Aldon Hynes's blog

Woodbridge Municipal Election Pre-Game

Tomorrow is the 2017 Municipal Election in Woodbridge, CT. In a small town election there isn’t often polling done, so just about everyone’s predictions is based on anecdotes or personal experiences. I thought it might be interesting to look at the race from several different angles.

For First Selectman, we have Beth Heller running against Tony Anatasio. It is an open seat since current First Selectman Ellen Scalettar chose not to run again. If we look at this in terms of the previous First Selectman candidates, in 2015, Ellen narrowly defeated Cathy Wick, 1579 to 1523. In 2013, Ellen defeated Cathy 1616 to 1207. So, over the past two cycles the Democrats have won, but it has gotten very close.

In the past two cycles, both Beth and Tony ran for selectman. In 2015, Tony got 1565 votes to Beth’s 1548. In 2013, Beth got 1655 votes to Tony’s 1153. Like with the top of the ticket, we saw the Republicans pick up votes, and in this case, Tony picked up enough to pass Beth.

It is likely to be a very close race. I like Tony. I’ve often spoken with him at events and around town. However, I don’t think his plan for Woodbridge really makes sense. A key part of his platform is “Engage professionals to market the CCW property for sale to independent golf course operators”. I strongly doubt that they are can find an independent golf club operator who is willing to buy the Country Club of Woodbridge at a price and terms that the people of Woodbridge will find acceptable. I’m also very concerned about some of the negative campaigning and misinformation that has come out by people supporting Tony.

I will vote for Beth. She has consistently done great things for Woodbridge and is geniunely a good kind person. She has resisted responding negatively to the nasty attacks.

For the Selectmen, the Democrats have Teri Schatz, Joe Crisco, and Mica Cardoza running against the Republicans Dave Lober, Spencer K Rubin, and Joe Dey. Joe is the only incumbent. In 2015, he received 1505 votes, sixty less than Tony. In 2013, he received 1158 votes. I have long been critical of Joe, going back to 2013 when I wrote, Joe Dey's Missed Opportunity.

Former State Senator Joe Crisco is running for Selectman. Last November, he lost his Senate seat to George Logan. However, he did win in Woodbridge, getting 2,574 votes. People have attacked him for being too close to Gov. Malloy others have lauded him for the long list of things he has done for Woodbridge. It will see how many people that voted for him for State Senate will vote for him for Selectman. I certainly will.

On the Republican side, Spencer K. Rubin is currently serving with me as a fellow alternate in the Zoning Board of Appeals. He is young, energetic, and all my interactions with him have been positive. In 2015, he received 1705 votes for ZBA Alternate. The only person receiving more votes in 2015 was Cynthia Gibbons, who received 1846. In my mind, Spencer is the best candidate the Republicans have for Selectman.

Looking at the rest of the candidates, we have to look at other information. Teri Schatz was one of the leaders of the efforts to get Pease Park built. She has done a lot for Woodbridge and deserves our vote.

Mica Cardoza serves on the Board of Fire Commissioners and prior to that as a member of the Economic Development Commission. I know Mica socially. When my wife and I bought our house in Woodbridge, his wife was our realtor.

The only Selectman candidate is David Lober. I know him by site and by what’s written about him online, but that’s about it.

Heading down the ticket, for Woodbridge Board of Education, my top choice is Nancy Yao Maasbach. I know her through politics and have always been very impressed with her. Steven Fleischman is running on the Republican side for a third term. Back when I used to cover the Woodbridge Board of Education, I found him to be the most reasonable of the Republicans on the board. I don’t really know the rest of the candidates for Woodbridge Board of Education, so I’ll skip over those. Likewise, I don’t really know either of the candidates for Board of Assessment Appeals all that well so I’ll skip those.

When it comes to the Zoning Board of Appeals, however, I know several of the candidates. Henry Nussbaum is the one incumbent. Four years ago, he received 1342 votes. He and I do not always agree on various appeals, but he is very experienced and well thought out. Other than myself, of course, he is the candidate that I most support. I know Jeffrey Atwood all that well, but the interactions I’ve had with him have always been very positive.

On the Republican side, Mary Hill is running. I serve with Mary on the Government Access Television Commission. I believe she is the best Republican candidate. I’ve met Wanda Luciani-Kesses but don’t know her very well. I’m sure she would be fine. I don’t know anything about Kim Giangrande other than what I’ve read online.

Four years ago when I ran for Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate, I felt it was important to go to a ZBA meeting before the election so I would have a good sense about what I was getting myself into. I’m glad I did that. As far as I know, the only new candidate for ZBA or ZBA Alternate this year to do this is Yonatan Zamir. I’ve had several great discussions with him and I believe he will be a great ZBA Alternate. The Republican candidate for ZBA Alternate is Robert Wiznia. He received 1164 votes for Amity Board of Education four years ago. I’ve seen him on the campaign trail, but really don’t know him very well.

