A Shout-Out Thank You Stratford

The Shakespeare Market 1-22-21

By Tom Dillon
Correspondent and Organizer of Shakespeare Market

“Don’t count me again!” That’s what they said at The Shakespeare Market as they went round and round the one-way pedestrian path. Stratford’s own Zane Carey counted them up, one by one, as they streamed in at the Grand Opening of the brand new food and craft market on the grounds of the former American Shakespeare Festival Theater last Sunday.

Masked up, patient, and polite Stratford came out to see the best of one another on a remarkably beautiful sunny winter’s day! Five minutes before the opening bell at 10 am, all was calm. The one-way pedestrian area was successfully assembled, complete with white pine roping and holiday lights! The 18 vendors and 3 community groups all arrived and set up in an orderly fashion waiting to see if anyone would take the time to come out and get a breath of fresh air.

Then you all showed up!! Who could have imagined that a shoestring budget and 18 posts on Facebook would generate so much community enthusiasm?? STRATFORD!! That’s who! STRATFORD did! And we did it together!

An all-volunteer team of five gratefully accepted the generous offer from Elizabeth and Joe Saint, along with their two young children, to help at the last minute! They jumped right in and managed traffic for 3 bewildering hours! What a privilege to have a front row seat to all that joy and enthusiasm!

The Shakespeare Market is the vision of the Stratford community. It was born in the town forums held two years ago in the wake of its final tragedy. Nearly 1,000 of us participated in person or by email in an extraordinary community conversation about what to do from here. Orna Rawls was there at the very start. She reminded us all to “​transform problems into possibilities​.” And so we have!

These trying times – the loss of the theater, a global pandemic, the cold of winter, the struggling economy – have all conspired together to create something wonderful. A new expression of an incredible community with endless possibilities. A place where we can come together and combine our magical diversity into something greater than the sum of its parts. STRATFORD – pure and simple.

There has been an incredible outpouring of local interest in participating as a vendor at the market. Stratford, this is ​our​ market and ​we​ want everyone to be able to participate. More than 100 of you have reached out to participate as vendors, 80 since Jan 1! But
remember, not 30 days ago, there was a thought that NO one would show up in the cold and vendors would go home empty handed. Bewildered at how they got convinced to do such a ridiculous thing! In turn, you provided some of them with their best sales days in a year, some said it was their best day ever!

Vendors were gobsmacked at your enthusiasm! Wave Hill Breads sold out…TWICE. First, you wiped them out. Then they had another delivery made from their family owned Fairfield county bakery, and you bought everything they brought…again! Incredible.

Many of the crafters you met are our friends and neighbors. Residents Jennifer Csedrik and Flora Shein were there too, with positivity centered clothing and priceless Memory Bears. Dave Finn of Eaglewood Farms is the one who suggested getting it started in the winter! All three are graduates of the great Paradise Green Monday Market created by Stratford’s own Laurie and Ed Popadic of Pepe’s Cream of the Crop clams. Lordship’s Whitney Foss was the key to connecting with such a talented group of artisans and entrepreneurs. None of this was possible without them!

If you have submitted your information to be a vendor, please know that ​we want you​! We are convinced we are going to be here year round. We are convinced that this will become a Stratford institution. Just think of it this way. If you are lucky enough to ​not​ get a spot before the first season ends on April 18 – you may just find yourself at a warm sunny table in the spring.

Plans are now being re-worked, expanded and entirely reimagined. There is a lot of work to do. And work takes time. And time requires patience. We want everyone to enjoy food and craft vendors, art and music performances, community spirited events and activities. But public safety has to be on the top of our list! Masking is a requirement and social distancing is the only hope we have to come together in this pandemic that has affected us all. Without social distancing, we cannot have what we all want. With social distancing we have a chance. Every person needs to make this their first and last thought before, during and after entering and exiting the Market! We can only hope to do this together if we get outside, mask up and stay six feet apart. Traffic management, parking, pedestrian queues, vendor quantity, spacing and location are all under consideration.

Our goal is to keep this event accessible to our seniors. Seniors get seniority! That means they come first! Our most experienced residents can expect we will have more proximate parking reserved for you! Thank you for your patience!

