2 thoughts on “Letters to the Editor: Election 2020

  1. Hilary Ormond: First, a word about tone. Your letter is full of overheated rhetoric like “grotesque” and “frightening” and “ridiculous.” We should be able to debate issues without demonizing one another.

    Now, the facts. Will Haskell and Alex Kasser did not “vociferous oppose school regionalization.” In January 2019, when the first two regionalization bills were introduced, Sens. Haskell and Kasser (nee Bergstein) issued a joint statement, along with Rep. Lucy Dathan, saying that they “cannot support” the two bills as drafted, but that they remained “open to discussing the difficult issues facing our state, including the issue of regionalization.” That’s not vociferous opposition. It’s political double-speak.

    More importantly, during the months-long public debate over the regionalization bills, Sen. Kasser was conspicuously silent. I remember, because I spoke with her office repeatedly and implored her to issue a public statement opposing regionalization. But she never did. At this week’s debate on Oct. 19, 2020, when asked to point to any public statement in which she opposed the Democratic leadership on the issue of regionalization, Sen. Kasser replied: “It doesn’t happen publicly.” If Sen. Kasser truly opposed regionalization, her refusal to stand up to the Democratic leadership publicly on behalf of her constituents looks like political cowardice.

    For Will Haskell, the record is just as bad. On March 21, 2019, Sen. Haskell trumpeted his role in negotiating cosmetic changes to a regionalization bill advanced by Gov. Lamont: “I brought the voices of my constituents to the negotiating table. Today’s changes show that we can work collaboratively and productively to protect our wonderful schools.” The “we” in Sen. Haskell’s statement are other Democrats. He was speaking in favor of, not opposition to, the Governor’s regionalization bill. And contrary to Sen. Haskell’s claim, the bill did not “protect” local schools – it merely gave political cover to fence-sitters like Sens. Haskell and Kasser by creating an unelected 17-member commission to “develop[] a plan for the redistricting or consolidation” of school districts. Under the bill, 15 of the commission’s 17 members (15 of 17!) were to be appointed by Gov. Lamont and Democrats in the General Assembly – the proponents of regionalization. As inexperienced as Sen. Haskell is, he couldn’t possibly have been so naïve as to think a hyper-partisan regionalization commission would “protect” school districts like New Canaan, Westport and Wilton. To the contrary, it would have ended them. Fortunately, this misbegotten bill never made it to a full vote, no thanks to Sen. Haskell.

    You say we shouldn’t “waste time” this election discussing regionalization because it was “soundly rejected” in 2019. But that’s wishful thinking. The Democratic party has only moved further left since 2019, and Democrats in the General Assembly will likely try again to ram through school regionalization, particularly if there’s a “Blue Wave” this year, as predicted. Voters looking for local representatives to protect their schools and towns from Democrats in Hartford shouldn’t look to Sens. Haskell and Kasser. They are died-in-the-wool progressives who didn’t stand up to their party on school regionalization in 2019, and they shouldn’t be trusted to do it in 2021.

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