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MLK-Amistad Deal Derailed

by Thomas MacMillan | Dec 4, 2012 8:10 am

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

Posted to: Schools, Newhallville

Thomas MacMillan Photo Just as a plan to sell a vacant Dixwell Avenue school to a charter organization seemed to be nearing the finish line, a driver put the brakes on.

That driver was Newhallville Alderwoman Brenda Foskey-Cyrus (pictured). On Monday night, in an about-face, Foskey-Cyrus derailed the forward progress of a $1.5 million charter school deal she had previously championed, by having the deal sent back to committee for another hearing.

That surprising turn took place at a full meeting in City Hall of the Board of Aldermen. After a stormy public committee meeting a week earlier, the deal was supposed to move forward Monday night with a “first reading,” setting the stage for a full final approval two weeks later.

Along with Alderwoman Delphine Clyburn, Foskey-Cyrus has been spearheading a proposed deal to sell the vacant Martin Luther King school on Dixwell Avenue to the Achievement First charter school organization, which plans to raze it and raise a new school—Amistad High—in its place.

For months, Foskey-Cyrus and Clyburn have been holding community meetings and shepherding the plan through the approval process. Last week, the aldermanic Community Development Committee, which Foskey-Cyrus chairs, voted unanimously to recommend the approval of the deal  over last-minute objections from a group of Newhallville clergy.

Then at Monday night’s meeting, Foskey-Cyrus moved to send the matter back to her committee, a motion her colleagues approved unanimously.

She reversed course, she said, because she first wants to make sure the final details are settled in a “community benefits agreement” between neighbors and Achievement First. Those details may be proving thornier to finalize than expected; Monday night’s move puts pressure on both sides to strike a deal.

Foskey-Cyrus said she’s looking for guaranteed spots at the new school for neighborhood kids, guaranteed jobs for neighborhood adults, and answers on why the property in question has been assessed at several different values; the proposed sale price is based on a lower value from an Achievement First appraisal, rather than a higher value from a city appraisal.

Reshma Singh, vice president of external affairs for Achievement First, said the charter organization has offered to give a lottery preference to local kids and has a record of exceeding equal opportunity hiring requirements for the construction of its schools. She said the proposed price for the property is based on the highest assessment the organization received for the land, minus the cost of environmental cleanup. 

Singh said time is of the essence in approving the deal. Achievement First is already behind on its target timeline, which would have the new school open by the summer of 2014.

The proposed deal is now headed back to the Community Development Committee. The Board of Aldermen might still approve the deal at its Dec. 17 meeting—if Achievement First can quickly come to an agreement with Newhallville alderwomen.

“Just Making Sure”

The Achievement First deal was up for “first reading” at Monday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting, meaning that it had passed out of committee and would be up for a “second reading” and vote at the following meeting of the board. “First reading” items are usually simply noted officially by the majority leader, who controls the agenda.

On Monday, however, after Democratic Majority Leader Alderman Al Paolillo noted the item, Foskey-Cyrus stood to make a motion to recommit it to her committee.

“We are still negotiating the community benefits agreement with Achievement First,” she said. Among the outstanding items is the question of “why LCI [the Livable Cities Initiative] came up with an assessment different that the property developer says it’s worth.”

Foskey-Cyrus said she was looking to ensure as transparent and conclusive a process as possible. She said the deal still might be put up for a vote at the next meeting of the Board of Aldermen, on Dec. 17. If an agreement is reached, the Community Development Committee could vote to discharge the item directly to the full board for a vote, thus avoiding a repeat “first reading.”

After East Rock Alderman Justin Elicker and Downtown Alderman Doug Hausladen asked for clarification, several aldermen stood in support of the move to send the deal back to committee.

“We’re just making sure that things are well with Newhallville,” said Alderwoman Clyburn.

“There are still some things that need to be worked out,” said Foskey-Cyrus, after the meeting. “I need seats for children in my ward. I need guaranteed seats. I also need jobs for the people in my ward.”

Foskey-Cyrus said nothing had changed between last week’s approval by her committee and her move Monday night to recommit the deal, except that she “sat down and carefully read the agreement they sent to me.”

On The Table

“We’ve been negotiating in good faith,” said Singh. She was one of about 25 people in the aldermanic chamber wearing red shirts that read: “Charter Schools = Equal Public Schools.” Achievement First had organized a large number of parents and students to turn out at the meeting in support of the deal.

