Street Lights Get a New Master

Markeshia Ricks PhotoPaul  Bass PhotoIf you have a problem with a traffic light or a streetlight and it belongs to the city, now you just have one department to call: Transportation, Traffic and Parking.

Chances are you’ve been calling that department anyway because you assumed that it was that department’s responsibility to take care of a bum light. But until this fall, you were supposed to call the city’s engineering department, who would then in turn call a contractor to handle the problem.

No more.

City traffic chief Doug Hausladen said under the new system you can get a quick response if you create a work order on the SeeClickFix platform if you have a problem with a street light. He said his team of in-house senior traffic signal maintainers, now called senior traffic signal technicians, can have the job done in many cases within a few days.

The shift of moving street light techs from the city’s engineering department into the hands of Hausladen’s department had been nearly two years in the making. It took a while to get there amid a sudden loss of staffing and problems with labor relations. The switch is expected to ultimately make the city more responsive to street lighting problems and save money.

“Street lighting has historically been a function of the city’s engineering department ... and the way the department ran it was with a $150,000 annual contract with a firm,” Hausladens said. “The mayor’s administration recognized this back in 2014 as not an ideal situation.”

Hausladen said that it became even clearer when Giovanni Zinn was appointed as the city’s engineer.

“Having the city engineer taking phone calls about individual street lights didn’t seem like the best use of his time, nor the best opportunity for excellent customer service,” Hausladen said.

Zinn said when it comes to maintenance its simple: you need bucket trucks and guys who work on electrical stuff.

“And people who know how to do [electrical work] in the right of way and people who are on call 24/7,” Hausladen added.

“Which is exactly what his [Hausladen’s] department already has,” Zinn said.

“Every street light is important to us,” Hausladen said. “We have begun acknowledging requests on SeeClickFix. That creates an electronic work order for my team.”

The traffic department has two staffers right now for the work. It has one vacancy because a beloved longtime former maintainer left for St. Petersburg, Fla. There is an opening for an additional position that was created for the department in fiscal 2015, but not funded until fiscal 2016. City Traffic Engineer Bijan Notghi said despite the staffing shortage the department completes on average 100 street light maintenance calls a month. The two positions have been posted.

He said for easy fixes such as replacing LED bulbs, the turnaround could come as quickly as 48 to 72 hours.

Delay Resolved

Hausladen said part of the reason it took so long to make the switch for streetlight maintenance from Zinn’s department to his was a snafu with the city’s Labor Relations Department.

Traffic signal techs have been taking on additional work over the years because of the changes in the traffic division. So they not only maintain traffic signals but also deal with the city’s 16 miles of fiber network and its camera systems.

Back in the fall of 2014, when the plan was hatched to streamline street light maintenance and push that work out to the techs, AFSCME Local 884 reminded the administration that the techs were already not being paid for the additional work they were doing.

The administration had informed the Labor Relations Department, then under the direction of Marcus Paca, that there was a need to negotiate a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, with the union to compensate the techs for the additional work they were already doing. The parties also had to negotiate new job descriptions that include the additional street light maintenance work.

It took 18 months to get the department to do that work, Hausladen said. And that was only after Paca was fired in April, and city Corporation Counsel John Rose stepped in to helm the department, he said. A MOU was signed in October. The Board of Alders now has a request to transfer $170,256 in capital bond money to cover the purchase of a new bucket truck, which will be used by the new senior traffic signal tech, who is funded in the fiscal 2016 budget.

In an interview, Paca pushed back against that characterization. He said that when he was let go, he was in fact negotiating with both Locals 3144 and 884. He said the issues involved took time to negotiate with two separate unions. He said he had an agreement drawn up when he was fired.

He blamed the Harp administration for the delays: “This situation underscores the reason why the City of New Haven and its labor union employees deserve a full time labor director.” He said he is “glad that the good, innovative work of Local 884 members in the street light maintenance crew has finally been resolved.”

Mayoral spokesman Laurence Grotheer declined comment on Paca’s remarks.

Hausladen said the department is going to close out any street light work orders older than Dec. 31, 2015. And if your problem hasn’t been resolved, he encouraged people to create a new work order.

