Letter: Keep power with voters, deny charter revisions

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Contributed photo

To the Editor:

Like many of you, I was dismayed when I awoke to the news Tuesday that the city-operated school bus company was not going to be able to provide service to many of our students due to a lack of bus drivers. We all understand that these are very trying times and the pandemic provides new uncertainties every day, but other districts are not having this problem.

This raises a good question. Certainly, other districts are dealing with drivers who need to quarantine or are not feeling well, but they are all able to provide the contracted service. Why is Shelton the only district who is unable to get all of our students to school each day? Why were parents who pay their taxes forced to provide transportation for their children when the city is obligated to do so?

In order to understand, a brief history is needed. A few years ago, the city, at the mayor’s direction, sued the Shelton public schools in order to obtain the busing contract. The mayor was under the impression that the city could do as good a job as a professional school bus contractor under his direct supervision.

As a result of the lawsuit, the city took over the contract in the summer of 2019 and problems immediately ensued. It quickly came to light that the bus drivers hired by the city were not properly vetted or drug-tested per both the contract and state law. Further, the start of the 2019-20 school year had to be delayed because the buses were not properly inspected. The mayor took the schools to court and apparently did not, or did not care to, read and understand the contract he sued to obtain or the corresponding state laws.

This is just one in a series of poor management decisions by the mayor. There are many others including locking our dedicated police officers out of their dressing rooms, continuing with the same auditor who missed a nearly $1 million embezzlement of city funds and threatening RTC members if certain incumbent BOE members were placed on the 2019 ballot. This is not how we should be conducting our city’s business.

The charter revision authorizes a simply massive concentration of city power in the mayor’s office. No other local chief municipal executive would enjoy such autonomy. With the mayor’s significant missteps, there is no reason to trust him with more decision making powers or to remove any oversight. Given his track record, we should be moving in the exact opposite direction.

Finally, and please understand this, the charter revision will not alleviate the technology issues that all our students are struggling with during the pandemic. There is nothing in the revision that mandates that our students will suddenly have their problems resolved. If anything, it will make it harder to resolve as it will add an additional layer of bureaucracy. The Board of Aldermen could fix this right now without the revision, but have failed to do so.

There is no reason to vote for the charter revision, but there are many reasons to vote against it. One of the most prominent reasons is that the revision will grant more power to a person who has not shown that he will wield it responsibly. Please let us keep the decision-making power in our own hands and vote no on the charter revision.

David Gidwani

First Ward, Board of Aldermen