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More! More! More!

by Melissa Bailey & Uma Ramiah | Nov 9, 2011 4:07 pm

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

Posted to: Campaign 2011

More local jobs! More vocational training! More civilian-friendly cops!

Voters this year showed they want that, according to Mayor John DeStefano.

More walking beats! More transparency! More Q Houses!

That’s what voters called for, according to some of the new lawmakers with whom DeStefano will do business.

As a tumultuous municipal election season came to a close, the new team in power started sifting through the results of September’s Democratic primaries and Tuesday’s general election to decipher the change that New Haven voters unmistakably demanded.

That demand came first in September’s aldermanic primaries, when union-backed challengers upset City Hall-backed candidates in 14 wards.

Then, in Tuesday’s general election, DeStefano won a record tenth term, but he faced his largest voter rejection since his first election in 1993, against a little-known first-time candidate he outspent 20 to 1.

DeStefano beat independent challenger Jeffrey Kerekes 55 to 45 percent.

Melissa Bailey Photo In a rowdy back room at the Wicked Wolf bar on Temple Street after his victory Tuesday night, DeStefano reflected on the election results and how they will change the direction of government.

His general conclusion, he said, is that voters were “expressing their anxieties and concerns,” mainly about a lack of jobs in a “scary” economy. “People are saying to us, ‘Hello, we’re concerned,’” the mayor reflected.

DeStefano concluded that city government needs to “do more”—without raising taxes, of course.

“This is not a time to do less,” he declared on stage, starting a call-and-response that became the theme of his victory speech.

“On creating jobs and tax base, we need to do ...” the mayor began. 

“... more!” the crowd roared, on cue.

“On great schools where kids accomplish, we don’t need to do less, we need to do more!” he continued. “On being an open and welcoming city, we need to do more!”

“It’s time to expect more of ourselves,” he said.

After he stepped down from the dais, he elaborated on what that means.

Does “more” mean more of the same direction that city government was headed before the election?

DeStefano said the big themes he’s tackling are the same, but the details of how to address them will change.

First, he said, “there’s a public safety problem in the city that needs some attention.” He said the police department is going to take a “different direction,” toward more “collaborative action” and close relationships with citizens.

“For all the talking we’ve done about [prison] reentry, and for all the talking we’ve done about about guns, this fundamental relationship between police and citizens needs to change,” he said.

While some cops have great relationships with citizens, “some of those with the hard heads need to change,” he said.

The vow for a new direction comes as a community-policing-minded chief of police, Dean Esserman, is set to take over the department.

Second, he said, the city needs to do more school reform. That means the city “should be willing to mix up how we get this done.”

New solutions include: creating a vocational initiative for kids who may not make it to college; tackling parental involvement; and adding more social service supports for kids.

The city also has to do more to lower its 34 percent dropout rate, he added.

Third, DeStefano said, he heard on the campaign trail a strong message about New Haveners’ need to get more jobs. That means when the fire department is hiring, he said, city residents want “dibs” on those openings.

Aldermanic Agenda

Fair Haven Alderwoman Migdalia Castro echoed DeStefano’s remarks when asked about her plans for the new term.

Castro is one of just 10 incumbent aldermen who held onto their seats. (Ward 15 Alderman Ernie Santiago, who filled in the final few months Joey Rodrigeuz’s term, was also reelected.)

Castro said when she canvassed her neighborhood on the campaign trail, the top concern she heard was jobs.

Now she is eying how the Board of Aldermen can leverage new development projects in Fair Haven to set aside jobs for people in the neighborhood.

Specifically, she has drafted a bill that would require Colony Hardware to submit to a local hiring requirement as part of a planned expansion. She proposed creating a “job developer” who would screen applicants to Colony Hardware jobs, in order to get more Fair Haveners hired.

She aims to leverage local jobs in a similar way when another company moves forward with a zone change and development on James and Lombard streets.

