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Candidates Clash On “Experience”
by Melissa Bailey | Oct 23, 2013 6:35 am
Posted to: Campaign 2013
In a fast-paced final public debate before a standing-room-only crowd, New Haven’s two mayoral candidates squared off on who knows how to get things done.
The debate, between candidates Toni Harp and Justin Elicker, began at Gateway Community College’s downtown campus Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. It was the last public debate before the Nov. 5 election.
Before a standing-room-only crowd of 300, the candidates offered perhaps the most lively exchanges in the campaign so far. Elicker came out swinging against Harp for tax and alleged landlord problems with her son’s real estate business. Harp, in turn, repeatedly denounced Elicker as young and inexperienced.
The debate hinged on the question: What is the right “experience” a candidate needs to be mayor?
Harp, a state senator for 21 years, stressed her decades in the state legislature working with governors from three parties, her ability to build “consensus” among different people, and her knowledge of the state budget and state legislative process.
Elicker, an East Rock alderman, said Harp has the wrong kind of “experience”—experience in old-style pay-to-play politics. Elicker said he has gained experience in his four years as alderman, including stopping the mayor’s plan to monetize parking meters to fill a budget hole. He argued that being a state legislator doesn’t provide the best experience for the mayor’s job; a good mayor needs to be plugged in to the kind of neighborhood issues that he has worked on.
A key moment in the debate for Harp came when the candidates asked each other questions. Harp questioned Elicker about a proposal of his to ask the state to share revenue from speeding tickets. In attempt to prove his inexperience, Harp asked him which committees at the state legislature the proposal would need approval from, and his strategy for gaining that approval.
Elicker didn’t name any committees. He replied that he has testified at the Capitol on this issue, but that a mayor needs to know the city well, not just know how to navigate the legislature, to effectively rule the city.
Another issue in the debate was the reemergence of two controversial figures from the past, former state Sen. Anthony Avallone who left office in 1992 after years of scandals involving his conflicting roles as zoning attorney, legislator, development commissioner, and developer; and Sal Brancati, a former city economic development official who played a leading role in the DeStefano administration’s ethics and corruption scandals of the 1990s. Harp was asked twice about her alliance with the two.
“Frankly, as a Christian, I believe in redemption,” she said. She said they may bring new ideas to the table.
Elicker passed up a chance to pounce on Harp for her close relationship with the two. “People with strong integrity” will make the best decisions, he said.
The New Haven Independent, La Voz Hispana, and New Haven Register sponsored the debate.
If you missed the event, you can catch it later on public-access Citizens Television. The show will air on Channel 96 at 4 p.m. on Oct. 24, 29, and 31; and on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.
A live blog follows:
7 p.m. Folks are filing into Gateway’s community room for the debate. Visitors are being greeted with theatrical performances by Little Miss Messup of the Guilty Party, a cross-dressing former mayoral candidate, and a satirical band called the “Pay-to-Play Pirates.”
The pirates, who gave their names only as Captain Morgan and the First Mate, also made an appearance at Gateway in a previous mayoral debate.
They found common ground with Miss Messup, aka Bill Saunders. Both denounced old-style politics; the pirates were more pointed in criticizing Harp. Click on the play arrow to watch them meet.
7:24: Michelle Fraser, Gateway’s evening administrator, is wheeling out dozens of extra chairs to accommodate the crowd. “Once this goes, this room is capped out at its max, 300,” she said.
7:31: Moderator Paul Bass, editor in chief of the New Haven Independent, outlines the rules for the debate. He and Rachel Chinapen of the New Haven Register will ask questions tailored to each candidate.
Chinapen to Elicker: “Your opponent has said you don’t have the experience in government” and building consensus that you’d need to run the city.
Elicker’s coming out swinging. Blames Harp for Connecticut’s bad economy. “Legislating and writing checks is very different from running the city.”
Heckling is starting already: “But we don’t know you!” calls out a Harp supporter.
Harp: You really need to have consensus. Only one alderman is supporting Elicker’s campaign, she notes. “He is not a consensus-builder. I am.”
Applause here for Harp. Bass: “It’s going to be a long night.”
7:35: Bass asks Harp about $1,000 donations she received from nine out-of-town doctors who work for Hamden-based Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists. Their company took in around $800,000 this past fiscal year as authorized orthopedic caregivers for New Haven government’s workers’ compensation plan, according to the city. They donated to Harp’s campaign after losing their contract with the city. Bass asked why she thinks they gave her money.
Harp said the company is a great firm, and she’d hate to see them lose work. She noted that they already struck a deal with the city to win back their contract. She didn’t answer the question about why they donated to her campaign.
Bass to Elicker: “Hardly any African-Americans or Latinos” voted for you, or have given you money. Can you govern New Haven well with practically no black or Latino support?
Elicker: “I think it’s important to acknowledge that I didn’t do as well as I should have” in the African-American and Latino communities. But he’s accessible and hands out his cell phone number to “everyone and their brother.”
Harp swings back at Elicker for flat-funding education while voting for a teacher’s contract that increased salaries. She said that’s why people didn’t vote for him.
