Welcome to the newsletter of the Sherman Democratic Town Committee. Our goal is to share with local Democrats, news and resources to help us stay involved for positive change on a state and local level. We are committed to working for and with the citizens of Sherman to promote issues, initiatives, and candidates that will make Sherman a better place to live and work.
Sherman Democratic Town Committee Events:
Sherman Democratic Town Committee Regular Monthly Meeting
All registered Democrats from the town of Sherman are invited to attend our monthly meetings.
Sherman Town Government Events:
Democracy depends on citizens getting involved: Please support your community by attending meetings, particularly Town Meetings and Board of Selectmen Meetings, to learn more about the many issues that are important in Sherman.
Sherman House and Garden Tour
Sherman House & Garden Tour Returns This September
Save the date! The ever-popular Sherman House and Garden Tour will return this year on Saturday, September 16, 2017, from 10 AM to 1 PM.
This self-guided tour affords one-day-only access to several of the region’s most magnificent private residences and their gardens. Ticket holders will receive a program that describes what to expect at each home, along with addresses. In past years, the Sherman House & Garden Tour has featured lakeside estates, historically significant homes, working farms and horse properties, and Sherman’s most architecturally stunning abodes.
A garden party with refreshments will take place in Sherman’s historic center after the tour.
The Sherman House & Garden Tour is sponsored by the Sherman Democratic Town Committee. A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Guido Tino Scholarship Fund.
Tickets will be available at local retailers this summer.
Contact Your Representatives!
Sherman is lucky to be represented by two Democratic senators and a Democratic representative in Congress–but don’t think that your phone calls in support of their votes and actions do not matter. Senator Chris Murphy, speaking recently at a campaign-training event, made it clear that tallying up those supportive calls from his constituents helps him maintain a strong case for his positions. Sherman’s state-level representatives are both Republicans.
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty
(860) 223-8412 (202) 225-4476
Senator Chris Murphy
(860) 549-8463 (202) 224-4041
Senator Richard Blumenthal
(860) 258-6940 (203) 330-0598 (202) 224-2823
State Senator Michael McLachlan Senate District 24
State Representative Richard Smith House District 108
Candlewood Lake Isn’t the Only Community Resource in Trouble: So is the CLA.
(Editor’s Note: This month, we expand on the topic of the condition of Candlewood Lake and the state of the organization that exists to protect that health and quality of the lake, Candlewood Lake Authority. The issue is complex, and while this piece may resemble a New Yorker article in its length, readers are urged to bear with us as we explain the science, the history, and the politics at play in 2017. Phyllis Schaer will attend the SDTC meeting on May 24 to provide information and answer questions. All registered Democrats are invited to attend.)
Sherman Residents Pass Septic Walkover Ordinance, Demonstrating Concern for Candlewood
On May 6, Sherman residents voted 298 to 208 for a Septic Walkover Ordinance to be instated, which will allow the septic systems of properties within the Candlewood Lake watershed to be inspected every few years to see if there is leakage of leaching field effluent into the lake. While not overwhelming, the “Yes” vote reflects a clear majority of Sherman folks who care about Candlewood Lake as one of the most important assets of the community, and want to enact any and all reasonable and scientifically proven measures to promote its health.
The Septic Walkover Ordinance is one of many initiatives or recommendations designed to combat a triple threat of problems that are increasingly damaging the lake’s ecosystem: blue-green algae, Eurasian milfoil, and zebra mussels. Managing watershed land and runoff areas, as the Walkover Ordinance does, is one way to prevent excessive nutrients from entering the lake that contribute to the excessive growth of blue-green algae. Another measure is the recent introduction of sterile carp to control the invasive aquatic plant, Eurasian milfoil, which already plagues the lake. Other initiatives preventing zebra mussels from being introduced into the lake include working with FirstLight Power Resources to adjust the annual drawdown to prevent introduction, ramping up public awareness and education on the issue, and establishing a boat inspection / decontamination station to prevent launching of infested boats in the lake.
