Morehead Defends Attendance Record
As Dixwell’s aldermanic race hit high-gear, the topic turned to attendance.
Lisa Hopkins, a candidate in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Ward 22, is blasting incumbent Alderman Greg Morehead for missing aldermanic meetings. Morehead gave a reason — a longstanding commitment to his church.
His defense came at a candidate forum Thursday night at Yale’s Timothy Dwight College. Morehead and challenger Hopkins spoke to a crowd of about two dozen undergraduate students and a handful of Dixwell neighbors in a comfy lounge.
Cordelia Thorpe is also seeking the Ward 22 Democratic nomination then. The primary takes place at the Wexler-Grant School at 55 Foote St. Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Katie Harrison, a Yale student and one-time aldermanic hopeful in Ward 1, popped the question to Morehead during a question and answer session. She said she’d heard he had a poor attendance record. She asked how that affects his ability to govern.
Morehead said she must be referring to a fact sheet written up by Hopkin’s campaign giving the alderman an “F” for attendance.
“That was committee meetings,” Morehead replied.
Morehead sits on three aldermanic committees: human services, youth, and public safety, where he’s the vice-chair. Hopkins’ campaign staff combed through Morehead’s attendance records during a seven-month period from January to July of this year.
They concluded he made one out of every five committee meetings.
The fact sheet didn’t include seven other committee meetings during that period, which would bring his attendance to 3 out of 21 meetings, or 14 percent.
Why did he miss so many?
Morehead said a religious commitment has posed a scheduling conflict. Two of his committees, youth and public safety, meet on Wednesday nights.
“I’m a deeply religious person,” Morehead said. “Wednesday nights are my church nights and Bible study nights.”
Even though he often can’t attend the committee meetings, Morehead said he stays in the loop. “I’m still informed of what goes on,” he said, “because I stay in contact with” the committee chairs.
“I still remain engaged with what goes on, even though I can’t be there because of church,” he said.
Morehead’s absenteeism has been a main talking point for his opponent’s campaign. Hopkins (pictured) made a couple of references to the issue Thursday, saying the neighborhood has gone too long without a voice in City Hall.
After the forum, Morehead elaborated on the topic.
He was asked why he missed other meetings that didn’t fall on his Bible study night. The Human Services Committee meets only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Human Services teamed up with the Community Development Committee in joint hearings to oversee the important process of doling out Community Development Block Grant money. Out of a total of 11 meetings this year, he attended only one.
“I wasn’t aware of the meetings,” Morehead said.
He said they used to be on Wednesdays, when he was unable to attend, and he didn’t know the schedule changed. He said he asked both the public safety and youth committee chairs to change the meeting day, but that didn’t work as a long-term solution. Morehead hoped they could find a night he’s able to attend.
“I’m definitely going to sit down with them again,” he said, “because I would like to be present in the meetings.”
Morehead stressed that when an issue came up that he’s passionate about — for example, the need to have cameras to review cops’ use of Taser stun-guns — he let his pastor know, and skipped Bible study to attend the meeting.
Hopkins’ fact sheet, which campaign volunteers use as talking-points, but do not distribute, on door-knocking routes, also points out that he missed one key full board meeting.
“Most aldermen took a stand” when the mayor “unilaterally” gave pay raises to 41 of his executive staff on the heels of making layoffs, the campaign flyer reads. “Greg wasn’t there.”
Morehead said he would have joined his colleagues in opposing the raises, but he had another event to tend to: the birth of his fourth son. He was in the hospital with his wife, watching the meeting on TV, he said.
He noted that his attendance at the full board meetings has been strong. He attended 11 of the 15 full BOA meetings this year, or 73 percent.
Morehead said his attendance record is even stronger where it counts, in his neighborhood.
“I’ve been 100 percent involved in my ward,” he said.
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Posted by: City Hall Watch | September 11, 2009 3:16 PM
A 73% attendance record by any measure is poor. If that was a grade at school, it's a "C." You say your attendance is not required at the sub-com level because you are in touch with the chairman. If you were so in touch, then you would know the committee meetings had been changed, if they had ever been on Wed nights. Secondly, getting information filtered through the chairman is hardly participatory nor are you allowed to vote after the meeting. Third, hiding in the hospital while such an important vote and discussion is unfolding a few blocks away is a damn sorry excuse. We all have had children born and some of us have had major birthing or NICU issues with our children. Somehow, we still take care of our responsibilities. You chose not to which is not good.
Posted by: anon | September 11, 2009 5:11 PM
i disagree with CHW about the issue with your child's birth, but completely agree with everything else. if you can't make the basic requirements of an alderman, please consider stepping aside (as you were considering before this election season if i remember correctly).
additionally, committee meetings are the opportunity for the public to comment on possible legislation on the record. of course people can email you or people can talk outside of the chambers, but as was stated, the point is the vote and the historical record. if you're not there when this is happening, then you're not doing the public's work as an alderman.
73% is also not that great...
WE NEED ALDERPERSONS WHO ARE WILLING TO DO THE WORK OF THE PEOPLE. WE NEED REPRESENTATIVES WILLING TO ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS, DIG INTO THE BUDGET AND FIND THE FLAWS IN THE SYSTEM, PROVIDE THE OVERSIGHT FOR A STRONG ADMINISTRATION, USE THE BULLY PULPIT WHEN NECESSARY.
I don't think Greg has been doing these actions (nor most of the alders) and I would hope the people that ward are ready for someone else to try. we need more people to step up in this city and do some heavy lifting in the political realm.
