Shun the Hun? Petty politics and personal grudges abound

Greenwich-Voices-von-KeyserlingGentle reader, these are serious times facing our Board of Education. Our children, and the parents who spawn them, compel an exposé of the racial and social prejudice poisoning our town’s election process.

Simply put, there is a subtle, yet virulent, distaste in our dear town for those of German descent.

There, the ugly secret is out. This pernicious prejudice permeates the decisions of our ruling bodies, especially our political town committees, who “dictate” the voters’ selection of Board of Education members. Have I taken leave of my senses by saying this? You can think that if you want, but who’s to say I’m wrong when you consider the facts?

The Republican Town Committee (RTC) of 60 people, led by the executive committee, has vehemently rejected Board of Education incumbent Peter Sherr. And behind the scenes, they are castigating the likes of von Keyserling. The District 10 (Round Hill) Republican cadre peremptorily removed Tom Klein from the RTC Executive Committee shortly before its July nomination meeting, replacing him in quick succession with a WASP and then a “frog.”

Could this be a subtle shift of attention that was once focused entirely on the old underclass Italians and Jews in town? I remember when a young Peter Tesei was ousted in a primary for the Connecticut General Assembly seat now occupied by the Hon. Livvy Floren (an outstanding legislator), because the constituents did not think it proper for an Italian to represent the Greenwich backcountry.

The RTC refused to renominate the incumbent Mr. Sherr for “political discipline,” as they were quick to explain. This was because he followed his conscience and publicly stated intent, rather than following party orders. Never mind that Mr. Sherr is actually a poster boy for GOP principles of fiscal responsibility, outcome-based budgets, less bureaucracy, administrative accountability and transparent government. Because he crossed the party’s leadership he must be taken out.

It’s strange that the other GOP incumbent on the BOE, Barbara O’Neill, doublecrossed her party by flipping her vote 15 minutes before the BOE chairman election and voted for a Democrat, which is what left party officials on the hunt for Mr. Sherr in the first place.

Twice she explained to her Republican caucus that she had “cut” an independent deal with the Democrats. This blatant political betrayal, though, apparently deserved no comment from our politicos. Is this possibly because she is Irish, while the other two BOE incumbents are of German descent? What about Armenians?

Now all this has nothing whatsoever to do with a good BOE and an optimum education for our children at the best price. Could it be that petty politics and personal grudges have trumped the public welfare and responsible government?

But fear not gentle reader. Fortunately for our society, Germans have allegedly strong self-confidence and self-image. For them, being slighted by Greenwich politicians and the “establishment” has all the gravitas of being shunned by a Cajun.

So get a good chuckle out of this or vent your anger if you must. But remember, there are those who know what’s really going on behind the scenes in the party and they are not likely to forget easily.


Christopher von Keyserling is a Republican and a longtime member of the town’s Representative Town Meeting, though the opinions expressed in this column are his own.

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