Prominent trial lawyer and former city Alder Michael Stratton swung back Wednesday night against a decision by authorities to seek his arrest—blaming his troubles and the warrant on the Harp administration.
The police Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for Stratton (pictured), of the Prospect Hill neighborhood, on charges of third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace. The charges stem from a 1:41 a.m. June 13 police visit to the Kelly House on Temple Street, where Stratton was temporarily living with a 20-year-old woman.
By the accounts of both the woman and Stratton, the woman started assaulting Stratton because he had announced he was breaking off the relationship. Based on those accounts, officers arrested the woman, not Stratton, in the building’s ground-floor lobby.
In a text message sent to the Independent Wednesday evening, Stratton denied the charges. He called the episode political payback for his record of exposing alleged political corruption.
“The truth shall be revealed,” he declared. “I will be vindicated here.”
The state based its decision to charge a former city alder with domestic violence-related assault on a review on surveillance video that allegedly showed Stratton also striking the woman. Authorities have not released the video.
The video emerged in the course of an internal police investigation into how officers handled the June 13 incident.
Police Chief Dean Esserman ordered the investigation when it was discovered that some of them had failed to file a report about visiting the couple’s upstairs apartment and seeing a small amount of marijuana visible. Some of the officers were apparently aware that Stratton, who’s 48, was an alder. (He subsequently resigned his position six months into his first term, citing “family issues,” but vowed to return to politics next year, perhaps to challenge Mayor Toni Harp.)
In the course of the internal affairs probe into the officers’ conduct, investigators noticed the existence of surveillance cameras at Kelly House. They pulled the video from that evening. They allegedly discovered footage of Stratton assaulting the woman. Based on that information, the state’s attorney’s office sought a warrant, which a judge signed. The warrant had not been served as of late Wednesday; police were seeking to make contact with Stratton, who is believed to be out of town, through a third party.
Police have not reinterviewed the woman or Stratton since the original incident. The day of the incident, the woman told the Independent that Stratton had not hit her. He offered a similar version of the incident.
By text message Wednesday evening, Stratton offered the following statement: “I did not act as an aggressor here. I called 911. This is a politically motivated arrest. And the truth shall be revealed. ... They want me down for the count. No such luck. I will be vindicated here. This is shameful conduct on the part of the administration.”
Stratton did not respond to further requests for comment. It could not be determined where he sent the text message from, or whether he would be served with the warrant Thursday.
Police union President Louis Cavaliere Jr. defended the conduct of the officers who responded to the original June 13 incident. He said they had no reason to review surveillance footage.
“The officers felt that they did a thorough job. They responded to an assault in progress. Both parties agreed that one person was the victim and one was the offender. The female said that he was hitting them. The male said I didn’t hit her because I didn’t want to get arrested,” Cavaliere said.
“Obviously the officers didn’t realize there was video. Most of the time you don’t even know.
“When you get into a detective’s position, or internal affairs, they can slow it down. Officers don’t do that. If we go to a crime, we don’t usually ask, unless it was a robbery. It’s an assault. She hit me. I didn’t hit her. She agreed. That’s enough. They made an arrest.”
In a comment posted to an Independent story, dated June 26 at 9:53 p.m., Stratton continued to blame the Harp administration for his troubles—arguing that his opposition to powerful Democrats as an alder led those in power to make his life miserable. (He’s shown in the video clashing with fellow alders at a budget hearing.)
“The machine fought me every step of the way,” Stratton wrote. “My error I underestimated the strength of the current machine. Without a cross city coalition the machine cannot be beat. My life was made a misery for months but I endured until the final budget vote. Now I must pick up the pieces of the personal damage done to me. I recognized this and did the right thing and resigned. It was not a permanent retreat. It is a time for me to take care of what matters most: my kids.
“There is no shame in me dating people who are different than me. And I acted with honor and honesty and kindness. My arrogance or shame is that I thought I could play david to the machines Goliath. That’s hubris. So Once the dust settles from months of abuse done to me personally, I hope to build an enduring coalition of residents who will completely transform this city.”
An earlier version of this story follows:
Warrant Issued For Stratton’s Arrest
First, former Alder Michael Stratton was the alleged victim of an attack on June 13. Now, after a police probe, Stratton himself is accused of assault.
Police announced Wednesday that they had issued a warrant for Stratton’s arrest on charges of third-degree assault and second degree breach of peace.
