Sections

Neighborhoods

Features

Follow Us

NHI Newsletter

Some Favorite Sites

Government/ Community Links

Perez: We Kept Our Word

by Paul Bass | Dec 27, 2013 9:05 am

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

Posted to: City Hall

Paul Bass Photo Second of two parts.
They swept into office amid fears that “labor” would hijack government from taxpayers and business people. They end their first term working alongside mollified establishment leaders—and having established a new balance of power at City Hall.

“They” are members of a labor-backed majority of New Haven’s legislature, the Board of Aldermen.

Two years ago they made history. They brought 20 new faces to the 30-person board—the largest turnover in decades, including an infusion of new female members—through a joint campaign organized by Yale’s unions at a time when labor’s political power has diminished elsewhere in the country. They vowed to make the board less of a mayoral “rubber stamp,” more of an independent check on power as well as a co-pilot of the government’s agenda. They promised to bring new voices from their neighborhoods into the political process.

They produced for the first time a document that spelled out exactly what they hoped to accomplish in helping New Haveners get more jobs, keep them safe, and find constructive stuff for their kids to do.

And they set out to prove that a union-backed legislature could help govern a city in the broader public interest.

As their first term comes to a close, the board’s leader, President Jorge Perez, took a look back at that agenda, point by point. He declared in an interview this week that the board has kept its word—even as it has plenty of work to do in the next two years to advance its priority issues. (Click here and here for previous stories about some of the board’s rookies’ experiences.)

“I’m excited to be part of a board that has an agenda,” said Perez, who has spent 26 years as an alderman. He served as board president for six years, lost the position in 2006, then returned to the leadership role with the election of the new labor-backed majority. He said he can’t remember another time so many new people took office, with such a focused plan to play the role of a truly empowered branch of government.

“The board realized it had more ability to influence policy. It chose to do that. I believe the board will continue to do that,” Perez said. In a straw poll this week his colleagues voted to keep him as board president in the new term that starts Jan. 1; no other contender has emerged. (The official vote takes place at the first board meeting.) Also, unlike two years ago, this fall’s election saw little turnover on the board; the next board will have only six new members (and a possible seventh if Hill Alderwoman Jackie James gets a job, as expected, with the new Harp administration or otherwise succeeds in a planned state Senate run). The new majority remains in place for the 2014-5 term, two years more experienced in governing. And now they will work with a mayor, Toni Harp, whom they recruited and helped elect.

The majority of the aldermen won their seats with the backing of New Haven’s most politically influential union, Yale’s UNITE HERE Locals 34 and 35. That led some to predict that they would pursue a narrow agenda.

Mayor John DeStefano—whose slate those aldermen defeated in 2011, effectively running against him—said he had that fear. The new majority proved him wrong, he said in an interview Tuesday.

“I think they did great,” said DeStefano, who retires Jan. 1 after 20 years in office. For 18 of those years, until this final term, his administration controlled the majority of the aldermanic board.

Diana Li Photo DeStefano said he disagreed with some specific decisions the new majority made. He disagreed with a decision to pass on a federal planning grant for a new downtown trolley. He disagreed with a decision to amend the city charter to give the aldermen veto power over some top mayoral appointees.

But the board never pursued the “narrow, close-minded agenda” he feared it would, DeStefano said. “They proved not to be that at all. They said, ‘We’re a separate branch of government. We’re going to ask tough questions that need to be asked.’ They’re a force to be reckoned with. We have. They have to be taken seriously.”

“I have to admit I wasn’t optimistic going in,” Chamber of Commerce President Anthony Rescigno remarked in an interview Thursday. “I was pleasantly surprised. Overall, I’m optimistic that they’ll be a good group.”

Not everyone is sold. East Rock activist Anna Festa ended up running for a board seat in part to add an independent voice—and won. She will join a small group of non-labor-backed alders on the new board. The others include downtown Alderman Doug Hausladen and incoming Prospect Hill Alderman Michael Stratton.

Festa criticized the aldermen for selling two downtown streets to Yale for $3 million; she called it an example of a conflict of interest. “When you’re union and you’re negotiating deals, I’m not so sure the residents were in their best interests. It lacks some integrity in my opinion,” she said. A pro-union activist made a similar argument in this story; other union supporters pointed out that some of the coalition’s aldermen voted for the Yale deal while others voted against.

“They claim that they’ve done a lot for the city and had the best Board of Aldermen compared to other years. My taxes still went up. We still don’t have a bigger grand list,” Festa said. “I don’t think they’ve made that much of an improvement.

Agenda Not Hidden

Paul Bass Photo Two years into the new team’s reign, the board’s actions continue to spark passionate debate over what constitutes a “labor” agenda.

Critics continue to charge that the board acts to protect the narrow interests of a labor union at the expense of keeping taxes down or building up the city. They call the board’s most visible achievement, the creation of a new center to help people find jobs, called New Haven Works, a funnel for money from developers or business leaders to a labor-run entity.

