Published 1:07 am, Friday, October 30, 2009
Dewey, I cannot believe the open letter you wrote. I read it and still find it hard to believe. Your personal attack on me can only be described as pathetic. I have spent a lifetime in protecting my reputation for integrity and honesty. I cannot allow you to take such liberties with it.
It is obvious there is nothing you can say about my political views or the personal attack would not have happened. I would guess you have much to gain in a political sense.
You are right, I did lose twice running for first selectman, and if I could, I would run 100 more times. Westport and its people are that important to me.
As you well know, I ran against Diane Farrell. As you remember, I stayed on the board. Farrell, Carl Leaman and I made a great team, agreeing, disagreeing, always wanting the best for Westport. I might add that I was the only selectman to have a perfect attendance record over the four years.
The second time I ran against Gordon Joseloff. As for not continuing on the Board of Selectmen, I made a commitment to Bob Lasprogato, my running mate, that I would give up my position to him for being an outstanding running mate. Joseloff and I worked out an arrangement whereby, after serving six months on the board, Lasprogato would take my place. Dewey, you knew all through the campaign that I would be stepping down if not elected, so did my fellow Westporters, as I announced it many, many times during the campaign.
As you know, I became an Independent 11 months ago, even with a Roman calendar, that is nearly a year ago. A "candidate of Independents," no such claim has ever been made.
"Two-time loser," Dewey, anyone who tries, as I have done, is not a loser. I have walked the walk, not just talked the talk.
As I said in my closing statement at the League of Women Voters debate, All of us should vote on Nov. 3, no matter who you are voting for. You should think the same way -- apparently you do not.
Write-in candidate for first selectman,
Much of what Sydney Kramer and other Save Westport Now writers have stated as fact is either outright incorrect or a blatant stretch of the facts. While he says I was interviewed, actually, I was never contacted by anyone representing Save Westport Now.
Howard Lathrop, candidate, P&Z,
Attempts to rebut misleading or inaccurate letters to the editor are often counterproductive because they keep misleading and inaccurate comments alive. The conventional wisdom is to ignore them; people will see those letters for what they are -- agenda driven hyperbole without the benefit of fact.
John Manley`s letter to the Westport News last Friday was interesting but very inaccurate. It easily met the criteria of hyperbole without the benefit of fact.
Here are the facts:
In February of this year, the Board of Education voted unanimously to seek approval from the Board of Finance for a 2009 -10 school budget that was approximately $2.0 million (2 percent) higher than the prior year. In seeking a year-over-year increase of $2.0 million, the BOE knew that our contractual salary increases alone totaled $3.5 million and, therefore, our initial budget request had to include $1.5 million of cost reductions so we could bridge the gap between the $3.5 million contractual obligation and the request for a $2.0 million increase.
During the Board of Education`s budget presentation to the Board of Finance, the Board of Finance, in an attempt to maintain town-wide tax levels, directed the BOE to find an additional $1.4 million in savings in our 2009--10 budget.
Procedurally, the Board of Education had the opportunity to appeal the Board of Finance`s decision to reduce our proposed budget by the $1.4 million. If we pursued the appeal for any or all of the $1.4 million cut, the appeal would have been heard by the Board of Finance.
By a vote of 5 -- 2, the Board of Education, chose not to appeal the Board of Finance`s decision. The two votes in favor of appealing were not driven by political affiliation -- one vote was from a Republican member of the BOE, the other from a Democrat.
Painstakingly, the Board of Education reduced the 2009--10 budget by the $1.4 million.
Manley`s suggestion that the Board of Education is made up of a "radical majority" and that we voted, 4 -- 3, to cut our budget by $1.4 million is baseless. Also baseless is his statement that Avi Kaner is somehow anti-education. Kaner is certainly not anti-education -- he has three children in our school system. In fact, no one on the Board of Finance is anti-education.
As to the teacher contract negotiations and the Board of Education`s alleged "hardball" tactics -- Manley should be more candid about his sources of confidential information while he intentionally distorts even the basic facts.
Chairman and candidate, Westport Board of Education,
In his closing remarks at recent debates my opponent twice breached debating etiquette with direct criticisms of me on issues not raised during discussion, and knowing fully I had no chance of rebuttal. I thank the Westport News for this opportunity to respond.
I did not support the 1998 RTM Bedford Middle school construction vote because I believed that the "option" for retaining a Middle School to the West of the Saugatuck River had not been properly evaluated. However, once approval had been voted, I offered immediately to help move the project forward -- and did so.