Police Chief Dean Esserman ordered the investigation to determine whether Stratton, who’s 48, had been given special treatment by cops. The probe looked at why police didn’t write up a report about visiting the woman’s apartment when they responded to the assault. A small amount of marijuana was visible in the apartment but was not seized by cops.
Stratton resigned on June 24 from his seat as alder for Newhallville/Prospect Hill, before news of the June 13 incident broke. Stratton cited family reasons for his resignation. After the police announced their investigation, Stratton announced that he may run for mayor.
Stratton, who is believed to be out of town since he resigned, could not be reached for comment.
Assistant Police Chief Archie Generoso said that the internal investigation produced new “independent” information that signaled that Stratton had used violence, too.
The woman in the incident told police at the scene that she hit Stratton, but he didn’t hit her, according to Generoso. She told the Independent the same account the day of the incident. Police have not interviewed her a second time since the original incident, according to Generoso. He said a different party produced the new information.
“We didn’t know it that night,” Generoso said. He emphasized that the officers at the scene did not cover up any information pointing to Stratton committing a crime.
“The officers at the scene were relying on information we had at the time. They had no reason to disbelieve” the account of Stratton’s live-in partner, Generoso said.
Generoso said the warrant had not been served as of mid-day Wednesday.
After the announcement of the internal investigation into the incident, Stratton text-messaged the Independent his version of what happened that night:
“The woman who attacked me had only known me for a few weeks. She did so after I said I thought the relationship was not something I wished to pursue given the age difference.
“When I attempted to leave she struck me repeatedly I did nothing to resist the attack knowing that even the slightest response would land me in jail and make me equally responsible. After taking 15-25 hits to the the face and body I managed to call 911 and ask for help. I did this to avoid having to physically respond. I did not require medical assistance but I did have several bruises and a swollen lip.
“The police officers who responded asked me very pointed questions and determined I was in fact the victim and had done nothing to cause the assault and nothing to resist it.”
Stratton called the investigation a conspiracy by his political opponents and threatened to launch a campaign to challenge Mayor Toni Harp in 2015.
This is really starting to smell of Machine Oil…..
posted by: ProUnion on July 2, 2014 1:30pm
If this were a domestic violence case involving any other New Haven resident there would’ve never been an “internal police probe into the department’s response to a June 13 incident.” The police department would’ve took the word of both parties and then let the judge decide. Leave Stratton alone and deal with the real crimes.
posted by: robn on July 2, 2014 1:33pm
Wow. Incredibly convenient for the mayor that a surprise witness materialized out of thin air, allowing her house call police chief to arrest a political opponent. Is it the 1970s again?
posted by: Theodora on July 2, 2014 1:39pm
So the man who was a hero to the NHI readers turns out to be a man who is accused of striking a woman young enough to be his daughter. And the weed is a nice touch. Nice work, NHI readers, seems like the Tea Party picks its political figures about as well as you do.
posted by: Atticus Shrugged on July 2, 2014 2:08pm
It’s time for everyone to take a step back and take a breather. This is merely an accusation. There has been no evidence to a jury or judge and we only know the bare facts. To presume guilt or conspiracy at this point is misguided at best.
To find that a political figure was subjected to a higher level of scrutiny goes with the territory of being a public figure. As for the police, if an initial coverup had been made - then this should be investigated. And the police officers should also be suspended or if they did treat Mr. Stratton favorably because of his status. Indeed, I’d like to know if there has been any disciplinary action towards the responding officers or negotiations with the unions on such.
As I am giving Mr. Stratton the benefit of the doubt, Mayor Harp detractors should do the same. Let’s wait until we have sufficient facts to actually begin making comments that we may later have to eat.
posted by: wendy1 on July 2, 2014 2:26pm
I believe Mr. Stratton. I suggest people read the original NHI article about the night in question.
posted by: ILivehere on July 2, 2014 2:32pm
I wonder how much Stratton will sue the city for when this is over? Id guess $500k - $1,000,000
Are they citing anybody for the ‘consipicuous drugs’ the officer’s failed to include in the report, or was that, as Hitchcock would call it, “The Macguffin”?
posted by: Theodora on July 2, 2014 5:51pm
So. Will you all accept VIDEO FOOTAGE of a 48-year-old man assaulting a 20-year-old woman? Or are you going to continue to blame the Mayor?