Singh said Achievement First and the neighborhood were about 80 percent of the way toward agreeing on a community benefits deal. There is “definitely a way for us to find common ground.”

On the question of guaranteed seats for neighborhood kids, Singh said Achievement First is offering preference in the charter school lottery for placement of Newhallville kids in Elm City Middle School, one of three feeder schools for Amistad High, the new charter high school Achievement First plans to move to its new building on Dixwell.

Singh said Newhallville teens already comprise 20 percent of the school’s student population.

Amistad draws its students from three feeder schools, two in New Haven and one in Bridgeport. The school can’t accommodate any outside students, Singh said.

As for local jobs, the high school would be built with state bonding, so 25 percent of all construction jobs have to be given to local contractors, Singh said. Achievement First’s previous school construction projects have exceeded such requirements, she said. Alderwomen asked Achievement First to add a requirement for the hiring of ex-felons, Singh said. “We’ve agreed to that as well.”

Sing said LCI came up with an assessment of the property $2.88 million. The highest of several that Achievement First received was $2.2 million. The organization took that number, subtracted the estimated $700,000 it will cost to clean up the site, and arrived at the $1.5 million proposal that LCI agreed to. Lawmakers want to know why a city asset should be sold for less than the city determines it’s worth.

Singh said Achievement First is not on track with its desired timeline for the project. The project still needs state approval, and Achievement First hopes to have the school open by summer of 2014.

Singh said she’s “cautiously hopeful” that Achievement First will be able to reach an agreement with alderwomen.

 

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posted by: robn on December 4, 2012  8:52am

Look I’m no huge fan of charter schools but Alderwomen Delphine Clyburn and Foskey-Cyrus either didn’t do proper due diligence with their prior approval, or they’re being shaken down for more benefits by the local clergy. Either way, this is no way for prominent projects to be executed.

posted by: streever on December 4, 2012  9:43am

I’m not a fan of charter schools either, but it is an embarrassment to see a key alder in the approval is saying she didn’t read the agreement in full.

Why on earth did she support it initially without having read it?

I think Robn is correct.

posted by: anonymous on December 4, 2012  10:02am

It’s good to see people who are willing to stand up for the rights of their neighborhood, rather than cave in to politicians and developers.

Unfortunately, this is a relatively small scale project.

If only the Hill neighborhood had had this same kind of leadership when much of the neighborhood was demolished for a new school several years ago, and when the disastrous site plan for Route 34/Downtown Crossing was approved (a project which will disconnect that area from Downtown for another three generations in order to benefit some very powerful developers).

posted by: Curious on December 4, 2012  10:35am

What the hell.  Did these alders do a sloppy job and not ask these questions to begin with?  Or are these things that they only care about now that Kimber brought them up, either because he’s forcing the issue, or because they look like sell-outs in comparison to someone like Kimber, who would scuttle the whole deal while trying to get one that was too good to be true?

posted by: Noteworthy on December 4, 2012  11:57am

That these alders didn’t read and understand the agreement before suppporting it is a rather dubious way of doing the city’s business. It also looks like a bait and switch is going on rather than the “transparency” that is claimed. Perhaps there wasn’t a line item in the proposed agreement that had Boise Kimber’s name on it so this pair decided to scrap the deal. Not known for a lot of patience, if I was AF - I’d lay my best deal on the table and tell the amateur hour to take it or leave it. Let them explain to the community why Martin Luther King’s dream is a symbol embodied in a broken down, environmentally defective building on a lot with broken glass, debris and uncut grass.

posted by: davecoon on December 4, 2012  12:14pm

quid pro quo politiks at it’s worst. 
If only we could get this kind of passion and attendance at the monthly PTA meetings…
Remember,it about the children, not about you.

posted by: accountability on December 4, 2012  12:17pm

Seems pretty straightforward. Community leaders are negotiating a community benefits agreement with the developer. The committee passed the LDA in good faith. Some of the issues remain unresolved.

Recommitting gives Alderwoman Foskey Cyrus the option to re-hear if necessary, but the flexibility to have the full Board pass it in two weeks on a discharge motion if everything works out.

Sounds like smart, flexible leadership and savvy negotiating strategy to me.

