Hamstrung by a dysfunctional GOP majority, Himes reflects on other ways to make a positive impact

Newsletter Volume 2 • Number 28

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As an Amtrak Acela whisked him back to Washington D.C. and work last Sunday, Greenwich Congressman Jim Himes couldn’t help lamenting how little actual work the Republican-led Congress had done.

“The last Congress, run by Democrats, made the biggest investment ever in our infrastructure, biggest effort ever to address climate change, passed gun safety legislation, and supported our veterans,” he pointed out. “This Congress, Republicans have been at each other’s throats, ejecting a Speaker, protecting George Santos, and instead of doing one thing to help the American people, are lining up an evidence-free impeachment of President Biden.”

It’s a difficult pill to swallow for the eight-term representative of Connecticut’s 4th District, which stretches from Greenwich to Bridgeport, and up to Oxford. He’s the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, and serves on the Finance Committee as well, positions that can make a major difference locally and internationally when Congress is actually legislating.

At times like these, a Congressperson has to measure their effectiveness in other ways. Take the story of a newly-minted grandmother named Vivian, whose daughter Dahlia was living in Israel when Hamas attacked on October 7th. (The family asked that their last names not be used.)

Her new granddaughter, Alma, was just a few weeks old, and Dahlia feared they’d get caught up in the conflict, so she decided to come home. The problem was, the baby didn’t have a birth certificate yet, which made getting a passport tricky. So Vivian called Jim Himes’ office.

Constituent service is a part of every member of Congress’s mandate, and Himes’ staff immediately swung into action. One day after they contacted the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Alma was approved for a passport, and the newborn and her mother arrived safely in Connecticut shortly thereafter.

As we approach a holiday season, mindful of turmoil in the Mideast and Ukraine, and the rise of anti-democratic forces here at home, it’s nice to know that good deeds can still be done.

“I often say that I get to be a small part of big things, like the Affordable Care Act, and I get to be a big part of small things like this,” Himes said. Gazing out the train window as the country passed by, he recalled another recent, small thing; when his office made sure a Korean War vet got the medals he earned, but never received. “Hard to beat that feeling.”

Somehow, it seemed, that ride to a dysfunctional D.C. had become a little easier for Jim Himes to take.

Congressman Jim Himes and State Representative Rachel Khanna

RTM approves bike lane study. Gas leaf blowers and school geothermal system TBD

After spirited debate, the RTM voted on Monday, 107 in favor and 71 opposed, to accept a state grant of $338,000 for the feasibility and design phase of a recreational trail starting at Binney Park in Old Greenwich, and ending at Boccuzzi Park in southwest Stamford. A number of possible routes will be explored. The remaining cost will be split between Greenwich and Stamford, with the Greenwich share estimated at $49,400.

Advocates hailed the trail as a first step in a long delayed vision established in Greenwich’s 2001 bicycle master plan, while opponents worried about adding congestion to already narrow and busy streets. The BET voted unanimously to make funding for the trail conditional on community consultation. The planning and design stage could be done by the first half of 2025, at which time the BET and RTM would consider funding the path’s construction.

Clean energy for Hamilton Avenue School?

The RTM postponed a vote on appropriating $3.2 million to replace an improperly maintained geo-thermal system at Hamilton Avenue School with a gas-powered HVAC one. Engineers contracted by the school district recommended rehabilitating the geothermal system as the most cost effective option, since the geothermal wells on site are sound. School facilities managers prefer replacing it with HVAC because they are more familiar with managing those systems. RTM members wanted to see a comparison of costs between the choices before approving anything.

RTM postpones vote on seasonal limits on gas leaf blowers

An RTM vote on whether to adopt summer restrictions on the use of gas leaf blowers was upended by the sudden decision of the Board of Health to repeal the entire noise ordinance for the town of Greenwich. Since the proposal by Quiet Yards Greenwich was an amendment to that ordinance, it could no longer be voted on. The group said it plans to reintroduce its proposal at the next meeting of the RTM as a stand-alone ordinance. In the meantime, town lawyers, the RTM and other bodies are determining how to reinstate or redraft a noise ordinance for the town, which would re-establish local control over this important quality of life issue.

To see how your representatives voted on these and other issues before the RTM, please click here.

Volume 2, Number 28 • December 14, 2023
Paid for by the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee.
Greenwich Democratic Town Committee P.O. Box 126 Greenwich, CT 06836