Y’all are really starting to sound like the Tea Party.
Also, if there is footage of a middle-aged man assaulting a young black woman, do you think he has a chance of ever being elected for anything (other than some post up in East Rock?)
posted by: cupojoe on July 2, 2014 5:56pm
Paul, what does the misleading footage from the alder aldercation - I say misleading because it caught about 10% of the exchange - have to do with this news story?
New Haven IndePOST… next thing you’ll be having stories about Trump and the kardasians…
I still want to know if the BOE is really overpaying by 112M. No one in this city will give the citizens the straight answer…
[Paul: The video was put in to illustrate Stratton’s point about the intensity of his conflicts with his opponents this year.]
posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on July 2, 2014 10:08pm
That video was put there to sensationalize this story AND to cement further Paul’s position with what has come to be known as “The Machine” here in New Haven. Neither Paul nor this publication are independent. He and it serve has a not-so-stealth mouthpiece for the power elite in this city.
The qoutes stapled on to the end of the July 2nd story are only tangentially connected to the reporting done then, i.e. they are not necessary to report the story and only serve as tacit justification for the video, whose purpose is anything but making Stratton’s point more vivid.
Any reader here who believes that a person’s personal issues should dictate how his/her public views should be judged, critiqued, accepted, or rejected is not worthy of serious consideration.
This nation accepts, with enthusiasm, the public views of men who wrote that “All men are created equal” while those same men were enslaving Africans in their personal lives. Clearly, we can look beyond, and even condemn, personal failings without denying the legitimacy of political views.
posted by: Champ358 on July 3, 2014 7:24am
The Strattonfiles seem to have abandoned all of their critical abilities. Where is the conspiracy to bring him down except in his own doing? He made himself the center of attention by using his elected office as a megaphone for self-aggrandizement. Glass houses and all that.
posted by: darnell on July 3, 2014 9:00am
I don’t know if I have ever disagreed with Mr. Ross-Lee, but this story will be the time that I do. Mr. Stratton is keeping this story alive by continuing to blame everyone else. I know how tough it is to fight the power, I did it for TWO years as an alder. Sure, the long hours can be straining to any relationship, but you figure out how to make it work. This idea that after 6 months somehow his marriage was destroyed by his “fight against the power” is an excuse that doesn’t hold water.
That somehow his political battles forced him into the bed of a young lady more than 20 years his junior, well, is a crock. And, BTW, I’d like to know more about how those two end up together. Was he her lawyer, and she was protecting that relationship (free legal help) by lying for him. Seems like a charge of false statements.
And how convenient was it resign “to save his marriage” a few days before the real story of the domestic with his girlfriend came out. If he were honest and smart, he would have told the truth when he resigned, folks would have more compassion.
I’m not throwing stones, my wife and I had a very public argument after a long and exhausting drive from Florida that became very public when I served, but I didn’t blame it on anyone but we two, and resolved it that way. And of course, we can’t forget the bogus criminal trespassing arrest that was beyond ridiculous.
This idea that a police department that didn’t even want to arrest him in the first place is now on some sort of witch hunt is unbelievable. Stratton will not win any public opinion polls by continuing to blame everyone else for his failings. Harp and the police didn’t manufacture the tape, and a mere 6 months of politics didn’t destroy his marriage.
My unsolicited advice to Mr. Stratton; admit your failings, apologize to the young lady, your wife and your children, and disappear from the public eye while you resolve whatever issues you may have.
posted by: Pantagruel on July 3, 2014 9:25am
“Also, if there is footage of a middle-aged man assaulting a young black woman, do you think he has a chance of ever being elected for anything (other than some post up in East Rock?)”
Not the most helpful comment.
posted by: robn on July 3, 2014 9:42am
Your putting political weight on “a middle-aged (white) man assaulting a young black woman” suggests deep racism within the AA community in New Haven.
posted by: Paul Wessel on July 3, 2014 10:23am
If nothing else, the timing of Strattongate is great.
Arts and Ideas just ended, the US is out of the World Cup and that tennis thing in Westville (Sorry, I forget the latest sponsor) hasn’t started yet.
