Labor Favorites Weigh Mayoral Quests

Thomas MacMillan PhotoJorge Perez will probably decide first. Marty Looney will decide next. Then labor will have to decide—and an instant top contender will emerge to become New Haven’s next mayor.

That was the early upshot of one of the most important dramas of the now off-and-running campaign to replace New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, who announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of 2013 after a record 20 years in office.

The drama: Who will get the backing of the UNITE/HERE union-affiliated vote-pulling organization that has taken command of both the Board of Aldermen and the Democratic Town Committee as well as helping to elect a governor?

Labor has for years been grooming Board of Aldermen President Jorge Perez (pictured above at DeStefano’s official retirement announcement Tuesday night) as almost a mayor-in-waiting. He has toyed with the idea of running but never gone ahead with it. In the face of DeStefano’s announcement, Perez faces a now-or-never decision.

He said Tuesday evening that he will make that decision—whether to run for mayor this year—over the next week.

Prepared to face the question at DeStefano’s formal announcement Tuesday night, Perez handed out a printed response. “I have faithfully served the city for many years as the alderman of the 5th Ward, and have always intended to keep serving in some capacity,” it read in part. “With the mayor’s surprise announcement, the opportunity for me (as well as others) to explore other opportunities to continue the serve the city has arisen. In the next week or so, I will be talking to my family, my colleagues, my constituents, and others, and only then will I make a decision concerning in what role will I continue to serve the city.”

Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by the unions last year reportedly showed that voters wanted a new mayor, and that two New Haven state senators—Looney and Toni Harp—came out far ahead of all other possible candidates. Harp told the Independent this week she’s not planning to run for mayor.

Looney, on the other hand, is keeping his options open. But he’s not following the same timetable as Perez’s.

“I don’t even want to discuss [a mayoral candidacy] at this point. It’s far too early,” Looney told the Independent Tuesday. He said supporters have been calling him to urge him to run since the news broke Monday about DeStefano’s pending retirement. “I’m obviously gratified by the unsolicited offers of support” and will have more to say on the subject at a future point, he said. He is currently in the midst of shepherding gun-control proposals through the state legislature; the day the DeStefano news broke, Looney was at the Capitol until long past midnight at a hearing on the subject.

Looney challenged DeStefano in a mayoral primary in 2001, which took place on the same day that terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Looney lost that race. He has since ascended to the number-two position in the State Senate, a perch he clearly enjoys.

Two other candidates have already started running for mayor, state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield and East Rock Alderman Justin Elicker. Neither has labor’s early support; Elicker is unlikely ever to get it. Hillhouse High School Principal Kermit Carolina also is seriously considering a candidacy, as is Probate Judge Jack Keyes.

The UNITE/HERE-affiliated labor group isn’t the only constituency in town. Its endorsement won’t automatically elect the next mayor. Besides the business community, strong independent activists groups have sprung up in town in recent years and involve themselves in political and civic campaigns on issues ranging from new-urbanist design and traffic-calming to cycling and public-art . But an endorsement from the labor group will probably mean the town committee’s support and the backing of the most organized get-out-the-vote operation in town. (In New Haven, Democratic primaries generally determine the winner of the mayoral election. No Republican has won a mayoral election since 1951. No Republicans even bothered running for any of New Haven’s aldermanic or state legislative seats the past two years.)

Laurie Kennington, president of Yale’s UNITE/HERE Local 34, said no one’s mind is made up yet.

“We’re excited to participate” in the coming campaign, she said Tuesday evening. “It seems like it’s going to be a vibrant political season.”

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posted by: Nhv.Org on January 29, 2013  9:14pm

Let the people decide.  Let the politicians that are running take their stances in their own words and hopefully the people will watch the debates and speeches and make informed decisions.

posted by: Honest in New Haven on January 29, 2013  10:27pm

Neither “candidate” is going to run.  As you point out, Marty Looney has a nice perch in the State Senate, so why would he sign up for cleaning up DeStefano’s fiscal mess—which we taxpayers will only know the full extent of when he leaves office.  As for Jorge Perez, he’ll always be an Alderman because he will not run for broader office unless it is gift wrapped and promised to him.

posted by: Fair and Honest on January 29, 2013  11:35pm

I’m not voting for anybody Unite/HERE backs—I don’t want a mayor who is already owned by somebody else.

posted by: robn on January 30, 2013  9:12am

I’m guessing that UNITE won’t make a brazen endorsement and will rather move quietly and assertively in the background. That’s their M.O.

And god forbid the electorate become aware of the current suburban puppetry of the BOA.

posted by: Seth Poole on January 30, 2013  10:35am

I initially felt like the future of OUR City was going to be another exercise in advanced cronyism, but this year’s mayoral election has the potential of being a truly transformative process for OUR city.  It troubles me that people who have a solid and respectable footing in Hartford would entertain a run for the Mayoral seat.  It would best serve the city for these folks to continue advocate for the City on the state level.  With Mayor DeStefano stepping down, the field is as level as it can possibly be.  Everyone has had great points to date.  It is time for all of the candidates to sit down with one another to decide which partnerships and ideas can combine forces to approach the primary from a more strategic perspective.

posted by: streever on January 30, 2013  10:54am

This puts into greater perspective a conversation I overheard—an illegal conversation mind you—between one of the men contemplating a run for Mayor and a top Mayoral employee, maybe, 2? years ago, before Unite Here “beat” the mayor.

No one “beat” anyone. As most political decisions in New Haven go, so to did this one—behind all of our backs, and even behind the backs of those of us who worked on the ground for candidates.

As it stands now, there are only two challengers who openly accepted the risk of a public election before a truely shocking announcement.

I fully believe that both Holder-Winfield and Elicker had no idea the Mayor was stepping down. The same can not be said of any other potential candidate—none of them suggested they may run this year prior to learning the seat would be empty.

