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Who You Calling A “Dinosaur”?

by Paul Bass | Dec 31, 2013 11:40 am

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

Posted to: City Hall

Paul Bass Photo Mayor-Elect Toni Harp’s incoming chief of staff said he has heard all the talk about “the old guard” and “dinosaurs” reappearing at City Hall. He made no apologies for what he called the virtues of “experience.”

Harp formally announced the selection of that chief of staff, Tomas Reyes (pictured above), at a press conference Monday at her transition headquarters at 200 Orange St.

She, Reyes, and the rest of the team move into City Hall after Harp’s swearing-in Wednesday.

As chief of staff, Reyes will, among other duties, oversee mayoral-suite employees, decide whether to wake up Harp in the middle of the night in cases of an emergency, and quarterback the administration’s policy initiatives.

Reyes, who is 62, knows the lay of the land when it comes to passing legislation: He served for 18 years on the Board of Aldermen, 12 of those years as president. He worked together with Harp when she was an alderwoman, before she became a state senator; the two took crafted a citywide homeless plan and a school free-breakfast program. (Click here for a previous story about Reyes’ appointment and his city and statewide political background.)

Harp (pictured with Reyes Monday) spoke of their long association and of Reyes’ extensive work in the community, in announcing that she has chosen him for “the most important position in the overall administration.”

So far Harp has tapped people with decades of experience in local politics or government for many of her initial appointments.

Reyes spoke Monday to reporters and a room full of family and friends as well as colleagues from Connecticut Mental Health Center, where he serves as an administrator. (He’s taking a leave to work for Harp.) He said he has heard remarks about how the Harp administration is bringing “the old guard” and “dinosaurs” back to local government.

“Some have even called us ‘fossils,’” Reyes remarked.

To which he responded: “Experience matters.”

“It is an honor for me to serve with a group of people who are experienced, committed, have a proven track record, so that [Harp’s] vision, those plans. can actually be accomplished. One thing is to have an idea. Another thing is to be able to make it happen. I believe that under Mayor Harp, all of those ideas will be made reality in this community,” Reyes said.

He spoke of how his decades of experience—at the Board of Aldermen, as a statewide Latino political leader, at CMHC—have prepared him for an important part of his new job: “To understand how to put as many people around the table as possible—and work so that when everybody leaves the table, they leave with something.” He called that “the essence of good government.”

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posted by: ohnonotagain on December 30, 2013  5:31pm

I don’t know nor have an opinion (YET) about Mayor Elect Harp’s choices for positions except for Tomas Reyes….. the others will have to show us what they got what they can do and if they are competent. As far as Tomas he is intelligent, has strong leadership skills, can be a peacemaker and knows how to work out compromises. He is very respectful and a good listener but can be tough when needed. He also knows the ins and outs of this city and what and how departments should function. I served with Tomas on the BOA and really feel confident he will do a wonderful job for Toni. I would be very shocked if he didn’t!

posted by: Threefifths on December 30, 2013  5:48pm

I said the old guard and dinosaurs reappearing and fossils.And I stand by what I said.When I throw my rocks I do not hide my hands Vhirtues of experience and Experience matters.Clever Political rhetoric.Sounds to me like a Career Politician.You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but career politicians have a plethora of tricks, and they sure aren’t scared to use them. They’ll use whatever they can pull from their filthy little bags.Career politicians are disconnected from reality and from their constituents. These politicians are only concerned gaining power.

He spoke of how his decades of experience—at the Board of Aldermen, as a statewide Latino political leader, at CMHC—have prepared him for an important part of his new job: “To understand how to put as many people around the table as possible—and work so that when everybody leaves the table, they leave with something.” He called that “the essence of good government.”

Decades of rubber stamping for king John.I saw your record.

If career politicians had the solutions, we wouldn’t be in the mess that we are.
Gore Vidal

posted by: abg22 on December 31, 2013  3:19pm

Does Mr. Reyes live in New Haven, or even New Haven County?

posted by: Threefifths on December 31, 2013  6:23pm

posted by: abg22 on December 31, 2013 2:19pm

Does Mr. Reyes live in New Haven, or even New Haven County?

The same question should be ask to Jason Bartlett.

posted by: Concerned Citizen's Friend on December 31, 2013  9:41pm

I agree with Elaine Braffman’s comments about Tomas Reyes.  I first met Tomas when he came to Albertus to speak about his shirt-sleeve campaign in his rum for alderman in the Hill.  He was and is an intelligent and charming man, a professional politician, peacemaker and leader.  He will be a wonderful chief of staff; I would work for him anyday!
Alberta Davis, Retired CNH Medical Benefits Coordinator

posted by: jcreyes on January 1, 2014  9:42pm

Who cares where he lives!  The only real important factor is if hes going to have New Havens best interest.  Seeing that he has dedicated most of his life to the city, who would doubt that.  Tomas is one of the best individuals in the state for the job.  There are few that know the ins and outs of New Haven like he does.  This will make him efficient and able to execute as the Chief of Staff.

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