Also sounds like the business as usual rubber stamp for developers Board of Aldermen is over.

posted by: EastRockIndependent on December 4, 2012  12:20pm

robn: “Either way, this is no way for prominent projects to be executed.”

streever: “it is an embarrassment to see a key alder in the approval is saying she didn’t read the agreement in full. Why on earth did she support it initially without having read it?”

Come on guys. I have signed plenty of leases and contracts, as I’m sure many NHI readers have. You go back and forth over terms and conditions, and if you’re not satisfied, you put your foot down. It sounds to me like the alders felt they were moving forward toward a good agreement, and then reviewed the latest proposals from Achievement First and were not satisfied.

It seems like there’s a double standard here. When white people hold up development projects for bike lanes or sidewalk improvements, there’s a chorus of hallelujahs and praise heaped upon them - even when the ultimate results don’t satisfy the advocates. Then, when things move further along, a tiny group will ask that the process grind to a halt to meet their demands.

But when people from working-class neighborhoods of color show up in droves, and when alders of color do their due diligence at every step of the process, they are blasted, labeled as incompetent, unthinking or even illiterate.

Let’s get real and have a dialogue free of stereotypes.

posted by: HhE on December 4, 2012  12:30pm

Where is my Record 52?  I need to put my head into a vise.

posted by: robn on December 4, 2012  12:47pm

ERI,

This situation was not caused by lack of community engagement as there were many public meetings on the subject; this situation was caused by politicking clergy looking for vigorish and alders willing to cave. it most certainly is business as usual.

posted by: streever on December 4, 2012  1:12pm

@EastRockIndependent
I’m sorry you see racism in my criticism of her words, and a contradiction: to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t supported a single move by the unanimous Board of Aldermen in over a year, so I don’t know what contradiction you see in my criticism of this alder.

I’m only operating off the article, not any other knowledge, so when I read that the alderman in question shepherded this project for MONTHS and even passed it as a unanimous motion out of her own committee, but now wants to go back to her committee for a re-vote because she quote unquote had not read the fine print, I absolutely do think it is not “wise” leadership.

“Wise leadership” wouldn’t have passed it out of a committee meeting with strong community dissent.

“Wise leadership” would have read the small print.

As to statement that this is a racist position, I’m sorry that you see that here, but think you may be searching a little too hard. If you can explain how I’m wrong without resorting to ad hominem personal attacks and accusations, I’d be interested in hearing more.

posted by: streever on December 4, 2012  1:14pm

(Honestly, when you say let’s have a discussion free of stereotyping, what stereotyping do you object to? What stereotypes did I perpetuate in my original comment? People not reading the fine print is not, to the best of my knowledge, an ethnic stereotype: it is rather the course du jour at the City of New Haven, and something I chide lawmakers, employees, and politicians on almost every day of the week, regardless of race, sex, or identity)

posted by: bcrosby on December 4, 2012  1:50pm

I attended both the CD committee meeting and last night’s Board meeting, and am deeply impressed with the leadership of Alderpersons Foskey Cyrus and Clyburn.  It’s really disappointing to see NHI commenters lambasting them for making sure that this new development is as beneficial to the community as possible - these alders have been doing exactly the right thing, as far as I’m concerned, and our city would benefit if all development projects were handled with this sort of attentiveness and care.

It was crystal clear at the CD committee meeting that the passing of the item out of committee to the full board was contingent on continued negotiations between the neighborhood and AF.  I don’t think this is about Rev. Kimber at all.  After he came to the hearing, spoke his piece, and left, many folks from the neighborhood and alders on the committee continued to voice concerns ranging from the questionable LCI appraisal to community access to access to construction jobs and jobs in the finished school.  Alderwoman Foskey Cyrus and the other people working on the CBA with AF let us know that these issues were currently being discussed with Achievement First, and recommended that the LDA be passed from committee in the hopes that negotiations could be finished and the item could then be passed by the Board.

Well, it seems that negotiations are not finished yet, and in that case, Alderwoman Foskey Cyrus is doing the responsible thing by sending it back to committee.  This way, the process can continue in the most transparent way possible, with the opportunity for more public hearings should the need arise.

posted by: My Fair City on December 4, 2012  2:26pm

I don’t really understand the commotion over an elected city official wanting to take time to thoroughly investigate the options for improving education opportunities for her constituents and for seeking employment in her ward - one that faces high unemployment.  Please people, this is still a democracy and people are still able to say, “Hold on a minute.  Let’s really make the best of a good situation.” 

