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Saturday, April 21 News

Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

In Connecticut, there are only two reasons a municipal legislature can reject a bargaining unit agreement negotiated and proposed to it by the municipal executive branch. One reason is that the proposal costs too much. The other is that the agreement violates the law or a regulation. That is one of the more simple rules of the game when it comes to municipal union contracts in this state. Not surprisingly, ignorance of that and other rules was on display at the most recent meeting of the Fairfield municipal legislature, the RTM.

Another rule of the game applies specifically to contracts negotiated by the local Board of Education with either the teacher or admistrator unions. The rule is that a contract must always be in place. Unlike the unions for police, firefighter, skilled trades and other municipal workers, school teachers and administrators are guaranteed, by state law, to always have a labor contract in place. State law puts the BOE on a very strict timeline to begin and end contract negotiations, ask for mediation and to go to arbitration. The state commissioner of education directly monitors the negotiating process and exceptions to the timeline are simply not allowed.

When the BOE presented its proposed contract with the school administrators at the last meeting of the RTM, that executive board had run out the clock on the negotiating period. This fact made the RTM's vote moot unless it voted the contract down. Had the statutory time been left for negotiating, a vote to reject the contract would have sent the BOE back to the bargaining table. However, with time gone, a rejection would have sent the BOE directly to mandatory arbitration. And there is the rub of more ignorance about the process.

Based on criteria set out in state law, arbitration would decide between the last best offers by the BOE and the administrators. As the two sides had come to an agreement and the deadline for negotiations had passed, the last best offers from either side are identical. The taxpayers would get a big bill for the mandatory, inevitable, but senseless arbitration, while the BOE and administrators would get their contract. The most responsible vote by the RTM should have been to abstain.

I fully understand that the members of the RTM serve without compensation. I also know quite well that they seek those jobs affirmatively through the political process. If they want to do the job right, they ought to at least read their “nstruction manuals” before they vote. And if time is not there for that, then at least copy their vote from somebody else who has a track record of doing the homework on time and getting it right.

Jim Brown

Fairfield

To the Editor:

Well they did it again. They gave Social Security recipients a 2 percent raise, and promptly offset it with an increase in the Medicare deduction, the same as the 1 percent increase we received last year. This makes three straight years without an actual increase in our Social Security checks. I feel bad for you young people when you get ready to retire. If they keep increasing Medicare at two and three times the rate of inflation, guess what your SS check will be. Of course, if you are smart enough to transfer any little money you may have, you can than get subsidized housing, food stamps, Medicaid, plus even though not paying any tax, you can get a refund (see child credits). Meanwhile, I worked 50 years, served my country in the armed forces, paid taxes and did all the right things and what do I get from Social Security. Zero increase for three years. Doesn't matter Republicans or Democrats, they are the swamp and they own the swamp. This will never change.

Read Full Article 

Sal Busciolano

Fairfield

To the Editor:

The Jerusalem protest is significant for not just what the speakers said, but what their signs read: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” meaning Israel would cease to exist. This, too, is the mantra of their leaders, which is the principal reason for Palestinian intransigence.

Let’s look at the “facts” that were cited:

• Palestine’s connection to Jerusalem predates the creation of the state of Israel. True, only if one ignores that since 1000 BC, when King David established Jerusalem as the capital of his kingdom, there has been a continuous Jewish presence in the city, the holiest city in Judaism.

• The “nabka” that caused about 700,000 Palestinians to leave their homes was exceeded by a similar exodus of approximately 850,000 Jews from Arab and Muslim countries.

• That “Jerusalem is very sacred to three religions” was claimed by one of the speakers, but it is Israel that has allowed for more open access for all, Muslims, Christians and Jews. From 1948 to the Six-Day War in 1967, Jerusalem was under Arab control, specifically Jordan.

The Jewish Quarter of the Old City was destroyed, synagogues demolished and their contents looted and desecrated. Some religious sites were turned into chicken coops or animal stalls. The Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, where Jews had been burying their dead for over 2,500 years, was ransacked, graves desecrated and thousands of tombstones smashed and used as building materials.

Perhaps America’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will be a wake-up call for the Palestinians: Do they want to co-exist, side by side, with Israel or do they want their leaders to squander another opportunity for peace?

Richard Lowenstein

Westport

To the Editor:

The reporting of a demonstration against President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel contained several false statements made by demonstrators.

To say “Palestine’s connection to the city dates back to before the creation of Israel” is incorrect.

Jerusalem was founded by King David as the capital of a Jewish state three thousand years ago. Jerusalem was liberated from the Syrian-Greek Seleucid empire by the Maccabees twenty-one hundred years ago, as commemorated by the Jewish holiday of Chanukah.

Jerusalem was the capital of Judea when it was a province of the Roman Empire and Jerusalem was taken by the Romans to put down Jewish revolts. Jews have since prayed every day for the return of their capital. Jerusalem has been the capital of Jewish states and the focus of Jewish worship for over three thousand years. No other country or people ever had Jerusalem as its capital.

What is Palestine’s connection?

Not much. First, there is no country of Palestine and never has been. Second, when modern Israel was founded in 1948, culminating 75 years of effort by modern Zionists, the Palestinian Arabs did not regard themselves as a Palestinian nationality.

They rejected a partition that would have given them a lion’s share of the land. They and the neighboring Arab countries fought a war to destroy Israel, but they lost. Did they think to establish “Palestine” at that time in the parts of Judea and Samaria they held from 1948-1967? No. The Palestinian Liberation Organization was only founded in 1964, years after, not before, the creation of Israel.

The first leader of the PLO, Yassir Arafat, was born in Egypt. Indeed, most of the current “Palestinians” have recent family roots in Egypt and in lands that became Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon after World War I. Others have roots going back to the Arab conquest of the area in the 7th century. The Bible was written much earlier and mentions Jerusalem hundreds of times: the Koran has no reference to the city. Further, the Koran has numerous passages about Jewish kings and the land given to the Jews. It has no reference to the Palestinians.

Finally, the statement by Sen. Blumenthal that “Trump’s announcement did nothing to advance these vital negotiations” is a slick way to avoid saying that that the policy of nonrecognition has been a complete failure that has not led to negotiations.

The new recognition policy doesn’t stop a peace process as that process has been dead for some time. Maybe the new policy will lead to a settlement in the context of a larger regional rapprochement between Israel and the Sunni Arab states. Before condemning it, why not wait and give peace a chance?

Ira Robbin

Fairfield

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