Criticizing Labor, Breakaway Caucus Forms

Paul Bass PhotoDeclaring that “we don’t want to be dictated to,” a new coalition announced that it has formed to combat what it called union control of New Haven’s Board of Alders.

Six alders met at the home of Beaver Hills Alder Claudette Robinson-Thorpe Sunday evening to make the announcement. They said they plan to hold the first of three neighborhood public meetings at Springs of Life-Giving Water Church at 31 Sperry St. at 4 p.m. on Jan. 25 to get constituents’ input on the direction of local government.

The alders said they were reacting to the influence of one union in particular, UNITE HERE, whose Yale-based Locals 34 and 35 helped elect a majority of the Board of Alders in 2011 and 2013.

Robinson-Thorpe was a member of that union-backed coalition. Now, she declared, she’s not. Another UNITE HERE-recruited alder, Newhallville’s Brenda Foskey-Cyrus, said the same.

They argued that the UNITE HERE-backed board majority had created a new machine that dictates how people should vote and limits discussion and independence, just like the old Democratic Party machine that it replaced.

“I had left one master for another. The voting bloc went from the administration to the union-backed machine. The dictatorship I had in my first term began to show itself ugly in this new board. Nothing was or is not being done on the board without the unions’ oversight,” Robinson-Thorpe declared. (Click here to read a statement Robinson-Thorpe prepared.)

“We don’t need to be dictated to.”

Joining her and Foskey-Cyrus Sunday evening were West Rock Alder Carlton Staggers and first-term Alders Michael Stratton of Prospect Hill/Newhallville, Richard Spears of Bishop Woods, and Anna Festa of East Rock. Later, Downtown Alderman Doug Hausladen said he, too, is part of the group. They held out the promise that Board of Alders will have more “democracy” and transparency in the new two-year term.

They singled out board President Jorge Perez, Democratic Town Chair Jackie James, and UNITE HERE staffer Gwen Mills (who’s also Democratic Town Committee treasurer) as the people enforcing discipline on issues and limiting independence.

Those three, in turn, argued in interviews with the Independent that the board operates transparently, and that they seek to bring alders to consensus to get things accomplished.

The move by Robinson-Thorpe and her colleagues—reprising in some ways a short-lived effort called “Take Back New Haven” by Stratton, Hausladen, and Festa in last year’s election campaign—reflects the ongoing debate in New Haven over the role of organized labor in local politics, specifically the role of Yale’s politically influential unions. Supporters say the group has succeeded in bringing lots of new community-minded people, especially women of color, into the political process and rejuvenated the Board of Alders as a progressive, independent branch of government. Critics, like the new breakaway group (and many posting in this comment thread), call the UNITE HERE-backed majority a new self-serving political machine.

Leadership Quest

The breakaway group recently supported Robinson-Thorpe’s bid for a board leadership position: president pro tem. (The person in the position fills in if the board president is away.) The board’s majority, in a caucus, chose West River’s Tyisha Walker instead. A formal vote for the position will take place at this coming Tuesday evening’s board meeting; Robinson-Thorpe said she plans to continue with her candidacy, even though she lacks the votes to win, in order to take a stand.

Perez and James suggested that Robinson-Thorpe has decided to organize the breakaway group out of disappointment that she didn’t get the leadership position, rather than because of broader problems with how the board runs. They said that they in no way promoted Walker over Robinson-Thorpe, but rather that Walker simply convinced more colleagues to supporter her.

“This is all about the fact that Tyisha appears to have the votes to be president pro tem,” Perez said. “I’m sorry to see [Robinson-Thorpe] is stooping to the level of making accusations.”

“She’s disgruntled,” James said. “It’s high school. It’s very immature.”

For her part, Robinson-Thorpe called the president pro tem vote the culmination of years of concerns she had developed over the unions’ role in the board.

She said leaders had previously discouraged her from seeking leadership positions because she didn’t have enough experience. Then this past year she showed her independence—and now someone with less experience than she has is getting the pro tem position. Robinson-Thorpe is beginning her third term in office, Walker, her second.

