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To the Editor,
Do Norwalk citizens know what really occurs in public hearings where the constituency is allowed to speak? I recently had an experience in a public hearing that can only be considered a travesty of good governance.
I attended a meeting on Oak Hills golf course rates. My prepared statement was timed at under three minutes. However, I used the words “Driving Range” in the context of rates, considered in the past by the Oak Hills Park Authority and was immediately chastised and berated by the director of the authority.
Many fine people got up to express their opinions on “both sides of the fence” regarding Oak Hills golf rates. Often, they were treated with disrespect, like these individual taxpayers there for the purposes of public comment were a nuisance. At times, speakers had to request the attention of the OHPA as they talked among themselves during testimony.
Why is this rude behavior important to the public? Because the subject was ultimately taxpayer dollars being considered for golf.
Unanswered questions remain: Do established golf rates cover the overhead and loan debt service to the City of Norwalk in compliance with the City Charter that the course be self-sustaining? What is the expected volume of play required to meet the course’s charter requirements? Was the driving range factored into the consideration of rates as in the past? Will the authority be “borrowing” money again from the City of Norwalk for overhead expenses when there are so many other pressing needs for taxpayer money by all Norwalk citizens? How has existing loan money from the City of Norwalk been spent?
You can try to speak to the OHPA at a public hearing as is your right but don’t expect respect and don’t expect to be heard. OHPA, instead, will try to intimidate you and yell you down. With the OHPA, mutual respect and civility stop when your tax dollars are on the line.
Suzanne Ste. Therese
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