Letter: Forum date is an insensitive choice

To the Editors:

When reading the Thursday, April 6, 2017, Wilton Bulletin newspaper I was surprised to learn state Rep. Gail Lavielle had arranged and scheduled a public forum at Wilton High School for Monday evening, April 10, between 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Characterized as a “listening” forum with DOT Commissioner James Redeker in attendance, this is to be an opportunity for communities and individuals to share ideas re: improving rail service on the Danbury branch line of Metro-North.

Ordinarily, I would have attended this meeting. However, as Monday evening, April 10th, is the first night of the Passover holiday, I will be attending a Passover Seder. Based in a community that recently issued a proclamation of tolerance, Rep. Lavielle (143rd District), has demonstrated at the very least an extremely insensitive choice of date and time for this forum.

To schedule a meeting during Passover, particularly on the first night, is offensive. She wouldn’t schedule a forum on Good Friday, Easter, Christmas Eve or Christmas. Passover is a holiday that specifically welcomes the broader community and is a “holy” holiday on the Jewish calendar, no different than those stated above.

In a phone conversation with Rep. Lavielle on Friday morning, April 7th, she stated that it was never her intention to be insensitive or offend. She went on to express that the choice of dates was dictated by Commissioner Redeker’s calendar and that the first night of Passover was the only date within a six-week window that he was available.

Candidly, I expect more considerate leadership from all our elected representatives and stated unequivocally to Rep. Lavielle that decisions like hers to move forward with the DOT forum on the first night of Passover brings into question her priorities and judgment.

It should also be stated that the Wilton Bulletin offered a brief editorial in this same newspaper under the heading “Get on board”. To the newspaper’s credit, the scheduling conflict was noted… “Unfortunately, the meeting has been scheduled for the first night of Passover, but it extends over two hours and people may come and go as their schedule dictates”.

Sadly, the newspaper’s editorial staff, like Rep. Lavielle, missed the true essence of the misguided scheduling and too missed an important opportunity to question the decision-making of an elected representative. Hopefully the newspaper will bring more appropriate scrutiny to its editorial page in the future.
Michael Salit
Wilton, April 11