As chair of the board’s Black and Hispanic Caucus, Robinson-Thorpe was part of the leadership team that set strategy and communicated with colleagues. Each leader had five alders to call to discuss plans and issues before the board; she said an independent alderman, Jusin Elicker, was on her list, and she was told not to call him or keep him in the loop. (Perez and James denied that.) She said the UNITE HERE-backed majority regularly left the eight or so alders outside the coalition in the dark about pending matters. (Perez and James denied that, too.)

Robinson-Thorpe and Foskey-Cyrus cited the June 2013 vote to sell two downtown streets to Yale for $3 million as a turning point in their view of the board majority.

Robinson-Thorpe said she wanted to vote against the deal. Board leaders supported the deal, saying it gave the city much-needed cash and institutionalized long-term financial commitments from Yale. Critics called it a short-term giveaway of a valuable downtown asset. 

“I called Gwen [Mills] and said, ‘I can’t do this,’” Robinson-Thorpe recalled Sunday. “I was directed that, ‘You’re in a coalition. You have to vote with the coalition. You agreed to do this.” Robinson-Thorpe said she ended up going along and voting yes, only to learn later that her constituents opposed the deal.

Mills denied every making that comment to Robinson-Thorpe. She and Perez noted that a number of UNITE HERE-backed alders, including Newhallville’s Delphine Clyburn and Foskey-Cyrus, voted no on the Yale deal; thus, labor didn’t hold a single, unified position. “She should have voted against it. Nobody held a gun to their head,” Perez said.

Robinson-Thorpe said she was told she had a responsibility as a board leader to go along with the consensus of the leadership. “They want leadership to be cohesive.”

Party leaders are supposed to find out where people stand on an issue, then try to forge consensus to get matters passed, James argued. “That’s what leadership is all about—to get people [together] and get things accomplished. What adults do, they go into a room and talk about their issues.”

Machine Politics? Or Coalition Politics?

Foskey-Cyrus said the turning point for her came in the early stages of the 2013 mayoral campaign, when labor-backed alders met at the union hall on Chapel Street in Fair Haven to discuss backing a candidate. When a number of members wanted to back Democrat Kermit Carolina, rather than the candidate favored by leadership (at the time Jack Keyes, who ended up not running; later, Toni Harp), the meeting ended without a vote, she said. And she was told, she said, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.”

“Right then I realized this is a joke. We’re not a family. They’re dictators,” Foskey-Cyrus said. Foskey-Cyrus said she ended up backing Harp after Carolina allegedly threatened to support candidates opposing alders who didn’t support his candidacy.

Alder Staggers said he, too, ended up regretting voting yes on the Yale street deal. He claimed that one of the board coalition leaders—he wouldn’t name who—threatened him that he wouldn’t be able to “get anything done” in his ward if he didn’t support Harp for mayor. (He remained neutral in the mayor’s race.) Again, Perez, Mills and James denied making the comments to Staggers or Foskey-Cyrus, or stifling debate.

To UNITE HERE’s Mills, unions, like other organized groups in town, have a constructive role to play in politics and government.

“Unions in New Haven are well-organized, which isn’t the case in a lot of the country. I think it’s a good thing,” she said Sunday. “It’s an exciting and important time in the city. There’s new leadership [in City Hall, in the schools, at Yale]. There are a lot of people—including unions—who want to focus on unemployment and violence. There’s a lot of work to be done. There are roles” for many groups to play. “We should work together when there are shared priorities. Disagreement doesn’t mean dictating.”

Alder Stratton offered a different take on unions’ role.

“The unions, like every other machine, give people a position. They don’t give people a voice,” he said at the Sunday gathering at Robinson-Thorpe’s home. “It’s a historical problem in New Haven. We have this powerful body, the Board of Aldermen, that has been under the thumb of a machine. We need another place to go when people disagree with the power structure.”

The new caucus doesn’t have a name yet. Robinson-Thorpe said it wants “the people” to decide on a name.

