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Dixwell Alder Seeks Review Of Stratton’s Conduct

by Melissa Bailey | Apr 8, 2014 10:44 am

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

Posted to: City Hall

In light of what she termed “aggressive confrontation, insulting, personal attacks and intimidation” that “flagrantly violated” the rules of legislative conduct, Alder Jeanette Morrison Monday called for a formal review of Alder Mike Stratton’s recent behavior.

Morrison, who represents the Dixwell neighborhood, made that request Monday in a letter to Board of Alders President Jorge Perez. She asked Perez to review Stratton’s “grossly inappropriate actions” at two recent Finance Committee meetings on March 6 and 31, in which Stratton got into a yelling match with Alder Andrea Jackson-Brooks, the chair of the committee. (Click on the top video above for a sample from this meeting. The second video shows their confrontation at this meeting.)

Click here to read Morrison’s letter; here to read Stratton’s reply, in which he offered an “apology” to “the public” while stating he will “not apologize to those alders that interfere with my rights and the publics right to real debate and democracy” and adding a shot at city “Chief of Staff and Oxford Resident Tomas Reyes.”

Melissa Bailey Photo Stratton spoke out of turn, defied a committee chair’s orders, failed to show courtesy to his colleagues, and engaged in “violent, tumultuous, threatening or deceitful or fraudulent language or behavior,” all of which are violations of the “Guidelines for Aldermanic Conduct” of the Rules of the Board of Alders, Morrison (pictured) asserted.

According to the board’s rules, alders can face a punishment ranging from a verbal reprimand to expulsion from the board for violating those rules.

Morrison said she is not calling for a censure or official reprimand. She did ask for the following consequences: That Stratton issue a written apology and read it aloud to Alder Andrea Jackson-Brooks and the Finance Committee; that he sign a deal agreeing to abide by the rules of conduct; and that if he “yells at colleagues or the public or uses derogatory language” at a public meeting, that he be booted from that meeting and asked to resign from the committee. If he does not resign from the committee, she further suggested, Perez should consider removing him.

“Democracy thrives in a climate of lively debate, and give-and-take, but Alder Stratton has repeatedly crossed the line in a virtually unprecedented way,” Morrison wrote. “I encourage and welcome Ald. Stratton to continue to express himself, whether I agree with him or not, but just not in a manner that is verbally insulting and threatening to me and other colleagues. If continued, his repeated outbursts threaten to undermine and obstruct the Board’s ability to effectively carry out its legislative duties on behalf of the citizens of New Haven.”

Two citizens, Rev. James Newman and Jan Parker, also submitted letters to the board criticizing Stratton’s conduct. (Stratton and Newman have sat down and discussed the matter privately since he wrote the letter.)

Thomas MacMillan File Photo Stratton was not present at Monday’s Board of Alders meeting. He issued a written reply Monday evening in which he admitted some wrongdoing, but stood his ground.

“I will not ask for any alder to be censured for their frankly abhorrent behavior towards me, as these issues are best resolved privately,” Stratton wrote. “I readily admit to frustration and some undignified interactions at two of the 30 plus meetings I have attended. And I extend an apology to the public, they deserve better from me. But I will not apologize to those alders that interfere with my rights and the public’s right to real debate and democracy.”

Stratton said the official legislative transcript shows he was deprived of his right to ask questions and participate in the meeting.

“If Alder Morrison wants a full hearing on conduct,” he further wrote, “this should be a full investigation of all alder conduct done by an outside citizen commission not the alders who at this point are controlled by a super majority of so called ‘union alders’. Allowing the super majority to do an investigation of a member of the small minority is a recipe for grave injustice and disrespect for our local governance.”

Reached after Monday’s board meeting, Perez said he had not yet read Morrison’s letter. He said his first step would be to review the complaint and “to see if it can be fixed or addressed.”

If not, he said, he would send the matter to the Aldermanic Affairs committee.

After the meeting, Morrison stressed that she does not wish to quash dissent. “I like opposing views of things. ... I don’t invite derogatory conduct. The opposing—that’s good! I love it.”

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posted by: joebrummer on April 7, 2014  9:39pm

This is a case for two things: 1) mediation.  Why not sit down and talk this out with the help of a mediator.  Whatever your differences may be, they can be voiced, heard, and even solved with the help of a third party while setting an example to youth.

