalation. That is why these partitions are so critical. They will work to contain the smoke in the event of a fire.

Furthermore, it is not just the partitions that presented a fire safety problem at the school. My initial inspection revealed other problems. The emergency lights in the school were not positioned properly and being poorly lit made it more difficult for the children to see their way out of the school in an emergency. In addition, the exit signs were difficult to locate or were nonexistent. These signs are supposed to be visible from any direction so you can find the easiest route out. The current partitions are frequently moved and block the viewing of these signs.

Another problem I noted was that child-prepared artwork was attached to the partitions and hanging from the ceilings. Hanging of artwork is allowed by the code. However, only 50 percent of the walls may be covered and the decorations frequently exceeded this maximum. Since these materials were combustible and flammable, their presence during a fire would create additional smoke, which would quickly spread throughout the building. Since the initial inspection, the artwork has been removed and the exit lighting fixed. The only outstanding issue is the smoke partitions.

Robert Westervelt was fire marshal until 2003. The 1997 NFPA 101 life safety code, which the state adopted, contains these provisions of the code requiring that smoke partitions reach the ceiling. These code requirements were in place while Robert Westervelt was the fire marshal. Why Robert Westervelt did not enforce these provisions of the code I cannot tell you. That is a question for him. The way I see it, he either did not understand the fire code or he chose not to enforce it.

Leeder Hill in its current condition is not a safe place for the children to continue attending school at. It is my duty as fire marshal to enforce the code and keep these schoolchildren, which includes Westervelt’s granddaughter, safe.

Brian W. Badamo
Acting Fire Marshal

August 17, 2007

Henrici Needs to Go

I am a registered Democrat but this November I'll be voting for Ron Gambardella for mayor. I believe Mayor Henrici has let the people of Hamden down and we must vote in a new mayor and Legislative Council this year.

While it is true that most homeowners' taxes took an extra hike last year because of the state-mandated revaluation process of all property, it is also true that early on the mayor was aware that the revaluation was "flawed." He knew that the revaluation caused lower and moderately priced homes to see a larger tax increase than more expensive properties. In fact, many higher-valued homes and commercial properties actually received a tax cut!

I can remember being advised to not panic when I received my reassessment. I was urged to wait and see what the mil rate would be. I never dreamt the mayor and Democratic members of the Legislative Council would not choose to use every resource at their disposal to provide tax relief to Hamden residents. The mayor could have acted in a timely manner, and could have chosen to utilize the state-provided remedy of a simple phase-in to provide as much relief to Hamden residents as possible.

Mayor Henrici chose NOT to take this action. To add insult to injury, Mayor Henrici later requested a substantial pay increase for himself. The Council approved the increase, effective in November.

The final straw was the mayor's comment, as reported in the media, that Ron Gambardella's education task force plan was "a distraction or, at best, pandering to the voters." As in all towns, the cost of providing quality education is a huge part of our budget. Looking for creative ways to address this issue is legitimate and responsible. Suggesting that the plan is "pandering" to the voters is as much an insult to the voters and taxpayers as it is to Ron Gambardella.

The mayor's actions and comments over the past year have convinced me that he does not care about a large segment of Hamden's population. The Democrats on the Legislative Council follow his lead. Therefore, come November, I will vote for the man who has consistently listened and respectfully responded to the concerns of taxpayers -- Ron Gambardella. I will also vote for candidates I believe will bring new ideas to the Council and have the courage to take a stand even if that means going against the party line.

Diane Hoffman
Hamden Alliance for Responsible Taxation

August 14, 2007

Leng Misrepresents Tax Rate

Thank you for your Aug. 13 “Chat in Hamden” with Curt Leng. I actually found Mr. Leng’s remarks deeply disturbing in a number of areas. But one statement in particular contains a glaring and damaging error that needs to be corrected immediately.

Mr. Leng states, “When you look at other towns, for example North Haven, they have a higher mil rate than we do now.”

This statement is completely inaccurate. Per the North Haven tax collector, its current (FY 2007) mil rate is 25.44, which is significantly less than Hamden’s current rate of 29.10. So what could Mr. Leng possibly have been thinking about?

Giving Mr. Leng the benefit of the doubt, it is possible that he was carelessly referring to the previous fiscal year. If so, his statement appears at first blush to be correct. In FY 2006, North Haven’s mil rate was 28.70, and Hamden’s was 27.95. But here’s where things begin to get interesting and, perhaps, downright disingenuous. The only reason North Haven’s mil rate was higher than Hamden’s in FY 2006 was because North Haven enacted a phase-in of its revalued assessments!