Previous stories examining the new labor majority’s first term in office:
Perez: We Kept Our Word
For Wonkish Rookies, City Hall Wasn’t Hollywood
“Labor” Agenda Takes Shape In 1st Year
Outside City Hall, A New Way Of Doing Business
Rookies Learn: All Politics Is Hyperlocal

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Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: FHResident on January 5, 2014  10:51pm

So sad to see our community leaders acting just like rival gang members!! While our city homicide and unemployment rate is going high! People stop this madness and act like caring civilized adults, there’s a lot of work to do in our communities instead of backstabbing one another. My God no one can be trusted anymore, this truly disappoints me as a tax payer too much drama while our city is falling apart. People get it together, Mayor Toni Harp takes office and you all begin to go haywire. This is a joke. You all need to reevaluate yourselves and the positions you all have because you ain’t happy where you at.  At one point I thought I’d run for alder woman but now with the reputation that you all are acquiring I tell you one thing my sanity is more important than making a fool out myself and having to live with it for the rest of my life, there’s no way in hell any one not worth my health nor time will take the peace I have or take me out of my character. This is not about community is gotten personal and that is truly not a good thing.

posted by: darnell on January 6, 2014  12:58am

OMG, for once I am speechless. How can these folks admit that they voted against their conscience and communities? Now I can go to rest with the thought that I have seen it all….LOL

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on January 6, 2014  2:27am

Finally! The residents and taxpayers of New Haven need real representation. Let’s hope this is the beginning of something new.

posted by: nh4life on January 6, 2014  8:39am

Certain Alders are claiming things were said that are being denied. How are these people supposed to work together to get anything done in this atmosphere ?

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on January 6, 2014  9:39am

“UNITE HERE-backed board majority had created a new machine that dictates how people should vote and limits discussion and independence, just like the old Democratic Party machine that it replaced.” This kind of thing has gone on for decades at ALL levels of government: city, state, federal. Regardless of your ideological leanings, the ONLY way to end this entrenched corruption is to get rid of EVERY incumbent. Andy Ross, the best qualified candidate for Wooster Square, lost merely because he was a Republican. But it was voters who REALLY lost by maintaining the status quo. So next time you have an actual choice, hold your nose and fight your gag reflex if you have to, but vote for anyone who is NOT part of the local Democratic Machine. If the newcomer proves to be a disaster, you can get rid of them next time around. But New Haven—and Connecticut—never will change until voters wake up to the massive scam that’s been taking place for decades—and dump ALL incumbents.

posted by: robn on January 6, 2014  9:43am

Commenters who continually deny fascistic union strong-arm tactics (and use reductio ad absurdum terms such as “conspiracy” and “cabal”) can now eat their words.

posted by: Common Ground on January 6, 2014  9:45am

Well, this is petty.  There are constructive things happening in town, and seriously bad things happening like the violence, and this is how a group of alders spends their time?  Half of them aren’t even on the board yet and they are criticizing their own body.  That doesn’t seem like keeping an open, independent mind. 

Anyway, the common ground in town is that everyone wants to be safe, have a way to provide for their families, and be able to send kids (if they have them) to a good school.  Numerous community gatherings and polls have made this known over and over.  Mayor Toni Harp seems to understand this.  I’m hoping to see those things be the topic of discussion, not this ridiculousness.

posted by: David S Baker on January 6, 2014  9:47am

These folks RECENTLY came to the conclusion that sucking diversity out of city governemnt with union dollars was a bad idea?  This has been going on for four years!

Trust these folks only as far as you can throw them Mike Stratton.

posted by: Greg-Morehead on January 6, 2014  9:50am

I agree with the Alders that are coming out against James, Perez, and Mills.
Myself and others have been saying this for a long time. The union control of the board and those that are pushing their weight around, ARE dictators! They claim to have the residents best interest at heart, but they truly don’t. They are pushing the Unions agenda, and thats it! Thorpe and the others are NOT disgruntled, nor are they acting like this is high school, but they are telling the truth about what really goes on. Residents on the outside, don’t see the half of what goes on behind the scenes.
Those in power on the board currently and with the Unions,say what the residents want to hear and behind the scenes, they are moving forward with their agenda. I know for a fact that their were people who were told to vote for Toni. Alot of the union backed Alders never seen her around or have ever worked with her in the past, but (as one current Alder told me)they have to vote in favor of the group.
I don’t know when New Haven residents will wake up and see whats really going on here! Watch as time goes on, there are going to be bones thrown to the residents by way of so called legislation that looks like its in favor of the community, but, in turn, there’s a hidden agenda and behind the scenes price thats going to have to be collected on.

When Will We WUNH?(Wake up New Haven)

posted by: wendy1 on January 6, 2014  10:08am

I applaud transparency and independence in any alder.  For too long, alderpeople have been out for themselves, feathering their own nests at the expense of the poor townspeople.