Honest: If Unite supports Perez and DeStefano steps down, what makes you think they aren’t trying to offer him the Mayorship in a gift-wrapped box?

Right on. The election should not be decided by Unite or anyone else, but by voters hearing the platforms and deciding.

posted by: Fair and Honest on January 30, 2013  11:24am

> If Unite supports Perez and DeStefano steps down, what makes you think they aren’t trying to offer him the Mayorship in a gift-wrapped box?

Exactly.  And they will expect plenty of special “gift-wrapped boxes” for themselves in return.

posted by: anonymous on January 30, 2013  11:26am

Is anyone going to run for Alderperson against the Perez/James suburb-controlled Union machine?

posted by: Curious on January 30, 2013  12:07pm

How has Labor been grooming Perez for years to become Mayor?

posted by: Curious on January 30, 2013  12:18pm

I’m really worried about the Local 34-backed mayoral candidate pulling resources from the union locals and national UniteHERE to flood New Haven with ads and buy the mayor’s office.

Local 34 already has Yale by the short hairs; if they control city hall as well, Yale is in for a rough time of it.  This is coming from a member of Local 34.

I’m all for fighting for good contracts for members, but this outright control of local politics is unseemly, and could end up hurting the goose that lays the golden eggs.

posted by: Eddie on January 30, 2013  1:07pm

I think it would be great if Jorge joined this race.  He would stand out in his public service and deep commitment to grassroots organizing.

As a volunteer in the last aldermanic campaigns, I was one of many individuals knocking on hundreds of doors.  These aldermanic campaigns breathed life into political participation across New Haven.  It also created one of the most diverse movements, in which I have had the opportunity to participate.  Before these campaigns I had never seen so many volunteers from literally every neighborhood in the city.  Through this grassroots organizing, three priorities became clear: increasing youth opportunities, employment opportunities, and decreasing violence.

In addition to serving his ward, Jorge has been a leader on all three fronts.  The jobs pipeline is a program that I find particularly inspiring.  It is inspiring in its potential (readily being realized) to connect New Haven residents to good jobs.  It is also inspiring in that it is the outcome of the collective effort of so many New Haveners.  For mayor, I would love to see someone who is capable of continuing to build a broad and deep consensus around the pressing challenges that confront New Haven.

posted by: streever on January 30, 2013  1:52pm

Fair and Honest:
and, as if on cue, a member of the union is already posting about how great Perez would be, and repeating the narrative that he and his friends were just volunteers. Extraordinary volunteers, who also happen to be members of Unite Here.

posted by: Fair and Honest on January 30, 2013  2:03pm

O.M.G. Eddie, you spin so fast and so hard, you should hit warp speed soon.

At least with this propaganda, it’s so blatant it’s easy to spot. Keep it up!

posted by: dorothy25 on January 30, 2013  3:08pm

Fair and Honest; Steever

Why, in your view, is it that the only people who can speak up in this forum with authenticity are Justin supporters?  Stop with the personal attacks on any and everyone who dares to disagree with you and engage with the arguments!

I for one, think a mark of a smart and careful leader is not being afraid to let grassroots organizing inform your policy agenda.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on January 30, 2013  4:12pm

You hit it on the head streever!

I am tired of these games. I want A FAIR AN HONEST ELECTION. Not a machine ran one…and yes Eddie it is a machine and not something to be proud of. In fact I have seen the deals and bargains and trade offs happen. And I understand that is part of politics. But is it moral and are you really proud to be part of that kind of stuff? I head someone say, we do not want so and so to be part of the Dem party because they are not doing what we want…WHAT now the Dem party will not allow people to have there own views unless it is UNITES?? thats messed up.

posted by: accountability on January 30, 2013  4:40pm

“Labor has for years been grooming Board of Aldermen President Jorge Perez….”

This is way over the journalistic line, and the NHI should be ashamed of itself. Perez may be a close ally of some unions, but he’s also a 20-year alderman, twice President of the Board, with a rock-solid record of legislative accomplishment. Any writer who would claim that anyone could “groom” Jorge Perez for anything, as if he has no independent mind or will of his own, either doesn’t know Perez personally or is driving a political agenda.

Contrast that sentence with the facially neutral coverage of Elicker in the last two stories about his campaign. One could frame Elicker’s record and candidacy in any number of negative lights that sound factual:

Elicker, who moved to the 10th ward in order to run for alderman and just three years later thinks he’s ready to be mayor….

Elicker, the latest in a long line of fresh faced smartest-Yalies-in-the-room to enter New Haven politics…

New Haven’s emerging tech-oriented business elite has been grooming Elicker for a run at City Hall…

Elicker, whose only successful legislative initiative last year was a resolution that allowed him to go to Hartford to try and fail to reduce property taxes for the wealthiest homeowners in the City…

Elicker, known for politically failed transportation schemes to benefit East Rock, Downtown and shoreline commuters…

Elicker, who represents a wealthy predominantly white neighborhood, chose to kick off his campaign in the City’s other wealthy, predominantly white neighborhood….

There are loads of ways for journalists to state things as facts that are really powerful editorializing. I’m not arguing that the NHI’s reporters should treat Elicker this way, but that there should be some consistency.

The NHI’s stories on Elicker to date read like campaign press releases. Perez isn’t even in the race, and already the NHI states as fact that he’s being “groomed” by someone else, and commenters are going on and on about “puppetry.”

The NHI’s format gives it enviable editorial freedom, but nothing should give it freedom from standards of accuracy, fairness and consistency.

posted by: Curious on January 30, 2013  5:00pm

No evidence to the claim of “Labor has for years been grooming Board of Aldermen President Jorge Perez (pictured above at DeStefano’s official retirement announcement Tuesday night) as almost a mayor-in-waiting”?

That’s a heady accusation to make without at least backing it up with some of your own articles on the supposed grooming.  Surely there must be something out there or you wouldn’t make this claim.


