Robo War Erupts In Morris Cove

Flames of accusation spread through Morris Cove Sunday night—over whether one mayoral candidate wants to endanger lives by closing the neighborhood firehouse, or whether his opponent concocted an election-eve smear to scare voters.


The back-and-forth took the form of dueling robocalls—those beloved automated messages candidates mass-dial to voters in the final stages of a campaign. New Haven voters have received a flood of them leading up to Tuesday’s four-way Democratic mayoral primary.

One of the four candidates in the race, Toni Harp, enlisted a Morris Cove alderman, Sal DeCola, to record one such robocall that went to Morris Cove Democrats on Sunday.

In the robocall, DeCola repeated an accusation that Toni Harp made at a press conference last Thursday: that another Democratic mayoral candidate, Justin Elicker, might shut down the Morris Cove fire station if he wins the election. Harp based the accusation on this article in the Independent. The article states that Elicker took the following position about the Morris Cove station: “He would not shut down the station.”

Current and past leaders of the firefighters union, who have endorsed Harp’s campaign, attended the press conference, which took place at the Morris Cove fire station. (Read about that here.)

In the original Independent article, Elicker did suggest exploring resource-sharing with East Haven to handle fire calls in both East Haven and on New Haven’s East Shore. In the interview he also said he was open to exploring “efficiencies” in the department like eliminating a fire engine somewhere in the city or revisiting a minimum-manning requirement instituted by the DeStefano administration in 2006 when Mayor DeStefano was running for governor with the fire union’s endorsement.

Toni Harp said Sunday night that “reading between the lines” of that statement, she concluded that Elicker might eliminate the one fire engine in the Morris Cove station, and therefore effectively shut it down.

Sal DeCola echoed that argument in his robocall to Morris Covers Sunday.

“Recently Justin Elicker proposed scaling back the Morris Cove fire station by eliminating our fire truck and consolidating its functions with East Haven,” DeCola alleged in the call. “He’s telling you, ‘If you have an emergency call East Haven.’ That’s not acceptable. Keep East Shore safe!”

Voting for Toni Harp will therefore keep the East Shore safe, DeCola concluded.

Click here to listen to his robocall.

The Elicker camp responded with a press release that had the following headline: “Harp repeats lies, plays politics with public safety.”

The Elicker camp also responded by throwing together a response robocall that went to Morris Cove Democrats Sunday evening. It enlisted a politically active New Haven firefighter, Kevin Donohue, to record it.

“Toni Harp is trying to mislead voters, and she knows it,” Donohue stated in the call. Then he cited this controversy over a DeStefano administration effort to retire an engine from the Whitney Avenue firehouse: “Justin fought alongside us to stop the Engine 8 closure and will oppose any attempt to close the station in Morris Cove. Toni’s last-minute accusations are politics as usual in New Haven. We need an honest mayor.”

Click here to listen to Donohue’s robo-call.

Which side is right? Weigh in by voting in the “True Vote” poll above in this story. And feel free to post a comment at the bottom of this story.

“Reading Between The Lines”

Thomas MacMillan PhotoToni Harp defended her campaign’s accusation in an interview Sunday evening. She said both Elicker’s original statements in the Independent article as well as his subsequent statements have backed that up.

She noted that Elicker stated in the original article that he would consider exploring resource-sharing with East Haven because of the relatively low number of calls to the Morris Cove station. She noted that in the same interview he spoke of being open to potentially entertaining the notion of eliminating an engine somewhere in the city. Morris Cove has only one engine, she noted. So if that engine were to disappear, Morris Cove would in effect have no station.

“Reading between the lines, you would have to worry that the station would be closed,” she argued.

“There’s no grey area. There’s never been any grey area. It’s very unfortunate that at the 11th hour at this election this is happening,” Elicker responded in a subsequent interview Sunday evening. “She’s lying—I have been clear from day one in the quote that she is misleading people about.” Precisely since that fire station has only one engine, he would never consider retiring that engine, Elicker said.

Rather, he said that the East Shore and East Haven could work together to help each other out, part of a national trend toward exploring urban-suburban resource-sharing arrangements to save money through efficiencies.

Harp said that stand reflects Elicker’s lack of knowledge about how the fire service operates on the East Shore, and about the capability of East Haven’s partly-volunteer department to handle New Haven calls.  Besides fighting fires, the Morris Cove station responds to water-rescue calls, she said. And it handles calls at Tweed-New Haven Airport, including the recent fatal plane crash on the East Haven side.

