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Patch Stories I Want to Read in 2012

I hope we do better than last year!

It can’t be possible. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting down to write about the stories I wanted to read for 2011, and here we are another year later.

In , I regret to report that my wishes for the past year did not fare very well.

The Charter Revision Commission has taken no further action on ballot wording and the situation at Fairfield Hills is, if anything, more tenuous than it was a year ago with Planning and Zoning apparently on the brink of ignoring the wishes of Newtown citizens regarding housing there. 

The only area giving cause for optimism was that the school system did receive some good news regarding its academic accomplishments. 

Connecticut Mastery Test scores improved and three Newtown schools made it to .

All in all, though, 2011 was a rather tumultuous year for Newtown — in politics and weather.

Nevertheless, there were plenty of things to admire and applaud about the year 2011 — not the least of which was the peaceful selection of various people to fill important posts in town. 

The right to vote is the bedrock of a democracy and we manage to make it work over and over — although it would be nice if more people participated.

So, now, here we are, 2012. 

Here are a few of the stories I would like to read in Patch over the coming year.

First and foremost I hope to see the cloud of confusion — and deception — slowly dissipate over the Board of Education.

I am very optimistic that one day soon the sun will shine fully on that important entity. 

In the short amount of time that the new board has been in place, it is obvious that honesty and transparency are a top priority. Don’t be at all surprised to see some key resignations over the coming months.

As a corollary to this, I hope to read that the State Labor Board has ruled that the bidding process for student transportation services was indeed flawed, to the extent that makes the contract award to All Star null and void. This will hopefully clear the way for the board to open the door to our friends and neighbors — the owner operators. 

A further corollary to this is my hope that we see more articles regarding the academic initiatives and achievements of our school system. 

The various problems surrounding the Board of Education will work themselves out. Now it’s time to focus on the fine work of our teachers, students and administrators at our schools. I hope to be a part of that process, and will, in fact, be presenting a column in the very near future to kick off that initiative.

The next thing on my Patch Article Wish List is to see the town finally arrive at a resolution to the issue. This can begin with P&Z’s decision to prohibit housing — of any kind — on that campus. 

To me there is nothing clearer than the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Newtown citizens — no housing at FFH — period. 

What is it you don’t understand about this, P&Z? This isn’t about what you want.  It’s about what the people want. Get with it. 

The rest of my wish list is the usual stuff: a relatively stress-free budget season, greater cooperation between the boards of Finance and Education and growing prosperity for the people of our town.

That’s not too much to ask for, is it?

With that, I wish all of you and your families a year of good health and good times. And remember two important things: hope springs eternal and laughter is the best medicine.