Castro said she also aims to solicit local businesses, as well as the city, to support more after-school programming at local schools.

Some of the union-backed, freshly elected aldermen were also talking about more. They gathered at the low-lit Kudeta on Temple Street for food, drinks and celebration with supporters.

Sarah Eidelson, fresh off a win in Yale’s Ward 1 against Vinay Nayak, called for more community policing.

“From all the conversations I’ve had with students, they really want to see a shift back to that. They don’t feel safe right now, so that really keeps them from going out and getting involved with the community,” Eidelson said.

Eidelson said she think the Board of Alderman has ability to advocate for that deep shift. “And we have a certain authority over the budget as well,” she said.

Specifically, Eidelson said real community policing would require officers to build long-term relationships in neighborhoods—with individuals and families.

“I want to see regular walking beats, and assigned neighborhoods for police,” she said.

For Barbara Constantinople, the new alderwoman in Fair Haven Heights’ Ward 11, it was all about more communication.

“I promised my people I’d keep them in the loop,” she said. “And that’s what I’ll do.”

She plans to hold monthly meetings with her ward. That way, she said, they can see her face to face and keep tabs on what she’s up to in her new position. On other issues, she was less specific: she said she hoped to tackle crime, jobs, clean up the streets and make sure her constituents were well taken care of.

“I’m going to work with all the other aldermen—and we’ve got a great team coming up—to clean up New Haven.”

Uma Ramiah Photo Newly elected Dixwell Alderwoman Jeanette Morrison, sitting in a corner booth with friends, was ready with a more detailed vision.

“I think it’s just imperative for Dixwell and Newhallville to build up a community center,” she said. “When I was a kid, we had the Q House—a place we could go to learn, find mentors, develop relationships and really get support when we needed it.”

The Dixwell Community Center Q House shut down in 2003. Despite efforts to revitalize it, the neighborhood has yet to find a replacement.

“One of the reasons crime is so high in our city is because our young people have no place to go,” Morrison said. “Places like the Q House can develop jobs, provide mentoring programs.”

We have to hold the city accountable now, she said. “We’ve got to make them spend money on what the city really needs. It all boils down to dollars and cents, and I’m not asking for a trillion dollars.”

Morrison, a social worker for the state Department of Children and Families, said she regularly sees the effect of neglect on children. Sometimes, she said, it takes outside mentors to provide accountability and support.

A community center like the Q House “would also be a road to collaboration between the neighborhoods and the Yale students who live in my ward,” she said. “What I’ve learned from this campaign is that they do want to be involved, but there’s this unsaid rule that neighbors and students can’t come together.”

That’s dumb, she said. Ridiculous.

As an alderwoman, she said, she’ll work to change that.

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Comments

posted by: David on November 9, 2011  4:15pm

NHI,

Are you planning on writing an article about how your golden boy in Ward 30 was defeated handily?  Or just ignore what was a resounding defeat for someone typically loved by the DeStefano is evil crowd?

Seems like this might be a good article to discuss the fact that voters actually want results, not representatives who aim simply to make a lot of noise, throw unsubstantiated charges and ultimately, lose.

[Editor’s Note: Confused by this comment. We had a lead story up all day about that race. Yesterday we had a photo and story at the top of the front page about the Goldson’s convertible BMW Mercedes at the polls. I’m wondering with the election over, whether partisans of candidates will stop seeing conspiracies so many places that they don’t realize they’re looking at articles they claim aren’t being written.]

posted by: robn on November 9, 2011  4:45pm

Taxpayers should expect a whopping tax increase.

Renters should expect a whopping rent increase.

posted by: anon on November 9, 2011  4:48pm

Crime does not have to be high.  We could reduce it by 40% overnight if we wanted to.

First off, having more police officers does not reduce crime, unless they live in our neighborhoods (90% live outside the city, that isn’t going to change overnight).

Second having Business Improvement Districts (like Town Green) does reduce crime, by 40-80% in areas with BIDs over comparable non-BID areas.

