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96 Job Cuts Hit The City

by Paul Bass and Melissa Bailey | Feb 17, 2011 5:44 pm

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

Posted to: City Hall, City Budget

New Haven’s long-discussed budget crisis turned into flesh and blood Thursday, as 82 city workers lost their jobs—while the mayor vowed that many more will join them unless union officials get serious about health care and pension reform.

The layoffs took place over a chaotic day of announcements, departure and protest. They were part of 96 positions (the rest of them currently vacant) that the DeStefano administration has eliminated in order to help close a $5.5 million gap in the city budget for the year ending June 30.

And that’s just for starters. City Hall and city unions are negotiating on new contracts for the next fiscal year, when the city faces a project deficit of over $20 million.

The layoffs included 16 beat cops, nine teaching positions, six school crossing guards, and three school nurses.

Seventy-six of the 82 laid-off workers were full-timers, six, part-timers.


Video streaming by Ustream“I’m the one who’s made these choices. They will affect these people [laid off] deeply and meaningfully,” DeStefano said at a 3 p.m. City Hall press conference, where he was accompanied by Police Chief Frank Limon and Schools Superintendent Reggie Mayo. Watch the full press conference in the video above.

“They were the best choices among bad choices,” he said.

And they “cannot be a surprise.”

DeStefano then went on to list a series of public speeches and labor presentations he has made since November warning of a deep structural hole in the city’s budget. Pension plans will run out of money in as soon as five years without major changes, he said. Taxpayers can no longer afford health plans and pension plans far more generous than “private-sector standards,” he said.

And he doesn’t have the option of raising taxes for a fourth time in five years, he argued. Not after homeowners have seen property taxes rise 39 percent over that time. And not in the wake of a proposed state budget that raises sales and income taxes—hikes that will, he said, send money back to New Haven to help avoid even more budget pain.

He was challenged at the press conference by AFSCME negotiator Kevin Murphy. He interrupted DeStefano’s presentation to argue that city unions offered to make the necessary changes to avoid layoffs, in part by contributing more money toward their pensions and changing to a less costly prescription drug plan.

DeStefano responded that those suggestions only began to address the enormity of the city’s budget challenge, a challenge faced by states and municipalities across the country. Police and fire union members already contribute more than other city workers toward their pensions, and their plans are the first at risk of going broke, he said. More fundamental change is needed to fix the problem, he argued: Calculating pensions based on salary, rather than total pay (including overtime), reducing cost-of-living increases, putting into “incentives” into health plans to limit costs of care, adding the number of years some people must work before retiring.

Thomas MacMillan PhotoThe mayor’s press conference followed a morning and early afternoon during which labor critics controlled the news cycle. While City Hall quietly informed workers of the layoffs and released no public information, TV and Internet coverage was dominated by critics warning of dire consequences for New Haven.

The most dramatic protests came from city cops Thursday. Two hundred of them marched on City Hall behind the 16 patrol officers being laid off. An hour-long closed-door session between the mayor and the union failed to produce an 11th-hour deal to save the jobs. Read about that here.

Police union leaders advised New Haveners to pack weapons to protect themselves because of the layoffs.

DeStefano swung back at those calls in the press conference.

“Statements that citizens are unsafe, that they ought to arm themselves, they’re inaccurate,” DeStefano said. “They’re irresponsible. And they’re beneath the people making them. They aim to frighten and intimidate.”

Asked if New Haven will be as safe this weekend as it was last weekend, DeStefano and Limon said definitely yes.

Public safety has as much to do with how the city employs cops, DeStefano said. He and Limon said the department will move more cops onto the streets from “inside the building” work or other posts, such as school security. He said that improving schools and dealing with the “prison reentry population”—people returning to New Haven from jail, and returning to the drug trade—will have the biggest impact on combating street crime.

DeStefano also noted that even after the layoffs, New Haven will have as many or more cops patrolling the streets as it has had for more than a decade.

