Letters to the Editor - Lakeville Journal - 10-11-18

I’ve been voting since I filled out an an absentee ballot for Dwight Eisenhower at Fort Knox in 1956 and in all those years, I can’t remember an election with candidates less appealing than the pair running for governor of Connecticut in November—except for the pair who ran for president two years ago. 

I still hope to do my civic duty and vote for someone for governor but at the moment, a month before Election Day, I can’t cast that vote for either of the major party candidates, Ned Lamont or Bob Stefanowski.  

And I’m not convinced by third party candidate Oz Griebel either, although in his only debate with the party nominees, he betrayed more knowledge of how state government works than they did.  

When asked how he’d deal with the looming $4 billion deficit, Griebel said he’d temporarily suspend payments to the state employee and teacher pensions which are already deeply in the red. A highly temporary stopgap at best, but an answer.

But Stefanowski was worse, falling back on his single talking point. He’d cut taxes and pay for the cuts by cutting spending without saying where or how.  Lamont was even less specific, saying he’d get everyone around a table for a kumbaya or something.

Without divine intervention, Griebel, the Republican turned independent, hasn’t a chance against the better financed party nominees. He has, however, taken the lead in one department, the release of his tax returns.  Lamont and Stefanowski had been  playing games with the voters, as Lamont said  he’d release his returns when Stefanowski does and Stefanowski avoided the subject.  But shortly after Griebel acted, the others said they’d follow suit although Stefanowski didn’t make it clear what form his information would take.

This reluctance by the two very wealthy candidates would make one suspect they have something to hide, like the revelation that another millionaire candidate, Tom Foley, had paid a remarkable $673 in federal taxes the year before he ran for governor and lost to Dan Malloy in 2014. This wouldn’t serve either man well while running for governor of this highly taxed electorate.

 I had planned to vote for the Republican candidate this time.  Democrat Dan Malloy took over a fiscal mess left by Republicans John Rowland and Jodi Rell over four terms and built it into the huge deficit facing us today. A bad deal Rowland made with the state employees unions in a futile attempt to win their love was extended by Malloy into something worse. I therefore thought it was time to give the Republicans a shot at fixing things but they couldn’t nominate a viable candidate.  Neither could the Democrats.

The Democratic Party in Connecticut should change its name to the Labor Party as it has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the state’s public employee unions, already hard at work to elect Lamont.   

But the Republican primary voters ignored the one Republican, David Stemerman, who offered an understandable plan to deal with the deficit and pension crisis and gave the nomination to the candidate with the most commercials, the unknown quantity, and brand new Republican, Stefanowski.  

Even the lieutenant governor candidates, who run in tandem with the heads of each ticket, aren’t terribly inspiring.  Democrat Susan Bysiewicz is a losing candidate who can’t break the habit of running and is best known for being told to stop running for attorney general by a judge who determined she didn’t have enough lawyer experience.  

Joe Markley is an ultra-conservative, far to the right of Connecticut’s Republicans. How ultra is Markley? He was one of a very few legislators voting against banning bump stocks used to convert rifles into assault weapons to some effect in the Las Vegas massacre. In 2013, he voted against requiring fluoridated water. He was against equal pay for women and was the only state senator to vote against removing guns from owners under restraining orders.  

Griebel’s running mate, Democrat Monte Frank, is a Newtown lawyer, former president of the Connecticut Bar Assn. and an anti-gun activist.

This isn’t trivial. Since I have lived in Connecticut, three lieutenant governors succeeded to governor; after Abe Ribicoff became a presidential cabinet officer,  Ella Grasso died in office and John Rowland resigned and went to jail. All three successors, John Dempsey, William O’Neill and Jodi Rell, eventually became governors in their own right, so having a worthy successor is important.

So what’s a voter to do? We can hope one or more of the big three  begins to explain his plan for the state’s future  in a bit more coherence than we’ve enjoyed to date but I doubt it.  The debates have been far from informative and I believe there are only two left.  

This leaves those highly informative ads.

Good luck to all of us.

Simsbury resident Dick Ahles is a retired journalist. Email him at rahles1@outlook.com.


Mermaids and monkeys and Groots, OH MY!

Thank you to all the local businesses, non-profits, groups, families and kids who participated in the 18th Annual Scarecrow Contest! There were 30 ’crows over two miles of Main Street, and well over 400 people voted for their favorites. How amazing is that? Special thanks go to our two headquarters: Salisbury General Store & Pharmacy, and The Green Cafe in Lakeville.

Sadly, the orange excavator did not get Scarecrow Contest Entry paperwork in on time, and so could not be listed on the map/ballot. Too bad, it could have placed in the sculpture category.