Kevin Fitzgerald January 02, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Yoda, how did you come to conclude that I was knocking John Reed?
yoda January 02, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Back in John Reed's days, a 7% annual increase was not unusual. Today, getting 2% just to keep things as they are is nearly impossible. Kevin, Im very protective of Mr. Reed so any little sign of insult I will nip it, when he was Super our schools reputation was top notch.
yoda January 02, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Back in the day, the economy was a whole lot different than it is today, that’s why money spent foolishly is not acceptable.
Kevin Fitzgerald January 02, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Yoda, it's fine to be a fan of John Reed's. You're not alone. But my point was not about John Reed. It was about the challenge of building our education program with limited funding as compared to how the schools were funded during the John Reed era. Even considering increasing or decreasing enrollment numbers doesn't change the fact that current funding challenges makes it very difficult to build on what we have today.
Alex Tytler January 02, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Now let me get this straight. You have fewer kids, but you continue to want more money? If you had 20% fewer kids, could you get by with 20% less? Or would you let the "professionals" brainwash you into thinking that you needed more? We are being sold down the river.
Kevin Fitzgerald January 02, 2012 at 10:33 PM
No Eric. If it can be done for less, I'm all for it. That's what the BOE will be looking for, no? By budget season, they'll have a pretty good idea about where all the monies are that some claim are wasted. But once those monies are "reassigned" and the new education budget number is determined, will we be able to move education forward at the current funding levels? Or will it be another "same services" year?
Kevin Fitzgerald January 02, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Mary Ann, the only reason it was done for less is that nobody was willing to sign off on the change order including Pat but beginning with Bob Mitchell, Chairman of the Public Buildings and Site Commission. Even the District had contacted the low bidder for an alternative design. To my point, the education professionals made the case for having the greenhouse because it is about curriculum and the checks and balances, including the PB&S Commission and The first Selectman, ensured we did not pay more than need to.
Sam Mihailoff January 02, 2012 at 10:59 PM
current funding challenges ... 1) Chinese music class...there only to fill a time slot (read past articles, by the “professionals”) 2) Greenhouse 3) consultant numbers and associated fees 4) paid trips to China meant for teachers taken by administration...no feedback to students, no gain to town, yet their town paychecks come right on schedule 5) raises for abominable performance and contract extensions ....*$^&*^#@(_&%#*)&%^$* look I’ve saved all the EAs and the present transportation system...that aint micromanaging...that is common sense
yoda January 02, 2012 at 11:33 PM
.Kevin, Decisions are being made foolishly, no one was thinking of the future just the moment, now if we did not build the new part to the high school, think about where we would be today? Hmmmmm don’t tell me no one thought of the future, some people didn't listen. I always think of the consequences of my actions, it called being proactive!
yoda January 02, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Kevin, the China trip was paid for by a grant, so let those people get grants for the schools? I'm sure their aware of the process?
yoda January 02, 2012 at 11:58 PM
John Reed is Re- Hired, I think of you often! http://youtu.be/pRgJJARAHNE
Dilma January 03, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Mr. Yoda, who are you trying to blame for the high school expansion, and which expansion? A huge voter turnout supported the last one. In fact, read these fine words by Mr. Gaston, from this article in 2008 (http://newtownbee.com/Opinions/2008-04-17__15-09-53/The+NHS+Expansion+Is+Prudent). If I am reading it correctly, the Finance Board asked the Legislative Council what to do. They said "build to the high" projection. That's what Newtown did, and what you seem to want to disavow. Mr. Gaston also pointed out that our previous expansion was overcrowded as soon as it was done - I believe this was in the Rosenthal/Reed era. Wouldn't we have been smarter to build slightly bigger back in the 1990s? Were they only thinking of the moment? Would have cost less, and I'll bet we could have delayed or even avoided the current expansion. I don't necessarily blame Mr. Rosenthal or Mr. Reed. I think this says that predictions are fraught with risk, and 20/20 hindsight doesn't really help anything when it comes to predicting the economy. "Some people didn't listen?" To Nostradamus, or to you?
Jane Doe January 03, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Maybe you should talk to the superintendent who got a raise, oh right cause she helps so much with Education.
Dilma January 03, 2012 at 12:41 AM
The OOs drop their labor complaint and formally declare themselves contractors, for now and forever, on the promise of a referendum question asked in the April budget referendum (just like we did for the high school expansion): "Do you support the town of Newtown paying $XXX more over a five-year period to maintain the owner operator relationship, and do you not support the planned All-Star contract financially?". To a record turnout, the referendum question and the budget passes. Newtown is at peace with itself. Or, the referendum question does not pass, and the town moves on, at peace with itself. Peace, either way!
yoda January 03, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Dilma, When you’re asking for such a large amount of money from the tax payers, you better be 100% sure that it will be effective for years to come, and you go thought great lengths to make sure you have some insight of the future, Financial Advisors doing it all day long. I'm not placing blame, I want everyone to be aware of future when making decision here on out.
Swami January 03, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Stock market and Newtown home values rise 20% plus as the Obama recovery continues (and those with non stop whining about our town and pack up and leave).
Paul Alexander January 03, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Sully, In my professional opinion, this time next year you will be massively disappointed. And please, with regards to the recovery you speak of; shoot me some data backing that up. Since 2008: Gasoline Expenditures as a Share of Household Income-------Way up Background checks to purchase firearms----Way up (fear) Price performance of Gold versus the S&P 500--------Huge spread (fear) Cumulative revisions to weekly jobless claims----Way up Labor Force participation rate------Way down Federal Government debt---Way up Nominal GDP----Way down GDP revisions---Consistently revised downward Food Stamp participation---WAY up Real median Income---Way down Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/11-ends-11-charts-11-disturbing-11-year-trends If that is your view of a recovery, please don’t share your view of a recession.
Swami January 03, 2012 at 08:36 PM