Elicker responded that that’s an example of how the departments can work together. Resource-sharing could mean that East Haven actually pays New Haven to help out that town with its superior resources for instance, he said.

The back-and-forth illustrates the political delicacy of fire service debates. For years some government officials have argued that the fire department is overstaffed or inefficiently staffed for a city our size, based on systems set up generations ago when cities had more fires. But any suggestion to retire an engine or close a firehouse prompts protests and arguments by some elected officials that such discussion threatens public safety. The John Daniels Administration floated the idea of closing a firehouse during a budget crisis two decades ago; a public outcry killed the idea then. A candidate for alderman in Ward 19, Michael Stratton, has raised the issue in this Democratic primary campaign; his opponent has criticized him for it and won the backing of some firefighters in her campaign. (Read about that here.)

Asked Sunday evening if she would consider scaling back the number of firefighters in New Haven, Harp responded that the city’s population has grown in recent years—and therefore may require the services of more firefighters.

Clean Money

Meanwhile, Elicker’s campaign launched a separate attack on the Harp campaign Sunday evening over another controversial issue in the late stages of this primary campaign: money in politics.

Elicker has criticized Harp for not participating in the Demoracy Fund, the city’s voluntary public-financing system for mayoral candidates. That means Harp can accept contributions of up to $1,000 from individuals and take money from political action committees (PACs), as well. Elicker, by participating in the Democracy Fund, cannot accept PAC money or individual contributions above $370. In return, he receives matching public dollars.

Sunday night Elicker’s campaign accused the Harp campaign of a conflict of interest because it receives thousands of dollars form out-of-town special interests that have business or potential business with the city: orthopedic surgeons who manage workman’s compensation programs for cities; an architectural and engineering firm with business before the City Plan Commission; Harp’s family’s real-estate company; a New Britain construction firm; a Hartford and Stamford-based law firm specializing in government work.

In a debate last week, Harp criticized the Democracy Fund as a waste of taxpayer money—$200,000 that could be better spent on children, she said. Proponents of the fund counter that the system saves taxpayers far more money in the long run by eliminating potential conflicts of interests that lead to costly contracts. The Democracy Fund came into existence in response to accusations that the DeStefano administration had a “pay-to-play” system of government contractors that favored campaign contributors: City Hall’s budget chief at the time wrote personalized letters on City Hall letterhead to contractors instructing them of how much money they should contribute to the mayor’s reelection campaign, along with an enclosed envelope and contribution form. The chairman of one DeStefano reelection campaign received a multi-year, six-figure legal contract with the Board of Education, a job that went in-house for less money after he no longer pursued renewals. City Hall insisted that prospective developers competing to build a mall on Long Wharf include a top DeStefano campaign contributor’s construction company as a partner in the project. Those and many other instances of money-in-politics controversies led to the so-called “City for Sale” scandal that dogged the DeStefano administration in the late 1990s.

The Elicker campaign’s release Sunday night argued that the list of Harp’s prominent out-of-town contributors “displays” the “importance” of public financing by raising the specter of potential pay-to-play politics.

Below is a graphic the campaign prepared detailing those contributors’ interests:

“No one that I know has ever questioned Toni’s integrity or character. I don’t think anybody believes that she will make any decisions as mayor of this city because somebody gave to her campaign,” Harp campaign manager Jason Bartlett responded Sunday evening. “Justin is simply reeling because he wants to take away a fire engine and consolidate services at that firehouse. He’s showing his lack of maturity and he’s striking out at the last minute.”

In the debate last week, Harp criticized Elicker for participating in the Democracy Fund in the primary—and then getting his name on the ballot for the general election as well. That means he’s willing to take public money for a primary, lose the primary, then run a second, “sore loser” campaign, she said. Candidates who receive public financing in a primary cannot continue to participate and receive matching funds in the general election.

Click on the video and on this article for more detail about that debate.

Elicker responded that he intends to continue abiding by the rules of the Democracy Fund in the general election—including forswearing PAC donations or individual contributions above $370—even though he wouldn’t be bound by them.

Which side is right? Register your view by voting in the “True Vote” poll below. And feel free to post a comment at the bottom of this story.