Stay tuned on social media ​https://www.facebook.com/TheShakespeareMarket​ and the website https://www.theshakespearemarket.org/​. You can find out more about what the community said about the future of the Shakespeare property at http://www.townofstratford.com/content/39832/39846/39905/105682.aspx​. Get involved!

Special thanks to Gladys Ramos and Olga Pena from Stratford’s Latin Festival for sharing their experience and contacts! All the town ‘s leadership and staff enthusiastically supported the community’s vision! Without them, and so many others, this would not have been possible. Ironically, everyone who made everything possible, all think they hardly did anything at all! Imagine that!

Stay tuned for the next market!

Statement re: Assault Upon U.S. Capital

by The CT Faith Leaders Collaborative

The 16-member CT Faith Leaders Collaborative includes the Senior appointed or elected leaders of CT’s Baptist, Catholic, Congregational, Episcopal, Jewish, Lutheran, Methodist, Assemblies of God and Pentecostal Houses of Worship as well as Independent Hispanic and African-American Congregations and Councils of Churches whose collective houses of worship in CT number well over 1,200, membership is in the Millions and constituent service and ministry recipients are literally countless. We reside in every County and Municipality in the Nutmeg State.

Yesterday we wept for America as we saw violence unfold in our Nation’s Capital.  For the 1st time in 208 years and only the 2nd time in U.S. history the world’s strongest symbol of civil government and the consistent home of “peaceful transition of power” came under direct physical assault and blood was shed in the hallowed halls of Congress. This atrocity is the fruition of activities and actions that, if unabated, will certainly unravel the very fabric of the “American Experiment.”

We must seize this moment to recalibrate America’s Moral Compass.  The day celebrated by many as the ‘Epiphany’ serves as a destined pivot point for the awakening of the spiritual conscience of the land of hope and freedom.  For too long good men and women have remained silent as partisan politics and self-serving politicians have created divisions in the ‘United’ States.  Today we must raise our voices and shatter the silence of complicity with the chorus of unity.

In this historical moment, we will determine by our responses, whether we stand on the brink of disaster or the bridge of destiny that leads us out of the valley of partisan politics, racial and social injustice and systemic inequity.  The response of CFLC (Connecticut Faith Leaders Collaborative) is to Lead our State in Prayer for Divine Strength and Wisdom as well as to Act Boldly through Convening, with our fellow CT citizens, an ongoing non-partisan, ecumenically led Community Conversation series in concert with CT’s Federal Delegation, Governor and General Assembly.  Please see the dates/times at the end of this announcement for the initial events:

We choose to travel the latter path, the bridge of destiny, for the next phase of our history.  We look first to God and second within ourselves to find direction.  Together we will summon the fortitude to rise above the ashes of hopes and dreams not yet realized and go forth as “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”    Our scriptures call, “Come let us reason together, though our sins be as scarlet, God will make them ‘whiter than snow.’  The prayer of St. Francis cries out, “Make me a channel of your peace. Where there is hatred let me bring your love.  Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord, And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.”

This is a time where the choice for America and our democracy is life or death.  We implore you to join us as we choose life.

CT Statewide Prayers for Healing, Racial Justice, Equity and Divine Direction – Sunday, January 17, 2021, 4:00 – 5:00 pm via Zoom.

Response to the Wednesday’s Assault on the U.S. Capitol

REVISED -MAYOR LAURA R. HOYDICK’S STATEMENT ON VIOLENCE IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

STRATFORD – Mayor Laura R. Hoydick today issued the following statement on the violence in Washington, D. C. yesterday:
“What unfolded in Washington, D.C. yesterday was a shameful and disgraceful display the likes of which I never imagined I would see in my lifetime. To see the very heart of our republic breached by a violent mob invading the seats of our legislative government is heartbreaking. It was nothing less than insurrection unfortunately escalated by the President. In this, the President is accountable for his actions and his words which contributed to these events. I pray for those that lost their lives in yesterday’s violence and extend my condolences to their families.

