Reader Strikes at Untruths in Letters 
  Valley Times      to Editor          07/21/01

The Concerned Fisherman’s line of untruth strikes again.

His untruths are becoming as legendary as other fishermen’s stories. While many fisherman’s stories are harmless exaggerations, I fear this fisherman’s intent is much which so I will refute them one by one.

1. The first untruth is that I advocated censorship when I suggested that the Valley Times print all Letters to the Editor as just that, which is what the writer intended, instead of elevating selected letters to the status of" Guest Editorials.” That is not censorship. At the heart of the definition of censorship is the objective of suppressing, deleting or removing what is written. Obviously, that is not accomplished if the letter is printed.

2. The Concerned Fisherman cries, “Why did Mr. Kelleher wait so long to inform us of the total cost of the proposed high school?” Untrue! I was at a number [of meetings] where the complete cost of the project was revealed. Mr. Kelleher is not under any obligation to hand deliver the information to the Concerned Fisherman’s door. That’s why his committee held PUBLIC HEARINGS and meetings open to the PUBLIC. The Concerned Fisherman thinks himself to be anonymous, but many know who he and his sidekick, The Worried Woodman are. I only saw him at only one public hearing during the entire period which this proposal was formulated. I was glad he attended Mr. Kelleher’s last committee meeting.

3. His statement that the proposed costs did not include provisions for cost overruns is again UNTRUE. Once again at a PUBLIC meeting of the committee Mr. Kelleher chaired, the architects and construction manager reviewed the line items in the proposal intended to cover cost overruns and other contingencies.

4. The Concerned Fisherman states the cost for land accusation was left out. Again this is UNTRUE. At a PUBLIC meeting of the committee Mr. Kelleher chaired it was reported that a commercial appraiser had performed an appraisal on the property and that his report was used as a basis for the amount of money set aside as a line item FOR LAND ACQUISITION in the proposal.

5. He asserts that Mr. Kelleher intentionally left out the cost of teachers’ salaries in the proposal. His premise is that building a new high school requires more teachers. This is UNTRUE. Teachers’ salaries are tied directly to the size of the student population by their respective contracts. It is not a function of how many buildings there are. If the student population grows as expected, new teachers will have to be hired whether there is a new school built or not.

The Concerned Fisherman is not happy to only spread untruth through his wild fisherman’s tales. In his letter he then engages in slander which is defined by Webster’s dictionary as defamation or to dishonor by injurious reports.
He asks, “Hey, pal (a characterization I don’t think Mr. Kelleher would agree with, that this fellow is his pal) who sold that school (former Lincoln School on Ninth Street) to members of a non-denominational church? Did the people of Derby wheel and deal that little sale?” For the Concerned Fisherman’s edification the facts regarding the sale of the school to the church are as follows:

1. It had been abandoned as a school in the mid 1980’s.

2. It was totally abandoned by the city and left to rot since the early 1990’s.

3. The building was put up for PUBLIC sale and no was interested.

4. The sale of the school was a PUBLIC action. Thee was no “wheel and deal.”

5. The city sought Request forProposals with the intent of selling the building. It was advertised in the legal notices of the New Haven Register for the time required by the City Charter.

6. Prior to responding to the Request for Proposals, the church meet with neighbors in the Ninth Street area to see if they had any problem with a church locating there. They did not.

7. There was a PUBLIC meeting of the Board of Aldermen for citizens to comment on the proposed sale and use (another one the Concerned Fisherman missed). There was no massive outpouring of opposition. In fact, there were a number of residents from the neighborhood who spoke in favor of it.<

8. With the neighborhood’s approval we submitted a proposal which was accepted which resulted in us purchasing the school for $50,000 cash which was quite generous in light of its condition.

The school cost $500,000 in cash and another 10,000 man hours of volunteer labor to renovate. That building which was a tremendous eyesore and negatively impacting the neighborhood and city is now having a positive impact on the neighborhood and city and providing help to people all throughout the Valley. To slander our church or on Mr. Kelleher by casting such aspersions regarding the sale of the school is wrong.

You encourage readers to not elect Mr. Kelleher. At least he has the courage to state his opinions and take responsibility for them. He is not afraid to even offer the citizens of Derby the opportunity to validate or reject those opinions through a municipal election.

I find it interesting that you would criticize such a man, when you don’t even have the intestinal fortitude to sign your name to letters and are content to hide behind Ms. Mendyk’s skirts on anonymity. You and people like you stand in the darkness of the shadows and throw stones.

You are afraid to stand in the light of public review. You lack the courage to offer the community a chance to validate or reject your opinions through a municipal election because you know full well they would be soundly rejected.

I hope in the future you will refrain from making these untrue statements and slanderous comments, but I have little hope that you will, and i know the Valley Times will not hold you accountable to a standard of truth or slander less comment.
There is a proverb which comes to mind which reads, “It is better to remain silent and appear a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

Myself and others are committed to reminding you of it, in print, every time you make an untrue or slanderous statement.

WALTER MAYHEW
Derby