7:40: Chinapen to Elicker: Is Project Longevity, the city’s anti-gang “call-in” program, effective?
Elicker: I support Project Longevity as one of many tools to solve crime.
Harp: Project Longevity has succeeded in reducing gun violence.
7:47: Bass to Harp: If you’re elected, will Tony Avallone and Sal Brancati have your ear? And will they and their allies get special treatment?
Avallone, a former state senator who left office in 1992 after years of scandals involving his conflicting roles as zoning attorney, legislator, development commissioner, and developer. He developed a lucrative, go-to zoning practice during the DiLieto ‘80s, regularly appearing before the zoning board to win clients relief at the same time he served as both a state senator and city development commissioner. The administration gave him and a team of fellow politically connected developers a tax break on a development project in the Hill that Avallone simultaneously had to vote on as a development commissioner. He represented developers in disputes with his state senate constituents; he also was hired by banks to evict tenants who happened to be his constituents.
Brancati is a former city economic development official who played a leading role in the DeStefano administration’s ethics and corruption scandals of the 1990s. Click here to read more about Brancati’s misdoings.
Harp: As mayor, I’ll listen to anyone, including Elicker. I don’t assume that just because former Senator Avallone had “whatever you said,” doesn’t mean he won’t bring good developers to the city. People are unfairly branded sometimes. … I’m willing to look at each project that comes to New Haven and judge it on its own merits.
Elicker: We can’t move back. People want to opt in to a safe, green city. These are things that developers like Avallone and Brancati would not provide.
Bass to Elicker: Since your campaign started, your supporters have been counting the bathrooms in Harp’s house and criticizing her for her wealth. Yet you ask people not to judge you on your wealthy upbringing. Is that a double-standard?
Elicker: The fact is that Renaissance Management, Harp’s son’s business, is taking advantage of poor people.
Things are getting wild here. Bass asks the crowd to simmer down.
Harp: “You went into one apartment” owned by Renaissance. Harp launches into a defense of her late husband, Wendell Harp, who used to own Renaissance Management. “The reality is that my husband gave a lot to this city.”
Chinapen to Harp: Why eliminate the Livable City Initiative, the city anti-blight agency?
Harp: If we consolidate the department, “we would have a much more efficient system.”
Elicker calls for keeping LCI to protect tenants from slumlords.
7:48: The lights dramatically go out!
7:50: Bass ticks off misdoings perpetrated by Brancati and Avallone. He asks Harp if she would endorse those behaviors.
Harp: “Tony Avallone is someone who’s respected as a lawyer. Frankly, as a Christian, I believe in redemption. Sal Brancati as well. … Give people a chance to move forward in their lives.”
Elicker declines the chance to pile on Harp. “People with strong integrity” will make the best decisions.
Bass to Elicker: You’ve been in New Haven only six years, four as alderman. Do you have the experience to run the city?
Elicker: I have proven that I am someone with very specific plans on how to address the problems before the city. He cites his 75 solutions.
Harp is on a tear now: It’s one thing to have great ideas and be articulate, but it’s another thing to be able to build consensus, and to work with the board of aldermen—“that, clearly he can’t”—and work with governors of both parties, just as she did.
Harp puts Elicker down: When I was his age, I certainly had ideas. But it takes experience to get things done.
7:55 Harp is asked about her opposition to the Democracy Fund, the city’s public financing system. She said she does not support it in tough budget times. She said Elicker can’t have it both ways: On one hand, he says New Haven is on the verge of bankruptcy. On the other, he calls for using taxpayer money to pay for campaigns. “It’s not time for the Democracy Fund if New Haven is Detroit.”
Elicker: People are tired of big money in politics. He notes that Harp herself supported public financing at the state level and even used the state program herself.
Harp swings back: “I think it’s pretty disingenuous, Justin!” “Either we’ve got a fiscal problem and we need to use the resources to solve it, or we don’t, and we need to use the resources to fund campaigns.”
Harp is being forceful here. She seems much better prepared than she was in previous debates.
8:00 Question: Would you support long-term borrowing, such as monetizing parking meters, to fill short-term budget gaps?
Under failed proposal, the city would have handed over 25 years worth of meter revenue—worth an estimated $111 million—to a Mayfield, Ohio investment firm called Gates Capital Partners in return for a quick up-front $50 million to spend over five years.
Harp said she’d explore her options.
Elicker: No, I will not support long-term borrowing for short-term operational cash.
Elicker defends himself against a previous attack: “Toni talks a lot about my inability to work with the board, but I successfully stopped the mayor” from pushing through parking meter monetization. He said the board often votes unanimously on issues, too, because they’re all Democrats.
Question: How do we encourage companies like Panorama from fleeing to Cambridge?
Elicker: Make New Haven a “hip” place to live, work and play.
Harp: We need to do more to connect companies to state resources.
8:04: How do you differentiate yourself from the other candidate?
Harp: I wouldn’t flat-fund the education budget while also voting to raise teacher salaries, as Elicker did. “If I’m going to raise salaries, I’m going to make sure that there is money there to back it up.” Making good decisions requires experience like the experience she has at the Capitol, she argued.