“America should be better than what we have seen unfold in recent days. We need to make a collective effort to stop escalating political disagreements into intolerant confrontations and recognize that we have more in common than what divides us. With our nation currently in the grips of a global pandemic the stakes are high, and we cannot forget that we need each other.

“Each day here in Stratford I am a witness to the incredible acts of heroism and caring from those on the front lines during this health crisis and acts of kindness and humanity by members of our community. Words matter – so let us use them to inspire and support these overtures to our fellow Americans – and condemn those that resort to violence.”

*This is a revision to the previous statement issued. The first statement contained a line also condemning violence associated with the events surrounding George Floyd, and I have removed it. It was not my intention to suggest any moral equivalence between protestors in the wake of those events, and the disgraceful events of yesterday. I support Black Lives Matter, and the objectives of those protests. I meant only to condemn all violence. I have heard the criticism of the remarks of those who expressed it to me, and recognize it detracted from the intended message of unity.


by Councilwoman Kaitlyn Shake
Councilwoman, District 2
Town of Stratford
 kshake@townofstratford.com
January 7, 2021 12:00

What we witnessed yesterday at our Nation’s Capitol was a direct attack on our democracy incited by the words of our sitting President. In the last 240 years we have had successful ceremonial and peaceful transfers of power. Yesterday was one of the darkest moments in our country’s history. Thankfully, the House and Senate were able to safely reconvene and proceed late into the night to certify the electoral college votes.

Make no mistake that the hundreds of people who violated several federal laws and breached the capitol grounds through violence and rioting actively participated in domestic terrorism–they were not protesting. The motive of those involved is rooted in the hate and rhetoric speech of white supremacy and white supremacy is terrorism.

I call on my fellow Councilors and Mayor Laura Hoydick to publicly condemn the President’s words and actions of the domestic terrorists who attacked and put in danger: our democracy, members of congress and their staff, capitol building staff and law enforcement.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black delivered a powerful prayer just moments after Congress had affirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, condemning the “desecration” of the Capitol building and reminding lawmakers of the weight of their words and actions:

“We deplore the desecration of the United States Capitol Building, the shedding of innocent blood, the loss of life, and the quagmire of dysfunction that threaten our democracy, these tragedies have reminded us that words matter and that the power of life and death is in the tongue,” he continued. “We have been warned that eternal vigilance continues to be freedom’s price.” Senate Chaplain Barry Black


Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece was written by Steve Taccogna, Chair Stratford Democratic Town Committee, and was intended for members of the Stratford DTC, but (full disclosure here, I am a member of the Stratford DTC) as I read Mr. Taccogna’s piece I made the decision to print it, as it’s more broadly applicable to many residents in Stratford.

by Steve Taccogna
Chair of the Stratford Democratic Town Committee

Like so many of you, watching the events unfold at the Capitol yesterday kept my attention glued to the news. As I watched on as open insurrection unfolded in the halls of government, my thoughts covered a lot of ground. How could this happen here? Are there going to be any consequences? Where does the violence end today? If they were black, would any of them still be alive? Like many of you, I wrestled with the uncomfortable reality that these people aren’t some mysterious “other”. They are in our community. We can drive around Stratford today and still see Trump signs defiantly waving with delusional pride.

I wanted to take a minute to reach out to everyone and to remind us all that we’re not facing any of this alone.

While we all look forward to turning the calendar over to a new year, the unfortunate reality is that it is not an impermeable barrier in time against the struggles, evils, or wrongs of the previous 365 days. What we saw yesterday was part of the disgraceful final act of what a corrupt, morally bankrupt, failed administration has been openly cultivating for the last four years.

That same continuum of time can also work for hope and good. Trump’s legacy won’t fade quickly or easily, but we showed in 2020 that we can fight against it and that we can win. Georgia went Blue. The Biden administration will restore proper order to the executive branch. McConnell can no longer hold the Senate hostage. We are equipped to start to push back COVID.

There is no magic pill for the challenges we face, there never was nor will be. Working together, tirelessly pushing against what we know to be wrong, and advocating for a better community at all levels we will succeed. The first six days of 2021 reminds us to remain vigilant and dedicated to our shared struggle. I hope you all are well, and I look forward to what we can accomplish together.

