First Selectman Fred Camillo’s decision to launch an investigation into possible unfair hiring practices at Greenwich Public Schools has turned up nothing and cost taxpayers $346,648, according to a town report. Camillo authorized the inquiry after a “gotcha” video clip from troubled organization Project Veritas caught a now former assistant principal of Cos Cob school bragging to an offscreen date about choosing teacher candidates by their age and religion.
But did the town really need to spend that money?
There are four other investigations of the claims in the video, including one by the Greenwich Public Schools, which found the same result. Jonathan Budd, the district’s Chief Human Resources Officer, reported that no district policies were violated.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong is carrying out his own investigation, as are the Connecticut State Dept. of Education, and the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
Any allegations of hiring discrimination merit investigation, but are five separate investigations into an edited video from a discredited organization a good use of taxpayer dollars?
Meanwhile Project Veritas is reeling
Project Veritas is itself the subject of numerous investigations and lawsuits:
- Its leader James O’Keefe has been ousted and is being sued by the company he created for bullying staff;
- The organization is being investigated by the Westchester County district attorney for misuse of donor funds;
- Federal authorities are investigating it for theft of property;
- Project Veritas has already been found liable in a federal civil case for fraudulently misrepresenting itself and violating wiretapping laws.
A costly attempt to “pile on” instead of funding real needs
The decision to spend a large amount of money for a redundant investigation brings into question the priorities of our town leaders.
Just this last budget cycle, on a party line vote, the Republican-controlled town finance board cut funds to fix an old elevator at Greenwich library, which often freezes and lurches, denied the Fire Department’s request to replace a 25 year old pumper truck with 100K miles on it, and attempted to remove police emergency response equipment from the budget. A request for $50,000 to approve a bicycle safety study has been repeatedly denied.
Wasting taxpayer dollars to pay for unnecessary investigations to score political points is a disservice to residents. It’s also unfair to students. In the days after the release of the video, Fred Camillo joined Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe and other Republican candidates at a press conference outside Cos Cob School, disrupting the first day of school for kindergarteners.
Democratic candidates will ensure that your tax dollars are used wisely, for the betterment of our town, by investing in our schools, our roads and pedestrian safety, our athletic fields, and flood prevention. Let’s end the waste. Vote for Row A on November 7.
Fred Camillo joined Republican candidates and Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, speaking, at a press conference on the first day of school at Cos Cob School. Photo: Leslie Yager
Democrats push for inclusive flag policy
Since the town of Darien passed a controversial rule banning all but the federal, state and town flags from being raised at town hall, First Selectman Fred Camillo has been pushing for a Greenwich flag policy too.
Flags celebrating many nationalities and causes, from the Red Cross flag to the Irish flag have proudly flown over Town Hall for many years, bringing residents together to celebrate what they cherish. Things took a darker turn this year after bigoted signs were placed around the Pride flag the night after its raising. Cameras mounted on Town Hall failed to catch who was responsible.
A flag policy that raised some red flags
Camillo’s proposed policy introduced the possibility that flags such as the Pride flag or the Juneteenth flag might be prohibited. The policy would allow the First Selectman OR the Board of Selectmen (BOS) to vote on all future flag requests.
With the BOS under Republican control for the last twenty years, this policy would allow the majority party to pick favorites. And with the Greenwich Republican party firmly under the control of individuals who’ve made no secret of their antipathy toward the LGBTQ+ community, advocates feared that the policy would end the practice of raising the Pride flag or the Juneteenth flag at Town Hall.
For example, as a state representative, Camillo voted against a bill, now law, to prevent discrimination against transgender individuals. Last July, Camillo used his weekly newsletter to inform residents that an LGBTQ book that some were trying to ban he “personally found … to be disgusting.”
At the BOS hearing, Allison Kahn, organizer of this year’s Pride celebration, stated, “Let’s start by being clear about why we are having this conversation today and proposing creating a flag policy. It is because a small but vocal minority of extremists have raised their voices to express discontent that the town has raised flags in support of those most marginalized – our LGBTQ residents with the Pride flag, our Black and African American communities with the Juneteenth flag; our comrades fighting for their lives and freedom in Ukraine.”
Democratic Selectperson Janet Stone McGuigan, State Rep. Steve Meskers and Town Clerk candidate Lucy von Brachel pushed for a modification to the policy, asking that any flags that have been allowed to fly at Town Hall in the past be grandfathered in. Meskers also asked that security cameras be trained on the flagpole area to monitor vandalism. A revised version of the flag policy will be discussed at the next BOS meeting.
Editorials that caught our eye
“Greenwich can do better,” says Laura Erickson, candidate for First Selectperson, in this feature in Greenwich Free Press.
This BET candidate knows a thing or two about investing for the future, saving billions, and lowering municipal costs, writes Scott Kalb in the Greenwich Free Press.
Greenwich GOP stacking the deck to torpedo Central Middle School building project. David Rafferty of the Greenwich Time sheds light on a party line Board of Selectmen vote to add a Republican donor closely affiliated to the leading opponents of the Central Middle School (CMS) rebuilding project. If the appointment is confirmed by the RTM, the start and scope of CMS may be thrown into doubt.
Our campaign headquarters is open for business
Congressman Jim Himes, municipal candidates and a large group of supporters gathered to fill our new headquarters with vigor and enthusiasm on Monday. Volunteer to join our team. We can’t do it without you.
For your calendar
September 6 and 9
Monthly coffee drop in. Come chat with fellow Democrats and find ways to get involved. Coffee for Good, 48 Maple Avenue. Wednesday September 6 and Saturday September 9,10:00 a.m.
Help us get our Democratic slate elected in Greenwich this November! Come make calls with us at our headquarters at 23 Benedict Place, rear entrance, between 5:30 and 7pm on Thursdays through November 2nd!
HEADING OUT OF TOWN THIS FALL?
Don’t forget to request your absentee ballot! And don’t think your vote doesn’t matter. In a recent election, a candidate for the Board of Education won by one vote. It only takes a moment to make your voice heard.
Thinking about running for the RTM?
You can have a positive impact on Greenwich by running for the Representative Town Meeting (RTM). This November 7, every seat on this 230 member body will be up for election. All it takes to get on the ballot are a few dozen signatures. Learn more about serving here. When you’re ready to go, download the petition here and start gathering signatures.
DON’T MISS OUR CAMPAIGN KICKOFF PICNIC
Join fellow Democrats, our municipal candidates and our local statewide elected officials for our Annual Campaign Kickoff Picnic. Sunday, September 10th, 12-3 pm at the Greenwich Botanical Center, 130 Bible Street in Cos Cob. Click here to register. We look forward to seeing you…rain or shine!
Correction: Last week’s newsletter about infrastructure needs in Glenville incorrectly stated that the stairs to Glenville School are in need of repair. In fact, it’s the stone stairs that lead from Hawthorne to the Civic Center that are crumbling.
|Volume 2, Number 7 • September 1, 2023|
|Paid for by the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee.|
|Greenwich Democratic Town Committee P.O. Box 126 Greenwich, CT 06836|