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Amid Taunts, Harp Goes 3 For 7 On New Staffers

by Thomas MacMillan | Apr 1, 2014 8:03 am

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

Posted to: City Hall, City Budget

After six hours of painstaking budget deliberations, an argument over adding new staff to the mayor’s office reached its rhetorical peak:

“You should be embarrassed!”

“No, you should be embarrassed!”

Those nuanced arguments—along with threats of legal action or payback at the polls—erupted Monday at midnight in City Hall, between Alder Mike Stratton, on one side, and Alders Jorge Perez and Andrea Jackson-Brooks on the other.

It only got more personal from there, until Stratton stormed out of the Aldermanic Chamber. Click the play arrow to see a sample. It was the second time he and Jackson-Brooks have gotten into a public shouting match.

The outburst of yelling ended what had been a cordial and exhaustive discussion of a number of budget matters facing the city, conducted by the Board of Alders Finance Committee.

Among other items on the agenda Monday night, the committee considered the question of whether Mayor Toni Harp should be able to add seven new positions to the current fiscal year’s budget, including a new, $256,000 four-person grant-writing department. It was that question that led to the shouting match.

Amid the raised voices, the Finance Committee voted to recommend an amended proposal, one that would add only three positions to the current year’s budget — a director of minority and small business development, a bilingual receptionist in the mayor’s office, and a lone director of development to oversee outsourced grant-writing.

The amended proposal is now headed to the full Board of Alders for a final vote.

Grants

Mayor Harp seeks to create seven new positions:

• A bilingual receptionist in the mayor’s office.
• A new “legislative director” in the mayor’s office.
• A director of small and minority business development, in the economic development office.
• And a four-person “Office of Development and Policy” within the mayor’s office.

The development office would be in charge of grant writing, with an aim of bringing in more money to the city than it would cost to run. Proponents of the new office say that it would be a way to bring much-needed revenue into the city, revenue that the city currently doesn’t have enough resources to go after. Opponents say that it’s irresponsible to add new positions at a time when city taxpayers are facing a possible tax hike; and that in any case the office doesn’t need four positions .

Monday evening’s meeting was the third at which the Finance Committee had considered a mayoral proposal for new positions.

In February, the Finance Committee tabled the mayor’s request, seeking more information on why seven new people are needed, and how the city would pay for them.

At a March 20 meeting, the committee grilled administration officials about a related request: the mayor’s creation of the new positions as part of her proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Her $511 million budget would raise property taxes by 3.8 percent.

At Monday’s meeting, the Finance Committee returned to the proposal for the current fiscal year, the one discussed at the February meeting.

Tomas Reyes, the mayor’s chief of staff, and Michael Harris (at left in photo), her legislative liaison, returned armed with answers to questions asked by skeptical alders at the two previous meetings.

Harris said the mayor’s office looked at other cities with grant-writing offices and found each is similar to the mayor’s proposal. The directors of other cities’ departments have salaries close to the proposed $116,000 annual salary the mayor proposes.

Harris said he had, at East Rock Alder Anna Festa’s request, looked into the cost of contracting out grant writing, and found it to be as or more expensive than having an in-house office.

Alder Stratton (pictured) said his own research showed that a “grants manager” typically earns about $61,000, not six figures.

“The grants manager is the person who manages a grant once it comes in,” said Harris. That’s the person working underneath a “development director.”

Harris and Reyes faced questions from Stratton and Festa about the possibility of starting off with a smaller office, or contractors, or starting with a smaller salary for the director. Harris responded that New Haven will be competing with cities like Bridgeport, Hartford, and Stamford for grant money, and those cities have full departments, with well-paid staff. “We don’t want to be outgunned.”

Outsourcing the work could end up being more expensive, and the city needs to have a dedicated staff that will build institutional knowledge, Harris said.

Spanish

On the other positions, Reyes (pictured) and Harris also faced some push back.

Reyes said the mayor needs a bilingual receptionist to communicate with the city’s growing Spanish-speaking population, and to help handle the large number of phone calls and communications the mayor’s office receives every day.

Stratton asked about the possibility of simply moving a bilingual staffer in from another department, to swap places with a monolingual receptionist.

Even if that were possible, the mayor’s office needs more receptionists to handle communication, Reyes said.