Good for her for wanting the city to get the best deal during this time of economic and educational distress.

posted by: Webblog1 on December 4, 2012  2:42pm

Both Foskey Cyrus and Clyburn have urged community residents for months to come out and participate in meetings with AF. Residents responded in numbers which were so as as to precipitate moving the meetings to Basset Middle School to hold the large number of residents who showed up to listen and speak. The meetings concluded with full agreement to move forward to the BOA committee meeting.
Here to residents showed out in larged numbers, but were forced to wait more than three hours to speak while alders intensely questioned the city and AF.When given the opportunity to speak residents and the community committee on AF overwhelmingly approved the project over the objections of Kimber, Newman and Blango.

Today to the shock and dismay of all who those who spent countless hours of involved, to now here both Foskey and Clyburn, who here-to-fore claimed the Newhallville community had been “raped” by previous community leaders/ alderman, engage in the same felonious back room dealing that they pledged to halt if elected.

Their actions blatantly smack of a continuation of the nickle and dime politics which serves to hurt the community they swore to protect.

Shame on you both.

posted by: robn on December 4, 2012  2:48pm

Whoooa there historical revisionists! Its been reported in the NHI that the two alderpersons conducted no fewer than four community meetings; the results of those meetings were a community benefit agreement and a BZA ready proposal. This delay is completely attributable to the last minute tossing of a monkey wrench by clergy looking for vigorish.

posted by: streever on December 4, 2012  3:07pm

@My Fair City
The issue is that this Alder did not see any need to delay the deal, but claims that now, after months of working on it, has finally read the agreement and discovered problems.

So, after pushing the deal through her committee to the main board, now is withdrawing.

That means that she messed up at some point in the last several months of the process.

Obviously it is better that she admit it now and fix it, but really, the ideal is that our alders read the fine print in giant million dollar agreements BEFORE they’ve spent 6 months advancing those agreements. I just think it is a little irresponsible for someone who has such a position of power and responsibility to have not read the agreement.

If I don’t read my renters lease, well, guess what? I pay the price of my irresponsible behavior. If she doesn’t read the agreement, all 2-3,000 people in her ward pay the price.

posted by: Curious on December 4, 2012  4:01pm

I believe the disappointment stems from the fact that the non-clergy community leaders all said, after Kimber’s complaints, “We already thought of that, and we have a GREAT deal here.”  Then something else happened, and they all decided that what they had wasn’t good enough.

This reads like a split family to me.  Divorced parent sets up a party for her kids with cake and games.  Then the other parent gets wind of it and says, “Hey, no one told ME about this!  I would have planned a party with cake, games, ice cream, and a PONY!”  Then the first parent, either feeling foolish or embarrassed or inadequate, upscales the party to match the new expectations.

That’s what this looks like.  Everyone was proud and happy until Kimber made some noise, and then they decided that great wasn’t good enough.

posted by: anonymous on December 4, 2012  4:16pm

On the whole, we probably need more community benefit agreements, not fewer (whether or not city residents were fairly treated when these Alderwomen chose to delay this project, is up for others to decide).

I wouldn’t consider all CBAs to be “shakedowns,” I’d say that they are a great tool for communities to ensure a more equitable distribution of resources, if they are done correctly.

New Haven residents need to stand up for themselves, not roll over under the constant threats from people with a lot more power and the politicians who cater to them.

I’m thankful that the Alders are involved, even if CBAs in New Haven have been flawed in the past.

A good example of how this process works is the City’s current “Downtown Crossing” project to widen Route 34 and subsidize a giant new parking garage for 100 College Street at Yale.  Without providing any evidence, City Hall kept reiterating that Federal project funding might get pulled if citizens didn’t approve the project. Luckily, we had some smart Alderwomen, like Bitsie Clark, Justin Elicker, Greg Morehead, Dolores Colon, and others who were willing to see through this charade and push for improvements to the project. http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/split_panel_urges_downtown_crossing_re-do/ 

Disastrous projects such as the Route 34 widening (now about to go forward), the recent widening of Whalley Avenue, and the destruction of a large area of the Hill in order to build the new Perez school would not have happened in the same way had the leaders of the Board of Aldermen been willing to stand up for the rights of their constituents.

