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Friday, March 19, 2010

03/19/10 First Selectman Peter Tesei Wants No Accountability

To The Editor,

To the editor:

I have been reading with increasing dismay the remarks attributed to the Greenwich first selectman in the wake of last Saturday's terrible storm.

And on Tuesday night, at a budget hearing, Mr. Tesei characterized as "despicable" some questions about whether the town was doing enough to ameliorate the storm damage, and attributed any such criticism to unspecified "political motivation."

Our first responders have been terrific, indeed heroic. But there is a lot of room to complain about the leadership of the town's recovery effort. To deflect these questions, Mr. Tesei has blamed the town's residents; he has blamed the utilities; and he has blamed unnamed political opponents for any questions about whether the town is doing enough to help repair the damage.

On Sunday, the day after massive flooding in Old Greenwich, and fallen trees and power lines all across town, Mr. Tesei was quoted as being annoyed with people being outside, inspecting the damage from the storm and supposedly impeding emergency workers, particularly in Old Greenwich: "We have people out walking their dogs."

What did he expect people to do, when their homes had been flooded, they were without power or heat, and they were basically without modern means of communication? And what were people supposed to do about their dogs? And what about those of us who went out to check on elderly neighbors?

On Monday, Mr. Tesei responded to the frustration of town residents who still lacked basic services by saying, "We live in a highly privileged community and people are used to a high level of service."

Heat? Hot water? Lights? Passable streets (particularly in a coastal flood zone)?

On Tuesday, Mr. Tesei blamed the utilities, which have had crews working constantly to clear fallen trees, repair the affected wiring, restore power to our neighborhoods and then restart the gas furnaces that had been shut off due to neighborhood flooding.

Our town has suffered a significant natural calamity -- but hardly the worst we have seen or can expect. It was not a major earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane or external attack. We have been uncomfortable and inconvenienced. But we expect a more functional government, including an effective emergency recovery operation -- not because we are "privileged," but because we expect basic human services for our town. Blaming the town's residents and the utilities is no answer to the continued problems from the storm.

The real question is: Where is the leadership?

Nancy E. Barton

Old Greenwich

The writer is a member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation

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