Reyes said the legislative director is needed to “make sure we’re getting as much as we can from the [state] General Assembly.”

Hill Alder Jorge Perez, president of the board, said the city already has staffers working on lobbying state and federal lawmakers.

“You’re asking us to create a position that personally I don’t think the justification has been made to do,” Perez said.

On the small and minority business development director, Reyes said that position “would be providing a service that the mayor talked about in her campaign and is a major plank in her platform now, to make sure we do as much as we can as a city to help small and minority businesses,” Reyes said.

The small and minority business development director would be paid from funds that were set aside for loans to small businesses. That “revolving loan fund” never worked out, said Harris. The city realized it could develop small business more effectively not simply through money but through the advice and guidance of a dedicated staffer.

The money in the revolving loan fund would pay for the new director through to the end of the fiscal year 2014-2015.

The other six positions would be paid until the end of the current fiscal year by “unrestricted residual” grant money. After that, if approved as part of the mayor’s proposed 14-15 budget, they would be general fund positions.

3, Not 7

At the end of the evening, Alder Perez (pictured) proposed an amendment to the mayor’s proposal. Perez’s plan would create the minority and small business position using money from the revolving load fund. It would also use $156,094 residual grant money to hire a bilingual receptionist and a director of development and policy for the rest of the current fiscal year. The residual grant money could also be used by the new development director to contract grant writers.

Perez’s plan would not create a new legislative director position, and would make the grant-writing office a one-person affair, a sort of hybrid of in-house and outsourced labor, at least for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Stratton spoke up against hiring any new staff. He said Detroit, before the city declared bankruptcy, had a 50:1 ratio of residents to municipal employees. “That’s why they went under.” On a recent list of the highest ratios, he said, Washington, D.C., was near the top, at 25:1. New Haven’s ratio is 26:1, Stratton said.

“We are way overstaffed,” Stratton said. “These positions are not necessary.”

The city already has staff who work on small business development, he said. And the proposed salary for the grant-writing director is “outrageous.”

To propose a tax hike and new positions is “unconscionable,” said Alder Festa (pictured). She said she wouldn’t mind hiring a single grant writer, “but not for that salary.”

“The new mayor wants to put her fingerprint on city policy,” Perez said. And the new positions will not affect the mill rate. (They would be paid for in the current fiscal year by existing special funds, and, if approved, in the coming fiscal year, through the elimination of other positions in the budget.)

At the end of the day, the new positions amount to one-half of 1 percent of the city’s budget, Perez said.

We’re taking money meant for small businesses and “giving it to pay the salary of someone who is probably politically connected,” Stratton said, referring to the small and minority business development director, who is expected to be former Democratic Town Chair Jackie James.

Stratton began to speak about the mayor’s denial of a library request to have a Spanish-speaking citywide Latino-outreach staffer, while adding a bilingual receptionist to her own office. Perez interrupted to tell Stratton he was “speaking out of both sides of your mouth.”

Just last week, Perez said, Stratton called for half a million dollars to be cut from the library.

Perez and Stratton started shouting at each other.

“You should be embarrassed!” Stratton said. “It’s disgusting.”

“You should be embarrassed!” Perez shot back.

Someone called for a vote while the shouting continued. Alders Jackson-Brooks, Perez, Jeanette Morrison, Al Paolillo, Jessica Holmes, Evette Hamilton and Dolores Colon voted to approve Perez’s motion. Alders Festa and Stratton voted against.

Jackson-Brooks, the chair, gaveled the meeting closed, but the acrimony continued. She and Stratton both said the other should be embarrassed. Then Stratton accused Jackson-Brooks of “living off of core government” her whole life.

“Buddy, you better be careful,” Jackson-Brooks said. She threatened to set a lawyer on Stratton.

“She’s the chair,” Morrison told Stratton. “You should just walk away. ... Just cut it off.”

As he left the chamber, Stratton said, “We’ll see who has the better argument in 2015.”