The Dow has made a Huge Recovery under Obama. On the other hand, some "experts" laid an egg: Raymond James' 2011 picks were a disappointment, however, with a decline of 1.2%. Most the poor performance was pinned to Bank of America(BAC_), which has tumbled more than 60%.
Paul Alexander January 03, 2012 at 09:21 PM
I see March 2009 - April 2011 as a Counter-trend B-Wave up. Nice while it lasted. The A-wave was 2007 - 2009 The C-wave down, which I believe has already begun, won't be fun. A-Down, B-up, and then C-DOWN! Time will tell. Not so sure the amount of money printed to support the B-wave will be worth it in hindsight. And I'm fairly certain no one will want to take credit for its consequences. Hang On!
Swami January 03, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Great Start for 2012! NEW YORK (AP) -- The stock market got a big jump on a better year. Stocks rose sharply Tuesday in the first trading of 2012 after investors returned from the holiday and found encouraging economic reports from the United States and around the world. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 179.82 points, or 1.4 percent, to 12,397.38, its highest close in more than five months. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, a broader gauge than the Dow, finished up almost 20 points at 1,277. January is a fairly good predictor of the year for U.S. stocks. Only seven times since 1950 has January turned out to be a "major error" in predicting the year to come, according to the Stock Trader's Almanac (Bad news for the Obama haters).
Alex Tytler January 04, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Paul, don't argue with idiots.
Swami January 04, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Sarah Palin fan boy shouldn't be calling others idiots! Nor should grown men who shoot at toy birds.
Sandy hook yo January 04, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Janet gets her performance appraisal and it is fair and honest The employee is a capable leader who works successfully with others and listens to suggestions. The employee develops his/her staff as demonstrated by identifying and/or supporting significant training or other development opportunities for staff and others in the Service. The employee may often emphasize and supports the long-term succession and development needs of the Service over routine local or short-term requirements. The employee generally handles difficult situations with subordinates with professionalism and effectiveness. The employee also works well as a team member, supporting the group’s efforts and showing an ability to handle a variety of interpersonal situations. The employee’s work with others shows an understanding of the importance of fair treatment and equal opportunity and meets all management commitments related to providing a safe working environment, merit systems obligations, performance management, and internal controls, and management of ethics, conduct and discipline issues. The employee maintains contact with customers (internal and/or external), and is effective in understanding their needs and using feedback to address customer requirements. Provides timely, flexible, and responsive products and/or services to customers, resulting in valued products and services. Whoops....you said headlines not dreams and wishes......sorry
sadielee January 04, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Wow "idiots" huh. Now their is the mature educated response we are all looking for. Does your conservative view point also call for cutting the tolerance of others? Your losing us Eric, remind me a little of Rex Ryan- big talk with little to no action
Paul Alexander January 04, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I appreciate your input Sully. No offense, but Pollyannaish views don’t serve my clients well. I’ll stick with inputs from people a bit more grounded in the reality of the present. Like this guy… http://www.pimco.com/EN/Insights/Pages/Towards-the-Paranormal-Jan-2012.aspx "Summary For 2012, in the face of a delevering zero-bound interest rate world, investors must lower return expectations. 2–5% for stocks, bonds and commodities are expected long term returns for global financial markets that have been pushed to the zero bound, a world where substantial real price appreciation is getting close to mathematically improbable. Adjust your expectations, prepare for bimodal outcomes. It is different this time and will continue to be for a number of years. The New Normal is “Sub,” “Ab,” “Para” and then some. The financial markets and global economies are at great risk." William H. Gross Managing Director Oh, FWIW, as of year-end 2011, US Government debt hit an all time record high of $15,222,940,045,451.09. That’s 15.2 Trillion, with a Capital “T”. US debt as a percentage of GDP is now over 100%, or 100.3% to be specific. This won’t end well. Risk is high and will remain high until 40 years of obscene credit expansion deleverages and that will take time my friend. Unless you’re under 40 years old your CT home has seen its highest value for the remainder of your lifetime.
Swami January 04, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Is this Pollyannaish? Jeffrey Saut, Chief Investment Strategist, Raymond James December 27, 2011 Speaking to 2012, I remain steadfast in the belief there will be no recession, nor will Euroquake pull us into one. I also embrace the theme that the nation is moving in the direction of energy self-sufficiency and that an American manufacturing renaissance is taking place. Moreover, there appears to be the hint of a housing recovery, as well as a technology revolution. Combine these beliefs with the demographics of a baby boom echo, which should foster a new cadre of investors, and I think the SPX will have a mid- to high-single-digit return in 2012. If you layer in a 3-4% dividend yield on top of said return, the allure of equities becomes pretty compelling.
Paul Alexander January 04, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Sully, Saut says essentially the same thing Bill Gross says and which I referenced above. Not sure why you brought up Saut??? You're thoughts are a challenge to follow. The Pollyannaish reference was directed at your 20% up DOW and 20% housing gain predictions for 2012.
sadielee January 04, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Bill Gross is a great fund manager, clearly one of the best in the fixed income arena, however, even he totally blew it this past year when he ran from Gov't's way to early and paid the price.
Swami January 05, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Paul - 20% was NOT a prediction, stay focused, I was replying to the original topic of this thread, "Patch Stories I would want to read in 2012", (like in a New Years Wish). Would you recommend Raymond James for investment guidance (even they they really blew it with their Bank of America call for 2011) ?
Paul Alexander January 05, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Sully, Not sure how you make the leap from RJ recommending BAC to assuming any of my clients ever owned BAC. I had one new client bring legacy BAC shares into the realtionship and I made them sell it as a condition of taking them on as a client. BofA is DOA. Bill Gross DID blow the US Treasury call. UST's and gold have been the core of my allocation since 2002. :)

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