In 2005, both Hamden and North Haven underwent a revaluation. North Haven phased in the resulting changes in assessments (over three years). Regrettably, Hamden did not. As a result, the North Haven FY 2006 mil rate was associated with a grand list whose revaluation assessment changes were then only one-third realized, or “phased-in,” whereas Hamden’s assessment changes were then already fully realized. So, while North Haven’s mil rate may have been slightly higher than Hamden’s, its taxes on comparably assessed properties were much lower than Hamden’s.

Were North Haven not phasing in its assessments, its FY 2006 mil rate would have been approximately 19.80 -- far below Hamden’s 27.95. And in the current year, North Haven’s phase-in-adjusted mil rate would be approximately 22.40 -- again, significantly lower than Hamden’s 29.10.

If Mr. Leng did not understand that his North Haven comparison was unfairly mixing apples and oranges, then he seems to lack the financial experience or sophistication necessary to continue to serve on the Legislative Council, especially as its finance chair. If, however, he did appreciate these concepts -- yet knowingly presented them out of context -- then he is being deceptive, and is thus even less deserving of the trust of 6th District residents.

Mark Sanders
Hamden Alliance for Responsible Taxation

August 13, 2007

No Old Middle School

As a parent of a student of Highville Mustard Seed Charter School, I am more than a little sickened by the recent events and new controversies surrounding my son’s school. When we, as parents (with the support of the paraprofessionals and a teacher at Highville), first approached the attorney general to help save our school, we left with the sense that we had found an ally in our fight. At every turn, he and his staff have listened to us and given us advice that has proven invaluable.

Now it seems that we have a fight that none of us could have imagined.

When the Hamden Daily News broke the news that the school would be relocated to the old Hamden Middle School, as a resident of Middletown, I knew nothing of the school other than the land in that area was used as a dump, and that the area was considered to be unsafe. As if on cue, my telephone began to ring. The message was the same: “They cannot be serious. The site is contaminated and after being vacant and not well maintained for so long, the building itself is now contaminated as well.”

Again, I do not live in Hamden, so I must rely on the news and public documents for my information. It seems to be agreed that the site was a dump, the soil is contaminated, the cap placed is temporary and the building is in need of repair. Some Hamden councilmen at the time said not a thing was wrong with the school. The town simply needed a bigger school. These same councilmen who voted to spend millions on a new school now seem to be trying their best to justify Highville’s use of the school. Why then, if nothing is wrong with the facility, doesn’t the space-strapped Hamden school system use it themselves?

Further, regardless as to whether the space is deemed safe or not, a class action suit brought by the residents of the area continues in federal court. Why the indecent haste to move 300 children into a school in this very neighborhood? I say indecent, because no parents had been told or more importantly asked how they feel about this move. As no lease has yet been signed, can the building be properly cleaned in three weeks?

It has also been suggested that the Leeder Hill complex [where the Highville school was last located] is “sick.” Again, I beg to differ. Vents and ducts have been cleaned and the new landlord has fixed leaks, the roof and damaged walkways. The last time the kitchen was inspected was in June. The state Department of Education was also there, ironically, on the same day it was being inspected. Also, two other schools share the Leeder Hill Drive property. If it is good enough for New Haven’s Board of Education, surely it is good enough for Highville.

I query also the need for over $100,000 to bring Leeder Hill up to fire code. Someone is a stranger to the truth, as the fire marshal told the school precisely what was necessary to open in the fall, and a licensed contractor estimated the cost to be $20,000. Additionally, Highville parents are ready to begin the work. Why the sudden jump in cost?

My son has been at Highville for two years. He should be entering kindergarten. I chose Highville because of its phenomenal staff that treats my child like one of their own. He has many chronic health problems including life-threatening allergies and asthma. The one thing he does not have is environmental allergies -- and that is after two years at Leeder Hill.

His pediatrician called me to say if I move him into the old Hamden Middle School, I have to find a new pediatrician. It would take testing for months after the building is cleaned for them to give me the green light to send him back to school.