Want “More walking beats”? - How about walking beats from Ambassadors and people cleaning up litter?  For the price of one police officer, you could hire 5 or 10 ambassadors.

This is essentially what we did in Newhallville, temporarily, in the early 2000s.  We paid teenagers to walk streets and clean up broken glass.  Crime dropped dramatically for a year or so. Then the City pulled the plug, and crime is now back up to New Orleans levels there.

Anyhow, it should be obvious now why NHPD has blocked the expansion of BIDs in New Haven—and why, therefore, crime continues to be so high.

Crime doesn’t have to be so high.  We just need people with a bit of creativity, and the guts to stand up to suburban union institutions like the NHPD.

posted by: anon on November 9, 2011  4:53pm

“That means when the fire department is hiring, he said, city residents want “dibs” on those openings.”

That would be a good start. 

Robn is correct, above—Why do we keep exporting our low-income families’ wages to the suburbs?  Rents go up with property taxes.  Property taxes go up when we have to pay bigger and bigger salaries to employees in North Madison so that they can keep up with the gas bills on their SUVs and heating bills on their McMansions.  Create residency incentives combined with a freeze on salary and benefit increases, and this will change over time.  It is the only way we can get back to being a sustainable, safe city.  Talk to folks in Dixwell. The neighborhood was safe 40 years ago when all of the cops and business owners lived there, instead of in North Madison.

posted by: Mister Jones on November 9, 2011  4:58pm

That was a Benz not a BMW.

[Editor: Thanks for the correction.]

posted by: Funky Chicken on November 9, 2011  5:29pm

What right does Alderwoman Castro have to tie an expansion of a private business to hiring from only her ward?

Even if you want to say that the City has a right to tie the expansion to local hiring, so if I live in another part of the city I don’t need a job? I don’t pay taxes?

This hyper-local agenda is not good for the city and is indicative of the small minded mentality that some of our elected officials have.

I would look at the project like this: WOW a local business wants to expand here?! That is great! What can I do as the local elected official do to help you with this and any further expansion?

This reminds me of CORD and their shakedown tactics. I think we will be seeing a lot more of this type of tactic. It is going to be a crazy two years.

posted by: Threefifths on November 9, 2011  6:00pm

Things will be the same.They are still part of the crooked Two Party System.

posted by: David on November 9, 2011  6:38pm

@NHI,

See what’s funny is that you consider an article which contains a photo (and not of the eventual winner) and a lead up article about 2 endorsements (legitimate news) sufficient coverage.  There weren’t that many races and with all the feet on the street you supposedly had, you would think that Mr. Staggers or Mr. Goldson might be available for comment. 

To be fair, your base was with Kerekes and you wanted to spill “ink” on an article that would allow everyone to congratulate him on a loss.  However, the point I am trying to make is that you seem to have failed to cover the on-the-ground aldermanic races as closely and I would expected that since Alderman Goldson can usually get press from you any time he wants, that you might more conclusively cover his defeat, the reasons for it and Mr. Staggers’s plans for his upcoming term.  Perhaps this will be covered later and I certainly would be interested in your post mortem of the short-lived Goldson era on the Board of Alderman

posted by: robn on November 9, 2011  7:36pm

For once I agree with 3/5.
That was a Benz, not a B-mer.

posted by: Hyperlocal on November 9, 2011  8:49pm

We live in a region. More than half of all people in every town, including New Haven, work in another town. Job creation is not just creating jobs on a block so people on the block can have a job on their block. That’s silliness and centuries gone. Cooperation & better public transportation will build the jobs & access people need. Plus the school stuff matters, because unless people are qualified, they won’t get or keep jobs. Alderpeople should focus on safe streets, good schools, good cops, basic quality of life.

posted by: SaveOurCity on November 10, 2011  12:30am

@threefifths?

