Chairman’s Message

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thank you for visiting the East Granby Republican Town Committee’s website. Our mission seeks to advance candidacies and policies that promote fiscal responsibility, limit government expansion, and champion responsible economic development. The East Granby RTC is working hard to advance those ideals. We have a track record of tremendous success, and we could not have achieved this success without our many volunteers. There are plenty of ways to volunteer and keep East Granby a great place to raise a family. Please let us know if you have an interest in serving on one of the town’s Boards or Commissions or supporting our Republican candidates who will represent East Granby in the Connecticut General Assembly. While campaign costs have skyrocketed, the town committee’s resources are limited. So please support your Republican Town Committee by sending in your donation today.

Thanks.

Your generosity will directly support candidates who share your values. I look forward to seeing you at our events and to work with you during the next campaign.

Sincerely,


Lee M. Sandora
EGRTC CHAIRMAN


East Granby Republican Platform 2020

 Manage Your Tax Dollars Responsibly
Promote the Highest Educational Standards for our Children
 Reduce Taxes through Sensible Business Growth
 Ensure Total Transparency of Town Government

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East Granby Republicans       January 2020

“If you don’t vote, you lose the right to complain” —George Carlin

The November 2019 Election has come and gone.  We would like to sincerely thank all those who made the effort to come out and vote.  It was good news that nearly 46% of East Granby’s voters cast their ballots.  This is better than previous municipal elections (in the 30% range), and far higher than the 18% for the budget referendum, and 15% for the Bonding issue.

Your local Republican Party will be preparing a strategic plan for the next municipal election in two years.  Your comments and ideas are welcome. We can be reached by contacting Lee Sandora at 860-483-6945 or lsandoraeg@gmail.com, and feel free to join us at our monthly meetings.  Our meetings are held at 7PM on the third Wednesday of the month at the Senior/Community center.  You can also get updates on our Facebook page: facebook.com/eastgranbyrepublicans

Your Republican team pledges to:  Manage your tax dollars responsibly; Promote the highest educational standards for our children; Reduce taxes through sensible business growth; Ensure total transparency of town government.  Let’s look at what we have accomplished recently on each of these issues.

Manage Taxes:  We are constantly reviewing Board of Education and General Government budgets.  We have reduced the annual percent increases from previous 4-5% range to 1-2%.   


Education:  We have sought to partner with a neighboring town to increase educational opportunities, and raised the question of using a part-time or shared superintendent to reduce expenses.  Contrary to mis-information from the last election that we sought to reduce money for Education, let’s look at the facts.  By State statute, we must spend at least as much money this year as the prior year, despite declining enrollments.  For this reason, we wished to consider partnering with a neighboring town for our students.  Granby has closed its Kearns school, and Simsbury is considering closing its Tariffville school.

Business Growth:  We shared a Business Development manager with Suffield.  This position was recently vacated.  Your Republican Party has long advocated for such a position, and approved funding.  This position entails keeping good relations with existing businesses, and searching for new business.  Proximity to Bradley International Airport is a great asset, and should be exploited.  We should be asking for periodic updates and demanding results.  Only sensible business growth makes sense for us in order to maintain the character of our town.

Transparency:  We have reported in these pages that Transportation Grant money was spent on non-transportation items.  All the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and BOE meetings are recorded, and are available on GCTV.  We also encourage everyone in town to show up in person at these meetings, and speak about local issues at the Public Comment period at each meeting. 

Happy New Year to All !  Let’s all do our part to make 2020 even better for East Granby !

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East Granby Republicans          March 2020

Budget season is here again, and this will affect how much you will pay in Property taxes.    Let’s take a look at how your East Granby property taxes are determined.  The total amount of taxable property is called the Grand List.  It consists of the value of all real estate, motor vehicles, and personal property in town.  Sum up the budgets of our General Government, Board of Education, proposed capital spending, and Bonding expenses, and you’ll have the total annual town expenses.  State and federal grants reduce the amount of money we’ll pay out-of-pocket.  Divide the net expenses by the Grand List to determine the mil rate, which, when multiplied by the value of your property, determines how much you will pay in Property taxes. 

