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Harp Gets A Police Driver

by Paul Bass | Jan 10, 2014 2:26 pm

(64) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: City Hall, Transportation

Paul Bass Photo The Harp administration has revived a practice discontinued 20 years ago by her predecessor: Having a full-time cop or two assigned to drive around the mayor.

The police department has posted two openings for the position; officers have until Tuesday to apply.  “About a dozen” have applied so far, reported Lt. Joe Witkowski, who’s overseeing the process

The tentative plan is to have two officers assigned full-time to the job, he said. But major details remain to be worked out in conjunction with the police union. Those details include what hours to cover, and how to limit overtime costs.

In the meantime, Officer Eric Scott (pictured Friday) has assumed the role on a tentative basis, assuming the wheel of the city-owned silver mayoral Prius.

Both Mayors Biagio DiLieto and John Daniels had at least one officer assigned full-time to serve as drivers. Mayor John DeStefano discontinued the practice upon taking office in 1994. He usually drove himself around. On longer trips, such as to Hartford or out of state, he generally asked a mayoral staffer to drive him so he could do work. When no one was available, he would get a police driver as a last resort; that happened about 10 times a year. He would also have a driver ferry him to airports.

“It was recommended very strongly by the chief of police” that she have a police driver, Harp said Friday.

Chief Dean Esserman confirmed that the driver was his idea.

“The New Haven police feel it’s our responsibility to provide the security for the mayor. I raised it in a conversation with her. I was very happy she accepted the offer,” Esserman said.

“We need to take safety and security seriously.”

Police union President Lou Cavaliere Jr. declared himself “kind of torn on this one.”

“It’s almost like a Catch-22,” Cavaliere (pictured at a mayoral debate his union sponsored in July) said Friday. “Obviously we want the mayor to be safe. I believe she is. She has a lot of allies in this city. A lot of people supported her. We feel that she should have a driver.

“But right now it’s kind of tough; we’re short-staffed. We don’t have enough cops as it is. We’re taking two officers off the street. ...

“Obviously times have changed. There are dangers around every corner. You can never tell when something’s going to happen. I feel if we were fully staffed, then hey I would be a little more welcome to it.”

Cavaliere said the union will not oppose the decision. “We had it before,” so there’s no basis for a grievance, he said. In future discussions with department brass about details of the arrangement, including how to ensure clear lines of authority. For instance, what would happen if Harp’s driver, an officer, pulls up somewhere with the mayor and tries to tell a higher-ranking officer to move his or her car to make way?

Allan Appel contributed reporting.

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posted by: robn on January 10, 2014  2:31pm

Oh good grief. This isn’t Sao Paolo. Harp is as safe as everyone else and should drive her own car to work in the morning.

posted by: grounded on January 10, 2014  2:42pm

I keep waiting for the new administration to stop doing such stupid things . . . I could be waiting a long time.  These days you could rename the New Haven Independent the “Face Meets Palm Newsletter.”  I thought DeStefano was clueless when it came to public perception but I had no idea how bad things could be.

posted by: ELMCITYPROF on January 10, 2014  2:46pm

I agree that taking two officers off the streets puts the City in a very difficult position. However, I would disagree with robn that Harp is as safe as any other citizen of New Haven. Public officials at this level need to be physically protected and the new Mayor should be no exception. I suspect that if Chief Esserman is the person who made the recommendation he may be privy to info the public isn’t concerning outstanding threats or concerns. In this case it’s definitely better to err on the side of caution.

posted by: robn on January 10, 2014  2:56pm

The proletariat’s candidate gets a chauffeur. The irony is delicious.

posted by: IloveMYcity203 on January 10, 2014  3:17pm

@ELMCITYPROF: My thoughts exactly. People have a tendency to read without understanding or analyzing a situation from all angles. People (some..not all) tend to read and take in the information that they want to take in and clearly blocking everything else out, which is why a lot of comments and opinions don’t even make sense half the time.

If the Chief recommended it, there has to be more to the story;however, they aren’t going to reveal that information to the public because it
defeats the purpose.