Can we use Pitkin Plaza as the venue for the next chapter?
posted by: HewNaven on July 3, 2014 10:56am
Thank you for the comment. I think you can relate to the struggle of ‘a lone wolf’ fighting off ‘the machine’ more than most others. I’m glad you held it together and I hope Stratton will learn to do the same. He needs to learn humility, as we all do.
posted by: Theodora on July 3, 2014 12:33pm
@Panta — Not the most helpful comment.
I don’t think that folks trying to protect Stratton, whose arrest warrant is reportedly based on video evidence of him assaulting a young woman, is all that helpful either. And, on balance, since the vast majority of the comments fall on Stratton’s side, I don’t think it is out of line.
posted by: Theodora on July 3, 2014 1:08pm
Yeah… I can’t get to the point where you are. I can’t see any defense for his behavior on three or four levels, including the video of him being disrespectful to his fellow alders.
Here’s what I see from the comments…
A 48-year-old man with a proven record of rude behavior allegedly strikes a 20-year-old woman, with whom he is in a relationship, at 2 am… on video….
If you all want to debate demographic data that’s one thing, but to speak of the ‘black’ or ‘white’ community within New Haven, as if either were a cohesive movement with an identifiable agenda, is moronic, or at least short-sighted and divisive and not at all constructive. Go back and start over.
posted by: robn on July 3, 2014 1:49pm
Second time you’ve mentioned race. What’s that got to do with it?
I was thinking the same thing. It harkens back, timing wise, to my ridiculous arrest in “WORLD CUP VILLAGE’ two years ago.
Maybe The City is practicing some Sacrificial Rite in honor of Summer….
posted by: 32knot on July 3, 2014 2:23pm
What does the Tea Party have to do with this incident?? again it seems when a dispute breaks out among the Democrats the rallying cry is Blame the Republicans!!! who are almost non-existant in New Haven.
It is also very wrong to label the Gadsden flag a symbol of racism. It has an honored place in this country’s history. Just because you don’t like the politics of some who have lately flown it, don’t link it to the Stars and Bars which is definetly linked to racism.
posted by: yim-a on July 3, 2014 3:26pm
No winners in this ugly scene.
I like Stratton, but very poor judgement for someone in the public eye, considering a run for mayor.
Are all domestic violence cases reviewed individually by Chief Esserman? If they are, then no foul play involved. But if Chief Esserman’s actions in the case were more aggressive or hands-on then normal, then politics is at work. And that’s pretty dirty business, if you ask me.
posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on July 3, 2014 3:38pm
In the United States race always matters. Interracial controversies are magnified far beyond issues involving two or more people of the same race. That is just an American fact! For example, let us reverse this scenario. A 48 year old African American politician, engaged in an extramarital affair with a 20 year old white woman, assaults her in a domestic dispute. Imagine the different reaction in peoples’ hearts if not their voices. Race shouldn’t matter, but it does. A woman, a human being was assaulted here. In fact two people assaulted each other and both lied to the police about it. I have no respect or sympathy for Michael Stratton. He not only has lied to his wife and children, he has lied to the public. Instead of standing up like a man and taking full responsibility for his own actions which have propelled him into this hot mess, he blames the stresses of his six month political career for destroying his marriage and the Harp administration for slandering his good name and ruining his political career because he was a major critic of the mayor. Who forced Stratton to engage in this affair? Who made the woman attack Stratton? Who made Stratton engage in mutual combat? Toni Harp? Friends and supporters of Stratton may be inclined to believe that the mayor and the police chief are engaged in a grand conspiracy to destroy Stratton, but Stratton has proven by his deeds and words that he is fully capable of doing just that all by himself. The video will speak for itself, for Stratton and his ex-girlfriend. Will Strattonites then say that the police department, the mayor and “the Machine,” doctored the video to make their man look bad? Many of Stratton’s political views and criticisms may have been valid. His arrogance, volatile temper, and flip-flopping on certain issues during his very brief political career cause one to question his leadership qualities and capabilities. He appeared to be a divider not a uniter. Micheal Stratton will never be mayor of this city.
posted by: Theodora on July 3, 2014 7:14pm
I think race is an issue, particularly with the NHI commentators who demonized Harp when she ran against the party-snubbing Elicker and now many are demonizing her because a 48-year-old man allegedly struck a 20-year-old woman.
So, yes, you sound like the “Blame Obama” crowd on a much more local scale. How about this. How about you ask your boy Stratton to man up and quit blaming others for his ridiculous indiscretions (which are being treated as if they were indeed CRIMES)?