Nearly all of our surrounding towns experienced an increase in the Grand List.  (Source:  Valley Press, Feb. 2020). East Granby actually experienced a decrease. The major contributors to the decrease were the loss of Stub Hub, and an automotive firm.  What this means to us, is that every single dollar increase in our budget will contribute to you paying more taxes.  Further adding to our woes is the cost of our new Bonding (used for new roofs and roads), which will start having a greater impact this year.

Your Republican Team has always supported modest business growth.  (The addition of new businesses supports a larger Grand List.) This growth should be consistent with the character of our town.  An economic development position for our town would maintain and encourage local growth, while adding new business.  The proximity of Bradley International Airport should be used to our advantage.

Let’s look at the single biggest contributor to our budget:  teacher salaries and their health insurance.  The average full time teacher’s salary in East Granby is nearly $77,000, and almost one third make over $90,000.  (Source: Board of Education response to Board of Finance, April, 2019).  The current contract, which expires on June 30, 2020, granted the teachers general wage increases.  In addition to this annual wage increase, all teachers who are not at the top of their wage scale advance one “step” on a wage grid each year, which averages out to an additional 4% annual increase. (Source:  Agreement between the East Granby Board of Education and the East Granby Education Association).

This contract is the single largest expense in our town budget.  Wages and health insurance costs associated with this contract amount to nearly $9M per year.  (Total days worked by contract is 187 days for the school year). Furthermore, this contract is for 3 years.  A new contract in undergoing negotiations.  Who from our town negotiates this contract?  The Management team consists of our Superintendent, (in most cases a former teacher), a reasonably young and inexperienced attorney, and at most 3 to 4 Board of Education members.  This is a serious duty and should be undertaken with the proper diligence.  This contract should adequately compensate our student educators, while being sensitive to our ability to pay, keeping in mind many of our residents are living on a fixed income. 

How do our teacher and administrative costs compare statewide? The cost per student in East Granby is $19,290, while the State average is $16,535.  Our Instructional Staff and Support Services are 17% higher than the State average, and our Administration and Support Services costs are 21% higher than the state as a whole (source:  CT  State Board of Education :  District Profile and Performance Report for the School Year 2017-2018)

Budgets developed by both the Board of Selectman and Board of Education should consider all factors in determining their final budgets;  a declining Grand List;  increased cost of living; a declining student population;  flat wages.  We need to work hard –and creatively– to optimize use of tax dollars while maintaining the quality of education and services.

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East Granby Republicans                                    May 2020

First and foremost, our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones during this pandemic, and to those who are suffering from this COVID-19 disease.

Our sincerest thanks go out to our Medical community, whose members are the foot soldiers in this biological war;  Thanks also to our first line responders (police, firemen, EMTs); members of our Armed Forces who keep us from harm; Grocery store workers who keep our shelves stocked;  Truck drivers who deliver the goods; Mail carriers, who have not missed a single daily delivery; and our Essential workers.

Beside the heartbreak of illness, there is the economic disaster as well.  People filing for unemployment in CT since this pandemic started totals 430,000.  Non-farm payrolls in CT before this crisis were 1.7 million.  Add the workers filing new claims to the February unemployment rate of 3.8% yields a statewide rate greater than 25%, and approaches 30%.  United Technologies and Collins Aerospace (formerly named Hamilton Standard) have reduced their salaried workers compensation by 10%, effective through Dec. 2020, because of this economic crisis.

Locally, our teachers have stepped up to the challenge and developed distant learning and provided Chromebooks to those students who needed them.  Their task to bring students up to grade level in September, after 6 months without classroom learning, will be especially difficult. 