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posted by: Peter99 on December 19, 2016  9:05am

Closing out existing orders is not the way to start. Have the orders physically checked out by someone in a car to see and if they still need fixing. Use the remaining open orders which require attention as the starting repair list. I would also measure the system by the age of the new open orders and see how long it takes to effect a repair. If they measure performance they will get performance. Being cynical when it comes to the city, I expect little except words and the generation of paper.

posted by: Sheldonblackwood09 on December 19, 2016  10:05am

The long reaching impact of Paca’s incompetence remains to be seen. His character assassination on department heads and cozy relationship with some bargaining units caused irreparable damage and longstanding financial burdens to the city. A fine example of this is the contract extension to the fire union. He claimed it would save hundreds of thousands however it has cost millions and padded the pensions of dozens to the tune of hundreds of thousands. Huslanden should be applauded for direction responsibility in this direction.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on December 19, 2016  12:48pm

How weak is it for the Harp administration to further work arduously to try and trash Mr. Paca?  If Mr. Paca was the problem, then why wasn’t this program up and running a week after he was fired?  This is the same filthy tactic the Harp team used when attacking Mrs. Nicole Jefferson, Mrs. Mindy Blue-Paca and to a lesser extent Ms. Jackie James.

This mayor fired both Mr. Paca and his lovely wife at the sametime, cut their benefits the same day, took away their sick time, and subsequently went out to further waste more of the taxpayers money to fight to prevent them from trying acquire unemployment.  But allows Esserman and Harries to hit the “Powerball” by sending them away with a dump truck full of, you guest it, taxpayers money and a benefit package commensurate to that of a congressman.

Hmm!  I wonder why the attack on Mr. Paca?  I’ve known Mr. Paca for a long time.  And like everyone else city-wide who also knows this young man, you have to be quite impressed with him.  I refuse to stand by and allow this mayor and or her cohorts to try and trash this young man, his wife Mindy, Mrs. Nicole Jefferson and other young people who she’s fired. 

It is my hope that others who are good and decent people would join me by defending these young people against an onslaught of potential future asinine accusations by this administration.  And to the voters who are captivated by the illusion, don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on December 19, 2016  1:04pm

@ Sheldonblackwood09,

“His character assassination on department heads and cozy relationship with some bargaining units caused irreparable damage and longstanding financial burdens to the city.”  To assert such a statement absent details, makes you sound more like a hack then someone who’s acquainted with firsthand knowledge of what you speak.  So therefore, do you mind expounding?

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 19, 2016  2:33pm

I would like to thank Doug and Giovanni for thinking outside the typical way of doing things in this city! And pushing till it got done! Thank You guys!

posted by: SLP on December 19, 2016  4:33pm

I second cedarhillresident!‘s praise.

posted by: ACaraballo on December 19, 2016  7:03pm

Thank you Mr. Jenkins, I had the same thoughts, how is it that no communication was had with Local 884 or 3144 as mentioned and of course Rose, Hausladen and Zinn saved the day.  Really!!! Now we trash Paca. I wonder why? 
While we are at it many city residents are wondering where are we with pending legal issues with Nicole Jefferson and the others that have been fired under this administration.  I am sure the legal fees are climbing and we certainly have the right to know what is going on.

posted by: GroveStreet on December 19, 2016  9:04pm

I don’t care one way or another about Paca (although his wife’s odd 11-page submission to the Alders was one of the dumbest things I’ve seen), but imagine how vicious politics in New Haven would be if there were an opposition party.

posted by: informed on December 19, 2016  9:28pm

A few points
Strange timing!! 9 months after Paca was inexplicably terminated from the city on the same day as his wife, we suddenly see a non story, which appears to be written for no other purpose than to assassinate his character. Based on this administration’s history with that approach (Casanova, Jefferson, James) there must be some motive. We all should sit back and see where Harp and her henchmen are going with this one.

On the case of the Unions, does anyone know what the unions at the center of this issue have to say? Seems odd to report on something between Paca, the Harp administration and the unions and have no information on what they think happened.

Additionally, why is labor now being run out of corporation counsel? This guy Rose has the city in more legal battles than ever which are going to cost us all a lot of money and now he’s running labor where grievances and arbitrations are also sky rocketing? Another Harp management decision we should all buckle up to wait and see the impact of.

Intimidation, slander and smear campaigns will not prevent people committed to advocacy or the commitment of others who want to do the “Public Good”. Voices of reason and truth cannot be silenced. It’s a new era, did campaign 2016 teach us anything?

posted by: newhavenlives on December 20, 2016  9:51am

Some of you are playing dumb. Paca is not being dragged back into the news cycle unwillingly. Paca wants to run for mayor. He’s become more visible and has given the media access. Last time I checked (see Casanova story) he was the one offering well -rehearsed quotes about the awfulness of the Harp administration.  If he wants to play, he better put his big girl panties on and get ready to be roughed up.

