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Stratton Lights A Fire In Ward 19 Race
by Melissa Bailey | Sep 6, 2013 10:00 am
Posted to: East Rock, Newhallville, Campaign 2013
One candidate wants to cut the number of firefighters in half. The other wants to keep them.
That’s one debate fueling a hotly contested aldermanic race in East Rock and Newhallville.
The debate over what to do with the fire department—and what that means about public service jobs, the city budget, and the strength of unions—has emerged as a key issue in a race for the open seat in Ward 19, which covers parts of East Rock and Newhallville.
Mike Stratton, a 47-year-old personal injury lawyer, and Maureen Gardner, a 48-year-old Yale union steward and administrative support staffer for the Yale Alumni Fund, face off Tuesday in a Democratic primary for alderman, one of 10 contested races citywide. They’re running in a diverse ward that spans some of the poorest and richest streets in the city.
Stratton’s uncensored remarks—especially about firefighters and Yale’s unions—have made waves in the 3 1/2 months since he announced his candidacy. The firefighter debate reflects a difference in how the two candidates are framing their campaigns: Stratton as an independent voice unafraid to make unpopular decisions to save the city money; and Gardner as a protector of unionized public jobs.
The two are running for the seat left open by Alderwoman Alfreda Edwards, who’s retiring after seven terms in office. Her departure represents a shift of power in the ward: Edwards, who’s African-American, lives in Newhallville. Both candidates, who are white, hail from the wealthier part of the ward, which was just redrawn to include more of East Rock. Stratton lives in a million-dollar home on Huntington Street; Gardner lives in a portion of Livingston Street that used to be part of East Rock’s Ward 10.
Gardner is running as the union-backed candidate: She has the official endorsement from her union, Yale’s UNITE HERE Local 34; and AFSCME Council 4, which represents city employees, donated $375 towards her campaign. Stratton has Alderwoman Edwards’ support. He is running a self-financed campaign with $9,500 from his pocketbook, putting him far ahead of Gardner’s $1,525, according to campaign finance filings.
Their contest is shaping up to be a proxy battle between mayoral candidates: Gardner supports Toni Harp, who has union support; Stratton is supported by East Rock Alderman Justin Elicker, who’s running a mayoral campaign without special-interest money or union support. (The two mayoral campaigns, incidentally, have also been sparring about fire-department staffing.)
Perhaps Stratton’s most controversial proposal is his call to slash the fire department. He contends that the city has “far too many fire personnel.” He called for cutting the firefighting force in half, and modernizing the department with advanced life-support vehicles to respond to medical calls. The city currently has 270 firefighters and is looking to hire 80 to 120 more in the next two years; Stratton calls for cutting the force to 150.
“Two-hundred fifty firefighters is too many,” he said in an interview Monday.
He spoke in the backyard of his home at 162 Huntington St. (pictured), where he was hosting a large fundraising party for Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS). The clam bake came on the heels of the city’s Stratton Faxon Road Race, which Stratton’s law firm sponsors every year. As he spoke, kids jumped on a water-soaked moon bounce and sailed through the yard on a zip-line.
He said his stance is based on the city’s small size—just 18 square miles—and on staffing ratios recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. “There is no expert in the country who would suggest we need more than 150 firemen,” he claimed.
Stratton said he doesn’t advocate laying off firefighters en masse. He called on the city to “stop hiring more firefighters” and instead modernize the department to rely on fewer firefighters.
“We shouldn’t have hook and ladder trucks” going to medical calls for people with chest pains, he argued. The city should “get rid of the antiquated fire houses and purchase high tech advanced life-support vehicles that are manned at spots around the city,” as the American Medical Response company (AMR) does. “This will save millions in unnecessary manning of station houses,” he wrote in an email.
He proposed reallocating the money from the fire department to police, to beef up the police department to 650 or 700 cops. “If we had 100 to 200 more cops our poorer neighborhoods would be transformed.”
His stance on the fire department, which he made public in a May interview with the Independent, met blowback.
After his remarks, firefighters from the Whitney Avenue station mobilized to help Gardner gather petitions to get on the ballot.
“Firefighters have been the strongest supporters of my opponent,” Stratton said.
Gardner said she disagrees with Stratton’s proposal.
“Cutting the fire department in half feels a little draconian,” she said. “That could be an issue with public safety.” She said if anything, the fire department is “understaffed.”
“We should sustain it at the level that we have now.”
Gardner (pictured) spoke during a morning walk from her home at 112 Livingston St. to her workplace at the Connecticut Financial Center right next to City Hall.
“We are all looking for ways to get our budget in line, but I just don’t think a 50 percent cut” to the fire department is the answer, she said. She turned down Edwards to catch Orange Street—slightly out of the way, but a more pleasant walk, she said.
Gardner said she is opposed to privatization of public jobs in general. Stratton countered that he’s not calling for privatizing firefighters’ jobs: “Privatization is not the answer. Consolidation is.”
Gardner declined to identify any cuts she would make to the city budget. She said she would “review the budget closely and work as diligently as I could to keep expenses in line. But I can’t say I’m enlightened enough to say what those cuts would be.”
“The way to deal with our budget is not necessarily by cutting things,” she said, but by economic development and “helping people get good jobs.” She said she would support programs like New Haven Works, which aims to help New Haveners land jobs.
Union “Soldier”? Or “Worst Enemy?”
The candidates fall on two sides of Yale’s unions, which have emerged as the most powerful political organizing force in local electoral politics.
Stratton began his campaign by declaring war on Yale’s unions. He said the sweep of aldermanic seats by Yale-union-backed candidates in 2011 was “a wake-up call” that inspired him to run for office.
He joined a slate of “Take Back New Haven” candidates united by their opposition to a “new machine” run by the unions. Stratton lambasted the unions as “special interest” groups that have been “abusing their authority.” Stratton even quit Take Back New Haven because he thought the group was too connected to unions.
In the wake of Stratton’s comments, Gardner, a union steward in Local 34, jumped in the race at the last minute before the Aug. 8 deadline.
“After reading [Stratton’s] remarks, I talked to a lot of people” and decided to run, she said.
Stratton and Gardner both sought the endorsement of Yale’s UNITE HERE Local 34 and 35. In remarks before the unions, Stratton repented and said he was “embarrassed” by his anti-union statements. He offered to “be a soldier” for the unions.