The board’s supporters point to an accomplishment like New Haven Works—which they developed largely in a Chamber of Commerce conference room alongside leaders of Yale, the Chamber, Yale-New Haven Hospital, UI, City Hall—as an example of how their agenda promotes goals that an entire city can share.

In the end, questions about how to run a city in the 21st century may not always fit neatly into 20th century categories of left or right, or “pro-” and “anti-business.” Nor may the term “labor agenda.”

Whichever side people were on, the new board never hid its agenda. The new aldermen decided to put it in writing as soon as they took office: In February 2012 they produced a one-page “vision statement” and legislative agenda that spelled out priorities and some policy goals. All 30 aldermen, including those not on the labor-backed team, endorsed the agenda.

Both that statement—read it here—and the board’s actions have largely ignored one of the city’s overriding issues: public education. The board did succeed in putting a question on November’s ballot to change the charter to create a partially elected Board of Education; the measure passed. Otherwise, City Hall’s appointees to the Board of Ed, not the aldermen, have steered the city’s ambitious school-reform drive, which features public policy questions (how or if to “grade” schools and teachers and administrators; merit pay; the use of charters) debated widely in other cities.

Community Policing

Thomas MacMillan Photo One priority of the new board majority’s agenda from the start: making New Haven safer by reconnecting neighborhoods with cops again, by reviving the community-based policing approach that the city pioneered in the 1990s, then abandoned.

Or as the agenda put it: “Address crime and violence through strict mechanisms of accountability, support effective community policing strategies, and promote complete streets initiatives.”

Even before the aldermen took office, Mayor DeStefano said he “heard” the message from their victories and therefore brought in a new chief, Dean Esserman, to remake the department in a community-policing model. He revived walking beats in all neighborhoods, invited the community to an ever-growing weekly “Compstat” data-sharing strategy session, started reviving block watches and cold-case and shooting task forces. The number of shootings has dropped consistently across town over the past two years.

Perez said that in addition to successfully pushing for new leadership and a new direction in the police department, board members have followed up by with regular briefings from top cops at aldermanic committee hearings as well as with individual contacts between aldermen and their neighborhood district managers. He said much progress remains to be made, especially with getting more officers on foot patrols.

A key to making community policing work is filling the force’s depleted ranks, Perez said. “We get beat up for raising taxes to do that,” he said. “We should get credit” for voting to pay for those new officers. The board has also supported the department’s efforts to fill top ranks.

The board also took a stand against spending money for the department to hire a second public information/outreach officer to focus on social media. The chief said he needed the position to continue connecting the cops more to the public, through modern technology. “The way it was sold to us was a ‘Tweeter’” position, Perez said. “We want people on the street. Not inside” headquarters.

Jobs Pipeline

Thomas MacMillan Photo The new aldermen made jobs a priority because New Haven has such high unemployment (officially hovering between 12 and 13 percent) and underemployment. Meanwhile, the thriving “ed and meds” economy is churning out new jobs. New Haven’s unemployment rate roughly doubled over the past 20 years, while more than 2,000 new jobs were created.

The board promised in its published agenda to “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.”

Right away it created a working group to plan how to do that. It held hearings demonstrating public dissatisfaction with existing regional programs aimed at helping find people jobs or train them for for jobs. Soon the Chamber of Commerce was hosting officials from all top major business, including Yale and Yale-New Haven Hospital, in regular meetings with Perez and other aldermen as well as UNITE HERE to create a new agency.

The result: New Haven Works, a new not-for-profit focusing just on New Haveners (not suburbanites), opened its doors on Whitney Avenue in June. Yale, UNITE HERE, and the state government ponied up enough money for a $1.2 million budget.

Chamber President Rescigno said he found the labor-backed members of the group constructive. Business leaders objected to some initial suggestions, he said—that participating employers commit to giving New Haven Works 10 days to find someone before ever filling an opening, for instance. “I said,‘That’s not realistic. The guy in the roofing business, he needs a roofer this morning.” They said, ‘OK, let’s scratch that. That made some sense.’ I saw decent give and take. I think they’re acting in a lot of ways in the best interest of the city.”

Rescigno sits on the board of New Haven Works. He also serves as treasurer.

“They certainly haven’t left out business. I have as much input as anybody,” he said. “TIme’s going to tell if they put enough people to work to justify the cost. That’s going to take some time.”

So far the agency has found work for 110 people. Yale, in its own negotiations with UNITE HERE, also agreed to give priority to New Haven people for open jobs.

That’s a start, Perez said.

“Is that enough?” he said of the 110 placements to date. “No. Ask the person who didn’t get a job. The alternative was to do nothing.”

