Goldson’s Boss Gets Board Business

Flickr, Liu, Breen PhotosDonald Vaccaro, the boss and business partner of Board of Education member Darnell Goldson, profited off school contracts by offering quick cash that a company needed for painting gigs in exchange for a percentage of the eventual city payments.

Then the city repaid Vaccaro directly out of government funds, rather than wait for the painting company to pay him back.

Through a little-known financial mechanism, RCN Capital, Vaccaro’s commercial lending firm, receives checks directly from the city. That payment from the city is for work that’s been done by contractors to whom RCN Capital fronts cash.

Netting over $300,000 last year, RCN Capital is currently the only company that has this special arrangement with the city, said Michael Fumiatti, New Haven’s purchasing agent.

RCN’s business — a form of payday lending for contractors — is technically known as “factoring.” Typically, factoring firms provide cash to small businesses that lack the assets or track record to qualify for a bank loan. Without financing, a growing business can end up with cash flow problems. That’s especially true for government contractors that often wait months for invoices to be processed.

To help small businesses pay the bills while waiting for government reimbursements, factoring firms buy up invoices for cash. They alert the agency they should be paid instead, and wait around while a higher interest rate accrues. The small business can pay its employees, while the factoring profits from a riskier investment.

That arrangement is exactly what RCN Capital, where Board of Ed member Goldson managed public relations as a day job, offered to Todd Howell’s NESAIM, LLC, a local business that competed for odd jobs within the schools. Goldson is also a partner with RCN’s owner on other business ventures.

Facing questions about whether those transactions constitute a conflict of interest, Goldson said he played no direct role by the time RCN made a deal with NESAIM. Goldson said he never used his elected position to influence NESAIM’s role in the school district; he said he has made a point of avoiding any conflicts of interest. Rather, he said he has worked hard to make contracting more transparent and to offer opportunities to minority businesses.

More broadly, the case of RCN and city contracting touches on questions of how New Haven school board decisions are made, and by whom; as well as questions of how best to create opportunities for minority-run small businesses to obtain government work.

The Deal

Melissa Bailey PhotoThrough an open bidding process, Howell has won at least five contracts from the Board of Education since 2015. He striped parking lots (up to $30,000), landscaped (up to $74,000), and provided on-call painting and welding (up to $75,000).

Three of those contracts were approved in 2016, while Goldson co-chaired the board’s Finance & Operations Committee. That panel reviews how the district allocates millions of dollars in services and capital improvements, before sending them to the full board for a vote.

Goldson’s committee didn’t vote on one deal: a $19,000 contract to pick up trash-filled dumpsters at Leeder Hill, for which Howell had submitted the lowest bid of three companies. That’s because the superintendent has the authority to approve contracts under $20,000, said Will Clark, the district’s chief operating officer.

When his school contracts were first approved, Howell tried to obtain his financing elsewhere, including from Riviera Finance, a factoring firm with 20 locations nationwide. But after running into problems, Howell made the switch over to RCN Capital last year, according to emails obtained by the Independent through the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act.

On Feb. 27, 2017, Howell’s lawyer, David Weiss, sent a verification agreement to Chris Neary, the city’s deputy corporation counsel. That’s a formal document that tells the city to pay the “factor” directly, rather than the contractor.

Based on rules in the Uniform Commercial Code that Connecticut adopted in 1959, the city pays RCN, not NESAIM. That system’s in place so that contractors aren’t paid twice, once up front by the factoring company and then again by the agency. But often, governments are confused about the transaction, said Bert Goldberg, the executive director of the International Factoring Association, a trade group with over 450 members. “They’re not used to seeing that,” he explained.

Neary wouldn’t approve the RCN payment agreement as originally submitted. He raised questions about the city’s liability. He suggested revising the wording to say that the invoice amounts were correct to the school board’s “best knowledge” and that other “claims and defenses” in NESAIM’s original contract might stop a payment to RCN.

Justin Murphy, RCN’s attorney, rejected the proposed changes. “I’m not sure this factoring arrangement can work,” he wrote in an email on March 6.

The same day, Howell emailed John Rose, Jr., the city’s corporation counsel. “Neary will not let these be signed,” he wrote, attaching six invoices, worth $12,540, for trash pickups at ESUMS, New Haven Academy, and Dr. Mayo Childhood School.