I find this particularly interesting, since I have been in local 34 for years, and did not asked to take any such survey.  Makes you wonder who they are polling.

“Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by the unions last year reportedly showed that voters wanted a new mayor”

posted by: accountability on January 30, 2013  5:01pm

anonymous: “Is anyone going to run for Alderperson against the Perez/James suburb-controlled Union machine?”

You’re smart, articulate and have lots of winning policy ideas. It only takes 250-400 votes to win. It’s January. Primary’s in 8 months. Why don’t you run?

posted by: Eddie on January 30, 2013  5:06pm

Streever, I disagree with you on many issues.  But I have never questioned your motives and have tried to be personally respectful.  I would appreciate the same.  I’m not misrepresenting myself, so please don’t insinuate that I am a liar. 

Unfortunately, I’m not a union member. But I abhor the idea that union members’ participation in politics and deliberation is inherently illegitimate.  Unions are integral to working class participation in democracy.  This as always been the class.  Everyday union members undertake substantial personal risk to advance participation in democracy, both in electoral politics and their workplace.  These are decisions that require political and personal integrity. 

Resorting to personal attacks and unfounded allegations is disappointing, particularly this early in the electoral season.

posted by: Curious on January 30, 2013  5:19pm

Question: By engaging so heavily in local politics, does Local 34 open itself up to Freedom of Information Act requests for the minutes of their meetings?

They put up a lot (if not all) of what they spend for a vote at committee meetings.

posted by: Greg-Morehead on January 30, 2013  5:41pm

OK.  Here is my take on a number of these issues/stories.

Everyone that knows me knows that I don’t have a problem using my name and saying how I feel and I don’t have a problem telling someone something face to face as well.

Lets start with the unions..
Please people, wake up and see that the unions are ALL about control.  How is it that Bob Proto made a statement concerning taking over the BOA and that they are in control(as clear as day) and then he tried to retract his statement and turn it into something else?  How is it that two years before the union takeover election, the unions were out in various neighborhoods rallying people to support a jobs pipeline etc and the union agenda?  It wasn’t just random phone calls from the union that was being made to residents of the city.  This was all planned by the Unions.  And now with everyone in office that they wanted on the BOA, now their jobs pipeline has come to the forefront and other issues that they know affect people the most.  This legislation was NOT introduced by the BOA, but has been brewing by the Unions for a while.

And now George Perez might run for Mayor?  Come on, they have been grooming him for this day.  Even if Destefano didn’t come out with his announcement on yesterday, I believe that they would have still ran George against the Mayor and used all of the union funds to get him in office.  Its also a shame that all of the money that was used for the BOA elections by the Unions and the money that they will put out for this years election, is coming from the local dues and contributions.  Its also a shame that when these same union people whose money is being used for things like elections etc, when they question the higher ups, there is a backlash against them. 
Some way, some how, the dynamics has to change.  Thats my take on the unions. Forthcoming is my take on the candidates for Mayor..

posted by: anonymous on January 30, 2013  6:05pm

When does that new movie about how a large swath of the Hill neighborhood was destroyed (under DeStefano & Perez’s watch) come out?

posted by: Dwightstreeter on January 30, 2013  9:08pm

Isn’t the underlying problem the absence of more than a single party?
The Republicans and Green Party are both moribund on the local level.
It is not good to have officials in office too long, but term limits are not the answer. Running for office is hard work. It is time consuming and expensive.
New Haven has public funds for mayoral candidates through the Democracy Fund. Will this lead to a competition of ideas? We’re about to find out.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on January 30, 2013  9:08pm

Good question Curious

accountability- Justin is my alderman…

in fact me and and many of my neighbors (I live in a mostly black community)ASKED HIM TO BE OUR ALDERMAN FOR YEARS BEFORE HE DID!! So lets get that straight! (We are near the Hess on state! Don’t tell me my area or even Nash and that area are rich white people?? Because you would be dead wrong!

ELICKER has spent time getting our kids jobs and even creating them in non profit groups. He has gotten our kids involved in politics and community taught them what stewardship is.

ELICKER has helped our seniors save there homes and get help with NUMBERS of issues!!!!

ELICKER got our defunked merchants association up and running again!

ELICKER has fought for fairness in the placement of our in the better school to make the lottery system better. AND MORE FAIR!

ELICKER Is in the process of a traffic slowing fix…because several of our children have been hit on state street (one is disabled now because of it!) (it is a state road so much harder to do!)And it is like whalley a highway!

YOU KNOW NOTHING about him except the fact that he is “East Rock” That is a bit profilish of you.

The issues you mention that justin fought for are all issues very important to the health of this city. And the opportunity it has to offer community’s like mine!

And these are not Elickers failures they are the failures of the BOA as a WHOLE!!! Nice twist though. But a bit off!

“The NHI’s format gives it enviable editorial freedom, but nothing should give it freedom from standards of accuracy, fairness and consistency”....back at ya!

posted by: David S Baker on January 30, 2013  9:09pm

Greg Morehead,

Spot on.  And as another commentator who uses his real name, (do you get hate mail too?)  might I add, if a corporation or even the upper tier at Yale were pulling this crap it would be considered a grave injustice.  But tack the word Union to a candidate slate and they are suddenly altruistic to the point you can overlook whether they are the most QUALIFIED for the job.  They know how to work together. But so do lemmings.

JD knew this was coming in 2011.  Union dues are going to fund a senate run for him soon mark my words.  And the bulk of your new DTC was Georgie pulling back room deals for 34 so I imagine the nods this year will be fairly obvious.

God help us if the voters don’t wake up this fall.

