A new year brings a new start for everyone on the RTM

Greenwich-Voices-von-KeyserlingIt’s still ok to wish people a Happy New Year, right? Well, I can and I will, because there’s much to celebrate. What am I happy about? Well, my Representative Town Meeting district, the “Great Eight” of Cos Cob, has summoned me home.

When the musical chairs of RTM leadership for the new session finished, I was seated in the chairmanship of District Eight and I couldn’t be happier to be among my own neighbors and friends. The previous chair, Genny Krob, did such a great job that the change over is effortless. The new members are all energetic, talented, and eager and the senior members have a deep knowledge of Greenwich and its workings.

There is little or nothing that Cos Cob does not know about their ground. All of this makes the Cos Cob district, not just the largest of the RTM, but one of the best informed. And as goes Cos Cob, so goes the town.

However, it was not without some reluctance and nostalgia that I relinquished the chair of the RTM’s Appointments Committee. This committee has twice as much items on the RTM agenda as any other committee. In my 14 years on this committee, including the last six as chair, every volunteer town officer has passed before my table.

The extraordinary array of top-level talent serving on our town boards and commissions has always instilled hope for the future and welfare of all our residents. There is no area of competency or profession that has not presented itself for service to the town. These public servants are humble, courteous and patient with the RTM’s vetting process. They are often the best of the nation and the world in their fields of endeavor.

Half our town government is run by such volunteers. This is the major reason for our excellent quality and range of services and our lowest anywhere taxes.

The town could not afford to hire these ladies and gentlemen. Their market value is beyond the budget of any municipality. Not only are they not paid for their more than 20-hour workweeks, but also they often contribute from their own resources. It has been one of my life’s greatest privileges to be afforded the acquaintance and, more often, the friendship of these super citizens.

Greenwich is so blessed. For example, in the process of modernizing Nathaniel Witherell Nursing Home, the town had to staff three successive boards. Every member had outstanding credentials in the nursing home, elder care sector and support services. Everyone. That amounted to some two dozen experts within a decade, all recruited from our neighbors.

Most town would be ecstatic to land just one of them and we had more than 20. And they all did it for the love of Greenwich, not money.

Along with these board and agency members, one gets to know and work with the superb town employees, which make up the departments these boards manage.

I wish the Appointments Committee’s new leadership, Candace Garthwaite, Wilma Nacinovich and Coline Jenkins-Salin, the same rewards for their service that I have received. Theirs is a heavy responsibility to vet and encourage the new town leadership. They will come to know the quality of guidance from our ancient sages, Tom Byrne, Joan Caldwell, Ed Dedakis and Carl Carlson.

Now on to the New Year and the new RTM session. With joy in your hearts, watch for us all on your living room (or bedroom) TV’s Channel 79. The only cover charge for the entertainment is your tax bill.


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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