 

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posted by: Threefifths on April 1, 2014  8:52am

People wake up.This is what happens when you have one party rule.Again we Need Term Limts and IRV voting and Proportional Representation.

posted by: anonymous on April 1, 2014  9:06am

Perez is right that in the long run, giving six figure salaries to a few politically connected people doesn’t have a huge impact on the budget. The problem is more the message that it sends to city workers, who typically earn around $25,000 to $35,000 per year and have been seeing their rents and property taxes (the two are closely related) increasing by double digits on an annualized basis over the past decade.

posted by: robn on April 1, 2014  9:08am

Bottom line; the city is overstaffed by a significant ratio compared with other cities (before ALEX opens his cakehole, that include adding in county governments in other states). We don’t need to give campaign volunteers sweetheart positions that department heads are already supposed to be doing.

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on April 1, 2014  9:18am

What could’ve been an impressive effort to represent the people of New Haven and promote meaningful change has quickly dissolved into little more than posturing and theatrics. How ridiculous that the people we elected care more about grabbing camera (or cellphone, or YouTube, or social media, etc) time than actually being about the work of running this city. Both sides should be ashamed

posted by: rainbowdog on April 1, 2014  9:28am

Please Justin or Mike run.  When will New Haven be tired of the same old same old?  It never ceases to amaze me how such a intellectually smart city can be so opposed to debate of any sort or is it just when people point out the truth. Mike, thank you for speaking the truth.

posted by: Westville voter on April 1, 2014  9:34am

When the response to hard questions is threats and name calling, it is a clear indication that the answers will prove embarrassing and/or scandalous. Watch the video. Jackson-Brooks’ attitude is disturbingly entitled, and illustrates why we cannot trust the new/old machine. The mere fact that someone with her scandalous baggage chairs the finance committee is itself cause for alarm.

posted by: firethistime on April 1, 2014  9:46am

“...the better argument in 2015” sounds like a good campaign slogan.

posted by: Noteworthy on April 1, 2014  9:56am

Meeting Notes:

1. Jackson Brooks does not like Stratton, doesn’t like his pointed, targeted questions or his research that shows gaping holes in the finance committee’s understanding/performance which frankly has been going on for a long time. Her disdain for Stratton shows up when she tries to cut off his questions on testimony from the public or city staffers.

2. These meetings, including the public hearing component, is supposed to be about questions and conversations and presentations. The person who should back off is Jackson Brooks. Perez made it worse.

3. Lost in the drama, is the approval of a minority and small business director - a completely gratuitous position, which according to the Register, is earmarked for Jackie James - who has as best I can tell - absolutely ZERO expertise is the area of business development.

4. Worse, New Haven is surrounded by excellent organizations that can provide small business support including its own Economic Development department under Nemerson; the Economic Development Corporation funded by Yale; the CT Development Authority and excellent Small Business Administration offices and lenders. This is duplicative, unnecessary, a waste of money and resources and adds head counts to the city’s payroll at a time when we can’t afford the ones we have.

5. The grant writing position may be ok, but at a salary of $116K plus 55% in benefits - the compensation factor is asinine.

6. As a taxpayer, I could care less if Toni Harp wants to put her fingerprint on city policy as Perez notes. Adding employees is not a policy position - it’s spending money. Perez should walk down the street and ask the people in his ward to each contribute $20 so the mayor can expand her staff and see what they have to say about it.

posted by: grounded on April 1, 2014  10:09am

I voted for Toni Harp, I’ve been doing my best to see her administration in the best light possible, but, if Jackie James gets that job, I may just jump on the One City Henry bandwagon, which I assume will be rolling through town again in 2015.  And not just because I miss Xavier.

posted by: ILivehere on April 1, 2014  10:14am

Jackson-Brooks pays $2,578.98 in property taxes so even if taxes go up by 5% its the equivalent of a dinner out. That is why she doesn’t get it. It doesn’t effect her. Mean while Stratton pays $40,149.66 so 5% for him is $2,007.45.

posted by: Public-Inefficiencies on April 1, 2014  10:26am

To all the Alders who approved the revised plan:  You should be ashamed of yourselves! 

And Mr Perez, you should be most ashamed for the following comments:

“The new mayor wants to put her fingerprint on city policy,” Perez said. And the new positions will not affect the mill rate. (They would be paid for in the current fiscal year by existing special funds, and, if approved, in the coming fiscal year, through the elimination of other positions in the budget.

At the end of the day, the new positions amount to one-half of 1 percent of the city’s budget, Perez said.