2) Wouldn’t it be awesome to share effective conflict and communication techniques with all of the alderman?  How about techniques for more effective meetings.  Politics aside, we do best when we learn to treat each other with respect, hear each other despite the words chosen, and to be present to each other with a deep sense of empathy.  These are skills we all need and benefit from when used in all our interactions. 

More so, I am deeply concerned about the message these very public displays send to our youth about how to resolve conflict.  What message is being taught to youth about civil discourse and how we solve our conflicts peacefully, nonviolently, and with deep respect for others.  If you want peace from our youth, the adults around them would do best to model the behavior for them.  I would request all of the Alderman invest more energy into modeling to our youth healthier ways to solve conflict then what I have seen in these videos. 

I fully get how hard it is to do what I am asking.  I also think we just need to start doing this for the sake of our youth.  Teach by modeling peace!  Marshall Rosenberg says “all violence stems from people being tricked into believing that other people are the source of our pain and therefore need to be punished”.  Punishment has long been seen by researchers as the source of violence.  This crusade to “make ‘em pay” is just the thinking Marshall wanted to address.  We need to starting talking about how to hear each other, support each other, and meet each others needs.  We do not need more punishment based thinking.  We need more restorative practices that heal and set examples for youth about the restorative ways to address our differences and conflicts.

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on April 7, 2014  9:48pm

This is beyond ridiculous.  There are kids literally dying in the streets of this city and our so called elected leaders would rather engage in power struggles that at the end of the day will have no impact on improving the lives of people in this city. Stratton is arrogant,  brash, and simply using his position on the board to formally articulate his disdain. Brooks is part of an old guard regime who’s eaten from the public trough for years. They don’t like each other. We get it. Move on and do your jobs. Please

posted by: beaverhillsnewhaven on April 7, 2014  9:52pm

Mike Stratton raises a particular viewpoint that is worthy of debate.  People in the wealthy neighborhoods that pay high taxes have every right to debate doing so.  The services that those taxes support are important, however, and many of us are happy to pay our fair share.

But those ideas need to be raised in the due process of committee meetings and public hearings.  If Stratton doesn’t have the patience for the legislative process he shouldn’t be an alderman.  And he should be able to be professional and courteous enough to participate in the process.

posted by: Greg-Morehead on April 7, 2014  9:59pm

For Real Jeannette????
What happened at the meeting when you and Jackie James were getting ready to fight because you went against what she instructed you and a couple of the other Alders to do last year during the summer? You didn’t dare try and write her up and this happened during a full board meeting where a bunch of “women” were getting ready to go at it. But, that got swept under the rug and no harm done.

Give me a break! And now you want people to view you and this issue with Mike as serious?

As Mike Stratton stated, a full review should be done on every one of the other Alders and not just singling out 1 person. It should start with those that have been there for more than 10 years(cough) and more recent to newly elected BOA from 2 years ago.

O, thats the whole board.  lol

posted by: Eddie on April 7, 2014  10:10pm

Mike Stratton’s free to hold any policy viewpoints that he would like and he is free to press these viewpoints in public debate.  Unfortunately, his major policy proposals such as making risky cuts to the fire department, closing an entire high school, and going after public library funding are wildly misguided policy priorities.  Still he is free to raise them as an alder. 

However, he is not free to shout personal and non-germane insults at his fellow alders.  This does nothing to advance his priorities nor does it add anything to public debate.  Democracy is not simply a free for all and it is not enhanced by instigating shouting matches.  His behavior was disgusting.  His conduct was a disservice to his constituents.

posted by: Noteworthy on April 7, 2014  10:45pm

Out of Order Notes:

1. I rule this whole committee out of order. How this committee is run does violence to concept of democracy. There is no lively debate, there is rolling of the eyes, premature interruption of an alder when questioning those giving testimony and a refusal to allow an alder to finish his questions uninterrupted.

2. Ald. Morrison’s letter is offensive as is her proposed remedies. It is highly juvenile. Did she forget have Stratton stand in the corner too and write on the board, 100 sentences that he will always kiss the rings of the rubber=stampers.

3. What offends me more, and what Morrison should spend her time doing, is thinking about how she participated with Ald Perez in fixing the decision to grant Toni Harp a wild expansion of her staff with high priced help in advance of the public hearing. Why have a hearing when the decisions have already been made? How can you make such decisions to spend money, when you know there is no money in the bank, that every penny you have is borrowed and when you know you are ignoring ALL of the public testimony previously given and will likely be given that evening?