On March 7, Clark weighed in on the subject. But we don’t know what he wrote. The city has withheld the release of the contents of his email, citing the Freedom of Information Act’s exemption for attorney-client privilege. Clark declined to share a copy of the email.

RCN eventually relented. Murphy agreed to Neary’s proposed changes, and checks started going out a month later, on April 7.

In the city’s view, it doesn’t matter who’s paid, Fumiatti said. “We don’t care who you assign your payments to. As long as we get the work, we’re whole,” he said. And anyway, by law, he claimed, “we can’t deny them.”

In all, RCN Capital collected 27 payments from the city, totaling $300,357. Board of Education contracts made up roughly one-sixth of that sum.

According to invoices obtained through FOIA, the largest line-item was for repainting 30,000 square feet of walls at Domus Academy, a month after the district ended its eight-year relationship with the alternative middle school.

Goldson’s Boss

FlickrVaccaro controls a network of companies in real estate, finance and entertainment. He’s best known as chief executive of TicketNetwork, a marketplace for resale tickets to concerts and sports games. As a destination for scalpers, the company had to pay a $1.4 million settlement to the Federal Trade Commission in 2014 for deceptive marketing practices.

Vacarro is also the majority stakeholder in Goldson Vaccaro Productions, LLC, a gospel music series in which Goldson also holds equity. Jackie James, the former Democratic Town Committee chairwoman who resigned as the city’s small-business chief after publicly disagreeing with the mayor’s budget, said at a press conference last June that she was hired to run its 19-city tour.

Several of the companies operate out of the former Gerber Scientific Inc. headquarters in South Windsor, and employees often staff multiple projects.

Once a high-profile player in Connecticut political circles, Vacarro saw his status dropped after a drunken outburst at a 2012 Oscar-viewing party ended with his arrest for a second-degree hate crime and other charges. At an event where the lieutenant governor, attorney general, and other top officials were in attendance, Vaccaro allegedly groped a woman and threatened with racial slurs a bouncer who interfered. In the aftermath, politicians said they planned to return any campaign contributions to charity; Vacarro, who received two years of special probation that cleared his record, took a month-long leave of absence to enter rehab.

Since then, Vaccaro publicly rebranded himself as a philanthropist, with the help of a New Haven powerbroker and Goldson ally, the Rev. Boise Kimber, who has developed working relationships with, among others, the governor and the mayors of New Haven and Bridgeport. With Kimber’s assistance, Vaccaro started Grace Church Websites, a TicketNetwork subsidiary that builds free web pages for houses of worship in poor areas. And he provided a $385,000 loan that a member of Kimber’s ministers’ association needed to complete a stalled church expansion in Hartford’s North End.

Kimber denied receiving payment from Vaccaro for the help with his business ventures.

“I acted as an advisor,” Kimber said, of Grace Church Websites. As president of the Connecticut State Missionary Baptist Convention and a national officer of the National Baptist Convention, “I know churches who didn’t have websites. I was able to contact the state presidents across the country to put out a letter and ask people did they need free websites.”

He also agreed to help Vaccaro find people to hire at his company, Kimber said. “I helped Darnell set up job fairs around the state. We did the job fairs at churches.” Vaccaro “donated to the building fund at our church,” Kimber added, but he was never personally paid for his efforts. Kimber’s church, First Calvary Baptist on Dixwell Avenue, is in the process of constructing a new building.

Goldson’s Ally

Allison Simoes, TicketNetworkIn recent years, Kimber, a politically active reverend, has played a visible role in Board of Education decisions while maintaining close political and business relationships with Vaccaro and Goldson. Goldson described Kimber as his “good friend” and Vaccaro’s “religious mentor.”

Kimber spoke up regularly at New Haven school board meetings, often far exceeding the three-minute time limit and refusing to sit down when asked. At first, he denounced then-Superintendent Garth Harries for low test scores and for not working with more local, minority-owned businesses.

When the body transitioned to a hybrid with two elected members, he became the driving force behind Goldson’s candidacy. Goldson proceeded to take up the cause of lambasting Harries at board meetings.

Goldson said Kimber has been helpful to him. “When I was in a bad place financially, when I was unemployed, Kimber was one of the few people who stood by me and was supportive,” he explained. “I’m always going to be supportive of that guy. It [has] nothing to do with contracts or anything else; he is a good friend. If what he comes to me with makes sense and doesn’t hurt anybody, then I’m more than willing to be supportive and listen to him. That’s a fact.”