Jean Saliter



We need candidates who open doors

Those of us old enough can recall a time following World War II when the atmosphere enveloping daily life reflected the clear intent of our Constitution’s framers: to “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…, [and] promote the general welfare….”  There was buoyancy, a feeling we were all participants in a comforting way of life.

That feeling dissipated long ago. Who can say why? Manny Santos, candidate for Connecticut’s 5th District seat in the U.S. Congress, thinks he knows the answer: “Some norms in our society have shifted; perhaps people are less respectful of life or authority.  Maybe it’s a general decline in personal responsibility.” What people does he have in mind? Me? You? His solution: “belief in the rule of law.”

Our Founders, too, believed in the rule of law. So do I. But law, by itself, is bloodless. It is Justice that infuses the law with life — guiding our general welfare, and fostering the social tranquility that I remember. To that end, the spirit of America has been about opening doors for everyone.

Today, a fog of mean-spiritedness lies on our land. One after another, doors are being shut. For Santos, those closings are largely mandated by the rule of law. At first glance, simple recourse to law may seem reasonable. Yet without justice, without heart, law merely channels a drive for control. We must always ask, control by whom? Who benefits?

From Santos’s published platform, on the young DACA folks and on what he crudely mislabels as illegal immigration: “We cannot reward law-breaking; they cannot become citizens.” Door closed.  And in an ultimate expression of control mentality: “I will support funding for the wall.”

About help for the less fortunate among us: “I support requiring able-bodied adults on public assistance to seek employment.”  Unfortunately, this approach, based on gimmick-ridden “reforms,” has historically failed — although it does save money by keeping people away from the assistance they need. More doors closed.

Manny Santos on healthcare: “Congress may feel pressure to come back to the negotiating table … to finally repeal Obamacare.” Pressure from whom? From a future congressman Santos? Another door closed for many low-income Americans.

There’s more meanness in store for us, in a land paradoxically blessed with riches. President Trump’s top economic advisor said recently the administration has to be tougher on spending and would begin to “consider” the larger entitlements “probably next year.” We have been told flat-out by Republican leaders in Congress that the funding as well as the benefits for those entitlements — specifically, Social Security, Medicare, and children’s health — will have to be reduced. Why? In order to compensate for the budget deficit caused by the mammoth 2017 tax cuts for corporations and big investors. About these existential issues, for myself and for many others whom I know, Santos’s platform falls silent.

We need Americans who open doors, not close them, to step forward. Teachers, for example, like David Lawson, candidate for State Senate. And like Santos’s opponent: Jahana Hayes, a Teacher of the Year.

Alan Tucker



First pet parade

Eighty humans, 30 dogs, two turtles and one goat: the turnout on Sunday at Lakeville’s Community Field for the First Annual Fall Festival Weekend Pet Parade.Pets and owners mingled on the field before parading up Pettee Street and through downtown Lakeville, receiving Polaroids, ribbons and pet treats upon their return to the field. For a first time event, the turnout was tremendous, and a great time was had by all. Thank you to all who participated.

Special thanks to our wonderful sponsors: Black Rabbit Bar & Grille, Petpourri, Salisbury Dog Park, Tri-State Chamber of Commerce and The Ultimate Dog. Without your support, the Pet Parade would not have been possible. I hope everyone is looking forward to an even bigger and better event next year!

Mary T. Wilbur

Tri-State Chamber




In her partisan search for axes to grind (letter, Oct. 4), Gretchen Gordon claims an inappropriate inconsistency on my part for saying Christine Ford should not be prejudged as a victim of Brett Kavanaugh, even as I prejudged his fitness for the high court.

There is no inconsistency, only Ms. Gordon’s mischaracterization, one of several in her letter. Offering an opinion (as on Kavanaugh’s fitness) is expected in an opinion column, and is normal in any event. That is entirely different from prejudging without proof or corroboration that Ford is a victim of Kavanaugh, making him guilty by definition. Under our system, until and unless proof is found, she’s an “alleged victim” and he’s “presumed innocent.”

On another point, Ms. Gordon seems unaware that the Obama administration pressured colleges to adopt procedures that favor assault accusers, contributing to a well-documented situation in which many males were railroaded.

While Hillary Clinton and Anita Hill may not deny the need for investigation, as they define it, they also demand that women be believed. Only a fair investigation, not one’s gender, can determine who’s telling the truth. Both the accused and the accuser deserve equal treatment, including vigorous scrutiny. Scrutinizing Kavanaugh right down to the meaning of words in his high school yearbook while shielding Ford like a Faberge egg is patently unfair. Such uneven treatment implies her victimhood and his guilt.

In lecturing me about the necessity of a free press, Ms. Gordon evidently missed my recent column in which I explicitly stated the necessity of a free press.