Remember folks, government (whether it’s local, state or federal) share’s what they want you to know, not what YOU want to know.

posted by: TheNewZero on January 10, 2014  3:26pm

I honestly don’t think Esserman could have stopped Elicker from riding his bicycle to city hall, nevermind wasted man power and tax dollars on a driver. But the democracy funds, THAT’S a waste of money!

posted by: robn on January 10, 2014  3:27pm

I took it from the NH Coliseum debate that every hockey fan in CT wanted John DeStefanos head on a flaming pike and despite the obvious aggression of that crowd, JD did OK. Despite having 45% of the electorate vote against her, just what has Mayor Harp done to raise someone’s hackles that much? I suspect nothing…she just wants a driver.

posted by: Gener on January 10, 2014  3:36pm

You have got to be kidding me

posted by: Anderson Scooper on January 10, 2014  3:40pm

Fwiw, I just spent ten minutes calling both the Bridgeport and Hartford’s Mayors’ offices.

Neither Bridgeport’s Mayor Finch, nor Hartford’s Pedro Segarra have a driver. Instead, just as DeStefano did, they drive themselves around, or, during the work day a staff member might chauffeur them. (Only rarely do they use a police officer.)

Is New Haven more dangerous than either of those two cities?

posted by: yim-a on January 10, 2014  3:55pm

And, remember, New Haven can’t spare money for a democracy fund because it has more pressing needs.  Like a personal chauffeur.  I’m really trying to give the Harp mayoralty the benefit of the doubt for a decent honeymoon period, but seems something dysfunctional popping up every other day.

posted by: elmcityresident on January 10, 2014  4:07pm

WHY??? dESTFEANO DROVE HIS SUV..SHE’S NOT A CELEBRITY

posted by: absolutmakes on January 10, 2014  4:08pm

Harp is making sure she has a short stay in the Mayor’s office. She is providing ample ammunition for her opponent in the next mayoral race…Jackie James to Michael Smart to, well…this.

I am appalled by this action, and while I didn’t vote for her, I was (am?) willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and support her as New Haven’s Mayor.

However, I honestly couldn’t have imagined a worse start to her term in office - she’s been in Politics for years, but she’s giving the impression (in less than two weeks) that she has no idea what she’s doing.

I am beginning to dread coming to the NHI site for fear of what may be next.

posted by: Razzie on January 10, 2014  4:15pm

People seem to forget the gunshots at the Harp business office and busted windows at the Harp Campaign office. Whether it was just “knuckleheads” or some more organized form of intimidation, those events warranted hiring security personnel for the balance of the campaign. That security was paid for by non-public funds and continued until Inauguration Day. Now that the Mayor is an employee of the City, her reasonable security costs are an expense of the City.

I might also add that none of the other candidates were subjected to the bullying and intimidation by other opponents that Sen. Harp was subjected to on a non-stop basis. It is doubtful that the ill will raised by the campaign in some quarters has subsided to allow a leisurely bike to work from Westville.

posted by: cp06 on January 10, 2014  4:16pm

Makes sense. did not someone shoot at her campaign office?

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on January 10, 2014  4:20pm

Clearly Esserman is a sexist that “disrespects womanhood” and believes women need to be escorted around by men for their safety. Where’s Boise Kimber and the rest of the bridgade on this one?

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/images/sized/archives/upload/2013/08/carlina_cartoon-550x455.png
Is this comic a realistic depiction, OR will Harp refuse the chauffeur?

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/a_last_look_at_mlk/

posted by: Anderson Scooper on January 10, 2014  4:23pm

Not sure why my other comment got censored, but does anyone know what kind of car we’ll be providing to Mayor Harp?

Certainly DeStefano’s used Prius is inappropriate for the occasion. What about a hybrid Chevy Tahoe, in silver or white? http://www.motortrend.com/new_cars/27/hybrid_cars

posted by: Pantagruel on January 10, 2014  4:33pm

The Pope sneaks out at night dressed as a regular priest to help the homeless.

Mayor Bloomberg rode the subway.

(I think Esserman is being diplomatic to say it’s his idea.)

posted by: HewNaven on January 10, 2014  4:39pm

So, on one side of the city we have the community calling for more cops on the streets after a young man is murdered, and meanwhile, downtown we have the new mayor literally TAKING COPS OFF THE STREET so she can have a personal driver. Priorities?

posted by: PH on January 10, 2014  4:59pm

This is simply absurd.  Did Harp have a paid chauffeur when she was a State Senator?  What makes her position now so much less safe?  When at the legislature she actually had to drive some distance every day.  Hell, even Bloomberg took the subway!  I strongly disapprove of this reallocation of taxpayer resources.  Far more important crime could be prevented by putting officers on the streets than idling outside City Hall.

