Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dirty Work at the Senior Center, Part 3

The following letter was sent to the Chairman of the Commission on Aging on June 18, with cc's to the other Commission members:

Dear Lori,

I was shocked to hear that Marva Savariau was let go as the chef at the Senior Center. Especially when the article in the Greenwich Times [sic] dated May 18, 2010 quoted Laurette Helmrich saying "that the new plan was always to keep Savariau on".

Since Laurette Helmrich became the Director, there have been 5 employees who were either let go or walked out because they were unhappy with the atmosphere working under Laurette. Don't you find this unusual? There are also several individuals who volunteered their time and talent to provide the seniors wonderful programs for years, and they too were insulted and not welcomed back.

Maybe the Commission Members need to take a good look at the atmosphere the director has created while running the Senior Center and the manner is which she treated her past employees. It seems a tragedy to have what was once a warm and caring place turn into what it is today. I've seen it, I've heard it from members and I myself feel uncomfortable in Laurette's presence knowing what she has done in the years she has had the director's position. Is the Commission unaware of this sad situation?

/s/Nancy Gillon

Since this letter has been sent to a Town board regarding problems under their direct purview, it is now a public document. Your scribe therefore hastens to publicize it, and only wishes he had had the eloquence to write it himself.

Ms. Gillon makes a number of good points, including the fact that Laurette's reign of terror is not a new phenomenon, but goes back several years. Laurette, or as she is better known among the insiders at the Senior Center, "Miss Piggy", has indeed truncated many programs on art, language, literature, and history that were once provided by both the paid staff and the volunteers mentioned by Ms. Gillon. Did Miss Piggy find these people and programs somehow threatening to her overlordship? Who knows? But the fact remains that they are all now part of the Senior Center's past, not its present.

Meanwhile, poor Marva continues to be persecuted by Sam Deibler (popularly known around the Senior Center as "Doofus"), being told she has no right to be in a public building (where she happens to hold a second part-time job). When Doofus loudly tries to tell Marva that she is still a Town employee subject to his supervision, she wisely ignores him, knowing that he and Miss Piggy summarily fired her and took away her keys back on June 11. Even a garden-variety doofus would know that Marva is no longer his employee, but this particular world-class Doofus seems to have well more than the usual quota of rocks between his ears.

And so, dear reader, matters at the Senior Center lurch ever lower and lower, while Doofus strolls self-importantly up and down Greenwich Avenue and Miss Piggy hides timorously in her office. (She is so traumatized by the pressures of her job that she used to ask Marva to pray for her. Presumably that's not happening these days.) In a time of budget austerity, one wonders why these two highly-paid but hardly working employees should remain on the Town payroll while much more productive people like Marva are terminated. And what of the Commission on Aging that ostensibly oversees this mess? Have they even bothered to respond to Ms. Gillon's thoughtful letter?

Probably not. The Greenwich tradition is to circle the wagons around the wrong-doers, and publicly flagellate the truth-sayers. Doofus and Miss Piggy will no doubt be given some kind of civic award for their "brilliant leadership", and St. Marva will be dragged through the mud based on the trumped-up charges the two of them have brought against her. It was ever thus in the Town of Greenwich, and things are unlikely to change for the better anytime soon.

Meanwhile, of course, the biggest losers of all are the seniors themselves. To quote Ms. Gillon, it is tragic to have "what was once a warm and caring place" being trashed by two venal administrators and an outside for-profit food service. The price of the food will rise 33% next week, the quality has already plummeted, and of course we as taxpayers are footing the $77,000 budget appropriation for the wonderful new system given to us by Doofus and Miss Piggy. My, wonders if the Town of Greenwich itself isn't the real doofus in all of this.

We should all follow Ms. Gillon's good example and send letters to the Commission on Aging (names and addresses below in the post for June 11). If that doesn't work, maybe we should organize picket lines at the Senior Center and at Town Hall. Once the national media start to catch a whiff of the scandal, maybe we'll be treated to the likes of the Rev. Al Sharpton coming to Town to help us clean up our act. Just what we need--not! So let's hope the Commission members and the Board of Selectmen go into a huddle, give Miss Piggy and Doofus their unmerited awards for "meritorious" service, and then show them the door. And hope that Marva may be willing to come back and put things to rights again.


Blogger RTM Member said...

So let's hope the Commission members and the Board of Selectmen go into a huddle, give Miss Piggy and Doofus their unmerited awards for "meritorious" service, and then show them the door.

Sadly, this is not a likely scenario. The First Selectmen was given (by our RTM) the direct management responsibility for all the Town Departments. So, it is up to him to execute his managerial duties. As for the Commission, that solely rests in the hands of our RTM.

As the citizens have no direct way to register their disapproval of either of these bodies, it will take citizen pressure to get anything done. I hope our citizens take up the battle and keep the Senior Center the warm and caring place it has been in the past.

June 28, 2010 12:40 PM  
Blogger Bill Clark said...

Thanks for your comment, RTMM.

Your analysis seems correct. Only public pressure and moral suasion will have any effect here. The First Selectman would have to emerge from his newly-gated office area, and acknowledge that the two Town of Greenwich managers are the problem, not the fired employee.

Odds of that are about as high as his suddenly overruling his own "Locked Door Policy" and removing the TV surveillance camera. What's next, an armed cop at the front door of Town Hall?

June 28, 2010 1:56 PM  

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