October 1, 2022

Letters: Things are out of control

To The Editor:

Most residents in Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton are unaware of a few issues that need to be addressed prior to elections on Tuesday, November 8th.

Stacia Rice-Libby devoted much of this past year as a member of the Essex Republican Town Committee until April, when she left not only the RTC but also her position on the Park & Rec committee.  The reason given was that she was too busy. However, she then quickly became the Democrat that is now Norm Needleman’s running mate.

Mr. Needleman, himself, told us that he was running because, “I looked at the history of first selectmen in Essex and they had all been selectmen prior to becoming a first selectman.”  Not true Norman and certainly not a proper reason.   He asked if he could count on our vote and a donation.  He was told the three things he must promise if he expected our vote.  (Adhere to the Constitution, Adhere to Connecticut’s Constitution and Not Lie).

Mr. Needleman stated during a board of selectmen’s meeting this year, after some heated concerns from residents about the hiring of a police officer for Essex who apparently was still under investigation, that he would prefer that future meetings not be audio taped. This is outrageous!  Deep River not only records, they video tape their meetings for local TV.  Joel Marzi, our present 3rd selectman, opposed Norm’s idea and explained that the audio recordings protected everyone.  We need that kind of transparency.  Joel stated his objection and asked that it be permanently placed on the record.  Thank you Joel.

Additionally, are you aware that Essex has been involved in several lawsuits over the past year and a paid police officer now attends Board of Selectmen’s meetings?

We believe most suits could have been avoided if another team was in place.  Hopefully, most have been addressed but without a doubt may have cost you increased tax dollars.  Some may still be active.  Police services two months into the new budget have increased to $158,000 compared to $83,000 this same time last year.  Reasons given were legal services, DUIs etc.

A very respectable resident was told this year that if he spoke or asked a question prior to the budget vote during public Q & A he would be removed from the auditorium.  This happened after hours of his research found years of budget discrepancies which he kindly shared with Norm Needleman one afternoon just before the Board of Finance public hearing and vote.

Another resident, who came to selectmen’s meetings this past winter with his concerns, was told that he should leave and that he came with “baggage” of his own.  What kind of local government do we have if this is allowed to continue?  This kind of treatment to our taxpaying citizens during public comment time opens the possibility of additional lawsuits.

We shall not be told to “shut up.”  We are a Constitutional Republic, and each and every individual, that is, one by one by one, has unalienable rights, i.e., natural and inherent.  We are not a Democracy or any other form of government.

From a concerned citizen – Essex has 3 times the per capita debt we had when Phil and Norm took over, increased property taxes 60%, and I believe that our town’s indebtedness as a % of expenditures is almost 130% of the state average, a massive increase from 2002, the year before Phil and Norm took over, when that % of the state average was only 53.5%!

Budget revisions have added $2.3 million to the Selectmen’s budget from 2004 to 2010.

We understand that foreclosures have greatly risen in Essex in two years.   The crime rate in Essex doubled that of Westbrook.  We maintain four police vehicles, two not being used.

Norm Needleman touts that he has been a selectman since 2003 and has a successful business in town.  Norm has three businesses, one in Essex, one in Clinton, one in Montague, MI. if, in fact, the info online is correct regarding Tower Labs, his company.  We are happy that Norm has been very successful with his businesses but we need a full time first selectman not a first selectman who previously told several residents he would consider hiring a Town Manager but then switched during the debate.   Norm also sits on boards of organizations that receive YOUR tax dollars.   Is it ethical that anyone handling the board of selectmen’s budget should also sit on boards of organizations to which those tax dollars are given?  We don’t believe so.

People are out of work and having financial difficulties.   Many in Essex have to pay their taxes on a budget plan, so stated our Treasurer at the October 20th Board of Finance meeting.  The Essex Elementary School needs a new roof at a cost between one and two million dollars.  Norm and Stacia Rice-Libby have no clue as to what is ahead around the next financial corner or how we are going to address these issues.  We can not afford increased spending or taxing.  Most of us are not better off than a year ago.  If the infrastructure is improved, tell us where.   Inflation is here and rising, and your dollars do not purchase what they did even a year ago.

It is Our Opportunity, Our Responsibility and Our Call as to what the Outcome in Essex will be.

Please, attend Board of Selectmen’s meetings and Board of Finance meetings in the future.  If we attend, they will be more careful with YOUR money and addressing your Rights.  Things are out of control.  Send a message loud and clear on Tuesday, November 8th.

Change the status quo at the town hall.  You will not be sorry.   No more lies.  No more hiding issues.   VOTE FOR BRUCE MACMILLIAN, JOEL MARZI again and their REPUBLICAN TEAM

Thank you very much

Melanie H. Phoenix (lifelong Essex resident 67 years)

Paul F. Phoenix (resident 54 years, member of Essex Fire Dept. for 46 years and Past Fire Chief)