Dietch Ready To Face Off Against Zeoli

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Jul 162019

On Tuesday night, July 16, the Orange Democrats unanimously voted Jody Dietch as their nominee for First Selectman.  

Here is the context of her acceptance speech:

I am honored to stand here before you to accept the nomination as the Democratic nominee for the First Selectman of the Town of Orange, a town that I have lived in nearly my entire life.

I moved to Orange when I was 4 years old and attended Race Brook School, then Amity Junior High School, as it was called then, and I graduated from Amity Regional High School.  Coincidentally, these are the same schools my sons, Howie and Mike, also attended and graduated from.  Yes, I am a product of our great public school system.

I attended Keene State College where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and minored in business. I then went on to graduate from American University’s Kogod School of Business in Washington, DC with a Master’s Degree in Public Relations. For the past 12 years, I have been an Executive Director in the non-profit sector.  Recently, I became a trained mediator through the Quinnipiac University Law School’s Center on Dispute Resolution.

After I got married, my husband, Jeff, and I moved back to Orange in 2001.  I became involved in the Race Brook PTA serving on the Playground Committee and eventually the executive board as Co-President with Jackie Esposito.  I went on to serve two elected terms on the Orange Board of Education in a bi-partisan manner. 

As a former owner of the Little White House Learning Center in Milford, I understand the importance of early childhood education.  During my time as the owner of Little White House, I joined Kids Count of Milford, which among many things, offers scholarships for children to attend preschool, because we know how important preschool is to a child’s future success.  I eventually served as its president, as well.

After leaving the Orange Board of Education, I became more involved in the Orange Democratic Town Committee serving in various capacities including Treasurer, secretary and, currently, chair.  My desire to serve my town is what has driven me to work diligently in these positions.

I have often considered a run for First Selectman, and as they say, timing is everything.  It is time to move Orange into the future, while respecting our past.  But our farming past is not the basis for our future.  Nearly every year that the current Republican First Selectman and his administration have been in office, our taxes have increased.  We need to look at more ways to control expenses including, but certainly not limited to, sharing resources with our neighboring towns. Yes, we do some of that now but there is more to be done.

We need to look at alternatives for the large empty big box stores that haunt the east end of Route 1 where LA Fitness, Lowe’s and Sam’s used to be. It is time to resurrect the Post Road Study Committee to present new ideas that will help lead us into the next decade with significant economic development and not economic stagnation.

Over several elections, we have talked about helping our seniors stay in their homes but what has been done to help them? My parents moved in with me recently.  I understand the challenges our seniors face. It took the campaign 2 years ago of Democrat Margaret Novicki to get new chairs at the High Plains Senior Center.  It is time to look at meaningful ways to work with our seniors and not just provide them with lip service.

We need better communication and transparency in government.  How is it our Orange Community Nursery school didn’t even know they were going to be forced out of their home last year?  They heard about it second hand. That is unacceptable.  Why was our pool not ready for our paying campers this summer? Our First Selectman needs to be on top of these situations and pay attention to issues that affect our residents.

Orange is a great town and I think we can make it better. We need to be a sustainable community.  Our current administration doesn’t even talk about ways to help the environment.  We need to make Orange green.  I want the residents of Orange to work with the administration to make this a reality and become a Sustainable Town.

I ask you to join me over the next 3 ½ months to work to elect this slate for the future of the Town of Orange.  I humbly accept your nomination as the Democratic candidate for First Selectman and ask you to be with me on this journey to victory November 5th.

Letter #3: Board of Ed Members Request Legal Counsel

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Jan 162013

Jody Dietch (face blocked by microphone) in a file photo from an earlier BOE meeting

This is a continuation of the controversial Orange Board of Education situation that Orange Live first reported in early December.

Click these links for the Original Story, the January meeting, Amy Criscuolo’s letter, Jeanne Consiglio’s resignation, Sue Falvey’s letter.

Following is the letter Jody Dietch presented at the January 14 Orange Board of Ed meeting:

Let me start by saying that it is with great disappointment that I stand here this evening to make this statement.  I was seated as the acting chair in December because the unanimously re-elected chair was out of town.  I am not an attorney nor a parliamentarian, so the issues that were brought up regarding the validity of our November elections caught me completely unprepared.  That is why I requested any new vote be postponed until this meeting, the January board meeting, by which time we could get consultation from our board attorney to be sure we have elected our officers legally.

As has been the past practice of the Orange Board of Education, we held our board elections in November, as stated in our By Laws, policy 9120.  The issue noted at the December meeting of having newly elected board members able to vote for the Board of Education officers was always resolved by either adjusting the November meeting date or, as was done in 2011, holding a special meeting just for the purpose of electing officers.

Additionally the November election was properly noticed and all were present. Therefore, the meeting was, “valid regardless of it being a Monday or Tuesday” based on the opinion of Attorney Kevin Reynolds.  No Board of Ed members had any issue with the date of the November meeting.

The December election was improper for a few reasons. First the point of order was out of order since a point of order is to be done at the time of the alleged infraction. Second, a 2/3 vote of all members is the way our By Laws read, not members present. Therefore, there was not a 2/3 majority to override the chair’s rulings.

Subsequent to the December meeting, four of us on the Board of Education requested the written opinion of the board attorney to which we were denied access.  On the night of the December meeting, Keith Marquis, the

Decision maker Keith Marquis

unconfirmed acting chair, sent an email to Superintendent Lynn McMullin copying the entire Board stating, in part, “With 2/3rds majority of the Board finding the November election improper and being desirous of holding the election in accordance with Bylaw Section 9121 in December, there is no need to contact Attorney Mills on the issue……The Orange Board of Education will not pay for legal opinions unless authorized. You are not authorized to seek legal counsel on this issue.”

Once again, Amy, Sue and I are asking for Lynn McMullin to be directed to seek a formal written opinion from Attorney Mills, the Board’s legal counsel.  There is clearly legal precedent that upholds the November meeting, and with conflicting By Laws, we need the board attorney to guide us on how to reconcile By Laws in conflict.

Why is this important? For many reasons. One, we are supposed to be an example to the community. The message that is being sent to our community is that if you don’t like the results of an election, just hold another election. Second, without a written legal opinion confirming the validity of our elections, and directing us as to which set of By Laws we should be operating under in regards to the election of officers, there is no clear chair of the Board. This is jeopardizing any business the chair conducts, such as signing a negotiated contract, which could possibly make it null and void if it is found that the person acting as chair was not in fact legally elected.

Board Policy 9325 states, and I quote: “The conduct of meetings shall, to the fullest possible extent, enable members of the Board (1) to consider problems to be solved, weigh evidence related thereto, and make decisions intended to solve the problems….”

I urge you to put the politics aside and do what is right for the integrity of this Board and I urge the public to demand the same

Submitted by

Jody Dietch, Board of Education member