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posted by: New Haven Nuisance on September 9, 2013  8:24am

It is sad to see the lies a career politician will create out of thin air when they are on the precipice of losing a campaign. In order to protect her own inflated ego, Toni Harp will use people (especially firefighters) as props in her own little political theater.
At this incredibly important time in New Haven’s history we need to debate actionable plans moving forward: so let’s do it. Commenters, read and lets elevate the debate and evaluate the proposals put forth and not give into our base instincts to engage in politics as usual.

posted by: Amityboy on September 9, 2013  8:27am

what’s with the poll? Sometimes there are still facts in journalism, and according to a story published…in this newspaper…Harp is obviously lying. She’s trying to suppress turnout in the East Shore, and it’s disgusting.

posted by: OneCityManyDreams on September 9, 2013  8:49am

Pathetic display of politics here and might I add seems kind of desperate on both sides. Dueling robo calls to scare voters or in Elickers case trying to set the record straight by running on taxpayers money. Elicker, they are ‘not’ clean elections.  There is nothing ‘clean’ about the way you have run your campaign. Stop taking my tax money. Harp, get another issue. This one didn’t work. Try something else that is made up. How about the Malloy state budget that is a great fiction to work on.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on September 9, 2013  8:57am

““No one that I know has ever questioned Toni’s integrity or character.”

Hello Jason, I am pleased to meet you.  Now you know someone who questions it.  Tax evasion shows a deficit of integrity and a self-serving character.

posted by: JuliaCS on September 9, 2013  8:58am

That graphic is pretty damning. Hard to defend your “integrity” in the face of facts.

posted by: HewNaven on September 9, 2013  9:07am

Toni Harp lying about public safety in an attempt to sway undecided voters: dats not acceptable!

posted by: accountability on September 9, 2013  9:22am

Here’s what East Rockers, Westvillians and Downtowners like Justin seem to have a hard time understanding:

The East Side of this city is separated from the rest of town by a body of water. There are exactly five land arteries connecting the Heights and the Cove with the rest of New Haven:

-The I-95 Q Bridge
-The Tomilinson lift Bridge
-The Ferry St. Bridge
-The Grand Ave. Bridge
-Rte 80, then right turn on Quinnipiac Ave.

Read that list carefully. Three are drawbridges of various designs. 95 has been under construction for five or six centuries. Rte 80 is a parking lot at rush hour, and several miles from the cove.

What someone who has lived in East Rock for five years cannot possibly understand is that he is talking to voters whose families made the decision to become part of New Haven in living memory. The annex was not fully incorporated into New Haven until 1959.

If these families wanted to live in East haven, they would and could. They live in New Haven and have every right to expect that their taxes will keep them safe, even at the cost of fire services that people with no visceral understanding of their community believe might be unnecessary or duplicative.

The combination of transportation access and emergency services is politically combustible. the sudden closure of the Ferry St. Bridge cost Rosa Santana her aldermanic seat—now she’s being re-elected without opposition. DeStefano tried to shut down the East Grand Ave. fire station in a previous iteration of the budget crisis and created a firestorm.

Someone with Justin’s lack of lived experience of the city’s history and culture is not only unfit to serve as mayor, but isn’t credible as a serious candidate for the office.

Thank goodness Justin’s so “transparent.” During the next Tweed crash Cove residents will be get a transparent text from Mayor Elicker: “Hi Cove. hear there’s bad fire there. Brideges blocked. Pls call East Haven FD (203) 468-3221 for help. thx for your taxes.”

posted by: state st on September 9, 2013  9:29am

Its amazing that the Harp campaign with all the supposed experience and so forth would commit “political suicide” with out right LIES and ACCUSATIONS.She never stuck to the issuses or debated the issues.She cried BULLY,she cried SEXISM.NOW SHE IS CRYING WOLF!NEW HAVEN   WE DESERVE BETTER.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on September 9, 2013  9:41am

When out right lies are used it becomes very sad for all of us. Sal you should hang your head at this moment in time. You knew this was wrong, and yet you still did it. Shame on you.


Editor why have we not done that this year!

posted by: LoveNH on September 9, 2013  9:53am

The issue of the Democracy Fund is tremendously important for anyone who believes in clean government and is deciding between Elicker and Fernandez.  For those who are still deciding between Elicker and Fernandez, on this issue the choice could not be clearer - ELICKER UNLIKE FERNANDEZ HAS STOOD UP FOR PUBLIC FINANCING.

posted by: DRAD on September 9, 2013  9:55am

“No one that I know has ever questioned Toni’s integrity or character. I don’t think anybody believes that she will make any decisions as mayor of this city because somebody gave to her campaign,” Harp campaign manager Jason Bartlett responded Sunday evening. - Let me fix that. . .I am questioning her character. Toni Harp, on a daily basis, is selling access to the mayor’s office to deep-pocketed special interests.  Her suggestion last week to close LCI is obviously a conflict of interest as this is the office directly responsible for holding accountable hre family’s business owning and operating slums.  Finally, repeatedly lying about an opponent’s record and statements also goes to issue the character.  So yes, Mr. Bartlett, there are whole bunch of people who actually live in New Haven that are fully aware of Toni’s lack of character and how those deficiencies disqualify her from holding office.

posted by: robn on September 9, 2013  10:43am

Best illustration of the year!