So, it’s OK to give Mayor Harp more staff so she feels better and because it costs so little?  We should be looking to save money instead of spending more, no matter how much it costs. 

Here are the stats again.  New Haven has the 2nd highest employee/resident ratio in CT…
CT City stats:
2011. Hartford. http://www.usa.com/hartford-ct-government.htm
42.1 Municipal Government Employees per Thousand Residents.
$2,376.1 Annual Municipal Government Payroll Burden per Resident.

2011. New Haven. http://www.usa.com/new-haven-ct-government.htm
38.7 Municipal Government Employees per Thousand Residents.
$2,199.5 Annual Municipal Government Payroll Burden per Resident

2011.  Norwalk http://www.usa.com/norwalk-ct-government.htm
32.1 Municipal Government Employees per Thousand Residents.
$1,818.9 Annual Municipal Government Payroll Burden per Resident.

2011. Stamford. http://www.usa.com/stamford-ct-government.htm
31.1 Municipal Government Employees per Thousand Residents.
$1,951.2 Annual Municipal Government Payroll Burden per Resident

2011. Bridgeport. http://www.usa.com/bridgeport-ct-government.htm
29.4 Municipal Government Employees per Thousand Residents.
$1,894.6 Annual Municipal Government Payroll Burden per Resident.cp

2011 New London. http://www.usa.com/new-London-ct-government.htm
27.6 Municipal Government Employees per Thousand Residents.
$1,590.3 Annual Municipal Government Payroll Burden

posted by: TaxBreak on April 1, 2014  10:28am

As a homeowner, I’m happy with the effort to restore PILOT funding that the Board of Alders supports.  But I don’t want to lose city services just to save a few bucks.  I support the approval of these positions. 

And Stratton is all over the place - first cut the library, then support it.  First cut the fire department, then support it.  This flip-flopping and these outbursts are totally unprofessional.  It seems like a different stunt each meeting and not a serious effort to improve things for real.

posted by: Paperless on April 1, 2014  10:34am

The more Stratton and Festa speak, I must say they are really on target regarding the budget..It’s good to see some Alders really no their jobs by making the rest of the residents become more pro-active by thinking about what people are voting on because they promise others favors in their political circle..I really have a problem with career political people, with their arrogance because their constitutes keep voting them in without questioning their ability to do their job and truly don’t have all best interest at heart but a choose few.. Their should be a competence test for all politicians before they run for office. We the people pay the price when they get caught up with their personal agenda such, as more taxes to pay for theses position. Knowingly that the city has money problem what reasonable person would want to propose all of these new position on taxpayers as if we are their personal ATM machine.. If the taxpayers are becoming more frugal to pay our taxes and bills so should the people we elected for office..We voted for them to eliminate the fiscal problem not to create more havoc on the city taxpayers… I’m just tired of their I will do what I want to attitude without any real concern for the taxpayers!!!!!

posted by: Theodora on April 1, 2014  10:41am

Wow. Where are the grown-ups? Looks like a flush of the alderpersons is in order.

posted by: LookOut on April 1, 2014  10:43am

It is clear that Jackson Brooks is getting worried….the People’s Caucus is exposing the ongoing incompetence of the Finance Committee which does not reflect well on her.  It seems that her only responses are personal attacks.  When will the people (taxpayers) of New Haven decide that they’re had enough?

posted by: Eddie on April 1, 2014  10:44am

I firmly believe in reasoned political debate over differing goals and priorities.  But seeking attention by hurling personal insults, casting shallow judgments upon the entire lives of others, and throwing a tantrum is not reasoned political debate.  It is disgusting and Mike Stratton needs to apologize.

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on April 1, 2014  11:02am

“She’s the chair,” Morrison told Stratton. “You should just walk away. ... Just cut it off.”

The powers that be would like to see Mike Stratton walk away. The taxpayers want him to stand his ground. He is challenging the status quo, and power does not like to be challenged.