Elicker, wheres my lawn sign?!

posted by: cedarhillresident! on January 30, 2013  9:10pm

PS Greg-Morehead well said

posted by: cedarhillresident! on January 30, 2013  9:22pm

one more thing did I mention that he got us a beat cop

and a new playground. That was a major fight…but while we were fighting he got a group together to paint the playground so our kids would not get paint slivers in there finger when on it!!
before elicker

after elicker

Did I mention he got friends of east rock up and going again and years after it is still going? They save the city a ton of cash and help keep the park nice…including the path they cleaned up to unite my area to the rest of east rock!

Lets not go into the work he did in China!

Elicker is a good honest and for real soul!

I know I have more things but their are that many!

posted by: accountability on January 30, 2013  9:53pm

cedarhillresident: I’m glad you’re satisfied with your Alderman’s representation of Ward 10. Three thoughts:

1. The point of my post was to contrast the NHI’s journalistic double standard. All of the things I wrote about Elicker are either editorializing or negative facts that the NHI could have written about Elicker if they had chosen to frame their coverage of him negatively the way they chose to editorialize about Perez. I don’t think they should do that to either candidate, but if they are going to do that to Perez, they should use the same techniques in their coverage of Elicker.

2. It is interesting that all the great things you cite about Elicker could just as easily apply to most Alders in the city. Those are routine constituent service tasks—vitally important to you and your neighbors, and I’m glad he’s done them—but routine ward-level constituent service nonetheless, and something that most alders work hard at. There are a half dozen commenters here who constantly talk about how Elicker is the only Alder who has a vision for the whole city or who thinks and cares about the whole city. The discussions of the question of the size of the Board were filled with it ad nauseum. That just isn’t true. Elicker’s record on issues of relevance to the entire city is much weaker than his boosters claim, and even if it were that strong, it’s false and insulting to insinuate that other alders don’t share a similar commitment to the welfare of the whole city. Whatever criticism people may want to offer of Jorge Perez, he’s always focused on issues affecting the entire city while also representing his ward.

3. I never said that Ward 10 was all white. That would be stupid. But if you want to try to claim that the demographics of Wards 10 and 25 are not dramatically whiter and wealthier than most of the rest of the city, go ahead.

posted by: accountability on January 30, 2013  10:10pm

cedarhillresident!: “And these are not Elickers failures they are the failures of the BOA as a WHOLE!!! Nice twist though. But a bit off!”

Classic fact-challenged NHI comment. Actually, the BoA voted unanimously to accept a reval phase in, even though for many alders in low-income wards it meant that their constituents would see less reval tax savings for the first few years. Justin and the Mayor just couldn’t get the job done in Hartford.

Anyway, I’m glad he does a good job for your Ward.

posted by: accountability on January 30, 2013  10:30pm

Greg Morehead, et al. Please answer a question for me. If there’s all this deep dark conspiratorial control going on, and Jorge Perez is part of it, why in the world is Justin Elicker the chair of the Human Services and Environmental Policy Committee of the Board of Aldermen? 

Why isn’t some corrupt puppet in that chair, instead of Elicker having control of the agenda of one of the most important committees of the board and hence a platform from which he can get his name in the NHI every other day?

Why, for that matter, is Andrea Jackson-Brooks chair of the finance Committee? When the NHI writes about the “supermajority,” her name’s usually not on that list. Yet, there she is, driving the agenda of arguably the most powerful committee of the Board.

Could it be that Jorge Perez and the leadership of the current board of aldermen are leaders who care about the city, recognize expertise, govern inclusively and are willing to share power with people that they don’t always align with politically? You know, statesmen, leaders, the kind of people in whom we can place our trust?

Nah. Couldn’t be. Everything they do is all corrupt backroom deals. So why don’t all the Friends of Justin on this site ask him what corrupt backroom deal he cut to keep his chairmanship? Would love to hear that answer.

posted by: Greg-Morehead on January 30, 2013  11:33pm

Before I start with the candidates, one last thing about the unions..  Why is it also that none of the BOA can speak independently without a union representative(Scot Marks or someone else) by their side?  Why is it that they can’t go anywhere without a group of “union reps” at their hip?

Ok, Here is my take on the candidates for Mayor..

Justin - I think that Justin has the ability to bring this city up from where it is, to another level.  I believe that his experience as an Alderman has shown him how to tackle big issues and issues that are close to peoples hearts.  i.e. the budget, taxes etc.  Justin is visible..  He’s in the community, has his ear to the ground and the people like him.  He’s not just in East Rock, but can be seen all around New Haven attending various events and speaking up and out..

Gary - In my opinion, Gary has the ability to lead, but is not visible.  I think its good that Gary is in Hartford and up there fighting for us(94th district) but he’s not seen down here in New Haven.  If we didn’t see things on the news here and there, we wouldn’t know whats going on in relation to him.  The only time that I have received literature (1 or 2 items) from him has been around election time.  When I cast my vote, I don’t cast it based on the color of someones skin, but the works that have been done.. That is another story in and of itself..

Kermit Carolina - I think that he should just stick with principaling Hillhouse H.S.( I know that’s not a word-lol).  Kermit should deal with the current investigation against him and let that subside.  And, he’s someone that’s not well known in ALL sectors of New Haven.

Judge Keys - I know Judge Keys personally and I feel that he should be a consultant or hold a position in City Hall.  No one, please don’t take this the wrong way, but IMHO, our next Mayor should be young and vibrant and that person should take counsel from a seasoned veteran like Judge Keys. 

This above is MY opinion..

As others step in the ring, I will give my analysis. lol

posted by: accountability on January 31, 2013  7:17am

Greg Morehead: “now their jobs pipeline has come to the forefront and other issues that they know affect people the most.  This legislation was NOT introduced by the BOA, but has been brewing by the Unions for a while.”

Wow. This comment is so sickening, so disgusting in so many ways it’s tough to know where to start.

Many of the candidates who ran for the board and won proposed the pipeline idea to the voters on the doors. It’s one of the reasons they won.