After Harries and members of the Harp administration began meeting with the reverend to discuss cooperating, Kimber switched sides, attacking board members who wanted to fire Harries.

Harries’ team in turn supported Kimber’s pitch to create a boys-only charter school, on which he never denied he’d be on the payroll. The Harp administration drew up plans, and Goldson took up the cause of advocating for the school. Then, without any approval, the Harries administration sped ahead and included the school in an official recruiting expo. After a school board member exposed the maneuver, Kimber’s proposal was derailed.

“I’ll be back,” the reverend vowed last spring.

Meanwhile, in his first year in office, Goldson became co-chair of the Board of Education’s Finance & Operations Committee, where he reviewed and approved all the district’s contracts — including several that went to Howell’s company and, indirectly, to his boss’s company. And like Kimber, he became a dependable ally of the mayor’s in the board’s drawn-out process of picking Carol Birks for superintendent, despite an outcry from parents and students.

Allan Appel PhotoMayor Toni Harp invited Vaccaro’s and Goldson’s RCN, which stands for “Real Cash Now,” to take a central role in the city’s plans to drive jobs to the Elm City’s small businesses. The idea was to help find ways to enable minority contractors, who are often short on cash, to obtain city work. Harp invited both RCN and NESAIM, LLC, to participate in a roundtable. And RCN was a featured speaker at a December 2016 event to ready minority entrepreneurs to bid on parts of the $45 million construction of the Strong School expected to begin within two months.

“You submit to us an invoice, and we pay you within 48 hours so you can pay your vendors, and we [then] get paid by the city,” an RCN employee said at that event. “We provide immediate financing, so a contractor can pay his vendors.”

On Sept. 29, 2017, Harp received a $1,000 contribution from Vaccaro toward her reelection campaign.

Goldson’s Position

Christopher Peak PhotoIn an interview with the Independent, Goldson argued that he did nothing wrong because he kept his distance from RCN over the past year.

“It was a non-issue at the beginning. I didn’t see there being any conflict,” Goldson said. “Even when I was at RCN, I was not involved in the loan piece of the organization. I don’t have that kind of influence.”

Goldson said that he was uninvolved in recruiting Howell to switch over to Vaccaro’s services. NESAIM and RCN were both invited to the mayor’s roundtable for minority contractors. Goldson was in attendance, but he said another RCN employee led the initial outreach.

Goldson didn’t attend later follow-up meetings with Howell where the factoring agreement’s terms were finalized, he added. That’s because Vaccaro took Goldson off RCN in late 2016, to give him more time to focus on Vaccaro’s TicketNetwork, he said.

“I’ve got so much on my plate, I don’t have any time to walk around the building to their shop to even deal with that,” he said. “[Howell] was there; I didn’t even know he was there.”

Goldson did talk up factoring to the New Haven Register last April, a month after Howell, who was featured in the article, became RCN’s client. In the article, Goldson is described as RCN’s public relations coordinator — a role that’s still on RCN’s website more than a year after Goldson said he transitioned away from RCN.

Goldson also said he once called someone in Executive Director Karen DuBois-Walton’s office at the Housing Authority of New Haven to help out his coworkers in tracking down a delayed payment for a NESAIM invoice. He showed some familiarity with Howell’s deal, saying that RCN wasn’t making much money off NESAIM’s invoices.

“They were making something like 2 percent on the loan, and there were like a couple hundred of thousand dollars in loans,” Goldson said. That would be at the low end of the industry standard of 1 to 5 percent, according to Goldberg.

Howell confirmed that RCN charged 2 percent interest for the first 30 days, a rate he called “reasonable.” After that, he said, the fees increased, by a schedule he didn’t have in front of him. Those extra charges added up when some invoices took up to five months to process.

Vaccaro could not be reached for comment at the South Windsor offices on Thursday and Friday.

“Here’s the problem: The guys managing RCN didn’t see it as a really productive product for them, so they didn’t really push it. It just didn’t make any money for them. Don was doing it out of the goodness of his heart,” Goldson explained. “I didn’t have the time to focus on it. I really wish I could have brought 10, 20 contractors in who could have set a critical mass that could have made it worthwhile for the people at RCN. But it didn’t happen.”