Two party system?!?  Not sure what you mean….I live in New Haven and we dream of a day when another party (any party) will rise up and give us a viable option to candidates with the (D) label. 

Our one party system (we can sympathize with those who have lived in Moscow) stifles debate, limits our options, and creates a massive crony system that is almost impossible to defeat due to the cashflow it has developed (ask Jeffrey K)

posted by: john on November 10, 2011  9:14am

I just love post election promises.  Lets monitor all the “more’s” in a year from now.  Most likely will be “less” 

good luck NH

posted by: A mom on November 10, 2011  10:04am

Regarding education and on “doing more,” money could be saved and children better served if there were fewer highly paid administrators who sit behind closed doors and more teachers who actively interact with the kids.  More teachers would allow smaller classroom sizes and more individual attention.  Most kids focus better in smaller classrooms.  The better the adult to student ratio, the more likely the kids are able to be mentored by a caring adult. 

My experience with public education was that the administrators did not seem to care about or even like the kids.  Teachers get to know kids in a classroom setting rather than occasionally seeing them in an office or hallway.  Kids tend to do better in private schools, not because there is more technology or modern classrooms but because the adults are approachable and the kids feel more like they are part of a community, and, therefore, work harder to achieve academic success.

posted by: Threefifths on November 10, 2011  10:16am

posted by: SaveOurCity on November 9, 2011 11:30pm
@threefifths?

Two party system?!?  Not sure what you mean….I live in New Haven and we dream of a day when another party (any party) will rise up and give us a viable option to candidates with the (D) label.

What I mean is the Two party crooked system is in control of the election and voting process.These Two parties use insurmountable obstacles to Block out the minor parties so they can’t get campaign financing, ballot access, media coverage, or sometime seats at debates.So they rarely win.So if we bring in the system of proportional representation.

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/damy/BeginnningReading/howprwor.htm

You would not just have two parties,you would have multiple political parties,Which would give the people more of a voice.

posted by: Carla Morrison on November 10, 2011  10:21am

That’s my sister Jeanette Morrison. If anyone can get it done, she will. Community Center (check); Just wait and see. CM

posted by: Threefifths on November 10, 2011  10:23am

posted by: A mom on November 10, 2011 9:04am

My experience with public education was that the administrators did not seem to care about or even like the kids.  Teachers get to know kids in a classroom setting rather than occasionally seeing them in an office or hallway.  Kids tend to do better in private schools, not because there is more technology or modern classrooms but because the adults are approachable and the kids feel more like they are part of a community, and, therefore, work harder to achieve academic success

Also private schools can put your children out for behavior problems,Public school can’t by law.Tell you what sit in a public school for about two months and look at what you will see.I did and I can tell you it was not good. And it was not always the teachers fault.

posted by: A mom on November 10, 2011  11:46am

To Threefifths, Not sure if you understood my comment or perhaps you are not reading carefully.  I said we need fewer highly paid administrators and MORE teachers.  Or, you might say in this case, more is less as in less administrators and more teachers.  I am all for the teachers and know they have a very tough job!  BTW, in public school, kids can be suspended for almost any reason (zero tolerance run amok), and with suspensions, drop out rates increase.

posted by: Noteworthy on November 10, 2011  12:44pm

We don’t want more, more and more. John’s take on what this election means is stunningly out of sync with the people in this city. He would do well to close his mouth and open his ears. There’s a reason God gave him two of one, and only one of the other.

More is not what we want or need. DeStefano gave us more schools than anybody in the whole state - our kids still can’t read and write or do math problems. Only half graduate.

We have more cops than anybody, and we have more murders to go with it.

posted by: 45th per center on November 10, 2011  1:45pm

I’m with Noteworthy above. I didn’t hear anything in the election about “more.” What I head was actually “less’”, less spending, less taxes, less crime, less bureaucracy. And mostly, less arrogance.

It’s really a shame that this tone deaf man will reign for another two years…he truly does not get it.

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