To say that the legislation “wasn’t introduced by the Board of Aldermen” is utterly incoherent unless you’re trying to say that those members of the Board who don’t agree with you or are affiliated with groups you don’t like are somehow illegitimate. That the members of the Board who championed the idea, particularly Jorge Perez and Tyisha Walker, don’t count as being on the Board of Aldermen. And if that’s what you believe, I’d like to know who you are to tell the voters of most of the city that they were so stupid they elected someone who is somehow not a “real” Alderperson?

Policy ideas come from lots of places. Are you trying to say that Justin Elicker invented the idea of the trolley out of his own head while an alderman without learning about it from transportation advocacy groups? That seems kind of silly, and in reality that idea was “NOT introduced by the BOA, but had been brewing in the heads” of politically myopic people who fear riding the city buses for years.

The anti-democratic impulse on this site to delegitimize the choices made by thousands of people in 2011 reveals much more about the sour grapes commenters than it does about any of the leaders elected in those elections or any of the hundreds of volunteers [yes, Streever, volunteers] who sweated their butts off in support of those candidates.

posted by: streever on January 31, 2013  9:06am

Eddie, if you aren’t so close with them, why not be yourself here?

People who use their real name—even if I disagree with them—and don’t hide their connection to other groups are authentic. Others are not. When people are connected to Local 34, GESO, and Unite Here on Facebook, but choose to portray a character with no alliance at all on the NHI, it is intellectually dishonest.

I use my name. Everyone knows where I stand. The people who don’t state their stance, who hide behind anonymity, while sniping away at the candidate they don’t like? I don’t think they are very authentic.

posted by: streever on January 31, 2013  9:09am

If Perez doesn’t engage in back room deals, I’d love for him to hold Aldermanic discussion in a public meeting, instead of a “caucaus” closed to the public.

The majority of discussion happens in the private meeting. That isn’t how law-making should be done.

20 years of service and he has not increased transparency on the Board—he has reduced it.

He told me before I was incredibly naive, that politics isn’t this big public thing. Well, I’d rather be naive than opaque.

posted by: HhE on January 31, 2013  10:09am

I’d sweet my butt off if it promised me and my mates a great contract—a contract so great, we did not want anyone to know its terms.  So much for “volunteers” not getting paid. 

The reason the NHI does not follow accountability’s narrative of Justin is that it would be incredibly dishonest to do so.

posted by: Eddie on January 31, 2013  10:10am


I don’t see what my association with “them” has to do with anything.  Clearly I’m partial to the vision of New Haven that this labor affiliated social movement has articulated.  I was also a GESO member, but that is no longer the case.  Still I don’t understand your reasoning that the time I volunteered on campaigns or my voice in public deliberation should be negated.  You are friends with Elicker and partial to the issues he advocates.  I would admire any work that you undertook to build consensus around these issues.  I would especially admire work to build consensus across many neighborhoods in New Haven.  I may disagree with you on the issues, but I’m not going to speculate about your motives for engaging in politics. 

I continue to be astounded by the disrespect directed and all those who volunteered in the last aldermanic campaign.  Despite the motives imputed by those commenting on these threads, I and the volunteers who canvassed with me were simply inspired to realize a new vision for New Haven.  You can continue to tell me that I am instrumental, but this is both illogical and untrue.

I am also astounded by the disrespect directed at voters who voted in the last election.  Some have said that voters “need to wake up,” while others deny the mandates of the electoral victories.  I found voters to be fully awake responsible adults, who were also compelled by a positive vision of New Haven.  I respect the decisions that they made.  I do not believe that they need a paternalistic figure chastising them for voting against their interests.

Finally, I find it curious that you call me inauthentic, while not holding the same standard for those who agree with you.  Where is your wrath for anonymous, robn, cedarhillresident!, or curious?  In the same comment that you make allegations about me, you are fraternizing with Fair and Honest!

posted by: robn on January 31, 2013  10:33am

My problem with the last aldermanic election is that a group of 1000 unionized residents (and several thousand suburban members) pooled their resources, tapped into whatever outside support they could get, and commandeered the BOA. This was done with feel good populist propaganda but in fact, was for the direct advantage of this membership (evidenced by the “leveraged” Yale contract.)

I ask this. How many people out there were approached by this “grassroots” effort with this pitch, “Hi I’m part of a local union coalition that wished to take a majority of the board of aldermen seats in order to advance our agenda”? I suggest that number is exactly zero? I also suggest that citizens contemplate the reasons for this stealth.

posted by: Curious on January 31, 2013  10:47am

The jobs pipeline didn’t come from Perez, it came from Local 34.

Local 34 put out a survey to it’s members in which it pushed the issue of the piepeline.  Who’s going to say they think people getting better access to jobs is a bad idea?  So it was created by the union leadership, rubber-stamped by the members, and then pushed by the union-backed BOA members.

Accountability, you may not like that there people who are excited about Justin Elicker and who don’t trust Perez’s ties to Local 34/UniteHERE, but you’re not making any friends or winning Jorge any support by attacking people who like Justin.  Don’t think we can’t see what you’re doing; you’re subtle but not that subtle.

posted by: streever on January 31, 2013  10:55am


Your voice is not being negated, but a context which you’ve hidden—by claiming to have no affiliation as you’ve done multiple times now—is being exposed.

Yes, you have a voice. You can use that voice. However, it is important to me that you be accountable for who you are, where you stand, and your actual relationships with Mills and other stalwarts of Unite Here be open.

You’ve repeatedly insisted that you just went out as a believer in that cause, yet you also support Unite Here in other places, and were absolutely a member.

That is all that I object to: not your position, but your hiding of the context that you hold that position in.

I’ve never hidden my association with Elicker. I’ve never hidden or denied my connections.