Thank you Mike Stratton for fighting for the taxpayers of New Haven, and Thank you NHI for reporting on these important issues.

posted by: HewNaven on April 1, 2014  11:11am

Jackson-Brooks is not exactly a squeaky-clean figure at City Hall. She is attached to at least one Destefano scandal:

On Jun. 10, the New Haven Advocate revealed that DeStefano had approved a loan to Executive Assistant Andrea Jackson-Brooks that violated federal policies. The terms of the $58,750, interest-free loan required no payments for 10 years and forgave half the sum at the time of payment. The money belonged to New Haven’s federally-sponsored Livable City Initiative (LCI), a program organized by DeStefano to assist low-income families.

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

posted by: alex on April 1, 2014  11:52am

ROBN,

Do you have any statistics showing that New Haven is overstaffed given no county government, or are you talking out of your “cakehole” (your word, not mine)?

New Haven is understaffed. It’s ridiculous that we’re debating about whether the city should have a fully staffed grant writing office.

posted by: HewNaven on April 1, 2014  11:58am

To all the people arguing that we have a high resident to employee ration:

Your reasoning is unsound. Given a high resident to employee ration, it does not follow that we should restrict ALL new hiring. Rather, one could argue that we should be much more discriminatory about who we pay to work for the city, and what we are expecting them to do, and how often that position is assessed. In my opinion, having a grant writing office is actually a reasonable personnel expense. Especially when you consider that almost every other city has one (including Bridgeport and Hartford)! But, are there other positions that could be considered redundant or wasteful? I wouldn’t doubt that.

I’m just asking people to use reason before knee-jerk reaction.

posted by: bcrosby on April 1, 2014  12:10pm

Here’s the thing: we have a new mayor, for the first time in twenty years, elected with a mandate to enact a vision for the city of New Haven - and for City Hall - that is different from her predecessor’s. It’s no surprise that Harp needs to do some things differently (it’s what she was elected to do, in fact!), and it’s hardly unreasonable that some staffing changes are needed in order to make that happen. And if you actually look at Harp’s proposed positions, they actually aren’t crazy. More attention to small businesses, finding creative ways to bring more money into the city, providing better services for Spanish-speakers—these are things which I think most of us support, even if we disagree that Harp’s proposal is the best way to work on them.

And indeed, the Board’s Finance Committee did disagree with Harp too; they only approved three of the seven proposed positions. They took a hard look at her proposal and at the financial realities of our city, and they decided what was actually necessary now for Harp to the job we elected her to do and what wasn’t possible.

Some commenters (and alders) seem determined to attack Harp and the majority on the board at every opportunity. But this is what actually happened: the mayor came to the board with creative new proposals, like she’s supposed to, and the finance committee acted as a check and balance, deciding what of the mayor’s proposal was actually important to support, like they’re supposed to. This isn’t some sort of shady conspiracy, this is just good governance.

posted by: yim-a on April 1, 2014  12:11pm

For reasons not clear to me, the NHI has censored this point on the Jackson-Brooks/Harp relationship before.  Harp was the head of Homeless Health at Hill Health Center for over a decade.  Jackson-Brooks is the head of the board at Hill Health.  Over the years (and this is documented), Harp has been helpful in procuring large block grants for Hill Health from the state.  Jackson-Brooks and Harp have a long relationship and so no surprise at all that Jackson-Brooks is defending Harp’s budget in the finance committee.

posted by: robn on April 1, 2014  1:12pm

HN,

Since New Haven has one of the highest ratios of employees to citizens it’s completely rational to question positions fashioned out of thin air for political allies. The Harp administration could have presented a concept like, “the department heads and staff haven’t been successfully pursuing grants and I’m going to take money out of their budgets (salaries) to pay for a grant writing department.” But that concept doesn’t seem to be true (other commenters have uncovered successful grants awarded in the past few years).

posted by: robn on April 1, 2014  1:15pm

YIM-A,

You can just add that to the list of conflicts of interest that the UNITE supermajority has failed to acknowledge. So corrupt, it blows my mind.

posted by: Bill Saunders on April 1, 2014  2:23pm

Doesn’t the CIty have a policy against Bullying in the Workplace????

posted by: robn on April 1, 2014  2:41pm

ALEX,

The fact that other states have county governments and CT doesn’t, DOES NOT change the fact that the city of New Haven has one of the highest number of employees per citizen in the country.