The sale of parts of our city including whole streets is a disgrace.  It is time for the city to go after the elephant in the room, Yale Corp., also UI, Fusco, and all the other uber rich villains in town.  The townspeople have been stepped on enough, mistreated and cheated enough!!!!!.

This means that we, the working classes, will have to pay close attention to cityhall and the BOA.  Citizens must get involved MUCH MORE and stay in touch with alders MUCH MORE.  I am pro-union but I have walked over to the union office (corner of temple and elm) to complain.  This union has done some good things but they are still unable to unionize Yale-New Haven or get workers a living wage ($30 an hour).  We have to pay attention.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on January 6, 2014  10:16am

Where the heck is Hausladen in this picture? Inquiring minds want to know!

[Ed.: “Later, Downtown Alderman Doug Hausladen said he, too, is part of the group.”]

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 6, 2014  10:26am

You all keep saying union control.How about the old fossils and dinosaurs who have been on the BOA rubber stamping before the so call union got in.Also how come this group to so long to bring this up.They used the union machine to get themselves elected.Give me a break.This is why you need IRV voting Term Limits and Proportional Representation you will not have this problem.

Alder Stratton offered a different take on unions’ role.

“The unions, like every other machine, give people a position. They don’t give people a voice,” he said at the Sunday gathering at Robinson-Thorpe’s home. “It’s a historical problem in New Haven. We have this powerful body, the Board of Aldermen, that has been under the thumb of a machine. We need another place to go when people disagree with the power structure.”

Spoken like a true one percenter.

My Bad. Forgot Election Recall.

posted by: FacChec on January 6, 2014  10:45am

After voting unanimously on every major issue in committee and before the full board for the last two terms, this split developed by Robinson Thorpe comes as a bit of a surprise. 

I hope her new found independence was not propelled by the lack of support for the weak and non influential board position of President pro-tem of the board. 

I am hard pressed to see what legislative agenda was advanced by the united here and Perez during the past two terms; they had no agenda, but merely reacted to those that the Mayor advanced. Since all major votes before the board were passed unanimously WITHOUT DEBATE, these new found independent alders have a lot of explaining to do, since here-to-fore they were content on voting the way Perez told them to vote. 

For this new term it appears the union and Perez want greater control over the board in order to continue to advance DeStefano’s, now Harp and Malloy’s, downtown and railroad development over the neighborhoods.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 6, 2014  10:50am

My bad again.Did not these same above BOA members help the same unions that they are criticizing work with the same unions who back Harp to get elected.Also how come these same BOA people who got help from the same unions who they are criticizing also help them get elected.This all sound to me like take back New Haven Machine is back.

posted by: Anderson Scooper on January 6, 2014  10:54am

On a more serious note, yes, the Unions should keep their money out of our neighborhood elections.

If they want to endorse, fine. If union members choose to volunteer, okay, I guess. But financing paid canvassers to the tune of $20-$40 per voter? Gross. (And what’s even grosser is those canvassers posing as concerned Democratic volunteers, without mentioning that they are getting paid, and by whom.)

My lasting remembrance of the Unions’ power madness is their vulgar attempt to replace one of the best alder people ever, our neighborhood activist Doug Hausladen, with a carpet-bagging Yale undergrad who broke her lease just so she might represent us! (Q: Who lives in SoHu without knowing where Modern Pizza is? A: The Unions’ choice aldermanic candidate!) That sad fact combined with the ugliness with which they went after Doug,—door-to-door casting aspersions about his character,—was far, far worse than anything Susie Voigt and Team DeStefano ever attempted.

Therefore if a handful of alder people have decided they don’t want to be under the thumb of the heavy-handed union machine, Hallelujah and count me in! I can even propose an agenda for the group. How about better schools, a safer city, and jobs for everyone?

posted by: HewNaven on January 6, 2014  11:04am

In Robinson-Thorpe’s prepared statement she mentions weekly meetings of the “21” (the alders elected with Unite-Here support) at union offices. I want to hear more about those meetings! That is indeed a cabal.

posted by: anonymous on January 6, 2014  12:28pm

You hit the nail on the head, Anderson.

Jackie James’s comment referring to “high school” level behavior is offensive and inappropriate in my opinion, given the youth population and diversity of the neighborhoods where she works.