I merely expect the same from you and the other CCNE posters who have been using anonymity while declaring that they are “only” concerned residents.

posted by: Curious on January 31, 2013  10:57am

Eddie, I am *in* Local 34.  The union does some great work for members, but I have seen how they operate, and it is not always on the level.  If I could talk about it openly, I would.  Make no mistake, there is a culture of intimidation and retribution against those who don’t toe the line.

Also, if you have enough money, glossy signs, and catchy slogans, you can convince a lot of people to do what you want.  Local 34, through it’s own coffers and it’s national partner UniteHERE, does just that.  It doesn’t take much to swamp local elections like the BOA in New Haven with tons of union money and muscle.

posted by: accountability on January 31, 2013  11:27am

Hhe: The members of the Yale unions have been shouting the terms of their contracts from the rooftops since settlement. As usual, the only question is what in the world are you talking about?

posted by: Curious on January 31, 2013  12:05pm

The Local 34 contract is here.

It’s a great contract, and I am glad for it.  We’re all getting a 2% raise across the board starting this next paycheck, and a $500 lump sum.

That said, I wish the union was less shady and secretive about their political efforts.  Robn NAILED it.  Just be open about it.

posted by: Eddie on January 31, 2013  12:26pm

I still don’t understand your point.  What is being “exposed”?  I worked on aldermanic campaigns as a volunteer.  I dedicated many days and evenings in a collective effort to achieve political change.  Clearly I believed in these campaigns and am partial to their vision.  It would certainly be bizarre to dedicate so much time and effort to campaigns that did not seem personally compelling. What does this additional context change?

The underlying notion that union members cannot be motivated to take political action without a selfish material motivation does not deserve a place in the democratic party.  It is a narrative that has consistently been used to divide and disempower working people.  Instead of continuing to slay straw men, perhaps we can stop questioning the political motivations of individuals who are simply trying to realize their vision of positive political change in this city.

posted by: anonymous on January 31, 2013  12:27pm

Ah, the pipeline. Unfortunately, it is a pipeline to the suburbs, and will have absolutely no impact on New Haven’s sky-high unemployment rate.

First of all, the scale of the pipeline is not nearly large enough to make any dent.  The only way to grow jobs in a way that impacts the whole city is to promote private investment. The best way to do this is through land use, taxation, transportation, zoning, and housing policy reforms, as well as meaningful reductions in local crime rates.  None of these things have been tackled in the “pipeline” - in fact, the persons named above as responsible for the pipeline (Perez, etc.) made the worst economic development decision in the 400-year history of New Haven when they voted against accepting what would eventually have amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars in free Federal and State money to improve the city’s bus and transit system.

Second, and more importantly, as Union-favored candidates secure Union jobs, most of them will move to the suburbs as soon as their salaries allow them to. 

If the Unions/CCNE (entities controlled by suburban residents, like the other Unions in New Haven) cared about city residents, they would have put their energy into improving the actual job situation for residents.

The pipeline as it stands now will permanently create about three jobs for New Haven residents, ironically, because DeStefano stepped in publicly and made the Board require the administrators to live in New Haven.  But look for that requirement to be waived as soon as DeStefano is replaced.

posted by: HhE on January 31, 2013  1:03pm

accountability, this is what I am on about:

“Proto offered one explanation of why the union settled.

“Years ago, the other unions marched with us. But now,” he cautioned, Yale’s unions are prospering more than their brothers and sisters in other lines of work.

“If Yale put a full-page ad” in the newspaper detailing the terms of workers’ contracts, “what kind of sympathy would we get” from other unions?”


When I first moved to New Haven, I was blissfully unaware of what was really happening.  Thanks in part to the good posts of streever, robn, corious, and cederhillresident, I have woken up.  Hopefully, at-least 51% of the voters will be awake next election. 

Now onto another mystery:  who is accountability really?  One sage figures a white grad student, but I think accountability is of color.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 31, 2013  1:48pm

Deals was being cut before the unions got in.I donot blame the unions.The people who lost there seats to the union people were sell outs and help the king John empire by rubber stamping.Remember you all voted them in.In fact as long as you keep voting in the Two Parties,This is what you will get.

posted by: HhE on January 31, 2013  2:47pm

A certain fraction of the population will never blame the unions, as that would not fit with their unions-are-all-good narrative.  Yes, the rubber stamp BoA has been replaced, and that in of itself is a good thing.  That the new BoA is a tool of a special interest, not so much.

posted by: streever on January 31, 2013  4:34pm


I’m sorry it was so hard to acknowledge your ties to GESO and the union. I’d say that the sheer quantity of ink spilled on the matter indicates why it is important: for whatever reason, you suggested you were not a member.

I don’t think that people made a bad choice in voting for CCNE backed alders in the last election in many cases. Let us be honest: our alders have never really been more than a rubber stamp.

I *do* think that it is important that the new alders have not done much better than the old alders, however.

- They refused to meet with community advocates, neighbors, and urban planners on Route 34. One of them told me it would hurt their political abilities.
- Some of their members have cast dissenting votes for political gain, after gaining approval in the Caucaus, which is a closed-doors meeting not open to the public. Their constituents now believe—erroneously—that they know where their alder stands on an issue, because they were permitted to cast a useless dissenting vote against the majority.

This is the same behavior that happened under DeStefano and the old BofA, and it is no different now. To constantly be assailed by messages of transparency, accountability, and authenticity by a small number of people who hide their identity, while seeing “politics as usual” continue to happen through back-room meetings and closed door decision making, is beyond irritating.

People can (and will) twist this comment into a “unbelievably offensive” remark that “calls into question the intelligence of people”, as they’ve been doing! to every comment I’ve made on this.

Folks, at the end of the day, I have several actual issues that happened in New Haven that were done opaquely and questionably. The people disagreeing with me have nothing but criticism that I say these things, and assertions that they are good and honest.

I’m sure they are well-intentioned. They absolutely do not strike me as deceitful people.

Are they unbiased? No. They didn’t come into these races after 7 or more years of observing New Haven politics.