Candlewood Lake Authority’s Role In Protecting Candlewood Lake
Established in 1972, The Candlewood Lake Authority (CLA) has been at the forefront of these efforts to protect the lake, educating the residents of towns surrounding the lake, working with the scientific community and Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEEP) for decades, and promoting best environmental practices to keep the lake clean and safe. The CLA was initially founded to provide marine patrol to enforce boating law, and added the environmental protection of the lake to its mission in the early 1980’s, monitoring the water quality monthly, from May-October, ever since.
With its strictly science-based and educational approach, the CLA has attempted to maintain its political neutrality and stick to its mission of keeping the lake safe and healthy. Most recently, the CLA kept its involvement regarding the debate about using pesticides and herbicides in the lake strictly factual, providing articles on its website about the success of the carp program in ridding Ball Pond of Eurasian milfoil, and posting a video of the March 2 meeting in New Fairfield at which residents from all surrounding five towns expressed overwhelming dismay at the proposed use of chemicals in the lake.
Efforts to Undermine the CLA
However, despite its determination to remain politically neutral (and therefore optimally effective), the CLA has recently been afflicted by the disruptive actions of some of its delegates. In the past few years, several of the New Fairfield delegates, together with some members of the New Fairfield town government, have sought to undermine the operations of the CLA in the following ways:
Appointments Containing Conflict of Interest: In the summer of 2010 John Hodge was appointed as a CLA delegate while serving as First Selectman of New Fairfield. Jack Keating, the New Fairfield Municipal Attorney and personal friend of John Hodge, was later appointed as another New Fairfield delegate to the CLA. John Hodge is currently serving on New Fairfield’s Board of Finance, with the ability to vote on CLA finances. Jack Keating has written legal memorandums opposing recent suggested by-law amendments to clarify budget payments to the CLA.
Discrediting Research and Data: In December of 2014 Hodge made unsuccessful attempts to discredit the quality of the CLA water quality research and data, a position spread by the consultants they and FirstLight Power hired. Other experts would later discredit this attack.
Attempting to Disband CLA Marine Patrol: Also in the later part of 2014 John Hodge led this effort, insisting the State was responsible for all patrol coverage on Candlewood Lake. This was also discredited by State and DEEP. New Fairfield Selectman Kim Hanson followed Hodge’s lead.
Attempting to Damage and Discredit CLA Finances: From 2013 to just last year CLA finances came under attack with a concentrated effort by John Hodge, New Fairfield Board of Selectmen and New Fairfield Board of Finance members to artificially reduce the yearly budget appropriations to the CLA. At one point, the New Fairfield BOS/BOF only approved $1,500 towards a budget year request of approximately $64,000.) Falsely accusing the CLA of misappropriation of CLA funds, New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman, Board of Finance member John Hodge, and Selectman Kim Hanson deliberately withheld and did not pay the New Fairfield July 2016 fiscal year budget appropriation until spring 2017, regardless of CLA Auditor Sandra Welwood’s repeated assertions stating there had been NO mismanagement or wrongdoing in CLA finances.
Disruption of Lake Stewardship Programs: This year, the CLA Sterile Grass Carp Program has come under attack by John Hodge and New Fairfield BOS, who supported a separate chemical treatment in New Fairfield to reduce milfoil without consultation or consideration on the impact on the active Grass Carp Program. False facts on the effectiveness, mortality and management of the Grass Carp program were given to the press and public by John Hodge prior to and at the May 2nd New Fairfield public meeting in regards to this pesticide proposal.
Recent Involvement by a Sherman Delegate In Undermining the CLA
As shown by the majority of Sherman residents approving the Septic Walkover Program, indicating a basic agreement on best practices to promote Candlewood Lake’s ecological health, it follows that most residents would want there to be best practices regarding CLA delegates’ personal and political behavior. Against this common expectation, it appears that these best practices are now being undermined not only in New Fairfield but in Sherman.