Local 34 President Laurie Kennington said Thursday that her union executive board voted two to three weeks ago to endorse Gardner.
“We thought Maureen is really a great advocate for the neighborhood,” Kennington said. “We have members on both sides of Prospect Hill and she seems like the person who could bring the ward together. She has a lot of the skills for advocating for her coworkers” on the job, “advocating for her daughter in the public school system, and she seems like she would advocate for Ward 19.”
Kennington said the unions was not ready to publicly announce which other aldermanic candidates they have endorsed.
Stratton said the union never had the “courtesy” to let him know he didn’t get the endorsement. Instead, he figured it out when he saw teams of Local 34 members, including secretary/treasurer Ken Suzuki, canvassing his neighborhood for Gardner.
Stratton regained a skeptical outlook about the Yale unions in an interview Monday.
“It’s very clear that Local 34 and 35 wants complete and total control of the Board of Aldermen,” he said. For example, he cited the emergence of candidate Ella Wood, a 19-year-old Yale student who started running in downtown’s Ward 7 just days after moving there; and Gardner.
Gardner “just appeared out of the ether on the last possible day,” he said.
Gardner denied being recruited by the unions. Kennington said Gardner came up with the idea on her own, then spoke with Kennington, who encouraged her to run.
Stratton said he never pulled a 180 in his position on the unions. He said he made them this offer: “If you are going to be true to your progressive roots, I am one of your soldiers. However, if you’re going to support the entrenched status quo, I’m your worst enemy.”
He said he’s now leaning towards the latter scenario. He’s very concerned that the unions would continue the status quo, especially with public employee pensions. The city has a $505 million unfunded pension liability that is imperiling the budget and sinking bond ratings.
Stratton called for city employees to switch from a defined-benefit to a defined-contribution pension plan, which operates like a 401(k). He said the new plan should be “as generous as Local 34 and 35’s defined-contribution plan.”
He called the unions’ dominance of the Board of Aldermen dangerous.
“I don’t understand why they need to co-opt all the Board of Aldermen seats,” he said. “We’re down to just a few independents.” (By “independent,” he means independent of the unions.)
“We need someone like me to really keep an eye on things,” he said, “and make sure that 34/35 doesn’t use [its power] for private benefit.” He blamed aldermen’s affiliation with Yale, for example, for their decision to sell portions of two streets to Yale for $3.5 million —a decision that sparked public outcry, and which Stratton opposes.
“We need somebody independent in there to make sure their control isn’t used in the wrong way,” he said.
Kennington denied trying to “dominate” the Board of Aldermen. Local 34’s goal, she said, is to “continue encouraging as many people as possible to join the political process.”
“To say that the unions are co-opting the Board of Aldermen—I don’t know about that,” Gardner opined.
Asked how she would have voted on the Yale streets sale, Gardner defended the board’s actions. “The original contract” governing the lease of the streets to Yale “was not very well-written or thought out,” she said. “The board tried to leverage what they could.”
Not knowing all the details of the contract, she said, she doesn’t know if she would have voted yes or no. “But I like to believe the board acted in the best interest of the city.”
Gardner showed up after Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting and met with several members of the labor-backed supermajority.
She downplayed her affiliation with the union and that coalition. She said she’s a mom, a homeowner, “and a member of a union.” Those are all “part of who I am.”
“I see my primary responsibility” as alderman “as representing the people of my ward and advocating for them at City Hall.”
The two candidates bring different approaches, and different networks of support, that reflect the larger battle in the ward between the two leading candidates in the mayor’s race, Harp and Elicker.
Stratton has been relying on two main allies: Alderwoman Edwards, who has accompanied him at voters’ doors in Newhallville; and two-term East Rock Alderman Elicker, whose mayoral campaign has a strong base of support in East Rock. Stratton has used his $9,500 campaign treasure chest to send colorful mailings publicizing Elicker’s endorsement.
Luckily for Stratton, the two will appear side by side on the ballot on Tuesday, on Line D. Stratton said he plans to hand out literature urging a joint Line D vote. Gardner’s name will appear on the ballot on Line C, along with mayoral candidate Kermit Carolina.
Stratton has used his well-stocked campaign coffers to send out mailings, buy lawn signs, and pay for campaign staff. He has hired a field coordinator, Kanisha Crenshaw, and 10 paid door-knockers, who have made between $80 and $520 each.
Gardner, meanwhile, has relied on neighbors and colleagues from Local 34 to knock on doors. She received $375 from AFSCME Council 4 and $1,150 in individual donations. She paid Local 34 $50.83 to print literature. She said she supports Harp for mayor, but has not coordinated any campaign activity with her.
A Local 34 colleague knocking on doors for Gardner last weekend said their team is up against a tough challenge in the East Rock portion of the ward, because Elicker is giving Stratton a hefty boost.
“Mike has been a strong supporter of Common Ground High School, a volunteer for New Haven Reads, the lead backer of the Stratton Faxon Road Race, an active advocate for IRIS, and an advocate for neighborhood concerns such as high property taxes,” Elicker wrote in an email blast to East Rockers.
“We need people on the Board of Aldermen who are independent-minded, advocate for their constituents and are dedicated to making the right decisions for all of us,” Elicker continued. “Mike has shown through his actions that he is prepared to take on both the small details of improving a neighborhood to the big challenges that face our city.”
“I know Maureen, and I think she’s a good person,” Elicker said by phone this week. “She just hasn’t been at all engaged in any neighborhood meetings or efforts.”
Stratton said Gardner’s supporters have unfairly painted him as a “1-percenter” who is “anti-jobs.” Her campaign has taken on a “populist sentiment,” he said, “when in reality she’s done nothing for our community.”
“I’ve never seen her at New Haven Reads,” or at IRIS. “She didn’t step forward” to save the New Haven Road Race seven years ago when banks could no longer support it, he said. Stratton is partner in a four-person personal injury law firm that spends $90,000 annually to support the road race. His firm also donates 10 percent of its earnings to local charities, he said.
“Maureen spends her days raising more money for an institution with a 50 billion dollar endowment and then heads home,” he wrote in a follow-up email. “I spend my days fighting against insurance companies and corporate America for people catastrophically injured. Then when I finish I make sure to support New Haven with my time and money through more than a dozen non profits for kids and families in our city. I know this city and its people from the vantage point of 48 years of living here from my time here as a cabbie paying my way through school to running a downtown law firm.”
