Harp Takes Nemerson’s Endorsement—& Ideas

Thomas MacMillan PhotoMayoral candidate Toni Harp embraced the idea that New Haven should grow by 10,000 people over the next 10 years, with many of them inhabiting new waterfront apartments. And she accepted the endorsement of the guy who came up with that idea.

The embrace and acceptance came at two Monday afternoon press events, first on Long Wharf Drive then at Dixwell Plaza.

State Sen. Harp (pictured), one of six candidates for mayor, was joined by Nemerson, a former New Haven Chamber of Commerce head and, until Monday, the seventh candidate in the race.

Nemerson (pictured to her immediate left) Monday abandoned his quest to become mayor and threw his support behind Harp, who has been racking up one endorsement after another recently. She also received the endorsement of 20 Dixwell small businesses Monday.

Harp is running to replace Mayor John DeStefano, the 10-term incumbent who’s leaving office at the end of the year. The Democratic primary is on Sept. 10.

On Monday, Harp unveiled a new “position paper” on economic development, staking out three ideas: promote an “innovation culture,” make Long Wharf into a “green-energy” mixed use development, and revitalize the main streets of New Haven neighborhoods.

Long Wharf

“For 30 years I’ve wanted to run for mayor in the worst way. And I guess I did it,” Nemerson (pictured) joked, standing by Harp’s side on Long Wharf Monday afternoon.

Nemerson said he got into the race before Harp declared, when he thought he could be the candidate to build a broad coalition of support. “Toni’s the one who’s done it,” he said.

Nemerson and his campaign treasurer, Angel Fernandez-Chavero, are now joining the Harp campaign as co-chairs of the steering committee, working on economic development policy.

Nemerson is bringing some of his campaign platform planks with him to the Harp operation. He spoke on Monday about his proposal that New Haven focus on bringing 10,000 new residents to town in the next 10 years.

Harp said that was an idea that she was initially unsure about, but has since come to embrace: “We have to do it.”

In the past, Nemerson has spoken about the importance of developing Long Wharf, an idea that Harp took up at Monday’s press event.

“This is an underdeveloped part of the city,” she said. She stood near the long shuttered Long Wharf visitors center, facing a small parking lot, with algae-covered water lapping the shore behind her.

“There should be apartments overlooking us,” Nemerson said. People should have an “opportunity to enjoy the views.”

“This is a part of our destiny,” Nemerson said. The waterfront could be developed to attract people and businesses from Boston and New York, he said. “Thousands and thousands of young graduates will be going to cities that look like New Haven can look.”

Harp said she’d like to see high-speed ferries running from New Haven to New York, getting people there in an hour.

Harp said she’d like to bring “green industries” to town. In her position paper, she wrote that “greening” the city’s economy would distinguish the city competitively and create jobs.

Long Wharf and downtown are not that far away physically, Harp said. “We have to connect them with our minds.”


She made a similar point 45 minutes later, at another press conference outside the Stetson branch of the city public library in Dixwell Plaza. She pointed out that Broadway, which is hailed as a thriving retail center, is only three blocks away. She called for the breaking down of barriers between neighborhoods, so that Broadway-style success extends all the way up Dixwell Avenue.

Harp was joined at the library by a couple dozen supporters, including Newhallville Alderwomen Delphine Clyburn and Brenda Foskey-Cyrus.

She drew another parallel, to Long Wharf: Dixwell has not received the attention it should, she said. She said the neighborhood hadn’t received any investment in about 20 years.

Antoine Scott (pictured), who grew up in the neighborhood and now runs a limousine business, said he remembers when Dixwell was thriving and bustling in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Too many million-dollar developments have come into the city without taxpayers seeing a benefit, he said. “Toni Harp will fight for the businesses of the city.”

Harp promised to she help small businesses connecting them to programs available at the state level. Small business owners “can’t walk into City Hall and get help for your business,” she said. “I want that to happen.”

Harp said she’d also work to develop the main streets of the city’s neighborhoods, commercial corridors like Dixwell Avenue and Grand Avenue. She later mentioned the work that Westville has done through the Connecticut Main Street Program, which helps fund “place-making” efforts for that neighborhood.

Harp pitched another idea: Put “mini City Halls” in New Haven neighborhoods. City Hall can seem inaccessible, far away from some neighborhoods, and with little parking available. She said the city should open branches of City Hall in neighborhoods, to allow people to pay tickets and get questions answered. She said the mini City Halls could be part of police substations.

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 24, 2013  9:27pm

Nemerson is bringing some of his campaign platform planks with him to the Harp operation. He spoke on Monday about his proposal that New Haven focus on bringing 10,000 new residents to town in the next 10 years.

Snake-Oil being sold.10,000 new residents to town in the next 10 years. By the time the high taxes will kick in you will have more then 10,000 residents leaving this state.In fact they are leaving now.

