Councilman pushes `no' vote at train station

On Wednesday morning of April 27, while waiting to catch the 8:03 a.m. train out of New Canaan, I was surprised to see political signage placed at the entrance of the train station platform, concerning the referendum election being held that day. I was even more surprised to see Mr. Tom O'Dea Jr., a member of our Town Council, wearing a large "Vote No" button, standing in front of one of the signs by the coffee stand and actively seeking voter support against the referendum. Town Council Member O'Dea was shaking hands, patting backs, handing out referendum literature and vociferously encouraging each commuter to vote against the referendum.

I understand that free speech is a cherish right in this country and that Mr. O'Dea has a right to his opinion. However, I was troubled to see a member of our Town Council actively gathering votes against the referendum, in short, using his elected office to influence pubic opinion.

This is especially troubling as this referendum was created by the voters of New Canaan with the express purpose to tell their elected officials if they believe their tax dollars are or are not being appropriately spent by the Town Council.

While it may only be poor judgment for an elected official to publicly canvas votes against repealing Town Council policy, Mr. O'Dea should know that posting political signage on town or state property is against both Town Zoning Regulations the State Department of Transportation laws.

More Information

Fact box

I feel this is highly inappropriate behavior by an elected official.

Who is policing the Town Council?

L. Harvey

New Canaan

Support Giusti for

first selectman

The purpose of this letter is to endorse the candidacy of Paul Giusti for first selectman.

I've had two opportunities to work closely with Paul. The first was when he ran for selectman in 2003 and the second was when he chaired the Master Plan Task Force in 2009 on which I also served as a Town Council representative and as secretary.

In both cases, I was struck by his focus and his organizational and leadership skills, qualities so very necessary, in my opinion, to be a successful first selectman.

By focus I mean that he possesses a clear vision of what he wants to do, of what the goal is and of how to get from here to there to accomplish that goal. He can justify ideas and positions with logical, clear explanations that then make it easy for people to "buy into" those arguments to help him achieve those goals. I believe he has illustrated these skills in both his business career and his public service years here in New Canaan.

I believe that New Canaan needs a leader that has the demonstrated background, knowledge, work ethic and intellect to be the next first selectman. I believe that person is Paul Giusti and I urge your readers to support him at the caucus and in the November election.

Kenneth Campbell

Thanks to contributors of Japan Relief Fund

Japan Society of Fairfield County is very grateful for the generous response to its relief program for victims of the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami. As of April 30, the Japan Society of Fairfield County has raised more than $34,000 from more than 750 individual and corporate donors. On April 28, we wired $27,000 to the Japanese Red Cross Society for disaster relief. We will be wiring more funds this month.

We would like to express our appreciation to all donors. We are sure that your heartfelt gifts will be appreciated by the victims as well as the entire Japanese population.

We especially want to highlight two instances of extraordinary work by some very talented and effective young people .

Right after the disastrous news on March 11, Alice McDonald, the high school daughter of our vice president Yumi McDonald, contacted me and proposed to help Japan by collecting donations by a bake sale. She soon organized a town-wide bake sale, working with the Japan Society and with her friends -- Rachel Paul and Jennifer Mastrianni-- of Staples High School in Westport. They created their own website, called AidJapan2011. Their drive immediately drew attention and support from local bakeries and other shops, and they collected hundreds of cookies along with their own home-baked cookies and cakes for sales. They raised more than $5,500 for the relief fund. The team presented a check to Ambassador Hiroki at the Consulate General of Japan in New York on April 8.

The next story is about a charity concert given by a girls' brass band from Kojo High School in Kanagawa, Japan. These students were in Norwalk on March 11 when the massive earthquake struck, three days after they had left Japan. Beth Lovinelli, a member of the PTA of the Center of Global Studies at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk and one of the host families of the Japanese student, brought up the idea of a relief fund-raising event with the students. Under the auspices of the Fairfield Theater Company in Fairfield, they held a charity concert called "JAM FOR JAPAN." The members of the band were welcomed by a big audience with a standing ovation. The sales of tickets and T-shirts raised more than $5,000 for the relief fund, which was presented to Harry Sakamaki, president of the society, on April 20. Another piece of good news was that the students' families in Japan were all safe.

For more information or to donate, call Vernon Beck at (203)-431-0697 or Harry Sakamaki at (203)-912-3757.

Vernon Beck

Harry Sakamaki

Outback Board

thanks supporters

On behalf of the New Canaan Outback Teen Center Board of Directors, we would like to express our thanks to the individuals and businesses who helped make our second annual Parents' Night Out event at the Outback a success this year.

We are very grateful to the Frydaddys who donated their time and played fabulous live music, classic rock and roll tunes, providing entertainment to the more than 40 adults who attended the evening at the teen center.

We extend our thanks to First County Bank, our lead sponsor, and to Dr. Greg Sanford, orthodontist, a new sponsor this year, for their generous underwriting.

