Herbst: Democratic viewpoint ignores significant facts

To the Editor:

This letter will serve as First Selectman Tim Herbst response to Democratic Town Chairman Tom Kelly's comments earlier this week:

Thank you for your reply. I understand why your response took the entire weekend so you would be able to collaborate with your associates concerning political spin.  Before addressing the root of your comments, I would like to begin by directly addressing your references to a “partisan attack.”  I was not attacking anyone, I was simply pointing out facts that are germane to the discussion at hand and of course, the facts don’t comport to your argument.  Those that criticize a process should at the very least be engaged in that process and I am grateful that many members of your party, both elected and appointed, took the time to take the community survey.  It is unfortunate that you, Mrs. Tesoro and other leaders in your party chose not to participate.  If you would like to observe partisan attacks, I would encourage you to read your own rhetoric and that of your associates that post very vicious attacks on social media on a daily basis.  Rather than telling us what you stand for or what you would do as an alternative, you resort to constant attempts to tear the Town down and by extension, dedicated volunteers. Here are some significant facts that you neglect to mention or even acknowledge:

  1. In 2014, the Town of Trumbull published the Trumbull Plan of Conservation and Development.  This plan was published after nearly 18 months of multiple public hearings, forums, focus groups and community conversations.  The POCD, like in every other community, provides a set of recommendations as to core priorities for a community over a ten year period.  I don’t recall seeing you or many of your colleagues at any of these meetings over the 18 months of deliberation. In that plan, the first key community recommendation was for the construction of a town community center and the second recommendation was for the construction of a senior center;

  2. In 2000, the community was also surveyed under the administration of First Selectman Kenneth Halaby. At the time, there was overwhelming support for the construction of a community center;

  3. In 2015, the Community Center Building Committee began the arduous process of eliciting broad community feedback concerning what resident’s desires were. Specifically, questions were asked as to whether they wanted a community center at all and if so what types of facility and programs they would like to see incorporated;

  4. Between the Town’s e-newsletter system and the First Selectman’s office, 2,622 respondents were emailed a link to the Town wide survey and asked to participate. The email provided a direct link that would connect interested parties to the detailed survey previously referenced;

  5. Notwithstanding the attempts to email almost 3,000 residents, members of my administration and the Building Committee began an aggressive social media campaign. Lori Hayes-O’Brien, a member of the Building Committee, on October 15th, October 19th, November 9th and November 13th posted a link to the Community Center Survey to a Facebook page known as “Keep Trumbull Real” (KTR) that has 3,922 followers. Specifically, Mrs. O’Brien distinguished the difference between the community center survey and the survey that was geared more towards senior programing.  It is significant to note that Mrs. O’Brien is a close, personal friend of Mrs. Tesoro. In point of fact, Mrs. O’Brien’s nomination came from the Democratic caucus when Mrs. Tesoro was the Minority Leader.  If Mrs. Tesoro didn’t like the survey, as you claim, why didn’t she suggest to her good friend that the survey be changed to address her concerns?  She had five months to make recommendations as to modifications to the survey and chose not to, which goes to earlier issues I raised concerning political motivations;

  6. Mrs. O’Brien repeated this same strategy on a Facebook page referred to as “Trumbull Talks” which has 2,711 followers. Specifically Mrs. O’Brien on October 15th, October 19th, November 9th, and November 15th requested the same community response on a different social media forum. Barbara Whetstone, Administrative Assistant to the First Selectman also did the same thing on August 19th and August 27th of 2015;

  7. A link to the survey was also provided on the Town of Trumbull’s Facebook page, which has 2,802 followers and the survey was also sent out through the Town of Trumbull Twitter Account, which has 1,631 followers;

  8. Notwithstanding an aggressive social media campaign, the Senior Center has a newsletter which featured a link to the survey and encouraged other seniors to take the survey via hardcopy if computer access was a challenge. The Senior Center Newsletter goes out to 635 center users;

  9. The social media campaign referenced above did not include very aggressive publication and promotion in both the Trumbull Times and the Connecticut Post;

  10. Some of the most vocal critics of process did not take the survey, notwithstanding the fact that they had five ensuing months to complete the survey.  The survey was released in mid-August of 2015 and was closed in January of 2016.

Mr. Kelly, the facts as articulated above clearly underscore what is really going on here.  You intend to wage an 18 month campaign leading up to the 2017 municipal election and you and your cohorts are trying to stir controversy and issues at every turn.  You were asked more than six months ago to propose an alternate budget, articulate and propose a legislative agenda and propose an actual plan.  And six months later, your party has not done one of those things.  If you want voters to entrust you with the keys to Town Hall, you need to do more than abstain from budget votes and oppose every legislative or community based initiative.

When taxes are reduced, you can’t complain about tax increases. When SAT scores are at an 11 year high with a 75% increase in AP enrollment for next year, your narrative that the school system is in a state of decline rings hollow. When the local economy and Grand List grows every year, despite the Great Recession, your claims that Trumbull is not moving forward go nowhere. This is all about your desire for raw political power. The people of Trumbull deserve better than the nastiness promulgated by you and your cohorts on social media and in other venues.

While you are exclusively focused on the next election, this administration and elected Republicans Town wide are focused on the next generation and moving Trumbull forward.
Timothy M. Herbst,
First Selectman