Monday, August 10, 2009


My definition of addiction is "an ever increasing desire for something that has an ever decreasing ability to satisfy". With that in mind I want to address a different kind of addiction, the addiction to politics.Our society deals with all kinds of addictions. From alcohol to drugs, to being consumed with work, leaving no room for family, normally called "workaholics". We all have some sort of addiction. Smoking is our cultures biggest addiction and millions are spent each year to break that addiction. Then we must not forget "food addictions" and the billion dollar industry of diet plans and supplements which we have all tried.
But, another addiction is political addiction, or also called the "political junkie syndrome".Now, there is nothing wrong with having a healthy involvement with politics. But many have become so overly consumed with this that it has led to binging on the negative and living life for the next political story or maneuver.So how can you tell if you are a "PA" (political addict)? Well, kind of like the old jokes about knowing you're a Redneck, you know your a PA if:
1. Your home page on your computer is set to either the GOP web site or the Democrat web site.
2. You have the Town Council meetings and Board of Education meeting schedules written down on your calendar or in your palm pilot.
3. Your email address has words like, victory2009, rightwing, leftwing, forObama, againstObama, and my favorite, IamrightUarewrong. All of these are real, but I left out the, or to be nice to those people.
4. Your library is filled with books from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Al Franken, or Jane Fonda (this one has a pop up of Fonda on an tank).
5. You subscribe to magazines like either National Review or the ACLU Quarterly. For me I prefer Mad Magazine.
6. You are encouraging your child to name their new baby daughter M. Jodi, while trying to explain your grandson's name, Rowland.
7. Your cell phone has the "listener call in number" to a radio talk show on speed dial.
8. Your T. V. is set to CTN so you can keep up on all that is happening in Hartford and E-TV to watch us.
9. You received junk mail from campaign material companies, offering you the best rates on lawn signs.
10. Last, you know your a PA (Political Addict) if you make comments on the news papers comment section when an article about the election is written.
As I look at this list I find that I have been a victim of "PA".
When my two grand daughters are over I have tried to convince them that "CTN Television" is the Cartoon Television Network and they never buy it.
On the serious side, we must watch for becoming too consumed with politics. We must be careful about taking ourselves too seriously if we are elected. We have to really fight off the worst attribute of being a "PA" and that is becoming so critical and cynical that we find our personality becoming mean and harsh.
So enjoy politics. Speak up for what you believe. Give your money to the person or party that shares your ideas and values. Most important, get out and vote.
For all you political junkies, remember that politics can be fun to follow and incredibly rewarding. But, if you and I don't watch out we can become so involved in the game of politics we forget to enjoy the game of life.

PS. Remember to vote for Stokes in November 2009.....I could not resist adding this!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Government Overload

One of the difficulties in government, whether Local, State or Federal, is trying to do too many things at one time. On the local scene this can create frustration and lead to causing an uproar with the community. This is even a greater problem when the Federal government attempts to re-create the wheel and change everything.

The evidence of what I call "Government Overload" is being seen in Washington D.C.

In November 2008 our nation elected a new President. The message of change was the theme for the Obama campaign, and change is what we are seeing. But, is it positive change, or disruptive change? Is this what we were expecting? Has President Obama brought us a calm change?

In my opinion the answer is no. We got a lot of change, but with this change has come confusion, frustration, and fear.

Now, I have to say that I personally like our President. I respect him and the office. The fact is, he is my President and because he is mine I have the right to be a critic.

Let's look at what we have as of July 2009.

We have a nation as key stock holder's of the automotive companies. The bail out placed our government as owners of the debts of one of the largest industries in our country. Next, we have billion's of dollars invested in the banking industry. Banks who's top executive's benefited by taxpayer money.

Then we have a stimulus package. Billion's of dollars distributed to State and Local entities with the hope that it would create or save jobs. The fact is, it never made it to the working people and especially local school district's who did not avoid laying off teachers, which was promised.

Now, we are tackling Health Care. The cost will be job's, plain and simple! Small businesses will be forced to lay off people to pay the health care tab. Prices will rise which will continue the recession and bring on inflation. The wealthy will stop creating jobs and begin to shuttle their wealth to places that protect their living.