The 16 layoffs reduce the sworn force to 434 officers. At its highest point since 1999, in 2002, the city had 435 sworn officers, he said; in 2001 and 2003, it had 434. The number got as low as 384 over the past decade.

The 82 people included 33 from the Board of Education and 49 from the city.

The mayor’s office Thursday afternoon released the following list of the filled positions that were eliminated:

City-side:

Assessment control clerk
Planner I
Assistant coordinator of disability services
Economic development officer, business services
Project construction manager
Administrative assistant II
2 public health nurses
8 library aides
3 part-time librarians
Student intern
Housing inspector
Park ranger
Projects coordinator
16 cops
2 police records clerks
ROW Inspection enforcement administrator
6 school crossing guards

Board of Education:

2 truant officers
Dropout prevention
5 part-time clerical
5 school security officers
In-house suspension worker
4 drug education prevention workers
Cafeteria manager
Architect project manager BOE
2 assistant principals, one each at King/Robinson and Hill Central
Principal at ESUMS, the engineering and science school
Teacher—TAG/ISSP
Teacher—curriculum staff development
Teacher—guidance counselor
Co-teacher elementary
Teacher library media specialist
4 assistant teachers
Outreach worker

The 42 job cuts to education amount to an annual savings of $1.8 million, according to schools spokesman Christopher Hoffman. That’s the 33 layoffs and nine recently vacated positions that were cut.

“This is painful, but necessary,” said schools superintendent Reginald Mayo in a press release. He said the schools will also be hurt by city-side layoffs to nurses and school crossing guards.

The cuts will “make it more challenging” to implement the city’s school reform, “but we are deeply committed to attaining our goals of eliminating the achievement gap, halving the dropout rate and ensuring all students have the academic ability and financial resources to succeed in college.”

Of the nine teachers laid off from the Board of Ed, four were people who chose to resign, according to teacher union president Dave Cicarella.

“They were going to resign anyway, it ended up being helpful” Cicarella said.

Three others were teachers who “had certification issues; it was going to have to be addressed anyway,” he said.

The last two were a guidance counselor and a library media specialist.

Cicarella said school officials tried hard to minimize the impact of the layoffs on students.

Those let go on the city side included Stephen Harris, whose title is Planner I at the City Plan Department. He said city and union officials sat down with him at 10:15 a.m. Thursday and broke the news. The meeting was “short and sweet and to the point.”

Harris, who’s worked for the city for over 12 years, said he will be paid through the end of this week. He’ll get two weeks of severance pay and another month of health care coverage.

Thursday was his second time being laid off—Harris lost his job in 2003 amid another fiscal crisis. After nine months without a job, he returned to work for the city, taking a $5,000 pay cut.

Harris said he didn’t mind the pay cut—“I love this city, and I love what we do.”

He said it was tough to lose his job again, especially in a year when the city has continued hiring.

“I’m going to miss going to work, I’m going to miss all of my colleagues, and I’m going to miss trying to making New Haven better, which is what I was trying to do every day.”

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posted by: streever on February 17, 2011  4:14pm

Granted, laying off 16 cops right after hiring them makes little sense.

Regardless, it does not give them permission to go buck wild.

I understand you guys are upset. What part of “illegally blockade the streets” made sense to you?

posted by: Becker on February 17, 2011  4:21pm

DeStefano has been worthless for years- STOP VOTING HIM IN ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted by: Cityres on February 17, 2011  4:38pm

Nice way to protect your little “pet” projects du jour john…..School reform..right. And prison re-entry. What’s the size of that dept. grown to now?? They must be super essential, as they have clearly, and single handedly solved the crime and recidivism in New Haven.

posted by: Ex-NHPD on February 17, 2011  5:02pm

Nice how the Mayor blames the rampant violent crime in New Haven on criminals exiting prison doing violence to other criminals.

Does that include the 5 women violated by the serial rapist in Newhallville or the other 3 women attacked by the East Coast rapist?  How about the women killed in domestic violence?  Or the children who have been shot, and others killed, by the unrepentant street thugs who fire their weapons whenever and wherever the time is right?  How about the food delivery drivers who have been robbed and shot?  The bread delivery guy on Shelton Avenue?