For those comparing the Jefferson and company exits to the Harries and Esserman exits, again, you’re playing dumb. With rock solid contracts and in the case of the Chief, laws that support how they can be terminated, they had far more leverage than the others. The others foolishly thought they were indispensable without any leverage other than political support from some corners which they quickly came to realize wasn’t worth ......

posted by: the1king on December 20, 2016  10:08am

You know what would be great.  The street lights in Homes of Monterey get fixed.  I know that the city does not own them and it is Homes of Monterey responsibility but if they are not fixing it then it is the city’s job to tell them to fix it.  I have done the see don’t fix thing I have contacted Monterey, I have contacted the city.  I own my home and pay my taxes.  I’m not just talking about 2 lights it’s over 20 lights out.  These lights need to be fixed it has been over a year in a half.  why haven’t they been fixed

posted by: informed on December 20, 2016  1:16pm

@newhavenlives
Raise your hand if you’re surprised by veiled threats from Harp employees regarding dirty tactics the administration is planning to use against anyone who has the COURAGE to speak out against Queen Toni
(“if he wants to play, he better put his BIG GIRL panties on and get ready to be roughed up”). Is that misogyny laced with fear you’re invoking? Disgusting in this day and age.
But I guess this is part of the exceptionally long list of character assassinations and dirty tactics: Jefferson, Fernandez, Smart, Caraballo, James, Carolina, Maurice Smith, Casanova, Joyner etc. Sad that some see politics as nothing more than a game when there are real lives at stake. And yes, it makes perfect sense that Paca would go to blogs begging them to trash him in an article and open himself and his family up for anonymous attacks (sarcasm of course). When they go low… I wish this much time and passion was applied to the well being and prosperity of the citizens of New Haven, but without substance or a record of achievements this is to be expected. The citizens deserve better and will get it.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 20, 2016  2:03pm

@informed…..I agree with a few names on your list but not all. Some of the people you defend, at least to me were expecting Harp to be like Destefano. Were you got away with everything and if you screwed up he would just move or hide you in another job or department. And she just plain out said you f-ed, see ya.  I actually admire her for not playing the game with have played in city hall for the past 20 years. Is she a great mayor…not really, but as long as you surround yourself with the right people you can be a great mayor…that is were she fell short.
I personally would love to see Elicker, Carolina or Fernandez make another run. I loved each of them for different reasons and think each could be of great benefit to the residents.

But Paca??? I loved the guy at some point he is smart and does care about this city. But he lost all of my respect when the fact that he was a deadbeat dad to 2 women! Sorry a man that does not even make the effort to pay child support gets not an oz. of respect from me! And yes he has now settled all of that but only after it was made public that there was a warrant in NJ and he was running for alder….so he fixed it I am not sure of all the details but I know most of them.  So ya see it may be my personal pet peve when men do not care for the children they father…but to me it also shows what kind of human they are. Who knows maybe he has changed, a good women can do that to a man.

posted by: newhavenlives on December 20, 2016  3:05pm

By Fernandez, do you mean Henry Fernandez? If so, why would you pile Henry with this group of amateurs? Henry is a pro who would be just a tactical if in Mayor Harp’s place. Being strategic to implement good policies for the benefit of New Haven residents is probably one of his strongest skills.  Play Pollyanna if you so desire. I am certain Paca and the others who think being Mayor is a cake walk know how politics works, otherwise they “betta slow their roll” :-)

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on December 20, 2016  3:38pm

@ newhavenlives,

“If he wants to play, he better put his big girl panties on and get ready to be roughed up.”  This inflammatory statement on its face, is highly disrespectful.  It also begs the question, should the mayor put her big boy underwear on to prepare for the same? 

I don’t have a nickel in this quarter, but statements like that rev me up to battle strongly on behalf of Mr. Paca (the underdog) should he decide to run for mayor. 

Now here’s where the humor of this statement lies for me, here we have a person (newhavenlives) who threatens to rough up Mr. Paca should he decide to run for mayor and yet, he hides behind a pseudonym so as not to reveal who he is, but offers a threat nonetheless.  Where I come from (Out The Way) we put people like this in a unique category that I rather refrain from mentioning.