Yale, in its own negotiations with UNITE HERE, also agreed to give priority to New Haven people for open jobs. Much work remains to convince other major employers to make full use of New Haven Works. A pending deal on to develop property on Legion Avenue across from Career High School includes a $50,000 contribution to New Haven Works. Look for such contributions, and hiring-priority commitments from developers looking to do business with the city, to become a staple of future deals.

Young People

Thomas MacMillan Photo The third pillar of the aldermanic agenda: “Improve and increase the entire spectrum and quality of services and opportunities through
a comprehensive youth agenda for the city.”

No new youth centers opened over the past two years. No pots of money arrived to open new ones.

But lots of planning took place. That has to come first, Perez said. “We’ve been talking about this for at least the 26 years I’ve been on the board.”

The most progress was made on deciding the future of the Dixwell Community “Q” House. Since the center closed a decade ago, it has become a symbol of perceived lack of constructive options for young people in town. The aldermen obtained $40,000 from the state to come up with a plan in concert with Dixwell neighbors. This fall saw the completion of a detailed plan calling for razing the structure, rebuilding it, and moving the busy Stetson Branch Library into the building. An aldermanic panel last week endorsed the idea and learned its price tag: $13.4 million. Next comes lobbying the state for help with that bill.

The aldermen have a study going of future options for the nearby empty armory building on Goffe Street. That one’s not as far along.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 18 an aldermanic committee received a study that inventories all existing facilities that serve young people in New Haven and details what work needs to be done to improve them. (Read more about that meeting here.)

The committee spent two years on a plan to lay the groundwork for a second plan, to fix up youth centers.

Nick DeFiesta Photo The report enables the board to “get a full look at the landscape of services we have now and start building a more long-term plan of how we can fill in gaps, so we can build a New Haven where all the young people have access to what they need to thrive and be successful,” said Yale Alderwoman Sara Eidelson. Eidelson (pictured), a first-termer who works for UNITE HERE Local 34, chairs the Youth Services Committee; a subcommittee chaired by another labor-backed first-termer, Tyisha Walker, commissioned the study.

Perez said it makes sense to get lots of data before making choices about where to build and rebuild or not to build or rebuild. new The document will provide a map in 2014 for what money to seek to, say, build a new gym at the Farnam Neighborhood House or expand the Boys & Girls Club, he said; or whether to, say, seek to rebuild the decaying old Barbell Club in Trowbridge Square or strengthen other nearby outlets instead. People don’t realize New Haven has 140 different agencies working with young people, he said. Another effort sparked by the aldermanic team involves updating a five-year-old interactive “map” of all programs to which parents can send their kids. Untied Way is spearheading that project along with City Hall’s youth bureau.

Perez noted that the aldermen did deliver a direct boost to youth programming: It obtained $750,000 in state money to grants to local not-for-profits to try out new ideas to prevent youth violence. Click here for a list of the grants the aldermen ended up distributing.

Taxes

Thomas MacMillan Photo The new aldermen didn’t promise to cut taxes. They did promise to raise them only as a last resort, and to work long-term for a revenue system that doesn’t rely as heavily on burdened homeowners.

In their first year, the aldermen didn’t raise taxes—thanks in part to a citywide property revaluation that lowered most people’s taxes (outside of East Rock). The city budget grew by 1 percent that year; aldermen started early in the year pushing city officials for monthly progress reports when a deficit loomed. This past May 29, amid declining state aid, the aldermen passed a new fiscal year budget that raised taxes 7.7 percent; they cut the administration’s original proposed budget by more than $6 million to get even there. The new board and new mayor face growing financial problems, from a depleted rainy day fund to declining bond-agency ratings.

Perez argued that the aldermen succeeded in advancing the best long-term solution: building up the tax base. The DeStefano administration struck deals on numerous development deals in its final year, including the largest proposed downtown project in history, the $395 million plan to build atop the former Coliseum.

As expected, aldermen did get involved in negotiations over those deals, early. And they made the kind of demands that critics predicted could sink development: for local hiring and for affordable housing.

In the end, they didn’t stop projects, Perez noted. Developer Carter Winstanley agreed not just to give preference to local workers and contractors, but to advance contractors money to help with cash flow, as part of the new 13-story 100 College Street tower he’s building for Alexion Pharmaceuticals. The Coliseum-site deal included affordable housing, local hiring, and design changes (the addition of some three-bedroom apartments) asked for by aldermen. Hill Alderwoman Dolores Colon pressed those concerns from the start; she and ended up praising the amended final product. “These people listen,” she said of the developer.

Criticisms from neighbors organized by labor-backed East Rock Alderwoman Jessica Holmes did help sink a proposal to build new apartments at the old Star Supply factory. But the developer has since returned with what neighbors consider a better plan, which has a good shot at passing.

The DeStefano administration took the lead on development plans. They negotiated the deals. But “it’s fair to give credit” to the aldermen to improving the plans, and ultimately giving them needed approvals, Perez argued. The Chamber’s Rescigno, for one, credited the aldermen for “quickly approving” projects like the Coliseum deal.