Elicker: Experience and accessibility. He argues that the mayor of New Haven needs to have experience with the local budget, and in neighborhoods, not just at the Capitol.
8:21: Question: do you support the conversion of two-way to one-way streets?
Elicker supports the idea.
Harp doesn’t. She said the only way the city stopped prostitution near her house (it’s not clear which house) was to change the street to one-way. She calls for keeping one-way streets.
Now the candidates are asking each other questions.
Harp: If you could only get three aldermen to support your trolley-car study, and only one alderman to support you now, how would you support your tax plan at the state?
She was referring to a failed effort to accept federal money to conduct a study to build a downtown trolley in New Haven.
Elicker: It was “the mayor’s fault” for how he proposed the trolley plan. I am a consensus-builder. On the Board of Aldermen we vote unanimously on so many things we do. But “we need a system of checks and balances,” we don’t need a mayor who agrees with the Board of Aldermen.
Elicker: How could people trust you to balance the budget, if your campaign is in debt?
Harp: “We don’t know if the campaign is in debt, because the campaign isn’t over. I’m baffled by that.”
Elicker to Harp: Your family is the biggest tax scofflaw in the state. How could you also vote for tax amnesty for delinquent taxpayers?
Harp: I’m really baffled by this question. I am not a part of my husband’s business. I love my husband. My son, Matthew, is not using the tax amnesty program. I trust him. He is a smart kid. I know he is going to work it out.
Harp says to Matthew, who’s in the crowd: “I trust you, Matthew. You’ll do a great job.”
8:18: Harp: Now I want to talk about Elicker’s Solution 10, asking the state for more revenue from speeding tickets. What’s your strategy for getting that plan approved by all the committees it would need approval from?
Elicker: I have testified at the Capitol on this issue. (He doesn’t name the committees, as she had asked him to.) You need a mayor who knows New Haven, not just the Capitol.
Harp final statement. “I grew up in segregation and now I’m running for mayor.” I have dedicated my whole life to helping other people. I think it’s important that we have a mayor who understands that we need to have a world-class education system. It requires someone who “knows how to work this system.” Someone who is a consensus-builder, who is committed and passionate about holding departments accountable.
Elicker stands up and takes the mic. “It is time we as New Haveners start a new way of doing business.” A new way of government, with specific policy stances. Time for a mayor who is accessible. Time for a mayor who “represents every person in this city.”
8:19: That’s a wrap, folks.
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Is this debate being televised?
[Editor’s note: Not live. But you can catch it on public-access Citizens Television. The show will air on Channel 96 at 4 p.m. on Oct. 24, 29, and 31; and at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.]
Toni Harp’s answer to every question: ” I’m baffled by that”
Sadly this blog does not capture Harp’s body language - rolling eyes and shrugging shoulders throughout, especially when confronted on the facts by Bass and Elicker. Clearly the mark of someone who does not listen to you at all, unless you have a $9,000 check, like the orthopedists. Explains all the canceled meetings and unreturned emails and calls from city residents, plus the aloof comments on the need for more downtown parking lots and one way streets.
Harp was clueless as usual. So many hilarious responses, but my favorite was definitely, “New Haven does not have a traffic problem” and “we solved the prostitution problem on my street by making it ONE-WAY!”
There you go traffic engineers. You can throw your fancy studies out the window. Toni Harp is on it. Traffic planning for the 20th Century!
God help us if Harp becomes mayor. She’s already in cahoots with DeStefano’s old crew of sleazebags who love money and themselves.
I bet CT never sees that 1.1 million
That was a very interesting question….... It’s to bad she has no idea what to say.
Thanks for asking me that question.
No comment. Police are doing a good job now that they see I might win. They better not do a bad job if Justin wins.
Just a few comments from one old man who could not force himself to go and listen to the same stuff like the last 10 debates or what ever the # was.
In some ways, I was very happy with how this debate was different from the previous ones. Paul Bass did a great job as questionnaire. We finally got to hear the candidates being asked tough questions.
However, two things that would have helped, which may require an additional moderator:
1. Moderation of candidates. Harp frequently did not respond to the question. It would have been nice for someone to tell her politely that she was evading.
2. Moderation of audience. Harp’s supporters were rude and often were murmuring or even shouting during Elicker’s responses. There’s has to be some degree of order during a public debate. Otherwise, whats the point of having one?
Are there any Republicans running for office in New Haven, or is it just the Democrat Toni Harp and “Candidate” Justin Elicker. Seems to me that New Haven has no Republican Party.
This was my first time attending a debate, and it was…interesting. Frankly I thought both candidates came across poorly, and doubt that anyone was swayed from how they were leaning pre-debate.
Justin clearly had greater command of the facts, but he seemed uncomfortable and tentative when going on the attack; Harp was spouting nonsense much of the time, but spouting it in a very confident, theatrical manner that pandered brilliantly to her large and sycophantic following in the audience.
It was depressingly ludicrous that she was mounting enthusiastic defenses of corrupt advisors and confident attacks of public financing, but the short time limits and lack of direct follow-ups meant that she got away with those tactics almost entirely unscathed.
