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?