Finally, for Amity Board of Education, I’ve already mentioned that Pat Cardoza was our realtor when we bought our house. I hold her in the highest regard and strongly support her re-election. Four years ago, she received 1509 votes. Also running as a Democrat for Amity Board of Education is Robyn Berke. Currently serves on the Amity Board of Education, having been appointed to fill a vacancy. She has always been involved in town and is a valuable member of the Amity Board of Education. I hope she gets elected to a full term.

Hal Smullen is running again as a Republican. Two years ago, he received 1348 votes.

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Camino du Jour

It is the first Saturday of Easter, and I am approaching….

The problem is, I’m not sure what I’m approaching nor what I am leaving. Unlike walking the Camino de Santiago, even with its different paths, unless you get completely lost, you still know what you are approaching, what you are leaving behind, and what the final goal is. The same applies even to walking a labyrinth. Yet often, in the journeys of our lives, we don’t know that. We wander, perhaps coming back to a place we’ve been to in the past and approaching it newly.

For the past few years, I’ve been interested in the idea of the rhizome from Deleuze and Guattari; the idea that learning and understanding is not a simple straight path with single entry point and a single exit point that can all be fit nicely into clear hierarchy.

Where does our journey to God lead, if the pot cannot understand the mind of the potter? Are we journeying with the mystics to some sort of unitive experience with the divine? Is that experience kataphatic? Apophatic? Affective? Speculative? Are we journeying to some sort of active response to God, doing all things for the love of God? Out of fear of God’s wrath? In some sort of effort to obtain salvation through works? Through fear and trembling?

Who are the pilgrims that walk alongside us during parts of our journey? What role does the established institutional church play? The structures and hierarchies of the church?

I’ve been watching various videos of people on the Camino de Santiago. For each peregrine, even though there is a common path and destination, the journeys are very different. Perhaps someday I will walk the Camino. Until then, I am trying to make the steps of my daily life steps of a pilgrim.

How do we make each step part of our journey to God? How aware are we of where we are going and what is around us? Yesterday, I walked down to the river near where I work at lunch time. There was a light rain. Our journeys, in our daily life and on the Camino aren’t always nice sunny days. Along the way I notice the periwinkle in bloom, the shell of a robin’s egg, an old Christmas tree, brown but still fragrant, and the comb of an old hornets’ nest brought down by winter storms.

Thursday, I went to noonday prayer at a local church. We talked about the reading for Wednesday, which was the story about meeting the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus. We are used to going straight from the grief of Good Friday to the joy of resurrection on Sunday. Yet for the disciples, that isn’t the way it was. The disciples walking to Emmaus were still in their grief, compounded by confusion after they had heard stories about the resurrection. When they met Jesus on the road, they did not recognize him. Does that sound odd to you? You’ve spent three years following this person who you think might be the Messiah, but then when you see him, you don’t recognize him. I wonder how often we don’t recognize Christ around us. For those of us that love the Eucharist, the idea of Christ being known to us in the breaking of the bread strongly resonates. Yet tomorrow, we think about doubting Thomas. Christ was made known to Thomas by his wounds. Christ showed his vulnerability. How willing are we to show our vulnerability?

I also wonder if some of what was going on with Thomas was a feeling of being left out. How would you feel or react if you close friends were all talking about something amazing they saw that you didn’t see? Would you say that you don’t really believe it was all that amazing, only to change your tune when that amazing experience came to you?

Tomorrow, I expect to go to church as a pilgrim. I’m not sure which church or denomination it will be. Will I go to the church I’ve been going to for the past several years, or is it time to move on? Will I go to the denomination I’ve been going to for the past forty years, or is it time to move on? Should I go to a church named after Thomas on the day we read his story? Should I go to a church named after Joseph of Arimathea as I look back at the empty tomb? Perhaps I should go to Congregational church, reconnecting to my childhood, to a Russian Orthodox church, connecting to my wife’s ancestry, to a Coptic Orthodox church in solidarity with Egyptian martyrs.

It is the first Saturday of Easter, and I am approaching….

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The Airport

For ages,
I have been a luggage handler
at the airport of
the emotionally damaged.

I have seen all kinds of baggage;
big and bulky,
sturdy suffering that lasts forever,
and the carefully crafted carry-on,
made to look intentional, beautiful,
though perhaps not as functional.

These days,
the carry-on baggage
is carefully scanned
to make sure
the lotions we bear
to mask the scent
of human suffering
won’t be used
destructively.

I, too, wander these corridors
looking for companions,
fellow travelers,
who can share the burdens
or at least help me
pass the time.

Listless travelers peruse
the latest self-help titles,
titillating romances,
or perhaps even
some recent nonfiction,
although current fake news
makes it harder to differentiate.

Others
stop at gift shops
seeking a trinket
for the loved ones
who miss us
hoping
the stuffed armadillo
will make the absence
a little more forgivable.

It is busier than normal
in a lonely tea shop
on a Silent Saturday morn
as the passengers,
delayed by Good Friday’s storms,
seek new ways
of getting home.