If I’m not mistaken, I think the Mayor publicly admitted in the press conference that he is insane.  He has been doing the same thing over and over again for 18 years (signing union contracts that he says put the city in the financial sh#tstorm), while expecting a different result.

Regarding the loss of 16 officers—it is not the number of the loss, but where they came from.  They work the overnight and the evening/overnight swing shift.  Prime Time.  The trickle down effect of filling their slots (or leaving them vacant) is vastly different than 16 officers retiring across all factions of the NHPD . 

Finally, what a pathetic example of leadership from Limon throughout all this.  From the moment the concept of lay offs in the NHPD came out, his silence on the matter has been DEAFENING.  No public stands for his cops or the department.  Nothing said/done within the department to address the concerns.  He had a Captain in the NHPD contact those officers to come in for their separation meeting. And he wonders why there was an overwhelming vote of No Confidence in him.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 17, 2011  5:33pm

EX NHPD,
It is inaccurate to describe all crime as involving past offenders, parolees, and convicted felons as both victims and perpetrators. However, the overall trend for violent crime involves people with criminal histories. While it is possible to pick incidents that involve law-abiding citizens, that cannot possibly be used to describe the typical violent criminal incident in this city.

If the number of police officers is directly related to crime level, then why was crime so much lower in the 1950s, yet the police force was so much smaller than today?
The police aren’t actually responsible for reducing crime. Sometimes they prevent crimes if they are in the right place at the right time, but each officer while on duty is responsible for far too many blocks for them to be everywhere at once. It is the citizenry, the shop owners, and the active sidewalks that prevent crimes. New Haven’s crime rate began to rise in the late 1960s after the middle class left the city for the suburbs, which was followed by the stores, and later the jobs. The city was left with a much smaller population, fewer jobs, fewer shopkeepers protecting their sidewalks and therefore business interests, and less people walking around doing errands, shopping and going to and from school or work.
If the city can attract middle class residents back to the city then retail will follow, along with jobs and the crime rate will lower dramatically.
Police are certainly a necessary element in solving crimes, and creating a presence of law and order, but in reality they can do very little to prevent the causes of crime.

posted by: JB on February 17, 2011  5:38pm

Which principal and vice principals got laid off?  That’s interesting.

posted by: Threefifths on February 17, 2011  5:47pm

This is what happens when you keep voting for the crooked Two Party System.

posted by: Our Town on February 17, 2011  5:56pm

What I find most befuddling of all of this is how the unions have been made the scapegoat of the Mayor’s failures, and the public is buying into his scheme. The unions did not cause this “budgetary” problem, the Mayor did.  The Mayor and the Board of Alderman signed off on each and every one of the union’s benefits. But those are NOT the cause of the “budgetary” problems, it’s the wild spending on all the school buildings and social programs. Not to mention giveaways like the 360 State St. deal and the Gateway College site (among the many).

There is a budget gap only because the Mayor wants to spend that much, not because he has to spend that much. His pet projects and executive staff are protected at the expense of union workers.

Mr. Mubarak, opps, I mean Mr. DeStefano, resign, and let someone else without your record of vitriol take over and fix this. Eighteen years is too many.

posted by: Noteworthy on February 17, 2011  6:05pm

At the beginning of the current budget year, Chief Limon wrinkled his nose at a paltry cut in overtime of $100K. That’s the most the mayor is his wisdom was willing to deduct from the police budget. At the time, Limon was asked how this would affect the department - he said it would make it a little slower and less responsive. Now, with a reduction in force, he and the mayor say we are just as safe. Then or now - which is the truth? Neither?

For the record, a reduction in force has been coming for a long time and it should have been done at the last budget approval if not before. For more than 18 months, the city has known its budget was in free fall but chose gimmicks and fast talk rather than letting attrition work, not fill vacancies except critical hires and so forth. Instead, the city kept hiring.