Civil Service

Thomas MacMillan Photo The board’s agenda made one final specific promise: passing “a resolution requesting the Civil Service Board to increase the points awarded to qualifying New Haven residents from 5 to 10 points.” The aldermen included that change on this fall’s charter reform ballot referendum. And voters approved it.

Union issues didn’t come up often before the board—but when they did, the aldermen at times failed to play the “labor agenda” card predicted by critics. They supported new contracts with municipal unions that included pension and health givebacks. They supported a custodians’ contract that included controversial outsourcing. One big change: Police pensions (for all but the more veteran current cops) will from now on be based on an officer’s final base salary—not on that salary plus the last years’ worth of overtime.

Perez made a point of singling out that fact in responding to the criticism that the aldermanic majority would serve merely as a tool of “the unions.”

“Do we believe that their members should live in a safe, clean neighborhood? Yes. And their children should go to the best schools? Yes. If that makes us cronies, sure,” Perez said. “We are willing to walk a delicate balance. We are for promoting opportunities for New Haven residents. But we also try to control expenses and be fair.”

Perez is in the process of arranging January meetings with his colleagues to craft a second-term agenda by early February. Then, two years from now, New Haven will have another document by which to judge whether New Haven’s emboldened legislative branch of government has kept its promise—and what a “labor agenda” really looks like.

Cora Lewis contributed reporting.

Previous stories examining the new labor majority’s first term in office::
For Wonkish Rookies, City Hall Wasn’t Hollywood
“Labor” Agenda Takes Shape In 1st Year
Outside City Hall, A New Way Of Doing Business
Rookies Learn: All Politics Is Hyperlocal

Share this story with others.

Share |

Post a Comment

Comments

posted by: anonymous on December 27, 2013  9:52am

“They produced for the first time a document that spelled out exactly what they hoped to accomplish”

Really? Previous Aldermen have produced far more specific plans on every issue imaginable. The BOA statement was a bunch of empty platitudes, none of which have been accomplished. Crime is still up, youth jobs are way down, and calling New Haven Works a solution to finding jobs for the city’s 10,000 unemployed people shows a deep deficit of critical thinking skills. 110 job placements is utterly insignificant compared to the normal new hire/employment turnover among our area’s 250,000 jobs.  The meetings about “jobs youth and safety” are excellent opportunities for press conferences though, and they make Yale and the Chamber look good.

posted by: Threefifths on December 27, 2013  10:34am

“I’m excited to be part of a board that has an agenda,” said Perez, who has spent 26 years as an alderman. He served as board president for six years, lost the position in 2006, then returned to the leadership role with the election of the new labor-backed majority. He said he can’t remember another time so many new people took office, with such a focused plan to play the role of a truly empowered branch of government.

My Bad. This is why we need term limits.

posted by: Threefifths on December 27, 2013  10:36am

Tammany Hall Democratic political machine which is sell out the people and labor.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on December 27, 2013  11:24am

The Union Bloc has done a great job on one thing,—consolidating power.

Even though 45% of the City chose an unknown named Elicker over their hand-picked candidate Harp, at this point there is no organized opposition to the Bloc’s stranglehold. (Hausladen’s Take Back New Haven effort fizzled, and Stratton seems unable to decide if he should fight or beg for peace.)

Mayor-Elect Harp is so beholden that she is soon to endorse and back Jackie James over Gary Holder-Winfield, according to some farce that the Democratic Town Committee’s choice of Jackie will render Gary an “independent”. (Btw, the NHI should join the Register in covering this…) But why not stay neutral, Mayor-Elect Harp? Oh, that’s right, they won’t let you!

Anyway the real story begins in 2014 when the Union Bloc controls everything. These past two years were just the prologue.

posted by: Common Ground on December 27, 2013  12:56pm

Could the commenting critics find success stories from around the country where a volunteer legislative body spends months knocking on doors and then pursues an agenda based on those conversations?  Maybe those other efforts would be union backed, maybe not, or maybe they don’t exist. 

This story is about a group of elected leaders who are trying to tackle the problems on the tops of most voters minds…and they are having some success.  Not as much as you or I or probably they even want.  But they sit in endless hearings, show up or organize community meetings, and move things in a positive direction.  They deserve kudos for that.

And for the union-backing?  Maybe that’s old news.  In 2011 the unions supported over a dozen new people to get elected.  Most of them got re-elected this year without facing a challenge.  That usually means their constituents think they are going a good job.  Perhaps that is why they are there - their constituents are happy with their work.