posted by: WestvilleAdvocate on January 10, 2014  5:17pm

Is she afraid to drive up from her office back to Westville at night.  This is freaking comical.  Come on Mayor!

posted by: WestvilleAdvocate on January 10, 2014  5:20pm

I think the tax payers should buy her this to be driven around in:

http://bulletproofhummer.com/index.html

At least she’d be riding in style.  A Prius seems silly to be chauffeured around town in.

posted by: TheMadcap on January 10, 2014  5:27pm

So I guess what is being said is our small city is so dangerous the mayor needs an escort the mayors of giant cities and senators don’t even use.

posted by: Bobbe Bellamy on January 10, 2014  5:39pm

Here"s my job offer——- and by no means is this intended to be “a smart ass”.  I’m not a police officer but find myself well qualified to be Mayor Harp"s chauffeur.  I’m capable to drive her to and from.  I would do the job for way less then what any police officer would.  And I don’t need the medical benefits.

posted by: Ex-NHPD on January 10, 2014  6:06pm

For the record—DeStefano may not have had a full time dedicated personal driver from the NHPD, BUT he did utilize a specific officer from the NHPD far more than 10 times per yesr as a driver, and NOT as a last resort.  The Officer was not assigned Full Time, but he would be pulled from his Beat, often with little forewarning, so he could drive DeStefano.

If this was truly Esserman’s idea, it certainly brings up several issues about why this is needed now and was not offered to DeStefano.

Does Esserman think a FEMALE Mayor needs protection? If there are specific threats or concerns about her safety, then this would have been implemented immediately upon her taking office.

Some could see this as a way for Esserman to be able to “keep tabs” on the Mayor, by knowing her entire schedule, including who she meets with.  An NHPD Driver would have to respond when Esserman or his Designee makes inquiries about how they spent their day as a member of the NHPD.  Will they have to fill out an Activity Log to their Supervisor?

Are there any issues with Harp’s Connecticut Driver License and/or her ability to drive?

Every Overtime Slip put in by NHPD Officers is scrutinized through several channels before it is signed off as approved.  Even with two officers dedicated to the Mayor for driving/security, there will be Overtime involved.  Will those Overtime Slips be under the same scrutiny as everyone else, or will they be rubber stamped?

Who is eligible to be selected?  Are Supervisors or Detectives in the mix? It is bad enough that two officers are being pulled from their regular duties when the NHPD is so woefully understaffed.  Selecting a Supervisor or Detective would make even less sense.  Also, their overtime rate is significantly higher than Patrol Officers.

LT Witkowski is overseeing the process, but who has final say? Is it someone inside the NHPD or is it Harp?

Harp truly believes in Community Policing? While she gets her own Beat Cops, others may lose theirs.

posted by: Call it as I see it on January 10, 2014  6:14pm

She a mayor. Not a president.  I’m glad I’m not a NH tax payer.

posted by: Pantagruel on January 10, 2014  6:16pm

My wife just complained to me that our taxes are paying for this. I told her not to worry, because Harp’s nonexistent taxes aren’t.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on January 10, 2014  6:48pm

Bloomberg may have taken the subway, but did he do so without a security detail?
If the Police Chief made the suggestion to Mayor Harp that she have a police driver, there must be good reason.
If the mayors before John DeStefano had police drivers and it had been a long-standing tradition, what is the big deal?
We live in a different age now than 5 ,10 or 20 years ago. There are a lot of crackpots with guns running loose through our cities. Politicians in several parts of the country have been victims of violence. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If some nut shot or injured the mayor, moves would be made immediately by the police department, the Board of aldermen and the general public to make provisions to protect our mayors. This is a wise move, not a foolish waste of public funds.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on January 10, 2014  7:01pm

@ Jonathan Hopkins
I fail to see your connection between Boise Kimber and security for Mayor Toni Harp.
I would really like to understand what you meant when you said, “Where’s Boise Kimber and the rest of the bridgade on this one?” What brigade?
The intent here is not to have a chauffer for the mayor to drive her around as if she were some aristocrat. The rationale here is to have some degree of security for the Mayor of New Haven.
I recall Mayors Lee, Guida, Dilieto and Daniels being driven around town in a Town Car. There was no public outcry in those days against this practice.

posted by: ohnonotagain on January 10, 2014  7:43pm

You know this is getting serious. Between Harp spending money on a driver that this city cannot afford and honestly she doesn’t really need one she just wants one. Along with Michael Smart being foolish enough to make a statement how everything must be presented to him first before any documents are released in the Clerk’s office! I would say this administration is making the former Daniel’s administration look good!

posted by: DR on January 10, 2014  7:45pm

Give me a break. Mayor Harp does nit need a driver for day-to-day trips. She can do exactly what Mayor DeStefano did, drive herself around town and use a driver for long trips during which she can get work done.

posted by: Serf of New Haven on January 10, 2014  8:58pm

I would be happy to be her driver.

