Greenwich Gossip

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Functional Illiteracy in the Non-Tax Collector's Office

We all know that despite all the evasions, prevarications, finger-pointings, and denials from the non-Tax Collector of our fair Town, most tax bills have now been received by the residents of Greenwich--more than three weeks late. Initially, the non-TC claimed that non-receipt of a bill was no reason not to stick to the August 2 deadline for payment. Shows what he knows.

The Connecticut General Statutes provide that local taxes are due and payable "not later than thirty days following the date on which rate bills for such tax are mailed...." Which means that the clusterfreak in the tax collector's office could potentially have opened the Town up to lawsuits from each and every taxpayer who did not get the full thirty-day grace period.

So now the deadline for tax payments has been pushed back three weeks, to August 23. The non-tax collector is quoted in the Local Rag as saying, "I certainly understand that people could be under the gun due to the lateness that they received it."

What kind of non-English gibberish is this? Using "due" as an adverb instead of as an adjective; the nonsensical construction, "the lateness that they received it..."--this man should not only be locked up in the stocks in front of Town Hall (if we still had them), but should be gagged as well. Let's hope The New York Times doesn't pick up on our local misfortunes and broadcast his verbal and bureaucratic ineptitude to the world at large. Greenwich already has a sorry enough reputation as a haven for knaves and thieves, from the depredations of Boss Tweed to the frauds of Marvin Frankel to the shenanigans of Walter Noel and his Fairfield-Greenwich feeder funds that helped to keep Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme afloat.

No, dear reader, we really don't need any more bad press for our Town. And we certainly don't need to be tagged as functional illiterates as well.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Thus quoth Board of Estimate and Taxation Chairman Steve Walko, speaking of the recent clusterfreak at the non-Tax Collector's office. One wonders what he means by that: will heads roll? Will appropriate chastisement be forthcoming? Will the stocks be brought back at long last?

This is an appropriate and overdue time to revisit the suggestion that has been made before, namely, to disband the office of the Tax Collector in the Town of Greenwich. Here's what a commenter on Chris Fountain's fabulous blog, "For What It's Worth", recently noted:

"The Town Website contains a downloadable file of assessments, with owner’s names and mailing addresses.

"So why does it take a $100K /yr. elected official, a staff of 6, and a software company on contract for the mailing, to print and mail the bills?

"Couldn’t a Pitney-Bowes machine and a staff of one do this for 23,000 properties in about a week?

Sounds like a great idea! You can follow the action on Chris's blog at:

Meanwhile, you might want to call or email your elected representatives on the RTM, the BET, and the Board of Selectmen, and let them know whether you want them to continue to waste precious Town resources on an AWOL non-tax collector and a dysfunctional department (in which the morale is rumored to be abysmally low), or, alternatively, to automate the whole process and bring it into the 21st century.

After all, it's your tax dollars not at work that are being wasted on this boondoggle. You have the right to ask for change. That's what representative town government is all about.

A simple charter change amendment would do it. With luck, the non-tax collector would be out on the street–I mean, the golf course–by October. Who’s with me on this one?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies...and More Lies

Such, dear reader, is the story of the missing tax bills in Town. Our AWOL tax collector, whose only duty is to send out tax bills and collect the amounts due, was quoted in the Local Rag last week as promising that personal property tax bills would be received by midweek, and the rest of the tax bills by the end of the week. Guess what, gentle reader? Not a single tax bill has yet been received by a single taxpayer in the Town of Greenwich.

Did our tax collector lie? Or was he merely telling us some form of golfing joke in which exaggeration and irony are the chief elements? Did he have his fingers crossed behind his back when he spoke to the Local Rag?

You be the judge. Unfortunately, we can't fire him, since we were the dupes who elected him. But come the next election, no doubt we will all remember the old adage: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

Maybe RTM Member, an occasional commenter on these pages, will have some advice about the possibility of a recall petition. Surely non-feasance is grounds for an attempt to oust an elected official?

Meanwhile, there's always the stocks, as suggested by your scribe in an earlier post. Our ancestors knew how to handle situations like this. What a pity that no one in Town Hall seems to have a clue about what to do these days. Including our non-tax collector.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Local Rag Gets an F in History--and an F- in Reporting

Leave it to the Local Rag, aka Yellowwich Time, to garble not only the quotes in its latest online story, but the historical facts as well.

The Consul General of France in New York, Phillippe Lalliot, spoke at Town Hall this morning and mentioned that France and the US fought together both in the Americal Revolution and during the two World Wars. Your scribe was there, and heard him say this very clearly. But the idiot reporter from Yellowwich Time, Jay Polansky, managed to write:

"Lalliot noted that Americans and the French have fought together in the French and Indian War and both World Wars."

Umm...the reason it's called the French and Indian War is that we were fighting against the French and the Indians in those days.

The real lesson to be learned here has nothing to do with American history, but with the Local Rag's wretched history of misquoting anyone and everyone who has the misfortune to give them the time of day. Be warned, dear reader: if you are approached by a so-called "reporter" from Yellowwich Time, just say "No comment," and be sure to spell it out for him or her. N-O C-O-M-M-E-N-T. Even then, they'll probably get it wrong.

Tax Bills Coming This Week...Maybe

Such a pity we no longer have the stocks in front of Town Hall, as our ancestors once did. Our so-called Tax Collector would undoubtedly have been forced to spend a day in them for every day the tax bills are late--call it two weeks or so. Passers-by would have pelted him with rotten eggs and moldering vegetables. After this salutary lesson, our appropriately-chastised non-Tax Collector would undoubtedly have done a better job in the future.

Bring back the stocks!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Tax Collector Asleep at the Switch?

By statute, Greenwich tax bills were to have been mailed no later than June 30th. As of today, July 9, no one in Town has received one.

Without proper statutory notice, are the tax assessments legally valid? Prior bills note that failure to receive a bill does not exempt one from taxes due and late penalties. But what about failure to MAIL the bills?

Where's our First Selectman when we need him? Don't the tax bucks stop at his desk, so to speak?


The following statement now appears on the Town's web site:

2010 Tax Information - Tax Collector
The paper bills for the 2009 year Grand List, which routinely would be mailed the last week of June 2010, have been delayed at the printer. The information is contained on this website accessed by the link on the left side of this page which reads "VIEW AND PAY TAXES". You do not have to pay online as there is a convenience fee involved but you can access and print all of your bills there.

Talk about putting the burden on the taxpayer! Not only are we being told to pony up, but that if we want a copy of our bill it is our responsibility to print it out.

Delayed at the printer?! They've had six months to get these bills out since the last ones were sent on January 1st. Give me a break!