Our teachers’ unions have been busy also.  The East Granby Education  Association (EGEA), our teachers’ union,  and the East Granby Board of Education reached an agreement on a three year contract in early January.  This agreement was reached in good faith on both sides, before the effects of this pandemic began.  However, the EGEA, in association with the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) recently mounted a campaign to keep their raises intact.  They got East Granby parents and East Granby teachers to send emails with “cut and paste” language to our First Selectman asking the town to uphold the contract terms.  Included in the email on-slaught were non-resident teachers, even including one from Massachusetts.  At a virtual town meeting in April, they and their supporters flooded into the proceedings in support for keeping their raises intact. Citizens opposed to the contract were not notified of the meeting since there was not Public Notice given.  The final vote was 181 in favor of keeping the contract, with only 21 opposed.  The unions (CEA and EGEA) even bragged about the vote, calling it a “bright spot”, and the local president calling it “one of the high points of my 25 years of teaching in this town” (see link to the article );  https://blogcea.org/2020/04/26/east-granby-teachers-come-together-successfully-organize-community-in-support-of-contract/?fbclid=IwAR2m_PrsVSvRQveoLHsTEwABYQ798NklI_R0bZzra4EztVZbEEQsTSHw93w

 Perhaps the phrases “we are all in this together” and “shared sacrifice” are meaningless if it affect their salaries or benefits.  Another serious question to ask is whether confidential student/parent mailing addresses, emails, and phone numbers were compromised in order to achieve the overwhelming Town Meeting turnout.

Elsewhere, Granby is developing budgets with zero increases, and Suffield is also working to do so.  In Enfield, the school superintendent voluntarily reduced the school budget by $1.8 Million so that there would be no increase .  They cut their budget while keeping all existing staff and programs. What has East Granby done?  Just the opposite.  When our First Selectman provided true leadership by offering to suspend his salary increase, he was rebuffed by the Board of Finance chairperson.  Our First Selectman also sharpened his pencil and developed a budget for next year with an increase of less than 1%.  At its April meeting, the Board of Finance (by a 4 to 2 margin) voted to increase his budget to 1.5%.

If behavior like this makes you angry, make your voices heard. Phone, write, or email our local Boards (Board of Education, Board of Finance, Board of Selectman), school superintendent, and the Unions (CEA and EGEA).

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East Granby Republicans                                    August 2020

First, we are pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 Republican Town Committee (RTC) scholarship award  – Jade Kiang! This is our annual Carolyn and Edward Phillips scholarship.  The $500 award is given to a graduating high school student bound for college.  She was chosen from among many applicants based on her academic achievements, athletics and community service.  Congratulations Jade,  and good luck at college!

We hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy.

We applaud the efforts of our Board of Education and school staff to commence live classroom education, and are confident they can safely bring our students and teachers into our schools this fall.

Let’s examine more closely the principles of your Republican team:   Manage your tax dollars responsibly; Promote the highest educational standards for our children; Reduce taxes through sensible business growth; Ensure total transparency of town government.  Here’s what we have accomplished toward these principles: 

Taxes:  We have reduced the rate of budget increases from 4-5% in previous years, to 1-2%.  In this year of extreme economic uncertainty, two members of your Republican team did not agree with the increases in the budgets, knowing that hundreds of our friends and neighbors are jobless, and dozens more have reduced hours and salaries.  We requested reopening the contract with the teachers’ union to reconsider their wage increases.  This effort was soundly reject by the teachers’ union.  We believe we are all are in this together, and a shared sacrifice is best for us all.

Education:  We support our district’s association with Asnuntuck community college, and believe that more should be done to expose our children to the building trades (carpentry, plumbing, electrician, construction).  Not all children have the interest or desire for a college education; Supported partnering with neighboring towns for increased educational opportunities and extra-curricular activities; Raised the possibility of sharing a superintendent, with the savings going toward more teachers or learning experiences; Support more engagement between the school system and the entire community;  Increased the parent/teacher nights from one to two in the newest teachers’ contract, with an additional 2 evening programs if required by the Superintendent.