Goldson said he has long been an advocate for minority-owned small businesses, the “guys that weren’t part of the old boys’ network.” He said he believes they’re the city’s economic drivers. And he said he plans to continue fighting for them to get more work from the school district.

“I worked hard to try to figure out a legal way to break the ceiling for these minority contractors. I think everybody knows that; I told everybody that’s what I was doing,” he said. “All that money is leaving the city. I felt it was important to start trying to stem that exodus of dollars out of New Haven.”

Goldson also argued that he’s been responsible for cleaning up the school board’s contracting process, making sure it is “open and fair.” When he joined the board, Goldson said, he observed several tricks meant to avoid oversight, like approving contracts months after work began and renewing extensions to avoid competitive bidding.

“It hasn’t been as easy as I hoped it would be, but we’ve made some incremental changes,” Goldson said. “Todd was one of those guys that got one more contract that he wouldn’t have gotten if we hadn’t had a more open process.” He went on, “It’s kind of disappointing to me that I was not able to help more contractors, to tell you the truth.”

Goldson also questioned why there is talk of a conflict of interest now.

“If their biggest take on me is that I used to work for an organization that provided loans to a contractor for the Board of Education, then go ahead and take your shot. I’ll be proud of that,” Goldson said. “That was two years ago, and I know why it’s coming up now. Because Ed Joyner is transitioning off of the presidency, and they’re trying to destroy the character of anyone who might be a leader on the board.

“I’ve been in politics for a long time,” he continued. “I’m not beholden to anyone in the school system; I do what I think is right for the students. The people who are spreading that stuff are the people who have the real conflicts, and they’re trying to deflect.”

Howell’s Road

Small Business Development CenterMeanwhile, Todd Howell has closed down his shop, saying the “nickel-and-dime contracts” he was getting from the city couldn’t sustain a business. It didn’t help that the city’s payments typically take 45 days to process, according to Fumiatti, while fees to the factoring firm racked up.

“The city’s system is trying to destroy small business,” Howell said. “I’ve gotten sick over it; I’ve had health issues over it. My first factoring company quits. Then, on the second, Chris Neary doesn’t want it to go through. For 45 days, I’ve got nothing. A small business can’t operate on that.”

That outcome prompts another question: Is the city’s 16-year-old Small Contractor Development program doing enough to help minority entrepreneurs take on bigger jobs?

Howell’s precarious finances, which he attributed in part to school officials not allowing him to max out his contracted amount, made him a candidate for factoring. His troubles with money landed him in court multiple times, including a 2008 criminal conviction for tax avoidance that got him sentenced to four years of probation. And in the last two years, Howell faced three more lawsuits filed against NESAIM for unpaid debts.

A Seattle company who loaned him four vehicles, a lawn mower, ladders, power tools and other equipment said he’d stopped making payments on his five-year lease, leaving a $93,915 balance. HEDCO Inc., a Hartford economic development arm, came after Howell for not paying back a $150,000 loan (at 3 percent interest) and a $25,000 loan (at 5.5 percent interest). And his landlord at an auto garage at 281 Chapel St. tried to evict NESAIM for failing to pay its $1,400 rent.

Despite those financial challenges, Howell was able to get money from RCN Capital, because factoring firms make a different calculation than banks do. They’re not interested in the credit-worthiness of a business-owner like Howell, but in the dependability of the agency paying him. After the work’s been completed and an invoice submitted, it’s simply a matter of time until the city comes through with a payment.

That’s a pretty safe investment, said Matt Nemerson, the city’s economic development administrator. “Smaller companies with tighter margins have less business and make less money. It’s important to always look at any program that extends short-term credit to make sure they’re not taking away the profits that a company needs to grow and get more contracts,” he said. “What’s the actual risk that a lender is exposing themselves to? If that’s guaranteed, then the money should be pretty cheap. That higher interest rate and cost of capital should only be when there’s an actual risk.”

Nemerson said Vaccaro’s philanthropy earns him the benefit of the doubt that he’s charging a fair rate. “There’s no reason not to believe he’s not paying it forward,” he said.

But, Nemerson added, factoring firms still charge a premium for handing over cash that no one else will. “Money’s a commodity. There’s nothing magic about it,” he said. “That’s part of capitalism.”

Ideally, the city should have a relationship with a nonprofit consortium of banks who’d make riskier loans available at lower interest rates. And contracts set aside for minority-owned small businesses should include some with higher profit margins than construction gigs like painting walls or installing sheetrock, he added.

