Valley Times                        Saturday, May 26, 2001
 "No" Vote June 12 Is Really for Assaults 
   and Abuse on Freedom of Speech
To the Editor:

I would like to respond to that inane letter that has been circulating around in the Valley newspapers concerning these individuals who put out the folder against the new Derby High School in last year's campaign.  The writer stated that the opposition was against the land where the new school would be built and is starting rumours about an environmental hazard, which could occur there.  I have been opposed to this new high school since December 1999, when I first initiated discussions in the Valley Times, on the merits of this new school proposal.  This newspaper has been the ONLY newspaper to give the issue complete in-depth coverage, and never once did I mention the land.  I don't care WHERE it's built, I want to know WHY it's up for referendum for the second time!

These individuals didn't have to register with the State of Connecticut as a political action committee because that wasn't what they were. They were only a group who came together to answer the blizzard of folders that were misleading the public on the merits of voting for a new high school.  They weren't in violation of Connecticut state election laws; but since we want to talk about violations of law, let's begin with what has been going on the past year and a half with the Garofalo administration and their part in these campaigns and city government.

Mayor Marc Garofalo hasn't any Board of Ethics.  That's a violation of state law.  Derbyites have been treated to a litany of fradulent  excuses for needing a new high school.  Children are being instructed in the hallways, 
shower rooms, stairwells and closets of our public schools.  In the high school, seniors are eating lunch in the hallway.  The school isn't adequate or up to date with its technology thus making the facility inadequate for students to learn.

The school was given full accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NESAC)!  The proponents of this school would have a better excuse if the school failed accreditation.  The NESAC doesn't give accreditation to schools that aren't up-to-date in their teaching methods, and certainly not to schools where children are being taught in firetraps.

There was also distortions concerning playing soccer on these fields.  Children falling into ruts, football fields supposedly had too much dirt and players were eating that dirt when they were being tackled and falling to the ground.

All of these are fraudulent campaign tactics, or violation of state law, and because the smoke alarms aren't working in the high school we also have violation of state and city health, safety and welfare standards.

I don't want to hear anything about violations when it comes to those individuals who put out that folder against this school.  If they were all smart like I told one of them, they would access themselves a good lawyer and cite the mayor on a few violations of his own.

Instead of the mayor suffering political punishment as scandal swirls all around him, he's setting up a second school referendum!  I don't blame him, though.  If his political opposition lets him get away with it, he's going to!

Derbyites should see the mentality they are up against now.  On June 12, when you pull the lever for "no," you won't be voting against a new high school -- it goes way beyond that now.  You will be voting "no" to absolute assaultson freedom of speech and the abuse of that freedom of speech.  You will be voting "no" to child exploitation, and the exploitation of the Derby public school system, which has been trashed so much throughout this past year and a half, one has to wonder how long it will be before it retains its reputation again.

It's irritating to have to go back to the polls and vote again.  It isn't right, but it's the reality of an administration that has a blatant disregard for the majority of its people, and you have to vote again.

Don't take for granted that because the first vote didn't pass, this next one will be the same.  You go out and vote again and take a friend with you this time.  Make sure you send a LOUD message to the Garofalo administration that anything as important as a school vote, which affects all our children, is mired in truth, not fantasy.

And remember this, and it's crucial that you do: when you say "no" to-this building, you are NOT saying no to education.  If creating geniuses was as simple as instructing in new buildings then we might as well tear down every school in Derby and build new ones.

No, I have been saying it for a year and a half, as have other opponents to this school: buildings do not make the student, only the personnel inside that building can inspire, motivate, instruct and ultimately (if they have the talent) educate all of our students.  It is the human impact that counts.

MICHAEL R OLIVA
 Derby