I would charge half what the NH police charge with no benefits.
Share the wealth.

posted by: absolutmakes on January 10, 2014  9:25pm

I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised, we should have seen this coming: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/harp_probes_the_newhallville_conundrum/

While other candidates walked through neighborhoods, Harp received an escort. Maybe that was Esserman’s suggestion as we’ll.

posted by: Edward Francis on January 10, 2014  10:56pm

If we turn back the hands of time it would be noted that Mayor Richard C. Lee had a member or members of the NHPD driving him.  The record will show that Mayor Bart Guida had a driver - not a police officer, assigned to him…I’m not sure of Mayor Frank Louge or Mayor John Daniels, however Mayor Biagio DiLieto had police officers assigned as his driver. (Lets not forget about the gunfire at a home on DiLieto’s street misidentified as his house) I don’t recall anyone complaining of the Mayor having a driver before. I believe it would be appropriate that Mayor Toni Harp be assigned a driver.  The Mayor will be required to attend many meetings, functions, etc. traveling in heavy traffic, inclement weather, out of town, etc.  Parking is always an issue and venturing out in the darkness of night will not always be appropriate for our Mayor especially with all the negative comments and past actions of so many. This is not about driving a car to work as some would have you believe.  Monday morning quarterbacks never win!

posted by: Xavier on January 10, 2014  11:33pm

Yeah I am back!

Where is her chief of staff? Reyes?

Smart did a dumb thing and is a distraction.

But Harp’s chief of staff needs to get on these ridiculous situations - driving Miss Harp and finding Jackie a job - are just dumb amateur moves that should not be coming from a seasoned politician.

I doubt One City Henry would consider the position of chief of staff, but I wish Harp had offered One City Henry the COS position.

One City Henry has the testosterone to overpower anyone messing with the mayor. There would be no need for a police officer. One City Henry emits a powerful aurora that can invisibly shield Mayor Harp from both physical and political threats, because he remains the most interesting man in the world (and New Haven).

posted by: Guido Brunetti on January 11, 2014  12:02am

Oh the perks of Senior Citizens! Is Mayor Harp at age 65 the oldest elected New Haven mayor?

Give her a break, when JD was elected 20 years ago he was a wee lad of 38.

posted by: IloveMYcity203 on January 11, 2014  12:18am

The only thing that I can say is, “the people of New Haven voted for her,” now enjoy it.

People got so caught up in her popularity, that they didn’t pay attention to all the signs during the campaign. I also want to give Mayor Harp a chance, but it’s dwindling fast.

Also, Kudos to you Paul for putting the pressure on them. Keep the pressure up and thanks for keeping up informed. NHI is the best! Who needs wtnh and NHR when we have NHI. if it wasn’t for NHI, I wouldn’t know half the stuff that goes on in my city.

posted by: Bill Saunders on January 11, 2014  3:10am

This is just a replay from her unoriginal campaign.

Traumatized, remember?

posted by: Razzie on January 11, 2014  10:26am

Seems to me, if we want to know why the Mayor needs a security presence as recommended by the Chief of Police ... maybe we should ask HIM! Speculation and dreaming up bad motives on the part of the Mayor seems a bit much .. even for NHI commentariat.

posted by: wendy1 on January 11, 2014  12:16pm

I too volunteer to drive the mayor around for free.  I own a bulletproof 4 door SUV with a rescue pitbull (New Haven) in the wayback and I am much scarier than any police.  I am an old lady with a big mouth.  Unlike the police, I actually live here and know all the good spots to eat or drink.  Call me, Toni!!!!

