The TASC List: Some good news

An old friend recently moved from Wilton to another part of the state. His answering machine message always began with the upbeat greeting, “Tell me some good news.” A great way to start the day for both parties. So here’s that same category and technique applied to some events from 2014, with the hope that this trend continues throughout the new year for all of us.

1) Mother Nature. Amidst the maelstrom of disruptive world events over the past 12 months — geophysical to geopolitical — we were treated here in Fairfield County to a minimum of storm damage, a sufficiency of water supply, a decrease in sweltering temperatures, and some bountiful displays of color and harvest. And now it appears that some natural aerosols in the atmosphere (as from volcanic ash) will serve to offset planetary global warming by reflecting a portion of the sunlight back into space. We thank her for that.

2) Human Nature. We were treated as well to some bountiful displays of individual courage from townsfolk who stood up to challenge the system, question the assertions, caution against injustice and irregularities, warn against wrongdoing, and demonstrate failures of management and oversight. They raised awareness of the importance of indoor air quality, the need for accounting controls and discipline, the specter of financial instability due to unrealistic tax burdens, the importance of ethical agreements and behavior, and the cleansing sunlight resulting from freedom of information. They spoke to problems. They dug deeply into factual backgrounds. They served notice that mere assertions and pontification will no longer win the day. Their archeological-like search efforts blunted some otherwise realistic- appearing arguments later exposed as shallow and without substance. We need these people to continue their campaigns.

3) Exposure Recognition. The Board of Finance has promised to follow closely the response to unsatisfactory audit findings in one particular town department. The implementation of our often-suggested position of independent internal auditor would have discovered this much earlier, and would have raised the level of enforcement, discipline and deterrence across Wilton in its entirety. The Board of Education has sent clear signals for restraint and prudence in the formulation of the district school budget for 2015-16. The current 1.98% increase partially satisfies the goal of reasonableness and rationality, and is a far cry from the recent annual (ritual) “budget dances” that opened the process with requests over 5% in anticipation of compromised solutions at just under 3%.

The Miller-Driscoll Renovation Project Bond Referendum has been questioned by a petition process calling for a revote, and was supported by upwards of 1,100 signatures. The State Elections Enforcement Commission has agreed to investigate alleged irregularities in the run-up to that voting. And we sincerely hope that the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee will closely examine opportunities for project cost reduction before any final drawings are completed, and disclose the results of value engineering and other such analyses if already complete. If not, accomplish that important work now, and open it to the public’s review.

4) Values/Options. Wilton sports teams are sensibly placing skills and character development above pure winning, and good sportsmanship over unbridled competitive instincts. Happily, the winning, especially on the basketball courts, is taking care of itself. On the academic side, it appears that the seeking out and finding of an overall best fit match for each advancing graduate is replacing the often frenzied search for the most selective institution within a candidate’s “stretch” possibilities. The community at large has embraced a new education administration where willingness to listen is an early indicator of more good things to come. Their motivation to battle misbehaviors like bullying and intolerance will provide an encouraging model and standard for effective action.

In public positions where vacancies are created, well-qualified replacements are quickly found and move rapidly up to speed. All the while, our stalwart volunteers have kept the town gears turning and the wheels rolling. They have performed their roles and responsibilities with enthusiasm and distinction.

TASC hopes that you will agree with these good news items, and personally witness the positive tailwind as it continues toward a more resilient and measurably better future.

TASC stands for Toward A Stronger Community. Contact: