Two more unarmed youth gunned down and murdered by police, including a 12 year-old boy

The latest victim of police violence is a 12 year old innocent and unarmed boy from Cleveland.  It was reported that he was shot and killed for having an air pistol that a rookie police officer mistook for a real gun.

And in New York an innocent 28 year old man was killed by a rookie police officer in an unlit stairwell.

Who will protect citizens from police officers who shoot first and ask questions later?!

Isn’t it time we hold police officers and their superiors responsible for these murders, and instead of placing them on paid administrative leave with benefits, just put them in jail as is done for murderers?

Police officers are public servants, not soldiers in Kabul fighting the Taliban.  Our hometowns are not battlegrounds.  In the United Kingdom police officers ordinarily are not armed and behave as true public servants.  It is time to disarm our police officers and transform them from soldiers to public servants so they stop killing innocent citizens.

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Tom Foley skips last televised Connecticut Gubernatorial debate on NBC Connecticut, WVIT, Channel 30, Thursday, October 23, 2014

Screen-shot-2014-08-07-at-6.56.53-PMTom Foley refused to attend the last televised Connecticut Gubernatorial debate broadcasted by NBC Connecticut, WVIT, Channel 30, October 23, 2014.  In my opinion, his refusal showed a disrespect to Connecticut voters and our democratic process.

The people of Connecticut deserve to know the specifics of Tom Foley’s plan to bring more jobs back to Connecticut and to control spending.  All I have heard from Tom Foley is basically generalities about deregulating business and making Connecticut more business friendly.  Gee, is that going to bring all of those millions and millions of jobs back from China, India, the Philippines, Mexico, South Korea, et al, where workers are paid as little as $0.25 per hour?!  LOL!  Fat chance, Tom.

Dear Mr. Foley:

You are running for Governor of Connecticut.  If you want the peoples support, you have to go out and woo them, not by attack ads on Governor Malloy, but by explaining how you precisely can turn this state around.  You have failed to tell me precisely on how you will do this.

In addition, debates are part of our democratic process.  In spite of all of your millions of dollars, you are not entitled to be anointed and crowned as Governor of Connecticut.  You have to win an election by persuading the voters that you can do better than Governor Malloy.

Not too long ago, Republican State Senator, John McKinney, was quoted as saying this of Tom Foley:

“Tom Foley appears to think he is entitled to this election….  He offers no specifics, refuses to answer questions about his positions on issues and challenges reporters and citizens who confront this lack of detail.”

And this from not only a Republican State Senator but the Minority Leader in Connecticut’s Senate!

Your absence told me everything about you.  I, for one, certainly hope you are not crowned Governor of Connecticut in November.  We don’t need another multimillionaire in politics whose effective marginal tax rate is lower than that of the average working Connecticut voter.

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Berlin Police Department: Military Weapons?


In the Berlin Citizen article, dated September 2nd, “Taxpayers’ group calls for police downsizing“, there appeared the following statements:

“There are some in Berlin who would have the public believe that our police force is the height of militarization. Fortunately, the facts don’t support their claims,” [Berlin Mayor Rachel] Rochette said….

In a phone interview, [Berlin] police Chief Paul Fitzgerald disputed the claim that the department is militarized…

According to Channel 3 News, “Berlin looks to build $21 million police department“, on August 25th, Berlin Police Deputy Chief “Klett said there isn’t necessarily military equipment in the department….” On the video, Klett states, “we do not have any, per se, military equipment.”

Under a Freedom of Information Act request, I obtained the following inventory of weapons of the Berlin Police Department:

  1. Seventeen (17), and one (1) on order, of Colt AR-15, 5.56mm rifles (one to be carried in each marked cruiser)
  2. Forty-eight (48) Smith & Wesson Model M&P45, .45 caliber handguns
  3. Five (5) 12 gauge pump action shotguns
  4. Twenty-eight (28) Advanced Tasers
  5. Various batons, and pepper spray.

The AR-15 was first built by ArmaLite as a small arms rifle for the United States armed forces.

And the forty-eight (48) Smith & Wesson Model M&P45 is the model designed for the military and the police:  the “M&P” in the model number stands for “military and police”.


So are the police chief, deputy chief, and mayor quibbling over semantics when they state that the eighteen AR-15 rifles and the forty-eight Smith & Wesson M&P45 handguns are not military weapons?

William Brighenti

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Video shows trooper shooting unarmed man, South Carolina police say

(CNN) — One moment, a man reaches into his vehicle after a South Carolina trooper asked for his driver’s license.

Seconds later, the trooper shoots him, and the man asks why. Days afterward, prosecutors aren’t satisfied with the answer.

Authorities released dash-camera video Wednesday showing what they say is Sean Groubert, a decorated South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper, shooting Levar Jones, who was unarmed, in the parking lot of a gas station just outside Columbia on September 4.

Jones, 35, survived the shooting. But Groubert, who has since been fired for the incident, has been charged with aggravated assault and battery, a felony that could get him up to 20 years in prison if convicted, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said Wednesday.

Cop shoots him as he reaches for wallet

“The force administered in this case was unwarranted, inconsistent with how our troopers are trained, and clearly in violation of department policies,” South Carolina Public Safety Director Leroy Smith said last week in announcing Groubert’s firing.

This wasn’t the first time Groubert had fired his weapon. He was lauded the previous time: His department gave him a medal of valor for an incident in which he and another trooper shot and injured a man who had shot at them in 2012, SCPSD spokeswoman Sherri Iacobelli said.

Patrol officer beats woman

‘Why did you shoot me?’

In this year’s incident, police said Groubert, 31, stopped Jones in the parking lot of a Circle K station in daylight, for what police say was an alleged seat belt violation, around 5 p.m.

Video that authorities say was recorded from Groubert’s police car shows the trooper driving up to a vehicle just as its driver — who authorities say is Jones — steps out of the vehicle.

When Groubert asks for Jones’ license, Jones pivots toward the vehicle he just exited — the driver’s door is still open — and leans inside as if to retrieve something, the video shows.

About two seconds later, the trooper that police identify as Groubert comes into view with a gun drawn and yells “Get out of the car! Get out of the car!” The gun is fired — at least four shots are heard — and Jones steps away from the vehicle, raising his hands in the air and eventually moving off camera.

“I just got my license! You said get my license!” says someone off camera, apparently Jones.

After being told to put his hands behind his back, Jones asks: “What did I do, sir?”

“Are you hit?” asks another off-camera voice, apparently Groubert’s.

“I think so,” comes the response. “I can’t feel my leg. I don’t know what happened.”

The conversation continues:

“Why did you shoot me?”

“Well, you dove head-first back into your car. Then you (unintelligible), I’m telling you get out of your car.”

Ohio man shot by police in Walmart store

Shot in the hip

Jones was shot in the hip, CNN affiliate WACH reported. He was taken to a hospital and later released, authorities said.

Jones was found not to be armed, Smith said.

“I believe this case was an isolated incident in which Mr. Groubert reacted to a perceived threat where there was none,” Smith said last week.

In a court hearing Wednesday night, a judge ordered Groubert held with bond set at $75,000, WACH reported.

CNN’s attempts to reach Groubert’s and Jones’ lawyers weren’t immediately successful.

In explaining Groubert’s firing Friday, Smith said the department’s policy on using force says that officers can use “only the level of force necessary to accomplish lawful objectives.”

“That protocol was not followed in this case. Further, this incident occurred in broad daylight. Mr. Groubert had a clear and unobstructed view of Mr. Jones,” Smith said.

The shooting, Smith said, “deviates from SCDPS standards and cannot be tolerated.”

Medal of valor

Groubert, who joined the Highway Patrol in 2005, earned kudos for the other time he’d fired his gun in the line of duty.

Police said Groubert stopped a car that had passed him at a high rate of speed in Richland County in August 2012. The driver eventually took off without permission, and Groubert pursued him, police said.

Another trooper joined the pursuit, and the driver stopped at a bank, exited his vehicle and fired shots at both troopers in the parking lot, police said.

Groubert and the other trooper returned fire, injuring the suspect, the SCDPS said. At some point, it appeared that the suspect intended to go inside the bank, Iacobelli said.

That suspect was charged with attempted murder and convicted in 2013, according to the SCDPS.

The SCDPS gave Groubert a medal of valor in 2013 for his handling of the incident, Iacobelli said.

CNN’s Carma Hassan and Vivian Kuo contributed to this report.

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One sentence that explains why Berlin, Connecticut, police do not need military weapons. Missouri violence highlights militarization of US police.

Ferguson police threaten to kill peaceful protestors and reporters.

In the video, a police officer appears to be heard yelling to a reporter, “Get the fuck out of here and get that light off, or you’re getting shot with this.” Later on, the reporter with KARG Argus radio quotes the police officer as having said to him, “Get the fuck out of here or I will shoot you with this.”

The second video shows a Missouri police who was caught on video raising his weapon and telling Ferguson protesters that he would kill them.

“I will fucking kill you!” Albers shouts on video, his weapon pointed at unarmed protesters. When asked his name, Albers can be heard telling the protester: “Go fuck yourself.”

Are police officers just too aggressive today? Is our nation becoming a police state?

Berlin’s local police do not need SWAT rifles. Judge for yourself.

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

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Mayor Rachel Rochette of Berlin, Connecticut, may have her facts wrong about the Berlin Police Department

Berlin Mayor Rachel Rochette

Berlin Mayor Rachel Rochette’s argument for a new police station may be predicated on faulty facts

On Monday, August 25, 2014 in an interview with John Charlton of Fox Connecticut News, Berlin Mayor, Rachel Rochette, presented her case for a new police station by suggesting that the present Berlin police station is too small for the present number of Berlin police employees since “it was built in 1972, and it was built for a police force of fourteen officers and two support staff.”

But according to the Berlin Police Department’s own website, the main premise of her argument may rest on erroneous facts.  According to the Police Department’s website, the current police station was not occupied by the Berlin Police Department in 1972.  “May 15, 1975 saw the relocation of the police department from Murray Heights to the newly constructed Municipal Complex on Kensington Road.”  Furthermore, if one adds up all the employees who were added to the police department, in that year there appears to be twenty-seven full-time police officers, and two clerks; not fourteen police officers and two clerks, as reported by Mayor Rachel Rochette.

Moreover, according to the information on the same website, in 1976 the department added four more full-time officers, bringing the grand total of police employees to thirty-three.  It is not unreasonable to assume that these additions of police officers, or at the very least their need, were recognized, if not anticipated, in the immediately preceding year; consequently, it is not at all unlikely that the current police station was designed and constructed for an intended occupancy of at least thirty-three employees, and not merely for sixteen employees, as asserted by Mayor Rachel Rochette.  That difference in design capacity represents a police station accommodating 100% more police employees than what Mayor Rachel Rochette stated on the televised evening news the other night.

Needless to say, that difference in original design capacity impacts the argument of whether Berlin’s Police Department has outgrown its present facility.  If it were merely designed for sixteen employees, Mayor Rochette’s argument would be much more difficult to refute; however, if it were designed for at least thirty-three employees, if not more, then perhaps the Berlin Police Department has not outgrown the current police station but may have grown disproportionately and unnecessarily large in size as required by the growth of population of Berlin.

Consider the population growth in Berlin since 1976.  It increased by ~35% since that time.  If the size of the police staff now had remained in the same proportion to the population as it were in 1976, the police department would now have ~45 employees instead of the 55 officers and support staff currently employed in our police department.  The fact that this number of police department employees is comparable to that in Farmington, Connecticut, even though Farmington’ population is ~20% larger than that of Berlin, lends some credence to the 45 staff size as the appropriately required number of employees in Berlin’s Police Department in relation to its population size.

If no more than 45 employee are absolutely necessary to operate Berlin’s Police Department, a more viable, less costly alternative to building a new police station in order to accommodate the lack of room at the current Police Department may be simply to lay off some police employees as well as to dispose of and/or to arrange for offsite storage of riot helmets, body armor, chemical equipment, SWAT rifles, etc.  This might save many millions of dollars for Berlin’s taxpayers from not having to spend an additional $23 million plus on a new police station as well as from the significant reduction in police salaries and fringe benefits over many years resulting from the layoffs.

What may be disconcerting to some Berlin citizens is that Mayor Rachel Rochette may have predicated her argument for the need for a new police station on materially incorrect facts.  And if indeed a mayor of a town does not have one’s specific facts straight, then how can the citizens of that town be expected to have confidence in the merit of that mayor’s position in support of a very expensive project, which may have significant financial ramifications for its taxpaying citizens?

It is customarily expected, especially for elected officials, to get one’s facts straight first in order to avoid misinforming and misleading those whom one governs, and, equally as important, in order to avoid making a decision leading to unnecessary costs for them.

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Does the Town of Berlin, Connecticut, need to scale down and demilitarize its own Police Department?

Police StateBerlin’s Deputy Police Chief, John Klett, recently stated that the Berlin Connecticut Police Department has forty-two police officers and thirteen support-staff employees. Consequently there appear to be fifty-five employees working in the Berlin Police Department.

On the website of the nearby Town of Farmington, forty-one employees are listed as comprising its Police Department staff. One may wonder why, even though Farmington has a population 27.5% larger than that of Berlin, the number of employees in Berlin’s police department is 34% larger than that of Farmington’s Police Department.

The reason is not because the Town of Berlin has a higher crime rate than that of Farmington, Connecticut. In 2012, the most recent year of municipal statistics available on the website, the published crime rate of Berlin was significantly much lower than that of Farmington. In 2012 Berlin had a “low” crime rate, with no murders or rapes. In fact, Berlin’s crime rate in 2012 was one-third of the average crime rate in the US. By comparison, Farmington’s crime rate was 46% higher than that of Berlin. So why do Berlin taxpayers need to finance 34% more police employees than those in Farmington, when its population is 27.5% larger and its crime rate is 46% higher? Are the Farmington Police officers just simply smarter and better at their jobs?

In spite of the Berlin Police Department’s low crime rate, it still finds it necessary to equip themselves with riot gear, body armor, bullet proof vests, chemical equipment, swat rifles, etc, creating a lack of storage space at its present location. Perhaps if the Berlin Police Department did not have all of this military equipment, it would not require a larger facility for storage. Do you recall the Berlin Police Department ever having need for riot helmets, body armor, swat rifles, and chemical equipment in Berlin? Was there ever a riot in Berlin? Was there ever a gang shootout in Berlin? What’s next? MRAPs, humvees, machine guns, grenade launchers, camouflage, helicopters, and planes?

But storage and size of staff are not the only reasons cited for a new Police station. The Berlin Police Department also wants a new station because it believes that it needs bullet-proof windows and bullet-proof walls in its building, fearing that someone will attempt to shoot the Police Chief in his office, employees through the walls in its central storage area, which already has bullet-proof glass protecting its occupants from Berlin citizens, and other areas of the building. That certainly says a lot about how the Police view the Berlin taxpayers who pay their salaries, doesn’t it?

If some crazy nut case really wanted to shoot Berlin’s Police Chief or other police employees, even if there were bullet-proof windows and walls in the station, couldn’t they just wait and shoot them walking to their cars, or at their homes, or on the street? Does the Town of Berlin require a police station in its quiet suburb community of peaceful, friendly, respectable, and respectful citizens, or a military garrison as found in Afghanistan? Do the Berlin police regard themselves as peace officers or soldiers? Do the Berlin police regard the Town of Berlin as a battleground or as a community of taxpaying citizens whom they have been entrusted to protect and serve? Do Berlin Police officers regard the citizens of Berlin as the enemy instead of as those whom they are bound to serve and protect and who are the ultimate source of funds for their salaries?

If there is a low crime rate and there have been no recent murders, why has the Berlin Police Department been purchasing swat rifles, riot helmets, bullet-proof vests, body armor, and chemical equipment? Do the citizens of Berlin really need a Fort Bragg in their bedroom community? Can the citizens of Berlin afford a “Taj Mahal”? Or does Berlin’s Police Department simply just need to exercise some common sense, some respect for its citizens, and some concern shown to the taxpayers of Berlin for the affordability of its department?

The Town of Berlin deserves a rigorous cost-benefit analysis of all municipal services. Rather than hire additional police officers every year in a community with a low crime rate, perhaps it would be wiser to hire an internal auditor who would report directly to the Town Council to undertake some much needed cost-benefit analyses as well as efficiency and operational audits of the various municipal departments in Berlin. Perhaps a “crime” to which Berlin citizens should give some consideration and which is not being addressed by the Town of Berlin is that resulting from there being “a fox in the hen house”.

It’s unfortunate for citizens that the gouging of taxpayers is not a crime. If it were, then maybe working-class citizens could afford to live in Berlin and other communities in Connecticut.

Are Berlin police officers transforming from peace keepers to soldiers?  Should Berlin taxpayers consider scaling down and demilitarizing their Police Department?  Perhaps Berlin taxpayers need to consider the pictures below of what has been transpiring in many cities across the country:

swat-7 swat-4 swat-6 swat-1 APTOPIX Police Shooting Missouri swat-3 police 1

Comments are welcome from identifiable sources.

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Does the Town of Berlin, Connecticut, truly need a new Police Station costing $21 million?

John Klett, Deputy Chief of the Berlin Connecticut Police Department, recently published a video tour of the current Berlin Police Station, which is forty years old.  Mr. Klett catalogues an endless number of deficiencies in the current police station, including steel bars on the cells, unpleasant odors in the cells, inadequate number of female cells in relation to male cells, lack of private showers for female inmates, lack of bullet proof windows in the Police Chief’s office, lack of bullet proof walls in the data processing room, lack of storage for bullet proof vests, chemical gear, and riot armor, lead contamination in the firing range, etc.

After watching this video, I checked my address to see where I lived?  Was I truly living in Mayberry (aka Berlin) or Detroit?  Do the Berlin Police know where they are located?  Have they checked the crime statistics for Berlin?  Well, folks, here they are:

17.24 Crimes per 1,000 People

murders:  0

murder rate  0.00

rapes 0

rape rate  0.00

robberies  5

robbery rate  0.26

aggravated assaults  16

assault rate  0.83

burglaries  55

burglary rate  2.86

larcenies  245

larceny rate  12.76

auto thefts  10

auto theft rate  0.52

arsons  2

arson rate  0.10

density index  43.67

As you can see, our crime rate is very, very low, with no reported violent crimes!

Consequently, my question to the Berlin Police Department is the following:  do you know where you are?  19,000 Berlin citizens are peaceful, respectable law-abiding citizens.  Yes, it is true, Berlin has the occasional drunken driver, domestic quarrel, petty theft, pedaphile, and hooker, but truly, do we warrant a Police Station designed for the crime-ridden streets of Detroit?  Do the Berlin Police think that Berlin residents are the Taliban since they require body armor, bullet proof vests, riot gear, chemical equipment, bullet proof walls and windows, swat rifles and handguns capable of blowing one’s head off, as well as firing ranges in preparation for D-Day?  Isn’t that insulting to the Berlin residents and taxpayers, who pay their salaries and who will foot the $21 million bill for their Fort Bragg?

If the Berlin Police do not think that Berlin residents are the threat to their safety, then who do they think will drive by and riddle their building with bullets, mortars, and grenades?  Have there ever been reports of any bullets fired into the office of the Police Chief or the data processing room?  Who do they think would be crazy enough to drive by their heavily armed garrison and shoot at it?  Michael Corleone?

When was the last time the Berlin Police needed to use riot helmets, body armor, chemical gear, and swat rifles?  Has there ever been a riot in Berlin necessitating the use of such weaponry and equipment?  If there had been, I sure missed it!

Goober and GomerMaybe we don’t need a bigger, newer Police Station.  Maybe we don’t need forty-two police officers, thirteen support staff, and both a police chief and a deputy police chief.  Maybe we don’t need a police state in Berlin, Connecticut.  Maybe we just need a friendly, neighborly, and practical Sheriff, like Andy Taylor, with Gomer and Goober as stand-ins.  Do we really need a gang of Barney Fifes indulging in overkill (pun intended)?

After listening to the litany of deficiences of our current police station in this virtual tour, I was surprised that Deputy Chief Klett didn’t include the following deficiencies in the current police station facility:

  1. An indoor swimming pool to keep police officers in tip-top shape
  2. A Dunkin’ Donuts to reduce coffee runs
  3. Machine gun turrets to protect the department from a citizen uprising
  4. A tiger tank for a show of force
  5. A nuclear fallout shelter in the event of an Iranian attack

Perhaps you can add a few of your own.