Everyone already knew that the UNITE-bought Alders were told not to speak to Justin Elicker - he had always represented city residents’ interests over the interests of suburbanites within the UNITE leadership.  When it comes to the strong-arm tactics used the Board of Aldermen and secretive DTC, this article is just the tip of the iceberg.

Hopefully, a coalition will emerge that demands real progress on issues and struggling neighborhoods, not more meaningless press conferences on how we only had three more murders this year, or X number of new hires (presented without any regard to new fires).

posted by: Guido Brunetti on January 6, 2014  1:30pm


Thanks for highlighting the fact that Justin Elicker was deliberately left out of the loop even though he was on the “call” list.

I echo the sentiment that Justin was dedicated to constituent service not machine politics and it’s accompanying nasty power plays.

To realize he was punished for this is disheartening. Power to this new coalition!

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on January 6, 2014  1:45pm

These revelations leave the residents of New Haven wondering what else is happening behind closed doors between the unions and our elected representatives, and, more importantly, if any laws have been broken.

posted by: darnell on January 6, 2014  2:07pm

Look, I like and respect Justin as much as the next guy, but come on, really? It was a short 3 years ago that Justin was part of the “in” crowd. He was appointed Chairman of one of the most powerful committees his freshman year, not because he was smarter than anyone else, but because he was part of the cliche that was in charge. He sat in plenty of closed secret meetings, I know, because at the time I was the alderman not getting calls. When the union took over, of course his fortunes changed.

Now we all know to the victor goes the spoils, but that isn’t how our government for the people is supposed to work. I’m sure I would have been as welcomed in the union dominated board as I was in the previous board (sarcasm).

I had hope for the union board, and am a little disappointed with these revelations. I have hope for the new administration. Time will tell.

What I am truly confused by is the Carlton Staggers position on a lot of things. As my alderman I was of course very disappointed with his voting record, particularly on the sell of the streets. I was very surprised that he didn’t endorse and support Mayor Harp during the primary or general election, since she endorsed him in the race against me 2 years earlier, even when she admitted that she didn’t know much about him. Very strange indeed. I guess loyalty is in short supply these days.

posted by: LoveNH on January 6, 2014  2:21pm

As I have said previously, the Yale unions appear to support democracy as a tactic rather than as a value.  When it suits their end, the tactics change. Free thinking union supporters out there need to speak out against Proto, et al. and their ways. Only when their power is threatened will they (possibly) change their tune. To what, only time will tell.

posted by: webblog on January 6, 2014  3:01pm

By their own admissions in this article, the new independents openly admit to cowing down to the wishes of the leadership coalition, rather than to the best interest of their constituents.
There is no excuse for voting unanimously, without debate for the 2013 budget, and then telling their constituents what a good job they had done reducing the budget against the administration wishes.

The fact that they were being phoned ahead of the vote is no excuse for not acting independently when the actual vote took place.

Because there are only five so called leadership positions, they act in concert, after Perez and the Mayor had cut the deal.

Therefore, for all intent and purposes Perez is the dictator and the others simply fulfilled their role as rubber-stampers, they admit so in this article.

As much as staggers is concern, he is nonexistent; he attends meeting inconsistently, comes late, plays with his dumb phone and leaves early, after voting YES.

As for the future, Robinson-Thorpe and her new rebel crew had better come up with their own legislative agenda which clearly demonstrates democracy” and transparency in the new two-year term, and further shows they not just start blowing smoke.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on January 6, 2014  3:51pm

This is a long time coming. I am glad to see these strong community leaders take a stand.
“Courage is a kind of salvation “–Plato-
We have gotten so use to a machine that many fell in line to the new one…with thoughts that the new one is better than the old one. But again,  it is a machine controlling most of the people who can run, what way most people will vote. And forgetting that our elected officials our suppose to represent us, not what they are told by a chosen few.