I never believed for a minute that that was an issue that I would have to face. One of my son’s paraprofessionals, Arlene Hanlan, lives in the area. Last month her soil was retested and she was told that if ingested, it is dangerous. More so, she received a letter from the lawyer leading the residents’ lawsuit indicating the status of that suit, and that it goes to federal court in September. There is also no recent information available that contradicts testing that showed the old Hamden Middle School to be “sick.”

I humbly suggest that all the adults involved in decision-making take a step back and put themselves in the parents’ place. Would each of you send your children to the old Hamden Middle School? The idea of moving to a school with an auditorium and a gymnasium is lovely, but that does not in any way benefit a sick student body. The town should take its time and clean the site, maybe then the fit would be a good one. By the way, Who pays for the cleaning?

I hope that we can call on the Office of the Attorney General again to resolve this issue, as I refuse to believe that all parties involved are equally aware of the issues at hand. Several parents have been told that the Attorney General, the Department of Education and the town of Hamden all agree that this move is beneficial. I would go so far as to suggest that independent inspections are needed. I don’t know that given Hamden’s political climate, I believe anything that town officials have to tell me.

I love Highville and its staff with a passion. To see it used as a political football is unfortunate. To see our children used in this way is despicable. My fight is a fight to keep all our children safe.

Cecilia Thomson-Jones


Please, Lend Us Your Ear

To Highville Charter School parents, relatives and guardians:

I am asking that the parents of Highville students come to the information/registration meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Hamden High School with an open mind and give us a fair chance to present our case. A lot of distortion and misinformation has occurred on the Highville story and we have not had the time or a full opportunity to present our case.

A large, dedicated team of volunteers, professionals, attorneys and state personnel have worked extremely hard, under intense pressure and at an incredibly fast pace, just to rescue the school from a major financial disaster and legal entanglements threatening the loss of its charter. Until only about one week ago, it was highly uncertain whether Highville would even exist and retain its charter. It is difficult to explain how close the school came to losing it. The courts, the attorney general and the Department of Education have taken a great risk in letting us move forward.

However, the Department of Education is waiting for one more thing. If we do not have enough students registered for school this week, there will be no Highville. It is as simple as that.

It would be a shame to let a school such as Highville with an incredibly dedicated teaching staff and an exceptional academic program come to an end because of misinformation and misperceptions. This school serves a community of children and parents whose only other option is to send their children to schools which do not have the same academic excellence, culture and faculty commitment of Highville.

We plan to explain how the new Highville Charter School will be safe at its new location and that it will go on to become an even better school than ever. Please listen to what we have to say -- and then make your decision.

Chip Croft
Chairman of the Board
Highville Charter School


Henrici Needs to Do Right By Police

The question involving Mayor Henrici's latest belated response to the issue of what to do with the police headquarters is, Why?

What would be the advantages of combining two totally unrelated projects like a new police station and the renovation of the historic old Ttown Hall?

Why would it be easier to try to adapt an 80-year-old building to the needs of the present day? Would it preserve the traditional historic beauty of the old Town Hall by altering its appearence irrevocably? Would it then jeopardize federal or state historic preservation funding that could be secured by the town?

Speaking of which, the Amento Administration had secured some funding and was in the process of applying for more almost two years ago. What has the Henrici Administration followed through on? What has been done to the building in the last two years? The answer appears to be nothing.

Apparently, he was too caught up in doing nothing about the police station to have time to do nothing about the Town Hall. Well, thank goodness that is over.

Now he appears to have found a way to screw up both projects at the same time by combining them. It was only after his political opponent, Ron Gambardella, publicly took him to task over his inattention over the conditions at the current police station that the Henrici spin machine finally geared itself up for action. Surprise, we weren't ignoring the safety and well-being of our police officers, we have a plan!

What was the result of two years of intensive attention to the problem? If you guessed spending $60,000 of your hard-earned tax dollars on a new plan for what to do, you win the prize.

Over $100,000 in state grant money obtained by the Amento Administration was spent on planning and design a new police station at an unoccupied site. This information is available to any administration that plans on doing just that. We have the land and we have the plans. And even if we didn't, we have examples of other recently built police stations to follow.

Have the basic needs of the police changed since the Amento Administration? Or could it be that the Henrici Administration just can't bear to acknowledge that anything good that came out of that era might have actually been of benefit to the town?

Can it be similar to the additional $60,000 of grant money for Borgnine park that the Henrici supporting members of the last town council forced the mayor to return to the state as unneeded? Look at that pathetic excuse for a park at Dixwell and Putnam and you tell me if the money could have been well spent. The only plausible explanation for giving back money would have been the fact that it would have made Amento look good -- and that was something to avoid even if it hurt the town.