Letter to The Editor

by Stephanie Phillips
Former Stratford Official
Town Council and Zoning

Mayor Hoydick, your statement is muted and still falls severely short of what is needed. President Trump is absolutely responsible for inciting a revolt. They violently attacked lawful authority with the goal of destroying or overthrowing our country’s democracy; the
mob came within moments of attacking the elected officials who are the second, third and and fourth in the line of succession after the President. Mayor Hoydick, you need to call it what it is – an act of SEDITION for which Donald Trump must be removed from office. To quote Michelle Obama: “They set up gallows. They proudly waved the traitorous flag of the Confederacy through the halls. They desecrated the center of the American government…And the wreckage lays at the feet of a party and media apparatus that gleefully cheered him on, knowing full well the possibility of consequences like these.”

Furthermore, your statement failed to acknowledge the unequal treatment by our Federal law enforcement agencies against these organized rioters. Unlike the systemic racism that motivated the large scale, paramilitary law enforcement action against Black Lives Matter demonstrators, these rioters were met with a woefully inadequate and underprepared security force. These rioters made their violent intentions clear well in advance but they were treated vastly differently. We can all agree, violence is wrong and unacceptable for any purpose, at any time. But do not use your condemnation of this violence to minimize or overlook systemic racism and implicit bias in our society.

We will progress when we have the courage to honestly assess a situation instead of invoking platitudes to avoid criticism. The exceptional people working hard to make our community a better place deserve leaders willing to do the same. As Mitt Romney so eloquently said, the “best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth.”

The Stratford Crier can be an Essential Part of our Community

by David Chess, MD
TapestryHealth

Chief Executive Officer and Founder

The Stratford Crier can be an essential part of our community, our democracy and our building Stratford in a way we can all be proud of. Stratford Forward, the sponsor of the Stratford Crier, was formed over 2 years ago as a 501 C3 nonprofit. It is a non-partisan, grassroots effort to bring people together around issues that touch their lives, that touch our community and the future of our community.

If we are to have a community that truly invests in its citizens, that truly provides the best education for our children, that lifts each of us as much as possible and we lift our town as much as possible, we need a way to share ideas, to share a vision and to tell the stories of Stratford.

The success of this effort depends on community involvement, we are largely a volunteer organization with a very small budget. We need your help!!

Stratford is our Town, The Crier is our paper (virtually speaking).

Please become part of our extended writers, contributors.

Please contribute to the Stratford Crier. We really need your help. You contribute by mailing a check to Stratford Forward 1990 Elm St, Stratford CT 06615 – For the our Crier

Our Click the link: https://stratfordcrier.com/donate/

With kindness and thanks,
David Chess

Official Statement: 6.2.2 A Resolution Regarding Racism as a Public Health Emergency

By Kaitlyn Shake
Councilwoman, District 2

Sunday evening after I got home from work, I reviewed an email with the listed revisions to my submitted resolution declaring “Racism as a Public Health Emergency.” My original proposal was submitted to our Chairman Chris Pia and my fellow council members on September 13, 2020 (58 days ago). I had reached out to my fellow council members for feedback in the hopes of working towards a consensus and opportunity to answer questions, concerns or need for clarification and did not receive any response until Tuesday November 3, 2020.

On Thursday, November 5, 2020 during our only discussion with the town lawyers, Councilor Connor, Councilor Cann and our Chairman expressed some of their concerns and offered a set of revisions to which my response was that I needed to take the necessary time to review them and offer my feedback in a “reasonable time” which was decided to be this past weekend since I had to work Friday-Sunday 7AM-7:30PM.

Instead, when I arrived home ready to send my feedback there was another email with additional revisions. An hour and a half before our regularly scheduled meeting a third email arrived with the “final resolution” sponsored by all the Republicans and Councilor Dave Harden (D) District 4.

I am extremely disappointed that the revisions proposed were not included or raised during the last 58 days. This resolution was not given the required time and consensus work or process necessary to reach bipartisan support as evidenced by the rushed Republican Caucus amended proposal which left no time for further collaboration.

