Things That Make You Go- “Get My Kid Off That Field!!!”

 A PSA on Crumb Rubber Fields from Synodi & Videll, LLC

I almost never watch nightly news so it had to be God’s gentle nudging of me that I happened to tune in a few weeks ago to see a piece on NBC Nightly News on crumb rubber playing fields and their potential toxicity.  The segment focused on a Seattle soccer coach who had two goalies diagnosed with blood cancers; she thought it was just unfortunate bad luck until she took one of the girls in for chemo and had a nurse say that the player was the fourth goalie she had hooked up for chemo that week.  The coach compiled a list of players that had been diagnosed with cancer and found a strikingly high incidence of cancer in goalies that had played on that field.  Admittedly, there is no official scientific link, but it sure looks suspicious. 

Since this is the first year that my daughter Sophia has gotten the opportunity to play under the lights for U14 New London Soccer at New London High School, this stopped me in my tracks.  Because she is a cancer survivor, we don’t take any chances. I don’t ever use pesticides; I scrub my oven instead of oven cleaner or self clean burn; I don’t allow her to get x-rays of any kinds unless absolutely necessary. While someone else might be willing to spin the wheel a little, there isn’t a lot of room for error with her.  No, she isn’t a goalie, but I know that cancer doesn’t discriminate that much if it doesn’t want to. 

 So, I immediately did what any girl would do and (1) googled and researched info on crumb rubber fields and (2) called my big brother, who is an assistant athletic director at a Connecticut high school who I knew could talk me off the edge and give me the low down.  I got good info from both.  Here is some of the info I found:

  •                 Crumb rubber fields are made of as many as 20,000 recycled chopped up tires;  the entire tire is used, so that means that there is a variety of chemicals in there.  One of the big chemicals is variation of benzene, known to have a link to leukemia.  Some of the other chemicals that are known carcinogens are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), butylated hydroxyanisole, zinc, oils, and chemicals used inside and around the tire;
  •                     In warm climates or here on hot days, these fields can emit a burning rubber smell because well, that’s pretty much what’s happening.  So players are not only encountering the crumbs themselves used to fill in around the poly grass, but may be deeply breathing in toxic vapors while they are working out;
  •                     Richard Blumenthal issued a warning in 2008 and asked the Consumer Product Safety Committee to remove information on their website inferring that the fields are safe because this was misleading the public as far as proven safety.  Yes, maybe it was a political ploy before a run for Senate, but maybe he was right;
  • ·                     The potential dangers of the crumb rubber go beyond cancer to asthma, serious infections like MRSA because the germs are festering on plastic, and latex allergies;
  •                 Various studies by government agencies and the manufacturers themselves stick by their reports that there are  “no proven health risks”.

My brother explained the practical benefits that I hadn’t thought of; the fields need less maintenance and hold up much better than natural grass in continual play.  At schools where many fields are needed at one time for different sports for both practices and games, constant use of a natural field will wear it out and there simply aren’t enough fields to use to let it recover.  A worn out field becomes dangerous injury wise among other things.  And while the crumb rubber needs maintenance by way of additional fill and some smoothing, it is faster, cheaper and easier that the real stuff.  Oddly, when I mentioned using pesticides to keep up grass, he reminded me that pesticides can no longer be used in schools.  Go figure.

Putting aside all cynicism about tire manufacturers making a windfall with their spare junk, and just looking at the practical benefits, I get it.  But having a kid with cancer, who absolutely loves the sport she plays, I am conflicted and confused.  Why would we even chance the health of our kids by having them play on synthetic treated chemical crap?  And yet, how can I take away something she has worked hard at, that her dad and I have encouraged, and that she loves?  I don’t know the answer.  But if you have a kid playing on a crumb rubber field, be educated about it when you make your own choices.  At least watch the NBC piece, that has gained some attention and was recently mentioned in a Huff Post Article. 

Links to some helpful info are below:

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams:

 Attorney General Blumenthal:

 Environment and Human Health Article:



Where Angels Play…

It seems that every time I’m down, something about New London restores my faith.  This time, it’s the coming together of a bunch of good people in a true labor of love for Where Angels Play at Riverside Park for Emilie Parker. Who could have imagined, during all the political turmoil over the sale of Riverside Park just a few short years ago, that this would-be throw away would become a beautiful tribute to the life of a little girl?  And who better could we have given our park to but to Emilie and through her, back to our own children?  Wow.

When you think about it, Emilie is the one that gave us a gift. She helped give us our park back in a real way, and she helped to make a lot of people come out, come together, and create something special. She gave us a chance to rise above.  And she’s also given us a chance, in remembering and honoring her, to also honor the importance of children and families in our own community.  Lately, we have really lost that.

These days, the focus on a successful community seems to turn on how many cars are downtown on a Saturday night or whether we can justifiably say that the crime rate is down by a half of a percent.  While a busy downtown is important and we need to encourage and support our local businesses, dollar drafts on Saturday night or the Friday afternoon taco cart don’t make a community.  The fact is that it takes kids and families to make a community.  That fact became evident in seeing this project completed and supported.  The families of New London are the ones who did it and made it happen. And to continue to come through for Emilie and her family, we need all of the other things that keep a community going, and that means keeping our streets and parks safe, clean, and gang and drug free. It’s not negotiable.