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on September 9, 2013  10:53am

Throughout this campaign there have been charges and counter charges made by the candidates in this race. I have repeatedly called on the editor to do investigative reporting and fact checking on all of them, but the paper has decided to be selective and narrow instead of fair and balanced in doing this. Every charge against Senator Harp has been thoroughly examined. Every anti-Harp cartoon has been given front page exposure. Now the NHI is conducting a public opinion poll on a Harp attack on Elicker, when no such poll has been conducted for any other candidate.
None of the candidates for mayor lives in glass houses. All have some faults, issues or past controversies of some degree. Not one is perfect. Yet some have thrown more stones than others when they too have unresolved controversial issues hovering over them.
The idea of the perfect politician is a noble ideal, but politicians are people too. They have all the faults and failures of the rest of us. Many aspire to do right and do well, but they are not perfect.
When the New Haven Independent joins in the rock throwing and lends collateral aid to one side over another, it has ceased to be an unbiased reporter of the news to become part of the campaign of one or more candidates. This is shameful and questionable journalistic practice.
In regard to the Democracy Fund, this issue should be placed on a city-wide referendum. Let the people decide directly if they want their tax dollars to be used to finance political campaigns. Public funds should not be used to help finance private political campaigns, no matter how small a percentage of the budget it might be. Those funds could be used for more urgent needs. The Democracy Fund is a waste of the taxpayers’ money!

[Editor: Thank you for the feedback. In this story we made a point of posting two polls: one about an accusation Elicker made, one about an accusation Harp made. It is true we have explored more of the accusations against Harp—because she, as the frontrunner, has had many, many accusations made against her, more than against the other candidates. Rather than just repeat accusations, we have tried to look into them in order to be fair to her campaign—for instance, rather than just quoting people calling her family business a “slumlord,” we examined the issue in depth.]

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 9, 2013  11:25am


You mean Westvillians like Toni Harp who happens to live at the furthest possible point in the city from Morris Cove? Elicker’s ward extends to the Quinnipiac River and includes part of Middletown Avenue, so under your logic he seems a better choice. Or better yet, maybe you should support Fernandez since he lives closest to the Morris Cove Station. Or maybe we should focus on what the candidates have actually said, but unfortunately for you that would mean acknowledging that Elicker said he would not close the Morris Cove Station since it is in a geographically needy location in the city, even though it receives the lowest volume of calls.

Furthermore, your argument seems to support the idea of consolidating with East Haven, since the eastern bank of the Quinnipiac River is actually topographically more a part of East Haven than it is of New Haven. Sharing resources with East Haven and North Haven would likely increase safety due to the roadway problems that exist between “mainland New Haven” and the eastern bank of the Quinnipiac. Perhaps this could result in some cost savings as well.

Also, when you lump all East Rockers, Westvillians, and Downtowners together are you including the low-income renters of those communities who are located on streets like Alden, Central, Pardee, Nash and Mechanic, and in complexes like the 9th Square and McQueeney Tower or are you just referring to the higher-income people who live in places like Upper Westville?

posted by: robn on September 9, 2013  11:29am


I completely agree. There should be a poll question, “Do you think its fair to associate Toni Harp with CT’s largest tax evader a.k.a. her family business?”

posted by: Righteous Cyclist on September 9, 2013  12:10pm

Thomas EXACTLY! So far its been said Toni:

-doesn’t live in new haven
-evaded taxes or supports family tax evasion
-doesn’t want the job and had to be talked into it
-is scared of newhallville (because she’s out of touch, aka ghetto pass revoked)
-is sexist (how can a woman be sexist?)
-is an old-school pol, aka part of the old boy network
-hired a republican with serious legal troubles to manage her campaign
-raised some money from people outside of new haven like everyone else

The list goes on and on, but nobody points out that Elicker has half the experience Toni has, and Fernandez worked for John DeStefano and Kermit was guilty of grade tampering. How many times will Elicker and Carolina and Fernandez perpetrate lies about Toni Harp and get away with it?

posted by: BenBerkowitz on September 9, 2013  12:16pm

Over the weekend myself and some other non campaign affiliated volunteers did a data dive on SEEC filings for the last reporting period.