Yes, when you are a dead-ender trying to protect him, you might as well pick up a Gadsden flag and start screaming “Benghazi!” because the behavior is identical.
posted by: Don in New Haven on July 3, 2014 11:31pm
Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) gave Stratton the best advice long ago,
“A man’s got to know his limitations…”
If Stratton could not survive 6 months as an Alderman, how could we ever imagine that he could survive as a Mayor.
No, he must fold his tent and steal away into the night.
He wasted a splendid opportunity and now it’s gone.
The incident occurred on June 13, which was Friday the 13th, just to remind those who are superstitious.
Not to jump the shark on this one, but do any of you realize what ‘third degree assault’ actually is? Even the slightest defense in an attack could be construed as such. Surveillance footage often leaves more questions than it answers….
I guess we will have to wait to see this ‘Smoking Gun’ evidence, but my guess is, we never will…..
posted by: NewHaven06513 on July 4, 2014 10:39am
Stratton keeping fighting the machine! If they push back we will push too! We support you and need honest/real people running this city!
posted by: HhE on July 4, 2014 11:24am
For the sake of argument, let us assume that everything Mr. Stratton is accused of is true, and that it is only the tip of the iceberg. Let us imagine that this affair had been going on for years, and that there were others. What if he smoked weed regularly, and tried other illicit drugs. Assume he funneled moneys away from his family, and towards a mistress. Perhaps this young woman felt she had to cover for him, and took all the blame. Add anything else you should like.
None of that can take away from the fundamental truth that Alderman Stratton stood up against corruption, cronyism, and waste, and stood up for transparency, best practices, and the allocation of limited resources to help those who most needed it. Alderman Stratton also did a lot to unify both sides of Prospect Hill. He did this at great personal cost.
He is now going to pay for these mistakes he has made, as will others wholly innocent. I am sad for it: the ability of good people to do bad things, our ability to hurt each other, and to keep making mistakes.
I am also sad for New Haven. I think our city is in grave danger, and no one has successfully stood up to The Machine, and got our house in order. Jeffery was able to get Mayor Desteffino to stop phoning it in, brought back community policing, and proved that the Mayor was vulnerable. Justin scared the establishment enough to convince The Machine to put up Sen. Harp as a candidate. Mike shined a bright light on waste. But that is far as any of them got, and I do not know of anyone else who stands ready. Maybe in two or four years, Mr. Carolina might have a go – now there is a candidate I would be happy to stand behind.
I am saddened and worried that in New Haven, people who advocate for fiscal responsibility are dismissed as “Tea Party.” Let us be clear, there is nothing fiscally responsible about The Tea Party and its mantra “Cut taxes, cut spending, cut my taxes.” I am distressed and put off by how posters are protecting
posted by: swatty on July 4, 2014 12:31pm
good words, and still I find myself, like others, wanting to hear from some person or org in the city that can tell us if anything Stratton was telling us is the truth.
There is no call for the Truth here. I can understand Harp administration not making waves - they are the shills for Malloy and his money piles.
But where is the investigative reporting? This level of budgetary waste - if it is true - could win someone a Pulitzer if they would simply do a little digging.
It seems we no longer care about the Truth. Perhaps Stratton is also working to get something from Harp? Nemerson, Paca, James, all these folks are political cronies simply out to get a place at the table where political favored slops are being served for services rendered.
At least it seems that way to me - especially with the latest job for completely unqualified Paca.
Perhaps what is more alarming is quality of cronyism that we are be subjugated to. As in, this is the best Harp has in her pocket.
Ultimately we deserve all this for allowing the city to turn into a one-party city where union activates with money and foot soldiers to install a power structure that promises said union brothers and sisters a piece of the pie at the expense of the rest of the city.
What’s with Stratton’s text messaging? He’s a lawyer; he should know that he mustn’t say anything until he’s spoken to—a lawyer. (On a more serious note, I have to agree with everything HhE has posted above; he just beat me to it…)
posted by: Brutus2011 on July 5, 2014 5:13pm
I cannot fathom how some folks cannot see that former Alder Stratton is being smeared by those who fear his call for a vigorous financial accounting of the BOE and NHPS.
Keep paying those high taxes and keep your heads in the sand.