I must say, though, that she clearly did the better job with the final segment where the candidates got to ask each other questions. She clearly had her “I’m proud of my son” explanation of the family tax avoidance ready to go, and made Justin look like a fool for asking such a predictable and well-worn question (as if she would actually answer it for the first time!), while her final question for him made it painfully clear that he was unprepared and unable to answer it directly. It was Elicker’s only blown question of the night, but to make it the very last one was quite a dramatic blow in Harp’s favor.
Overall it was rather depressing to see so much excitement directed toward such a vacuous politician espousing such a mixture of laughable (one-way streets stop prostitution!) and disturbing (my inner circle’s full of figures with records of corruption? No big deal!) positions. I really hope that the electorate at large isn’t as easily swayed by eye-rolls, sighs, and condescension; my hopes, alas, are not high.
Oh, Hi anonymous! Hi HewNaven!
So quiet since the Ron Smith debacle. Care to elucidate for us how that was a fiercely independent anti-machine move by Justin?
That’ll be more interesting than the typical condescending crap about Toni’s body language.
Here’s Mr. Open/Accountable/Smart/Substantive/Responsible/Engaged/Honest on his signature [failed] citywide initiative: The Mayor screwed up the politics.
Way to take responsibility, Justin. You’ve accomplished relatively little in public life, and blame the failure of your signature issue on someone else. So upright, independent and not controlled by anyone else.
Anonymous, please tell those of us who weren’t there what his body language looked like when he washed his hands of his own failure.
Why even bother eliminating the Livable City Initiative, Toni? As a former tenant of a Renaissance Management property, LCI responded to my complaints of black mold all through the place by notifying me that such was standard Renaissance fare and that fighting the Harps was futile. Renaissance responded to my complaints by spray painting over the mold. You could say I was “baffled by that.” No, of course these are not isolated incidents. If it looks like a slumlord and sounds like a slumlord…
Woosterbill: Harp is attacking public financing (last Spring at the State level, in a bill signed by Malloy in June, and now at the city level) because she would like to make sure that her wealthy donors have the only voice in city politics.
Her wealthy donors include lawyers who work for the multi-billion dollar corporations who will be bringing 600 Keno terminals to the State next year, based on a bill that she (and her gaming corporation-financed donors, in clear violation of ethics rules) helped pushed through at the last minute with zero public consultation. Their money helps explain why Harp is overwhelmingly financed from out of town, whereas 80% of Elicker’s contributors actually live here.
The gambling issue does not impact people like Harp and Malloy, who live in mansions nowhere near any convenience store, but it will have a dramatic impact on most of our city.
Elicker continues to cite his ability to churn out position papers in a vacuum. An idea isn’t worth much if you can’t get it done.
He clearly has not connected with communities of color (with the lone exceptions of a failed high school principal and a dinosaur who can’t get enough signatures to run in a primary). And he and his brigade of angry white folks are not doing any favors in the city by constantly attacking Harp for things she is not involved with.
Let’s remember that before any other candidates were announced for superintendent, Elicker threw his support to an inexperienced white guy.
Let’s just say it, this guy has no idea how to deal with folks of color, who make up more than two-thirds of the city. He is so out of touch with the city where he has spent about one-sixth of his life. The aldermanic board doesn’t like him. He simply can’t build a consensus.
He’d be a disaster for most of the city, but he’d treat his white backers in East Rock well.
No, for all intents New Haven doesn’t have a Republican party. Every member of the board of alderman is a Democrat, and I believe the city went almost 90% for Obama in 2012. We are quite a liberal city.
There is nothing more frustrating than going to a public speaking event not being able to hear the speaker(s). A public debate among the two remaining candidates for Mayor of New Haven should be primarily about hearing what the candidates have to say, ALL of what they have to say.
Hearing the speakers tonight was virtually impossible at times during this debate. Too many times the supporters of the Democratic nominee were boisterious and rude. They talked over and during the other candidate’s answers to questions and rebuttals.
If you are comfortable with your candidate and their positions, what is the point of making noise so that we can’t hear the other candidate speak? There is a particular kind of arrogance in the behavior exhibited by some of Ms. Harp’s supporters tonight. It is an arrogance that says undecided voters don’t need to hear the conversation, ask any questions, or be able to analyze the discussion, just support our candidate because we say so.
It is also the kind of arrogance that is reminiscent of the soon to be former administration, where discent was hindered and the prevailing perspective was “just shut up and support”. This is not democracy, but it is overwhelmingly distasteful.
The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee
Immanuel Missionary Baptist Church
I believe in redemption as well, but that doesn’t mean I’d rehire people who were involved in corruption scandals to run our city. I can forgive someone like Roland, it doesn’t mean I’d vote for him to be Governor again. Are there no other qualified individuals around New Haven with expertise in economic development, that we’d have to revert to these people? That just doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me.