3. I’d suggest that Morrison and the rest of alders on the committee and the entire board, commit themselves to public service, not public dictates; to humble service, not arrogant dismissal of the public or a fellow alder because they don’‘t get in line and follow group think.

posted by: Honest in New Haven on April 7, 2014  11:02pm

Mr. Stratton: You have some good ideas, and some suspect ideas I don’t personally agree with, but more importantly you are willing to debate the issues that need debating within the Board of Aldermen—which for several reasons has not been a practice of the Board. However, your conduct undermines your potential effectiveness on the BOA. I don’t think you would ever lose your cool in court the way you have at BOA meetings. I can imagine that you would look at another attorney who behaved that way and just shake your head. Good governance demands that you change your approach to how you communicate within the BOA because if you don’t figure that out, New Haven citizens—black, brown and white—will lose out because the BOA will continue to be a group of wannabe legislators who engage in group think and don’t have the courage to make sound decisions as individuals.

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on April 8, 2014  12:49am

I watched the video posted by NHI last week. Nothing wrong with it in my opinion. Stratton is shaking the apple cart and quite a few people are upset with him. They don’t have the facts to attack his position so they’re trying to attack his character. Stratton has a lot of support in this City, and he’s opening a lot of eyes. I hope he continues to press on.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on April 8, 2014  5:48am

With all due respect to my friend Pastor Newman and Jan Parker, when Mayor Harp raised taxes on the poor by almost 4%, we heard absolutely nothing from either one of you.  However, we did hear from Alderman Stratton proposing ways in which to avoid such a huge tax increase.

Where’s your proposal to do the same?

Many from the black community feel the popularity of this alderman beginning to erupt city-wide so their quest is to try and do the bidding for Mayor Harp and render Stratton problematic across the city.  This alderman is good for the city and I hope he isn’t intimidated by these hollow accusations and continues state his case on behalf of the poor and the middle class.

Do I agree with all of his positions? Absolutely not.  But at least he’s being vociferous in taking a position.

As I viewed the footage provided, I noticed yelling by multiple individuals.  Do I believe Alderman Stratton could’ve conducted himself with better control and poise? Absolutely.  But others too could’ve done the same. 

Alderman Stratton to his credit did offer an apology, however, tepid it may have been, it was an apology nonetheless.

If outside individuals wish to hold Alderman Stratton accountable for what he says, then they need to hold Mayor Harp accountable for what she does.  Or for what she doesn’t do.  To not demonstrate that level of fairness, denotes how shallow they are in their criticisms of Stratton.

The blood of these young babies is being splattered on city across NH and yet, the collective goal is to go after Stratton, but say nothing about the murders. 

To Alderwoman Morrison’s credit, her goal to seek common ground personifies the character she’s displayed for the 30 yrs in which I’ve known her.  But this is a minor conundrum that should be ignored by Alderman Perez, simply because of the apology offered up already by Stratton.

posted by: HewNaven on April 8, 2014  6:18am

Has Stratton ever attempted to explain his remark that Jackson-Brooks has “been living off core government” ??

What was the intended message? It’s not entirely clear that it’s an insult, though most would agree it was a rude way of speaking to a colleague.

posted by: robn on April 8, 2014  6:23am

The linked video begins with with what looks like Stratton responding to Andrea Jackson Brooks with an emphatic, (and factual) “you’ve been living off of core government your whole life.” AKB then goes ballistic and starts yelling and wielding threats. So let Jorge Perez investigate what EDDIE refers to as disgusting behavior and please start with AJB.

The idea of the BOA “removing” an elected representative for this kind of exchange is as laughable as it is unconstitutional.

posted by: Greg-Morehead on April 8, 2014  7:01am

For real NHI?
You can’t post my previous comment, but you will post comments from 3/5ths and everyone else when they degrade and talk negatively about everyone. I don’t think thats right. Nothing that I said in my previous post was out of context. If you look back to the meetings last year during the summer, those were the facts and truth that I stated. What, you can’t post the truth?
Come on!

[Editor: Greg, we don’t post comments 24 hours a day; sometimes we even sleep! We had someone posting as late as 10 Monday night. Your comment came in after that time.  Now it’s 8:40 a.m. and we’re getting to the morning posts. Sometimes we go a whole 12 hours on a weeknight overnight without comments overnight, sometimes not; on weeknights, especially from sundown Friday through sundown Saturday, it can be longer.  We have a small staff and we work hard to post comments regularly, as much as we can. But we do not feel comfortable having comments appear before we have reviewed them. Thank you for commenting.]

posted by: LookOut on April 8, 2014  7:56am

This is a waste of time.  Look at the videos and read the transcripts.