The mayor signed these contracts knowing they contained promises we couldn’t keep; spent and borrowed money we didn’t have and hired people with families that we couldn’t afford. That’s not a leader who makes tough decisions in tough times. In fact, that’s not a leader at all and now, it’s hurting taxpayers and employees alike.

posted by: trainspotter on February 17, 2011  6:51pm

Anyone want to tell us who will be running ESUMS, or should we jump to our own conclusions?

posted by: Really? on February 17, 2011  7:09pm

I think John Hopkins needs to experience crime first hand before he goes off on his pedantic rants about the NHPD. John, please go back to the 1800’s and leave the rest of us to the harsh reality that is living in New Haven.

posted by: Confused on February 17, 2011  7:32pm

Last I knew, there was an “acting principal” at ESUMS who was also an assistant principal at Sound School. Did he get laid off or did the principal position get eliminated?

posted by: Cedarhillresident on February 17, 2011  7:55pm

@Really?
Haha I am thinking Hopkins knows way to well! and his insight to changes and facts are some of the most impressive coming from such a young new haven kid. Ha I think most regular posters found your comment amusing.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 17, 2011  8:27pm

Really?,
My personal experiences are precisely how I arrived at the realization that the police alone are extremely ineffective at addressing the causes of crime, reducing the crime rate and protecting the average citizen from crimes.

Each officer on patrol is responsible for nearly 200 blocks in the city. It is statistically impossible to adequately survey that large of an area to the extent required to prevent even a fraction of the number of crimes that occur in this city. This is not a critique of individual police officers, many of whom do the best that they can. The problem is that the police are given an impossible job that they aren’t designed to effectively address because of the inherent limitations of a poor municipal budget during a recession, a city with a large crime problem, a city who’s job prospects for underskilled and undereducated people is dwindling every year, and who’s citizenry is largely uninvolved in the activities that help reduce crime.
For too long we, as a society, have been putting pressure on police officers to address a problem that is so completely far out of their reach that is has bloated the size of the force, contributed to financial problems for the city, and done little to put a real impact on the crime rate. The crime rate sky rocketed beginning in the late 60s, continued to climb in the 80s, and peaked in the early 90s and has only dropped significantly back to levels similar to the late 70s because of our massive incarceration rate for non-violent offenders, which leads to positive short term crime reduction, but has awful long-term impacts.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/54/US_incarceration_timeline-clean.svg

posted by: rocket on February 17, 2011  8:44pm

The previous principal returned in December, and I assume the gentleman from the Sound school returned to his old post, although I don’t know that for sure. He was only there for a few weeks.
Just exactly who was let go and who will be running ESUMS?

posted by: SEE THE REAL PICTURE on February 17, 2011  8:54pm

Unfortunately, people are focusing on the layoffs today and not what the Mayor actually said.  he stated today that along with the layoffs of 16 police, he is also counting on the retirements of veteran officers when the mayor decides to make the contract unbearable for the veterans.  YES pensions need to be changed, but the big picture here is that the mayor is not telling the public, when he forces those forty or fifty veteran police officers out, he is not going to replace them.  This is how he is going to manage the budget.  All of the citizens who are saying 16 police is not a big deal, listen to the mayor and see what he is truly saying about your safety.  Today he lowered the force from 450 to 436.  Now in July, when fifty officers retire, your police force will be down to around 380 cops.  This is not 380 patrol man, this is 380 total police, that means from Chiefs down.  Citizens should be concerned with the patrol officer numbers, not the total numbers of police.  Your streets are not protected by detectives, school resource officers, PAL officers, Internal Affairs, Property Room SGTs, Front Desk SGTs, Media Officer, they are protected by the PATROL OFFICER who is on the street.  These are the men and women your loosing today, and in retirements.  You should ask your mayor, how many officers will be on the street per shift to protect, help, assist us, rather than how many total officers are in the PD….

posted by: observer on February 17, 2011  9:19pm

. . . and still, the Mayor has not cut his salary, those of his staff, or laid off any of his cronies.