If Ms. Gordon can’t or won’t admit the overwhelming liberal bias of the press, evidence won’t help. No one on the left has any trouble identifying and condemning right-wing bias at Fox News, but they call left-wing outlets neutral and sacred. Please.

Speaking of the press, Tom Farmer’s guest commentary last week was so full of bigotry and hate that I’m surprised the Journal not only ran the piece but actually solicited it, according to the Editor’s note, from another venue. This wasn’t the measured, reasoned debate the paper prides itself on. It was a vicious, name-calling rant that used every derogatory stereotype in the book.

Mark Godburn



Catholicism, revisited

I’ve had 18 years of Catholic education, six at major Jesuit universities. I served the Latin Mass (“Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meum” ­— I’ll spare you the rest, but be assured I have it all in my sometimes porous memory.) I was proud to be an altar boy attending St. Tarcissus grade school in Chicago in the ’50s. 

The boy Tarcissus, as the story had it, was martyred when he refused to give up the Communion host to a band of boys who would have desecrated it.  St. Tars was a typical Catholic grade school at that time — nuns and priests living in separate quarters. (As an aside, I believe that two of the three priests in residence were gay and one, the pastor, Father Kush, Kushinski for long, took regular vacations in the Caribbean with his housekeeper, a comely woman of “un certaine age”.)

I recall serving the 5:30 a.m. Mass every year when the priest from the Missions visited.  Preparing for those servings, I would change my clothes in the sacristy and put on the cassock, which never quite fit. There were many more early Masses, presided over by one of the three resident priests. 

I have checked the memories of two peers in that parish and in the adjoining one, both of whom served the Mass. None of us recalls anything untoward, surely not of a sexual nature. I recounted this to a friend on a recent morning and she said, “You were one of the lucky ones.”

Was I? Or somewhere along the way, did the culture change?  And did a network build, “ex nihilo,” as God created the world, until it became a Leviathan trampling all parishes far and wide?

The recent report from Pennsylvania is beyond horrific. Has it destroyed my faith? I think that happened some years, decades ago. But somehow, in my heart of souls, Catholicism holds sway.  (Check out Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, whose eloquence far surpasses anything I could ever achieve, if you want clear examination of this phenomenon.)

Lonnie Carter

Falls Village


Misleading statements 

on the Federalist Society 

Your Sept. 20 edition contained a letter from Tony Piel of Sharon about the Federalist Society that consists almost entirely of false statements and misinformation. I have been a member of the Federalist Society for more than 30 years. I write to correct the record.

The Federalist Society is fundamentally a forum for debate on legal matters, particularly constitutional law. As an organization, it has never taken a position on any issue whatsoever. At its many debates (it holds hundreds per year) speakers from all political perspectives are welcome and regularly invited. While most members of the Society come from a conservative or libertarian perspective, others do not, and conservatives and libertarians often disagree on basic issues.

From the Federalist Society website (www.fedsoc.org/frequently-asked-questions):

Q. How does the Federalist Society carry out its mission?

A. The Society’s main purpose is to sponsor fair, serious, and open debate about the need to enhance individual freedom and the role of the courts in saying what the law is rather than what they wish it to be. We believe debate is the best way to ensure that legal principles that have not been the subject of sufficient attention for the past several decades receive a fair hearing.

Q. Does the Federalist Society take positions on legal or policy issues or engage in other forms of political advocacy?

A. No. The Society is about ideas. We do not lobby for legislation, take policy positions, or sponsor or endorse nominees and candidates for public service.

Thus, the following statements of Mr. Piel are false:

“[T]he Federalist Society is fundamentally opposed to what they call ‘El Welfare,’ that is, social programs in any form, from food stamps and minimum wages to public health and public education . . . .”

“[T]hey . . . assert the false concept that corporations are ‘Persons’ with all the rights of flesh and blood human persons . . .”

“The Society . . . tolerate[s] human rights violations [and] align[s] itself with those who deny suffrage . . . .”

“[T]he Federalist Society has embraced ‘judicial activism’ on steroids . . . .” 

If Mr. Piel can find a citation where the Federalist Society has taken any of these positions — or indeed, any position on any legal or constitutional issue whatsoever — he should provide it. It does not exist.

Federalist Society debates are open to the public, and I invite readers of The Lakeville Journal to attend. The next Federalist Society event in New York City will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m. at the 3 West Club, 3 West 51st Street. The topic is, “Nationwide Injunctions: Judicial Imperialism or Necessary Check on the Administrative State?”  The debaters will be Neal Katyal and Michael Morley.  