Gardner later replied that she has been involved in the neighborhood—in events at Wilbur Cross High School, where her daughter goes to school. “I never saw Mike at those events,” she said.
She said she has been involved at Cross and Education Center for the Arts at parent-teacher events and PTO meetings.
“That has been somewhat of the extent of my involvement” in the neighborhood, she admitted. “I’m a mom. I have a kid in school.”
Stratton has three kids. He sent them to Cold Spring School, a private school on James Street in Fair Haven.
Gardner, of Meriden, moved to New Haven and to Livingston Street, where she owns her home, nine years ago. A graduate of UConn, she also lived in New Haven when she was in her 20s; she managed a Waldenbooks store at the Chapel Square Mall.
“I moved here nine years ago very intentionally because I love New Haven. I live here, I work here, I have a daughter who goes to public school here. I want to be part of making New Haven an even better place,” she said.
Gardner presented herself as the candidate who will listen and bring people together—not divide them with incendiary remarks.
She vowed to “work hard” and “listen to the concerns of my neighbors and advocate for them.”
One of her supporters on a door-knocking team described the difference this way: Stratton wants to hire an assistant to do constituent services, while Gardner would do the work herself.
Stratton called that characterization unfair. He said he has proposed hiring a part-time person to put together a newsletter for Wards 10 and 19.
“It’s amazing” how someone could take “the seriousness with which I would approach the job and turn it against me,” he said. He said his aim is to hire a staff person “so we can professionalize the job.” That would enable him to do more constituent services, not less, he said.
Polls open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Ward 19 votes at the Celentano School at 400 Canner St. Click here to figure out which ward you’re in, as the boundaries have changed.
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“We shouldn’t have hook and ladder trucks” going to medical calls for people with chest pains, he argued.”
Putting aside all rhetoric, this statement is true and happens hourly.
Who can argue against implementing some efficiencies that could prevent this from happening? I guess Gardner and Kennington can.
What if, every time she saw a hook and ladder truck responding to a dehydration call and thought about how the department should have more staff, Gardner and Kennington imagined a child in Newhallville who can not enroll in the city’s Youth at Work program this year because it has been decimated due to these sorts of widespread inefficiencies, coupled with the fact that we are compensating some firefighters in Guilford over $500,000 every year in salary plus benefit value?
Is the “pipeline to the suburbs,” which is primarily a opportunity for endless Local 34/35 press conferences, Gardner’s only solution to structural unemployment in our city?
Wow. What a selfless, disinterested leader! Here’s Michael Stratton’s view of public service:
“My taxes on my bazillion dollar home are too high! Cut the fire department!”
/files negligence lawsuit against city when houses burn down and collects millions in fees.
Thank God we have people like Mike Stratton here in New Haven. He has shown his dedication to the city and community again and again. He is EXACTLY the type of person we need in government - someone with high ethical standards, community focused, highly intelligent and strongly motivated to make a difference.
We are facing some pretty tough times ahead - we need people like Mike in the board of aldermen.
I wish I lived in Ward 19, so I could vote for Mike.
Harp and her supporters are not willing to discuss budget reduction.
Taxpayers take note…
Harp = White Suburban Union Control
This is scary stuff - even as we’re facing huge pension liabilities, a rainy day fund, as well as a bond down-grading to BBB, the union-affiliated candidates just talk about hiring more firefighters.
Where else would they cut the budget? Who knows - Harp hasn’t read the budget, and Gardner plans to “review it closely.”
These folks are using public-safety issues as props for their campaign, without showing any real command of the issues. There are real discussions to be had about how we deliver emergency medical and fire services in this town, ways to deliver better care more efficiently, but the Gardner/Harp/union folks just shut that conversation down, and hold another press conference in front of polished engines and tankers.
Kind of sad that the NHI portrays this race as an under-funded Gardner vs. Stratton, when in fact it is Gardner, Kennington, Proto, Mills, Union 34, Union 35, and a myriad of entrenched interests against The up-start Mr. Stratton.
Last year Gwen Mills and company spent $200,000 to win 10 aldermanic seats. How much have they budgeted for this year’s consolidation of power?
Pretty damn disgusting how much outside influence and money are being poured into a neighborhood contest. And yet it goes un-reported? For shame.
In general I think Stratton makes a lot of sense. I do NOT think we should lay off any firefighters. But I do think we should consider putting a halt on hiring so many new ones. I think we could use a few more police officers. It’s not that I wouldn’t love to have a ton of fire personnel but I think due to our budget issues we have to make some tough choices. Could the NHI provide some statistics of how New Haven compares to other cities of similar geographic size and population in terms of firefighters to population?
I also like his ideas about aligning the right equipment for the job. I’ve seen on my street several times recently a large fire truck with a half dozen firefighters responding to what appear to be medical calls.
On a side note, I see the NHI is making a clear effort to show that Stratton is wealthy. Not sure if that is meant to be held against him; in fact it’s great to see someone who has been so successful stay in our community and give back so much. It sounds like he’s very charitable through the road race, IRIS, etc. I’m glad he’s here contributing to New Haven and not out in Madison or Woodbridge.
This article fails to mention the boast Mike Stratton is getting from Alfredia Edwards.
Also, I have knocked on doors for him, and I do it for free.
I find this article to be biased.
Maureen Gardner seems like a nice, normal person. On a Board of 30 alders, it doesn’t hurt to have a nice, normal person who’s not going to rock the boat, who concedes she isn’t “enlightened enough” to say in advance of the election what kind of tough choices she’d make, but who presumably will handle the constituent-service aspect of her job quite ably. The trouble is when you have a super-majority of alders like this, who give no indication that they have the desire or capacity to make informed, independent decisions, and who (whatever their earnest intentions) have done little to dispel the suspicion among many that they have someone other than their constituents to answer to.
Mike Stratton (though he clearly cares about the city and has put his money where his mouth is) seems less like a nice, normal person. He shoots from the hip and may be overly cynical about the agenda of the current Board majority. But it’s pretty clear that he answers to no one but himself, and that he forms opinions based on evidence.
This fire staffing debate is a prime example of the difference. Mike has pointed to evidence from the NFPA to support his view. (Check out this link for more data to support it:
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2012/07/firefighters-dont-fight-fires.html.) Maureen (like Harp, Kottage, et al) responds simply that “we should sustain [staffing] at the level we have now.” That’s just not good enough for me. The other guy has cited evidence; where’s yours? If there’s a reason for the current level of staffing aside from the fact that firefighters (like anyone else with a decent job) prefer to maintain the status quo, I haven’t heard it yet.