The data is here along with a post on why it matters to me (I won’t be offended if you skip that piece and cut to the results)

posted by: accountability on September 9, 2013  12:26pm

Paul has unwittingly revealed a weakness in the NHI’s coverage, one that the editors should consider carefully in future coverage planning. Taking this approach:

“...It is true we have explored more of the accusations against Harp—because she, as the frontrunner, has had many, many accusations made against her, more than against the other candidates…”

...rewards candidates for running negative campaigns by allowing them to set the agenda, and punishes candidates for running positive campaigns. This is a structural weakness in the traditional mainstream approach to journalism, and one that the NHI needs to struggle to overcome. there are a series of obvious stories that the NHI could do, but it would require an even more aggressive, inquisitive approach to campaign coverage, rather than letting the most negative campaign set the agenda for media coverage.

For example, just because Toni, Henry and Kermit have not really hammered on the fact that there is a huge imbalance in the promises that Justin has made in his “fresh solutions” and the credible revenue sources to fulfill those promises, doesn’t mean that the NHI can’t go through them and challenge the campaign on that issue. He’s gotten a total pass, and been allowed to present a laundry list of unfunded traditional liberal promises as some new, magical “fresh” politics.

There are many more examples involving other candidates. The NHI has done a good job on the substance of the election, but tethering itself to responding to “accusations” undermines the good work. With smart planning and an even deeper commitment to investigative reporting the NHI can help New Haven continue the process begun by the 2011 Aldermanic elections of changing the political conversation.

[Editor: Thanks JCC. That is an excellent point, in my opinion. Here’s how we’ve tried to deal with it, albeit imperfectly: We decided to dedicate a major thrust of the last week’s coverage—the final full week before the election—to in-depth stories on where all the candidates stand on four sets of major issues, giving each equal time and not allowing any one of them to set the agenda. We also did a series earlier on in which we accompanied each candidate on the trail to show how they campaign and what their message is. We’ve also live-blogged in-depth the majority of debates in order to try to show the breadth of positions. That said, it’s true we also report on what issues the candidates themselves are putting out in press releases and public events, and I agree with you that that can skew coverage sometimes to intense scrutiny of the frontrunner. We’ve tried to address that by doing our own luck at the substance of the major criticisms that are already way out there in the campaign-o-sphere. In the meantime we’ve tried to steer away from petty accusations that supporters of all the campaigns throw around the final weeks, even some that have merit, because those issues can steer coverage way off track. I agree with you that we haven’t aced it. We’re trying so hard not to take sides and to be fair to all the candidates.]

posted by: TheMadcap on September 9, 2013  12:28pm


Fear mongering much? The idea of sharing fire services isn’t terrible. In fact, part of the cove and heights is in fact closer to the main East Haven fire station than it is the Morris Cove station, meanwhile the Branford Manor station in East Haven is just on the other side of the airport. There’s a lot of redundancy in that small area and both towns could stand to benefit and save money if they found a way to share services there.(and the Annex isn’t going to even be served by the cove fire station, it would be served by the Fair Haven heights station)

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on September 9, 2013  12:29pm

Senator Harp’s interpretation of Mr. Elicker’s comments are fair and reasonable.  He only states that he has not stated that he would not shut down a fire station.  However, Mr. Elicker has not pledged to keep the fire station open.  The easy way to end the debate is for Mr. Elicker to pledge to keep both East Shore fire stations open.  He can’t do that because he wants to close one to save money.  However, he realizes that if he says this then he’ll have to find somewhere else to cut money. 

As for the Democracy Fund, I truly do with that the NHI and all other reporters would call the Democracy Fund what it is: an opportunity for people to participate in government.  Indeed, it’s own mission statement says as follows:
“The purpose of the Democracy Fund is to ensure that all citizens of the City of New Haven have a fair and meaningful opportunity to participate in the election of their Mayor.”

The Democracy Fund does this by:
“[ensuring] that meritorious Mayoral candidates are able to raise and spend sufficient funds through public financing of elections to convey their messages to the voters; to reduce the need for ongoing fundraising and to encourage Mayoral candidacies to spend more time communicating with citizens.”

Let’s not try to make the DF something it is not.  It’s not a litmus test by which candidates must pass to be deemed acceptable or good leaders.  It does not strive to do that.  It has succeeded at its goal.  Let’s not attempt to breath a new meaning into a program that was designed for a specific purpose.

posted by: Noteworthy on September 9, 2013  12:35pm

Reality Bites Notes:

1. Lying is never acceptable. Toni Harp should have long ago avoided it. Moreover, Sal DeCola’s participation in it is reprehensible. Make no mistake - it is a lie whe you are reduced to grossly and intentionally misrepresent what somebody has said and pretend you have magic powers to “read code words.”

