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Indivisible Greenwich Fasano employed ‘double-talk’

October 12, 2018

We usually do not partake or encourage a tit-for-tat dialogue, and we usually do not feel compelled to respond when someone says something patently untrue or misleading about Indivisible Greenwich (“IG”).

However, Senate Republican President Len Fasano asserted in an op-ed (Oct. 5, “Town Republicans are dedicated public servants”) that Nerlyn Pierson “wrote the most inaccurate and self-promoting article” and that IG “will distort and deceive for political gain.”

Ad hominem attacks aside, it is fascinating that a single letter to the editor by a Greenwich resident evoked such a response from Republican party leadership in Hartford and that alone makes it worthy of a response.

We ask, what is “self-promoting” and “deceiving” in simply highlighting the voting records of Connecticut Republicans, specifically Greenwich Republicans Scott Frantz, Mike Bocchino, Fred Camillo and Livvy Floren?

Len Fasano claims it’s a “lie” when the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) points out Republicans voted for a $1,500 per teacher “teacher tax.” It’s not a tax, according to Fasano, because teachers “pay a little more toward their own pensions. It’s their money that they will get back.” Except, teachers don’t actually get the money back. The CEA points out that, “Unlike other pension contributions, the budget counts this additional 2 percent as tax revenue generating almost $100 million to reduce the state’s deficit instead of reducing the unfunded liability for teacher retirement. None of this tax increase will go toward the state’s unfunded teacher pension liability.”

Fasano further claims “Connecticut Republicans support clean elections.” OK. It still stands that he and his fellow Republicans (including Frantz, Camillo, Bocchino and Floren) voted to eliminate all funding for the Citizens Election Program, a program aimed at keeping our elections clean.

Fasano also claims he and the Greenwich Republicans did not vote to slash funding for the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. According to the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), the Republican budget called for cuts of more than $90 million in the $120 million program, a massive cut that would have punished the working poor.

Fasano employed more double-talk in attempting to mask his party’s cuts of $309 million to the University of Connecticut. UConn President Susan Herbst stated, “A cut of $309 million would have been catastrophic.”

Fasano falsely claims the Democrats wanted to force municipalities to pay 100 percent of teacher pensions. In fact, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked municipalities to contribute 30 percent of teacher pension costs, while asking more of the wealthiest towns, and keeping poor school districts whole. Fasano doesn’t tell you that only Connecticut and New Jersey pay 100 percent of teacher pensions at the state level, the norm being that local school districts take responsibility for funding pensions.

And, Fasano doesn’t mention that Trump and his fellow Republicans just clobbered Connecticut taxpayers with a $10.33 billion federal tax increase in the form of a cap on deductions for state and property taxes, an amount equivalent to half the state’s budget. He also doesn’t tell you the Republican tax bill was specifically targeted on wealthy states that vote Democratic.

Fasano tells you to “be careful of groups such as IG ... Their members’ hatred is blind, and therefore misplaced.”

To be clear: IG and its members do not hate and neither are we blind nor misguided. Every day we see our democratic values and norms attacked by the words, actions and policies of the Trump Administration, and every day we see a Republican Party that is silent, complicit or worse — one that encourages those words, actions and policies. It is the love (not hate) we have for our country and our American, democratic values that compels us to stand up against Trump’s bigotry, sexism, racism, and corruption.

Fasano attempts to distance himself from the Trump Administration by asserting, “Connecticut (specifically Greenwich) Republicans are not D.C. Republicans and never will be.” That’s a hard pill to swallow when President Trump tweeted on Aug. 15, “It is about time that Connecticut had a real and talented Governor. Bob Stefanowski is the person needed to do the job ... Bob has my total Endorsement!” It’s an even harder pill to swallow when not a single Greenwich Republican office-holder has publicly denounced Trump’s bigotry, sexism, racism, and corruption since he took office.

We call on Fasano or any of the Greenwich Republicans to let us know in what ways they are not D.C. Republicans and how their policies and agenda will not mirror what is coming from D.C. Republicans. When they do, we’ll be the first ones lined up to listen, crying, “Hallelujah!”

Nerlyn Pierson and the Indivisible Greenwich Steering Committee.

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