This is the first mayoral debate that I missed and with good reason. Harp will never ever directly or fully answer a question when asked. If asked if the sky is blue, she would say, “I’m baffled by the question, it might be during the day, but at night it may not be. I didn’t make the sky so I shouldn’t be held accountable for it’s color.”. Elicker had an opportunity, it seems, to really hold Harp’s feet to the fire, but he chose not to do so, which could prove costly. I didn’t see anything about education, except a question about funding. Taxes? Harp’s certificate of occupancy debacle demonstrates an attitude of “I’m above the law. The rules don’t apply to me”, which she repeatedly personified during the primary debates. Harp’s politics are sleazy. Brancati, Avallone, Kimber - sounds like the corrupt 80’s are calling and want their leaders back. As a Chrisitian she believes in redemption- which means that she recognizes that those in her inner-circle are of dubious character. Why she would want them to influence her decisions is beyond belief. This is similar to saying that, as President, I would consult with Oliver North on foreign affairs because he deserves a chance to redeem himself. Ridiculous. The leadership in city government should be in the governing business, not the redemption business. Harp has just sent the message that any shady characters looking to reestablish themselves in New Haven politics are welcomed with open arms and an open campaign fund. The Harp campaign is not just bankrupt financially, but also ethically.
to Art Vandelay—
If you want Republicans, move down South.
If you read more books, you would know that there is little difference between Dems and Repuplcans. The only party in this country is the Big Money Party. Welcome to the oilgarchy.
posted by: obi on October 23, 2013 6:43am
Rude disruptive senior citizen supporters during Elicker’s responses not checked by moderators? Was it pre-paid or pre-planned or both? Just like what happens to President Barack Obama by GOP. The difference is the democrats call them out on it. Last night the moderators missed a chance to do the same.
I’ve attended each of the debates so far, and was glad that the questions last night had some actual substance to them. Agree with other commenters that the lack of follow up by the moderators let the same BS continue when Ms Harp evaded the questions.
Her comment about the deplorable conditions are her properties being “standard for senior housing units” was sickening. And defending the corruption of the men she will hire with Christianity was insulting and ridiculous.
Also interesting to note, she was clearly coached to smile more, but it was so obviously forced, that she looked very uncomfortable. Her sarcasm and screaming at the end to make her points were really in bad taste. And more than a few of her supporters thought they were there to debate Mr Elicker with her.
Please, Karen Dubois Walton, start preparing a team so you can run in two years should Ms Harp win.
I had the same thought about people being paid to disrupt Elicker. At one point, a Harp staffer wearing a suit came over and had a chat with one such disrupter. They clearly knew each other, and the conversation was probably something like, “hey don’t be such an obvious shill or you’re not getting paid.”
Anyone who skipped the debate because they thought it would be predictable, was wrong.
All both candidates are Democrats, there is a world of difference in their backgrounds, experience and the way they would handle the office of Mayor.
Their vision for New Haven is identical when it comes to seeing development as the key to building the tax base and neither one would disavow using eminent domain.
While the questions were pointed, it must be frustrating for the candidates to have such little time to reply. There has to be a compromise between a speech and a sound bite.
As for the audience, yes, there was heckling and there was applause for both candidates and audible responses to some answers. I did see a Harp volunteer repeatedly try to get one woman to calm down. But maybe that’s the price of energizing the electorate. Do we really want a silent and passive audience or is it better for each candidate to get feedback from the opposition supporters?
Personally, I’m still waiting for some new, big concepts for New Haven that don’t sound like the same solutions from 1985.
With the STUPIDEST responses and the RUDEST supporters, TONII HARP AND HER GANG ARE ALL GUILTY.
I never voted for him when his name was actually on the ballot but, g-d help me, I’m writing in John DeStefano this year.
Through my starry eyes, The Last Annual Guilty Party Convention was a grand success.
Because of our co-opting of the Debate ad, and subsequent facebook campaign, debate organizers did not require ANY CITIZEN’S to show an ID for this standing room only event.
Instead, they hired more cops….
Good thing, too—those Harpies were pretty unruly….
Quit the lies…you were once an alderwomen don’t tell me you went to the Senate knowing everything…and to keep Desteano’s croonies shows you have no knowledge you are riding on his coat tails…and all theses senators and alders and Rosa backing you up…one question who is the Mayor supporting?and is it not true Reggie Mayo now is an educational consultent for the city
It was so amazing to me that the comments from the people concerning this debate is so negative about Harp, but no one is not saying nor did I read in this independent News that Elicker said that ALL BLACK PEOPLE commits crimes. If he believes that then he doesn’t need to be the Mayor of this city. Crime is committed by people who indulged in wrongful acts and it doesn’t have a color.
Some of the disappointing answers from Harp:
—Her answers on Avallone, Brancati and CT Ortho make it clear that she won’t even apologize for bringing back pay-to-play. It’s brazen.
—On economic development, she says the prime thing is to “connect companies to state resources” rather than build a climate where people want to live and invest in New Haven. The question was about a software development firm that moved from New Haven to Cambridge, MA. They weren’t asking for state assistance: they needed access to software talent that gravitates to the most desirable locations. But again, it is part of pay-to-play. Part of the “play” is government subsidies to favored developers.