Before Stratton declared his candidacy, I had never given a thought to firefighter staffing. Even if he doesn’t ultimately persuade anyone, the fact that Stratton is willing to think (and speak) outside the box is of value to everyone. We need more diversity of opinion on the Board, not less.
Agree with Scot. Stratton could easily move to Woodbridge or Bethany. Unlike Harp, he doesn’t have a party house there. He is concerned with making sure our city is sustainable, because that is the only thing that will reduce unemployment and raise the quality of life for immigrants and lower income residents.
Kennington, Harp & Co clearly want to continue to raise taxes on and cut services for lower income families, in order to funnel more money out to their friends in Guilford and Bethany. The fire comments are a scare tactic and frankly, are offensive to those of us who care about things like youth services and parks. Gardner may not realize it because she is not involved in city issues in any meaningful way, but level-headed people on all sides have been discussing Stratton’s proposals in great detail for the past 10 years.
If you were to close your eyes and just listen to Stratton, you would think that you were listening to the Elicker Experiment.
We’re now locked into where the Elicker Experiment morphed. Are there anymore of these “I-Robots” in the East Rock Stratton mansion?
I can agree with Stratton regarding the idea of never dispatching a hook and ladder to address the concerns of a person experiencing chest pains. However, to remove half of the firemen city-wide is not only a dangerous thing to do, but clearly an unwise approach to saving money.
I must now label this guy the Stratton Experiment also.
Firemen across the city are more than amenable with the idea of working with Mayor Harp in locating cost saving measures in lieu of saving their jobs. Why not start there Professor Stratton?
The more I listen to some of these union backed candidates, the more I find myself being impressed.
Although in my view the union does a horrible job marketing their agenda. Nevertheless, from what I’ve been able to witness, I find their agenda as being relatively simple: continue fighting for good wages, keep our city streets clean and neighborhoods safe, fight for local jobs, continue to draw down on the educational system and build a working partnership with Yale and the mayors office based on trust, productivity and efficiency. This is what all taxpayers should be supporting.
So I encourage the voters to vote for Gardner over the Stratton Experiment. We can’t afford to take a chance.
Mike Stratton is setting a record for inconsistency.
He announces his candidacy with anti-union vitriol. He joins tbnh and continues to slander the union. Then he leaves tbnh, while managing to slander Elicker’s strongest ally on the BOA. He actually claims that Doug Hausladen sold tbnh to Toni Harp. Then he recants his anti-union position, and claims he wants to be a union soldier. Now he is back to spewing anti-union vitriol. In such a short time he has managed to needlessly offend voters in his ward, firefighters, union members, and elected allies of Elicker.
When he announces his candidacy he claims that he will hire a part-time employee to follow up the calls that he receives from constituents. According to him, his part-time employee would be responsible for procuring municipal services for constituents. Unlike every other alder in New Haven, he observed, “I need someone to help me.” Now he claims that he only wants an assistant to write newsletters.
Given that his positions change weekly, I don’t know that one can trust anything he says. Still, his decisions provide insight into how he would govern. He spends tens of thousands of dollars on political donations across the country. He donates to Democrats and Republicans alike. Instead of building a team of canvassing volunteers and inspiring them with his vision, he hired them. Even now he plans to hire someone to do his work as an alder. Just last night I saw him huddled on the street talking to police officers and distracting them from their beat instead of canvassing voters. These decisions scream, “why build community, when he can buy political influence and change?”
Hey, wait, wait, wait, NHI—the photos in this story seem way off kilter
I had assumed you had a policy, probably for privacy and safety reasons, of never showing pictures of the homes of candidates. For example, in all the talk over these past months about Toni Harp’s mega-mansion, it has never been illustrated here.
Now we suddenly see Mike Stratton’s “million-dollar” house, while Maureen Gardner, also owner of an East Rock home, is pictured not in front of it but in front of nearby apartments. Granted, part of the story may be that these two candidates live in different circumstances, but your choice of photos exaggerates the difference.
Further, there is one image of Stratton himself here and three of Gardner. An unsympathetic reader might characterize this as Gardner being “plastered” over the article.
We are entering the final weekend of a hotly contested primary season that has generated huge interest across the city. I know it is crunch time for you-all as well as for the candidates, and that you’re feeling under pressure yourselves. But surely there’s a need, especially now, to be thinking and editing with discipline, in order to be seen as scrupulously impartial when a lot of people are going to be paying attention.
posted by: Greg-Morehead on September 6, 2013 11:55am
Whoever used photoshop on the picture at the top was pretty close. It almost had me fooled. lol
[Hi Greg—We separated the photos so there’s a clearer division between them. Thanks!]
Mike Stratton is a flip flop.This is the same guy who was part of take back New Haven.
“We shouldn’t have hook and ladder trucks” going to medical calls for people with chest pains, he argued. The city should “get rid of the antiquated fire houses and purchase high tech advanced life-support vehicles that are manned at spots around the city,” as the American Medical Response company (AMR) does. “This will save millions in unnecessary manning of station houses,” he wrote in an email.
Honestly, what kind of person would argue against such policies. Do people actually believe we should be sending hook & ladder trucks to respond to medical calls? Only someone protecting their exorbitant salary and benefits package would argue for such an inefficient system.
I hope Stratton wins. We citizens are tired of paying for whiny, rich, suburban city employees who have no interest in doing things efficiently based on a cost-benefit analysis. They don’t care if they sink the ship. They’re getting their piece of the pie, and that’s all they care about.
A couple of things. Hook and Ladders do not respond on EMS calls in the City of New Haven, Engine companies do, as well as Emergency units. Also, if Mr. Stratton’s plan regarding the cutting of Fire dept personnel in half were to come to fruition, then I am certain that the fire on Pendeleton St. would have ended with a loss of lives as well as the fire at Bella Vista. Population density and building occupancy should be the driving force behind the dept’s size not the city’s size in area.
UNITE is incredibly good at finding confident charismatic candidates who are terrible at math.