2. If you wouldn’t accept such twisting of the facts from your own child, you should not twist them yourself.

3. @Righteous Re-cycler - there you go again.
-doesn’t live in new haven (was a question, not accusation)
-evaded taxes or supports family tax evasion (this is true)
-doesn’t want the job and had to be talked into it (this was true, not true now)
-is scared of newhallville (because she’s out of touch, aka ghetto pass revoked)Harp was the one who said she was traumatized and I don’t have to read code or between the lines for that.
-is sexist (how can a woman be sexist?) Easy. It’s reverse sexism. She argues people should vote for her because she’s a woman.
-is an old-school pol, aka part of the old boy network (you have to be kidding right? She’s a newcomer in the DTC or at the state?)
-hired a republican with serious legal troubles to manage her campaign (serious? driving issues and questionable campaign judgement, yes)
-raised some money from people outside of new haven like everyone else (raised nearly all her money from special interests and those outside New Haven was the charge which is correct.)

posted by: Elm City Lifer on September 9, 2013  12:48pm

One candidate [Harp] has proposed bringing back a dedicated narcotics unit. Do you support that idea? Why or why not? How does

Elicker: That’s up to the chief. “I want to be a mayor who” gives department heads the room to make those decisions.

Do we have too many fire stations? Too many firefighters? Do you plan to close any fire stations? Cut the number of firefighters?

Elicker: Would “explore” changing minimum manning requirements if safety isn’t compromised; seek more “efficiencies” in the department. That doesn’t have to mean closing a fire station. It could mean eliminating a fire engine, for instance. He would also explore some form of consolidation with East Haven for the work handled by the Morris Cove station, which has the lowest volume of calls but is too far away from other stations to close down altogether; he would not shut down the station.


Todays Position
Elicker said that that East Shore and East Haven could work together to help each other out, part of a national trend toward exploring urban-suburban resource-sharing arrangements to save money through efficiencies.
Resource-sharing could mean that East Haven actually pays New Haven to help out that town with its superior resources for instance.

Thats a whole lot different than Elickers previous answer to the question above. INTERPRETATION East Haven will pick up the work handled by the Cove Fire Engine but the station will be open sometimes because you wont close it down ALTOGETHER but when it is it will be staffed with East Haven Firefighters and we will give them some money for it.
One way or the other Elicker plans to reduce the service from the The New Haven Fire Department to the citizens of Morris Cove.If not why would he have even mentioned engine 16 at all.

Of course Donohue is stumpimg for him. He is or was his east rock ward chair.

posted by: accountability on September 9, 2013  12:55pm

Jonathan Hopkins:

Try avoiding for a few moments the Justinian habit of building straw men out of what people haven’t said.

Justin’s lived in New Haven for 5 years. He doesn’t know the East Side from a hole in the ground, except for grabbing credit for work on dirt bikes that other people did.

I’m aware of the boundaries of his district, boundaries which, you may recall, he tried to redraw after the map had been agreed upon—another in a long list of reasons why his colleagues don’t trust him and why his political chameleon character would be a disaster at City Hall.

Toni may live in Westville, but she actually knows the whole city, and also knows how to form relationships with people not like her to gain an understanding of their lives and communities. The part of the city we’re talking about is justifiably suspicious of the rest of the city’s commitment to spending tax dollars on their community. They used to be part of East Haven.

Henry’s loathed in sections of the East Side for many reasons, not the least of which because he was a key DeStefano official when the Administration tried to shut down the East Grand Ave. firehouse.

I read the article and never claimed that Justin said he would close the station. Justin said he would keep the station open but also talked about “consolidating” with East Haven and taking a fire engine out of service—that’s not just efficiency, but the usual use of “consolidate” as a euphemism for “cut.” And it’s all typical of Justin’s “fresh solutions”. Hey! some towns somewhere consolidated fire services! so it must be right for new haven!

No fine grained knowledge of the history of the geography, no real feel for the culture and expectations of the people he’s discussing. Just an abstract, condescending suggestion based on reading budget documents and a cursory knowledge of events in places remote from here.

Let’s see who knows the people of the Heights, the Annex and the Cove tomorrow.

posted by: Noteworthy on September 9, 2013  1:03pm

Accountability Time Notes:

1. Clearly you support the status quo. You do a great disservice the City of New Haven and the taxpayers who pull the yoke of extraordinary taxes to for it.