Good grief, Deputy Chief Klett:  don’t you think your video tour was a bit of a stretch?

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Al Terzi WTIC-TV FOX CT on the Berlin Property Owners Association (BPOA)

WTIC-TV FOX CT interviewed attendees and Town Councilors on the $2.2 million increase in Berlin’s annual budget.

William Brighenti, an attendee of the BPOA, Charles Paonessa and David Evans, Berlin Town Councilors, spoke during the interview.

Next meeting of the Berlin Property Owners Association (BPOA) is scheduled for April 2nd, 6 PM, in the hall above Joel’s Hair Salon located at 883 Farmington Avenue, Kensington.

All are welcome to attend.  The BPOA is a nonpartisan association of Berlin property owners and small business owners in Berlin.

Our mission includes controlling the increase in our Town’s government spending and retaining existing small businesses in Berlin as well as attracting new businesses to Berlin, Connecticut.

Please become involved.  We need your participation.

For more information, please email or call (860) 249-1571.

Thank you.

Berlin Property Owners Association (BPOA)

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Berlin residents speak at Town Council meeting, March 18th

Four Berlin residents spoke about the Town’s annual budget at the Town Council meeting held on March 18th.  It was the first opportunity provided to Berlin residents to voice their opinions about the 1.1% tax increase approved by the Town Council last week.

I raised questions about the annual budget and the democratic process in the Town of Berlin.

My wife, Carole Brighenti, a lifelong Berlin resident, expressed her concerns about never-ending tax increases in the face of a never-ending economic recession when so many middle class families are struggling to make ends meet.

Jim Kasulis, a small business owner and lifelong Berlin resident, requested that taxes be lowered and not raised, stating that property taxes of $600 per month already constituted one-third of his monthly mortgage payment.  At 47 years of age, and thirty years remaining on his mortgage, he feared not being able to afford these taxes much longer.  Jim also recommended using the internet to conduct the Town referendum in order to enhance participation in the democratic process.

Karen Salwocki, former Deputy Mayor and long-time Berlin resident, recognized the need for increases in property taxes but requested that they be reduced in size rather than at the percentages that have been occurring over the years.

We have good citizens serving on the Town Council, Board of Education, and Town commissions.  We have qualified employees serving in the Town of Berlin.  I have heard a number of complaints about taxes and the treatment of small businesses in our Town.  If the citizens of Berlin do not participate in the democratic process afforded to them by the Town, and fail to participate in Town meetings or our association of property owners, then are these complaints worthy of serious attention?

In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.  All citizens have a responsibility to be informed about and to participate in the governance of their Town.  Continued irresponsibility of citizenry may lead to inequity and abuses in government from well-organized, powerful, minority constituencies.

If the citizens of Berlin desire lower taxes or changes in the governance of their Town, then should they not have the courage to step forward and speak out?  The Berlin Property Owners Association affords citizens the opportunity of doing so in a group with the support of their fellow citizens.  Without participating in an association, citizens are left to speak out alone against injustice; however, many never do so because of fears of reprisals and retribution.  That is one of the reasons for participating in a property owners association so that your voice and concerns are one of many.

Franklin Roosevelt’s admonition‒—”The only thing to fear is fear itself”‒—has as much applicability today as it did following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  Those words have relevance to our citizens here in Berlin as well.

Mayor Rachel Rochette invited all of us to come back and speak at the public hearing to be held on April 8th, 7:00 PM, at McGee School.  To Mayor Rochette’s credit, she makes herself available to meet with citizens weekly even though she has a job and family responsibilities.  When I spoke to the Town Council on March 18th, she gave me the courtesy of listening to what I was saying.  I liked that.

The Town Councilors are good citizens, giving selflessly of their time for you.  You, as a citizen, have a responsibility to participate in our Town government.  If you object to higher taxes or have other concerns about our Town’s governance, join us at the next meeting of the Berlin Property Owners Association on March 26th, 6:00 PM, in the hall above Joel’s Hair Salon located at 883 Farmington Avenue, Kensington.  All are welcome.  Our association is nonpartisan.

Let’s begin a constructive dialogue together with our good citizens in governance and support our democratic process.

Thank you.

William Brighenti

Berlin Property Owners Association

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