Brian L. Jenkins/mrst96, you guys seem to be pretty certain in your views: (1) “[T]o remove half of the firemen city-wide is not only a dangerous thing to do, but clearly an unwise approach to saving money.” (2) “[I]f Mr. Stratton’s plan regarding the cutting of Fire dept personnel in half were to come to fruition, then I am certain that the fire on Pendeleton St. would have ended with a loss of lives as well as the fire at Bella Vista.” Given your expertise, I would welcome any efforts on your part to convince me that current (or increased) staffing is necessary for public safety, particularly in light of the recommended 1:800 firefighter:resident ratio Stratton cites (per the NFPA; I’ve also seen a 1:1000 recommendation from the International City/County Management Association). (By my calculation, New Haven’s ratio is 1:477). I’ve got nothing against firefighters and I honestly could go either way on this, but I’m only hearing *evidence* from one side of the debate.
Aside: “Kennington, Harp & Co clearly want to continue to raise taxes on and cut services for lower income families, in order to funnel more money out to their friends in Guilford and Bethany.” I have no doubt that anonymous (like everyone else here) is well intentioned and a good person. But I’d just like to point out that this sort of hyperbole does not represent the views of most Elicker supporters. I may be suspicous of why a private-sector union, the majority of whose members live outside the city, seems to want to take control over municipal government. I may be concerned that this control (especially if duplicated in the mayor’s office) could result in a city government that is not exclusively accountable to city residents. But I think it’s patently absurd to argue that it is in fact the *goal* of the unions to funnel money from poor New Haveners to rich suburbanites. There are plenty of good arguments for Elicker over Harp and even Stratton over Gardner. This isn’t one of them.
Mr. Stratton seems like he has all the negative traits to becoming a sucsessful politician. He takes an original stand against unions only to change his stripes and panders for their support. Then when he finds out they are not with him he changes back! Justin, please be wary of this man, he will sell you out, once he gets what he wants!
As for the firefighters, I believe for the most part they do a good job but there should be some tweaking! Remember John Destefano has to take most of the blame for the mess he created. And taxpayers of East Rock, we deserve a fire engine available to handle “our” potential medical crisis that may arise. We pay very dearly in taxes!! Even though we are not as reliant on the fire department services as is Fair Haven, Dixwell, and the Hill, we still deserve to have them located on Whitney Ave! If Stratton is elected his theory would most likely cost us our protectors of the neighborhood. Mike is obviously looking for something down the road ! Possibly city contracts or legal services. I will not be supporting him ! He mishandled the whole “Take Back NH” involvement and he is not one to be counted on to hold the line on a important issue involving the citizens of the ward! And what’s up with the private school ? Hooker not good enough? Smells like a 1%
I would be happy to see the hook and ladder trucks go out for heart attacks, I see them most Friday nights picking up pizza on State St!
Seriously, they use the fire trucks for their pizza delivery vehicles.
The NHFD is so screwed up in so many ways it is a joke. I think cutting half of them and buying some ambulances are the way to go. The number of medical calls vs. fire calls is something like 20:1. Fire code have improved dramatically in the past 30 years and fires are just not happening the way they used to. Time to change, thank god Mr Stratton is talking about this gorilla in the room.
I choose “Elicker Experiment” and “Stratton Experiment” over “Rah-rah Making History” and “Same Old, but Likely Even Worse.”
There is not an anti-union and a pro-union candidate in this race. There is Stratton, who seems quite willing to question the way unions are influencing policy and budget decisions in the city, and Gardner, who isn’t willing to say much of anything about them.
I’m in a union, and I think it is great to have the unions challenged every once in a while—“more jobs” and “bigger pensions” is not how I want to be represented. I want the right amount of people for the task at hand, and I want them paid a fair wage with transparent long-term costs. Defined benefit plans appear not be sustainable from a budgeting or fiscal view, but shifting retirement risk to workers should come with a corresponding increase in up-front pay. I believe Stratton is at least willing to consider this option, I haven’t heard anything from Gardner on this issue.
And anyone arguing that the sale of streets to Yale was a defendable move loses a little luster in my eyes. That was a just a horrible, horrible decision.
RE: Yale Streets
Anybody know when High & Wall Sts. were actually cut through that square? Obviously, they weren’t there “forever” since that was one of the original nine squares and were done much later as was Temple through the Green.
Vacant Stares and Talking Points Notes:
1. The finance committee of the BOR was given testimony during the budget hearings on this very subject - the short version is that we are overstaffed in the fire department, should not be hiring more, and in fact, through attrition, downsize to at very least the national average.
2. The general rule of thumb is 1: 1,000 - one professional firefighter to each 1,000 residents. A study of 12 cities from 100 - 200,000 found that to be the case. The cities were in Canada. In America, we are more generous - it’s 1.7 to 1,000.
3. New Haven’s budgeted at 2.5 per 1,000. At most, we should have 210 firefighters total including command staff.
4. The fire department is grossly managed. Any time you have constant lawsuits, disorder and discord at these levels, you hve a serious command and control problem.
5. There is ZERO reason to maintain a force level this strong to do nothing 90% of the time except to roll out to medical calls and then provide no more than first responder efforts and go back to the station.
6. Stratton is exactly right - perhaps not in force, but in theory. We should have a fleet of Advance Life Support Ambulances and the staff to man them, treat the patients and move them to the hospital. AMR should be canceled and the city, should provide this service for a reduced fee to her citizens. This could provide millions of dollars in revenue to the city and probably pay more than half the cost of operating the department, the third largest budget in the city.
7. Anybody who has not looked at the budget, and is just running as a union stooge, should not be running. Gardner may be a nice person, but she is uninformed, has no ideas on the budget but just doesn’t want the fire department cut - why? She doesn’t know. She is just against reducing public jobs. Ms. Gardner - HELLO??? We have 5,000 city employees. We can’t reduce any? Then how do you continue to pay for all of this? Doesn’t know again.
Well said PH. Appreciate that coming from someone in a union. I don’t think any of the candidates are anti-union. I think all candidates have great respect for what the unions do. It’s just that in the face of difficult budget decisions and the fact that pensions are such a big part of the budget, something has to give a little at some point. I agree that the city should be willing to pay a little more today (increase salaries) in exchange for slightly reduced pensions (or shifting from defined benefit to defined contribution).
I just find Elicker to be an incredibly honest, bright guy. He’s not going to come in and slash union benefits or jobs. He wouldn’t even be able to with the BOA. I think his first goal would be to increase the tax base with new development to mitigate tax increases and benefit reductions. I believe he’s very reasonable and fair. Having seen him the past couple years, I just genuinely TRUST his judgment to do what’s in the best interest of the most people. This is why I’m such a big fan.