Again, the question to be answered is why would it be easier to try to renovate and jerry-rig an addition onto an existing structure rather than build fresh?

This is just another example of the hide-bound mentality that would have had us try to cram a new middle school into the framework of the old one rather than starting from scratch to address the needs of a new century. The current administration is bobbling the issue of what to do with renovating the old middle school even as I speak. Don't let them get their hands on yet another ill-thought-out project like the combination police/Town Hall renovations.

There is only one solution to the problem and that is a new police headquarters on a piece of unoccupied land, as advocated by Ron Gambardella. There is only one way to ensure that this happens and that is to replace the current administration with a more forward-looking and responsible one in November.

Save the Veterans Memorial Town Hall from this madness and continued indignity.

Edward Beaudette


Ice Rink, Finally a Great Asset

At long last, Hamden’s Louis Astorino Ice Rink is now a first-class facility serving Hamden year-round. On behalf of the 300-plus skaters and their families, we would like to thank the hard work of Mayor Craig Henrici and his staff.

We’d also like to acknowledge the collaborative efforts of Hamden’s Parks & Recreation and Public Works departments in order to finalize this venture. Special thanks to one of the people involved with this project since its inception, Purchasing Agent Judi Kozak. We wish her the best on her recent retirement. Mayor Henrici and Mrs. Kozak worked diligently within tough parameters in order to provide the best solutions for the project.

Mayor Henrici saw that finishing the project, which was begun almost 10 years ago, was long overdue. He and his administration were able to secure grant funds to finish the project, and kept costs down by using town workers to complete portions of the renovation rather than outside contractors. Mayor Henrici truly took personal interest in this project and his enthusiasm was contagious. The staff at the rink is helping to restore the pride that is associated with the Hamden programs and it is evident by their effort to maintain the facility.

The building has been restored, the mechanicals have been updated and the locker rooms have been upgraded, including a new locker room for the Hamden High School Girls’ Hockey Team. The improvements have allowed the town the opportunity to profitably offer year-round usage to all residents. I urge all residents to come and take advantage of the expanded ice access or just come take a look. For information on the programs offered by HYHA, please check out our extensive Web site. For public skating times and various Parks & Rec programs, please call the rink’s information line at 287.2610.

We are grateful for the renewed interest in this wonderful town resource and look forward to making full use of it, full year, for many years to come

Hamden Youth Hockey Association
Board of Directors

August 10, 2007

Leng, Can You Explain?

As a constituent of Councilman Curt Leng, I was disappointed to read his attacks on mayoral candidate Ron Gambardella in the Hamden Daily News. It is puzzling to see one of the chief architects of the recent budget distance himself from the passage of the budget and admit to voting against it.

Budgeted spending increased by approximately $20 million since fiscal year 2005-2006 and taxes have substantially increased for many of Hamden’s residents. Much of this occurred during Councilman Leng's watch as finance chair. My personal home property tax increased over 18 percent and I am aware of others in our neighborhood that were faced with significantly higher increases.

After 10 years on the Council, one must ponder why Councilman Leng appears to lack the influence to more aggressively control the budget -- a platform his party endorsed with eagerness during the last campaign. The rhetoric contained in his letter to the Hamden Daily News blames the tax increase on the revaluation. Councilman Leng clearly understands the difference between the increase to the grand list of Hamden, influenced by revaluation, and the establishment of the mil rate -- the variable determining our tax bill -- set by the Council.

Revaluation merely establishes WHAT is taxed, not HOW MUCH tax is generated. Revaluation did redistribute the tax burden by changing the relative makeup of the grand list, and has become a major problem in Hamden; however, the administration had the ability to address inequities and the responsibility to control spending.

As for a surplus in the budget that Mr. Leng talks of, I would certainly hope that there would be one! The budget process that could find no cuts, yet produces a surplus represents questionable fiscal policy, as Councilman Leng points out in his letter: “In fact, I voted against the last two town budgets because I felt that the tax rate increase could have been reduced further.”

Mayoral candidate Ron Gambardella has spoken out and shown that he recognizes the danger of a spending policy that is clearly rendering fiscal pain to his constituents. Councilman Leng appears to agree by his vote against the budget. It is time for Mayor Henrici to address this major issue and for Councilman Leng to explain to his 6th District constituents why we are faced with this fiscal conflict within the Council, leading the finance chairman to vote against the 2007-2008 budget.