—She likes the one-way streets that were designed to move folks quickly out of town to their suburban houses, instead of two-way streets designed to help folks in New Haven.
—She wants to dismantle LCI, the city agency that gives her son’s business trouble for “black mold” and so forth. This is one of DeStefano’s better initiatives.
The summary of her answers is “back to the 1980s,” and not in a good way.
Harp to New Haven: I am going to take money from whomever I want, take counsel from whomever I want, say whatever I want, and you still elect me. You will elect me because, after 2 decades of service to the machine (and all the ignominies, ingratitudes, and compromises that entails), I am entitled to the position.
Pay-to-play, union and suburban contractor politics doom the city to dysfunction and debt.
I am going to take some of the blame on being unruly. I can not do anymore debates it is just to frustrating to here some of the things folks say. And some of the BS said. Although I will say I only lost it after a few of harp supporters started heckling and realized none of Justin’s would. As a friend said it is passion. I do agree with Dwightstreeter.
And I think there were a few times when harp answered even her supporters looked “baffled” on what the heck is she talking about? Where were the Hows? Justin was spot on but it seemed like his mike was on a lower volume.
Or you know, that never actually happened. Are we just going into straight up fantasy now to try to denigrate a candidate?
Also, the “One way streets stopped prostitution” line still has me rubbing my temples. What I don’t understand is what particular motivation does Harp have for protecting the city’s absurd system of one way streets near downtown? I for the life of me can’t figure out who or what interest group would support that. I can’t even fall back on the cliche “Her suburban supporters” line since most people I know who don’t live in New Haven would love for the streets to be 2 ways for the sake of simplicity.
Suppose Harp was white, and Elicker was black. In that case I would vote for Elicker, and I’m pretty sure he would receive at least 80% of the vote.
The most important consideration of the black and latino people who support Harp is her race. I personally don’t care about the ethnicity of a candidate, I just want the best one in office. The people of New Haven have a golden opportunity to change the way government is run in this city, but they’re going to blow it. It’s sad.
posted by: Tim Holahan on October 23, 2013 10:04am
Honda, what Justin said was that the biggest crime problem New Haven has is the shooting of young black men by young black men.
No one in the crowd, including Toni’s supporters, seemed to take issue with this remark. I was surprised by Justin’s willingness to “make it plain,” as a black leader once urged us to.
If you don’t agree with Justin, that’s your right, but I don’t think you’ll find many others who feel the way you do, and even fewer who think that his remark was racist, as you suggest.
At some point you have to look at the numbers, and the stories, and the pain that dozens of people in this city experience every year when a young person, often a child, dies. We owe the dead and their survivors the honesty to face the problem, and I think that’s what Justin intended.
If you want a reminder, here’s some history:
Harp being against the 2-way conversions is baffling. Does she realize the public efforts that are underway, right now, to make change?
The cynic in me believes that someone on Team Harp is already lined up for Jim Travers job as head of Traffic & Parking, and that Harp’s stance will be the “policy differences” cited as an excuse to get rid of him.
Bravo The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee of Immanuel Missionary Baptist Church. Actually I am shocked that you had the nerve to sign your name to your comments! A lot of other people feel exactly the same way.
Ramonesfan I think I understand what you are saying and it is a very sad state of affairs. I can’t remember a Destefano race dividing the city so much. It is embarrassing that New Haven would be reflected in this ugly black versus white light. But are you saying that you are black and if Elicker were black that you would vote for him? If so, that is a terrible reason.
Clarification need: so is Toni Harp saying her street in Westville was plagued with prostitution?
Ahhh, that’s the comment Honda is referencing. Well then I guess Barack Obama has also said all black people since he said the same exact thing in his impromptu press conference on the Trayvon Martin ruling when he said the African American community in cities are well aware of the fact young black men are both disproportionately the victims and perpetrators of violent crime.
My apologies, Citizens,
I think my re-emergence, coupled with the threat of direct GUILTY PARTy ACTION, brought the true colors out of the Harp Supporters…...
Thank God I left the building prior to the debate.
Things might have escalated beyond a laugh riot….
posted by: Josh Levinson on October 23, 2013 10:55am
If New Haven Independent comments were representative of the largest New Haven demographics, Elicker would almost certainly trounce Toni Harp.
However, as Harp herself pointed out, Elicker has not done well outside of upper middle class white voters, which is a small part of New Haven’s overall demographics.
So the question is: What are NHI commenters missing on Harp that the rest of New Haven cares about, or what is the rest of New Haven missing that NHI commenters care about? Why is there such a disparate view on Harp/Elicker based on race and income? Do we truly just want to vote for someone who looks just like us?
Serious, non-snarky, question. Can anyone out there fill me in on what Toni Harp has achieved or ‘gotten done’ in Hartford for the past 20 years as a Senator?
Ms. Harp’s wiki page claims that her family owes over a million dollars in back taxes. Which she denies. Can this possibly be true? If so, how can she run for mayor?
