FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Fairfield Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Send letters to Fairfield@dailyvoice.com.
Several letters and responses have appeared recently regarding State Representative Kim Fawcett’s attendance record in Hartford. As one respondent noted, there is no need to guess about attendance, because there is a public record of all committee meetings, subcommittee meetings and public hearings. A search of the records at http://www.cga.ct.gov/, indicates that in 2012 there were 31 meetings and/or public hearings of the Appropriations Committee, nine of the Energy & Technology Committee, nine of the Children’s Committee, and three of the Transportation Subcommittee. Fawcett is on record as having attended 20 of these 52 meetings, resulting in a 38.5 percent attendance rate.
Some respondents have sought to explain away her low attendance by blaming schedule conflicts that forced her to miss meetings. For example, according to Jay Wolk: “Our Public officials serve on many committees and often have public hearings occur simultaneously. “Republican or Democrat they cannot be in two places at one time.”
In fact, only one of Rep. Fawcett’s absences can be attributed to a direct schedule conflict (on February 23, 2012 at 10 a.m.), but that legitimate conflict is offset by the fact that she, contrary to Mr. Wolk’s belief, is actually on record as having been “in two places at one time” on February 16, 2012 at 10 a.m. for simultaneous meetings of the Appropriations and Children’s committees.
The meeting and public hearing numbers for 2011 show 56 Appropriations, 26 Energy & Technology, 11 Children’s, and three Transportation Subcommittee, and Rep. Fawcett is on record as having attended 58 of these 96 meetings, resulting in an attendance rate of 60 percent. The attendance rate for the two years combined is 53 percent.
One national and fiercely non-partisan source (www.votesmart.org), tracks how elected representatives vote on the issues they consider most important. They list four key votes in Connecticut, all of which Rep. Fawcett was absent during her tenure: the Immigrants & Postsecondary Education Act, the 2009-2011 Biennium Budget Financing Act, the Hotel Tax Increase Act, and the Repeals the Death Penalty Act.
The obvious question is: What would happen to any of us (and the people who depend on us), if we showed up for work or school only half the time?
Meanwhile, still other letters have appeared commending Rep. Fawcett for her independence. For example, Doug Whiting cites her “independence from party pressures.” As is true for attendance, we don’t have to rely on opinion because there is a factual record of how each State Representative has voted. In 2012, out of 249 total votes that she cast, Kim voted 245 times with her party. That’s a 98 percent voting record along party lines. In 2011, out of 363 total votes cast, Kim voted with her party 352 times. That’s a 97 percent percent voting record along party lines.
The obvious question is: How do you define “Independence”?