Nothing personal - it's just business. The people's business. And it's time to bring new alders who are willing to work, and to hold them accountable to do so.
Posted by: FacChek | September 11, 2009 5:47 PM
You must have a better excuse than "I didn't know about the meetings".... Your the Majority Leader of the BOA...remember???
Heck, the NHI, which you often place your post, advertises the BOA committee meeting on it's home page.... FREE!
What's up with that yo??
You said your band was a Hugh success playing on the green in August, while at the same time you had three campaign workers working the crowd..the band and the campaign bombed!
And oh Greg, by the way, don't try mixing religion with politics, they are independent and separate and a guaranteed protection by the U.S. constitution.
Tell me you know that!!!!
I'm out >>>>>>>>>>
Posted by: Edward_H | September 11, 2009 6:03 PM
What would happen to someone in your band if they missed so many gigs or practices?
Posted by: Melissa Bias? | September 11, 2009 7:12 PM
Melissa Bailey's coverage: One question in an hour long forum.
Martine Powers (YDN) coverage: Hour long forum (http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/city-news/2009/09/11/ward-22-race-heats/)
Yes, Morehead's attendance record came up and yes it is a point of discussion. Hate Morehead or love him, all should see the NHI bias in this race.
Posted by: Dixwell Livin | September 11, 2009 7:35 PM
Didn't Lisa say she worked on hope 6 stuff for housing? you cant run for office if youre taking federal money
Posted by: Enough Already | September 12, 2009 4:54 PM
The New Haven Independent has continued to hammer at aldermen it perceives as being pro-DeStefano or pro-Goldfield.
Yet we know nothing about the personal foibles of their opponents.
I mean seriously, one anti-DeStefano candidate is a functioning alcoholic, one was drummed out as director of a community agency for alleged malfeasance, yet all we hear about is the pro-DeStefano folks problems.
It's actually pretty disturbing and shameful for this newspaper. No problem with raising issues like the one raised here but only if there is balance.
Posted by: Mister Jones | September 12, 2009 5:37 PM
Wow. That's a pretty lousy attendance record. I don't begrudge the man his bible study, but most of us understand that when we make a commitment to serve as a public official [or member of a board, committee, etc.] that a big part of it is actually showing up for the meetings. 3 out of 21 meetings? 1 out of 11? Morehead's a no show. Hard to be "engaged" when you are not there to contribute. Even his BOA attendance is weak -- 11 of 15 -- not strong as he claims. He's missed almost one third of them. He gets a pass on the childbirth night, although whatever was going on in the hospital didn't stop him from watching the meeting on tv...
Morehead needs to decide whether he really has time for this.
Posted by: Timothy | September 12, 2009 8:55 PM
Dixwell livin'-Your such a hater.
You seem to always excuse the
Behavior of morehead...why is that?
We should be like him...a liar,
Kiss up, dreamer with no plan
But, to continue to sit on his hands
Posted by: Sam Schoenburg | September 12, 2009 9:23 PM
I am a Yale student who attended the forum discussed in the article, and over the course of a whole hour, the big story here is not this one question. There were substantive issues discussed, and Alderman Morehead detailed his considerable work in Ward 22 over the course of his term.
I also think that, given the one Board of Alderman meeting that Greg was derided for missing recently, he had a pretty good reason. If my child had been born a day earlier, I would have missed the meeting too. Kudos to the Independent for at least putting that in the article. I think this fact might point to some other holes in Ms. Hopkins' "fact sheet" attacking Greg.
Posted by: Edward_H | September 13, 2009 10:05 AM
Many people use their religion as a source of inspiration or strength, Morehead seems to use his as an excuse. First, he uses his religous beliefs as an excuse to ignore the Constitution and publicly announce his intention to support legislation for school prayer. Now he uses his religion as an excuse for missing multiple meetings.
Posted by: What | September 13, 2009 12:43 PM
Wow, you Destefano guys are really desperate, but at least even you despite hiding behind a cover name, knew better to name the alleged "functioning alcoholic". What a disgrace. And in regards to the "one was drummed out as director of a community agency for alleged malfeasance", you know the deal there. You know malfeasance was never proven, in fact, it was proven both by independent auditors and the court system (through a lawsuit) that in fact there was not anything there. So, of course, there is no story. But there is a story about an Alderman who misses an overwhelming number of BOA meetings, and an aldermanic candidate who has a pending arrest warrant for not supporting his children, and an aldermanic candidate who is still attending court sessions to get his license back after hitting and running from the scene of an accident. These are stories that should be told. Don't you think?
Posted by: Andrew Garrow | September 14, 2009 10:22 AM
Let's take a look at a politician who by all accounts was a deeply devoted christian man, who prayed several times a day for both devotion and guidence. A man who to this day, in his 80's still leads bible studies, builds houses for the poor and remains devout to christ.
His name is Jimmy Carter, and he knew that his first responsibility was to the people he served, and never, never ever mixed his position as an elected official with his faith.
Mr. Morehead isn't around when the tonight show or late show or whatever it was called, he's got the taste for flash and adoration, and now he tells us he's putting bible study above we the people.
Go away mr. morehead, just go away. At best you are disinterested at worst you are a false prophet.
Posted by: Isiah F. | September 14, 2009 2:21 PM
Get over yourself; Morehead has to take ownership for his performance. His impact in the community has been faint. His attendance is a huge part of his position.
You can't punch holes in the attendance records that are easily accessed on-line ... the administration has supported these silly antics for years. The real tragedy is the neighborhoods who continue to reward such behavior.
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