Cross reference data here]http://washingtonexaminer.com/exography-19-u.s.-cities-have-proportionately-bigger-workforces-than-bankrupted-detroit/article/2533338”]here[/url] with data here]https://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0468.pdf”]here[/url] and you’ll see clearly that I’m right and you’re wrong.

posted by: robn on April 1, 2014  3:31pm

ALEX,

The fact that other states have county governments and CT doesn’t, DOES NOT change the fact that the city of New Haven has one of the highest number of employees per citizen in the country.

Cross reference data here</a”>HERE and HERE
and you’ll see clearly that I’m right and you’re wrong.

posted by: accountability on April 1, 2014  3:54pm

Let’s see.

New Mayor wants new positions.
Board of Aldermen concerned about spending.
They reach compromise on 3 of 7, giving new development director the flexibility to outsource grantwriting as new office proves (or disproves) its worth.

Competing points of view, competing interests, compromise, and an experimental, incremental approach moving forward.

Everyone seems to be trying to do their jobs.

Including Mike Stratton, who seems to have decided that his job is to say whatever comes to mind, regardless whether it contradicts things he’s said before, or is just a blatant personal insult for no particular reason.

Love the idea that the richest guy by far on the Board of Alders is somehow a besieged outsider. Poor guy.

Last but not least, is JustAnotherTaxpayer giving us just another fact fail?

“The majority of alderpersons that have been in office as long as perez and brooks, all have corrupted their positions, and themselves. The longer they have held office the more corrupt they have become.”

Are you talking about former long-serving alders? Or the current majority? Because most of the latter have been in office for less than three years.

And if you’re going to use the word “corrupt,” present some evidence other than budget decisions that you happen to disagree with. I don’t always agree with Jorge Perez, but that’s a far cry from calling him corrupt.

posted by: Bill Saunders on April 1, 2014  5:20pm

Let’s not use the word corruption anymore, then.
How about “entrenched insider culture”, instead…

posted by: ohnonotagain on April 1, 2014  7:08pm

Considering a tax hike is coming this mayor should not be hiring new personnel. And don’t tell me that this is being paid for by grants because when the grants dry up the taxpayers pick up the tab for those positions down the road. It happens over and over again. This city is so top heavy with employees it is actually frightening. The board of alders and this mayor is digging a deep grave for all of us. And as far as the arguments between Andrea Jackson-Brooks and Mike Stratton it is going to happen every time because Brooks is an old politician and rubber stamp. Stratton is becoming frustrated with all this spending. What Stratton said about Brooks entire career being spent around bad government decisions (to Para-phrase)that is pretty accurate.

posted by: accountability on April 1, 2014  7:39pm

Okay, so what does “entrenched insider culture” actually mean [other than “politician I disagree with and about whom I therefor want to say bad things”]?

Jorge Perez is a guy who was ruthlessly removed from the Presidency of the Board of Aldermen by the ultimate insider—Mayor John DeStefano and his political allies. He won the Presidency back after a popular groundswell swept those allies from the Board of Aldermen, leaving a new majority barely two years ago.

His base of support comes from all quarters of the city, all races, all genders.

Perez is an independent, honest guy. He’s loyal to allies but in my experience never stops thinking for himself.

If you don’t think so, try getting him to do something he doesn’t believe in and let me know how that works out.

Entrenched insider culture, like “corruption” is another of these vaguely ominous sounding labels that has little or nothing to do with Perez’s actual positions on actual public policy issues.

Remember, he’s not required to agree with you, and your views don’t necessarily define the public interest. If you disagree with him on issues, fine, have at it. But this incessant need to define political leaders who disagree with you as, by definition, bad or corrupt is incredibly grating.

There’s not even a hint of either corruption or “insider culture,” whatever the meaning of either term, in the story above. There’s just a disagreement about how much money to spend on staff for the Mayor’s office, and what the expected return for that investment should be.

posted by: Xavier on April 1, 2014  8:02pm

I read yet only one comment on this topic - One City Henry is what this city needs - One City Henry populist yet professional, not so political or huggable, but definitely someone with the testosterone who can wrangle in these yahoo hacks who now that JD has flown the coop, want to run the city into the ground.

This city is One City Henry’s - One City Henry once elected in 2015 will not only give these people a good talking to- he will change the course of politics in the city.

One City Henry gave his father the “talk” - he is the most interesting man in the New Haven and beyond!