2. Just because a Elicker suggests a better mutual aide/financial relationship for the little used Cove fire station does not mean residents will be left less secure. That is a myth supported by people like you who know working that firehouse a like being on retirement.

3. Next time there’s a plane crash at Tweed? There are many aren’t there? And it did a whole lot of good getting there one minute faster? They’re all dead and the both houses are destroyed.

4. Woodward Station has no bridges and has direct access to the Cove. You forgot to mention that in your bridge recitation. Moreover, when was it that all the bridges were closed, or even two of them closed at the same time?

5. The reality is our fire service is extraordinarily expensive. It’s command/control organization is outdated and there hasn’t been a real manpower utilization study for the fire service in ten years or more. We are overstaffed by national standards and out of sync with other cities our size. The union contract, a sweetheart of an agreement like most of them, facilitated DeStefano politics not our pocketbooks.

6. It matters not a wit to me whether a fire station or engine or multiple engines are pulled from service. What we need is medical response at an affordable cost. That is 90% of the calls of the fire department.

7. There is a long history of the NHFD, with its 80% suburban living membership, playing politics with this department and manipulating the fears of residents. I find it reprehensible. They wouldn’t pay and neither would their neighbors pay for this level of force protection in their own communities but they are happy to pretend that we need to do so here. It ought to stop.

posted by: InformedOpinion123 on September 9, 2013  1:10pm

Well, I guess it was just a matter of time… First the Harp campaign gets information wrong about Fernandez’s time in City Hall, then they get school data wrong from Carolina, and now they are - once again - not only misquoting, but blatantly lying about Elicker’s position on Morris Cove. Disgraceful. A career politician like Harp should know better…

posted by: robn on September 9, 2013  1:36pm

Thanks Ben,

The numbers talk. Harp is bought.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on September 9, 2013  1:40pm

What about Quemoy and Matsu? Will Harp defend them too?

posted by: robn on September 9, 2013  1:53pm


Nice try except that micromanagement (formulation of police units) and macromanagement (elimination of a whole fire/police station are two different things.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on September 9, 2013  2:03pm

Now Paul,
Here we go again.  You seem to have this insatiable appetite to post the negative about Toni, but can’t seem to find the time nor interest to do the same on The Elicker Experiment.

Who are his largest donors inside New Haven, as well as outside? 

Furthermore, the Democracy Fund doesn’t determine whether or not a candidate is honest.  For example:  look at the Elicker campaign scrambling as they try and accuse Toni of parsing, his own words. 

The veil is beginning to come loose on the Elicker Experiment.  But instead of showing real leadership by being honest, The Experiment has decided instead, to accuse the Harp campaign of lying.

So it just goes to show, that the Democracy Fund can’t make a candidate honest, only integrity can do that.

The Elicker Experiment wants the voters to believe that he’s a fiscal hawk.  Then why hasn’t he addressed the letter presented to the full board of alderman pertaining to Erroneous Sick Time?

The city must brace itself should the Board of Alderman (including Elicker) continue to bury its head in the sand on this monumental issue.  This issue is going to cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars if not met head on and dealt with expeditiously. 

Because of Elicker’s deafening silence on this issue, it’s better to label The Elicker Experiment in my view, a fiscal sparrow, instead of a fiscal hawk.

posted by: robn on September 9, 2013  2:22pm


Nice try but the NHI posted lists of all large donors to all candidates (TWICE!)

...and here…

BTW, if your corruption metric is large donors…
Fernandez and Harp currently lead with the largest average donations of $522 and $382 respectively
Elicker and Carolina’s avg donation is is $117 and $79 respectively.


If your corruption metric is percentage of out-of town donors…
Harp and Fernandez lead at 79% and 75% respectively.
Elicker and Carolina only received 24% and 17% (respectively) out of town donations.

posted by: LoveNH on September 9, 2013  2:47pm

NHI should be congratulated for its heavily empirical reporting here and in the recent story about the geographic spread of candidate donations.  Accusations about lack of fairness come from all sides, and it appears to me from the above responses that the editor listens to those accusations with seriousness. This is precisely as it should be when NHI is doing its job well. Thank you NHI.  Please keep the hard data coming. Germane to that, can we see some data-driven reporting to assess the factual basis of the argument that NHFD is overstaffed and/or inefficiently dispatched to non-fire emergencies?

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 9, 2013  2:55pm

While empathy and sympathy are important qualities to have in a mayor - he/she also needs to have some level of dispassion in order to be able to make the cuts to the budget that are necessary.


