The newly formed group of dissenting members of the Board of Alders is hitting a Sperry Street church Saturday, and inviting along some friends.
The group, the “People’s Caucus,” formed this month to offer an alternative to the governing majority of the Board of Alders. (Read about that here.) On Saturday, the caucus’s seven members plans a two-hour “community forum” to explain their vision to the public, and to hear from some local political experts.
The event begins at 4 p.m. at Springs Church at 31 Sperry St., near the intersection of Whalley Avenue. It is the first of three or four anticipated neighborhood forums, according to Caucus organizer Alder Michael Stratton of Prospect Hill/Newhallville.
Scheduled keynote speakers Saturday include Yale political science prof and author Douglas Rae (title of talk: “History of Divisive Ethnic and Machine Politics in new Haven”), prolific blogger Mark Abraham of the group Data Haven (addressing “Evidence-Based New Haven”); and Fair Haven-based community organizer Lee Cruz (“What We Yearn For”). All three supported independent challenger Justin Elicker in the 2013 mayoral election.
In a press release Wednesday, the Caucus said it will both seek public input and unveil a seven-part “mission statement” of core principles:
“1. We support Good Policy Regardless of Source. We are not an opposition party. We act with compassion and openness even with those who oppose us or our positions.
“2. We challenge bad policy vigorously and support good policy zealously but we do not engage in the politics of personal insult, or disparagement.
“3. We never speak for the group without consensus. And we build most of our agenda based on public forums done regularly throughout New Haven.
“4. All caucus policies require public support, must be well researched and evidence based, and must be unanimously supported by our caucus members before submission to the board.
“5. We will seek to gain new alder members through attraction and political support but only after the candidate demonstrates a willingness to adhere to the core principles
“6. We will not engage in peer pressure to exact consensus. Instead we will endeavor to broaden or contract our proposals to encompass the concerns of a dissenting member or members of the public. Dissent is Encouraged.
“7. Every member has a duty to do community work, and agrees to community service projects as a group.”
So far the Caucus has advanced proposals to abolish the elected city/town clerk position and bar gag orders on city employees. Read about that here; click on the video at the top of the story to watch members storm the clerk’s office recently.
Wow! This is a great set of principles for any democratically elected organism. Well put all around.
posted by: Eddie on January 22, 2014 7:26pm
How odd that such an inclusive group would choose speakers who were all strong supporters of Elicker in the last election. Didn’t a majority of voters support Harp in the last election? Why don’t Harp supporters get a representative as a keynote speaker? Given the group’s commitment to transparency and democracy, I wonder if they could take us through the process of selecting these keynote speakers. How did they reach consensus on this decision? With such a short meeting the speakers will clearly influence the group’s agenda.
posted by: Threefifths on January 22, 2014 8:14pm
If they are the People’s Caucus.Then they need to drop out of the Democratic Party and form a real People’s Caucus like the Bull Moose Party,That Theodore Roosevelt’s revolt against the Democratic and Republican parties.
posted by: cedarhillresident! on January 22, 2014 8:36pm
And there it is. What we lost in this city..maybe even in this country. I have a good feeling about this.
Politics in this city have become about the politicians and it has stopped being about the residents it is about time people stood up and spoke out. The mission statement is perfect.
Great speakers Hey eddie hope to see you there.
posted by: darnell on January 22, 2014 11:43pm
“2. We challenge bad policy vigorously and support good policy zealously but we do not engage in the politics of personal insult, or disparagement.”
“Right then I realized this is a joke. We’re not a family. They’re dictators,” Foskey-Cyrus said. NHI 1/5/14
“3. We never speak for the group without consensus. And we build most of our agenda based on public forums done regularly throughout New Haven.
“4. All caucus policies… must be unanimously supported by our caucus members before submission to the board.
“I called Gwen [Mills] and said, ‘I can’t do this,’” Robinson-Thorpe recalled Sunday. “I was directed that, ‘You’re in a coalition. You have to vote with the coalition. You agreed to do this.” Robinson-Thorpe said. NHI 1/5/14
“5. We will seek to gain new alder members through attraction and political support but only after the candidate demonstrates a willingness to adhere to the core principles”
These sound a lot like the union majority positions opposed by this “People Caucus”. Are we talking about the same group of Alders? Are there still 7 after Doug’s resignation?
posted by: cedarhillresident! on January 23, 2014 9:53am
I think you have it wrong. And I am a supporter of yours Are you not a member of No Labels? I think this group is a lot like no labels. This is more of a problems solving group.
Cedar, you know I am a big fan of yours, but come on, this group has a long way to go before they establish any sort of legitimacy. They are founded by an Alder who was an integral part of the union machine, and only bolted because she felt she didn’t receive her fair share of the goodies; another who flip flopped during the election, first opposing the machine, then pledging his support, and then back to opposing once elected. They haven’t identified an agenda as of yet. They list a set of principals, which sound eerily similar to the machine’s principals. They say they will not “engage in the politics of personal insult, or disparagement”, yet they call the opposition names like “dictators”. They complain that the machine asked for or demanded allegiance, yet their core principals state that “all caucus policies… must be unanimously supported by our caucus” and they will seek “new alder members…only after the candidate demonstrates a willingness to adhere to the core principles”. How different is the machine they are trying to build from the union sponsored machine?
posted by: Chris500 on January 23, 2014 10:44am
Another club. The principles sound ok, although a bit trite and vague-What, for example, does the slightly ominous statement “We challenge bad policy vigorously and support good policy zealously” mean? And it sad that these principles would even need stating beyond grammar school. This is not meant as criticism of this effort, but of the continuing degenerate state of politics in New Haven.
posted by: robn on January 23, 2014 10:55am
The unanimity which the Peoples’ Caucus seeks is distinctly different from the complete surrender that the Union bosses demand. The latter is worthy of a few shots across the bow such as calling union bosses “dictators” (spoken before the Peoples’ Caucus mission statement was established.)
posted by: cedarhillresident! on January 23, 2014 11:21am
Love ya darnell
I think this group is just the rebirth of the group that Doug tried to start. I think this time they are trying to do it right. They have community meetings set up all around the city to find out what the community wants and needs. Educating the community on how government works like Jeffery tried to do.
I think the mission statement is more of a jumping point. Again I think this is more of a problem solving group than a political group and they are not asking union alders to stop being union alders but to be part of the problem solving and to start thinking independently. I could be wrong but that is what I take away from all of this. If they existed when you were alder I think you would of been with them. Go to the meeting and talk to them Darnell.
posted by: Frodo on January 23, 2014 12:49pm
Looks to me like Elicker is still running. Good luck.
posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on January 23, 2014 2:49pm
You’d have to be blind to not see what is going on here. Elicker lost in the very communities where this unhappy group is launching their complaint campaign.
If the Mayor’s leadership team falls asleep on this group, this group may very well galvanize enough support to make Elicker’s next run closer if not victorious.
The core support in wards 19, 20, 21, 22, 28, 29 and 30 (not to mention a few others) are very fragile and can sway easily if politically massaged properly.
If not careful, investors can bankroll these wards in favor of an opposition candidate to Mayor Harp and be quite successful.
If some find this to be hyperbole, look at what happened a couple of years ago with the Union takeover.
posted by: cedarhillresident! on January 23, 2014 3:16pm
some of these people are not Elicker supporters. You know dang well that is not what this is about. It is about going from one machine to another. And breaking that unhealthy cycle.