Good deeds are often thankless, and those who do them anyway are the real deal. I know it’s unlikely that some of our locals will get the public recognition that they deserve so this is my small attempt to thank and recognize those who’ve come together to make Emilie’s Playground a reality, to name a few: the New Jersey Firefighters, Wayne and Corina Venditto, Victor Spinnato, Ed Hallisey, Joe Nott, St. Joseph’s School Families, Karen Augrin, Fast Signs, New London Rec Department, Nancy Baude, Dave Sugrue and OBP, and I know that there are many more.  (please people, email me so I add them).  Thanks all, for giving us a way to honor Emilie and all of the other children and victims of that terrible day, and for restoring my faith in my community.


He Who Controls Information #3

What a shocker to read another ridiculous column from the guys in the balcony.  Paul Choniere’s editorial in The Day today regarding Marie McSparren’s views on the Police Community Relations Committee complaint process could have been written as an informative opinion piece that both educated on FOI as well as on the number of unsubstantiated and unfounded complaints per year compared to those which are found to have merit.  (That second point is most salient, since that would be most indicative of the value of process itself).  However, the column and the opinion lost its merit when Choniere just couldn’t help himself and went right for the jugular (i.e. here’s what it’s all about- “repudiate” McSparren at the voting both).  We know that FOI requires complaints to be read openly and that should be something we can all support.  The problem is that in New London, the administration has shown itself to be unsupportive of its own cops and so in an effort to help protect them, McSparren is trying to find a work around. That’s the real issue that is going on here and the guys in balcony know it, so its much easier to take out those who oppose the administration rather than inform or educate in any real way.  That’s the advantage you have when you own the ink.

Today’s column raises a much bigger point than the PCRC, McSparren, the election, or The Day’s lame editorials and it is this: the unrest that exists in the City of New London and the constant tugging between the media, the administration and many residents has come from the fact that citizens and groups are doing the work of government because the system no balance and there is no appropriate governing body to appeal to.  Since the Charter requires a vote of 6-1 for a council override of the mayor, we essentially have a dictatorship without checks and balances.  The fact is that the council is handcuffed to take any action, and even when they do, the mayor can chose to ignore it without any recourse, and that is what is happening.  Add in that the largest newspaper around is in the pocket of the administration and you have the makings of a communist state. Luckily, this is still the good ‘ole USA so the democracy that got us into this mess is the same democracy that will get us out.  In some ways, it is exciting to watch since it has caused people to take action, but the downside is that citizens, unions, city employees and various groups are doing much of the work of government when they shouldn’t have to.  Average citizens are taking their own time to find out what is really going on with the budget, the police, the city pension plans, crime, safety and so on. They are educating themselves and each other and they are doing it without help and without the disclosure of truthful information . Citizens are working to fix a very crippled process.  That is hard to do in the face of so many things working against you.  Do not give up. Do not get tired.  Withstand the criticisms. See beyond what you read and hear. Keep doing what you are doing and fight the fight that needs to be fought to get the City operational again.  And to Mr. Choniere, who does not live in New London, I say what George Bailey said to Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life, “…all this rabble you’re talking about, they do most of the living and working and paying and dying in this community”. Do you?

Gloria - October 22, 2014 - 7:55 pm

Kudos to you Attorney Videll for a great article!

The tyrannical Mayor and his administrative lackeys are holding the residents of New London by the short hairs.

I hope November turns the situation in a better direction and people get out and vote for something better.

“He Who Controls Information #2”

Mark Twain once said, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.”

It became pretty clear from the two Dave Collins columns this week that if the hit was on Lynch, it’s now most certainly on Videll.  In fact, if you do the math, he devoted 100% of his time to us in some way.  I can’t say that we’ve ever gotten that much attention from anyone. What did we do to deserve this? Besides our firm’s representation of Todd Lynch, the most obvious reason is our recent criticism of The Day and Collins in particular.  Ah, the price of freedom. Yes, it’s safe to say that we’ve both called him out on a bit on Lee Elci’s 94.9 News Now show.  In particular, I took issue with a recent statement from him that he couldn’t get information on crime from the Mayor’s office because the amount of press releases was down.  I think there was some duty of investigation in the old world of journalism that doesn’t seem to exist today and I didn’t buy it what he said. Boy, does that seem funny now.  Clearly, Mr. Collins is quite able to get information from the Mayor’s office when either he or the Mayor decide it’s necessary to squash some of us pesky bugs running around out here having opinions all our own.

I also called him out in a blog last week on this page that was written in response to his recent column on Lynch. We’ve made these statements because we think it’s important to challenge the dissemination and truth of information presented to the public.  The appropriate response to that should be a rise to the challenge rather than a personal attack on the challenger. Collins did rise to the challenge a bit when he responded to our blog with some points about canine deployment, which is a legitimate and appropriate issue for debate.  Ultimately, this sparked debate as such in the blogs and that’s a good thing.