The majority of the 19 Connecticut municipalities, of whom adopted the original resolution originating from Health Equity Solutions, did so with additional language and suggestions in order to execute the necessary data collection, committee formation and or town initiatives. I had hoped that the town of Stratford would move in a similar direction but unfortunately with the revisions proposed in the last email from the Republican caucus meeting, the revised version does the opposite by removing and diluting the essence and purpose of this resolution; acknowledging that racism is a root cause leading to poor and fatal health outcomes for people of color which has been exacerbated during COVID19 and the systemic racial injustices plaguing our entire country. 

In order for Stratford to truly progress and move forward towards addressing the racial inequities our fellow neighbors are living with, we need to acknowledge the problem first–which the amended version fails to address. Second, we need to utilize the scientific method called for in the original resolution by “improving the quality of the data collected by the Town of Stratford–it is not enough to assume that an initiative is producing its intended outcome, qualitative and quantitative data should be used to assess inequities in impact and continuously improve.” which is removed completely in the amended proposal in addition to several other key clauses.

We cannot ignore the disproportionate negative health outcomes of our neighbors of color and pass a resolution that denies the causation and consequences of systemic racism–therefore I did not support the amended resolution and hope that in the near future we will have an opportunity to bring “Racism as a Public Health Emergency” back to the table. I urge Stratford Residents to thoroughly read and compare the original resolution I proposed, “Racism as a Public Health Emergency” vs Councilor Bill O’Brian’s motion to amend my original resolution with “Resolution Regarding Racism and Discrimination.”

Statements by Paul A. Tavaras, District 3 Councilman, and Greg Cann, District 5 Councilman, are as follows: 

“Without credible data, there simply are no standards of which to base if a program is effective or not.  Before creating any solutions, there has to be a breakdown of where the problems are concentrated, thereby focusing improvements on that category.  We already passed a resolution for the health department regarding enhanced detection. Why was that resolution acceptable having a data base, but this one isn’t? Having trepidation for possible legal ramifications displays a biases that this Administration and some council members are not sincere in dealing with this matter effectively.”

Paul A. Tavaras, 
Councilman, District 3

“The submitted resolution was a call to action based on the scientific evidence. It was a pragmatic commitment, that we can do better. The revised resolution passed last night is a statement of anti-racism, but that is not enough. You only solve problems through dedication to continuous improvement, and by owning effective solutions.”

Greg Cann
Councilman, District 5

Election Reflection: Pink is the New Blue?

by Rachel Rusnek

As we wait, with bated breath for the votes to be tallied and the results to roll in, there is some breathing room to analyze the minutiae in the results of the Nutmeg State. A long held Democratic fortress, a refuge for far-left liberal voters, at least how we are perceived on the National stage, election night brought few surprises in overall results. Former Vice President Biden handily won Connecticut’s 7 electoral votes in the presidential race, taking over 58% of all votes cast. What may come as surprise to some, are the bright red splotches in this little blue state.

As of this morning, in over 30 (relatively small) Connecticut towns the current White House occupant led the vote counts by margins in the double digits. Most of these small, rural (for Connecticut), working class towns are not chock full of those millionaires and billionaires, able to take advantage of Trump's lush tax cuts for those flush with cash. So, what is the impetus for Trumpian leanings? What do they see in Big Orange?  This question has plagued me, and no doubt many others, since the initial inauguration. (Remember how huge it was?) It’s not for lack of asking, I have.  I’m sure thousands had inquired, but I have yet to hear an answer besides people “are sick of politics as usual”. While Trump’s politics are certainly unusual, his shortcomings (to be kind), lack of decorum, and outright lies (never mind the racist, misogynistic, anti-science tendencies) lead me to struggle to understand how that makes him a viable candidate to so many. I would love to hear from those voters in New Fairfield (62% Trump), Oxford (60%), Prospect (64%), Wolcott (65%), Harwinton, Sterling, Watertown, Thomaston, Hartland, and Plymouth (all over 60%) and understand what makes them vote for Trump? Heck, even here in Stratford, 37% of voters went Orange. Methinks this is not just a result of the election’s close proximity to Halloween. Somehow, these voters must feel that their lives have gotten better over the last four years, or at least believe the promises that they will.