1) Stratton did not personally attack Jackson Brooks.  His strongest statement was “you have lived your whole life within a dysfunctional government.”  Sounds more like a statement of fact.

2) The People’s Caucus proposed budget does not contain irresponsible cuts to critical services.  If one reads the detail, most of the budget shifts funding away from comp-ing out of town bureaucrats and towards MORE city services for those most in need.  After a thorough reading, it is hard for a taxpaying citizen not to be impressed.

This request for review is just a smokescreen.  Morrison and the union alders want the story to be about Stratton rather than about how they are rubber stamping a Harp budget that is more of the same - irresponsible spending and no real help for those who need it the most.

posted by: Noteworthy on April 8, 2014  8:24am

Respect Notes:

Respect is earned. You don’t get it simply occupying a chair and demanding it as the chairwoman or a member of the Finance Committee. Likewise, you can also earn disrespect. It is interesting that those most concerned with “respect and disrespect” are those who have little of the former and a great deal of the latter, and they earned all of it.

Can or should Stratton temper his approach? That’s not for Perez or any review of his conduct to determine. If he feels he crossed a decorum line, he can make it right in the manner he feels is appropriate.

But Ald. Morrison’s complaint, itself disrespectful and denigrating, even belittling of Ald. Stratton, should be rejected for what it is: A shrill, emotional response reeking of racism and sexism. Her proposed list of remedies includes a written and verbal apology; an agreement never to step out of line again etc. all of which are juvenile - what got left off her list is to write 100 times on the board: “I will not…”

Stratton’s frustration with City Hall is understandable - They sent out waves of insulting and denigrating, dismissive attacks on his budget suggestions. In this maner, the Harp administration follows DeStefano’s pattern of dismissing as “young, inexperienced, or draconian; balancing on the backs of children.”

That was followed by public hearings in which it was clear Finance Chair Jackson-Brooks didn’t like Stratton, cutting of his questions of the public and city contract attorneys which by the way, showed there was zero strategy for negotiating the fire union contract the committee was set to rubber-stamp.

What alders really don’t like is the substance of Stratton’s disgust: The pattern and practice of ignoring the public, cooking decisions behind closed doors, and ignorantly doing nothing about our rising financial crisis bookended by massive debt and runaway employee costs.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on April 8, 2014  8:28am

joebrummer is right: the kids are watching, and the BoA can—and should—learn to handle their differences peaceably.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on April 8, 2014  8:36am

I am sorry but I know I am glad that Stratton is fighting the good fight. I think that is is about time someone did!

I am with Robn on this one

posted by: RhyminTyman on April 8, 2014  8:43am

He is a huge treat to the union alders, if they don’t squash him now in two years they may lose their majority.

posted by: Greg-Morehead on April 8, 2014  8:56am

I’m sorry NHI. I just realized the time that I posted my comment last night.
Yes, you guys are free to sleep. lol

My apologies for my 2nd comment. I still have love for you guys. lol Hi Paul!!

posted by: Dwightstreeter on April 8, 2014  9:02am

Focusing on aldermanic behavior when the issue of an illegal $40 million payment in the Education Budget has been raised, when the Mayor is adding staff at the same time a tax increase is pending, etc. is focusing on the wrong thing.

Stratton is conducting a form of civil disobedience because the system he is in does not work. At least he makes noise about the right things - all in the public interest.

If there were a multi-party system in New Haven, an attack on a major dissenter would be seen for what it is: the need to control dissenting voices. But this is a one-party town and to attack Stratton for behavior is to divert his energies from the larger, more significant issues.

Watch the witty and outspoken British Parliament debate an issue. Maybe we should be more unruly and have truly vigorous debates. Or do our tender sensibilities need to be protected from an occasional stinging remark?

Someone recently observed that the problem with Americans is not that they are too rebellious (or something similar), but that they are too well-behaved.

There are times to protest and risk the consequences. Stratton obviously believes this is that time.

posted by: Eddie on April 8, 2014  9:28am

When Mike Stratton announced his bid for alder, he stated cutting taxes as his top priority.  He observed that, “Thirty-five of the top 50 taxpayers live in Ward 19.”  So it comes as no surprise that he is prioritizing the interests of these 35 constituents, by advocating for deep cuts in services to achieve a tax cut. 

Again his policy proposals have included: cutting the fire department staff by about 50%, closing an an entire high school, eliminating adult education, and cutting public library funding by somehow transferring their services to Yale’s private libraries.  His solution to unemployment in New Haven was to create 200 temporary jobs that are complemented by an utterly vague plan to also prepare these employees for work in the private sector.  Despite the fact that the nation is facing an unemployment crisis, Stratton holds the bizarre belief that the unemployed simply, “need to get back into the rhythm of work.”  Finally, he advocates for full PILOT funding, which has consensus support in New Haven.  Yet he failed to present any workable plan to secure this funding.  I think the majority of his policy plans are not just terrible, but are also simply fantasies.  Still others may like these policies, and it is fine to have this debate. 

But, Mike Stratton’s viewpoints do not entitle him to verbally abuse others.  Stratton has already admitted that he is “very privileged,” and this was on full display when he was taking out his own frustrations by personally insulting others.  Let’s hope that he is sufficiently self-aware to recognize the pettiness in his behavior and apologize.

posted by: Wooster Squared on April 8, 2014  9:37am

I support Michael Stratton. I wish there were more people with his courage and sense of civic duty on the BOA.

This city is being horribly mismanaged at the expense of everyone who lives here. He’s right to be outraged at that.

posted by: grounded on April 8, 2014  10:16am

@ HewNaven and everyone else who seems to have forgotten the late 1990’s in New Haven:

http://www.yaleherald.com/archive/xxvi/9.4.98/news/scandals.html

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on April 8, 2014  10:55am

Eddie,

What is the job of the alder? It is to represent their ward. Is Stratton doing that?

If any of the alders are not representing their wards please report so that they can be voted out for not doing their job.

Also, municipal taxes don’t work like Federal and State taxes - all property is taxed regardless of value. Therefore the residents of the city bear the tax burden. Who are the residents of the city? Predominantly low-income renters. That is who is harmed by high taxes.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on April 8, 2014  11:10am

Hew Naven:
Thank you for the link.
It’s an old strategy: don’t look here; look over there.
Make Stratton the issue - not the budget, not the millions unaccounted for in the education budget, not the overpaid grant writer or the constantly escalating taxes.
Look away, ladies and gentlemen. Nothing going on over here.

posted by: HewNaven on April 8, 2014  11:17am

@ HewNaven and everyone else who seems to have forgotten the late 1990’s in New Haven:

http://www.yaleherald.com/archive/xxvi/9.4.98/news/scandals.html

You don’t have to tell me! I posted the same link on the original story!

I’m just asking Stratton to expound on his comment. He may actually have something valuable to say.

posted by: webblog on April 8, 2014  11:19am

The real mistake Stratton is making at this point is to allow his unsubstantiated budget recommendations to be published by the media for public consumption before thoroughly examining the factual, practical and political implications of his recommendations.
The BOE does not illegally consume 40M, to propose so is reckless. That statement alone has provided city hall the ammunition to counter attack a budget proposal that was never presented to the board for consideration, while at the same time, providing cover for Harp’s $13.3M general fund spending expansion.

That doesn’t even get us to the real compounding budget problem of a $753M debt hole, while borrowing $44M this year with NO school construction planned.

As you can see, there are more serious budget issues facing New Haven that will get swept under the rug while they debate aldermanic rules, which they all routinely violate, and in doing so, allow the administration to focus the public’s attention away from Harp’s budget and towards blaming Stratton for his budget proposal which is nothing more, at this time, than for planning purposes only.

I hope you all can see through this 1 ply toilet tissue and get yourselves to the next public hearing on May 1st to make your feeling know there, instead of from behind you commuter, which has zero impact.

posted by: HewNaven on April 8, 2014  11:25am

What is the job of the alder? It is to represent their ward. Is Stratton
doing that?

If any of the alders are not representing their wards please report so that
they can be voted out for not doing their job.

Also, municipal taxes don’t work like Federal and State taxes - all property
is taxed regardless of value. Therefore the residents of the city bear the
tax burden. Who are the residents of the city? Predominantly low-income
renters. That is who is harmed by high taxes.

Stratton’s Ward 19 also includes the Eastern edge of Newhallville. How well does he stay in touch with those constituents and their concerns? I’m not speculating one way or the other, I’m just curious. St. Ronan and Edgehill are not the only streets that run through Ward 19.

As for the tax issue. Of course, the burden is shared equally by owners and renters. The benefit of taxation (i.e. paying for a portion of the budget) is also shared amongst residents of all income levels. If anything, high-income earners get more from their ante since they have greater access and mobility throughout the city.

posted by: robn on April 8, 2014  12:02pm

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

The fact that Andrea Jackson Brooks has “been living off of core government (her) whole life,” is completely factual and is documented this conflict-of-interest form she filled out herself.

http://www.nhcan.org/docs/disclosures-2007.pdf#page=2

It’s AJB who owes an apology to Stratton for escalating the conversation into a scream-fest.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on April 8, 2014  12:25pm

“If anything, high-income earners get more from their ante since they have greater access and mobility throughout the city.”

They have greater access to services that they don’t need access to? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

New Haven’s taxes are high because the city is home to 30% of the region’s total population, but 50% of the region’s poor population. We require more services but have a smaller tax base from which to fund those services.

Until that changes, nothing else will either.

posted by: HewNaven on April 8, 2014  1:00pm

Jonathan Hopkins,

You’ve elucidated what seems to be a defeatist position and also a very good way to kick the can further down the road.

Should we simply ignore this year’s budget because New Haven is in the same position as last year regarding our statewide tax burden. That’s a guaranteed losing strategy, or at least a distraction from troubleshooting our immediate concerns with the budget.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on April 8, 2014  2:27pm

HN,

New Haven’s budget has been out of control since the late 1960s when New Haven ceased to be the dominant center of the metropolitan region. The sooner the budget aligns with the city’s responsibility, the better. The city, like any other municipality, is responsible for its share of the region’s population. The budget needs to get leaner - bottom line. The city cannot be responsible for a disproportionate share of the region’s service-consumer population - it is not sustainable (our debt is 150% - exponentially accruing since the 1960s - of our annual budget).

We can continue going the direction we have been by making more promises than we can keep (increasing/maintaining service levels) or we can begin moving towards a leaner budget that reflects New Haven’s responsibilities.

posted by: accountability on April 8, 2014  3:07pm

I don’t particularly care about Stratton’s behavior toward his colleagues. Maybe his boorishness does “represent his ward,” or maybe not, but that’s for the voters to decide.

What I do care about is the amount of ink (or bytes) that the NHI devotes to this guy.

He. Makes. Stuff. Up.

Outrageous stuff. All the time. What is so dangerous about it is that it is stuff that fuels the perception of his constituents that spending is way out of control, that government is profoundly corrupt.

It is fine for people to believe that. But what Stratton is doing is reinforcing the false belief that millions of dollars can easily be cut from the budget. It can’t. That’s an austerity junkie fantasy.

When you say that the city is spending a phantom $44 million, many people will not read the corrections. When you say falsely that the city is not allowed to provide benefits for BoE workers, you fuel the perception that the government is so hopelessly incompetent and corrupt that there are literally tens of millions of unaccounted-for dollars floating around that could be devoted to new services if some smart guy (you know, like Mike Stratton), were in charge.

It’s baloney. So is the false distinction between “bureaucrats” and services. Who do you think delivers “services?”. That’ll be people who work for the city. If some of them are not doing useful work, prove it. But stop making stuff up.

The city may or may not be run well. But it is not flush with wasted cash.

The real question here is whether or not Stratton is an idiot. Because if he’s an idiot, then all the false “facts” he spews are the result of an amateur looking at budget documents with no idea what he’s doing. Orangutan, meet chainsaw.

But if he’s not an idiot, then he’s following the Big Lie propaganda playbook. If he’s not an idiot, he’s playing a destructive, dangerous, divisive game. That’s a bigger question than whether or not he said mean things to Andrea Jackson Brooks.

posted by: robn on April 8, 2014  3:23pm

ACCOUNTABILITY,

The biggest lie currently being told is coming from BOA union supermajority apologists who say that nothing is wrong. Besides having an outrageous percentage of tax dollars devoted to debt and unaffordable political promises, New Haven has one employee per 26 citizens putting it at the top of the list nationwide for overstaffing (including accounting for regional governments in other states). If this ratio doesn’t startle you, it should.