The fact is, tax cuts are the fastest way to stimulate an economy. The tax cuts that Ronald Reagan put forth, proved this point.

Now, back to my original point. President Obama has taken on too many things and we now have government overload.

Our nation is at its best when the individual is empowered. When we have a government creating everything, we become overly dependent on that government.

I am not in the Rush Limbaugh camp that hope's for the President to fail. Failure will mean that "we the people" will face greater hardships. But, I do believe that by attempting to change everything we will see a nation crushed by personal debt, rising prices, health care confusion, and job loss.

Government is at its best when it limit's itself and advances its people to be creative. Government fails when it's goal is to be solution for every problem. Ronald Reagan once said "that government is not the answer to our problem's, it is the problem."

By the way, the debate of government overload goes all the way back to our founders, many of which warned of an overly reaching federal government. They would be shocked by what we have going on today

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Listening is key to good government

Local government, in my opinion, is the most difficult part of our governmental system. At the same time it is the most connected to the people it serve's.

It is most difficult because it lives and breath's in day to day community relationships. We that are elected to local office constantly interact with the people we serve and make decisions own their behalf. Daily we get input on issues that include school budgets, trash pick up and pot holes. What make's it difficult is that we truly want to please you, but we know at times we don't.

State and Federal government, although vital to the welfare of the people, are more disconnected. If you ever tried to give voice to an issue in the State or Federal government, you will find barriers creating frustration. But, when you want to give suggestion's locally, you usually can find one of the handful of local public servant accessible to take your call, or answer your email.

Now, I am not saying that our State and Federal Official don't want to hear from us. The number of people they represent can make giving individual attention a difficult task.

But, no matter if it is Local, State, or Federal government we all have a responsibility to listen and respond to the people we serve.

Throughout the past budget season here in Enfield, listening was a key to setting direction. I can honestly say that the Mayor, Town Council and Board of Education paid attention to the people. I know that I responded to almost every email or phone call I received. Of course, being human we may have missed a few, but we were greatly responsive.

In October of 2008, I even created a Forum on facebook to encourage people to discuss ideas about the direction of the school system. Nearly 190 people have subscribed to this forum and it really helped me as I pondered decisions that I (we) had to make.

Now, not everyone agreed with every decisions. Not every vote went the way I would have liked. But, there was no lacking in communication.

It has been said that people get the government they deserve. I believe that people get the government and its decision's it lobby's. We are elected to represent your interest. It is only when we hear from you that we truly know what is the pulse of our community.

During the summer months our town and school governments are pretty idle. But, soon we will be back at it with important decisions to make for Enfield. I hope that you speak up. I hope you will call and email. I encourage you to join forums, like the one I have on facebook.

Here is a couple pieces of advise when communicating with elected official's.

One, use email and contact every elected official on a given issue. By, contacting everyone you create discussion within the governmental bodies. If you contact only one person it mean's that your suggestion has to go through the political mill to get a solution, which slow's the process down.

Two, be gracious in your approach. Remember, we are doing our best. The fastest way to hurt your issue is to attack the people who volunteer their time to serve the community.

Three, be patient. Many decision's take month's to decide. On the school side we have to check and see if there are State and Federal laws that give direction on an issue. On money issues we usually don't know what the final number's will be until near the end of the budget cycle. We, are not putting you off, we are just having to get through the red tape to see what is possible.

Remember, your responsibility is to speak, our's is to listen. Let's not fail either.

Greg Stokes

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Voices for Thompsonville" a year old

The town of Enfield is divided into a number of smaller communities. One of these has been organizing and planning for the future, Thompsonville.

A little over a year ago a small group of dedicated residents and business owner's set out to bring Thompsonville to the thoughts of all Enfield residents. The Voice's for Thompsonville is led by a dedicated group of people. Board members include: Wendy Lavoie, Sean Gondarowski, Kelly Hemmeler, Brent Ciszek, Carrie Robinson, and Sue Read. Each one of these people has an individual focus from business relationship to residents concerns. Together they seek to create an environment of change.

Some have said that Voices for Thompsonville want to bring back the glory days. I believe it goes beyond that with a true desire to create their own "glory days."