John Lang
6th District


Flanagan, How About Telling the Whole Story?

John Flanagan's recent letter concerning the middle school begs belief and demonstrates just how selective his memory of events is, and how prone he is to making unsubstantiated allegations against vague unnamed individuals. He seems to specialize in assassination by innuendo.

Examples of his selectivity abound in his letter. First of all,  no one in the Amento Administration, the school administration or the School Building Committee -- which I chaired for four years -- ever made any statements to the effect that the old middle school presented any past or present danger to the staff or children.  Even without the cap on the contaminated undersoil, the chances of any ill effect was zero unless the the topsoil was disturbed.

The installation of the temporary cap was intended to provide an additional safety margin to guard against erosion of the surface. Justified concern over the ability and resolve of the town to maintain the cap was the main concern of many individuals and it remains so today.

If there was ever any danger, the school would have been immediately closed.  The school was always pronounced to be safe by everyone involved in the new middle school project -- and Flanagan knows that.  His sense of "vindication" over the fact the school was not dangerous makes it appear that he was the lone voice of reason in this regard.

He was not.

He also fails to remember that although the type and degree of contamination at the middle school was well documented, the situation regarding the surrounding homes was not at all clear at the time. He may find his 20/20 hindsight admirable but it would have been short-sighted in the extreme to just blindly assume that the contamination was not any different, or more severe, without testing the other properties.

As for the new middle school being designed too small, he also selectively forgets that he was one of the most vocal critics of the fact that the school cost more than originally projected. The fact that the increase in cost was primarily due to enlarging the original size of the school to the maximum allowable for full state reimbursement in order to accomodate more students is conveniently not mentioned in his letter. He is also still screaming about the cost of the school.

How does he explain his stance against spending more money to enlarge the school while now complaining that it is too small? You cannot have it both ways. Bigger always means more expensive. In addition, he also forgets to mention that the old school was designed to accomodate around 550 students while the current enrollement is over 1,100. Doubling the size of the old school on a small and cramped site was not a sensible option and that is why it was not done.

His veiled assertion that the move away from the school was in part due to racism is merely his opinion and a disgraceful one at that. As for "shady" politicians misleading the public, why don't you try naming a few and giving us some examples instead of pretending to be unbiased?

Finally, his dissatisfaction with the process to determine the future of the building is amusing considering that the whole backwards process is being presided over by the Henrici Administration. Amento wanted to wait until the site was remediated before deciding what to do with it, while Henrici can't wait to stuff something into the site without any regard for the cleanup and its possible effects on the new residents of the school.

Flanagan did his very best to unseat the Amento Administration and insert Henrici in its place, and now he is dissatisfied with its performance. Again, you cannot have it both ways.

Edward Beaudette


Looney, Will You Push For State-Sanctioned Killing?

Dear Sen. Martin Looney,

As a registered independent citizen in your district of Hamden, we all know by now of the human tragedy that occured in Cheshire. The horrific slaughter of three innocent human beings and the assault of another by two career criminals on parole were absolutely disgusting and unacceptable. What is amazing is that the parole board didn't know why they were paroled.

We are told it was a lack of communication between agencies, so no one knew. Will anyone be held accountable? Don't bet the farm on it. The past decade has shown that the state Legislature has not kept up with strengthing of laws in spite of the rise in violent crime of all kinds and this is result.

Touchy-feely loopholes, pat-on-the-wrist punishment and other liberal nonsense are now the norm. Legislators are experts at devising ways to raise taxes on Connecticut citizens, but are inept in devising laws to strengthen the security and safety of innocent, law-abiding citizens.

The state has a capital punishment law on the books and that's exactly where it remains, on the books. It has never been tweaked by the General Assembly to actually be effective. The Cheshire tregedy calls out for a trial, and if convicted,  the death penalty imposed. But t his will never happen in Connecticut. Twenty years from now memories will fade and along will come some bleeding-heart judge and the death penalty will be overturned and "life" in prison will prevail.

Will our Sen. Looney take a leadership role in correcting these injustices? We will see. So far the silence is deafening.

Frank Baldino
Washington Avenue

August 9, 2007

Old Middle School is Not, Has Never Been, Dangerous. Period.