On January 26 of this year at the Sherman BOS meeting, First Selectman Cope and Selectman Bob Ostrosky forced through a vote for George Linkletter to be re-appointed to the CLA as one of Sherman’s delegates, despite the timely application of another highly qualified resident who is a long time Sherman and lake community resident, a finance professional with a Fortune 500 company, and who would be a strong, productive addition to the CLA Board of Delegates. There were already concerns about Mr. Linkletter’s performance as a delegate, including his poor attendance at CLA meetings and events, lack of goals or planning for the Committee he was asked to chair (Public Awareness Committee), and an increasing allegiance with New Fairfield delegates’ positions, which were often at extreme odds with the rest of the CLA Board. [View video of this exchange by clicking this link.]
Mr. Linkletter has increasingly shifted his support to those actions favored by New Fairfield’s John Hodge, as evidenced in his voting record. This year, he ran unsuccessfully against the Phyllis Schaer for the position of CLA Chairman, with the sole stated platform of improving the relationship with New Fairfield’s CLA delegation. As Sherman’s two delegates, Phyllis Schaer and Doug Cushnie, became increasingly concerned about Mr. Linkletter’s actions, they tried to meet with First Selectman Clay Cope and Mr. Linkletter to clarify the position of the Town of Sherman and the appropriate representation of Sherman’s interests on the CLA Board. This clarification could not occur, since Mr. Linkletter did not show up for a planned meeting at Town Hall as requested, sending an email indicating that he had too many work commitments that did not allow him time to meet.
Apparently due to his busy schedule, Mr. Linkletter also has not been able to fulfill his responsibilities as Chairman of Public Awareness, represent Sherman at the CLA Annual State of the Lake Event, the Annual Candlewood Lake Clean Up Event, or provide assistance in planning or executing these major CLA public outreach activities. Mr. Linkletter has recommended firing the Director of Public Outreach as a budget efficiency. His previous position as Secretary of the CLA Board required no personal effort as minutes are actually recorded and typed by CLA employee Francis Frattini, the Administrative Coordinator.
Mr. Linkletter is openly opposed to the requested CLA bylaw change that would clarify a due date for CLA Municipal Budget appropriations to avoid payment delays, as recommended by New Milford Mayor Gronbach and Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn.
Harrassing the CLA With Freedom of Information Act Complaint
In his latest effort to undermine the CLA, Mr. Linkletter is supporting New Fairfield’s John Hodge in miring Phyllis Schaer, Linkletter’s fellow Sherman delegate, in senseless complaints. In November 2016, the first Freedom of Information request was generated by New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman on a Sunday afternoon, after she requested a tape of the prior days CLA Board meeting. When the request was not instantaneously fulfilled, since it occurred over a holiday weekend (Veteran’s Day), Susan Chapman made it a FOIA request. The tape was provided in a timely manner to Selectman Chapman within two business days of her request.
Mr. Hodge then submitted two FOIA requests for CLA documents and two formal FOIA complaints of his own against the CLA for what he deemed non-compliance. John Hodge, in justifying his requesting “three years of all correspondence with any elected official by our Executive Director, Larry Marsicano,” stated at a CLA meeting that “he was trying to determine if Larry [Marsicano] had written any emails that might have been insulting to any elected official without approval of the board.”
Mr. Linkletter wrote, prior to the FOIA hearing, that the CLA was at fault for not providing John Hodge his requested documents in a timely manner. Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope also sent a confirming letter finding fault with the CLA, without consulting the CLA first. These assertions were NOT shared by New Milford or Brookfield CLA delegates, who felt the request was overly broad, non- specific, and a form of harassment.
The CLA complied with all requested documents prior to the May 9, 2017 FOIA hearing. On April 18th, 2017 in the CLA office Mr. Hodge and George Linkletter, as his designated “helper,” reviewed for 3 ½ hours, approximately 1500 pages of emails between Marsicano and any elected official for the last three years. Despite this review, and several attempts at mediation by the CLA, Mr. Hodge would not withdraw the complaint, and the matter proceeded to hearing at the State Court.
As the respondent to the FOIA complaint, Phyllis Schaer requested the courtesy of assistance from Sherman’s municipal attorney to prepare for the FOIA hearing, as she was personally named in this complaint. The State Statute and establishing ordinance for Lake Authorities provides for legal protection for volunteers. She was NOT provided with any help or support from the Town Attorney. Ms. Schaer also requested the Town arrange to provide a FOIA class for her and staff as offered by the FOIA Ombudsman assigned to this case. Since this was not scheduled, Phyllis made her own arrangements for her and her staff to take a class in Southbury, CT.