posted by: Keneth Barnes on February 17, 2011  9:19pm

As i sit and think that if more officer teachers and firemen lived in the city,paid property taxes to the city. may be the city would have more money to balance the budget. people that are left are people that works for under $15. the poor people

posted by: richgetricher on February 17, 2011  9:37pm

First the Mayor said the unions were focused on the revenue side. Then he was forced to admit that the unions did offer substantial concessions. But it’s not about closing the budget gap and coming up with funds - it’s about machismo and breaking the unions. He’s not collaborating with them like Malloy is - he’s out to break them. He’s done a lot of good for the city as Mayor but his time has passed. No wonder he talks about insanity so much- he’s lost his governing bearings. He’s got to go in November.

posted by: Eric Yuhas on February 17, 2011  9:43pm

Confused….

I am the assistant principal of the Sound School and for a month I served as interim principal at ESUMS. I loved the school, students and faculty, but for personal reasons I chose not to pursue the permanent position, and was reassigned to the Sound School in December.

posted by: Mike on February 17, 2011  9:55pm

We could probably lay off a lot more cops and still preserve public safety if the state adopts Governor Malloy’s proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.  There is a serious amount of police time wasted investigating, arresting, booking, and holding people for such a trivial offense.

posted by: OUST DESTEFANO on February 17, 2011  11:17pm

For too many years to count, John DeStefano has run this town in the ground and is now blaming the unions for contracts he approved.

DeStefano has mismanaged the city and is currupt!

What has changed in the city since 6 months ago? The businesses that were here still are. But 16 cops had to be let go?

They were let go because DeStefano used them as pawns. Pawns to reduce money gaps that he probably can’t explain.

posted by: Carolyn Kone on February 17, 2011  11:31pm

Steve Harris did make New Haven a better place. He is very knowledgeable about the City’s zoning ordinance and always very helpful. He will be missed.

posted by: It's a Shame on February 18, 2011  12:14am

The wrong assistant principal was laid off from King/Robinson. ...  you both have just set the school back. Talk about the “Peter Principle” it is alive and well in New Haven.

posted by: Westville Advocate on February 18, 2011  9:08am

It is about time!  Finally our Mayor is doing something that makes senses.  I feel for all those who lost their job; however, the reality is the taxpayers cannot continue to bear the burden of budget deficits.  There are too many people in government anyways.  For once in a long time I applaud our Mayor’s difficult decisions.  He is finally running this city like a business instead of a social case.

posted by: Stephen Harris on February 18, 2011  9:35am

Thank you for the kind words Carolyn.

posted by: Threefifths on February 18, 2011  10:30am

posted by: Westville Advocate on February 18, 2011 8:08am

It is about time!  Finally our Mayor is doing something that makes senses.  I feel for all those who lost their job; however, the reality is the taxpayers cannot continue to bear the burden of budget deficits.  There are too many people in government anyways.  For once in a long time I applaud our Mayor’s difficult decisions.  He is finally running this city like a business instead of a social case.

You must live near King John.Union people pay taxes Two!!! You want to see the real deal on what this is about Check out this.

The Betrayal of Public Workers
Robert Pollin and Jeffrey Thompson.

http://www.thenation.com/article/158647/betrayal-public-workers

Once they finish with the Public Workers,You private sector workers will get the full force next.

posted by: Cedarhillresident on February 18, 2011  1:06pm

@Westville Advocate

It hurts doesn’t it! I two am in awe he did it. Cuts are always a hard thing I am thinking that is why for the past few years the mayor has taxed the heck out of the property owners. To avoid cuts. I know the mayor has to be seeing the negative effect the major property tax increases are starting to have on this city. Couple that with the new federal and state taxes he knows any more would brake the a majority of the residents (homeowners and renters).

But me being me I am taking one step back and watching. 08 and 09 cuts were made that in the end somehow the over all number of staff numbers were the same. Which means no real cuts were made. So I trust that this time real change is happening. But will wait to see the numbers

posted by: streever on February 18, 2011  1:38pm

In a city hall filled with patronage and political appointments, Mr. Harris was without a doubt one of the most professional staff members I have worked with.