Lets do some simple math on Mr. Strattons claim that the city should have no more than 150 firemen.
In order to have 24/7 365 coverage NHFD deploys 4 shifts with FF’s working 42hrs./wk.
4 shifts, 150 FF’s, that’s 37 FF’s on duty at all times (down from the current 73)
NFPA staffing is 4 FFs per apparatus and 5-6 FFs for high tactical hazards (high-rises, large commercial occupancies, industrial complexes, large multi-dwellings, geographical restrictions, etc.) Thats most of New Haven. NHFD currently runs 4 man engine & truck companies & 5 man Squad companies. That is inline or below NFPA standards for a densely populated urban city such as New Haven. Firefighting in the North East is different than in Canada, down south, or out west. Older balloon /wood frame houses within feet of each other require different strategy and tactics than those deployed in suburbia or areas with primarily masonry construction. So when comparing staffing make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
New Haven currently has 10 strategically located firehouses which ISO states are perfectly located geographically. New Haven has a rating of 2 on a scale of 1-10 1 being the best. This # directly impacts insurance rates. Which firehouseS is he planning on closing?
So what is Mr. Strattons plan?? 37 FF’s doesn’t even fill out a current second alarm assignment. Is he familiar effective hoseline deployment, forcible entry, ventilation, building search, RIT, water supply, incident command, safety officer, and other ICS positions? Apparently not.
Are fires down? Yes but they do happen. And when they do you need to be prepared. The fire department has evolved EMS, Hazardous Materials, technical rescue, terrorism response etc. All require additional resources and training.
Is the NHFD the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago? No. But just because the # of fires are down doesn’t mean you can decimate the staffing of the FD.
Hieronymous, why wouldn’t Kennington & Co want to be fully accountable to the people who are providing the overwhelming share of their campaign support (even before you include the support they are getting from Bob Proto in East Haven or the fundraisers held by Harp’s family in Hamden)? If they put the interests of laid-off public works employees in Newhallville over the interests of the roughly 50 to 100 astonishingly wealthy groups, contractors, and individuals who essentially have made their entire campaign possible, then they would be out of a job very quickly.
It might be easy to see Mike Stratton as arrogant and out of touch, and this article certainly supports that view. Look at that house (get the camera down low to make it look even bigger), he is a trial lawyer, and he drives a BMW. Try actually meeting him. I found him to be personable, down to earth, and a strait shooter.
Mike is raw material, not a seasoned political. He will make mistakes – he has made mistakes – but what he will not do is sell this city out.
Mike’s strategic visions of New Haven for New Haven now and in the future, and all of Ward 19 together is right and proper.
Stratton wants to get rid of “special interests” ...like firefighters!? And he’s some kind of noble guy because he’s rich enough to buy the seat himself. Yet this sits just fine with most commenters nice little worker-bashing hypocrisy!? Wow just wow. I can’t believe anyone would support this Scott Walker in liberal clothing. Mind blowing. 19 really is symbolic of the deep divisions in this city and clearly Stratton is content with being on the Saint Ronan side of those divisions while the rest of us are left to rot. Nice
Thanks, Rivertostate. As usual, we seem to get the best arguments from the people who aren’t SHOUTING. But Noteworthy’s points seemed pretty good, too. *My* point is simply that it’s good to actually think about these things, and proceed to make decisions based on a reasoned debate over actual evidence and with the purpose of what’s good for the whole city (rather than only the most vested, and thus most vocal, interests), than it is to repeat useless platitudes or, worse, call alarmist press conferences for the express purpose of scare mongering.
If you think Stratton or anyone else really just has it in for firefighters and doesn’t care about the evidence, then you shouldn’t support him. I don’t think that’s the case, and I’d prefer a mayor and board that I can trust to make decisions based on what evidence says is best, whether or not it’s the idea they came to the table with.
The arrogance of Stratton and his ignorance about life for ordinary middle class folks is incredible:
1) He criticizes Maureen for raising money for Yale. She has a job as an administrative assistant in their development department. This is an ordinary middle class job, probably around $40k/year. It’s like criticizing a Bank of America teller for boosting the company’s profits. The arrogance of the man for talking down to woman doing an ordinary middle class job like this is breathtaking. So out of touch with ordinary folks’ lives.
2) He criticizes Maureen for failing to step in and save the New Haven Road Race! Again, so out of touch. He is fortunate to be extremely wealthy and in a position to throw money at causes. To criticize ordinary middle class families for not doing the same? Does he have any idea at all what life is like for most of his constituents? Clearly not. Also, sponsorship is not a purely philanthropic act; it effectively comes under the marketing budget of a firm and serves to promote his company.
3) I’m a long-time volunteer at IRIS and work with some of the refugees there in a variety of ways and I have NEVER seen Mike Stratton in the building. I imagine it’s the same at New Haven Reads. Once more, his idea of volunteering for an organization is just throwing his cash at it. That’s all very well. But then to criticize a working mom who is not able to claim they actively support “more than a dozen” non-profits is disingenuous in the extreme.
4) His intention to hire someone to do the alderman’s job, and then to claim this is “professionalization” of the role, shows again how everything about this guy comes down to his wealth. He’ll throw cash at anything and then claim he’s a saint.
Stratton applauds himself - without a modicum of decorum - for throwing some of his enormous wealth at local non-profits while talking down to a working mom for her having an ordinary middle class supporting her family.
I am quite disgusted to be honest.
Shouldn’t the Independent include a disclaimer on articles about this particular race since Stratton’s law firm is listed as a major sponsor?
[Editor’s note: Our sponsors are listed on every page of the website. “Major” is an exaggeration.]
I like Mike!
Reality is he is the better choice. If we have a group of alderman that all vote the same because they belong to a special interest…who is there to protect the rest of us!
Mike has proven his worth as a person that cares about this city. The fact that he grew up here is the big decider. He came back in invests in this city. He help non profits. He participates in community events. And he has an amazing mind!
I know I want diversity in the alder cambers. Even a few unite folks is good. But to many is not a good thing. It makes debate and thought possible when our reps are not all part of one group.
StrattonFaxon is one of only seven sponsors with logos listed on the right hand column of the site. And as the editor points out, every page of the site. How does this not amount to being a “major” sponsor?