I also think Paul’s point is that they haven’t done the things the things that the right wing fearmongerers warn us about: bankrupt the city, run the government with their unqualified cousin and uncle, etc.  I agree with Anderson Scooper - this is just the prologue.  I am optimistic about the next chapter.

posted by: TheNewZero on December 27, 2013  1:04pm

Im sorry, but the only agenda a member of the board should have is serving their neighborhood and its residents and representing their interests in municipal govt. There should never be a coalition of people united by factors that have or should have nothing to do with the BoA. This group is working the system, blatantly, with proof being found in the Ella Wood debacle. They’re not even being smart or discreet about it. This is not the purpose of the BoA.

posted by: Carrie Washington on December 27, 2013  1:21pm

“The board’s agenda made one final specific promise: ...increase the points awarded to qualifying New Haven residents from 5 to 10 points. The aldermen included that change on this fall’s charter reform ballot referendum. And voters approved it.”

This is a big deal.  For years people have felt strongly about hiring more city residents and DeStefano wasn’t even really giving it lip service.  To make it a priority and then to see it pass - by a referendum of voters no less - is great!

And a note to Anna Festa - I hope you aren’t too quick to judge or paint yourself in just one corner.  There is a lot of work to do out there and it takes a lot of people working together to make it happen.  I hope you keep an open mind and go in trying to find people to work with.

posted by: Eddie on December 27, 2013  1:31pm

The BOA campaigned on a transparent agenda rooted in priorities shared by voters across the city.  Once elected they have worked hard to implement this agenda.  Voters evaluated their work gave them a clear mandate to continue it.  I’m excited to see the progress over the next two years.

posted by: robn on December 27, 2013  2:27pm

A ” transparent” coalition wouldn’t have concealed their unity the first time around and the second time around the first words out of canvassers mouth should have been ” union coalition”. But it wasn’t because they know the avg voter distrusts such groups because of “protect Ing the narrow interests of a labor union at the expense of keeping taxes down”. We have one of the highest ratios of employees to citizens in the country and the BOA continues to grow it so they can puff up the ranks of their allies. We have dangerously high debt and they continue to talk about white elephants like the armory to coddle a voting block and keep them in power.

posted by: Bill Saunders on December 27, 2013  3:29pm

Eddie,

Since most of these union-backed alders ran unopposed, I see no clear mandate, just politics as usual.

posted by: webblog on December 27, 2013  4:02pm

I guess it’s ok to pat yourselves on the back if the alders really produced a constructive document that spelled out exactly what the goals achieved:
1.New Havener’s get more jobs,
2.Keep them safe, 
3.Find constructive stuff for kids .

But did they accomplish those objectives?
I think not, 110 jobs in two years in a city with 13% unemployment does not sound like meeting the goals which were never established.

Keep them safe? Crime stats are up in one area and down in another area , but, overall still rising. Crime will continue to rise if the concentration remains on downtown and not on the root causes of crime.

Find constructive things for kids to do:
Is a twenty year work in progress, the board still cannot decide if it’s wants and needs a Dixwell Q House, or, an Armory, or , to run youth programs out of the schools.

They received a 750K grant, however, 65% of the money comes off the top for city personnel cost to administer a program which has no clear goals, objectives, or time table.

Which brings us to the areas which Perez and the board is not taking credit for:
1. Raising taxes through the mill rate.
2. Cutting police overtime $500K in the budget proposal, only to increase police overtime $1.4M just last week, inspite of all along claiming to control overtime.
3.Increasing fire dept. overtime $1M, inspite of telling the public they are controlling overtime.
4.Selling city streets to Yale for Yales pre-determined price.
5.Leasing the broadway Sq. for 99 years.
6.Selling off the Broadway parking lot to Yale and laying off city workers.
7.Selling the shubert and paying the new owners to take it off the city’s hand, with a 10 year subsidy.
The beat comes on, but I’m out of characters

posted by: Bradley on December 27, 2013  8:01pm

Threefifths, your comparison of the board’s majority to Tammany Hall is inapt for two very different reasons. First, no one has seriously argued that the labor-backed alders are corrupt. I’m from Chicago and know something of corruption - these folks are not taking money in brown paper bags or hiring their relatives for no-show jobs. Conversely, Tammany Hall, for all of its flaws, was effective in building New York; I’m afraid the board has little to show for all of its good intentions.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 27, 2013  8:21pm

I have to add to Bill’s comment. One of the reasons they were unopposed was because the average citizen that may have considered running also had to consider that they did not have the funds being funneled to them and did not have the army of canvassers available to them that the union candidates have. To me that is NOT A DEMOCRACY that is a take over that shut the door to some great minds because they will not be yes men.

And I would like to thank Anna for speaking the truth. Carrie I do not see her backing her self in a corner. She could of said nothing, and did and said what she was told to like many alder do to keep their seats. Is that what you want puppets? A bunch of people all saying what the yale unions tell them to say?. We in Cedar Hill supported Anna we asked her to run!! When she was not even an alder she was at the BOE ending the unfairness of the way our schools lottery system was not transparent or fair to all! She listens to the people of the ward she represents (BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT A REAL ALDERPERSON IS SUPPOSE TO DO represent their ward). 
I will add that their are a few yale union alders that have been coming out of the box…I am hoping to see them continue. Remembering they are not the alderman of yale union the are suppose to be alderman of the people.

posted by: accountability on December 28, 2013  12:52am

Paul:

A clear-eyed, fair story. I appreciate the fact that you took the Board’s original agenda seriously. I wish that there was more progress to report on the issues, but our city benefits from having a clearly articulated vision from at least one branch of government and a press outlet willing to hold them accountable. Thanks.