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posted by: 1644 on January 5, 2018  1:53pm

Or, the city could pay its bills promptly.  If the city paid its bills promptly, vendors would not need to factor the factor’s fraction into the bids, and could offer lower bids.  With the cost of money so low, why would the city let invoices linger, other than incompetence?  Well managed towns like Branford get good prices and responses from vendors because the vendors know they will get paid promptly.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on January 5, 2018  2:08pm

Whoa. Did Nemerson just stand up for Vaccaro and the City doing business with him? Vaccaro effectively “buys” a member of our Board of Education, and that is somehow okay?

The taxpayers deserve a full-scale investigation of all of these goings-on. Who has jurisdiction over municipal corruption? The State or the FBI.

posted by: Paul Wessel on January 5, 2018  2:09pm

Good reporting.  The troubling conflict of interest issues aside for the moment, would be interesting to see what interest rate Vaccaro and colleagues charge the under-financed minority contractors.

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on January 5, 2018  2:22pm

No clean hands. smh

posted by: Morgan Barth on January 5, 2018  2:53pm


Potential conflicts of interest like this (and there is a potential) should be thoroughly investigated, as you have done with this.  City contracts, relationships between contractors and city employers and elected officials, the way money and business moves should all be scrutinized.

In this case, the scrutiny does not reveal any wrong-doing; and the headline while technically accurate, is misleading.  If contracts were awarded directly to a firm in which a board-member has an interest that would be one thing…but in this case it appears that RCN bought the contracts after Howell won them in an open bidding process and after Howell sought out loans from other lenders.  How is Mr. Goldson responsible for this?  Is there any evidence he steered Howell toward RCN?  If so, that would be a major problem; but the article doesn’t lead point to this.

The problem that we should be trying to solve is the inefficiency of the city contracting and invoice payment process which seems to make it very hard for small businesses to compete with bigger ones who have more capital and can stay afloat while waiting for bills to be paid.  RCN sounds like it makes money by exploiting the inefficiency in the system and we could all save money and encourage small and minority contractors if they could compete for contracts more easily and get paid once their work is complete and verified.


posted by: 1644 on January 5, 2018  3:13pm

Morgan:  The factor didn’t buy the contracts, just the accounts receivable. Factors are, in effect, collection agencies, buying debt at a discount.

posted by: AverageTaxpayer on January 5, 2018  4:05pm

Hi Morgan,

Maybe it would be good to learn just what Goldson’s job responsibilities were when he was manager of “public relations” for RCN?

It would sure seem that it would include putting his political contacts to work on behalf of Vacarro.

Did he do so in New Haven, in association with Boise Kimber? Do we need proof to be calling for Goldson’s resignation, or is his mere financial entanglement with Vacarro and RCN’s contractor-lending scheme, reason in itself to say, “Enough is enough!”

I too want to know what kind of cut Vacarro got in exchange for a 3-month loan. Was it a nominal 3%, more like 10%, or even higher? And please let’s learn more of exactly what Goldson did as a “public relations” manager.

ps—the cynical among us would worry that Goldson was actively steering city contractor’s business towards his employer, Vacarro.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on January 5, 2018  4:25pm

Pump you brakes people.  There’s absolutely nothing nefarious going on here.  Sadly that whenever one hears the name Kimber, some automatically think the brother is involved in something distasteful.  I certainly have been someone that have levied my objections in specific areas where I disagreed with him.  That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the copious positive things the brother has done in the community over the years and currently.  However, there is nothing unethical in this write up that he’s akin to.  The man has the right to make a living to feed his family.  Some of us have the tendency to believe that every time they see smoke there has to be fire too.  That’s not always the case people.

Personally, I have heard great things about Mr. Vaccaro and his ambitiousness.  If his company meets the necessary criteria to acquire contracts with the school system, good luck to him.

For full disclosure, Darnell and I have been friends for over 40 years and he and I too have had areas where we see things differently.  But before you allow our dander to get ruffled, let us not forget these words in this article “Goldson’s committee didn’t vote on one deal.”  The man isn’t stupid.  He’s the very person on the board that has pushed openly and vehemently for transparency.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on January 5, 2018  4:48pm

Following up on Morgan Barth’s comments, these transactions may very well be legal. Factoring literally goes back ages -it is cited in the Code of Hammurabi.  But board members should avoid creating the appearance of impropriety, as well as actual impropriety. I don’t think it was necessary for Goldson to recuse himself. But it would have been prudent to disclose his past relationships with Vaccaro.