Frankly I’m against one way street being changed to two way street also for many reasons and that fact stands, I don’t care if he was purple that wasn’t the right statement to make of any race and if indeed Obama said that im totally against him doing so. This City is a place where all people should be treated equally and not by the color of their skin. So face it Harp did a wonderful job at the debate and you all have to find era to make your candidate look like a King. I like Elicker but not as a Mayor but to each is own and I don’t talk to fake names like Madcap.
Question: Why Elicker doesn’t owe a home in New Haven? The last I checked it was in his wife’s name so if he running for Mayor he too should pay property taxes right?
here’s the story about Wendell Harp’s taxes.
He ran a multimilliion dollar real estate business.
The State Department of Revenue Services audited the business years ago.
The state claimed that the business owed $600,000 in use taxes, which most people on this site have no idea about. Use taxes are sales taxes on goods and services purchased out of state and “used” in state.
Harp’s business disagreed with the audit’s assertion, and went to court alleging that the State was misapplying the law.
The case wound its way through the court system and one lower court actually agreed with Wendell’s position and ruled that the business didn’t owe the taxes.
Ultimately, the case reached the State Supreme Court, which ruled that the Department of Revenue Services had appropriately applied the law.
By that time, Wendell Harp was dying of cancer. The business passed through his will to his son. The son is negotiating payment with the state, which will include not just the original $600,000 over which the dispute arose, but an additional $400,000 in penalties and interest (i.e. we’ll make money on the deal).
The Connecticut Supreme Court does not take trivial disputes. It takes cases that will clarify the enforcement of laws. It was a legitimate legal dispute over the application of law, ultimately decided by the final arbiter of such disputes.
Justin Elicker’s character assassins on this site have transformed this dispute into an allegation that because her family are “tax avoiders” or “tax cheats” or “didn’t pay their taxes”, that somehow this is a reflection on her character.
It’s not. It’s a reflection only of the fact that Justin Elicker has no record of accomplishment to run on, and his desperate supporters are grasping at straws rather than discuss the future of the city.
That’s how Toni Harp “can run for Mayor.”
And by the way, if you’ve bought anything on Craig’s list out of state and haven’t paid your use taxes, well, don’t run for mayor.
Then Honda, talk to me. HhE stands for Harold H. Ellis.
Justin and his wife own a three family house and live on the third floor. It is a fair bet that if they had unpaid taxes or were slumlords in any way, that would be out by now.
As someone who lives just inside of Newhallville, and who is white, I can comfortably say that most of the villains in this city have the same color of skin as most of the victims in this city. That is the true tragedy of Newhallville – the best people you could ever know living next door to some of the worse.
For myself, the number one reason I object to Sen. Harp is pay-to-play.
A close second is her inability to give a strait answer or take responsibility for anything.
I also object to her playing identity politics. I think it would be great if we had a minority as mayor—a competent minority.
@Accountability—your facts and timeline are unfortunately wrong, and it’s too bad the Harp family’s tax issues haven’t been better reported.
The CT Supreme Court made a final ruling on the tax dispute back in 2003. (Well before Mr. Harp was dying from cancer.)
The initial bill dated to the years 1993-1996, and I am pretty sure it was originally about $400,000, with the rest being interest now due by statute. Three-quarters of that interest would be forgiven under the amnesty program, if and only if the taxes were paid.
After losing at the Supreme Court, why the Harps went so many years without doing anything to pay towards this bill is a question you’d have to ask them. But certainly this isn’t current history.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on October 23, 2013 1:59pm
I believe the street Toni is talking about is Lynwood Place, which is where she used to live when she was Alderwoman of Ward 2 about 20 years ago.
The downtown streets were converted to one-way in 1959 in conjunction with highway construction for the sole purpose of making it easier to get in and out of downtown in a car.
Many other streets outside of downtown were made one-way due to crime, and narrow street widths, but this was done later and not for the primary purpose of traffic circulation.
Harp is confusing the two. I hope that she isn’t actually against the possible conversion of one-way downtown streets, because that would be a disaster for the city should she get elected. Hopefully someone will inform her of the difference between what was done on Lynwood Place versus George Street.
@accountability, ok, that helps, thanks. I guess it isn’t politically expedient, but Ms. Harp should really issue a statement to this effect. If she hasn’t already. If your explanation is true.
So are you against admitting problems then? Urban violence is disproportionately in the African American community in cities around the country. That’s not racist to say, it’s a fact. If you don’t accept that you’re never going to be able to solve the problem since there are specific issues that cause this, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Decades of poverty, violence, racism(particularly in the judicial system leaving a perpetual underclass) need to be addressed and mitigated, and that’s not going to happen if you pretend that violent crime is equally distributed around cities.
Also what are your reasons for being against two way streets? Seriously there are numerous people here continuously scratching their heads on why anyone doesn’t support it.
Your reply is a very sad note about American society. It’s too bad New Haven & Connecticut is a one party state. It’s sad that entrenched politicians like Toni Harp can be elected unopposed. I agree money has allot to do about it, but the voters really have no choice except to continue an entrenched system. How sad!
