Welcome to the Democratic Voices Blog.
On this page, we encourage the sharing of thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Submissions are open to guest bloggers as well as DTC members. Please email your submission to email@example.com. Publishing is subject to DTC discretion. All submissions are subject to review and editing prior to posting.
Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Newtown DTC or of any other individual member of the DTC.
Judit DeStefano announces her candidacy for the LC.
Rebekah Harriman Stites announces her run for the Board of Education
Check out her letter in The Bee
Aaron Carlson – Endorsement for LC
Charter Panel Needs To Reconsider School Bd Majority Issue
To the Editor:
I am very disappointed and concerned, as all Newtown residents should be, with the recent decision of the Charter Revision Commission to propose language that will maintain a majority of 5 of 7 members from one political party on the Board of Education. This decision ignores the will of the voters in the 2008 Charter Revision who thought that they were merely adding a 7th member with a bare majority of 4 of 7 members. The Republican majority of the commission has also done so in a cynical “heads I win tails you lose” manner, because if the voters reject their proposed revision, we will be left with the current confusing and somewhat contradictory language in our charter which has been interpreted to allow for a 5 of 7 majority.
I served on the Board of Education for almost 14 years from 1984 until 1997 when I was elected first selectman. During that time, the Board of Ed consisted of 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats. As a result, we had to work together to reach consensus on all matters. I can only think of one instance when we were split 3-3 along partisan lines and that was for the election of a vice chair. That striving to reach consensus produced good results for the education of our children, there were many examples, from mastery and CAPS test scores to the “Blue Ribbon” status of the high school at that time.
My comments should not be taken as a criticism of the current members of the Board of Education. However, no one can tell about future board members. A situation that will allow the ideas of the Republican Party that represents the philosophy of 30 percent of the voters to hold a majority of 70 percent of the membership (5 of 7) will require no need to even attempt to reach a consensus on any matter to come before the Board of Education regardless of how controversial it may be. The same could be true in the future if the Democratic Party representing 25 percent of the voters were to hold the 70 percent of the positions. With the limit of a bare 4 to 3 majority, it is less likely that extreme ideas will be rammed through.
I urge the Charter Revision Commission to reconsider their action and if they will not, I urge the Legislative Council to do so when they receive the commission’s report. In the spirit of full disclosure, while not speaking for them, I am the Candidates Committee chair of the Democratic Town Committee.
Herbert C. Rosenthal
70 Main Street, Newtown May 4, 2015
Put Public Safety Above Politics by Rich Boritz
Originally published online by The Newtown Bee on April 10, 2013
For what it’s worth, I’ve tried to influence the national discussion on reducing gun violence by contacting every Senator with the following message:
Although I am not a constituent of yours, I am writing to you hoping that you will place public safety above the politics of one side or the other in the national debate about reducing gun violence. I, myself, would not be able to live with the guilt of knowing that I haven’t contributed all that I could to find a solution. You see, I am a resident of Sandy Hook, CT, and like everyone else in my town, I have been profoundly affected by the shooting.
While I would not presume to tell you what you must do, I have to make this plea: Do what you know in your heart will make the country safer from death by guns. Please join with all the good people who both agree and disagree with you on this issue, and take effective action before the next shooter incubates a plan to do violence. Like a cancer, these acts left untreated will multiply. And like cancer, prevention is a much better course than the treatment.
Knowing that I haven’t much influence, I am reaching out to you in the hope that this appeal encourages you to gather the strength you need to overcome whatever obstacles you find in your path to craft a solution for our country.
Does it dishearten you as it does me to see how people’s positions have hardened? Some people have become obstinate in their refusal to listen. This has forced our national leaders to draw a line in the sand and stay firmly entrenched in their own camps. I suspect that my message will not be read by Senators but by their staffs, and that I will receive automated or canned letters in response thanking me for contacting them. Still, it is a sentiment that needs to be expressed.
Questioning Beliefs by Rich Boritz
Originally published online by The Newtown Bee on April 2, 2013
The demonstration last Thursday in front of the NSSF headquarters attracted many counter-demonstrators as well as NAA activists. I took the opportunity to approach some NSSF supporters to discover what elements of gun safety legislation would be acceptable to them. I was curious to find out the reasoning of one young man who was holding a sign that read, “NAA protesting against NSSF is like MADD protesting A.A.” The short answer is that the NSSF promotes gun safety and provides training for proper handling of firearms. I continued the discussion by asking the gentleman if he was a member of the NRA to which he answered that he was. “Why doesn’t the NRA support universal background checks?” He wasn‘t able to say and added that he did not agree with everything the NRA does.