Taxpayers are justifiably outraged concerning a clear, six-year pattern of blatant lies and carefully parsed statements. Vindication four years late is an ambivalent feeling for me and has been very costly to the town.

After spending $54 million to $60 million on a new middle school designed too small, a state Department of Environmental Protection representative, finally, noted publicly what I've said all along. There is no health threat at the former Hamden Middle School site if proper construction methods are used. The problem on the site, and indeed in some of the neighborhood, has always been a question of due diligence concerning structure -- not pollution.

However, as a Council member, I still have to deal with a site with a reputation intentionally damaged and tarnished by  former town officials for their own ends and by some, certainly not the majority, of the neighborhood organizers seeking self-promotion.

With reasonable and normal (not extraordinary) care, there never, ever has been a health danger on the old HMS site. That was a myth perpetrated by some who wanted the school moved from "down there" and some who were still bitter about the closing of Sleeping Giant Junior High School. It, also, became a tool for "shady" politicians seeking re-election who found it a convenient tool for scaring people into voting for them while they allegedly saved them from a non-existent threat.

For those who will attempt to deny I know the neighborhood, sorry, but  I grew up in the area.

All I can say is those naysayers weren't part of the ball games on the "black lot" (cinders actually) over by Butler Street, where it got difficult to see a taped baseball, on the ground, at dusk. And they probably never rode a bike past the "lovely" multi-colored waters behind the school (or the sink hole later filled in with the trees, etc., removed while building Laurel View golf course) to get to a game at Rochford Field.

By the way, just an aside on the source of the pieces of carbon (cinders) found by the "experts" near the surface of Rochford Field. The carbon was, most probably, from the cinder track built and used for Memorial Day and Labor Day meets from the end of the Spanish-American War until a track was built behind Hamden High School.

However, at Tuesday's middle school reuse meeting, I asked about structure not pollution. I asked about pie-in-the-sky plans and diagrams representing another myth being foisted on a community already abused by self-proclaimed saviors.

As I noted, the point of the meeting was the geology of the site and surrounding area. My statement that Michael Whelan Junior High School was built on 50-foot pilings for good reason was needed to bring the meeting back to reality. It wasn't a meeting about the residences in the area. That meeting should, however, come soon. This huge site project doesn't exist in a vacuum.

Those report diagrams, given to us by the consultant on the reuse project, with houses and an extension of Shelton Avenue toward the back of the HMS property show a complete lack of understanding about the filled areas there. There were no cost projections for the other proposed buildings. And the costs concerning the building's conversion to other uses were woefully low. Those hosting the meeting carefully tap danced around that subject with comments about not being at that phase yet.  And, yet, they answered my question with an: "Oh yes! We considered the fact that pilings might be needed for those buildings."

Personally, I doubt it has received more consideration than the time it took to make that statement.

Perhaps the reuse committee got the point. Perhaps they didn't. I'm still waiting for the DEP's great "new" plan which, as their representative Rob Bell stated should be ready sometime in "the near future." I'll take that to mean sometime shortly after we see pigs flying over the Sleeping Giant.

Oh, just in case they might be reading this in Hartford. If the plan for "the near future" includes removing soil and placing ELURs [environmental land-use restrictions] on properties, consider it DOA.

John Flanagan
2nd District Councilman

August 8, 2007

How Could You Side with Bush?

Congress, led by the Democrats, folded under pressure from the White House and passed a bill which, in effect, negates the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution. I expected Congressional Republicans to support this, but to have 16 Democrats vote "yes" was mind-boggling.

This piece of legislation is designed to protect the president, the telecommunications companies and the operatives who did the dirty eavesdropping work. It was not designed to protect the rights of the people.

Are Democrats so afraid of being called "soft on terrorism" that they would betray their constituents? Are they still reluctant to openly challenge Bush in fear that their earmarks will be denied?

I wrote the following to the Honorable Rosa DeLauro, to see if I could get some explanation. I do not expect a response, except maybe surveillance by federal operatives.

"Your recent Yea vote on Roll Call #821 was cowardly, anti-democratic an appeasement to the current Administration. Please read the 4th and 5th Amendment of the Constitution and see if you can reconcile your vote against the Constitution. There is a reason that Congress has only a 14% approval rating. Democrats were voted in, in the recent election in order to put the brakes on these Fascists who have taken over the government and are hell-bent on shredding the Constitution. You and the other democrats who failed to take a stand on this issue will certainly be remembered in the next election. You had a chance to stand up for the Constitution and the voters and you failed."

