Hey, BET Republicans

Newsletter Volume 2 • Number 36

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Hey, BET Republicans, please stop the high-rises!

Stoking outrage about problems while doing nothing to find solutions seems to have become the operating standard of Republicans from Washington down to Greenwich Town Hall.

Do you remember these signs sprouting up at intersections and landing in our mailboxes just a few months ago? Republican candidates for the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) asked for your vote so they could “stop the high-rises.”

After their victory in November, all talk of high rises ceased. But the applications for the multi-story apartment buildings that the Republicans call “high-rises” continue.

Under a 35 year old state statute called 8-30g, towns that fail to create 10% affordable housing cannot deny permits for apartment buildings, as long as 30% of the units in the application are designated “affordable.” While most residents want more affordable housing options in Greenwich, they don’t want the additional density that comes with the 70% of market rate units in these buildings.

Why are we continuing to struggle with the effects of a law passed 35 years ago? Because of the utter failure of local leadership to increase our affordable housing stock. Greenwich is just over halfway to meeting its requirement, and in the last 21 years added only 1.3% to its share of affordable housing.

8-30g applications have been submitted for a six-story apartment building with 120 units in downtown Greenwich at Benedict Court, a four-story 31 unit housing development in Chicakahominy, a five-story development on the site of the Greenwich Woods nursing home, and a 10 unit structure destined for a small lot in Pemberwick.

If the BET Republicans have any plans to stop the high-rises, now would be the time to reveal them. The BET only has control over the town budget, and budget season is well underway.

  • They could vote to provide funding to Greenwich Communities, which has the ability to build apartment buildings that are 100% affordable, without the extra density from 70% of the units being market rate.
  • They could budget funds for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which can provide loans to developers to scale down the size of their 8-30g applications.
  • They could continue to scream at Hartford to let us off the hook, which hasn’t worked to date, because of the manifest housing shortage statewide.

Or they could stick their heads in the sand, and keep complaining about “high-rises” while doing nothing to prevent them, because that makes a great campaign slogan.

It’s kind of like Republican congressmen yelling for tighter borders, then refusing to vote for a border bill because that would deprive them of their best jab come election season. When Republican candidates start shouting about high-rises again come election season this fall, it’s worth asking what they did to stop them for the decades that they have been in control.

MAGA swiftboating Swifties? Shut up!

Brian Friedman/ Shutterstock.com

Two decades ago, the pre-MAGA right smeared Democratic presidential candidate and Vietnam War hero John Kerry’s military service. The young Kerry received multiple combat medals as an officer in charge of a Swift boat, including three Purple Hearts. This “swiftboating” became a term for the most shameful, dishonest and unfair tactics in politics—the kind of thing MAGA’s dissembler in chief employs on a daily basis today.

But swiftboating Taylor Swift? The conspiracy-laced, threatening warnings from right wing news and nuts about mounting a “holy war” because she might tell her Swifties she supports Joe Biden has a dangerous, authoritarian ring to it. Intimidation is how autocratic regimes from Iran to China have controlled the public discourse: “free speech for me but not for thee,” in the words of the New York Times’ David French.

The attack is so tone deaf to Swift’s cultural appeal at this moment, as to seem laughable. But don’t dismiss it, because this could be what’s to come. Even in Greenwich, mad MAGAs sought to silence The Voting Moms, and ominously, the 2024 Trump campaign has hired one of the people who swiftboated John Kerry. This isn’t a time to “shake it off.” As Taylor would say, “speak now.”

Bet budget hearings next week

Meetings can be watched on Greenwich Community Television Channels 24 (Verizon), 79 (Optimum), GCTV on YouTube, or in person at the Town Hall Meeting Room (101 Field Point Road).

Volume 2, Number 36 • February 8, 2024
Paid for by the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee.
Greenwich Democratic Town Committee P.O. Box 126 Greenwich, CT 06836