Mr. Paca must be a formidable opponent of this administration to warrant such ridiculous threats prematurely.  This is the same administration that called the appointment of Dr. Ben Carson as HUD Secretary “unfortunate,” while all along trying to develop a “begging” letter to send to him with the hope that he will forego dismantling New Haven’s Sanctuary City.  An administration that just laid off the last two employees of the Commission on Equal Opportunities yesterday, but kept the Executive Director Angel Fernandez, Matt Nemerson’s pal who was a questionable hire.  So as the city continues to funnel money through the Economic Development Corp. (Matt Nemerson’s non profit), and layoff lowly paid employees before Christmas, it’s unbelievable that they can find the time to threaten anyone. 

Lastly, my advice to the administration, be careful who you threaten to rough up, because there’s much more from where that comes from.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 20, 2016  4:24pm

Sorry adding a link to back my comment
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/warrant_issued_for_candidates_arrest/

posted by: newhavenlives on December 20, 2016  4:38pm

BLJ-

Your obsession with Harp is fascinating. If they wrote a story about snow falling in New England you would find some way to blame Harp. I am happy you didn’t get a long-desired executive position in the Harp administration. She made enough bad hires to last us 5 terms!

posted by: ACaraballo on December 20, 2016  5:01pm

Dirty politics at work…cedarrhillresident states does not know the details or information but making comments about deadbeat dads and statements about dads not caring about their children.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 20, 2016  5:28pm

@ ACaraballo to be exact I said I do not know all the details but I know most of them! And I did post a link to the story when it became news with copys of arrest warrants!  Please! No dirty politics here. I said I am not totally impressed with harp…but I do give credit when it is earned. She did earn it in a few of these. I also said I am will to support the other 3 candidates that ran against her. Please! (said in a sarcastic tone)

posted by: Conscience on December 20, 2016  6:26pm

Up until now, I had some respect for Doug, but this takes the cake. How could he allow the Harp administration to use him like this? Harp gave Paca a raise for exceptional performance, fires him and his wife soon thereafter and now the Dougster is blaming Paca for the ineptitude of an administration that has ineptness as its calling card. Toni has failed miserably in the core areas of city government. Can you blame Paca for the mess in Public Safety, her mother bear protection of Harries and Esserman, and the looming deficit in the education department under her stewardship as Chair of the Board. Can you blame him for her poor relationship with the alders. The only thing Paca is guilty of is insisting that contracts be honored and actually believing that Harp would be the leader this city sorely needs. The citizens of our city are in for a world of hurt if we elect her for another term. Jason Bartlett and John Rose are running our city. Did I say ruining or running?

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on December 20, 2016  7:35pm

@ newhavenlives,

“Your obsession with Harp is fascinating. If they wrote a story about snow falling in New England you would find some way to blame Harp. I am happy you didn’t get a long-desired executive position in the Harp administration. She made enough bad hires to last us 5 terms!” 

To obsess over anyone denotes that one has no control of self.  And anyone who has the pleasure of knowing me, as I them, know that I am always in control.  Snow falls in New England every winter, have you ever read anything from me in which I blamed her for that?  If you have the opportunity to be in her presence (as you do regularly), ask her if I have ever asked her for an “executive position” or for any position in her administration.  [If] she says I did, then she’s a liar.  I agree that she’s made enough bad hires, including you. 

To the readers of this paper, I’m in no way calling the mayor a liar, that I would do to her face.  However, should she say to anyone that I had asked her for an executive position as has been mentioned, then she would be lying. 

Allow me to make myself a little clearer for those who may have trouble understanding this, I do not dislike Mayor Harp.  Nor will I ever attack her personally.  However, I will continue to question her politics as I have done to her predecessor and as others have done to me when I was in office. 

Unlike the person who chooses to hide behind a fake name, I on the other hand have a history of always being upfront with everyone.  And I haven’t met a person yet that is so great that I need to tell them a lie.  You may disagree with the positions that I take, but at least I take positions.

If you (newhavenlives) had any credibility, then you would do like me and use the name that’s on your birth certificate instead of the one that you use in place of your character.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on December 20, 2016  9:54pm

Continued…

If I were to call myself Door55 or OldnewHaven, no one other than Paul would know who I was.  But because of the mother I had, who taught me to own my words and to never cower in the presence of those who are too weak to express their feelings, I choose to reveal my true identity and stand by everything I say or do.  I was also warned by mother that this unabashed style of mine will make me an easy target for those who like to throw rocks and hide their hands.

I have come to realize that New Haven is overabundant with individuals who live pretentious lives, especially in politics.  These aren’t bad people their just people who are extremely proficient in the art of talking out of both sides of their mouth.  I never learned that art and at the ripe [young] age of 56, it’s too late for me to incorporate that into my integrity today. 