They came into these races with pre-existing ties and connections to Unite Here, and it is not surprising that when confronted with actual experiences of deceit by the people they support, they resort to suggesting that it is “shocking” that I’m pointing out corruption in our municipality.

posted by: accountability on February 1, 2013  12:22am

Streever: Your sense of entitlement continues to amaze and amuse. So the Board didn’t listen to you on a $100 million project that had been in the works for years and came before the new BofA near completion just months after they took office. That’s the evidence of the stupidity and corruption of the current Board?

Yet your statements about the process are internally contradictory. “They wouldn’t meet with me!” But in another thread you told us you had breakfast with your alder about it.

You and your colleagues here keep criticizing the project for being too reliant on parking and thus an attraction for suburban workers. Yet, when Winstanley makes a verbal commitment to a program to hire local residents, all of a sudden it’s “pay or play! Corruption!” 

Do you or don’t you want local people within walking distance to get jobs at 100 College St.?

You assume that your view of the development of Route 34 is the only acceptable one. It’s not. Express your views. Great. But you’re not entitled to govern the city. You’ve earned no mandate at all from its people.

Safe sidewalks and bike access make sense. But to be honest, the idea that College St. is actually going to connect the Hill and Downtown in a walkable way with high density foot traffic, especially after dusk, seems a little far-fetched. A massive hospital/medical campus sits in between. That campus is the [not “a” but “the”] engine of economic growth in the city. It is going to grow. It should grow.

If you stand on the bridge over 34 and look down college street, you’re blocks and blocks from the Hill’s residential areas, and there are commercial buildings in the way. Is your plan to raze them all?

I’m sure you and your friends have great ideas about development. Keep trying to convince people that they’re good ideas and maybe people will agree with you. But stop acting as if anyone who doesn’t immediately adopt your view of the world must, of necessity, be corrupt. And that the fact that you weren’t listened to is evidence of venality or incompetence. Most of us outgrow that kind of thinking at the end of adolescence.

posted by: accountability on February 1, 2013  12:32am

Oh yes. It’s now more than 24 hours since I challenged all our fearless champions of democratic processes to explain why the sinister conspiracy left Justin Elicker in the chair of CSEP [which I mistakenly called HSEP].

My view is that it is evidence that the current leadership of the Board is willing to recognize expertise, govern inclusively and share power with people with whom they are not always politically aligned. Admirable traits in public officials.

Unless someone else has evidence of the corrupt deal that got Elicker his chair, that view stands. Thanks to everyone for validating the evidence of the leadership qualities of Alderpeople Perez, James, Paolilo, Walker, Robinson-Thorpe and Colon.

Tick tock. So quiet…...

posted by: robn on February 1, 2013  9:59am

Political conundrums for 500 ACCOUNTABILITY,

Maybe it because the local unions have a supermajority on the BOA and can vote up or down anything that makes it to the full board, so it really doesn’t matter what comes out of committee.

posted by: streever on February 1, 2013  10:10am


After *years* of meeting with the City, who gave us lip service and publicly supported the changes to the project, they pulled a 180.

Your friends were elected to the board of aldermen and refused to meet with us. Yes, Justin Elicker did. He was the only one who did.

One of the incoming Alders met with me for breakfast because their feelings were hurt that I pointed out that they were part of a slate of candidates. That was why we had breakfast—their feelings were hurt. At that breakfast, I brought up Route 34.

1. That neighborhood—one of the poorest in the city—has the highest asthma rates in the city, in a city that is #1 for asthma *in America*. This has nothing to do with my personal health.

2. The original highway built was built there to eradicate the poor. Their homes were bulldozed. They were evicted. A massive highway was dropped on their homes. Now, the city is widening that highway.

3. There have been several traffic deaths on that corridor over the years. Young children have been maimed. People have been killed. One of the alders currently on the board, who supported improvements to the project at a public hearing, testified that the amount of road soot coming in turns all of her whites a grimy dark black color.

This area is a WASTELAND—an environmental blight that hurts the people living around it.

I don’t live there.
I don’t need to bike there.

When you speak of my “entitlement”, you are abjectly and sadly confused.

This plan is a boondoggle that has been criticised by people all over the world, including advocates for the impoverished, environmental justice groups, and urban planners.

My problem is not that these alders didn’t listen to me: my problem is that they refused to listen to the neighbors and citizens who organized around this, and helped the city widen a nightmare road in exchange for 150,000 which they are now paying a white upper class neighbor of mine to work on a pipeline project.

You’ve called the pipeline a success: all it has done to date is employ a neighbor of mine who already has a job with Unite Here, which she is now taking a leave of absence from, for this job. If that is your metric of success, I understand why you hold the views you hold.

posted by: Eddie on February 1, 2013  10:32am

The amount of ink spilled on my affiliation with organizations was due to other’s insistence that it matters.  I entered this thread flagging issues that are important to me: vast grassroots organizing and projects that increase youth opportunities, employment opportunities, and decrease violence.  Streever, you discounted this comment because of my membership in a union. 

Just to be clear I never denied anything. I am no longer a member of GESO, as I have completed my program.  But as I have said again and again, this is entirely beside the point.

I agree with accountability on your allegations of corruption.  I have also participated in campaigns that have lost.  I didn’t allege everyone who disagreed with me was corrupt. 

This BOA is not the mayor’s BOA.  This observation is apparent from my own experience but it is also apparent from the NHI articles.  Consider just a handful of examples that have been achieved in less than two years. The jobs pipeline and the community benefits agreement for Amistad high school are projects that would not have originated with previous BOAs. Plans to increase opportunities for the youth are taking shape after extensive public deliberation.  In a dramatic change, community policing policies were implemented after the BOA won election.  Finally, the sheer amount of community organizing also sets this BOA apart.  These are all clear priorities for many people across the city.

posted by: Curious on February 1, 2013  11:01am

I’d like an answer from Paul Bass as to why my post calling out anonymous for his rampant hyperbole without any sort of data to back up his claims is not posted, yet Accountability’s snide remarks are passed through with no problem.