posted by: bcrosby on December 4, 2012  4:23pm

RobN, you can accuse me of being a historical revisionist if you like, but the fact is that the CBA was not finished as of the CD meeting, and the alderpersons and AF have always been clear on that.  Please reread the NHI story on the last week’s hearing.  Here are a few quotes:

“Foskey-Cyrus, who presided over the meeting with quiet determination, said, “We will have an [community benefits] agreement.”” (i.e., it is not finalized yet, but will be)

“After the meeting, Toll said the major outstanding detail of the agreement to be worked out is…”

The point is, the CBA was not finished at the time of the public hearing, as both Alderwomen Clyburn and Foskey Cyrus and Achievement First have made clear.  And based on last night’s Board meeting, it seems that the CBA is still not finished.  That’s why the LDA was sent back to committee. 

I’m glad that our alderwomen are making sure that this process is completed fairly and transparently, and I look forward to seeing a CBA that makes sure that Newhallville gets a fair shake.

posted by: EastRockIndependent on December 4, 2012  5:22pm

streever: (Honestly, when you say let’s have a discussion free of stereotyping, what stereotyping do you object to? What stereotypes did I perpetuate in my original comment? People not reading the fine print is not, to the best of my knowledge, an ethnic stereotype: it is rather the course du jour at the City of New Haven, and something I chide lawmakers, employees, and politicians on almost every day of the week, regardless of race, sex, or identity)

streever, I don’t think it’s very complicated. As all of these articles make very clear, the reason this is not moving forward is not because Ald. Foskey-Cyrus didn’t “read the fine print” but because AF has not moved in the direction that she had expected when she voted the item out of committee. That’s a policy decision made with the goal of ensuring that her community gets the best deal it can. Your comments, on the other hand, suggest that this is about not “reading the fine print;” i.e. implying that there is an issue of competency. Rather than taking the whole article and it’s detailed explanation of the subject into account, however, you seize on one comment and blow it up as an issue of an incompetent alderman. As bcrosby said, at the committee meeting the alderman did not have any agreement to present to the committee. She received one and it was not up to snuff, so she took action to ensure the community and Board could press for more public input and discussion before the approvals move forward.

If you have a policy or procedural issue with this, say so. But your comment instead suggests incompetence - a charge leveled repeatedly by you at the black and Latino members of the BoA. To me, that’s stereotyping.

posted by: accountability on December 4, 2012  6:36pm

Whooooooa there Robn. You’re the revisionist, or at least captive of the NHI. Simply put, the NHI was so busy focusing on the Kimber noise machine that they actually missed the story at the committee meeting.

Throughout the process alders have been saying that they were voting for it because AF was negotiating in good faith with the community, including Alderman Marchand at City Plan.

Both Foskey-Cyrus and Clyburn said again at the committee hearing, that they were hopeful to get an agreement and passing the resolution as a show of good faith with the hope that the agreement could be wrapped up in the next couple of weeks.

The intrepid NHI reporter and headline writers just, um, kinda didn’t catch it because they were panting after Kimber. It didn’t “sail through” as the NHI wrote, it was passed with a warning that the CBA was necessary for ultimate passage. Those of us who were there instead of relying only on the NHI for our information know this. Paul runs a nice news service, but the NHI doesn’t get every story right. They missed the contingent comments of the alders voting on the resolution at the committee hearing and thus the motion to recommit came as a shock to them. But not to careful observers the night of the hearing.

posted by: GNHClergy on December 4, 2012  8:57pm

Clergy Group Applaud Local Alderwomen and Continue Pressing for Community Benefits Agreement with Achievement First
The Greater New Haven Clergy Association calls for a fair and transparent process surrounding the purchase and development of the Martin Luther King School site on Dixwell Avenue. The following is a statement from the association in response to the New Haven Board of Alderman sending the proposed sale back to the Community Development Committee for additional discussion.

*************************************************************************

The Greater New Haven Clergy Association would like to applaud Alderwomen Brenda Foskey-Cyrus (D-21) and Delphine Clyburn (D-20) for leading the Board of Aldermen to opening the Martin Luther King School sale to more transparency. Sending the proposed sales agreement back to the Community Development Committee for additional discussion will eventually lead to a better Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) that will benefit all parties involved; the neighbors in that community, the city administration, Achievement First, and most of all, the students who will attend that institution.