While Mr. Morley is a conservative legal scholar, Mr. Katyal was Acting Solicitor General of the United States under President Obama. The moderator will be Judge Dennis Jacobs of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Francis Menton



‘And then we fell in love’

Western observers had been extremely nervous beforehand about the first meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. The two countries, which have never had any diplomatic relations, had been on hostile terms for decades. Since his election, Trump had issued a number of threats and insults to the North Korean leader and these had been met with similar angry words from Kim including calling Trump a “dotard” (which must have infuriated him when he learned what it meant). 

This interchange of machismo threats culminating in a debate over who had the “bigger button” left many of us fearing a prelude to a nuclear conflagration and worrying about each leader’s sanity. 

At first thought, Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump seem very different. And their respective countries, one a poor, rigid communist dictatorship, the other the leader of a rich, decadent capitalist empire, represent the extremes of modern nations. No wonder their leaders have been engaged in a worsening war of insults that many feared might get out of hand. 

But actually the two men have much in common. Both are impetuous, self-centered, corrupt and cruel. And very possibly insane. But what sets them apart from other heads of state and might actually be bringing them together are their exceedingly strange hairdos.

While their haircuts are very different from each other’s, both men stand out as bizarre tonsorial miscreants. Kim Jong Un’s primitive, overgrown brush cut on the top with extremely close clipped sides gives the appearance that he did it himself — not entirely inappropriate, perhaps, for someone from a very poor country. Trump’s excessively long, dyed, fallen pompadour suggests several hours of fastidious daily hair preparation and tons of hairspray before any public appearances. What these two haircuts do have in common, however, is that both are stunningly unflattering and often bring suppressed laughter to others who view them.

While their summit produced no tangible gains, at least for the U.S., the meeting appears to have reduced the hostility between the two principals and their countries. Although both men are notorious for their unusually weak senses of humor, a few moments with each staring at the other seemed to trigger smiles and mutual laughter, perhaps at each other’s ridiculous appearance. Then, Trump’s fondness for dictators and his self-professed charm must have kicked in, resulting in countless handshakes and other gestures of affection from both men. Subsequently, in a press conference describing their first meeting,Trump declared that soon after initial introductions they looked in each other’s eyes “and then we fell in love.”

Although Trump’s good will is often ephemeral, still reducing the ire between the two countries and their leaders — at least for the time being — seems a modest but positive step. 

Will love last?

Mac Gordon



Re-elect Brian Ohler

We are very fortunate to have a representative like Brian Ohler in the 64th District. He represents us all, Republicans and Democrats, in an unpartisan manner.

Let no one say a bad word against this man or his credibility or his character. His service to his country and his community speaks for itself.

Bob Loucks

Former First Selectman



Why we support the re-election of Brian Ohler

Brian Ohler, our state representative for the 64th District, has been a member of the Human Services Committee, which is dedicated to social responsibility. This is being aware of and caring for our friends, family, neighbors, and our community for their health, welfare and education.  

To that end, Mr. Ohler has been involved with making sure our children can attend our state universities and community colleges, i.e., keeping them affordable. He continues to challenge university administration and professors on increased salaries and bonuses, which means increased fees/tuition and room and board for our college–bound  young people.  

In addition, he is involved with counselors and advocates at the Susan B. Anthony Project and Women’s Support Services, where they are working together to reform Connecticut’s dual arrest laws and thereby ensure that victims are empowered and confident enough to come forward and ask for help.   

Yes, he supports all of us as he works diligently on school safety legislation, women’s issues, legislation capping the state’s expenses and working on cell service for those of us who live in a “dead zone,” as well as working across the aisle along with State Senator Craig Miner on state fiscal accountability.  

We support the re-election  of both Brian Ohler to the 64th District and Craig Miner to the 30th District.

Donald and Marie Barnum



Vote for Thad Gray in November

In a previous letter, I endorsed Thad Gray in the Republican primary.  Today, I’d like to reinforce my support for Mr. Gray. As his signs and website proclaim: Experience matters!

His more than three decades of managing pension funds in the private sector will provide much needed expertise in the state’s treasury office. The State Treasurer also participates on the bond commission and works with the Executive and Legislative branches to develop policies that would improve the state’s financial position.

In my July letter, I outlined concerns at the local level: town budgeting in uncertain times, etc.  Now I would like to remind readers that this is Connecticut — NOT Washington, D.C. We need to act locally and separate our state from whatever is happening in the nation’s capital.  We need to address the very real financial crisis Connecticut faces as our unfunded liabilities could cripple our state. Taxing the wealthy won’t fix the problem — they’ll just leave the state. We need real solutions and capable people making decisions regarding the state’s financial matters.

I believe that Thad Gray will approach the job of state treasurer from a realistic and practical position. He is focused on being part of a solution to the state’s financial problems rather than being a politician. In today’s world, we need more problem solvers and fewer politicians.

Karen S. Dignacco