Just thought I’d share a little personal insight into who I am for those may who want to know.

(Paul: Brian, I have always appreciate the way you speak your mind without ever hiding.  Thanks for participating in Independent debates with your real name.)

posted by: informed on December 20, 2016  10:48pm

So what have we learned today? “Sheldon” is predictably only interested in fire administrative issues (I think I can guess why) and hates both Paca and the Harp administration and believes he should have been labor director. “Cedarhill resident” has for the umpteenth time shared the same years old link to what reads as another one-sided, politically motivated story (doubt they teach that in democracy school) because she too does not like Paca, although she thinks “he’s smart and cares about the city.”  “newhavenlives”/Harp strategists continue to peddle propaganda that all things Harp are good and threaten to “rough up” anyone who dares to challenge the rule of the self-proclaimed “captain of the ship”, starting perhaps with Jenkins and Caraballo.  “Newhavenlives” would also like the good citizens of the city to know that being a Mayor is “hard work” and a far cry from the ceremonial, figurehead position Harp thought she was signing up for. And only “the1king” cares about the 20 broken street lights that have gone unfixed for over a year, causing a public safety hazard.  Yet all commentators outside of city hall agree on one thing - Harp is desperately floundering. Amazingly all of these fascinating revelations were inspired by a headline that might as well read: “Breaking News: City Hall has New Telephone Switchboard Rules (and in case you don’t care about that non-story, Toni Harp is apparently very concerned Paca may give her a run for Mayor).”

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on December 21, 2016  1:09am

Paul,

You and I go back quite a ways.  You might recall a piece I’ve written in the mid 80’s titled, Wake Up Before It’s Too Late.  This piece was never given to the media, but somehow you were able to obtain a copy nevertheless.  The piece touched on foreigners ripping off the inner-city by selling products cheaper than the existing businesses with the intent to close them down and take over consumer purchasing behavior, absent competition, to then raise the prices on goods with no recourse.  At the risk of tooting my own horn, of which I hate to do, but sadly, those realities have been revealed overwhelmingly.

You might recall (and I’m sure you do) when you put portions of that piece in your paper and widely called me a “racist.”  I called you and asked specifically if you had hard evidence that I had written the piece for you to call me such a demeaning name?  I went on to say that I could sue you for slander.  You immediately asked me “if I wrote the piece?”  I could’ve easily denied it and pursued a lawsuit against you and your paper, but because of my candidness, I told you that I did.

Further, you may recall when I gave you a little history on the definition of the word you used in describing me.  In case you don’t remember, here’s what I said to you then, the word racist, is a suffix.  Meaning the degree of dedication or commitment one puts in a particular area.  I went on to ask you that if a person played the piano well, he would be considered a pianist, correct?  If a person painted beautiful portraits often, he would be called an artist.  Are they bad?  Your retort was “Brian, I never heard anyone break down the word racist like that, and I thank you very much for the education.”

So being upfront isn’t new to me.  The Lord Blessed me with a pretty decent memory and I give Him all Glory.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 21, 2016  9:05am

@Brian I may not always agree with you but I have always respected your input. Over the years I have learned to view your opinion as one of the honest ones. So Thank you!
As for names most regular readers know who I am, I do not hide it but the passerbys that read the one story or two; they are who I like to keep my identity less known to.

Hmmm informed I have to ask….because you brought up democracy school and most of my classmates view issues the way I do. Well of course Paca who was in the class would see it the same way you do…so you must be Paca or at the least sitting next to him….for full disclosure am I right? And again just because I do not like the man as a human does not mean he is not capable of being smart or for that fact care about the city….no different than my opinions of harp…again. I will always give credit were credit is due. EX: I do not like Hillary but I think she is far more capable than Trump….you can dislike a person and still see their positives.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 21, 2016  9:10am

oh an added note, to try to downplay the fact that a person was a deadbeat dad to the point that a warrant was issued because of several failed attempts to collect the child support as ” the same years old link to what reads as another one-sided, politically motivated story”  Weather this came out during a political election or not….it still does not down play the fact that he neglected the children he created. politics or not! It is scummy in my book…it is more personal because the father of my kids was a deadbeat and NO CHILD SHOULD HAVE TO BE MADE TO FEEL FORGOTTEN BY THEIR FATHER!!!! Including Pacas!. That simple!

posted by: informed on December 21, 2016  1:54pm

@cedarhill
No, I am not Paca nor am I “next to him”. If you don’t believe me, check with Paul. There are many in this city who have insight into things.