Connecticut ranks 7th in residents moving out of state in 2012, survey says

Published: Friday, January 04, 2013


The Top 10 States People Are Fleeing.


Reality Check: CT Residents Are Heading For The Exit


posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on June 24, 2013  9:34pm

Put “mini City Halls” in New Haven neighborhoods. More government - just what we don’t need. Harp dreams of a City with more govt employees (union of course)and Master Plans.

Cut taxes, embrace development by not allowing local special interests to blackmail developers, and then get out of the way

posted by: anonymous on June 24, 2013  9:46pm

These are terrible ideas.  We need Mayoral candidates who think more strategically, not throw out half-baked ideas with no hope of working.

The focus should be on growing downtown, which is an economic powerhouse that provides almost all of the city’s tax base and jobs, and on organically growing our neighborhoods, not building remote satellite pods that will be underwater in a matter of decades.

Also, I love Dixwell but Dixwell Plaza has little hope of coming back until Whalley Avenue and Winchester are addressed. Have either Nemerson or Harp ever tried walking from Downtown to Dixwell plaza? It seems like they drive everywhere, like the other fat cat politicians and Contractors who donate to their Big Money campaigns.

Get rid of the Popeyes’ new drive in, the Yale owned blighted properties, empty Rite Aid, and extensive empty lots north of Broadway and replace them with intensive housing developments and office uses. Then fix the bus system, which has practically collapsed under the watch of Harp and DeStefano since 2000. After that is done, the city can talk about Dixwell Plaza in a realistic manner. Until then, it would be a great spot for a library and some
community gardens if the city added better lighting and calmed traffic.

We need people with real visions, not pipe dreams. If Harp wins I hope she’ll bring in some real economists to help rebuild our tax and jobs base.

posted by: RCguy on June 24, 2013  10:08pm


posted by: Atticus Shrugged on June 24, 2013  10:27pm

Congratulations to Senator Harp.  I’m very glad to see that you’ve added another endorsement.

posted by: mstratton on June 24, 2013  11:14pm

Toni Harp has been chair of the appropriations committee for years and has done none of what she suggests doing today. She had billions at her beck and call and put none of it towards redeveloping the waterfront or developing"thriving” businesses in the hill and dixwell. If she didn’t do it in that position, how does she now do to as mayor? This is pure political bunk. In fact, Harp couldn’t even get New Haven the 77% pilot monies required by state statute. Instead she caved in and got us less than 50%. Thats not delivering for New Haven. Her excuse “i was just one of many legislators”. Wrong. She held the purse strings of the state and decided to use her political capital to benefit her political career. Wake up New Haven. This is a once in a generation opportunity to change our politics, and Harp is going backwards at high speed, and her sycophant endorsees are too afraid to act with courage. Instead they further what they think is their political future and the city loses. Thankfully the residents have other options which will become clearer as the fog of these lockstep machine endorsements clears.

posted by: Hieronymous on June 24, 2013  11:25pm

New Haven is one of the few towns I know where people *don’t* want to be near the water. It’d be nice if that were different, if there was a possibility of having waterfront development. But aren’t we in the midst of a $2.2 billion project to ensure that no one would want to live, work, or play by the water?

Someone who’s been around a while, please educate this newcomer: When the Harbor Improvement Program was first in the works, was there ever any thought given to having 95 cross the harbor from City Point to the Annex? I understand there’d be some complications connecting it to I-91, but it seems like 91 could run south from Q Meadows alongisde the traintracks. Then New Haven could have been reconnected with its harbor (and have a beautiful, long suspended bridge to look at, rather than the squat overpass that is the new Q bridge), with minimal disruption to through traffic. What was wrong with that idea?

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 25, 2013  12:17am

Senator Harp,

Does the new development you propose on Long Wharf come with Federal Flood Insurance??

posted by: Curious on June 25, 2013  12:45am

God, where to begin?

We have things called mini City Halls, they’re web browsers.  Why add structures and staff instead of embracing the modern world?  This is like three steps backwards..

posted by: Curious on June 25, 2013  12:52am

Let’s see, what else?  How about the waterfront issue. 

Long Wharf’s waterfront is a protected ecosystem.  We’ve been fighting to preserve it, we don’t need to be be building on it.  Where is she going to build these apartments, on top of Sargent Manufacturing?  In the Register space, which the state has been working hard to lock dow a Jordan’s Furniture in, which will bring jobs and revenue?  How does she not know about that deal if she;s so keyed in at the state and local level?

Also, we have Fair Haven across the water which is ready to be developed.  Elicker has a plan to do just that, and it makes more sense than what Nemerson and Harp are pitching here.