Toni Harp’s stance on fire service isn’t based on data or her in depth knowledge of the east side of the city, its based on endorsements and political contributions - that’s it. This is evident by her use of fear-mongering and misrepresentation of other people’s ideas and the absence of sound logic and reason.


Elicker isn’t a conservative, so calling him a budget sparrow is probably pretty accurate - he’s not draconian, but a reasonable democrat who will cut where he feels he can and where it is in the best interest of the city. Harp, on the other hand will cut where it is not politically harmful to her, which will likely be disastrous for the city.


Thanks for responding to ECL so effectively, it would have taken me a paragraph to do the same.

posted by: Razzie on September 9, 2013  4:45pm

@ Noteworthy—“It matters not a wit to me whether a fire station or engine or multiple engines are pulled from service.”

You words are exactly the point Sal Decola’s criticism of Justin is making. In the haste for Justin and his supporters to be slash and burn budget cutters there is a total disregard for the human side of the fiscal equation. Those from East Rock could care less whether the Cove’s fire station stays or goes. But watch out for the hue and cry coming from Orange Street when the Whitney Avenue firehouse is cut back. Dispassionate budget analysis ...Yeah, Right! Let Justin spin his half-truths and material omissions out in public for everyone to evaluate independently of his NHI spinners. The Cove can evaluate the facts for themselves, they don’t need East Rock elites to put thoughts in their heads.

posted by: Hieronymous on September 9, 2013  5:54pm

Razzie (4:45): Except that it’s Justin’s words, not noteworthy’s that are the subject of this debate. Justin does care whether Morris Cove is closed, that’s why he made clear it would not be closed. He also explained that its engine could not be eliminated because that would be tantamount to closure. He also explained why it cannot be closed, which is for precisely the reasons accountability mentioned (apparently unconcerned about the cognitive dissonance of his post): namely, because that neighborhood is isolated from the rest of New Haven. However, the neighborhood is not isolated from East Haven, which is why Justin has suggested additional cooperation between the cities, particularly as relates to cold water rescues. Combined, these statements amount to a campaign promise to keep Morris Cove open and to increase safety for that neighborhood. Yet, Harp apparently believes she repeat a lie often enough to make it true.

Look, there’s a case to be made that if you’re a New Haven firefighter concerned solely with job security (particularly if you don’t actually live here), you should be supporting Harp. If you want to make that case, go ahead; at least we could have an honest debate. But campaigning on the argument that Justin would shut down Morris Cove and make that neighborhood less safe is campaigning on a lie. And the more Harp fails to admit that, at the behest of her campaign manager, the more his statement about no one questioning her integrity becomes a self-defeating nullity.

posted by: eastshore on September 9, 2013  6:11pm

It is difficult to take anything she says seriously.  She really thinks we are all idiots.  For me, “the old boys network” was the final straw.  She is the old boys network.  I mean, I wasn’t voting for her anyway, but it exemplifies either: a) How ignorant she thinks her constituents are, or b) How idiotic she is.  And I’m certain she is not an idiot.  So the way I see it is a vote for Harp is an affirmation of a politician’s belief in your ignorance (unless you happen to be one of those person’s who will profit from her term (s), although most of those folks live outside of New Haven).  And once a politician knows his or her constituents are ignorant, influence is sold to the highest bidder at will.

posted by: robn on September 9, 2013  7:06pm

Correction, with nation union HQ for AFSCME dumping a last minute $30K on the Harp campaign, her avg donation just jumped up to $422.

White Suburban Union Control

posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on September 9, 2013  7:35pm

Persons participating in this forum who are trying to convince other persons participating in this forum of something should be well aware, by now, that the average intelligence of your fellow commenters is well above average. 

To try to convince them, then, that they are not reading what they are clearly reading - I mean one candidate either said something (IN PRINT) or they didn’t - is quixotic at best. 

Were you trying to persuade the general public that Elicker said something that he clearly DID NOT say, but was “interrupted” by his opponent to mean something that is clearly OPPOSITE of what he did say, you might have a better chance of it.

Trying to dupe this crowd is simply not working for you.  If you’re coming with an argument here, you need to make it a strong one, coupled with empirical evidence wherever possible.

posted by: Brian V on September 11, 2013  11:09am

Lies won’t fool or scare New Haven’s smartest voters!

Elicker beat her 2:1 in Ward 18!

What does that say about our leadership?

I believe our Alder is out of touch, has made made some bad decisions and does not truly represent the majority of his own party, let alone the majority of all his constituents.

I hope the GOP are reading.