In this past election Elicker got close to half the votes. around 20,000 people voted….20,000 there are 130,000 people in New Haven. MOST have given up on politics in this city to the point of “why bother voting”. And going from one machine to another did not change that. Maybe this will.
posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on January 23, 2014 3:23pm
The “People’s Caucus” has invited the people of New Haven to a meeting to tell them their vision and to “hear from some local political experts.” Why doesn’t the “People’s Caucus” simply have a forum to hear directly from the people. Most people who are concerned about change and progress in New Haven do not want to sit around on a Saturday afternoon and be lectured to by three “political experts.” It is quite interesting that the three experts were all Elicker supporters. Doesn’t there have to be a degree of diversity to work at reaching agreement and consensus? Unfortunately the appeal for this new group appears to be coming from one section of the city. The goal of promoting “good policy” (What is that!!) and government by city-wide referendum seems a bit vague and problematic.
posted by: anonymous on January 23, 2014 4:06pm
Thomas and Eddie, do the “experts” have five minutes to share some information, like they do at CCNE’s neighborhood visioning meetings, or are they supposed to talk during the entire meeting? Without knowing the final schedule, you seem to be jumping to conclusions. It sounds like this is a neighborhood visioning meeting, not a lecture, so I would guess that the public discussion would take up the overwhelming share of the meeting time. At CCNE’s neighborhood visioning meetings a couple years ago, the “experts” had 10 or 15 minutes to share some information about New Haven, and then the public had at least 45 minutes to share their thoughts in small groups before CCNE’s staff tabulated what residents in the small groups had to say.
posted by: Threefifths on January 23, 2014 5:03pm
posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on January 23, 2014 2:23pm
Unfortunately the appeal for this new group appears to be coming from one section of the city. The goal of promoting “good policy” (What is that!!) and government by city-wide referendum seems a bit vague and problematic.
You need referendum when one party is in control like New Haven and West Haven.How about a referendum on Term Limts Election Recall IRV Voting and Proportional Representation.
“6…Dissent is Encouraged.” So who are the New Haven Republican Town Committee members that have been invited to this caucus? Since the most “community-active” member of the local GOP is Andy Ross, I assume he’s been invited.
posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on January 23, 2014 10:06pm
My point is that in a group professing to be the “People’s Caucus” the only “experts” needed are the people. Information I was provided led me to conclude that the bulk of the meeting would be made up of presentations by political experts. That strikes me as strange in a group that implies that it is a grassroots organization.
posted by: SteveOnAnderson on January 23, 2014 10:42pm
Good thing Douglas Rae won’t be giving a talk on gender equality…
I am eager to hear any actual content or policy proposals from this “caucus.” So far the only content I can possibly grasp is they don’t like consensus and they don’t like unions.
1) Anti-consesnsus-building: In a time when reactionary politicians keep Washington gridlocked -preventing any good legislation form getting passed and holding our government hostage- this seems like exactly the opposite of what we should be striving for.
2) Anti-union: As right-wing politicians and their corporate backers have steadily beat back unions, and, with them the middle class; and as worker power is reaching near-all-time lows, the “Peoples Caucus” is either totally out of sync with reality or a tool (knowingly or unknowingly) of reactionary, conservative, corporate forces that threaten our democracy and our economic viability as a nation.
posted by: win win on January 24, 2014 1:19pm
Would this gang mind telling us which part of their colleagues’ Agenda exactly they’re against?:
JOBS: Expand access to good jobs in the public and private sector to all New Haven residents, with specific focus on under-resourced neighborhoods, through the creation and implementation of a jobs pipeline. (New Haven Works, more points on civil service exams for residents, strengthen Youth@Work, make training relevant to existing jobs)
YOUTH: Improve and increase the entire spectrum and quality of services and opportunities through a comprehensive youth agenda for the city. (Re-open the Q House, Armory and other spaces for youth and community, keep schools open to community after hours, strengthen Youth@Work)
PUBLIC SAFETY, CRIME & VIOLENCE: Address crime and violence through strict mechanisms of accountability, support effective community policing strategies, and promote complete streets initiatives. (Full implementation of Community Policing, including walking and biking beats in every neighborhood)
posted by: robn on January 24, 2014 2:41pm
Enforced unanimity (union coalition) does not equal consensus driven unanimity.
posted by: anonymous on January 24, 2014 3:09pm
Wer1: “Jobs, youth, safety” is a great agenda that nobody disagrees with, but in practice, it’s also a chant used to quite literally drown out contributions from people who think there might be other important things going on in our city. Taxes, transparency, transportation, trees, just to pick one letter of the alphabet, for instance.