posted by: RhyminTyman on April 8, 2014  3:37pm

Accountability I disagree. He is grandstanding but his larger points are still valid.  44 million dollars claim is his way of forcing the BOE to come to the table. He is a trial lawyer and is doing what he does. One alder has now started to process of silencing him, but he upsets the status quo. Remember Jackson-Brooks is an adult and committee chair, she was as guilty as he was for not keeping decorum. Which is ironic and shows where Unite Here proirities lie. The tax increase which hurts the middle and work classes the most, should be the as a big of issue for any alder who cares about the struggle of the middle class. If the succeed at silencing him at the cost of a tax increase this year and next, Unite Here is going have some major blow back in ‘15.

posted by: Eddie on April 8, 2014  5:44pm

The only thing crazier than Stratton’s false claims and bad policy ideas have been his sympathizer’s reactions to them.  The bulk of Stratton’s work as an alder has consisted of pursuing petty vendettas, proposing unpopular ideas, propagating lies, and failing to present workable plans.  Yet, defenders ask us to ignore all this.  Instead they want us to judge him on his stated motivations, which ultimately amount to cheap talk.  In essence, his screaming and shouting in BOA meetings is rationalized not on the basis of any real policy solutions to the challenges that New Haven faces.  Instead, this petulance is rationalized on the basis that he purportedly “loves” New Haven more than others. 

Why are we holding Stratton to kindergarten standards?  The policy ideas are terrible, but hey “at least he tries.”

posted by: HewNaven on April 8, 2014  6:03pm

Jonathan Hopkins,

We agree about the regional funding issues. So who, if anyone, is proposing austerity measures that will affect our undue burden of regional expenditures? No one! All I’ve heard are proposals that will affect intra-city services.

posted by: RhyminTyman on April 8, 2014  6:23pm

Eddie come on!  What about AJB? Threatening Stratton as he was leaving then proceding to wag her finger at him like he is some child. That very inappropriate. This comes down to the fact of him being a throne to Unite Here. If he cacaused with them and towed the party line Morisson allow him to act as childish as his peers.

posted by: Noteworthy on April 8, 2014  7:21pm

@Eddie, @Accountability -

Both of you denigrate diminish budget alternatives from Ald. Stratton. What are your ideas? Where would you cut this budget - specific line item cuts, or even departmental cuts? Do you have any? Or is your answer the same as the mayor? Just raise property taxes and “let them eat cake.”

posted by: Bill Saunders on April 8, 2014  7:40pm

This is just a classic political wagon circling exercise. 

If you have been trained in reading between the lines of City Hall Memoranda, the first non-procedural line in the letter is always the lie—in this case

“From the outset, I would like to emphasize that there is nothing personal involved here.”

Misconstrue and Mischaracterize from there on….

This is the game people.  It has happened to me.  It has happened to you.  Only we can stop it.

posted by: Brutus2011 on April 8, 2014  7:59pm

I watched the little video posted on this article and could not see where Stratton deserves such criticism. The ladies messed with someone who did not respond well to intimidation. Heck, if it were me they definitely would have gotten push-back. Look, I believe in respecting others but sometimes you gotta fight fire with fire. Does this comment make me a troll?

posted by: mstratton on April 9, 2014  2:54pm

In response to Eddie, a few clarifications on what the PC budget actually says:
No personnel and no hours are cut from teachers, paraprofessionals, fire, police. Parks, public works libraries, LCI, or other service providers. In fact more than 150 jobs are added to accommodate a 10m recreation program citywide, better code enforcement on blight, youth librarians and Spanish librarian cut by the mayor, funding to get police up to universal community policing staffing level, and staff to manage a wpa jobs program for 200-300 jobless residents.

There is no cut to fire, as we have learned that despite very high staffing levels per resident, there are so many people with severe medical problems that a cut could jeopardize their health or very life. Instead we propose expanding services to include transport which now pays 75% of fire budget in Toledo and Lansing.  There is funding to get fire and police to live in the city via tax rebates of 5000 annually if they but and live in city.

The cut to library was a line item involving rebinding old periodicals. It was 350,000. We thought money better spent keeping libraries open for kids an extra day. When library staff testified last week they apologized for the line item and said the money was actually for new books. We removed the cut immediately.

We also add enough money to give every kid a summer job or camp. Right now we have 5000 plus kids with no summer activity and no funding on mayor budget.