Many thanks go to Viva Zapata of Westport who donated delicious food and to Apple Cart catering for superb staffing.

We also thank Adam and Keelin Weiss and Maryellen and Bob O'Mahony for their support.

Finally, we are very grateful to all the parents who attended this enjoyable evening of live music in a great space. The funds raised will support our spring programs and events for the youth of New Canaan.

Christina Fagerstal,

co-president

Nancy Bemis,

corporate sponsors

June Bird,

secretary

Outback Board of Directors

American Cancer Society

thanks work of nurses

On behalf of the American Cancer Society I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize the many nurses throughout Connecticut for the work they do on a daily basis.

May 6 through 12, 2011 marks National Nurse Recognition Week and with this recognition I am pleased to take the opportunity to publicly thank these highly skilled, caring and compassionate professionals. The American Cancer Society applauds their effort and critical role in the fight against cancer.

Thanks to these wonderful people, there is an amazing quality of care being provided to many, many patients. Certainly, in this profession, there is no shortage of long, emotional and stressful days. But with this also comes great hope, empathy and, in many instances, renewed health and optimism for patients, caregivers and families.

As the society works closely with Connecticut's nurses, our staff and volunteers see the level of care firsthand in hospitals and treatment facilities. It is remarkable and commendable the work they are doing. I would personally like to thank them for all that they do daily. They are on the front lines helping people to get well, stay well, find cures and fight back against cancer.

Michelle Wolf

State Vice President

of Health Initiatives

American Cancer Society

Giusti campaign

event `heartening'

First Selectman candidate Paul Giusti's campaign event this past Sunday was such a positive experience. Paul laid out a three-point vision for New Canaan.

First, Paul wants New Canaan to Be the Best -- in terms of our downtown area, our schools and our financial discipline.

Second, Paul wants New Canaan to Be the Community of Choice -- for families deciding where to live, for businesses looking for a storefront, and for job applicants who are comparing the options available to them.

Third, Paul wants New Canaan to Be Innovative -- with regard to public and private sector relationships, community use of technology, best practices in the management of our human resources, and as a community that reaches out to each other in a compassionate way.

Paul brings to the table concern for our community, and a wealth of professional experience, fiscal acumen and responsibility, and great interpersonal skills. His contributions to the Board of Finance have been creative and significant in reducing the town debt by $19.5 million while maintaining a stellar Aaa bond rating, and quality services for our community, during a period of unparalleled fiscal strain. His cooperative and positive approach with the Board of Education ensures that the right questions are asked, that the budgeting process is rigorous but respectful, and that differences are negotiated so that people can move forward constructively.

Having built a very successful business spanning 20 years, Paul has tested his engineering and Harvard Business School training. He has supported his family in their individual pursuits and given generously of his time to the community.

We are so fortunate to have a candidate who has the skills to hit the ground running. The warm support from many town Republicans in attendance, including Jeb Walker, Mark DeWaele, Tucker Murphy and Amy Rochlin was heartening to see.

As previously unaffiliated voters, we have registered with the Republican party so that we can support Paul in the Republican caucus on July 19. We hope you will join us as we work to make Paul Giusti New Canaan's next first selectman.

Paul and Sally Lambdin

Giusti has necessary experience

On Sunday afternoon we attended the reception honoring Paul Giusti as Republican candidate for first selectman. We've always been impressed by Paul's genuine and caring manner since we first met him several years ago. Those same qualities resonated throughout yesterday's event, underscored by an even more essential quality: experience. From his long-standing service as selectman and member of the Board of Finance, to his role as CEO of Brookstone Homes, Paul possesses both practical real-time experience in local governance along with the executive skill set necessary to run a successful corporation (and a successful town).

It's this combination of experience, vision, caring and commitment that enabled Paul to be among the team of leaders who navigated New Canaan through the last four years of unprecedented financial uncertainty. A few key takeaways impressed us yesterday: In these days of national debate over debt ceilings, New Canaan's debt actually decreased a total of $19.5 million. While other states, cities and towns are tasked with the perils of managing unfunded pension plans, New Canaan's pension is fully funded, with new Public Works employees eligible to participate in a 401K plan. And this was achieved while keeping spending growth at 2 percent per year vs. 5 percent per year over the past three years.

Paul enthusiastically set forth his agenda as first selectman -- one that's rooted in building on success, being mindful of our history and heritage and carefully planning for our future. Key strategies to these goals include upholding our commitment to outstanding education, maintaining the character of our community and ensuring we are in even better financial shape in the coming years than we are today. While these goals are noble to be sure, every candidate must be evaluated based on their experience. When put in this context against the backdrop of managing a $122 million town budget, 180 town employees and complex legal, land use and budget issues, we came away believing that Paul Giusti has the experience, character and commitment to do an outstanding job as the next first selectman of New Canaan.

Nancy and John Bemis