Anonymous: You would be much more credible if you said “the BoA did X well, and Y poorly.” The unrelenting stream of negative vitriol with no nuance at all undermines any reasonable criticism of the Board. We all know by now that you wanted the trolley study.

Anonymous and webblog: when it comes to New Haven Works, you both appear disingenuous. Without buy in from employers to actually hire people, no job training or placement service is worth a nickel. The Regional Workforce Development system is a multi-billion dollar national embarrassment because it trains millions of people but cannot connect them to real jobs.

You’re each smart enough to know that it took 18 months to build trust with the employer community, secure commitments to hire, fund raise, and develop recruitment networks. The UNITE HERE contract with Yale was critical—for the first time the city’s largest employer made a written commitment to set aside positions to be filled by qualified New Haven applicants if NHW could deliver them, and actually gave residents hired into temp jobs bidding rights on permanent positions. You both seem knowledgeable about these issues—where else has this happened?

The 112 hires took place in less than 6 months since NHW opened its doors, not two years.

There may be lots of other things that the BoA could do to improve job prospects for city residents. Feel free to suggest those. But why trash a program with promise—including surprising praise from the business community—simply because by itself it won’t solve the entire problem?

posted by: nh4life on December 28, 2013  7:51am

Festa is right to criticize the selling of 2 streets for 3 million. Was an appraiser even brought in to determine the true market value of those 2 streets to the buyer ? In the future I would prefer that board members who are affiliated with buyers of such big ticket items exempt themselves from the negotiations and the vote.

posted by: citoyen on December 28, 2013  2:07pm

The two recent overview articles about the union-backed agenda in New Haven have been useful and informative, but I think there has been a glaring omission—there has been no broader consideration of *why* the Yale labor movement wants to acquire its iron grip on this city.

It is all very well to interview alders Holmes and Marchand, or DeStefano and Perez and Rescigno—which is to say, people on two sides of implementing agenda items—but where are any interviews with the union presidents, Bob Proto and Laurie Kennington? Where are considerations of the purposes behind taking control of city government? The unions, first and foremost, are concerned with negotiations with their employer, Yale University. That is their whole reason for being. How does holding the levers of political power play into that? How appropriate a use of power is this? At what point do residents and taxpayers become simply pawns in the pursuit of private agendas hidden behind rhetoric and programs focused on public agendas?

I had been reading NHI articles over the past couple years about the union political involvement—articles focused on this or that proposal, on this or that success or failure. That coverage had me thinking only of those particularized questions. It wasn’t until election time—when events like the Ella Wood and Maureen Gardner candidacies, showing that the Yale unions were not content simply to hold a super-majority of BofA seats but were determined to try to stamp out *any* wayward alderman voices; and the charter revision proposal to control a mayor’s appointees, put forward behind the feel-good rhetoric of “gender neutrality”—that I started to realize there are bigger power-grab issues going on here.

Now we have more useful, lengthy evaluations, presented with great skill, of the various particularized agenda items—but without asking broader questions about their context and purpose. I worry that this kind of coverage risks lulling readers into too narrow a focus.

posted by: Threefifths on December 28, 2013  10:19pm

posted by: Bradley on December 27, 2013 7:01pm

Threefifths, your comparison of the board’s majority to Tammany Hall is inapt for two very different reasons. First, no one has seriously argued that the labor-backed alders are corrupt. I’m from Chicago and know something of corruption - these folks are not taking money in brown paper bags or hiring their relatives for no-show jobs.

Tammany Hall, or simply Tammany, was the name given to a powerful political machine that essentially ran New York City throughout much of the 19th century.My point is Tammany hall was not just corruption.Tammany Hall was also a powerful political machine.Look at New Haven and even West Haven.You have one party Rule,Both towns being run by the democratic political machine.You say these folks are not taking money in brown paper bags or hiring their relatives for no-show jobs.You need to check into how some of there family memebers hold city jobs.

posted by: EastRockIndependent on December 28, 2013  10:19pm

Folks, the election is over. Can we slow down and stop grinding axes?

Many of the things New Haven is doing now with the Board’s leadership - particularly around jobs & youth - are unique and innovative nationally. At a moment when other cities are pulling back from providing much more basic services, this Board has declared we have to do all that, and more.

The next two years should be very interesting - and I for one look forward and hope these efforts bear real fruit.