I love the New Haven Independent and have no beef with them accepting sponsorship to cover local news in the excellent way they do. I think the economics of media necessitate it.
However, I do think that when reporting on stories involving financial sponsors that are significant enough to merit a banner spot throughout the site mention should be made of this relationship. I think the interests of journalistic transparency owes us this much.
To just dismiss my noting this as “exaggeration” in a note attached to my posting—without acknowledgement of the potential conflict of interest here—strikes me as a little too defensive.
Mike Stratton is one of the most down to earth and generous people I know. Any non profit in New Haven can a test to that fact. Stratton-Faxon has contributed to so many causes in our city and Connecticut, in particular IRIS and LEAP has benefited from their generosity. If you know Mike and talk to him for 10 minutes you would know that his heart and soul is with the people of this city. GO MIKE, ward 19 and New Have is lucky to have you!
It’s clear that Stratton’s firm has been a generous supporter of many causes in the city. We can applaud him and his partners for that. And of course those non-profits will be very thankful. However, that he is in a position to donate large sums to different causes does not qualify him for Alderman. It might attest to his generous nature but the job involves a lot of listening to ordinary folks and a lot of graft that he does not seem ready for. Maureen is clearly not in a position to write big checks to lots of causes, but she is clearly willing to put in the necessary hard work.
The fact is that Stratton has already flip-flopped massively on the unions issue; he seems to shoot from the hip. His posture on the firefighters seems ill thought through, more like a headline-grabbing news line than a serious policy position. He wants hugely to increase police ranks and suggests that this will bring up the poor neighborhoods, without specifying how this is going to happen.
Honestly, I think you can be skeptical about the slightly unseemly machine politics that are operating in the city while still seeing clear water between the two candidates here. For one thing, being a union-supported candidate does not absent someone of their own mind and agency; Maureen is clearly able and capable of thinking for herself.
Let’s face facts: a key feature of this race is that the demographics of Ward 19 put the wealthiest denizens in with some of the poorest. This is a diverse ward and someone like Maureen, a down-to-earth working mom with a middle-class job is going to be much better able to understand the reality of everyday life for ordinary working- and middle-class folks in Newhallville and East Rock than a millionaire from the city’s most exclusive neighborhood.
However nice a guy Mike is, whether his heart is in the right place or not, he’s clearly a bit out of touch and I think the wrong guy for this particular job.
Reading the comments, it seems that Unite Here’s new slogan is No Straw Man left behind.
That’s a good way of putting it. I don’t think most of us would care if there were a half-dozen union affiliated candidates. But, when they try to take over the entire BOA and then the Mayor’s office, why do they think we would stand for that? That’s not democracy, its bullying.
Mr. Stratton is the epitome of “uninformed” when it comes to the fire service. Attempting to use partial quotes from NFPA code to fit his agenda may be monetarily satisfying to many of you, but it is simply a campaign lie for Stratton. It is unrealistic and will cost you more to cut the services by 150 members in the long run. Sure, make pension changes, and alter other benefits, but cut the manning at fire and EMS scenes—simply irresponsible.
Do you folks understand the effort it takes to do proper CPR, handle severe respiratory distress, or a violent psychiatric patient? Do you understand that 2-man Engine & Truck Companies, as Stratton suggests, will delay the hose line deployments and operations at structure fires? Do you want to be the test case for his type of fire department?
The NHFD needs more medical units, but it is so poorly managed, that some of the paramedics you have in New Haven, are currently looking to leave. Good luck at attracting enough to move the paramedic service out of the place it is stuck at. The paramedics are burned out, treated like crap, and perform the most stressful job on the NHFD. But they cannot do their job alone, and those Engine Companies (not Hook & Ladder, again, majorly uniformed) are hands necessary in saving those lives and doing the job.
So, it is your choice to elect who you want, but Stratton will cause not only your insurance rates to skyrocket due to an immediate ISO ratings drop (which your businesses will absolutely appreciate), but it will also cause a delay in response times do to less fire engines, a delay in actual hands on firefighting, an increase in loss of life due to less hands on scene (both medical and fire), and an increase in hazard for the firefighters who would be employed by the NHFD. (Would Mr. Stratton be happy that his policies aided in a line-of-duty death? Probably, he is a lawyer after all)
Good luck New Haven, Mr. Stratton is the kind of problem you don’t need.
How curious that so many think that having a middle-class job means you understand everything, yet being born into the middle class and through good fortune and work becoming “rich” means you understand nothing.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 8, 2013 2:28pm
Wall Street dates from 1787; High Street from 1796.
Clearly Stratton understands enough about life for middle class folks to chide a working mom about not having stumped up enough cash to sponsor a the city’s road race!
And he knows enough everyday life to cast aspersions others for working admin jobs for Yale, by far the biggest employer in the city.
And he knows enough about what life is like for the average Joe working a full-time job and raising a family that he can criticize others for not devoting themselves to “a dozen non-profits”, when in reality it’s his money that’s fronting for him there.
And why the scare-quotes around “rich”? Does Mr Stratton not qualify for such an adjective? What world do you live in?
Have to quote ya there benedict…does the same thought goes to the estate of the Harps? Or is it only a candidate you are not supporting does his wallet and success matter?
Fantasizing that the unions are engaged in a conspiracy against “the workers of new haven” is real strawmannery. Actually, it’s totally bizarre and is not backed up by any evidence, unless you count public employees wanting to keep the pensions they’ve earned as a conspiracy against New Haveners.
Thanks for the question. For what it’s worth, I am not supporting Toni Harp in the mayoral race. But this is not for reasons of her “estate”, whatever that may be. Rather, this is due to my assessment of what she will bring to the job. (I’m happy to discuss this, but this thread probably isn’t the place.)
In any case, this is entirely consistent with my position on Ward 19. Nowhere have I stated that Stratton’s “wallet” or “success” is a barrier to him being a good Alderperson.
What I have provided in my comments is an assessment of what he will bring to the job. It is my perception that he is out of touch with everyday life for most his potential constituents. I also think he has flip-flopped on important issues and he seems to shoot from the hip and do his thinking later. I don’t think these are good qualities for an elected representative. I also found how he was talking down to Maureen in the above article to be very disrespectful.
Hhe, another howler: “Mike is raw material, not a seasoned political. He will make mistakes – he has made mistakes – but what he will not do is sell this city out.”
