Safe absentee voting

Voters should not have to choose between their health and their right to vote.

The League of Women Voters believes all citizens deserve easy and safe access to the elections that will not jeopardize their health or risk their livelihood. For many voters, mail-in voting will be their only choice. In Connecticut in 2020, this means voting by absentee ballot.

Governor Lamont has signed an Executive Order which extends the right to vote by absentee ballot in the August 11th Primary for fear of “sickness of COVID-19.” The Legislature needs to extend Safe Voting During the Statewide Primary into Safe Voting During the November 3rd, 2020 Election by legislative action, not just executive order.

The LWV of Ridgefield therefore calls on our fellow Ridgefielders to contact Connecticut legislative leaders and our own elected representatives to ask them to convene in special session right away to pass legislation that makes it legally permissible to use an absentee ballot for fear of sickness from COVID-19 in November 2020.

Our Ridgefield State legislators are Representative John Frey at https://www.cthousegop.com/Frey/ for the 111th District; Representative Ken Gucker for the Northern part of Ridgefield, District 138 at https://www.housedems.ct.gov/Gucker and State Senator Will Haskell from District 26 at http://www.senatedems.ct.gov/haskell.

Registered voters will receive an absentee ballot application in the mail for the August 11th primary which they will need to fill out and return in order to obtain an absentee ballot. Only those registered in either the Republican or Democratic party may participate in either of the two primaries.

Since no federally approved COVID-19 vaccine could be widely available by November 3, the legislature needs to affirm the use of absentee ballots by voters who fear bad health outcomes if voting in-person for the November election. Voters should not have to choose between their health and their right to vote.

Marilyn P. Carroll, President,

League of Women Voters of Ridgefield

Maskless commuters

I feel an urgent need to share a troubling experience that has shaken my confidence in our collective ability to continue to successfully fight the spread of COVID-19 in our state.

On Friday, June 26, I took a Metro-North train between Ridgefield (Branchville station) and Harlem 125th Street Station in Manhattan. Despite occasional messages from Metro North delivered over the train’s public address system about mask wearing being required, I estimate that about 1 in 3 of the passengers who I saw were in fact not wearing masks.

While traveling between South Norwalk and Stamford on the way to the city, I witnessed (from a safe distance, I hope) one unmasked young man talking loudly and animatedly on the phone for 15 minutes. On my return trip to Ridgefield, when many parts of the train were too crowded for social distancing to be possible, I saw an unmasked young woman talking animatedly to her unmasked seat mate while holding an open container of beer in her hand.

On both trains, I saw fewer conductors/ticket takers than I ever have in more than 30 years riding Metro North.

It appears that Metro North currently lacks the resources and/or the will to enforce their mask wearing policy.

So if you travel on public transportation, do so with the knowledge that no matter how responsible you are in your own behavior, you are taking a risk by exposing yourself to irresponsible people.

James Sandy

53 East Farm Lane, June 29

Racism cripples souls

According to the authors of last week’s G.O.P. viewpoint, “Institutional racism disappeared with the end of segregation laws.” This is patently untrue.

Study after study show that myriad societal “pillars”—credit markets, voting laws, school funding practices, health care services, environmental regulations at work and in communities, criminal justice, and, yes, law enforcement practices—discriminate against people of color today.

Take discrimination in lending. It has been prohibited by the Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act (1974) for more than 45 years, and banks are required by the Community Investment Act (1977) to extend equal services to all members of the communities where they do business.

Actual practice suggests otherwise, as revealed in an independently reviewed, controlled study of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Records for 2015 and 2016 (31 million records). The study, by the nonprofit news outlet Reveal, at the Center for Investigative Journalism, compared the outcomes for mortgage applications across the country that were essentially identical, controlling for the applicant’s income, the total loan amount, the size of the loan compared to the applicant’s income, and the type of lender — as well as the racial characteristics and median income of the neighborhoods in which applicants wanted to buy.

The conclusion, as reported in the Chicago Tribune (2/20/2018)? “African Americans and Latinos continue to be routinely denied conventional mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts.”

In Philadelphia, for example, “African Americans and non-Hispanic whites make up a similar share of the population there, but the data showed whites received 10 times as many conventional mortgage loans in 2015 and 2016.”

Unless you and I act decisively in our everyday actions — now and until we take our last breath, but especially on the ballot on November 3, 2020 — institutional racism will further cripple our nation and our souls.

Angela Liptack

Wilton Road East, June 28

‘Trumpster’ take-over?

The GOP Viewpoint in the June 25, 2020 Ridgefield Press, provided by the Ridgefield Republican Town Committee and written by Linda Lavelle and Sean Archambault, seems to have taken on the banter and scare tactics of Steve Bannon and the extreme conservative right.