(Btw, the article neglects to mention the millions in state funding for renovations at the Goffe St Armory already secured by the City, and the hearings held by the Goffe St Armory Re-Use Committee all over town to gather neighborhood input into the project)

posted by: accountability on December 29, 2013  12:14am

nh4life: It wasn’t only for $3 million. It included a permanent commitment to keep paying increases in the voluntary payment that yale had given to tide the city over during the financial meltdown.

Other commenters insist that Yale was always going to keep paying that. I’m delighted that their political judgment is so certain. Mine isn’t. But you can’t simply say the streets were sold for $3 million. They weren’t

The last time the payment was increased—it essentially doubled in 2005—there was an enormous grassroots upheaval in the city, students, clergy, c3 organizations and the unions all came together. There was nothing like that level of organization this time.

you and Anna Festa have the same obligation that all other NHI commenters have failed to fulfill for the better part of a year: explain where the leverage was to get more. The only card the city had to play was to forcibly take the streets back. Were you ready to do that? Was Alderwoman-elect Festa ready to tear up the sidewalk by the Women’s Table?

The Destefano Administration certainly wasn’t prepared to order the police and DPW to do that.

posted by: UBHolden on December 29, 2013  11:39am

Perez’s comments basically admitted that all his years of BOA “leadership” have been ineffective, unfocused, and without a plan for real change.  I guess things will get better now that he has someone telling him what he should be doing?

posted by: Threefifths on December 29, 2013  11:51am

posted by: EastRockIndependent on December 28, 2013 9:19pm

Folks, the election is over. Can we slow down and stop grinding axes?

The people better get ready for the high taxes that will be on the way.

Many of the things New Haven is doing now with the Board’s leadership - particularly around jobs & youth - are unique and innovative nationally. At a moment when other cities are pulling back from providing much more basic services, this Board has declared we have to do all that, and more.

What new board leadershipThese are the same rubberstampers that help king john and will now help queen harp.Sorry the political machine will be the same.

The next two years should be very interesting - and I for one look forward and hope these efforts bear real fruit.

The next two years will be paybacks to all the fat-cat campaign donors.


(Btw, the article neglects to mention the millions in state funding for renovations at the Goffe St Armory already secured by the City, and the hearings held by the Goffe St Armory Re-Use Committee all over town to gather neighborhood input into the project)

Keep drinking the kool_Aid.

posted by: nh4life on December 29, 2013  1:33pm

accountability:

Doe’s 3 million dollars plus the present value of the permanent commitment to pay increases equal the value of those 2 streets? An appraisal should have been done and reviewed extensively.
Perhaps you feel the cities lack of leverage should make us grateful we got anything at all.

posted by: wcproclaimer on December 30, 2013  8:29pm

Mr. Bass: Good story, fairly presented with good insight. Unfortunately there’s a rush of conspiracy minded commentators screaming about things that didn’t happen.

What i love, LOVE, about the commentators (Marky-mark, anderscooper Threefifth, et. al.) who whine about the labor movement being a shill for yale is that they ignore the fact that the Unions stand in opposition to Yale management, that is the nature of a unions relationship with management. These same commentators also believe that Alders who support, and are in turn supported by thousands of low level yale workers are somehow controlled by yale managment or represent the interests of yale management. But Doug Hausladen The Coach of Yale Waterpolo, and Mike Stratton, a great friend to the upper echelon of the Law School, don’t represent the interests of Yale’s management, their own social class, or their friends. That’s sound logic. 

It’s also amusing how some of the same commentators go on and on and on about how the board doesn’t represent the interests of the city. Ya know, if that were true one would expect the Union backed alders to have lost to challengers.  Instead hundreds of volunteers from across the city worked to ensure their voices were heard, and the representatives who’d worked for their communities could continue working for the next two year, only this time without obstruction from Destefano.

Oh. Sorry. Hold up. I just forgot that a candidate who got the majority of his donations and votes from three or four wards in the wealthiest sections of our city really represented the other twenty seven wards. I guess we really are in trouble now that the other twenty six wards have had their say.

posted by: Threefifths on December 30, 2013  11:24pm

posted by: wcproclaimer on December 30, 2013 7:29pm

Mr. Bass: Good story, fairly presented with good insight. Unfortunately there’s a rush of conspiracy minded commentators screaming about things that didn’t happen.

Time will tell.Also look at the record of those who are coming back to work for Mayor elect Harp.Most worked for king John.


What i love, LOVE, about the commentators (Marky-mark, anderscooper Threefifth, et. al.) who whine about the labor movement being a shill for yale is that they ignore the fact that the Unions stand in opposition to Yale management, that is the nature of a unions relationship with management. These same commentators also believe that Alders who support, and are in turn supported by thousands of low level yale workers are somehow controlled by yale managment or represent the interests of yale management.

The Alders who work for yale have sold there souls to the Machine.This is the problem.Look at how those Alders who are union memebers vote away the park workers medical retirement benfits. Where was union solidarity at when it came to the vote. 