As we have stated throughout this process, we do not oppose the development and construction of a new school at the current MLK site, or even the purchase of a public school by the private school company Achievement First.  We understand that the city will get an infusion of cash to lower its growing budget deficit, and that the school will get an opportunity to grow its ever expanding fledgling high school, and we have no intention of interfering with those goals.

Our goal was and still is to make sure that the communities of Dixwell and Newhallville, to which some of us belong, and where many of our congregates reside, were represented in this process. Our questions remain the same, who are at the table and what is being discussed?

The Greater New Haven Clergy Association, as we outlined in our previous press statement, supports the Alderwomen’s call for guaranteed spots at the new school for neighborhood kids, guaranteed jobs for neighborhood adults (as well as monitoring by neighborhood representatives), and answers as to why the proposed sale price is based on a lower value from an Achievement First appraisal, rather than a higher value from a city appraisal.

posted by: GNHClergy on December 4, 2012  9:00pm

Since the school will be serving a much different population (high school as opposed to elementary school), as well as a much larger constituency, we would like to see several other neighborhood benefits added to the CBA, including:
1.  as a result of the request for reduced parking, Achievement First would agree to pay for permit parking for the next 30 years for all residents on streets bordering the school;
2.  allow use of the school parking facilities on evening and weekends for community groups and businesses in the area;
3.  stylish and neighborhood friendly garbage receptacles on the site;
4.  guarantees that lighting as a result of the size and placement of the school will not interfere with the peace and tranquility of the neighbors;
5.  guarantees that school activities, particularly afterschool, will be scheduled, monitored and supervised as to not interfere with the peace and tranquility of the neighbors;
6.  all immediate properties be offered privacy fences;
7.  a written plan as to how the use of the proposed sports field and community room is managed.

Our intention from the beginning has been to see a fair, transparent and open process, so that when this school is built everyone is content that they have had a say in this development, including the neighbors in this community. To make sure that this process is indeed transparent, we continue in our insistence that there should be a CBA team that would include local residents and business owners as members, and a convening of at least two community meetings to inform locals on the project as well as to ensure community input and approval. These steps should occur before the Board of Aldermen approves the sale of the property, not as an afterthought.

Again we applaud our two alderwomen for their persistent efforts to ensure that the local community is not forgotten during this development process.


Rev. James W. Newman III is the President of the Greater New Haven Clergy Association

posted by: HhE on December 4, 2012  10:02pm

Has anyone thought what Achievement First might be thinking? 

I do not have much opinion of them one way or the other.  I have heard good things about them, but I have heard the Superintendent of the Darien Public Schools describe her district as the best, and I know that is not true. 

However, I know they are working to a time table, and all this might look like a shake down.  I wonder if they will throw up their hands and let us keep our abandoned building. 

I am also wondering, if a school is opened in Newhallville, will it need custodians and food service workers?  How far will people drive, in order to drive into Newhallville, to work as a custodian?

posted by: Morgan Barth on December 4, 2012  10:12pm

I commented on the last NHI story about the Amistad HS plans.  As the principal of an Achievement First school I am highly invested in seeing this high school get built – since many of my former students and families have been enthusiastically waiting for a new high school building.  The Amistad-MLK project is a classic win-win for our kids, the community, and the city.  Right now Amistad HS is crammed into two out-of-date school buildings on Prince Street…while the MLK site has been abandoned for years.  At no cost to the City of New Haven, the state and AF (via fundraising) will fund this project. 
The entire discussion around community benefits has corrupted the entire concept of community benefits.  It’s already been widely reported that AF went above in beyond the legal requirements for public input/feedback…and that AF is going to go above and beyond the legal requirements for local hiring, etc.  The whole idea of “community benefits” presumes that the development project itself is going to do some harm to the community.  If Yale is going to displace homeowners…then it makes sense that they mitigate the harm; if a highway project claims eminent domain to take property…then the community should receive substantial benefits.  From the way some people have been describing the need for community benefits, you’d think a plan was afoot to dump nuclear waste in Newhallville.  This is school construction! The community benefit is an awesome new building for a great school.  Providing jobs for the community is a nice side effect – but the real constituents here are KIDS…many of whom come from Newhallville…and a vast majority of whom come from the city’s other lower-income neighborhoods.  I am and I will remain a proud New Haven resident – but this bureaucratic nightmare is embarrassing.  To the Board of Alderman: Please step up and move this forward!

posted by: accountability on December 4, 2012  10:21pm

Bcrosby writes: “If you have a policy or procedural issue with this, say so. But your comment instead suggests incompetence - a charge leveled repeatedly by you at the black and Latino members of the BoA. To me, that’s stereotyping.”