I next wanted to know his views on the so-called assault weapons ban and the ban on future sales of high-capacity magazines. He did not believe either of these proposed laws would make a difference in reducing gun violence. Besides, he owned an AR-15 and believed it to be a good way to protect his family. I disagreed and told him that I did not think that a rifle with that kind of fire power was necessary for self-protection. He responded, “Well, I guess I love my family more than you love yours.” I could have taken offense by his remark. Instead, I ended the conversation and moved on.
Afterwards, I thought of the deeper meaning of his statement and of the differences between our values. I think it comes down to this: I believe his need to possess superior fire power is a false refuge. It doesn’t truly make his family any safer. In fact, I believe it might have the opposite effect in certain circumstances not only for his family but for others as well. By his measure, Nancy Lanza displayed the utmost love and devotion to her son. When a belief leads to an absurd conclusion, then I think it wise to question the value of that belief.
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On Friday, as I was getting ready for my daughter’s 9th birthday weekend, the phone rang. My daughter grabbed it, looked at the caller ID and then handed it to me. It was the NRA. I listened for a little before hanging up in disgust. It was a warning that my rights to own weapons that took the lives of my daughter’s schoolmates, beloved Principal and teachers were being threatened. I am one of the SHS parents who got to celebrate a birthday this week. Two other SHS parents should also have been celebrating birthdays this week, but did not.
The call described how my rights to own weapons that could slaughter 26 people in under 5 minutes were going to be taken away. That my rights to own weapons that could make it a whole lot easier to murder people as quickly and easily as possible were in jeopardy. At no time did the caller tell me that my daughter lost her right to peaceably assemble at school. No call about losing her right to a safe public education. No concern that she lost her right to feel safe in school. What about those rights?
When my daughter handed me the phone, I was so thankful that she knows to only answer a phone if she knows the caller ID that appears. I would not want any SHS student, any child in Newtown to have to hear that call, have to relive that morning, to have to hear the NRA explain that the weapons that stole their classmates and teachers away should be preserved at any cost. My daughter knows too well the cost of having these weapons in our community.
The NRA’s robo-calls are simply vile. There is no excuse to call SHS families in our homes to force us to relive that day and tell us that we need to keep these weapons in our communities. We are living with the consequences of your efforts to keep the guns flowing. We are living with the ramifications of your lobbying to keep gun laws from being enforced.
Leave us alone.
The Key To Effective Debate Is Listening by Rich Boritz
Originally published online by The Newtown Bee March 13, 2013
After attending Elizabeth Esty’s town hall meeting on reducing gun violence several weeks ago, I found myself agitated to the point where I needed a beer to calm down before heading home to bed. So my cohorts and I landed at My Place to indulge in one of their exotics. As luck would have it, we sat at the bar next to one of the founders of Sandy Hook Promise. Our discussion quickly centered around what to do about gun violence. Although the conversation seemed like a continuation of the town hall meeting we participated in earlier, this one was much more constructive. Unlike the town hall event where people talked at each other loudly, the discussion at the bar involved statements of fact or opinion, some thinking about what the other person had just said, and then offering a response in a way that actually carried the conversation further. It clarified for me, at least, what would need to be done to make things safer for us all.
When people start repeating the same facts louder, as happened at the town hall, then you know they are angry to the point where different ideas and opinions will not make any impact on them. This impasse is almost impossible to overcome. The situation can become dangerous. We find ourselves in the position of having to defend ourselves against the names and epithets lobbed our way. Being unable to disagree with dignity in our public discussions about gun violence, adds other victims to this tragedy. We need solutions.
Not accepting this truth about needing solutions means that people will find ways to become obstacles to achieving safer communities. I submit that the first place to effect change is with ourselves. For the sake of our children, we must do a better job of listening to each other. In thinking about the town hall meeting again, I realize that I had missed a chance to build a bridge to the other side. I did not take a fellow up on his offer to discuss our differences over a coffee. Too bad for us.