posted by: Dwightstreeter on January 11, 2014  12:37pm

Wasn’t DeStefano once a member of the police and trained?
When school children are massacred in their classrooms, can we really be so smug about security for a high profile public official?
I don’t see it as sexist; it’s realistic.
A driver from the Jobs pipeline might suffice, but the ability to act in a crisis seems to be the important factor.
Taking 2 police off other duties when we are admittedly short handed does not seem prudent.
If BobbeBellamy is qualified, put in an application and see what happens.
Some legitimate issues have been raised in the Comments here. Let’s see if the new administration is tone deaf or open to the collective wisdom.

posted by: sg715 on January 11, 2014  2:30pm

Westville Advocate - I disagree with your choice of car. I suggest she use the New Haven SWAT team’s armored car.

http://www.police-car-photos.com/picture/number2687.asp

posted by: cedarhillresident! on January 11, 2014  6:59pm

maisie dobbs

How is age a factor

Joe T.
and if she can not drive?

She ran for the position and if she can not drive or she is to old to drive….why is it the tax payers are going to have to pay close to a million (this is pay and benefits for the 2 officers) to drive her?  This should not be a bill we should have to pay.

She can hire her own driver (maybe one of her bodyguards from the elections). And she should pay for it herself.

I personally voted for the guy that would of rode a bike to work.

Welcome bacK Xavier

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on January 11, 2014  8:57pm

TAP,
This past August, Kermit Carolina released a political cartoon depicting a traumatized Harp running away from “the hood” to the safety and comfort of her chauffeured vehicle. Later that month at an event, Harp and a group of supporters, including Boise Kimber, characterized Carolina’s cartoon as sexist and as “disrespecting womanhood”.
When Carolina suggests that Harp feels the need to be chauffeured around for comfort and safety he’s called a liar and a sexist, but when it turns out to be true, Harp’s supporters turn about-face and say it makes perfect sense. Either Carolina was right all along or Esserman is sexist, both can’t be false.

Harp being traumatized by Newhallville:
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/harp_probes_the_newhallville_conundrum/

Carolina’s cartoon:
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/images/sized/archives/upload/2013/08/carlina_cartoon-550x455.png

Kimber et al. saying Carolina “disrespects womanhood”:
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/a_last_look_at_mlk/

Does Harp have more legitimate safety concerns than Dilieto and Daniels? Not a chance.
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/images/sized/archives/upload/2013/04/paul/violent_crime_cities_comparison-550x408.png

Between 1989 and 1991, New Haven averaged more than one shooting per day. In 2012, there was a shooting once every four days on average. In other words, Daniels was at least four times as likely to be shot in 1991 as Harp is today. That’s likely a conservative assessment since one’s probability of being assaulted depends heavily on where they live. When Daniels was Mayor he lived 1.5 miles from City Hall between Hillhouse High School and Goffee Street. Harp lives 3.5 miles from City Hall at the end of a cul de sac separated from the city by two wealthy suburbs (upper and lower Westville) and a large park (Edgewood Park). Furthermore, Daniels ran AGAINST the political establishment and was not endorsed by the DTC.

posted by: Jim Berger on January 11, 2014  11:11pm

These comments are just… sad.

Maybe she doesn’t like to drive.  She has an important job, one we elected her to do.  Giving her a driver is just not a big deal.  The hysteria over everything the new mayor does really is worthy of some psychological attention.  It’s just bizarre. 

We have a new mayor.  After twenty years with the previous one.  Shall we see what she actually does… as mayor… on substantive problems facing the city…?

She’s been in office 11 days.

There are still people in poverty and crimes being committed. 

Does her character require MORE assassination attempts?  She didn’t get enough during the campaign? 

Yet, she’s here, in office, trying to do the best job she can.  And some of us are going to try to help her along with that. 

And she’d like a driver.  So what?  The mayor having a driver is the least of our worries.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on January 11, 2014  11:32pm

@Dwightstreeter—DeStefano’s dad was a cop, but not John Jr.

I do want to point out that you can’t really be for things such as community development, safer neighborhoods, etc., if you willingly waste valuable city dollars by taking two senior officers away from their former duties.

Also note that twenty years later we are all in the cell phone era, and maybe having an officer with radio contact beside the Mayor was justifiable. But now help is never more than a quick cell call away, and I can’t understand why friends and staffers couldn’t fill these needs.

Anyway, this is a done deal, as is a new Mayor-mobile, so we might as well focus on the next issue…

posted by: New Haven Taxpayer on January 11, 2014  11:38pm

Happy to be reading Xavier again!