BTW, what was the Board of Ed. doing paying for the painting of Domus Academy?

posted by: Thomas Smith on January 5, 2018  5:58pm

This author is really stretching to find a story. The contractors cant afford to do the job without money upfront and the city wont pay until the job is done. Sounds like Vaccaro filled the gap. The fact that he made money doing it is called “capitalism” not “corruption”.

Must be a slow news day in New Haven.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 5, 2018  9:39pm

posted by: Thomas Smith on January 5, 2018 4:58pm
The fact that he made money doing it is called “capitalism” not “corruption”.

The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Here is my take.
Let the FBI,Attorney General take charge and if they find something.Then put them all in orange jumpsuits.

Vaccaro allegedly groped a woman and threatened with racial slurs a bouncer who interfered

Now this is what I have a problem with.

posted by: Smcadams on January 5, 2018  9:53pm

First of all Rev. Dr. Boise kimber is a God fearing man. I have followed his leadership for 10 years. Rev. Boise kimber has never lead me in the wrong direction he has been honest and trustworthy.
I have never ever known or assume that Dr. Boise kimber was being paid any money from anyone that he has help, his heart is and always about God and helping God’s people.

posted by: robn on January 5, 2018  10:28pm

I learn new things every day. In this case from the 2012 Courant link ....that one of Gov Malloy’s “First Five” corporate welfare recipients was a ticket scalper….Vaccaro’s company.

posted by: Mooks on January 6, 2018  1:14am

The real story here should be how New Haven is driving up its costs by taking so long to pay its bills and forcing contractors to borrow on their receivables. I invest in a similar capital fund and our interest rates are typically 10-20% depending on whether or not there is a lien on some type of property, though I am sure these are more towards the 20% as they are just on the straight receivables.

Obviously these costs are being passed on to the City when bids are being made by the contractors.

posted by: Peter99 on January 6, 2018  7:17am

While it may be legal, this practice will always fail the smell test with the general public. The insiders know the game, know the rules and know how to play. the city is depriving any contractor of their full profit because it is not efficient. If the taxpayers allow government to get away with not doing a proper job, and continue to support the incumbents at the voting booth inefficiency will continue to prevail. You get the kind of performance that you encourage. I do not expect the electorate to either care or understand that we the taxpayers are not being well served.

posted by: 1644 on January 6, 2018  11:41am

Mr. Smith: Contractors are asking to be paid before the work is done.  It is just that the city is failing to pay them promptly after the work is done, and perhaps, dragging its feet in certifying that work was properly completed and that invoices can be paid.  Perhaps, the city is just short on working capital itself, which wouldn’t surprise my considering the horrendous state New Haven’s finances are in (e.g., less than 1% budget reserve, city employees’ pension fund 1/3 funded, etc.).  The city could change its cash management practices and pay its bills promptly.  In time, costs would come done as the city developed a reputation for prompt payment.  However, since reputations lag reality, the gain would be delayed, and New Haven has never budgeted long-term.

posted by: 1644 on January 6, 2018  1:32pm

Peter99:  Let’s not forget that the favoritism shown “minority-owned” contractors is itself something of an insiders game, where contracts are awarded not on best price or product, but on the (sometimes nominal) owner’s complexion or other physical characteristic.

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on January 6, 2018  6:07pm

Prior to February 2017, in BoE roll-call (non-unanimous) votes where both were in attendance, Goldson voted with the Mayor 74% of the time and against her 36%.  Since that date, Goldson has voted the same as Mayor Harp 100% of the time and seems to have coordinated several absences with her to deny a quorum.

Darnell legitimately deserves credit for having “been responsible for cleaning up the school board’s contracting process.”  We have to be watchful that the old corruption isn’t simply replaced by different corruption with different winners and different techniques.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 6, 2018  6:14pm

The more I read and hear about this from people in the streets.New Haven is starting to look like Detroit when Kwame Kilpatrick was mayor.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 6, 2018  6:51pm

But, Nemerson added, factoring firms still charge a premium for handing over cash that no one else will. “Money’s a commodity. There’s nothing magic about it,” he said. “That’s part of capitalism.”