Hey, wanna buy a bridge?
posted by: robn on July 5, 2014 9:51pm
If commenters criticized a 50 year old black man for dating a 20 year old white woman or , for the purposes of gender equity, let’s say a 50 year old black woman dating a 20 year old white man, critics would be vilified as racist. So take a look in the mirror racists and learn this lesson: Interracial dating=non issue Inter generational dating=non issue Domestic violence=issue
With all of the varied and disparate stories of ‘guy/girl’ fights that have appeared here in the last week or so, I just urge people to take notice, think, and understand everything is not black and white….
posted by: accountability on July 7, 2014 10:06pm
Hhe and Swatty:
There isn’t any investigative reporting because Stratton has no idea what he’s talking about. The idea that there’s $100 million (a number that Stratton constantly changes) just floating out there to be captured is a complete fantasy.
Is there waste in the schools budget? Of course. In the city budget? Sure.
Is Stratton pulling baloney out of his hindquarters? You bet.
This is an East Rock and Westville fantasy. Goes like this:
“The various machines are corrupt and incompetent.
Therefor, by definition, there must be gazillions of dollars in waste out there if only it could be captured.
To capture it, we need a person like us—rich trial lawyer, former foreign service officer from the suburbs—to straighten things out.
There simply MUST be gazillions of dollars out there that can be captured easily. I know there must. Because I’m so smart, and the people like me are so smart that if we just put someone like me (not me exactly, because I’m kind of busy with [insert career]) in charge, they would deliver the services that I want and the policies I want without me having to pay more taxes.
Because I don’t want to pay more taxes.”
I couldn’t care less what happened between these two people, save that once the process is finished I expect the result to sort out who is telling the truth among the parties and the police.
What is outrageous is that even as the rest of his life falls apart, Stratton’s utterly mindless demagoguery lives on.
We’re a small city with high unemmployment, a narrow tax base because of the amount of exempt property, very high energy costs and extreme poverty. Add it all up and you get budget problems. There aren’t any simple answers. Save in Stratton’s brain.
posted by: robn on July 8, 2014 6:35am
Since the union smear machine is obviously in full gear, including your misquotes of Stratton and your libelous accusations of arrogance against some of our hard working city neighborhoods here are some facts. (You can read Strattons words yourself at the link below)
Stratton identified accounting improprieties in which millions of dollars of BOE spending was booked as a city expenditure instead of a BOE expenditure. This fraudulently misrepresents education costs to taxpayers and also lowers state reimbursement.
Harp, Looney and Walker allowed PILOT to decline to historically low levels to divert funding to their own pet projects.
The union dominated BOA clearly and very publicly tried to muzzle Stratton.
The ruling BOA coalition is run primarily by outsiders from the suburbs (are you really going to make me link to the many many file photos showing Union boss Bob Proto lurking around public functions?)
This all remains the truth even if Stratton has personal problems.
posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on July 8, 2014 6:59am
Politics aside. I have absolutely no respect for any man that puts his hand on a woman. Furthermore, the idea that the Harp administration is connected with this dumb decision to be embroiled with a woman outside of your own wife was Stratton’s not Toni’s. I’m accountable to everything I say and do. When I feel as though I’ve wronged someone, I apologize. When I feel as though I didn’t, I don’t. True leadership is about admitting when you are wrong even when it hurts. And Stratton is dead wrong to blame the Harp administration for his indiscretions.
I recently admired this man for his ability to stand up and fight the wrongness of the Democratic Party. But his inability to stand up and fight the wrongness within himself is both inexplicable and hypercritical.
Any man that puts his hand on a woman is a punk. And if the footage of Stratton striking this young woman does exist, I don’t think it’ll show the “Harp administration” in the background egging him on.
posted by: swatty on July 8, 2014 8:00am
no offense, but you comment puts us back in he said / she said land.
I’d prefer an official investigation.
posted by: Noteworthy on July 8, 2014 10:42am
Your excuse laden comments on the city budget show two things: A callous disregard for taxpayers and a remarkable lack of understanding of the city budget and its history. Is there $100 million of waste and fraud at the NHPS or across all city budgets? No.
What there is though, is a gross and offensive history of understating educational costs; a chronic and fatiguing practice of treating taxpayers like human ATMs coupled with a complete lack of expense controls or discipline. It amounts to tens of millions of dollars per year.