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on January 12, 2014  2:00am

We all know it’s a bad idea to waste precious police resources driving the mayor around the city, but as I see it the real questions are as follows:

1) How does the police officer spend his/her time when he/she isn’t driving the mayor around? If the officer is driving only 2 out of the 8 hours, then the driver ought to be doing something productive for the remaining 6 hours of the shift

2) Why does it take 2 police resources?

posted by: Razzie on January 12, 2014  9:55am

So sad, indeed. The Haters’ Ball hasn’t even been scheduled yet. But these former Elicker partisans can’t wait to get started.

It appears that the sore loser partisans simply haven’t gotten over the election loss. If these inane comments are going to be the coming for the next 2 years, New Haven is in for a sad, sad experience. It’s a great idea to keep stoking the fires of hatred against your Mayor, while decrying the need for spending money on adequate security. I would hate to be in your shoes if, heaven forbid, something bad were to happen. Better safe than sorry. And I’ll take Esserman’s security recommendations over those of any of the above partisan posters.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on January 12, 2014  11:24am

Jim B….First Harp is the one that asked for feed back and she is getting it. 11 days in we have had several scandals (at the least). And now this.
Does she not care what we think?

You state “There are still people in poverty and crimes being committed. “.
That is the point (at least to me). We have crime and we our taking 2 officers off the street to be drivers?  The cost of that may not be a million but depending on the pay grade of these officers and there benefits and pension you are looking at; at least a half mill for drivers….with a city that is in a bad financial state I think spending that kind of money on drivers is ridiculous and truly wasteful.
So you say well they were already on the payroll so it will not cost us anymore??? not true as you stated we have crime issues…so we are taking 2 “TRAINED” officer off the street. Remember the cost and time it takes to train an officer.

I think she promised change and I think people starting to wonder what that change is.

posted by: grounded on January 12, 2014  12:45pm

I am not an Elicker partisan. I did not vote for him in either the primary or the general election.

If you think that this isn’t a big deal, that this is just Elickerites making a mountain out of a molehill, then you have never tried to get 1 or 2 additional cops assigned to your neighborhood. 

If you had ever tried to get 1 or 2 additional cops assigned to your neighborhood you would know how difficult it is and how many resources (financial, training, opportunity costs) it takes to dedicate 2 cops to anything in this city.

If you haven’t advocated for your neighborhood to have better police protection, you could ask Cedar Hill Resident but, if you think she’s biased because you exercised her right not to vote for Toni Harp in our supposed democracy, I’m sure you could find another neighborhood advocate who has fought to reduce crime in her neighborhood.  Whether or not that person supported Harp, s/he will tell you what it takes to get 2 cops assigned to anything in this City.

And then you might understand why people are so angry about Harp having a cop or two assigned to her as drivers.

posted by: robn on January 12, 2014  2:49pm

Not hateful, partisan, or character assassination.
1) The Driver : While certainly crass what this really is is indifference to budget concerns. The security argument doesn’t cut it. If there was a real security issue it would be public information and candidate Harp would have had police protection from day 1.
2) Political Appointments : not really part of the new-kind-of mayor shpiel we heard from the campaign but that’s not really the issue with the Jackie James shuffle. The appointment flaunted legal procedure and that’s unbecoming of a mayor, not to mention, well, illegal.
3) Mike Smart : either Mike and Toni, or just Mike, planned to use the office for political monitoring and information control. This is really the worst of all (deplorably crass, deplorably illegal, and 100% intentional) and must be addressed by the Mayor.

posted by: mstratton on January 12, 2014  10:31pm

If there was a specific or even generalized threat to the mayor I would agree she need police drivers. Otherwise,  it is enough to buy the mayor a car, and pay the gas and repair (It is a seriously travel and labor intensive job).

But let her drive it herself. She has a free parking pass anywhere in the city.

We desperately need beat cops on Prospect Hill and the east edge on Hewhallville (Lilac, Read, etc). Can we get just one cop a day? NO. So hundreds of kids and moms go to bed at night with no sense of being watched over or protected. Until those kids have a beat cop and we learn how to go just 2 years without raising taxes, the mayor should be ashamed of using these rank and file officers as mere drivers.

And that goes for her running mate Smart. He shouldn’t take a dime of salary for a job so unnecessary and archaic. Its just shameful.