Business Growth:  For many years, we have advocated funding for a full or part-time business development person in East Granby.  Our grand list (which is the basis for determining the property tax mill rate) actually declined last year. Without additional revenues by encouraging business growth in town, the only resort to increasing budgets is increasing property taxes.  We supported the creation of a vineyard in town, and oppose noisy, heavy industry and large big-box distribution centers. 

Transparency:  We advocated for the filming of Board of Education meetings, and these are now available via GCTV.  With the assistance of the BOE Chairman, we have made the current teachers’ contract available for viewing or download via the East Granby BOE website;  We have requested the the Superintendent’s annual evaluation be made available to the public.  This practice is common in many other districts.  We advocate that grants for transportation actually go towards road and bridge expenditures, and not HVAC controls, window replacements, or school Chromebooks.

We urge all citizens to make their voice heard by exercising their privilege to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3th. If you are unsure that you are registered to vote, please call the Registrar of Voters at 860-653-0097, or the Town Clerk at 860-653-6528. In our town, every vote counts. Budget referendums have been decided by as few as 2 votes, and elections by as few as 8 votes.  If you think you may be out of town on Nov. 3th, absentee ballots can be obtained from the Town Clerk’s (phone 860-653-6528), and will be more available due to concerns about the COVID-19 virus.

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East Granby Republicans                                      September 2020

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”     

George Washington

“To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.”  Frederick Douglass

There is a purpose in a civil society for peaceful protest. This is a form of free speech. Our founding fathers thought this to be so important, they immortalized this in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  Setting fire to a building, tossing a brick at police officer, breaking a store window, and looting a shop, are criminal activities.  People doing so should be put in jail and prosecuted.  Without law enforcement, society descends into barbarism and chaos.  The first call we make when trouble arises is 911.  We are very fortunate to live in a peaceful town like East Granby, where monthly events such as Domestics, Larceny, Vehicle Break-ins, and such, number about one dozen (May, June 2020 – source:  Police Blotter, East Granby).  Efforts to reduce funding to our Police departments are shortsighted as best. We support our Law Enforcement departments.  Any wrong doing by our enforcement officials should be fully investigated, and given their due process.  A recently enacted police reform law was created hastily, led by Democrats and passed mainly along party lines.  While it contains many positive changes such as mental health screening for officers and public access to disciplinary records, there are many flaws.  Removal of qualified immunity will have a chilling effect on police, and will result in many nuisance lawsuits.  Small towns like ours will need to carry liability insurance, and there are several other unfunded mandates which will drive up the cost of our property taxes.  This bill should have been reviewed and fully vetted and allowed a public hearing for review.

Our Connecticut state budget is in trouble.  Revenues in the state are down sharply, and we face a budget shortfall of over $2 Billion.  Hampering us in an attempt to bring the budget into balance by reduced spending are the union contracts negotiated by our former Governor Malloy.  These contracts negotiated significant pay raises, and a no-layoff provision until 2021.  It is believed that our current Governor Lamont could have affected the contract with zero raises for one year by emergency Executive powers.  He refused to do so, to avoid confrontation with these powerful unions.

Locally, we are also at a severe disadvantage with the unions, notable the East Granby Education Association (EGEA, our local teachers’ union), and their powerful state partner, the Connecticut Education Association (CEA).  Hundreds of our friends and neighbors are out of work. The state Department of Labor estimates the real unemployment rate nears 15%.  Many more have reduced work schedules, and salary cuts.  Amidst this background, the teachers’ unions mounted a successful effort to keep their raises intact at a town meeting vote in April. The CEA and the EGEA bragged about this vote, with the CEA calling it a “bright spot”, and the local EGEA president saying it was “one of the high points of my 25 years of teaching in this town”.  Our seven school administrators (average salary $140,000) were not approached to give up their pay raises.  Elimination of raises for one year could have allowed East Granby to keep property taxes flat, free up funds for COVID-19 cleaning activities, and provide additional funds for distant learning.