If you go to their web site, you will find their well organized plan for revitalizing Thompsonville. The plan includes:

Ensuring Public Safety
Increasing the number of owner occupied homeowners
Nurturing current business owners
Welcoming in new businesses
Working with potential investors and developers
Partnering with the Town of Enfield staff and Council
Sponsoring recreational Village events
Hosting monthly forum’s in which residents and business owners can speak and be heard

Along with over 200 members the VFT board seeks to accomplish each one of these self imposed mandates.

So, how can the rest of us in Enfield support this great organization?

1. We can attend their community events. Throughout the year VFT sponsor's events such as social events at Thompsonville Creamery, a Halloween party, Bike night, and many more.

2. Support Thompsonville businesses. Everything you need, you will find in Thompsonville. From hair cuts, to package store, dry cleaning, groceries, ice cream, and even learn to Ballroom dance....its all downtown.

3. Looking for a home? Well, now is the time to look at Thompsonville. A community is strengthen by the people who live there. Local ownership is the key to any community.

4. Support the Town Council endeavor to assist Thompsonville in recreating itself. Remember, it is going to take the entire town of Enfield to make VFT dreams come true.

If you want to know more about the Voice's for Thompsonville then check out their web site at You can also follow VFT on FaceBook.

The next VFT meeting is Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 7:00 p m at the Polish Home on Alden Avenue, Enfield, CT.

Guest speakers will be Town of Enfield's Mayor Kaupin and Town Manager Matt Coppler. Both will speak about current and future Thompsonville issues.

Once, again congratulations to VFT for year, on to year 10.

Greg Stokes

Monday, June 22, 2009


I want to take this time to congratulate each and every graduate for 2009. You have shown that you are ready for the life ahead. This will be the beginning of adult life and, all the rewards that go with it.Your parents, families, and friends are so proud of you.
As a parent who has observed my children receive High School Diplomas and even college degrees I can tell you that your parents are watching you through tear filled eyes.Many of you will go on to college. Some will go to job training for a career of your choosing. Many of you will enter the work force taking with you the work ethics you had during your high school days. No matter what you decide, I know you will be successful in all your endeavors.
Now for some advice as you transition from student to adult citizen.As you enter the arena of life as an adult there are some things that I hope you will remember. In the coming years you will have many opportunities to make a difference in world. I hope that as you journey through the years you will give back to your community.Here are some items to think about now that you are out of High School.
One, be involved in your community. I know that your career will take center stage, but the world around you needs your help. Offer your time and talent to better our society by helping charities. In Enfield we have so many worthy causes such as the Soup Kitchen, and the Enfield Food Shelf.Maybe join the volunteer Fire Departments and make a difference my serving your town by protecting its citizens. How about helping at the 4th of July Celebration, our towns best community event. No matter what you decide I know you will be a great addition to your community.
Two, get involved in the political process. It’s your time to place your vote. More than just voting I would encourage you to get involved in politics. Who knows, maybe you will be the next Councilman, Board of Education Member, or even Mayor of Enfield. It is yours if you want it. Check out the Enfield Republican web page at
Third, keep God in your life. We are physical, emotional, and intellectual beings. However, we are also spiritual beings and in my opinion that is the most important part of our existence.Many of you were brought to church as children and teens.
Now it is time for you to get involved in your faith and help to keep the church of your choice healthy and strong. You will find that prayer is the key to a successful life. In good times or in bad, prayer is the component that will strengthen your daily life.
Last, remember to be thankful. As you enter this new time of life remember to show your appreciation to your parents and teachers. Both of these groups have assisted in your preparation for adult life. They taught you and watched out for you through your growing years.
Make sure you thank them for all they have done, so far. I have found that a thankful heart helps me deal with successes and failures. It keeps me humble because I know whatever I achieve in life it has been made possible by people around me. A thankful spirit will remind you that life is a community sport and you cannot do it alone.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Nervous Chris Dodd

Okay, is it me or does it seem that Senator Chris Dodd is little worried about an election seventeen month's away? For the past few weeks I have been bewildered by the number of television commercial's that Mr. Dodd has either ran himself, or been endorsed by organizations that have a stake in his success. There is even a commercial with President Obama crediting (no pun intended) the Senator from Connecticut for reinventing the way credit card companies will handle increasing their rate's.