On education we have proposed a simple solution. Disclose the amount contributed by city in the budget and get it approved but first have an educational cost expert review the budget to determine if there is waste or undocumented expenses. If so those should be cut. Everyone should look at the number of administrators and Multi million dollar
Consulting contracts and completely undocumented 10-20 million dollar line items. Nothing should be cut that impacts the children or classroom.

posted by: mstratton on April 9, 2014  3:10pm

All the research shows early childhood Ed is critical to closing the achievement gap. We need much more here and we need better food choices for our kids. I can’t eat it, they shouldn’t have to either. So we said the adult Ed center should be reconfigured. We are paying 6m plus with benefits for the program. It produces 130 geds a year and a modest number of esl course completers. We can provide this same service in an existing school for much less. The outcry against adult Ed started with Jason Bartlett himself who said the program was a dropout magnet and warehouse for dropouts. The reason it exists and is do expensive: Toni walker and 2 other admins at school make 750,000 in combined salary and benefits.

On education funding, the city still can’t tell us what they contribute over the approved 18m this year. This should really bother other alders and residents as everyone assumed for years we only gave the disclosed amount. This is a threat to the democratic process. You want mayors giving whatever they want to whatever purpose? That’s a recipe for disaster. Forget about lawsuits, mayor harp should have thanked us for identifying a serious issue and ensure that all this money is well spent. Insulting us is a bizarre response. Look at our letters they are very dignified and accurate. The mayors responses attempt to turn this into a fight. Why? Just be transparent and test the education budget to see of reasonable. No one has done this for ten or more years. That’s not good money management especially when 40 percent of city budget going to Ed without our knowledge and when we thought it was. 6%.

On pilot, the peoples caucus forced this issue even when it meant having to call out the governor. The mayor fought this effort not wanting to challenge Malloy to do what was right. We hired a lobbyist and we got the necessary support before bills were introduced. We testified in support and got the public support. We are now in verge of passage. 20million annual add

posted by: Serf of New Haven on April 9, 2014  7:38pm

Where is my old copy of Bonfire of the Vanities?
Oh my goodness, we have flew the coop, but thank this man, Stratton, for breaking a link and a half in the Democratic Machine.
I hope his past has given him thick enough skin to withstand these attacks. This is only the beginning for him.

We need to stand behind this man and not get all emotional. This is how the Rulers get us to move our eyes from the ball.

This is about no more tax increases when the City has plenty of money.
This is about saving lower and middle class families finances from wage stagnation and government tax inflation. They can not co-exist much longer.


Support Stratton. These people don’t come around too often. And you can clearly see why. They are silenced by the ‘bully’ board.

posted by: Eddie on April 9, 2014  8:39pm

Mstratton,

You campaigned on cutting the fire department, expressing with complete certainty that staffing could be cut by 50%.  You stated, “There is no expert in the country who would suggest we need more than 150 firemen”  Now you admit that this policy proposal would put people’s lives and health at risk?  Why did you propose and campaign on an idea that risks lives without researching it?  How were you previously so certain about expert recommendations? 

In the budget that you published, you proposed cutting $350,000 from the library’s budget without consulting anyone from the library to understand the purpose of the funding?  How many more cuts in your proposed budget are similarly misinformed? 

Your budget miscalculates the cost per GED even using the figures provided within the proposed budget!!  Moreover, it fails to account for the cost of transferring these programs to Gateway.  The budget’s proposal does not reconfigure adult ed; it just eliminates it. 

Your budget still flirts with the idea of closing one high school, and provides 10 words for justifying this closure.  Such a radical restructure of education in New Haven requires at least some analysis. 

Your budget proposes cutting administrators by 33.33%.  Yet it does fails to provide a list of the positions that would be cut.  It also fails to specify the services that those who hold these positions provide and provides no analysis of how eliminating these services would affect education in New Haven.  Yet you are certain that we can simply lop off a third of these positions without affecting education in New Haven?

posted by: Eddie on April 9, 2014  8:41pm

I appreciate the work on the PILOT, but why do you have to be so divisive on this issue?  Martin Looney wrote the legislation, and numerous New Haven groups, many of whom you claim to be fighting against, have mobilized to provide testimony.  The $20 million would not have been possible without the assistance of individuals who you are actively trying to alienate. 
 
Again, your short legislative history demonstrates an alarming tendency to push for misguided and uninformed policy ideas.  In your own words you campaigned on an idea that would risk lives!!  Yet, you continue to make-up wild figures and falsely allege illegal corruption.

posted by: Really? on April 11, 2014  5:16pm

Mike Stratton is vilified for being the only alder who can form a complete sentence.  We need people like him to keep New Haven fiscally responsible. The Wooster square alder wants to reward a shady developer. Someone needs to be looking at the accounting of this city.

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