November 18, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Republican Plans Will Take Old Lyme Down Wrong Path

To the Editor:

The Republican candidates for Old Lyme Selectmen are running on two planks: regionalization is wrong and grants are bad.  They are incorrect on both counts and will lead our town in the wrong direction.  Bonnie Reemsnyder and Mary Jo Nosal are doing a great job and we must keep them in office.

Smart regionalization can afford small towns the ability to improve public services cost-effectively.  The Ledge Light Health District promised just that: increasing services and reducing expense. In June 2016 the Republican-controlled Board of Finance, including RTC Chairman David Kelsey, voted to pursue joining the District.  Chris Kerr opposed but in August, after the bipartisan Board of Selectmen’s unanimous decision, he joined the other members of the BOF in unanimously recommending the District to a Town Meeting.  The town then voted to join Ledge Light.

We have not lost control over our health services.  Bonnie Reemsnyder sits on the District’s Board, it hired our department’s administrative assistant, a contract prescribes our services, and Old Lyme may terminate the relationship if it doesn’t work well. The District is now enforcing the health code and all of us are materially safer.

Our small town has had substantial difficulty attracting police officers.  The Board of Selectmen and the Republican BOF Chairman Andy Russell have advocated exploring whether a relationship with East Lyme might facilitate robust, affordable police protection, without abandoning local control.  What harm is there in exploring this possibility?

Do folks think that our regionalized school system is a mistake?

The Republicans don’t like grants.  They apparently would prefer to forgo beneficial community projects or pay 100% of the cost with increased property taxes.  Why does this make sense?

Please join me in voting for Bonnie and Mary Jo next Tuesday.  This is not a close call.

Sincerely,

Bennett J. Bernblum,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author is a member of the Old Lyme Board of Finance and Democratic Town Committee, and chairman of the Halls Road Improvements Committee.

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Comments

  1. J David Kelsey says:

    I ABSOLUTELY did not vote to join Ledgelight. I am indeed an alternate on the Board of Finance, so my membership is truthful, but the implication I voted for this is at best misleading and at best untrue. BJ, you know better than this.

    • Bennett Bernblum says:

      My statement was based on the Old Lyme Board of Finance minutes from June 21, 2016, which included the following regarding a motion to proceed with the process for joining Ledge Light:

      “Mr. Bernblum, Mr. Garvin, Mr. Burrows, Mr. Jose, and Mr. Kelsey supported the motion. Mr. Kerr opposed the motion. Motion carried.” These minutes were approved as written at the Board’s meeting on July 19, 2016, attended by Mr. Kelsey. I do not know why the June 21 minutes included the vote of Board alternates.

      Bennett J. (“BJ”) Bernblum

  2. Andy Russell says:

    It is a shame Mr. Bernblum is not acurite with his statements. BJ says that I as Chair of the Board of Finance am advocating exploring the regionalization of our police department. I was asked to participate in a few initial meetings with East Lyme officials to discuss that possibilities. I have done that and all I am in favor of is investigating ways for our town to do business more efficiently while providing the same of better services to our residents. All I am in favor of is discussion. Just like most issues you can pull out bits and pieces of conversation and turn the words to give the impression they mean something else.

    I have been on the Board of Finance for almost 14 years. I have enjoyed the good team work the board has enjoyed for most of those years. The majority of the time all members are in agreement once they hear all the facts. The party lines have been a blur and once seated members vote for what they feel is best for the town and the tax payers.

    There have been more and more situations in the past few years that comments or actions have been deemed politically motivated. I don’t feel this has a place in local politics. Look what that has done in Hartford and Washington. We don’t need that in Old Lyme. BJ has been one of local elected officals that seems to try and create that divide. His letter is a prime example of his mode of operation. Throw a statement out there with out all the information being included.

    It is a shame.

  3. Bennett Bernblum says:

    I don’t get it. In my letter I said that Andy Russell advocated exploring whether a relationship with East Lyme makes sense. In his response he says, “All I am in favor of is discussion.” Those statements mean the same thing, and are wholly in line with Bonnie Reemsnyder and Mary Jo Nosal’s position that we should talk to East Lyme about combining police forces, not that we should do so.

    I agree that the Board of Finance should not be political, but I strenuously reject Andy’s accusation and suggest it is misplaced. What I am also dismayed about, however, is that the Republican-controlled Board of Finance joined the bi-partisan Board of Selectmen in strongly supporting joining the Ledge Light Health District, but the Republican position in this election is that Bonnie and Mary Jo should be ousted for doing so. Seems hypocritical to me.

  4. Steven Cinami says:

    As an RTC member and supporter of Jude Read and Cris Kerr, I would like to clarify the erroneous statements Mr. Bernblum has made about accepting grant money and regionalization. Jude and Chris have stated that they support a process in which Town needs are identified and approved after proper deliberation, and then pursue grant money. While some regionalization may be good for a Town, I do not believe Old Lyme;s best interests would be served combining police forces with East Lyme. Before Bonnie was First Selectman, a concentrated effort in managing the police had eliminated most of the problems that are occurring today. Indicating that ads in the paper went unanswered for over a year should not be an excuse to relieve the responsibility of adequately providing police protection at Sound View in the summer. In combining forces with East Lyme, we will again be in a minority position in a regional effort (as with Ledge Light), and will greatly reduce our direct control over such an important government function such as protecting our citizens.

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