So, the big question is why is Mr. Dodd starting so early in campaigning for an office that will not be up for grab's for a year and a half?

The answer is simple, fear. Mr. Dodd has become somewhat paranoid about his position in the U.S. Senate and the fact that he may not be keeping his frequent flyer miles up with traveling from Hartford to Washington D.C.

This is because of a number of negative developments that have surfaced over the past 12 months. It begin's with the banking industry and the eventual bailout. That was followed by the wording in the bailout document that allowed for corporate officers and executive to receive bonuses paid by the hard working citizen's of this country. Add to that the credit card fallout and the abuses allowed to happen by the banking committee. Now, we hear that he under reported the worth of his home in Ireland on financial disclosure statements. I can only imagine what is coming next.

Chris Dodd has gone from superstar and one time Presidential candidate to a man with many questions to answer.

No amount of television commercials will neutralize the negative press that has and will come his way. Anyone who is intelligent and objective will see through the soft tone and positive spin promoted in the ongoing T. V. blitz.

Here is my advise. Let's not allow a media campaign to substitute for open disclosure of the action's of our Senior Senator. Let's ask the questions about the banking system collapse, the bailout money, and the disclosure on financial statements. Only then can we truly know if he has served the people, or served self interest.

Could it be that with longevity of service in office Mr. Dodd has come to believe that he is entitled to the office? Could it be that, as with many politician's, he think's he is above answering question's? Maybe he has been in the beltway so long that he has forgotten about us back home who have had to tighten our belt's to make end's meet?

Many questions and no amount of warm and fuzzy commercial's will make them go away

Monday, January 14, 2008


I began writing this column over two years ago and it has been extremely rewarding. But, as we all know, all good things have to come to an end.

This will be my final article as a weekly columnist for the Enfield Press. I want to thank Tim Jensen for the opportunity to share my thoughts with the readers of Enfield. He is a great Editor and an even better friend.

I also want to thank you the reader for allowing me into your home each week through the Enfield Press. Over the past two years I have met so many people who have approached me about my writing, most of which have been positive and encouraging.

Two years ago, when I first began writing, I focused mostly on the political scene in Enfield. As the weeks went by I began to feel a need to balance the writing with personal stories, events in Enfield, and people and organizations making a difference in our great town.

I have covered everything from elections to the 4th of July Celebration, which I believe to be our greatest weekend in Enfield. I have written about the help Riley School of Dance gave to the victims of hurricane Katrina, as well as, our local Fire and Police personnel responding to the flood of 2005.

I have encouraged support for the Soup Kitchen and Enfield Food Shelve as their needs were high. I also covered issues on the State and National level when I felt the topic affected us in Enfield. There are even times that I just wrote for fun on subjects like “How to know if you are a political addict.” The most difficult and, humbling article I wrote was when I was asked to write the front page article on the passing of Mary Lou Strom. It will always mean something special to me.

A number of times I took the liberty to write about my true vocation as Pastor of Cornerstone Church. By the way the web site for more information and driving directions is , hmmmm there I go again.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about setting new goals for the New Year. I mentioned evaluating priorities for each year and making adjustments where needed. Well, that’s what I am doing by passing on the writing of the column.

My first love and responsibility is the fast growing congregation of Cornerstone Church. We are a different style then most churches with a casual setting and upbeat contemporary music. We use media and drama and are always making church alive and exciting for all ages.

My second responsibility is to the Enfield Board of Education. I want to again thank you for your confidence in me as a BOE member. I have already found that this appointment is more then a couple meetings a month. But, although it is time consuming, it is already proving to be a rewarding experience.

As I close this article/letter let me speak from my heart.

I have done my best to cover issues without insulting or demeaning people. I have tried to achieve balance in my writing and show respect for everyone, whether Republican or Democrat. I hope what can be said of me as I conclude my obligation as a weekly writer is that I did this with class and integrity.

I have made so many friends in the course of writing and I want to say that means the most to me. I also want to thank my wife, Dawn, for her wonderful support in all that I do....I could not do it without you!!!

I now focus more on my family, church and on the Board of Education.