It is a shame that he is being laid off.

posted by: Brophinator on February 18, 2011  2:16pm

What is happening at ESUMS? Why the principal let go? This is one of the most promising school in New Haven, why is it being weakened?

posted by: ozzie on February 18, 2011  5:45pm

From what I read in the paper the Principal and Vice-Principal have the option of bumping down to teachers positions and they get to keep their six figure salaries. As for Destefano He needs to go the way of Dodd and Lieberman. He’s created a nice mess. As his newsletter said attached to this weeks Cities paychecks (end of first paragraph) .It’s been a failure of leadership that has caused the Cities problems. Well look in the mirror John your the one who’s been running the City for the past 18 years !!!!

posted by: karen edwards on February 19, 2011  5:45pm

I might have missed reading about this budget that DeStefano keeps trying to close.  Is this budget online? Can anyone tell me where I can read this budget….try to understand whats going on in this “Land of DeStefano…...Everything that is going on including the layoffs is the DeStefano’s fault, his mismanagement, his inability to listen and his veiled threats, no one in this city including the aldermen can say no to Destefano….Who is really the police chief of New Haven? And the person who does the taxes for New Haven lives elsewhere…...or did he move to New Haven finally? There appears to be so much corruption in New Haven….that the citizens of New Haven aka “Land Of Destefano” will pay for it…..Nine years is to long to have the same Mayor and I am calling Destefano mayor very loosely…...S0 can anyone let me know where I can read this budget in order to understand it….thanks

posted by: karen edwards on February 19, 2011  9:35pm

Again as I reread this article, the question comes up, how did a 5.5 million gag in the city budget occur. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN AND NO ONE SEEN IT. I check my checking accounts, savings account, my bank statements, and soon as there is a problem, I address it. Where can I read about this 5.5 million dollar gag? Someone please let me know…...Where I can find the information about how this 5.5 million dollar gag occured. These are the questions that DeStefano needs to answer.Never mind DeStefano threatens that more layoffs will happen if unions do not make more concessions, Tell us how did this happen DeStefano, this 5.5 million dollar gag….Who was not checking the bank statements? Why are the citizens of New Haven being punish for a crime that they did not do?

posted by: karen edwards on February 20, 2011  7:11am

9 terms of being mayor,DeStefano,enough is enough…....

posted by: Old School on February 20, 2011  9:05am

Dear Jonathan Hopkins: Crime was lower in the fifties because there were more two parent families who taught their children to respect one another. When the police contacted a parent that their child was in trouble. the parents dished out the punishment, which was more than the justice system could do.  Once the Liberals gained more power, crime became everyone else’s fault except for the criminal. There are a lot more children out of wedlock and a lot more single parent families, and a lot of parents that should not have kids.

posted by: new new haven on February 20, 2011  12:27pm

@Old School

“There are a lot more children out of wedlock and a lot more single parent families, and a lot of parents that should not have kids.” - You blame this on ‘Lberal’s getting more power’, and yet there are far more single parent homes, teen moms, obese children, and divorce in RED CONSERVATIVE states. 

‘Facts tends to have a liberal bias’

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 20, 2011  2:09pm

Old school,
So according to you, would the best way to fight crime be with more police officers, or by doing things that encourage more two parent households?

posted by: bohica on February 20, 2011  10:41pm

@see the real picture

“Your streets are not protected by detectives, school resource officers, PAL officers, Internal Affairs, Property Room SGTs, Front Desk SGTs, Media Officer,...”

Save the Detectives and Internal Affairs. Every other position can be done by responding patrol officers (for the school resource issues), or new civilian positions without the mega-benefit packages. That’s how you change the game.

And can anybody answer how New Haven went from Cross/Hillhouse/Lee high schools in 1982 to Cross/Hillhouse in 1983, to about 20 high schools now, each with a $120k+ principal along with their own 106k+ assistant principals. it makes no sense, and has compounded the financial problem.

This city can’t get anything right latley, including snow removal on Lawrence St…its a one lane slalom over there…

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