The above picture was taken at the May 9th, 2017 FOIA hearing in Hartford. The CLA was not notified prior to the hearing that Sherman delegate George Linkletter (right) was planning to attend as a supporting witness for John Hodge (left).
On May 9th Mr. Linkletter appeared as John Hodge’s “supporting witness” at a FOIA hearing in Hartford. The hearing Judge disallowed Mr. Linkletter’s appearance, as it had no bearing on a document request. She remarked that there seemed to be an undercurrent in Mr. Hodge’s remarks, which had no bearing on the actual FOIA complaint which only dealt with document compliance, and admonished him for many of his attempted remarks. The CLA has requested recorded copies of the hearing and will make them available for review. The report of the hearing now goes before the FOIA Commission for review and decision, which may take months.
The Future of CLA
CLA’s Executive Director, Larry Marsicano, has long feared the day when protection of Candlewood Lake would be derailed by personal and/or corporate politics. Marsicano stated, “The CLA is the only agency in this community whose only mission is solely the lake and those who recreated on it and care about it and it has done an admirable job for 45 years. The attempts to derail the CLA’s work by those politically motivated few have to make you wonder what their motivation is.”
As Chairman of the CLA, Phyllis Schaer is committed to transparency in the operation and mission of the Candlewood Lake Authority. As a delegate serving her town for the last eight years, she will personally reply to any questions and concerns you may have in regards to the Candlewood Lake Authority and its role in providing necessary oversight and responsible stewardship of Candlewood Lake for the communities it represents.
To find out more about the CLA and its mission, to ask questions, and offer your support, please visit the CLA website at http://www.candlewoodlakeauthority.org/
WAYS TO TAKE ACTION
This is a rotating selection of a handful of the many resources available to Sherman Democrats who wish to work for our shared values to make state and local communities better.
Sherman Democrats Want You!
There is nothing more important to the quality of life in our town than the participation of its citizens. The Sherman Democratic Town Committee seeks interested townspeople to serve on our town Boards and Commissions. Looking forward to this fall’s municipal election, civic-minded residents are encouraged to consider running for elected positions including Board of Selectmen, Planning and Zoning Commission, Board of Education, Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Assessment Appeals and Constable.
As the party of inclusion we encourage any Sherman Democrat to consider running for an elected position but we also will support unaffiliated citizens who might want to serve. We believe that a wide variety of talent is present in our town and hope to recruit the best folks available.
Your knowledge, drive and skills are needed, and an array of duties and responsibilities are available to citizens interested in local government. Any registered Democrat or Unaffiliated voter with a desire to make a positive difference in Sherman’s town government should contact Joel Bruzinski at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-313-9056. For more information, explore this website or find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Please step up and help get Sherman back on track.
Formed by a group of New Fairfield residents and drawing members from surrounding towns, Building Bridges is a local action group dedicated to supporting the principles of equality, diversity, and democracy through activities that promote a progressive and inclusive agenda, are positive and constructive, support and defend individual liberties and the environment, and effect change through the political system at all levels of government. The next meeting of Building Bridges will be on June 16 at 7 PM. For information, please contact Gail Maletz at email@example.com
n 2013, a few weeks after Adam Lanza opened fire at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Connecticut State Legislature passed one of the strictest gun control laws in the country, by a bipartisan vote. The new law banned the sale of large capacity gun magazines, required background checks for private gun sales (including at gun shows), and expanded the state’s already-existing ban on assault weapons. It also established a registry of dangerous offenders, accessible only by the police, and allocated millions of dollars for expanded school safety and mental health programs. Gun violence has many determinants other than how strict the gun laws are, of course, but whatever the exact explanation, Connecticut now has the fifth lowest rate of gun violence of all of the states.