Thank you once again for reading this column….I hope it was enjoyable.
Your Friend,Greg

Friday, December 28, 2007


As has been my practice, for the two years I have been writing this column, I avoided talking politics during the holiday season going from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The way I look at it, most people would rather not hear about politics as they eat their turkey and pumpkin pie.

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas and that the New Year brings you great joy and success.

So, what is going on in the world of local politics?

The Board of Education is looking at setting objectives for the rest of this year, as well as, the 2008-2009 school year. We are also preparing to tackle our budget with some training for Board members, a new Audit Committee, and an“Community Conversation” before the budget is set so we get your input before we spend your money….wow what a thought!

The Town Council has its hands full as well. The year ended with Council members addressing mandating “tipper barrels”, which does not sound that exciting, but the cost savings could be of great help to next years budget.

They also dealt with the issue of social service grants and the issue of helping people in need of assistance. The debate was not over the concern for those facing hard times but who and, how we should pay for it. Tough job to say the least!

So how do the elected leaders in our town make up their minds on what is best for the overall town? More directly, how should we go about deciding where your dollars are spent in the 2008-2009 budget?
Is there a perfect process for getting to the point of approving the future budget?

The simple answer is no, there is no easy, perfect budget process.

But, there are some basic budget preparation principles that will always work to get us headed in the right direction.

First, look at where the money is being spent. Before looking for what you want to do next year, examine where the money is going and decide if the money is needed in all areas of your current budget.

On the school side of the budget ask if every program is relevant for the needs of the student and their future success? Is the subject matter outdated and is there a subject that would better prepare our kids for life.

With millions of dollars being spent each year on education, it is important to make sure we revisit the current budget and see if every item is still needed.

Second, be realistic about what the citizens can afford. After we go through and clean up the current budget and before we ask the administration and staff what they would like in the future budget, ask the big question….What can we afford?

Some believe that public funding for government has no limits. Some even believe that there is an expectation that taxes go up every year to meet the "cost" demands. Cost demands that are created by a philosophy that there are no limits to government spending, and the cycle continues. Reminds me of that old "Breck Shampoo" commercial....and on, and on, and get the idea.

The fact is, there should never be an assumption that taxes rise each year.

Third, learn to listen and be willing to change your mind. Now this may sound like being willing to compromise and I guess if you want to use that word you could. My thinking here is that we elected nine Board of Education members and eleven Council members in November. Every one of us comes to the table with a certain belief system and ideology.

But, although we may have expertise in an area, the greatest wisdom usually prevails with debate and dialog. Healthy debate is what has made our nation what it is today. Sharing opposing view points and defending your opinion in the public forum is a great way to force an issue to the best decision.

But, as much as we want our voices to be heard, to truly be called a leader we need to learn the art of listening as well. I have heard some say the test of great leadership is moving your agenda forward. I believe that true leadership is moving the best agenda forward. One author said; learn to hear, before being heard. Not bad advice.

The budget process will entail more then I have written, but these are some basic guiding principles that can be used as a starting point.
Greg Stokes

Friday, December 21, 2007


Next week we will turn the calendar page and enter into a New Year. Now, with every New Year comes the opportunity to re-create ourselves and set new goals.

For most of my adult life I have taken inventory of myself and what I am accomplishing when we come to a new year. Some things that I planned last year at this time have worked out very well, while other goals did not pan out as well as I would have liked.

But, no matter if I succeeded or failed I always sit down and write out what I want to accomplish in the new year. My goals are usually divided into three categories, personal, professional, and political (public service). Without setting goals we all would find ourselves drifting through the year and never knowing if we are achieving our best.

Here is some advice that I would share with anyone seeking to make the year 2008 the best it can be. Of course you may have your own plan and your way of creating success for the new year, but these have always worked for me.

One, be specific about what you want to accomplish in the major areas of your life. Whether it is losing a certain amount of weight, which I set every year, or how much money you want to save, it is important to write down specific goals. Now, we may not meet the goal, but without a goal we would never strive for something.

Two, create a plan for the new year. What is it you want to achieve this coming year? Once that is decided then write out a plan of attack that you can follow throughout the year. The plan does not have to be overly detailed, but it should have timelines that allow you to see progress.