DeLauro has a lot of explaining to do.

S.F. Wilson
Forest Street

August 4-6, 2007

Send in the Elephants

Is Curt Leng kidding? The Democrats had to raise taxes because of the state-mandated revaluation? As a longtime legislator who has worked on the budget and mil rate for years, he should know that a high revaluation can be adjusted and balanced by the Town Council through the mil rate.

Some of the real reasons our taxes went up were enumerated by Leng in his letter: problems with the pension fund, poor Wall Street ratings, disorganized Finance Department and the need to create a budget surplus. Where does he think those problems came from?

Except for one term in the 1980s during the John DeNicola Jr. Administration, the Democrats have controlled the Council for almost three decades and thus the mil rate. They have also created a situation whereby our taxes increase dramatically each year for one reason or another -- all of which are attributable to Democratic incompetence.

I would suggest to my fellow Hamden voters that it is time to change horses. Vote Republican in November and begin the long march to real fiscal responsibility.

Nick Bauer
Republican candidate, 9th District Council seat

August 2, 2007

(Double D) for Disappointingly Democratic

I am extremely disappointed with Curt Leng's recent editorial as well as the performance of the Democratic Party here in Hamden. Mr. Leng's defense of the Henrici Administration and the Democratic-led Legislative Council clearly underscores that the Hamden Democratic Party is blinded by its own dominance.

Mr. Leng's list of so-called accomplishments by the Henrici Administration may bring smiles to Wall Street bond brokers and to town bureaucrats, but it only brings burdens and headaches to Hamden citizens with no improvement in basic services. In fact, Hamden public schools continue to under perform despite a healthy budget. It is also disturbing that Mr. Leng suggests a town budget surplus is an accomplishment when many households are operating at a deficit to support this surplus.

My family experienced a 25 percent increase in property taxes over the last two years. Not quite 31 percent, but it is still extremely excessive. I am quite sure other Hamden homeowners actually did have property tax increases of 31 percent over the last couple of years.

At the same time, many high-end homeowners and commercial taxpayers actually experienced tax cuts. True, the shift in the tax burden occurred in part due to a "flawed" revaluation. However, Mayor Henrici and the Democratic-controlled Legislative Council had ample opportunity to address the "flawed" revaluation through a phase-in -- as New Haven has done -- but they simply chose not to.

The Democrats can quibble over percentage points, but the bottom line is that their recent tax increases were excessive and unequally distributed among Hamden taxpayers. It hardly seems a value of the Democratic Party to shift the tax burden to middle- and lower-income earners. It hardly seems a value of the Democratic Party to support the influence of a few over the well being of the many.

The only thing I find misleading in local Hamden politics is the subscript (D) behind the majority of our local leaders. Many words come to mind when I see the (D) but none of them is Democratic. Overall the (D) seems to me to stand for just plain Disappointing. Having voted for Democratic candidates my entire life, this upcoming election will be the first where I will actively support candidates of other parties.

I urge all Hamden voters to look behind the party subscripts of candidates as these subscripts often do not convey the true values of our local leaders.

Paul Larocque


Different Shades of Child Safety

Highville Mustard Seed Charter School may reopen in the fall, possibly in the former Hamden Middle School.

We, the taxpayers of Hamden, paid for a new middle school because the old middle school sits on a toxic waste dump. We spent millions of dollars to move our children away from that toxic waste dump. Now that we paid for a new middle school it’s apparently safe to send the charter schoolchildren to the old school.

I would like to ask Mayor Henrici a few questions concerning the old middle school building:

1) Has the heating system been replaced?

2) Has the leaky roof been replaced?

3) Has the mold problem been resolved?

4) Have all the broken windows been repaired?

5) Has the toxic waste been removed from under and around the building?

I think the answer to those five questions is that nothing has been down to correct those problems.

The toxic waste dump is still under and around the old middle school. So what’s unsafe for one child a few years ago is not unsafe for anther child this year, as long as Mayor Henrici can make some money from renting the old middle school.

The parents who send their children to the Highville Mustard Seed Charter School should ask everyone that is involved with this rental deal, "If that building is so safe for young children to go to school there, would you move your office into that building and would you send your child there for eight hours a day?"

Thomas Alegi
Benham Street


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