Letter: Council members who abstained from budget vote should be ashamed

To the Editor:

It is very easy to speak in generalities and tell people what they want to hear. When you actually have to govern, you need to tell people how you will fund your promises. This requires you to take positions on issues. As the individual who represents our executive branch of government, I am required to take positions and defend them. Our legislative branch is required to vote yes or no on a specific measure and state their rationale. By virtue of the trust conferred upon us by the voters of Trumbull, we have a moral obligation to take positions and defend them. As a lifelong Trumbullite and product of our public school system, I cannot recall when virtually an entire legislative caucus on the Town Council decided to abstain from voting on the Town budget. Last week, five out of six members of the Democratic minority on the Trumbull Town Council elected to abstain from voting on the Town budget. They should be ashamed of themselves. Only Councilman Tom Whitmoyer had the courage to vote against the Town budget. Their actions insult the people of Trumbull who elected them to make decisions for their benefit.

After my re-election in 2015, I called on the Democratic minority on repeated occasion to present an alternate budget. I openly invited and in fact challenged them to produce a budget that matched their campaign rhetoric of 2015. I called on them to demonstrate with specificity how they would reduce taxes, reduce the mil rate, cut spending while providing 8 million additional dollars to public education —  all things they promised to do during the course of the campaign. For almost six months they told us how Trumbull needed to “spend smarter” but offered no plan of how to do it. They had their chance last week. As we went through the town budget line by line, they had every opportunity to make reductions or increase the budget up to my recommended levels. In point of fact, on a $174,671,598 town budget they only made three motions relative to the budget.

Almost every week, on editorial pages and through social media, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle denigrate our schools and claim we are failing, despite the fact that we spend $105 million on our public school system every year. That equates to $15,634 per pupil. While they tell you the schools are failing they cannot articulate one thing Dr. Cialfi and his administrative team are not acting upon to make our school system better. They certainly had their chance last week and chose not to speak to the quality of the Trumbull Public Schools.  Speaking through talking points and generalities only goes so far. Once they are called out for their rhetoric, all you can hear are crickets. Like the little boy who cried wolf, eventually, people see through the charade and begin to question the motives of those who claim to have all the answers, yet offer no solutions. Leaders lead. They don’t abstain.

Timothy M. Herbst

First Selectman, Town of Trumbull