Lincoln's Log

Lincoln Millstein offers his unique views and insight on Greenwich and its community

Video of how I voted on absentee ballot in Greenwich elections

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My apologies to Leslie Tarkington for my error in the above video tape when I said there was only one woman on the ticket for the BET.

I did not vote for either first selectman candidates. Blankley is a total non starter. He seems to be making up his campaign platform on the fly. His knee-jerk reaction to Sid Freund’s reaction was amateurish. And his claim that he was responsible for MISA is laughable.

On the other hand, Peter Tesei has been managing town affairs by reaction for four years. He is petulant, small-minded and always seems to take the low road – i.e his removal of Frank Farricker from Planning and Zoning and now his ardent campaign against Marianna Ponns Cohen. Meanwhile, Greenwich gets hit with one storm after another, and we seem to be living in the dark – wet and dark while Tesei settles grudges around town. The RTC has a weak leader in Jim Campbell. How else do you explain Peter Tesei as first selectman and Steve Anderson as BOE chair? All we need to complete the Triple Threat is an ineffectual BET chair – and the jury is still out on that. The RTC, as the dominant party in Greenwich, has a responsibility to correct all this after the elections. Make this Tesei’s last term. Get us a new BOE chair. Whatever it takes. Greenwich cannot withstand more of this drive to the bottom. (I voted for David Theis because I think he may be the only adult in the room).

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I also did not cast my vote for either Democratic candidate for the BOE. Just when you thought the Dems have hit bottom, they surprise you with more. They are the party in town that just just keeps giving when it comes to ineptitude. I thought by getting rid of the two clownish BOE members, they were going to give us a real choice. Instead we now have the loopy Jennifer Dayton who ends up endorsing two Republicans. I don’t know as much about Adriana Ospina but I am not hopeful. Her long time involvement with the PTA is not a plus. The Greenwich PTA is a booster club and a social hub. It has aided and abetted the decline in schools by not questioning anything the superintendents have done. I do not know of one policy decision made by the administration that was questioned publicly by the PTA.

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Someone sent me an email being circulated by former BOE chair Sandy Waters seeking volunteers to carry signs Nov. 8 on behalf of the two BOE candidates endorsed by the machine in Greenwich. That says it all. It is the most cynical message about municipal elections. Unfortunately, it works. In 2009, only 38 percent of the registered voters even bothered to show up in Greenwich. Many of them, like me, were familiar with only one or two of the races. Many of them, I am certain, voted for people they saw on signs carried by friends at the polls or from seeing a name on a sticker. I asked several friends whether they knew for whom they were voting in the BOE race and most had no idea who was even running.

The problem with a democracy is that you can’t always control who will run (or who will not). And you can’t account for the ignorance of the electorate.

BTW, Sandy Waters is the same BOE chair who also had a superintendent whom the town could not keep. I have heard many reasons for why Larry Leverett did not renew his contract. One day, we will get the full story – maybe even written by this blogger.

Categories: General
Lincoln Millstein

6 Responses

  1. Havemeyer Resident says:

    I am so sick of hearing that no public worker can ever afford to live in Greenwich! We as a family do not make anything nearly close to $290k but we own a house (not a very big one) in Havemeyer….so trying to find someone to live in Greenwich and be superintendent is 100% doable! There was a great article (or Letter to Editor) about the Stamford Superintendant – he is young and has turned those schools around in the past years pehaps we should take a lesson from the Stamford schools (i know, gasp!). That is what we need – someone who is passionate about education and getting our kids the best education possible!! Stop thinking we need this seasoned, experience veteran to deal with “fancy-schmancy” Greenwich schools – our kids and schools are like everyone elses and they deserve better!

  2. Jennifer Morris says:

    Lincoln, shame on you for calling the Greenwich PTA a booster club and a social hub. It insults every public school parent who volunteers in our schools and/ or donates their hard earned money. You owe an apology to thousands.

  3. Sandy Waters says:

    I am not a Betty Sternberg fan. Personally, I think anything she was paid was too much for an individual who didn’t come to work on a regular basis. But that’s just my opinion.

    The cost of Greenwich real estate is creating serious problems for many aspects of our town life: the hospital, the police force, the schools, etc. The school board has always wanted our Superintendent to become a part of our community: to live here, to send his/her kids to our schools, to meet us daily in the supermarket. That aspect has disappeared from our community life — and personally, I think something has been lost.

    That said, we were always aware of the political problems involved with paying a Superintendent beyond a “reasonable” pay range.

    This is a community problem that we don’t really want to face. How can you expect a young Superintendent, say 40 years old, to raise his family in Greenwich, lead our schools, and become a part of our community when the pay grade doesn’t enable them to purchase property here?

    Or, if you prefer experience, where do you plan to find that individual who has a demonstrated track record for improving student performance?

    Oh, and where do you expect to find a Superintendent, with experience in the educational business, who has the proper “credentials” to match the Greenwich conservative political sensibilities? Good luck. They are very few and far between.

    Or, how are we going to overcome the problem of the educational search business? Should we pay big bucks and hire a first rate head hunter with zero experience in education? Or should we pay much less, hire a former schools Superintendent who has morphed into an educational searcher, knows very little about searching and who wants to play a shell game shifting one affluent district’s Superintendent for another?

    It’s not a pretty picture, and I think once the Board undergoes a search once, it will not want to do it again. I searched for 2 as a BOE member, and certainly didn’t want to do it again.

  4. Lincoln Millstein says:

    Sandy,
    You gave a three-year contract to a guy who commuted from New Jersey to be the Greenwich superintendent?

    Do you think the $290,000 we paid Betty Sternberg was penurious? Too low for the high cost of living in Greenwich?

  5. Sandy Waters says:

    “I do not know of one policy decision made by the administration that was questioned publicly by the PTA.” Unfortunately, Lincoln, that’s because you haven’t been around long enough.
    The PTA has been an advocate for higher student performance for almost 20 years.
    It was the PTA in 1992 that complained about poor performance when the school board wasn’t even looking at standardized test score results. Lucy Johnson, former school board member, once told me that we would destroy the schools by spending so much time looking at test score results.
    It was the PTA Council President in the late 1990s who excoriated school staff for a completely inadequate response to poor reading score results.
    It was a group of former PTA members elected to the school board who insisted upon the creation of a performance rubric as a way to evaluate the schools’ and the superintendent’s performance and upon a clearly stated set of curriculum objectives for each subject in each grade. They did this with the help of Dr. Lulow, and over the resistance, even hostility, of the Deputy Superintendent of Schools, Karen Lang, and Reading Coordinator, Faye Gage, and a few of the elementary school principals.

    By the way, there is no deep dark secret explaining Dr. Leverett’s departure. He announced his plans to leave in late 2005 for personal reasons having to do with his son and his desire to spend more time with him at home. At the time, he was living in Greenwich during the week and commuting home to his family on the weekends. Dr. Leverett became the Executive Director of the Panasonic Foundation in Secaucus, New Jersey 10 miles from his home in Montclair.

    If you really want to do a community service, you ought to spend some time examining WHY it is that Superintendents do not stay in Greenwich very long. It’s convenient to blame the school board, but there are larger issues at stake. Having been involved in 2 searches, I know that the qualities we all seek in a Superintendent are mutually contradictory and unrealistic, given the high cost of living in this community and the state of educational leadership in this country in general. It’s a serious problem that has not been resolved to anyone’s satisfaction.

  6. Greenwich Taxpayer says:

    Hooray for Lincoln! Thanks for calling it like it is at the ballot box! Hope lots more will join you in voting (and not voting)for candidates who will make a difference. That’s what I plan to do too.