So what do some Republicans want to do? Roll back background checks and bring back assault weapons! HB6263 would repeal the 2013 laws. And on top of that, SB 74 would prohibit municipalities from regulating firearms, and HB5672 would permit nonresidents who have handgun permits in their own state to carry them in Connecticut, despite our laws being much stricter. Connecticut, for instance, might be forced to allow a tourist from Mississippi — one of the 10 states that now authorizes permitless carry — to be armed while walking down a street in the middle of New Milford or Danbury, with his or her Mississippi ID the only permission he needs.
Call Senator McLachlan and Representative Smith to ask them if they are OPPOSING these bills.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, President Trump and the Republican-led Congress are also trying to weaken gun legislation. The National Rifle Association spent more than $30 million electing Trump. In late April, he reassured the NRA convention that he would come through for them.
It doesn’t take laws. Trump’s agencies have already cut the number of people who will be included in a database designed to keep firearms from people who are barred from owning them. Federal officials have signaled that they might no longer defend the Army Corps of Engineers ban on carrying loaded firearms and ammunition on federal lands. And Trump signed a law that killed an Obama-era regulation that required the government to add to the no-buy list people whom the Social Security Administration has deemed eligible for mental disability payments.
Meanwhile, Congress joined in the fun. Gun rights groups have proposed a pair of bills, the “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (S446 and HR38) that would allow Americans to carry concealed firearms from state to state. (This would make Connecticut’s own HB5672, described above, national). The bill already has 189 co-sponsors in the House, 36 in the Senate. The proposed law would make the state with the weakest standards into the law of the land. It would force states to let domestic offenders and violent offenders and people with no firearm safety training carry hidden, loaded handguns. It would force Connecticut to allow concealed carry by many people with no permit whatsoever to carry guns. It would also override state laws on guns in bars and daycare centers and even roll back the federal law that requires a concealed carry permit to carry in K-12 schools.
Congresswoman Esty and Senators Blumenthal and Murphy have been stalwart defenders of our right to protect our citizens’ safety. Call them to let you know you support their efforts and encourage them to continue to oppose this bill. And while you are at it, call State Senator McLachlan, State Representative Smith and First Selectman Clay Cope and demand that they, too, call in their support to our Congresswoman and Senators.
Ways to Take Action
This is a rotating selection of a handful of the many resources available to Sherman Democrats who wish to work for our shared values to make state and local communities better.
March For Science
On Earth Day, April 22, thousands of concerned citizens will march in Washington DC and around the country “to acknowledge and voice the critical role that science plays in each of our lives.” At a time when science, scientists, and evidence-based policy making have come under attack, it is imperative that we take a public stand and be counted. There will be marches in New Haven and in Hartford. Information at www.MarchForScience.com.
Peoples Climate March
The Peoples Climate Movement organizes the Peoples Climate March each year on April 29 – the 100th day of the new administration. Not be confused with the March for Science, which is focused on the funding accessibility of science, the Peoples Climate March is focused on standing up for social, economic, and climate justice. The Western Connecticut Civic Action group is holding a sister Peoples Climate March on the April 29 on the southern end of the New Milford Green, from noon – 2 PM. More information can be found at www.peoplesclimate.org.
An effective advocate is a well-informed advocate: If you haven’t checked out GovTrack, you’re missing out an excellent resource. This website is an easily searchable database of all the legislation being debated in the U.S. Congress, and a deep record of where every federal legislator stands. Concerned about the condition of recreational water bodies in Connecticut, for example? Search by issue “Environmental Policy” and then choose “Water Quality.” There, among other bills, you will find S.675, the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act. You can read the entire bill, and you can research the voting record of NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who sponsored it. You can even find out that, unfortunately, this bill has a 23% chance
We are an organization of inclusion, not exclusion. We have a longstanding history of attracting both Democratic and unaffiliated voters and endorsing both Democratic and unaffiliated candidates. We work to represent the wide variety of Sherman citizens who hold many different viewpoints and opinions.
Copyright © 2017 Sherman Democratic Town Committee, All rights reserved.
Paid for by the Sherman Democratic Town Committee, Thomas Conley Treasurer
Editor’s note: Some of the original newsletter has been edited.