Three, be realistic. This is the biggest area that will defeat and discourage us in goal setting. Goals must have some “common sense” attached to them if the goals are going to be met. The biggest New Year resolution our society makes each year is losing weight and getting in shape. Many like me who are middle aged wrongly set goals to get back that body we had when we were in our 20’s or 30’s. As football player Peyton Manning says in his funny commercials, unless you’re a major league football player, it probably is not going to happen….he adds, just buy bigger shirts.

Being realistic means striving to better your health and attain a weight that makes you feel comfortable. Trust me I will never get the 28 inch waist I had 30 years ago when I got out of the U.S. Navy.

Four, allow room for failure. I have spoken to some highly successful people in my days and all of them say the same thing, make room for failure. Every person that has entered public service has most likely lost a few elections before winning. I know this feeling way too well. Before getting elected this past November I had to feel the pain of losing twice in Enfield.

Failure is simply evidence that you are endeavoring to accomplish something. People, who never try something, will never feel the pain of failure, but they will also never experience the joy of success. I admire so many of our local leaders, both Republican and Democrat. Every one of them could tell stories of defeat and victory. But, I am sure they have no regrets for attempting to make a difference in the world they live in.
Five, find a support system that aids in you achieving your goals. If it is getting in better physical shape in the new year, then maybe partner with people who have the same goal. I have always found that goal setting requires accountability. If you have a major adjustment you want to make in your life, find someone that can become a “personal coach” to keep you on track.

If it is financial success you want, then talk to a credible financial counselor. Want to learn a language, then take a class offered in our Adult Education Program. Want to get in shape, then a personal trainer may be your best bet.

I know people who want to read more, but find their reading agenda for the year fades away in just a few months. Then join a book club.
You get the idea. Goals need attachment to accountability if they are going to succeed. So set your goals for 2008, create a plan, and seek partnerships with others striving for the same goals.

Happy New Year from all of us in the Stokes Family……

Friday, December 07, 2007


“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and
live out the true meaning of its creed --- "We hold these these
truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the
sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be
able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a
desert state sweltering with the heat of injustice and
oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and

I have a dream that my four little children will one day
live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of
their skin but by the content of their character”.

You most likely recognize these words from Martin Luther Kings Jr. famous “I have a dream” speech spoken on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. It has become one of the most inspiring declarations given in our nations history.

As a boy growing up in the Detroit area I can remember the impact this speech had on the community I lived in during the decade of racial tension. I can remember the race riots in the late 60’s with the fire’s raging in downtown Detroit.

I remember the day that Dr. King was murdered and the stress it brought to the neighborhoods I lived in outside Detroit. I can remember the words of my teachers as they tried their best to explain what was taking place throughout our country.

The 1960’s will always be, in my mind, the decade that taught my generation the hard lessons of race relations and how hatred for others can destroy a society.

Well, here we are in the 21st century and we are seeing racial hatred raise its ugly head again. Recently, we have seen news reports of hangman ropes being left on the doors of African Americans. Connecticut, as the news reported this morning, is being tagged with the bulk of these acts of hatred. It breaks my heart to think that we as a society still have not learned the important lesson that “all men are created equal”.

It is a true shame that we still judge others by the color of their skin and not the content of their character. It is even sadder to think that a society that has seen the results of racial bigotry has not learned that hatred allowed to continue will lead to the next generation reliving the past.

So, how can we stop this from infecting the kids of tomorrow? How do we teach our children that we are not to judge others based on their color?

One, begin early in our children’s lives to teach that all people are a divine creation by God. Every child born into this world is a gift from God not only to their parents, but to society as a whole.

Second, never lower our conversation and allow talk of prejudice and bigotry. Some think that racial jokes are innocent and just part of our culture. But in reality racial humor is just the opposite. It is not funny and proves the lack of intellect in the person sharing the joke.

Third, teach respect for all. Teach that one of the strengths of America is its diversity. As we look around our schools, our places of worship and even our local shopping Mall we witness the greatness of our nation with a diverse ethnic mix.

The scriptures tell us to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” Gods’ divine word has no exclusion clause for those who do not look like us. May racial hatred one day be removed from our thoughts and emotions. May we pass on to the next generation a true love for all