Lastly, Bridgeport has been talking about a high-speed ferry to New York City for years, and it has never happened.  How is New Haven, which is further from NYC than Bridgeport, going to make that work?  Who’s paying for it?

posted by: Curious on June 25, 2013  12:58am

Next up:  “She called for the breaking down of barriers between neighborhoods, so that Broadway-style success extends all the way up Dixwell Avenue.”

How?  Seriously, how?  The reason no one travels further up Whalley or Dixwell than the Payne-Whitney Gym or Ivy Noodle is crime.  Is she going to commit more cops?  More walking beats?  Run out the existing stores by making it impossible to maintain the rent there and only corporate chains like Apple?  That’s how Yale managed to do it with Broadway.  Is she going to do that with Dixwell, gentrify it all the way down to Hamden? How is that helping small business?

“Harp promised to she help small businesses connecting them to programs available at the state level. “

Why, as a New Haven resident for decades, hasn’t this already been her priority as a state legislator?  Why has’t this happened already?  Why now, when she needs votes from New Haven, is this suddenly something she can accomplish….once she relinquishes her power in the state capitol?

None of these claims stand up to scrutiny.  It’s all just politics as usual.  “I can make New Haven AWESOME for everyone!  Don’t ask how, or why I never did it before.  Just vote for me!”

Some people will call this “hating” on Toni Harp, but it’s Harp I have a beef with, it’s empty rhetoric and false promises.  It just happens to be coming out of Toni Harp.

posted by: Curious on June 25, 2013  1:25am

Let’s not forget this little gem:

“Nemerson and his campaign treasurer, Angel Fernandez-Chavero, are now joining the Harp campaign as co-chairs of the steering committee, working on economic development policy.”

Why does Harp, who supposedly has all this experience from heading the Appropriations Committee at the state level, need Nemerson to write her economic policy for her?

Why Nemerson?  Was he her first choice, but he was running against her, so she couldn’t have him?  Why didn’t she write it herself?  Did economic development policy not matter until now?  What WAS her economic policy, or did she not have one?  Why didn’t she have someone else writing it for her? If she did, why cast that person aside for Nemerson now?

Ask questions.  Don’t believe the hype.

posted by: Burbel on June 25, 2013  5:41am

This is an excellent development.

Nemerson always had an uphill fight as a candidate, but he’s got tremendous credibility on economic development. Not just in New Haven, but at the highest levels of state government, and not just in the public sector, but in the private sector.

He’s the kind of activist that brings people together. One of the best informed, agile, and open minds around, and he knows everybody.

Making him a co-chair of her steering committee tremendously strengthens Harp’s campaign.

posted by: anonymous on June 25, 2013  9:13am

“Aren’t we in the midst of a $2.2 billion project to ensure that no one would ever want to live, work, or play by the water?”

On this stretch of water, yes. By approving more highway widening projects and 10-story flyovers than even Dick Lee, DeStefano, Harp, Looney & our other State elected officials have essentially killed any hope of New Haven ever reconnecting to the waterfront for the next 100 years, even though residents have consistently identified this as a top priority over the past 5 decades. They did this because it funded their campaigns for office.

Other than the “pedestrian friendly” widened highways themselves, the biggest joke is the idea that a boathouse in the shadow of the flyover will somehow be an attractive place to hang out.

As pointed out above, there are great opportunities in Fair Haven and the East Shore, and along our rivers, though. But those are more resident-led opportunities, not Big Money Contractor opportunities.

New Haven desperately needs to start over with some fresh thinking. The plans presented here by Brancati/Nemerson and Harp are pipe dreams & Contractor boondoggles, for the reasons stated above.

posted by: anonymous on June 25, 2013  9:16am

Curious: The answer is Sal Brancati.

posted by: Razzie on June 25, 2013  12:02pm

@mstratton - @Curious - @anonymous

You seem to be piqued by the fact that Sen Harp and Matt Nemerson have a strong economic development plan plus the experience and resources to get it done, while Elicker stands alone with little more than a solitary idea that he tries to woo Fair Haven residents with. Sadly, his inexperience is showing. A solitary figure tilting at windmills is not what New Haven needs as Mayor. We need consensus building and resources and EXPERIENCE to get these issues done. When Elicker has been in government more than his 3+ years as Alderman, he will understand that it takes more than his good intentions to make things happen.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on June 25, 2013  12:19pm