@ Jonathan Hopkins
Sorry, but you clearly don’t know what she is referring to. You are right that she lived on Lynwood before she moved to Westville appx 6 - 7 years ago. In fact, she lived on Lynwood well after the 1959 conversion of Downtown streets as well as the later conversion you reference as having been made “due to crime, and narrow street widths..”. It was this later street conversion period, when prostitution and crime were rampant in the Chapel / Howe / George district that she is referring to. The street conversion was part of the clean-up effort for the Chapel / Howe prostitution enterprises.
During her time as Alderman for the 2 district, she was well aware of the neighborhood problems faced by her district, and was a principal architect of getting those needs addressed. I doubt she needs help from Elicker’s 3 year lifetime of experience at the BoA handling East Rock problems.
@Razzie, the prostitution story is fine, but if Harp knows so much about the current New Haven, then surely she knows that the streets under current discussion for conversion to two-way do not have a prostitution problem—so why does she bring that up?
Elicker knows that one-way streets are bad for business. They are bad for the prostitution business for the same reason they are bad for the restaurant business—it makes it difficult to get to and identify the specific business location. Elicker correctly the identified the streets under question as featuring restaurants, not prostitutes. Harp has been working in Hartford, not New Haven, and doesn’t seem to understand the current discussion. Likely she will change her mind when she gets up to speed what is going on here.
“Here’s Mr. Open/Accountable/Smart/Substantive/Responsible/Engaged/Honest on his signature [failed] citywide initiative: The Mayor screwed up the politics.
Way to take responsibility, Justin. You’ve accomplished relatively little in public life, and blame the failure of your signature issue on someone else. So upright, independent and not controlled by anyone else.”
My thoughts exactly.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on October 24, 2013 9:25am
I think you misunderstood my post.
The question during the debate was about downtown one-way street conversion. The downtown streets were converted to one-way in 1959 in conjunction with highway construction to accommodate more automobile traffic from the suburbs.
Harp said she was opposed to this because of what was done on her street, but the conversion of Lynwood Place to one-way was done later than the downtown streets and for different reasons as part of a different program.
She either misunderstood the question or is confused about the difference between one-way downtown streets and one-way residential streets.
In your blind attempt to defend Harp you actually contradicted what she believes and said in the debate, while agreeing with a restating what I said. It’s really quite hilarious, you should re-read Harp’s answer to the question, then my post.
Jonathon—From the transcript:
8:21: Question: do you support the conversion of two-way to one-way streets?
Elicker supports the idea.
Harp doesn’t. She said the only way the city stopped prostitution near her house (it’s not clear which house) was to change the street to one-way. She calls for keeping one-way streets.
You should note that the Chapel / George/ district is littlem more than 1 block from Lynwood. Thus, her statement that the street conversion of Chapel / Howe was in part due to the prostitution problem is factually correct. I’m not aware of any other fact situation you are talking about.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on October 25, 2013 10:40am
The question was very clearly related to the ongoing debate about conversion of one-way downtown streets to two-way.
A series of public meetings and workshops were held this week on that very topic.
Harp is either uninformed about this very important topic, or she is confused about the difference between downtown streets and neighborhood streets.
The conversion of downtown streets in 1959 had nothing to do with crime - it was for the sole purpose of increasing roadway capacity for cars commuting in from the suburbs.
Residential streets like Lynwood Place were made into one-way streets at a later point for various reasons, including crime and narrow street widths.
I really hope that Harp is not opposed to the possible conversion of downtown’s one-way streets back into two-way because of her confusion about the difference between why streets like George, Crown, Chapel, Elm, Grove, Park, York, College, Temple and Church were changed to one-way (which was for traffic circulation) and why streets like Lynwood, Garden, Day, Kensington and Dickerman were converted to one-way (which was because of crime and narrow street widths).
Which is it - does Harp think that residential streets like Lynwood Place were converted to one-way for the same reason that downtown streets like Church were, or did she not realize that the question was specifically about downtown streets being converted even though there was a very well advertized (by the city and newspaper articles) series of public workshops on the topic?
Art Vandelay: There’s a Republican Yalie running for alderman this time. And Rick Elser ran for mayor a few years ago. I wish somebody would run just to offer an alternative to the poverty/resentment/entitlement complex. Would likely be quite unpleasant, as when Rick ran for Congress against Rosa, nice-little-old-grandmothers actually spat at him. So much for “tolerance/inclusion/diversity/openness” and the like.
You are creating testimony that simply isn’t there. Nothing in the quoted transcript passage says she limited her answer to the (1 block) Lynwood Street conversion, when Chapel / Howe was little more than 1 block away—and literally filled with prostitutes. I am not in need of a lecture on what is going on now. The focus of our disagreement is on your statements misconstruing the substance of her debate testimony. I have reread the transcript and take issue with your construction of what it says.
Razzie, fair warning, standing toe to tow with Jonathan Hopkins on his home tuff of urban planning, history of New Haven, and architectural practices is a good way to get burned. Sure, I find him a bit much at times, but he hands down one of the best member of the NHI Commentariat.
AS the end of the day, Sen. Harp must have been confused: about the question, or about best practices.