Our city finances are not a mess because of poverty or the non-profits. Many of the non-profits actually do the work that government may otherwise have to do. However, in Connecticut there is a mechanism for the loss of property taxes - PILOT - and the fact is, Harp, Looney, Sharkey, Walker and the rest of the New Haven delegation have spent money what should have been delegated to PILOT on new programs (like EITC welfare) and other pets. Combine that with gross spending from small to large - armed chauffeurs for Harp @ $200,000, over-paid grants writer @ $116,000, a new car for Harp @ $40,000, a Spanish speaking receptionist for Harp @ $40,000 and virtually unlimited overtime at the NHFD and the NHPD at more than $200,000 PER WEEK, and $85,000,000 or $50,000,000 new schools, you pick - you have one gigantic freaking mess. Add millions in HR related legal settlements.
This has been going a long time and frankly I’m disgusted by it and by those who think nothing can be cut, that those of us who worry about our ability to pay a fast growing tax bill and hundreds of millions in unfunded pension promises are only out to cut our taxes in East Rock or Westville. The truth is the BOR could grow a pair and get a math understanding today and lower spending, our taxes would have to remain right where it is just to dig out and create fiscal health.
posted by: HhE on July 8, 2014 6:57pm
Accountability, there are a number of problems with your claims and argument.
There is no investigative reporting because there are no investigative reporters. The investigative reporter desks and sections of new papers and TV stations are gone as not profitable. Paul Bass is not going to do it I opine because of his worldview, occasionally expressed here, but more strongly said on NPR (where I opine he goes to say what he will not say in these pages): political machines are needed to run a city, thus political machines are good. This is an ironic position for an editor of a newspaper that uses no paper. I put it to you, Mr. Bass and accountability, even if something is needed, it is not always good; prisons come to mind.
The machines are corrupt and incompetent, as is repeatedly demonstrated. No one is claiming “gazillions of dollars” in savings, which is not even a real number. But in a city of scare resources and great needs, waste is very destructive.
Your comment “a person like us” accuses me of racism without any evidence. Let us be clear, I supported Gary Holder-Winfield with the maximum donation to his exploratory committee and his primary campaign, as well as speaking for him in these pages.
I am not qualified to by Mayor, nor could I bring legal or accounting training to the BoA. I do not have an MBA, legal degree, or the like.
I have the means to pay my taxes (my house, my ex-wife’s house; which I own be she has exclusive use of, and the house I am comprehensively remolding in order to rent), but I know people who struggle to do so, and I do not doubt that our taxes deter investment and opportunities for our city.
Put it another way, if you offered me a suburban tax rate, which would cut my tax bill in half, or a Celintano that was as every bit as good a typical Connecticut suburban school, I would choose the latter without hesitation. My real tax bill is the school tax I pay to Foote each year to the tune of $48,000.
posted by: HhE on July 8, 2014 7:03pm
I choose to live in New Haven and not suburbia in large part because I did not wish to live in a place where most everyone looked just like me, and I certainly did not wish to raise children in a world where minorities were a novelty and not a given.
You forget in your assessment of our budget problems that we are in Connecticut, where the towns dominate, and off load their problems onto the cities. That, and how our city is treated like a carcass for vultures and hyenas to pick over, is the greater problem.
posted by: McKitt on July 9, 2014 1:16pm
Robn, I’m not sure I agree that this statement is accurate:
“Stratton identified accounting improprieties in which millions of dollars of BOE spending was booked as a city expenditure instead of a BOE expenditure. This fraudulently misrepresents education costs to taxpayers and also lowers state reimbursement.”
A simple glance at the Board of Education budget shows the full expenditure on the Board of Education and demonstrates an amount consistent with other municipalities in the state (relative to the total budget). The budget includes all expenses for the school system. Full stop.
The problem arises with the reporting of the New Haven city budget, where all pension/debt service/benefit payments for all departments are lumped together, so it does not clearly delineate the contributions to the BoE.
If this accounting practice does, in fact, reduce the reimbursement for the state, that is certainly a huge problem. If you have a good source that explains that process, please share it.
Otherwise, confusing accounting aside, there does not seem to be anything particularly criminal going on.
Replace “booked” with “represented to the public” and we’re in agreement.
I’d love for the discussion state reimbursement to be clarified also but as soon as Stratton brought this to light, the BOA union coalition made every effort to either avoid the discussion or to censor him.