What am I missing?

Rosa DeLauro vs Margaret Streicker

Running for Congresswoman for Connecticut’s 3rd District

by Rachel Rusnek
Project Management at UConn Health

Rosa DeLauro, incumbent Congress woman for the 3rd District, covering central and coastal sections of Connecticut, is running this year to hold her seat against newcomer Margaret Streicker.

DeLauro, a long time New Haven native, boasts 30 years of political service in the district. Her legislative priorities, illustrated by her sponsored bills, have included health, labor and employment issues, agriculture and food safety, taxation, and government operations.

DeLauro has been an active representative for the district throughout her tenure, in fact between Jan 1991 to Oct 2020, DeLauro missed only 1.9% of the 19,021 roll call votes, which have occurred during her tenure, below the median of 2.3% among the lifetime records of representatives currently serving.

DeLauro is the current Co-Chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Other issues identified as a part of her platform include national investment in education, health, and employment, oversight of food and drug safety, and support for working families. She supports raising the minimum wage, access to paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and equal pay for equal work.

Prior to her congressional service DeLauro worked as the first executive Director of Emily’s List, an organization devoted to increasing the number of women who serve in elected office. She also served as Chief of Staff to former Senator Dodd, and successfully directed the national campaign to end military aid to Nicaraguan Contras, a rebel group known for terrorist tactics and human rights violations. DeLauro has an MA in International Politics from Columbia, and a BA in History & Political Science from Marymount College. She also attended the London School of Economics.

The 2020 challenger, Margaret Streciker, (formerly Margaret Streicker Porres), is a real estate heiress and daughter of John H. Streicker, chairman of the Sentinel Real Estate Corporation, a large real estate company that manages over $5 billion in assets.

Streicker runs her own real estate holding companies, operating primarily in New York, and now Connecticut. She is most well known in New York and real estate circles for her former company, Newcastle Real Estate Services, which was embroiled in scandal in New York for continued violation of State statues and tenants’ rights until it was dissolved in January 2019. Top level employees of the former company including David Drumheller, the former head of operations, have been accused of participating in kickback schemes and price fixing to illegally deregulate apartments. Streicker currently operates Newcastle Connecticut as well as Fortitude Capital, which focuses on
properties outside of the Northeast.

Prior to her foray into campaigning, Streicker received her undergraduate degree from Princeton, where she is a noted donor. She completed master’s degrees in architecture and Real Estate Development at Columbia. Streciker formerly taught at Columbia as an adjunct assistant professor in the Graduate School of Architecture, where she taught residential and assets strategy courses as recently as Fall 2019.

Streicker has identified healthcare, seniors, taxes, and job creation as primary her primary focus. She has also invested heavily in her own campaign, funneling $1.6 million of her own money into its coffers, $1.15 million of which was transferred just this month.

Extra, Extra! CAN’T Read All About it

by James Simon
Candidate for Registrar of Voters

In the past, Stratford politicians had to worry about their mistakes and scandals being exposed by The Connecticut Post, The Stratford Star, even The Stratford Bard (for those of you who go back to the 1970s as I do). Today, the Stratford mayor and Town Council operate largely in the dark, without the spotlight of a lot of press coverage. And we Stratford residents pay the price.

We are not alone. “Thousands of local newspapers have closed in recent years,” the Brookings Institute said in a report on “news deserts” last November. “Their disappearance has left millions of Americans without a vital source of local news and deprived communities of an institution essential for exposing wrongdoing and encouraging civic engagement. Of those still surviving, many have laid off reporters, reduced coverage, and pulled back circulation. “Over 65 million Americans live in counties with only one local newspaper—or none at all,” the report said.
News organizations are having trouble surviving in this digital age when Internet users expect their content to be free. The Post has a terrific reporter assigned to Stratford in Ethan Fry.  (Disclaimer: Ethan was a student of mine at Fairfield University). But the newspaper, trying to survive, has put many of his stories behind a paywall called CtInsider; you must pay a fee to access these stories, in print or online.