“’There should be apartments overlooking us,’ Nemerson said. People should have an ‘opportunity to enjoy the views.’” And thereby restrict the water views of us lowly peons who can’t afford luxury condos or luxury apts. But of course, ALL of us will help pay for the required federally-subsidized flood insurance—via our taxes. And ALL of us will pay—via our taxes—for FEMA to rebuild such water-front development every time it gets demolished by hurricanes. “Long Wharf and downtown are not that far away physically, Harp said. ‘We have to connect them with our minds.’” Harp obviously is a proponent of astral projection meditation. “She made a similar point 45 minutes later, at another press conference”. Who needs paid campaign ads when you’re getting this much free coverage? “She called for the breaking down of barriers between neighborhoods”. Just what I suspected: Mayor Lee reincarnated. “She said the city should open branches of City Hall in neighborhoods”. Presumably these will be constructed and staffed by volunteers, so don’t worry about the cost, New Haveners. Fortunately, empty promises cost nothing. Toni Harp: staying right on top of the current issues—c. 1970.

posted by: HhE on June 25, 2013  12:32pm

I have no need to post a comment, as Curious, has said it better than I ever could.

posted by: Curious on June 25, 2013  1:26pm

@ Razzie,

What solid economic plan?  Where is it?  I’d love to read it.

Harp hiring Nemerson to make her economic plan is like Burger King hiring Ronald McDonald to make their hamburger plan.  What’s wrong with the burgers they had, such that they need someone else in charge of them?

You can tout Nemerson and Harp’s “experience” as much as you like, but the fact is that with them at the helm all this time, the state is in bad shape.  As someone else said, it doesn’t matter how much experience you have if there is nothing good to show for it.

(HhE, thanks :) )

posted by: Stephen Harris on June 25, 2013  1:34pm

Ditto what curious and anon said.

Connect with our minds? Water front development in a flood zone with a highway for a backyard?  Why is she running for mayor?

posted by: Curious on June 25, 2013  3:25pm

What happens to all the money that Nemerson raised and is now unable to spend on campaign expenses?

Where does that money go?

Does he keep it?

Does he gift it to Harp?

posted by: David S Baker on June 25, 2013  4:22pm

I think make your money THERE, live the good life HERE is not a bad platform, but Long Wharf and a high speed ferry are not the key to New Haven’s prosperity.  Mass transport using water is not cost effective or reliable enough for someone commuting from New Haven to Manhattan or Boston.

Being able to get to the train station in twenty minutes using reliable, affordable, clean, frequent, and geographically accessible public transportation on the other hand…

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on June 25, 2013  4:37pm

Re. Harp’s support for a high-speed ferry: this already was studied back in 2005. Conclusion: economically not feasible.  http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/CityPlan/longislandferryservice.asp  Toni Harp: keeping up with the city’s latest economic issues—nearly a decade later.

posted by: Noteworthy on June 25, 2013  11:03pm

Toni Harp would have done better to keep her mouth closed and simply accept the endorsement and then rip off Nemerson’s ideas. But like a Democrat on steroids, she starts pontificating on a highly and repeatedly discredited fast ferry to NYC. From there - the mini-city halls staffed by mini bureaucrats in a city that is already stuffed with 5,000 employees - enough peope to put one on just about every city block. It could be like concierge service.

And then there is turning the Dixwell murder and mayhem alley into Broadway Shopping District. That’s a total crock and is the kind of pandering and promises that give a politician a bad name. This is all a royal pantload of epic proportions.

After 25 years in office - after running up the state budget from $8 billion to more than $22 billion along with massive debt and deficits - if Harp hasn’t done anything for these neighborhoods, for economic development anywhere in the entire state let alone New Haven in all these years - it is not from a lack of money. It’s a lack of intelligence, know-how and conviction. Endorsers who don’t understand that are flawed and afraid.

posted by: Curious on June 26, 2013  9:11am

@ Noteworthy….thank you, thank you, thank you!

People just aren’t using reason, not evaluating any of these statements, just believing what they want.  It’s frustrating.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 26, 2013  9:54am

There are no true friends in politics. We are all sharks circling, and waiting, for traces of blood to appear in the water. - Alan Clark

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 26, 2013  9:19pm

Just a bunch of neigh-sayers and stalking horses.

Politics 101.

posted by: HhE on June 26, 2013  10:08pm

Next time there is a Mayoral furball, I am going to run. 

I do not think I am qualified.  Heck, I wouldn’t vote for me.

No here is the plan.  I position myself as the Educational Candidate (I was a school teacher) or as the Historically Sensitive Development Candidate (I have just started my third rehab).  I’ll raise some money – even if it means giving money to friends to give to me, get some press.  Then I’ll drop out, and endorse the leading Machine/pay to play candidate.  Presto, new job for HhE.

posted by: Curious on June 27, 2013  9:57am

HhE, I was thinking the same thing.  Why not?

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 27, 2013  3:30pm

Curious and Hhe,

You have my endorsement!!!!!

I will gladly let you guys run under the ole “Guilty Party’ moniker if you want, but believe me, it is more rewarding to sit on the sidelines and cheer at fumbles and dropped passes.

Is there a job in Cultural Affairs for me under your new administration?