While we all recognize reform is needed in our police and other public and private institutions, does the Ridgefield Republican Town Committee really believe that “institutional racism disappeared with the end of segregation laws,” that all “residents of high crime districts plead for more, not less, police presence,” that police “defunding, means to demolish” and “put all of civil society at risk of chaos and crime,” and that “radicals who use unacceptable actions” (aka protests) want to “take our entire country down?”

The authors, two Trumpsters (a term loosely defined in the Urban Dictionary as ‘A place where all of the empty promises and lies are stored’), have put a new face on the Ridgefield Republican Town Committee. We can only hope that this new face is not representative of the Republican GOP, and that maybe the RRTC needs to think about getting a face-lift.

P.A. Torzilli

Old Sib Road, June 29

Income inequality

Last week’s letter concerning income inequality (“False ‘inequality’ ”) is an interesting case. Namely, an opinion that claims to be uniquely knowledgeable about the facts, while ignoring those directly related to income inequality.

The facts are easily found. The Gini index, long accepted by economists, is a single number that measures income inequality for national populations, on a scale from 0 to 100. Zero represents total equality, where all incomes are equal. 100 is total inequality, the equivalent of one person possessing all income. Between those theoretical and impossible extremes, a higher number indicates greater income inequality.

According to last week's letter, “America's income is as equal as other advanced nations.”

From recent studies, income inequality is worst in South Africa (63.0). After a group of mostly African and other developing nations, the United States earns a noticeably better (lower) rating of 41.5. However, Spain, Greece, Australia, Portugal, Italy, Canada, UK, France, Switzerland, Japan, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and more advanced economies have lower index numbers than the United States, ranging from 36.2 to 27.1 for those listed. So every one has less income inequality.

Rather than being a typical case among others, America is arguably the worst among advanced economies for income inequality.

While false itself, the letter’s premise becomes the basis for stating that income inequality is not a problem, for claiming “earning differences are necessary to motivate economic growth” and for advancing equally unsupported views about public education financing.

Income inequality is a problem for low income households, for middle class families facing historically low wage growth (and now recession), for our consumer economy and for a country that talks the talk of equal opportunity, but walks the walk of income inequality.

Ron Shirk

Peaceable Street, June 28

Make Music Day

Covid 19 threw a wrench into plans for Make Music Ridgefield, but thanks to a wonderfully inventive and collaborative creative community we were able to pull it off.

Thanks to: MMR committee members Jennifer Dineen, Pamme Jones, Tracey Bryggman, Dani Roth and Ridgefield Arts Council members Mark Meachem and Josh Fischer, Rudy Marconi and Police Chief Jeff Kreitz;

Allison Stockel of The Ridgefield Playhouse for sponsoring and organizing the screening of “Grease,” complete with sing-along lyrics;

Hilde Grob of The Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center, Ron LoValvo and the Graham Dickenson SPIRIT Skate Park, Namulen Bayarsaihan of The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, First Congregational Church, Suzanne Brennon from The Lounsbury House for opening their yards and porches and hosting;

Musicians The Angry O’Hara’s, Matthew Donovan, Eric Parker from Bach to Rock, Suzanne Corey-Sahlin and Gunnar Sahlin from The Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra the Jazz Giants, the DJ from James Daniel Entertainment, Powderfinger and Ton & the Westsiders. Marko Katra, Maggie Seligman Dmitri Volkov and Kathleen Theisen;

A special thanks goes to Kerri Cardinal and the staff at Benchmark Senior Living at Ridgefield Crossings for participating in the “Window Serenades” event, FirstLight Home Care of Fairfield County and Compassionate Ridgefield for sponsoring and musicians Will Richards, Christian Thompson, Jacob Litt, Michael Shofi, L.T. Maroon and the adorable violinists from The Suzuki School who brightened up the day for the residents and staff;

ACT of CT, The Ridgefield Library and The Ridgefield Theatre Barn for their remote entertainment;

And the Make Music Day Organization, the NAMM Foundation and the Connecticut State Office of the Arts for their support.

Jennifer DiLaura

Ridgfield Arts Council

Lions supporters

Thank you to the Ridgefield residents that have supported our Lions Club’s fundraisers and service projects throughout the years.

Thanks to you we have been able to donate more than norm to Social Services, Meals on Wheels, RVNA and The Prospector during the past couple of months to help during these trying times. We were also able to present a graduating Ridgefield High senior with our yearly scholarship. We can't thank you enough for your support.

Needless to say, due to the present situation in the country, many of our upcoming fundraisers have had to be canceled. However, we will be able to hold our annual Document Shred Day. Due to the many inquiries, we have scheduled 2 Saturdays.....July 11 and 18.

We hope that you will be able to support us. We will be in the parking lot behind Starbucks from 9-12 both Saturdays. All clients must stay in their vehicles at all times. Lions in masks and gloves will empty your trunks or back seats with your boxes/bags.

All money earned stays in town to help those residents in need. Hope to see you there. Thank you in advance for your support.

Mike Liberta

1 Middlebrook Lane, June 28