It’s also amusing how some of the same commentators go on and on and on about how the board doesn’t represent the interests of the city. Ya know, if that were true one would expect the Union backed alders to have lost to challengers.

The reason there are no challengers are under The two major parties maintain a collusive stranglehold and Uneducated Voters who keep puting in the same people over and over.The question you should ask is why we do not use proportional representation which would give more people a choice and a voice at the table.

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

posted by: robn on December 31, 2013  10:02am

Let’s look at it another way. A nationally and regionally funded labor coalition pooled their mighty resources, spent lots of their own money, leaned on suburban contractors for huge donations, put every available body on the street to canvass and ran a very popular elder statesperson against a relative newcomer who voluntarily capped his donations. This yielded the union coalition 55% of the vote. Good enough to win but not very convincing mandate.

posted by: wcproclaimer on January 1, 2014  6:54pm

Whoa Ho There 3/5s! What’s this newfangled thing called Proportional representation? Hmmmm. It appears to be and Elicker Voter trying to make himself seem like the smartest guy in the room by posting articles from other sites and condescendingly assuming that no one else knows anything about politics or Democracy! Ding Ding Ding. I think 3/5s just won this conversation.

A few notes:
1. By definition ALL of the candidates were part of A machine. This is simply because the Machine (essentially synonymous with campaign, see two can play at the game of belittling people’s intelligence with pedantry)is the assembly of donors, canvassers, workers and supporters that does the work to elect a candidate, not a demon you make Faustian bargains with (House of Cards is not real life).

2. By Alders employed by yale i assume you mean Doug Hausladen, as he is the only alder in a managerial position within the univrsity, being Water Polo coach and all. Not Members of a local union, who by very nature of their membership in aforementioned union stand in opposition to yale management’s interests. Oddly enough the wards (7, 10, 19) where Yale’s higher ups are most concentrated elected alders who openly oppose workers exercising their collective powers.

3. Who do you mean by ‘Uneducated Voters’ Do you mean the voters in wards 10 and 25 who were numerically Destefano’s strongest supporters in 2011 and past elections, as well as elicker’s this year? Or do you mean the voters in other wards where they sent in an entirely new slate only 2 years ago. Reelecting them once doesn’t really count as over and over again.

Or maybe 3/5’s is secretly like aquaman is to fish, maybe he can telepathically communicate with all the voters in the city and determine what the best course of action is.

I’ll leave yall with this: The system isn’t perfect, which is why we need to fight and organize. Not everyone thinks exactly like you, and disagreements are not a result of a cabal like conspiracy.

posted by: Threefifths on January 1, 2014  10:39pm

posted by: wcproclaimer on January 1, 2014 5:54pm

Whoa Ho There 3/5s! What’s this newfangled thing called Proportional representation? Hmmmm. It appears to be and Elicker Voter trying to make himself seem like the smartest guy in the room by posting articles from other sites and condescendingly assuming that no one else knows anything about politics or Democracy! Ding Ding Ding. I think 3/5s just won this conversation.

First I was not a Elicker voted or Think that no one else knows anything about politics.Second I write my vote in.Also those who know me not like you know I have always been for Proportional representation and Term Limits.Have been from 1974 till I die.


3. Who do you mean by ‘Uneducated Voters’ Do you mean the voters in wards 10 and 25 who were numerically Destefano’s strongest supporters in 2011 and past elections, as well as elicker’s this year? Or do you mean the voters in other wards where they sent in an entirely new slate only 2 years ago. Reelecting them once doesn’t really count as over and over again.

I mean Uneducated Voters as a whole.These are the voters who do not know the fundamentals of their preferred candidate’s campaign or even the basics of an election.These are the voters who say my father and mother voted all there life for democrats and they now vote based on what party there parents voted for.I ask a lot of black folks why are you voting for Harp.They told me we must get our first Black female mayor for new haven.Maybe you should ask some of these Uneducated Voters why they vote like this. I have.

’ll leave yall with this: The system isn’t perfect, which is why we need to fight and organize. Not everyone thinks exactly like you, and disagreements are not a result of a cabal like conspiracy.

And this is why we need to change it.So when you going to fight to change it or are you one of those who are happy with the two party system.

Events Calendar

loading…

SeeClickFix »

Illegal Dumping
Apr 14, 2014 9:40 am
Address: 1655-1799 Chapel Street New Haven, Connecticut
Rating: 6

Construction debris - one large cabinet dismantled (3 or 4 pieces about 3 ft X 8...

more »
Tree Trimming
Apr 14, 2014 9:35 am
Address: 257 Quinnipiac Avenue New Haven, Connecticut
Rating: 1

Off of Barnes Avenue take a right onto Quinnipiac Avenue, tree is located on the...

more »

Flyerboard

Sponsors

N.H.I. Site Design & Development

smartpill design