Who is going to be the responsible adult looking out for taxpayers and residents? Please Mayor Harp get a clue we don’t have two years to waste while you dither and patronize.

posted by: Razzie on January 13, 2014  10:17am

Robn—mstratton

“The New Haven police feel it’s our responsibility to provide the security for the mayor. I raised it in a conversation with her. I was very happy she accepted the offer,” Esserman said.

The Chief’s words, not mine. I find it highly presumptuous for those who know nothing about the reasons behind the Chief’s recommendations to insist so stridently that there is no legitimate security rationale. I repeat, I’ll take the Chief’s informed security recommendation over those who post in the NHI any day of the week.

Those who know nothing, should at least be circumspect in disputing the facts that are on the table: Mayors DiLieto, Daniels and DeStefano had police drivers; Candidate Harp was subjected to violent attacks and continued threats against her safety; and the Chief recommended a certain level of security protocols for the new Mayor.

PS: The election is over.

posted by: grounded on January 13, 2014  10:35am

Razzie,

The election may be over but we still live in a democracy where free speech is not only the prevailing norm but the law of the land.  I’m not sure what the election being over has to do with whether we’re allowed to have an opinion on whether an expenditure of public resources is legitimate.

And it’s a two year term so the next election cycle starts earlier than you realize.

posted by: Walt on January 13, 2014  10:46am

Dick Lee as Mayor before     Ben DiLieto had a big City-owned Packard, (?)  limo

He invited me to   ride with him a few times to joint meetings but tempered the honor with directions toward the front seat with the cop-driver( a Sergeant, says memory)

Only Dick,  (and a few big-shots I assume)  were welcome in the throne of the spacious limo back-seat area.

posted by: robn on January 13, 2014  10:52am

RAZZIE,

Its ridiculously hyperbolic for you to state that “Candidate Harp was subjected to violent attacks and continued threats against her safety.”

Someone shot out a glass door at Matthew Harp business; there are windows shot out all over the city.

Someone threw a brick through a street level window at Harp HQ; there a lots of smashed windows on Whalley Ave.

If the police had information that these incidents presented a continuing security threat for Toni Harp personally, they would have assigned cops to her at that time.

Lets call it what it is; Mayor Harps driver is a chauffer, not a security detail.

posted by: Razzie on January 13, 2014  11:02am

Grounded

Apparently, the next election cycle has already started.

posted by: David S Baker on January 13, 2014  11:43am

The NHPD has a set of ears in the mayors car.  Esserman proves again he is no fool.  Amazed that Harp agreed to this quite honestly.

posted by: downtown dweller on January 14, 2014  1:19am

Razzie’s idea that it is somehow “highly presumptuous” to criticize police decisions is way off-base.  Arguing that public officials should be given total deference in their decisionmaking is the same as saying that citizens should never be able to hold officials to account.  It’s not the way society works.

I like Esserman, but I haven’t seen a shred of rationale for this decision.  This isn’t Baghdad.  The only motivation for it I can think of is that it’s meant to get the NHPD onside with Harp.  Which is a terrible use of our tax money.

posted by: Nathan on January 14, 2014  4:20pm

Security concerns aside, I would prefer any mayor in the city had a driver available so they can work via phone/computer and make maximum use of their time and effort.  With good planning it shouldn’t be necessary for it to require a full-time, dedicated employee.

posted by: Lisa on January 14, 2014  8:24pm

A driver?  Not just a driver, but an police officer from an already severly short staffed force. I find this so disgusting.  That anyone can defend this is beyond my comprehension.  In a city already facing financial difficulty, this is a blatant waste of money that we can ill afford.  I am so very disheartened by all that unfolds.  I don’t think I want to know what the next thing will be.

posted by: JMS on January 15, 2014  8:38am

I told you so.

(My new default post for every forthcoming Harp administration shenanigan story)

posted by: meta on January 15, 2014  5:53pm

I wonder if Elicker Would have taken on the entourage?

posted by: 06510 on January 15, 2014  7:32pm

I don’t for a minute believe that this is Chief Esserman’s suggestion.  He is always commenting on increasing the police department which is already short 100 officers.  Taking 2 officers off the street only puts an unfortunate burden on other officers and will increase the department’s overtime. Will they be paid from HER operating budget?  I don’t have a problem with her wanting a driver but there are very capable retired officers who could take this job if the Mayor feels it necessary.

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