He won’t sell this city out, he’ll just buy it.
Maureen Gardner is definitely not a “seasoned political”, but here are some actual, documented facts about Michael Stratton:
Michael Stratton is a member and regular contributor to the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA), one of the half dozen most sophisticated campaign finance gameplayers in our entire fetid cash-choked swamp of a political system.
ATLA got so notorious for campaign cash they rebranded themselves “the American Association for Justice.” You know the drill: Phillip Morris = “Atria”.
Their own words: “AAJ PAC…helps fund the races of federal pro-civil justice candidates and incumbents. ...AAJ PAC supports candidates on both sides of the aisle and ranks as one of the top contributors to House and Senate candidates every election cycle.”
ATLA/AAJ also teaches members how to spend political cash effectively. Stratton’s daughter didn’t just up and give Justin $370—having whole families max out as individuals is a trademark of the big boys’ well-organized influence buying.
Since 1990, Mike “no outside influences” Stratton has given $212,605 to federal political candidates, including $147,749 in the past 6 years. Recipients include candidates in Wisconsin, Hawaii, Nevada, Florida, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Montana, South Dakota and more [Thx to Ctr for Responsive Politics, opensecrets.
For Stratton to be so incoherent in public and to rail against “outside influences” betrays both staggering incompetence and breathtaking hypocrisy. Stratton’s been a campaign influence buyer for decades. If he’s not a “seasoned political” it can only be because he’s an extremely poor student.
So, Democracy Funders, a little self-awareness please. You can’t fantasize Mike Stratton into a naive victim of Gardner’s bullying. Not gonna work.
In Eddie’s world, one is not allowed to change one’s mind. Which is why I need to get rid of all of my brogues, khakis, and oxfords, because in high school I wore flannels or polos over jeans and sneakers.
Mike Stratton flip-flopped on tbnh. He is probably the only person in New Haven who believes that Hausladen sold tbnh to Toni Harp.
Mike Stratton has flip-flopped on the unions twice. Who goes from bashing and slandering unions to wanting to be a union soldier in less than two months? Who goes from wanting to be a union soldier to bashing them in less than a month? The man has to be getting dizzy.
Mike has flip-flopped on his idea of hiring a deputy alder. First, he said this part-time employee would be responsible for procuring municipal services for voters. Mike claimed he needed help serving as the alder. Now the deputy is relegated to writing newsletters. Clearly Mike is too busy to do the job of an alder, but who knows the role that this part-time employee will play.
Are you seriously comparing these changes in two months to changes in your tastes from high school?
Mike’s inconsistencies are troubling. They indicate that he is willing to say anything to get his way. In some form, trust is vital to politics. Ultimately voters and elected colleagues have to trust that candidates will act on their promises in office. With his dramatic inconsistencies, Mike is not a trustworthy candidate.
Moreover, the inconsistency paired with his vitriol is ruining relationships that will be necessary for his success as an alder. Even you have said that he alienated his base by changing his position on the unions. He has also alienated nearly every alder, including Doug, that may serve for the next two years on the BOA. How can Doug trust him when he publicly accused Doug of selling tbnh to Toni? How can BOA incumbents trust him when he publicly claimed that they have done nothing of value in the past two years? How can voters trust him when he constantly changes his positions? How can you, one of his few volunteer canvassers, trust him, when just over three weeks ago, you claimed that he had sold himself out?
No Eddie, I take issue with your dogmaticism. I take issue with people thinking that because the NHI said it, they must know the complete truth. No, what Mike says from the hip, shows that He needs to work on his tactics and operations, but he is learning. On the stratgic level, he is spot on. Anyone who has actually talked with him, instead of just reading the NHI, would know this.
Mikes “paid campaign workers” are a group of local women and kids who belive in what he stands for, who also get paid for their work. Ms Gardner’s “volinteers” do not even live in New Haven.
In the mean time, because he has money, he must be trying to buy the city. Like FDR and Teddy Rosevelt tried to buy America, or Rockafeller tried to buy New York State.
@HhE - I wonder how you know so much about the residences of Maureen’s volunteers? From what I’ve seen the Gardner campaign has had quite a large team out in my part of Ward 19, especially on the weekends. Maybe she has friends and colleagues helping out but it seems likely that a lot of these folks are local to New Haven.
@accountability - Thanks for the very useful info you’ve pulled up on Stratton’s campaign donations. Some pretty large sums there. I’d like to chip in with a nod towards Stratton’s Twitter feed [@truestratton]. If you take a browse through his tweets it’s clear the overwhelming issue for him is taxes, taxes, taxes. Specifically he has major beef with Romney’s notorious 13% tax bill, like most sensible folks I guess. But Stratton seems particularly irked by the disparity among the wealthy: that it’s not fair for him to be paying more on his earnings than those with capital gains income. There’s actually very little on there - before his candidacy - to indicate that he has been consistently focused on other issues, especially ones local to New Haven.
I’m being dogmatic?
Stratton flips from slandering unions to wanting to be their soldier. In response you claim he sold himself out. You said he flip-flopped and stated “good luck getting my support Mr. Stratton—why ought I bother?” You also said that he alienated his base. Desiring a modicum of consistency is a politician is not a bad desire, and I empathize with your frustration.
Stratton claims Doug sold tbnh to Harp and you write the following about Stratton: “I take it you have not spent much time around lawyers who do court work. If so, you are most fortunite. Treagicly, I have. One of the lessons I learned was that lawyers as a group do not listen to arguements. They take a position, and dig in. Facts become tools, and self doubt and sketism are weaknesses. Neil De Grasse Tyson provides a skathing critique of lawyers, their concept of evidence, and all that from a scientist’s perspective. What am I on about? That getting a lawyer to back down from a position they have taken is not going to happen.”
Interestingly, Stratton seems to be trying to back down from many positions. But I take your general point that he will not listen to others and will try to bend evidence to support his point of view even if it is wrong. For example, it seems that he has dramatically underestimated the number of firemen required to keep New Haven safe, but he is sticking to his magic number. Still, I’m surprised this analysis comes from one of his few volunteer canvassers.
Finally, please stop making unsupported assertions. Maureen has had an amazing number of volunteers from New Haven. This is entirely consistent with her commitment to undertake the hard work of organizing ward with vibrant civic engagement. It is also worth noting that Stratton’s hiring of canvassers is consistent with his plans to outsource his work as an alder.