What’s the deal with the Comments policy, Paul?  This was a big thing a few months ago, and it looks like you’re not keeping to any one set of standards.

[Paul: We’re still working harder than ever to get our comments policy right. I understand you’re not going to agree with every call. With the political season heating up it’s gotten crazy here again, but I promise we’re trying our best. The feedback helps.]

posted by: HhE on February 1, 2013  11:02am

accountability, streever is one of the most egalitarian, down to earth, humane people I have ever known.  What he posts, and who he is, is the same thing; decency, honesty, and good government.

Sometimes when people do not reply, it is because they have grown tired of talking to brick walls.  Some times it is because they are out of town. 

Well here goes my reply:  I do not think any one said Justin was put in a particular position as part of a corrupt deal, rather, corrupt methods were used to gain control of the BoA, and that corrupt practices take place on the BoA.  Like your position that the last aldermanic campaign had a grass roots base, does not mean that outside money was not poured into the races so that CCNE could take over the city. 

Add to that what robn has so wisely said.

Please read what people have actually written, rather than re-frame their arguments into something they do not mean.

posted by: HhE on February 1, 2013  11:54am

I opine that Eddie and accountability are try to prove a universal (there is no corruption with the BoA) with an existential (there are aspects to the BoA that are not corrupt).  Sorry guys, Logic 101, it doesn’t work.

posted by: anonymous on February 1, 2013  11:55am

“This plan is a boondoggle that has been criticised by people all over the world, including advocates for the impoverished, environmental justice groups, and urban planners.”

Absolutely true.  Unfortunately, the CCNE/Union leadership was so occupied with advocating for themselves and their Union (such as the misguided “pipeline” project described above), that they expressed very limited interest in advocating for residents who actually live here.

posted by: Curious on February 1, 2013  12:29pm

Streever, thank you for your post.

I’d like to add that Adam Marchand, a Local 34 member and one of the L34-backed aldermen, didn’t even bother to read the full text of the Rte 34 agreement before taking action on it.  That’s just irresponsible, but he got away with it.

A lot of Local 34 members work in and around the medical school, and we were never polled as to what our opinions on the Route 34 project are.  That should tell you something.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on February 1, 2013  1:51pm

Thank you Accountability and Streever also for reminding everyone of the fiasco that is Route 34, out “road to no where” and local version of Fort Trumbull in New London.

As usual, the mandate to “reconnect the neighborhood” is another “vision” that is easily run over for development.

It is not good for any level of government to be in either one individual or party’s control too long. It’s in the nature of the beast to use the power at hand for one’s own “vision”.

Rather than chew each other up in print, as interesting and informative as your dialogue is, head over to the next meeting of the Charter Revision Commission and bring your friends. Stand up and be part of the great democratic out pouring in evidence as the People speak to their needs and their frustrations and petition their government to do better.

Last night’s eloquent plea by Emily Jones, other of Malik Jones, was as memorable as anything Dr. Martin Luther King or Malcolm X ever said or did.

Put your wisdom on paper: 12 copies for the members of the Commission and extras for the press and friends.

posted by: Eddie on February 1, 2013  4:31pm

I would like to echo Dwightstreeter’s praise of the public charter hearings.  The testimony last night was moving and insightful.  In addition to those calling for more responsible policing, I thought Mary Johnson’s comments were great, drawing upon years of knowledge about New Haven.  It is a fantastic opportunity to raise important issues and engage in public deliberation.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 1, 2013  5:57pm

posted by: Greg-Morehead on January 30, 2013 4:41pm

OK.  Here is my take on a number of these issues/stories.

Lets start with the unions..
Please people, wake up and see that the unions are ALL about control.

I say people wake up the Two Party system is all about control.I got copies of your record when you was in office Mr Morehead.The major of the times you voted with the KING John machine.Last to all who keep crying about the union being in control Vote Green or another third party.

P.S.My Bad Does not matter who wins for mayor.The union as you all say will still be in control due to the fact they control the BOA.

posted by: accountability on February 2, 2013  12:58am

Ah, the good ol’ NHI comment section, where the facts are whatever Streever needs them to be to nurse his grudges. For the millionth time:

Your neighbor Mary Reynolds [have you ever met her to discuss the pipeline?] is a UNITE HERE staff member on loan to New Haven Works. Her compensation is paid by the union. Those facts are all in black and white in the NHI’s reporting.

Winstanley has promised the project money. I’ve seen no reporting that they’ve delivered. Even if Winstanley has actually donated money, well,

a) good for them and
b) it isn’t going to pay your neighbor’s salary, unless the NHI’s reporting is inaccurate. Her employment costs are part of the union’s contribution to the program.

I started to type a sarcastic finish, but I would actually like to know why you keep repeating this particular falsehood—that Winstanley donations are paying your neighbor’s salary. Did you misread the NHI story? Or is there another reason?

posted by: streever on February 2, 2013  11:03pm


Winstanley promised 150,000 for the pipeline program.
Mary Reynolds and an office are the only expenses so far reported on.
Perez told DeStefano that he doesn’t know how they’ll pay the bills this year.

I’m not sure what is so confusing about this.
Am I missing some big expenditure that the Pipeline program has done so far? It seems to me like it has hired my neighbor and rented an office.

As for meeting her:
She didn’t attend any of the Ward Committee meetings she was invited to (0 attendance for 4 years under the last ward chair), so I didn’t have a chance to meet her. I guess as the new Ward Co-Chair, if she wants to hold a meeting, we might get to meet each other.

If so, she should hurry up and do it before April, when I leave town and you’re finally rid of me!

Cheers until then. Enjoy the wintry weather with a little more cheer if you can :).