But this is also the part of capitalism.

1. Abuse of the System
Wherever there is freedom, there are people who will take advantage of and abuse the freedom. Some of the possible abuses in a capitalistic society include corporations using unfair practices in the labor field. Paying less than they should for the cost of living, and not allowing unions, having unsafe conditions to work in, are some examples.

2. Mega Companies Can Take Over
There are many small and privately owned companies in a capitalistic society, but when corporations grow and become huge, they can crowd out, buy out, and even push out, the smaller companies. This not only affects the small companies, but also individuals because when mega companies take over, prices are sure to go up and products limited.

3. Money is There, but Many Have Less Than a Few
The ability to grow financially is there, but the few who do may dominate the rest. There are many poor, some middle class, and few rich when there is a capitalistic society.

Capitalism is only good for big companies. Not good for lower middle class and poor.

posted by: Cora on January 6, 2018  10:10pm

Rev. Kimber is a personal friend of mine and I know he has a lot of haters in this town.  I also know a lot of people who benefited off his fight to help his people in this city. If everyone he has helped over the years would just post something positive about him, so others can see his goodness. This man has a good heart and so what if he get paid for doing what he loves doing, helping others.  I don’t really know what’s the big deal is regarding this article, but hey DON’T HATE THE PLAYERS HATE THE GAME!

posted by: darnell on January 7, 2018  11:20am


I not sure how accurate your numbers regarding voting, but I would say that you actually have it backwards. Your comment should be,

“Prior to February 2017, in BoE roll-call (non-unanimous) votes where both were in attendance, the Mayor voted with Goldson 74% of the time and against him 36%.  Since that date, the Mayor has voted the same as Goldson 100% of the time.”

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on January 7, 2018  12:58pm

Darnell, that is accurate as well. 

If you track your respective participation—both voting and commentary—you have changed position on issues more dramatically than she has, hence my phrasing. 

You are completely within your rights to reconsider your positions, but we hope it is on the merits and not for other reasons.

posted by: Michelle93 on January 7, 2018  9:52pm

Don Vaccaro is a business man and what he saw was an opportunity to help the minority community. He has come from nothing just like the rest of us and have found different ways to make money and to help others. He has helped the minority community with their small businesses more than the people who live right here in the community. Someone is always trying to find the negative in something when Don has nothing wrong at all. Vaccaro is a man of his word and brings forth action with it.

While, Rev. Kimber has been placed in the article because of his business ventures with Vaccaro, he isn’t doing anything but trying to make a living for him and his family. He’s done for the minority community as a political active pastor than most of the leaders here in New Haven. Again, always looking for the bad in a person instead of seeing the positive side of things. He’s an awesome man with a huge heart willing to help others always. Kimber loves what he does and if he is getting laid for it then so be it, he has to live like the rest of us out here.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 7, 2018  11:48pm

posted by: Michelle93 on January 7, 2018 8:52pm

Don Vaccaro is a business man and what he saw was an opportunity to help the minority community. He has come from nothing just like the rest of us and have found different ways to make money and to help others. He has helped the minority community with their small businesses more than the people who live right here in the community. Someone is always trying to find the negative in something when Don has nothing wrong at all. Vaccaro is a man of his word and brings forth action with it.

How could you say this is negative.When this is a fact.

TicketNetwork CEO Charged With Hurling Racial Insult At Oscars Party

Donald Vaccaro, 49, of Clark Hill Road, Glastonbury, was charged with second-degree hate crime, second-degree threatening, breach of peace, first-degree criminal trespass and interfering with police, police said.The bouncer told police that Vaccaro was being watched during the event “because he was being disrespectful to several women,” the report states.
“He touched several women, kissing them on both cheeks,” the bouncer told police. “It didn’t seem to bother the women, so I didn’t mess with the guy.”
But at the end of the event, Vaccaro “grabbed one last woman and asked her what designer she was wearing, as if she was on the red carpet and he was interviewing her,” the bouncer told police. “He turned her around so that he could look at the whole dress and then he grabbed her around her waist and pulled her close ... kissed her on both cheeks and then he grabbed her breasts with both hands.”“At that time, she looked over at me and she had a look of terror on her face,” the bouncer told police, according to the report.
The woman told the bouncer that she was extremely uncomfortable. The bouncer told police that he asked Vaccaro to let go of the woman’s hand, but Vaccaro refused. Then the bouncer “pried his hand off of hers and I asked him to leave.Part One

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 7, 2018  11:55pm

Part Two.