It is a tough choice for The Post. Should it make its stories available for free on the Internet, allowing Facebook to steal them, or charge a token fee for stories in hopes of generating a revenue stream. The next time you take one of The Post stories and post it online, you should recognize you are stealing the Post’s content, its intellectual property that it paid to collect, and giving it away for free, making it even harder for The Post to survive.

Meanwhile, The Patch provides free, online coverage, supported by online ads. But while its Stratford reporter, Anna Bybee-Schier, does a good job in covering events, she must juggle many other duties and does not have the time to look behind the scenes of what is happening in Stratford.

When it comes to broadcast news coverage, Channel 8 is rarely in town, and Cablevision Channel 12 is now located on Long Island and does little more than occasionally send a cameraman to get some Stratford footage for the anchor to read over.

The problem becomes more acute when one political party controls both the mayor’s office and the Town Council, as the Republican party currently does. The lack of news coverage works to the advantage of the Republicans; I was not surprised when they eliminated funding for the twice-a-year Stratford Calendar newsletter that was delivered to homes. That publication did not contain news stories, but it provided some social glue for Stratford by providing information on town agencies and groups like Sterling House that interact with the public.

Again, the party in power is often better off with as little coverage as possible. There are some who argue The Stratford Star went under because town politicians pulled the required town advertising that helped the paper survive financially.

Reporters also depend on the opposition party to highlight problems and shortcomings in local government. The GOP dominance has been so great that Democrats have had trouble in being heard when they challenge Republican policies that prevent members of the public from engaging with council members at council meetings.

There are thousands of Stratford residents interested in town politics. Given the lack of options, many have gravitated to the two dozen free Facebook groups, most of which have a clear angle, bias, or orientation that makes them an unreliable source of information. Other town residents get their information by signing up for the Mayor’s weekly e-mail blasts; like all public relations efforts, you should not expect an even-handed presentation of information.

Without the spotlight of press coverage, I am always impressed when townspeople can band together and use Internet petitions and similar techniques to get politicians to slow down and listen to the people. In Stratford, we saw it recently when the mayor’s office withdrew its proposed $1-a-year giveaway to a developer of the former Center School property. We also saw it when the developers of land across from Christ Church were forced to slow down and take into consideration the protection of the landmark house on that site.

Into this breach comes The Stratford Crier. It promises to be an independent source of analysis and information on town issues, putting a spotlight on municipal government and providing the adversarial relationship that the press and government should entertain. I believe very much in the libertarian theory that if there are numerous voices, the truth is more likely to emerge. Stratford could use more such voices.

(Eds note: Dr. James Simon was a political reporter with The Associated Press for 10 years.
After spending 25 years as a college journalism professor and as a dean, mostly at Fairfield
University, he won the Democratic primary for Registrar of Voters in August 2020 and will be
on the town-wide ballot this November.)

Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts

Written by Orna Rawls

When a group of friends met on ZOOM recently, Jane, a successful used car salesperson shared her financial woes. Google, she said, caused her income to go down significantly. “People get their information ahead of time.” She lamented.

“They know all the facts about the cars before they even see them.” The lady’s decreased income notwithstanding, most of us would like to know all the facts about a car, a house, a health insurance plan we’re buying, a school system we send our kids to. And, we hope, all relevant information about candidates we are voting for in local, state and national elections.

We’ll be wise to consider how the candidates’ education and work experience prepare them for the position they run for. Will they serve their constituents’ interests or do they have other agenda? Do they share our family values, ethics, morality? Have they demonstrated good team work, uniting leadership, sound problems solving, stable emotions?

At the same small gathering, an enthusiastic neighbor proudly declared he didn’t need to think twice. “I always vote for members of my party, of course.”

“Wouldn’t you like to know more about the individuals,? “ his friends asked. “No, I wouldn’t. I’ve always been loyal to my party.” He answered emphatically. “And please don’t confuse me with the facts.”

“It’s a case of misplaced loyalty.” someone said. “Should your loyalty to your town, your state, your country come first? Should you be an informed voter?”

We all have a choice now. Our voting decisions can be based on emotions or on rational and factual information. Facts or feeling? Which one will you prefer?