A great point. When white aldermen bring forward a trolley plan with a map that shows it’s a project designed to cater to the city’s wealthiest people and to rich shoreline commuters to downtown, commenters here lambaste the rest of the Board of Aldermen for not reading the fine print and not listening when sponsors say “but, but, but, but, no, really we can turn it into, um, yeah a study of the entire city’s transportation needs! That’s it! With trolleys for everyone!”

They don’t take on the white aldermen for their rank political incompetence. Which is what that entire silly episode was.

posted by: well100 on December 5, 2012  8:45am

The “GNH” would like to see several other neighborhood benefits added to the CBA, let’s look at number 5 “guarantees that school activities, particularly afterschool, will be scheduled, monitored and supervised as to not interfere with the peace and tranquility of the neighbors”. 
http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2012/12/03/news/doc50bd1341cbf9c442217457.txt
Young man shot several nights ago on West Division Street, is that close to the MLK school?  Did it disturb the peace and tranquility of the neighbors?
GNH you need to sit down, Newhallville should be begging AF to buy that building.  GNH, You do nothing for the neighborhood, except collect their money and run back to your homes in WEST HILLS and other affluent sections of New Haven.  GNH you need to help “someone”  complete the construction on their own church, how many years has it been?

posted by: streever on December 5, 2012  9:35am

@EastRockIndependent
Was the old leadership also black/latino? I accused them of incompetency, too, as I do the Mayor, and a large number of white politicians in New Haven—virtually all of them. There are maybe 6 politicians I don’t accuse of incompetence, and out of that group, I accuse 3 of being corrupt.

I’m just not sure how you arrive at your narrative when you look at what is actually being quote above: how does an item pass committee unanimously when the deal isn’t on the table? That isn’t appropriate, and it should have been tabled until the deal was on the table.

posted by: anonymous on December 5, 2012  10:07am

Accountability, you write about the “sources of news” on this issue of the school, and how only the “insiders” know the “real story”. Are these “insiders” the same folks who now make every decision for the City behind closed doors?

Your statement might be seen as ironic, given that your sources of news are dead wrong and definitely not “insider” on the issue of the bus system and streetcar grant you speak of.  With virtually no cost to the City, the grant represented the potential for represented hundreds of millions of dollars in direct State & Federal investment from a priority program of the Obama administration, something that in other cities has created thousands of full-time Union jobs, and which many other cities are rapidly taking advantage of.

Turning that down was an act of gross political incompetence only in the sense that it represented an attack against the elderly, disabled, and lower income residents who rely on our crumbling transit system, in favor of more free parking for middle-aged Union members (among the top issues in Newhallville, too, according to the Clergy letter).

It was also shortsighted in the sense that homeowner tax and renter costs will now skyrocket as a result of stalled economic development throughout Downtown New Haven—where virtually all the City’s jobs are—for another generation. Downtowns die without transit.

“Insiders” know that this has become a legendary State-wide, Nation-wide, and Union-wide embarrassment to our entire metropolitan region.

“Insiders” also know that this was the single worst economic development decision in the history of New Haven, and one that several Aldermen (White and non-White) are directly responsible for. 

CBAs for a school are small potatoes by comparison—if this drags on for years, until the neighborhood gets the best possible benefit, all the better for everyone in New Haven (or at least those who get corrupt kickbacks, like the “insiders” who finally agreed to the Cancer Center Plan after the same Union organizers stalled it for years, a step that permanently damaged New Haven’s ability to compete with other Eds-Meds economies).

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on December 5, 2012  11:02am

What nobody likes to talk about is how there is plenty of money already in Newhallville that could fund economic development projects for residents, but is instead being used to fund -through the churches - the expensive homes, cars and lifestyles of clergy members. If congregations met instead in public school buildings, dropped the dead weight of the clergy and devoted their time to addressing city issues rather than reading verses from a two thousand year old fairy tale, then communities like Newhallville wouldn’t need outsiders like AF or Winstanley Enterprises to invest, they could just do it themselves and have a much better impact.

posted by: anonymous on December 5, 2012  11:17am

Well100, do the Clergy really live in WEST HILLS? I believe they testified using their work address, but it seems important to the public record to know where each person actually has a home.