“ I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

I stand up and clap my hands for each of you and hope others will follow.

posted by: Hill South on January 6, 2014  6:19pm

These alderpersons admit to have folded under pressure to cast votes contrary to the opinion of the people they were elected to represent. This does not give me confidence in their continued or future ability to lead. But this is no different then how I felt when their candidacy was initially promoted by UNITE HERE. In their election campaigns they promised their constituents that they could count on them to represent their needs and concerns ... that they would be heard. 2-3 years later you tell us that you did not have the courage or the fortitude to vote with integrity ... that you were threatened or coerced into doing something you thought was wrong. And NOW you want people to have faith in you?  Glad none of you are my Alder.

posted by: citoyen on January 7, 2014  12:45am

This is a very encouraging development, from within the ranks of the Board of Alders itself.  May it grow in strength, steadily.

I am *glad* to learn some alders have recognized past errors and want to do better henceforth.  This could be called learning and growing.

All this feel-good happy talk from the union machine leaders.  “That’s what leadership is all about—to get people [together] and get things accomplished.”  “It’s an exciting and important time in the city. There’s new leadership [in City Hall, in the schools, at Yale]. There are a lot of people-—including unions-—who want to focus on unemployment and violence. There’s a lot of work to be done. There are roles for many groups to play. We *should* work together when there are shared priorities.”

All of it is more and more being seen for what it is—empty, calculated, perhaps poll-tested, double-speak.

A political machine is a machine is a machine.

What New Haven needs, desperately, is continuing *competition*—like during the recent election season.  NOT the stifling of dissenting voices.

Since there is no viable opposition party in New Haven, this will have to be accomplished somehow within the Democratic Party framework.  Which will have to mean direct challenges to the entrenched Democratic Party power structure.  There need to be transparency, responsiveness, and *freedom from fear of retribution* within a reformed version of the NH Dem Party.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on January 7, 2014  10:50am

citoyen says: “Since there is no viable opposition party in New Haven, this will have to be accomplished somehow within the Democratic Party framework… within a reformed version of the NH Dem Party.” Unfortunately, the nature of the beast is such that it is beyond “reform”. So why not a 3rd party? Such a party would have “no position” on issues that have caused feuds at the state and/or national level—e.g.  ObamaCare, abortion, gay marriage, military spending, immigration reform, income tax reform—because these issues are Not Relevant at the municipal level. New Haven cannot revise the federal or state tax codes, cannot pass federal or state constitutional amendments, cannot increase or decrease military spending, etc., etc. New Haven once had a third party—the Green Party—which became obsolete because it adopted a platform that mirrored much of the Democrats’ platform. So why not a 3rd party that has a platform which is utterly Distinct from the Dems and focused Exclusively on providing alternative ideas to New Haven’s Machine?

posted by: citoyen on January 8, 2014  12:13am

C. Schaefer,

Interesting idea.  I’m inclined to agree that the nature of the beast is that it could be beyond reform.  I’ll have to think about this for a while.

The the thing is, New Haven does not exist in a vacuum—there’s a wider world out there, and I don’t know if, realistically, it’s possible to conduct political affairs within the city borders as if there’s not.  And third parties, realistically, never really go anywhere (except for, say, Republicans in the late 1850s).  I’ve been here a while, and I watched the Green Party rise and fall—did they manage to elect all of one alderman to the board? or maybe two altogether, from one ward? I don’t really remember—and the whole enterprise never had any chance of catching fire across the whole city.

In a sense, I suppose Justin Elicker’s “independent” candidacy this time around, and Jeffrey Kerekes’s last time, were, if not a third party approach, at least a third way approach to New Haven politics.  And both gained a lot of momentum.  At the same time, there was, as just one example, all that crazy resistance that Justin must therefore be a Dick Cheney right-winger.  On election day, I encountered an acquaintance, and we talked a bit, and I asked whom he’d voted for, and he said, “I voted for the Democrat.”  People’s voting habits are very entrenched around here.

It’s an interesting question, and not a new one, here or elsewhere.  To affect the power structure, is it more effective to try from inside or outside?  The answers differ, time to time, place to place.  (The Yale unions tried inside, and they’ve been very successful.  Their key has been *organization.*)

posted by: robn on January 8, 2014  10:05am


What labor is calling “organization” is really just manufactured consent. There’s a reason why the labor coalition chose Toni Harp over someone much more interesting like Jessica Holmes or GHW and that’s because the coalition strategized how to get otherwise uninterested voters to the polls using cult of personality; its cold calculation (before I get heat for this, the NHI has done numerous articles on the subject of the “historic” election of New Havens first black female mayor; and how that drew people to the polls. fact.)