One City Henry - 2015.

posted by: canadachris on April 1, 2014  8:43pm

Perhaps Mr. Stratton will learn how to achieve change without his constant grandstanding. Its unfortunate that this imperious lawyer was elected to the Board of Alders. It would be wise if he would sit, watch and learn about how local government functions before he fires off on one of his self-serving tirades. Some of his budget targets are good, e.g. school board; some are bad, e.g. library. Maybe if Mr. Stratton spent more time reading and less time on his digital “research” we would have more civil Alder meetings. I hope he doesn’t practice law in this shoot from the hip, blowhard manner.

posted by: Greg-Morehead on April 1, 2014  9:17pm

@Jeanette Morrison’s comments-
Just walk away Mike, She is the chair.

4real?? First off, the meeting is adjourned and just like Mike said, It’s a democracy!! I can’t believe Andrea Jackson Brooks and really, Jeanette, for standing up for her.
Now, because of this, they are going to try and run someone against Mike Stratton because he is taking a stand. Jeanette is trying to restore their faith in her, thats why she is going to bat for Andrea and George. She’s trying to hold onto her seat. If it is for works done, she would’ve been out a long time ago!
Just sayin!

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on April 1, 2014  9:48pm

@JustAnotherTaxPayer
I think you’re wrong about Stratton. He doesn’t need the money. That’s what I liked about having Bloomberg as mayor in NYC - he couldn’t be bought. He said what he said and he did what he did out of principle. I think Stratton is the same type of guy. He shoots from the hip. He has no special interests to bow too and he has no aspirations at this time of higher political office. Most people who are successful in the private sector would never go into politics - too hard to get anything accomplished.

“Perez cut the deal days ago in consultations with the Mayor” The more I read about Perez, the less I like about him. He’s more interested in feeding the machine and building consensus instead of standing up for what is right. He seems to be a big part of the problem.

posted by: Brutus2011 on April 1, 2014  10:12pm

Go Mikey! You de Man! Cut de spendin’!

posted by: cupojoe on April 1, 2014  10:44pm

“and you - you better not put any of that in the paper?”

Wow. That is very disturbing. Talk about people scared that their power days are over. What a crew.

Shameful. Embarrassing.

posted by: Westville voter on April 1, 2014  11:30pm

Actually, the headline is deceptive. Harp has gone 5 for 9. I believe here two full-time chauffeurs/bodyguards are still in the budget without question or debate. Those of us who actually pay taxes (and drive our own cars on which we also pay taxes) have a problem with that. The sycophant alders apparently do not.

posted by: beyonddiscussion on April 1, 2014  11:33pm

I think that Stratton’s behavior was outrageous. His repeated comment that Jackson-Brooks “has lived off core government her entire life” was arrogant, elitist and racist. It reflects poorly on the area he represents. It reminded me of Romney’s “47 percent” comments. The new Mayor got only 3 of the 7 positions she wanted and he threw a tantrum. DeStefano would have asked for 7 and ended up with 12.

posted by: Bill Saunders on April 2, 2014  1:38am

Accountablilty,

Have you ever asked the City for simple stuff, and twelve emails later, you wind up in a yelling match like this. 

This is what is modeled from above, and expected from the people standing in line to oil the machine. But in Reality, it Looks a lot like Jerry Springer.

Nice for everyone to see it in Public.
Yes, it is a Democracy.

posted by: robn on April 2, 2014  7:16am

Strattons credentials, temperament and judgement of Andrea Jackson Brooks have been questioned by commenters. However, only one of these two persons has had their city office stormed by the FBI investigating corruption.  That person isn’t Stratton. Know your past folks.

posted by: cupojoe on April 2, 2014  8:07am

Ask not what you can do for your city, but what you can do for your fingerprint.

posted by: Don in New Haven on April 2, 2014  9:18am

Is it possible to post online for the public to read the job description, qualifications, and projected economic gain to the City for each of these proposed Tax-increasing, new positions?

Job titles alone tell us nothing of value.