Jonathan Hopkins is correct that there is a lot of money in Newhallville.  Most people may have low incomes, but when you add together thousands of families, the economic power is potentially enormous.  As Hopkins points out, if the community wished to redirect their buying power to local efforts—instead of supporting outside entities such as WalMart, AT&T, United Illuminating, Comcast, Stop and Shop, Mobil, Clergy from WEST HILLS (if true?), and City property taxes (rent) that mostly goes to ensure that teachers and police officers can live in places like Westbrook, with a 2-car garage and a second SUV—there could be a renaissance here.

posted by: Curious on December 5, 2012  2:16pm

Am I the only one laughing out loud at how many of the Greater New Haven Clergy’s newest set of demands benefit their churches that are in the neighborhood of this school?

Do you people still have the wool over your eyes, and think they want to benefit everyone?

posted by: darnell on December 5, 2012  3:27pm

@ Curious: What do you mean? What benefits are you referring to? What is your issue with Black churches?

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 5, 2012  3:42pm

@Jonathan Hopkins

SNAP!!!!!  and there it is in a nut shell well said!

posted by: Curious on December 5, 2012  4:58pm

@ Support the neighbors, I have nothing against black churches.  I find it hilarious, though, that clergy who complain they don’t have enough parking think that strong-arming this school for parking they can use for their own purposes is hilarious.

What’s with you instantly playing the race card?

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on December 5, 2012  7:53pm

Something seems rotten about this whole ordeal. The flip-flopping. The foot-dragging. The drama. The grand-standing. The extortion. The lack of concern for the students and all the benefits this school will bring to this community.
A well-respected and highly successful charter school wants to build a beautiful, state of the art high school on property that is currently vacant and a blight in the Dixwell/Newhallville community. This school wants to serve the educational needs of New Haven students and wants to locate in the city. The good ministers seem to want to extort exorbitant concessions from the school in order to agree to allow this school to locate in the Dixwell/ Newhallville community. Many of their demands were probably never made when the New Haven Board of Education proposed to build or renovate schools in the area.
If Amistad decided to scrap their plans to build this school on Dixwell and decided to move to another neighborhood or another town, the good ministers and the Newhallville alderwomen would look like first class fools. What would the community do if Amistad did not build on this location? Would the residents prefer that the property lie vacant for many more years? Why put all these burdens on the school and the students and the parents who support and want this school to be built on Dixwell Avenue? Preachers, politicians and political preachers would be wise to be wise, fair, honest and considerate of the needs of the community and the needs of the students instead of trying to suck every dollar they can get out of the charter school for potential political and ecclesiastical patronage. The KIDS before politics, ego, or greed. Rev. Kimber, Rev. Newman and the Clergy Association: What would JESUS do in this matter? Board of Aldermen: Do what is right and best for the students. If you blow this you will have too answer to the community. The ministers will have to answer to God.

posted by: HhE on December 5, 2012  8:56pm

Saying that some is stereotyping because they happen to support a Alderman who happens to be white, and object to the conduct of some people who happen to be black IS stereotyping.

posted by: HhE on December 5, 2012  9:13pm

The elementary school that abuts my Brother’s house in Brookline has recently had a major addition.  Of all the abuters, my Brother’s property was effected the most by far.  The city and school certainly did some things right, and their were other nineighborshat had very unreasonable demands.  This informs the critique. 

1.  I think this ought to be defined better, but it seams outrageous.  30 years of free parking?

2.  Seams reasonable, but there may be liability issues.

3.  Garbage containers are typically ugly.  Having them located with discretion is appropriate.  I’m not sure what a stylish trash container looks like.

4.  Its on Dixwell, so unless the lights are facing out board or are running in the million candle power range, buy some curtains.  My brother did.

5.  Unreasonable.  This is a city, not the quiet country.  There was a school there before.  Now there is an empty, blighted building. 

6.  Not necessarily unreasonable.  The school that abuts my brother’s house provided this.

7.  Overly inflexible, unless it can be changed at will as needed.

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