Unfortunately though, he outed himself again when he also shot back with personal attack on Videll on Friday under the framework of a feud in the Republican Party. And, in that public-service-thing he does, thought everyone should know some “facts” about Videll; namely, that his “law license was suspended” because he didn’t pay a tax that funds fraud victims (read: he didn’t want to contribute to a fund for victims of fraud), he moved his office to Waterford (read; we don’t support the City), and wife represents Lynch (read; we’re in it to rip off the city, rather than doing our jobs).  Yup Dave, we are the worst of the worst; a regular couple trying to raise our kids, pay our taxes and run a small business of our own.  Get the word out on us and start the fear mongering and public flogging now lest Videll get any support.  I’m surprised you left out the Buscetto link.  Get that in too next time.

Here are a couple of salient points for the record: (1) perhaps the funniest, is that Videll wasn’t even at the town committee meeting nor has he accepted the nomination; (2) as far as the suspension goes, we didn’t pay our bill on time along with hundreds other lawyers this happens to every year (we were both suspended, by the way).  This not a license suspension but an “administrative suspension” which prevents attorneys from e-filing until the bill is paid; it is not a suspension from the practice law. It sure doesn’t look like Collins spoke to anyone about those facts as he said, or he’d have gotten them right. And yes, sadly and with some regret, we moved our office to Waterford after a brutal murder in the parking lot above ours and an attempted mugging on Videll.  Shame on us.  If we ever decide to follow the Buscetto path to Great Neck Road, that should make headlines. Also, for the record, Synodi, not Videll is responsible for the blog so you got the wrong guy.  And if you want real dirt on us, just ask.

Through their obvious pointed and personal attacks, The Day has called into question their own integrity.  In old days, there would be very little we could do about any of this but today, the “news” is no longer a one man sport.  Oh, they have the edge, no doubt, and we have to play with one hand tied behind our backs.  It’s unlikely that we can win when we are pretty much bringing a pencil to an ink barrel fight.  Since we’ve been the first to call them on it, it’s also likely that our public flogging will continue. But we will keep challenging what we believe it right, which is the public’s access to full and true information so that people can decide for themselves.  After all, it’s a free press.

To be fair, we also invite comments to our site.

G.C. - October 22, 2014 - 8:01 pm

We need more people like Gordon Videll, who stand up for what they believe is the right thing to do. He is what you call a quality person!

“He Who Controls Information Controls the World”

People have been asking us all day for our response to the Dave Collins opinion piece in The Day that focused on Todd Lynch and the canines.  Here is our response:

It was no surprise to see another one-sided Dave Collins opinion piece that skewed, omitted and frankly appeared to make up some facts (ie, police dogs “often” deploy out of car windows).  We didn’t expect Collins to tell the readers a lot about truth of the bite of the little girl and why the dog deployed, nor the investigation into the matter that showed that the canine cars had been without cages and that Lynch as well as other officers repeatedly asked for cages and warned of potential danger.  He didn’t tell the readers the recent successful apprehension of a suspect by Lynch and Jasper.  We didn’t expect any of that and the pot shots he took were exactly what is expected by polarized desperate media trying to stay relevant.  Given the Rolling Stone cover this week that showed an air brushed and glammed up terrorist, we know that the media is pretty desperate these days to sell …what? It isn’t news, since we’ve all got the market on that now.  What they try to sell is controversy, and polarized sensationalism is the life blood of that.  The fact that he turned his Lynch pot shots into a racial issue in a Travon Martin type pile on was about as far as it seemed it would go.

But there was more and what happened today is far worse:  Today’s biggest victim wasn’t Todd Lynch.  Today’s victims were in the names, faces, social security numbers, photographs, witnesses, and domestic violence victims of the people contained in the 144 page document of Uniform Arrest Reports provided to Collins supposedly through the standard FOI process. In fact, the very people that Collins is supposedly seeking to protect from the unruly cops were in fact exploited in a shameless effort to cause harm to Lynch and the dogs.  The information that was disclosed is not subject to FOI and should not be as it contains personal private and sensitive data that not only is an invasion of privacy for those individuals so effected, but is a disclosure for which any other employer would be required to, at a minimum, (1) alert their insurance carrier; (2) notify each person whose social security number was disclosed.  How did this happen?  That will be the subject of much investigation and I’m guessing blame shifting and the like.  The information was not only disclosed once by the City to Collins, but then again when it was actually posted on The Day’s website.  It was not removed until a comment blogger called The Day out on it.  Yes, Lynch and the Chief can and will battle it out in the not too distant future before a jury of their peers and in the meantime, people can have whatever opinions they want.  We can’t control the slants, but the law controls inappropriate disclosures.  The collateral damage that occurred today by way of this thoughtless disclosure of personal information, in a very obvious effort to sway public opinion rather than spark appropriate debate, says much more about The Day, Dave Collins, and the City’s channels which permitted the disclosure than it ever could about Todd Lynch.