It would also be useful to post convincing qualifications of any potential candidates for the positions.

posted by: ohnonotagain on April 2, 2014  9:34am

Beyond discussion, why am I not surprised that the race card would be inserted into this debate about Stratton and Brooks, just one big ugh!
And Robn, you are so accurate with your comment about corruption. One of these two alders lost their job because of hard to come by precious money for lead abatement while making (I believe in the $70,000 if not more)but still took from the very needy with this program. Brooks has a lot of nerve behaving this way and the other alders being so conspicuous in the public eye. Many of us can’t wait until the next election!

posted by: HewNaven on April 2, 2014  10:46am

Bolden’s response is clear and pointed. Stratton’s rebuttal details the extensive effort he’s put forth to investigate this matter and contains a mix of fact and hearsay. But, the hearsay is absolutely damning if it can be proven.

This is getting to be really entertaining

*pulls up a chair

posted by: westville man on April 2, 2014  11:34am

I am glad to have Stratton questioning the city budget, expenditures, new positions, etc.

BUT, he must start doing it without the personal attacks.  I wonder what the NHI commentariat would be saying if Jackson-Brooks called him a “ambulance-chasing, overpaid litigious lawyer”?  And given the history of our country, yes-ohnonotagain, there are racist undertones to this exchange.  A level of disrespect when getting personal like that.  And if you think racism is a “card game” then I wonder how you feel about sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia…..

posted by: canadachris on April 2, 2014  11:41am

Ohnonotagain. Someone has played the race card by accusing another person of playing the race card. The phrase “playing the race card” is used by people who have racist inclinations. About Mr. Stratton - I say again - he thinks he is the next Great White Hope. With Elicker out of the picture, this role is open. Stratton is adeptly mining the fears in East Rock, Westville and other White enclaves to establish a political base. Where was Mr. Stratton’s research and anger when the mayor was White?  OOOps. Now I’ll be accused of playing the race card. There is no race card. There is reality.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on April 2, 2014  11:59am

I had the same reaction as Theodora. Plus 1 to “Where are the grown-ups?”

posted by: FacChec on April 2, 2014  2:08pm

It is somewhat disingenuous that NHI reporters far too often do not report on questions and comments presented by the public, after all, this is called a “PUBLIC HEARING” to hear comment from the public.

Far too often it is the public who add real time life experiences related to how they are affected by city taxes, and it is the public who more often, ask more probative questions than do alders, who admittedly do not read the material, but rely on verbal testimony that oft times differs greatly from the written presentation by the city.

In this hearing four public members spoke out about the city initiative, you wouldn’t know that from this report.

It’s called slighting the public.

posted by: Bill Saunders on April 2, 2014  4:10pm

Everyone should watch some raucous Parliamentary Sessions in the UK.  The insults can be quite hilarious and vicious, but are part of the debate, thin-skinned ones…..

posted by: JMS on April 3, 2014  8:34am

“Buddy you better be careful” or what? Curious to know the repercussions of that kind of bully comment. This whole scene is an embarrassment for the city. We should all be very concerned.

posted by: Jones Gore on April 3, 2014  2:21pm

Get ‘em Stratton!

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on April 3, 2014  6:06pm

Though I can understand Alderman Stratton’s frustration, my advice to him, however,  would be to show more decorum while addressing his concerns. In doing so, he will notice more people of color gravitating towards him as he figures out exactly how to deal with these sisters.

Alderman Stratton, you need all communities in order to be mayor next year not just one.  Elicker tried that and you see where he ended up.

I love Stratton’s conservative approach towards the city being fiscal responsible. The problem he’s going to incumber is, how does he convince his fellow alderman to understand the value of that vision?

Unfortunately, many alderman wait to receive a call instructing them how to vote for the interest of a few, as oppose to the interest of the many.

So Alderman Stratton, be magnanimous and pump your brakes a little my friend.

posted by: obi on April 3, 2014  7:55pm

Reyes said the mayor needs a bilingual receptionist to communicate with the city’s growing Spanish-speaking population, and to help handle the large number of phone calls and communications the mayor’s office receives every day

Sound more like a desire of Reyes.

posted by: canadachris on April 3, 2014  11:18pm

Mr. Jenkins, do you really believe Mr. Stratton can control himself? This is not his first outburst of this sort. We are better off seeing Stratton as he really is rather than seeing Stratton suddenly become the great white hope who will take care of the minority communities in New Haven. He doesn’t have a clue about life in the neighborhoods.

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