My opponent criticized my voting record on school budgets, calling it "spotty." He has no basis in fact for this, much less any knowledge of the detailed study that went into every vote I took in seven years as a member of the Board of Finance. Those accusations were `cheap shot ` politicking. If the truth be known, I was consistent in developing savings options for the Education Board, and contributed many activities to improve their operating reporting. I was the leading proponent for redesigning the Education Budget presentation -- working to make it more readable -- with changes that remain in place today.
Yes, I proposed cuts to education budgets, but always provided significant back-up support. My opponent referred to a motion (unidentified as to date) made by me to cut education spending by $1 million, which no one else supported. Something vaguely like that did occur April 4, 2001, when I proposed adding $200,000 to an already approved motion to cut $800,000 (hence a total of $1 million), because discussion had proved my extra cut could be achieved. However, the board voted to keep the original reduction of $800,000, despite a Democrat effort to reduce it to $600,000 that failed. My opponent has presented unfair and misleading conclusions here.
I opposed the Senior Center because first the proposal lacked properly researched financing choices, and second, because I then believed that the opportunity to combine a YMCA and senior Center on the site was the best long-term option for everyone. The present center was built, and is now used by seniors from any of our neighboring communities, and for which we pay.
My opponent`s actions expanded even on the meaning of journalistic "license," attempting to make points weakened by unfortunately poorly researched data.
Candidate for first selectman,
Our opponents for Tuesday`s election to the Board of Finance have made a number of statements we would like to rebut.
They state that "under Democratic leadership the board acted quickly and decisively "¦ avoid any tax increase." The record will show that the Republican minority on the Board of Finance fought to change the Democratic proposals to increase taxes by 7 percent last year and 4.5 percent this year. There were a number of contentious board meetings reported in the local newspapers. Last year one of those meetings included a walk-out by the Republican members after the majority Democratic members refused to consider re-evaluating the tax increase.
They state that under their leadership "we fully funded this year`s pension obligation and established a trust for future retiree medical expenses." The record will show that last year, the Board of Finance was notified of a new retiree benefit funding requirement the afternoon before we voted on the tax rate. This year, after repeated requests for information, we were notified of significant unfunded pension liabilities -- $26 million before the equity markets collapsed. In both cases, the Republican minority raised the red flag and forced public discussion of the issues.
Candidate, Board of Finance,
Zoning regulations are complex. But an orchestrated campaign of fear and mistruths does not help Westport. Even Republican first selectman candidate Gavin Anderson distorts facts.
Claim: In robo calls and OpEds, our opponents make false claims that property rights (specifically, right to appeal) "could" be taken away.
Fact: No they can`t. The right to appeal is embedded in and protected by CT law. No one can take that right away.
Claim: Our opponent claims "massive rezoning" is planned.
Fact: Not so. Democrats oppose any rezoning of any property involved in the housing choice discussion. Our opponents` threat is baseless.
Claim: Gavin Anderson alleges P&Z holds secret discussions ("perhaps surreptitiously").
Fact: Anderson`s use of "surreptitious" borders on libelous. All P&Z Public Meetings and Work Sessions on any topic are noticed, in public, on the record, televised.
Fact: P&Z`s bi-partisan subcommittee has worked on this for two years.
Fact: The Town Plan (2007) includes an entire chapter ("Create a Range of Housing Opportunities and Choices") on the issue.
Gavin Anderson should know better. Either he is ignorant of facts or he doesn`t understand. Soli, at least has an excuse: in her League of Women Voters bio, she claims no experience "¦ in anything.
Chairman and candidate, P&Z,
Last week, John F. Manley submitted a letter to the editor with accusations that Don O`Day and I sought to harm the schools.
After personally speaking with Manley on the telephone, I can only conclude that he intentionally submitted the letter filled with lies and deceptions for his personal gain. In so doing, he attacked our character and caused embarrassment to our families.
False Statement: Manley stated that Don O`Day led the effort to cut $1.4 million from the school budget.
The fact: Don O`Day is on the Board of Education, not on the Board of Finance. O`Day testified against the cuts as proposed and passed by the Democratic majority on the Board of Finance. O`Day has remained a strong advocate for the schools -- he has my deepest respect.
Deceptive statement: Manley suggested that I long to cut the school budget further and turn a blind eye to property values.
The fact: I have been an advocate on the Board of Finance for benchmarking our town departments and schools to neighboring communities. The record clearly shows that I recommended avoiding cutting the school budget further since we were in-line with other top school districts. I, along with Charlie Haberstroh and Ed Iannone, cast "no" votes to this school budget cut.
I have also repeatedly stated that our property values are dependent upon our excellent schools. I explained the importance of improving government efficiencies to avoid further cuts. An outline of our plan may be found at www.KanerZappi.com.
Thank you for your consideration on Nov. 3 as Bob Zappi and I run for the Board of Finance.
Board of Finance,