The wake will await their arrival;
the joys of reunion,
even though we wish it were in happier times
remains.

We check our tickets,
the departure board,
and seek our boarding gate.
Then we hasten our gait
to hurry and wait
in yet another line.

Soon, we will be home
and then travel again
in the never ending journey.

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Tenebrae

Stay here, remain here with me, watch and pray.

That feeling when… your coworker comes to talk about a project that she is working with on and you can see that she is struggling with something much greater and you ask her what is going on and she talks about an eighteen month old cousin that unexpectedly stopped breathing. That feeling when… you get a message from your coworker the moment you sit down to your computer asking if she can come over to talk about the project and you know it isn’t about the project, but the cousin has died.

Stay here, remain here with me, watch and pray.

That feeling when… you read the stories in social media about the old Asian doctor, trying to get home and the airline, trying to get seats for its employees, calls in the police to remove the man who does not want to give up his seat. You see his bloodied face on video after video. You read the statement from the CEO about the customer being re-accommodated. It is Holy Week, and you think of the re-accommodation of Christ.

Stay here, remain here with me, watch and pray.

That feeling when… you hear of another shooting in another school, when you hear of a history of domestic violence and weapons violations, and you hear that the eight year old child who got caught in the gun fire, died.

Stay here, remain here with me, watch and pray.

That feeling during Passover when… the White House Press Secretary, trying to defend the missile attacks against Syria, compares the leader of Syria to Hitler saying that even Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons against his own people, and when asked to clarify the remarks talks about “holocaust centers”.

I hold all these things in my heart as I walk to the community room in the health center. In a few minutes, I will be the Easter Bunny for many kids coming to our spring celebration. I look at the traffic outside and am told that someone jumped off the Arrigoni Bridge.

I need to bring a little Easter joy to the children of the community, but I still feel mired in the anticipatory grief of Holy Week.

Stay here, remain here with me, watch and pray.

There are many reactions that small children have on seeing the Easter bunny. I hold out my arms, and some rush to me. Other’s hide behind their parents. Here is a symbol of joy, of happiness, of something too good to be true, and we are distrustful. We know that something that seems too good to be true probably isn’t really good or true. We hold back. I wonder how much we do that in our personal lives, our emotional lives, our spiritual lives, perhaps even as we approach the Eucharist.

What is it that we are really looking for? To be loved. To be told, it’s okay. It will be okay. To be allowed to be scared, hurt, frightened, or sad, and yet still loved. We long to have our creation in the image of God acknowledged, and not become just another number, another consumer, another entity from which others try to extract wealth. We long to hear truth, but that is not the way of the world.

Instead, we are objects, to be re-accommodated for other’s profits. Even if we offer to serve, our institutions seek to turn our offer into a transaction. So after all the bad news. After holding this while sharing joy with little children, I head off to church, sit quietly, and pray.

Stay here, remain here with me, watch and pray.

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Ouch: Further Reflection on Daring to Become Dependent

The past couple of weeks have been very busy for me. It seems like just about every evening there are two or three events that I should attend, usually at the same time. So, I’ve not been going to a lot of things I would have liked to go to. It seems like this is going to continue for at least a couple more weeks.

It has significantly impacted my writing. Some of the events I’ve missed have been writing events, and when I get home, I don’t have the energy to write, especially not the energy to try and write a poem a day, which had been my goal for Lent, and then for Poetry Month.

This evening, I have only one event scheduled, but I expect it to be exhausting.

This morning, a friend posted a daily reflection online that particularly jumped out at me.

Daring to Become Dependent
April 4

When someone gives us a watch but we never wear it, the watch is not really received. When someone offers us an idea but we do not respond to it, that idea is not truly received. When someone introduces us to a friend but we ignore him or her, that friend does not feel well received.

Receiving is an art. It means allowing the other to become part of our lives. It means daring to become dependent on the other. It asks for the inner freedom to say: "Without you I wouldn't be who I am." Receiving with the heart is therefore a gesture of humility and love. So many people have been deeply hurt because their gifts were not well received. Let us be good receivers.

Henri Nouwen

For further reflection...

Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." - John 4: 6 - 10 (NIV)

Your response...

How can you practice the art of receiving today?

At various church events, we often talk about the Guidelines for Mutuality. One of the guidelines is about practicing self-focus.

When we are practicing self-focus and noticing a feeling of fear, anger, or loss, we might want to literally say “ouch” to alert the group to the impact that some words or actions are having on us.

This came to mind as I read the daily reflection. “Ouch”. Most of the people in my family are much better at showing appreciation when they receive a gift. I’m not as good at it as they are. Yet our house is filled with gifts I’ve given and received that have remained unused.

I think of this also in terms of the gifts God gives us. Do we use those gifts? Do we offer ourselves with these gifts as gifts to others? How are our gifts to our communities received?

I think of that as I pray about my meeting at the end of the day, and all I can say is “ouch.”

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