Please remember to vote either by mail-in or in-person for the November 3rd election.  Coming up for re-election in Connecticut’s 61st District on November 3rd is our very own East Granby candidate, Tami Zawistowski. Many of us believe she is the hardest working legislator in Connecticut.  She fully supports our elderly and veterans, fights for state school funding for our town, and is opposed to tolls on our CT highways.  She is ever-present at local events, and listens sincerely to all.  Give her your vote on Election Day!

Also up for re-election is the Connecticut Senate is John Kissel.  He is a strong supporter of our police officers, fights for lower taxes for middle class families, and strongly opposes electronic highway tolls.  Give him your support and vote on November 3rd !

We urge all citizens to make their voice heard by exercising their privilege to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3th. If you are unsure that you are registered to vote, please call the Registrar of Voters at 860-653-0097, or the Town Clerk at 860-653-6528.

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East Granby Republicans                                October 2020

“If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”     

Thomas Jefferson

First, we would like to thank our Town Clerk, as well as both of our Registrar of Voters for their efforts to mail out the applications for absentee ballots.

In a nearby CT city, Republicans have been accused of trying to “suppress the vote” (Source:  Valley Press, August 7, 2020).  This is completely false. All we want a fair, honest and accurate election. Leaving aside the issue of potential voter fraud, which has its own set of issues, there has been much debate on the subject of mail-in and absentee voting. “All mail in voting” was recently tried in New Jersey.  Nearly 20% of all the ballots were rejected.  (Source:  AMAC Magazine, October 2020).  Connecticut has wisely chosen not to follow this same method, but instead mailed out applications for absentee ballots to all those on the current voter rolls.  In order to vote by absentee ballot, two signatures of the voter are required:  one to request the ballot, and another on an “inner envelope” after the ballot is sealed for delivery. The ballot itself contains no information on the identity of the voter, thereby maintaining the integrity of secret ballot. (It should be noted that falsely submitting an absentee ballot is a Felony, and is punishable by at least one year in prison, and a fine of up to $5000).  On the application for absentee ballot, CT has added a category for COVID 19, and all voters are eligible to check this box.  Of course, nothing is preventing you from voting in person, which is the surest way to ensure your vote gets counted.  Applying current knowledge about the transmission of the virus, we can provide reasonable steps to reduce exposure by wearing a mask, and being social distant from each other.

We believe it is the duty of all citizens to understand the issues we face, know the policy positions of your candidate, and voting to make your voice heard. Please make every effort to vote in this very important election.  Referendums in East Granby have been decided by as few as 2 votes, and local elections by as few as 8 votes.  If you are unsure that you are registered to vote, please call the Registrar of Voters at 860-653-0097, or the Town Clerk at 860-653-6528.

Our hometown State Representative Tami Zawistowski is up for re-election this year, and we ask for your support. Tami is a well-respected legislator who was awarded Legislator of the Year by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) and a Town Crier Award by the Council of Small Towns (COST), in part because of her successful opposition to new unfunded state mandates on our towns. Tami is Ranking Member on the Planning & Development Committee and also serves on the Appropriations and Transportation Committees. She is a tireless worker on behalf of our town and the whole district and is extremely accessible and always ready to help constituents. She takes a common sense approach to legislation and examines new proposals for potential unintended consequences that may create more harm than good. She has been endorsed by Connecticut Realtors, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Association of Retired Teachers, Police Officers Association of Connecticut, the Connecticut Fraternal Order of Police and the Independent Party.

Senator John Kissel is also up for re-election, and serves as Ranking Member on the Judiciary Committee. His depth of legislative experience makes him a very effective advocate for East Granby and the 7th Senatorial District. He has been endorsed by NFIB, Connecticut Realtors, Police Officers Association of Connecticut, The Connecticut State Police Union and the Independent Party.

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