Vaccaro said he would leave after he finished his wine, but the bouncer escorted him out the front door, he told police.
Then, Vaccaro said, “You never should have touched me, you black mother-[expletive],” the bouncer told police.
Vaccaro took out his cellphone and said he was going to call his driver, who would “come and kick my ass,” the bouncer told police. But the bouncer “smacked the phone out of his hand” and Vaccaro “threw his hands in a fighting stance,” the report states.
At that point, the director of Real Art Ways came outside and asked the bouncer to return inside, he told police.
Vaccaro also refused to provide information for an arrest report, according to the incident report, but he did ask why that “black mother-[expletive]” wasn’t being arrested as well.

As I said before Let the FBI,Attorney General take charge and if they find something.Then put them all in orange jumpsuits.

But I do have a big problem with what Vaccaro said to the brother and what he did to that women.I do not care what he has done for the the minority community.In fact where was the minority community to speak about what he said and did?I do not give passes to white people are intensely racist and need to be stopped.

posted by: Itcantbereal on January 8, 2018  5:51pm

This company is not helping to promote small business in New Haven and City Hall better wake up.  This guy will drive people out of business instead because he is taking a big cut of their money.  No need to worry about Mr. Howell for too long: anyone who gives up 30-40% of their receivables for “real cash now” won’t be in business for too long.  He’s not making any money on these jobs.  As for Mr. Vacarro, let’s not kid ourselves.  He’s not “out to help the community” or minority businesses—factoring is a legal way to make a lot of money if you can find small businessmen desperate or gullible enough to play ball with you.  The lender verifies that the contractor does in fact have money coming to them, they then buy the receivable at a huge discount, and the contractor signs an agreement to have the lender paid directly.  Not much risk involved if you can wait for payment.  As for Kimber’s involvement, stay tuned.

posted by: Owlette on January 8, 2018  8:38pm

This is not at all surprising!!! It is sad that the board member who has been barking that he has no ties or gains from the BOE sure enough does! (My opinion). To the Boise fans PLEASE!!! My opinion again, he doesn’t do anything that doesn’t benefit him! jJust because someone portrays one thing doesn’t mean they are saints! Lucifer was once an angel! Furthermore, someone who claims he wants to start a charter school for black males because he feels they are not being well educated in the New Haven School system WHERE HAS HE BEEN, seeing that he cares so much. Why wasn’t he concerned that the superintendent process was all in shambles! Hmmmmm was it because his project was turned down and his pockets weren’t going to get lined with the public school $. Give me a break how about being concerned that all students receive a good education, girls, boys, white, yellow, green, blue, brown, Black,  special needs, non English speakers! Hmmmmmm food for thought! Not to hard to connect the dots when the actions are unfolding right before your eyes!  This is a conflict of interest!!!! Darnell should be removed from this board!

posted by: Michelle93 on January 9, 2018  1:29am

Y’all kill me always looking for the negative in something. Like anyone else to get money in your pockets you’re gonna make investments. For those of you who love to call out the wrong about Kimber SAVE IT, if you don’t know him behind the scenes then you don’t know what he does to help the community. Kimber will GIVE his LAST to help out the next without for anything in return.

Vaccaro is human just like the rest of us with some type of past behind them. People love to bring up the past when they have nothing else to speak on, duh!

Darnell isn’t a conflict of interest and should not be removed from the board at all. He’s cleaned up half the mess that was made before he took the position and is doing a job.

However, y’all be BLESSED because I’m done with this MESS !!!

posted by: ElmCityVoice on January 9, 2018  8:57am

Thank you Owelette. I can’t agree with you more. I don’t know why Mr. Goldson felt it was his responsibility to answer every point other commenters posed against Ms. Birk. He made it hard to believe he was open minded about his choice. I believe that working with a contractor, even if not directly, while you’re a member of board it’s hired to work for, is a conflict of interest. Where are the others in the “Birk contingent” and why haven’t we heard from them? As for Kimber, I don’t think anyone really thinks he’s just a man looking out for his community and hoping for employment while he’s had it. Please. Darnell should remove himself from the board. I’m sure he has other things to do in his life. Let someone who cares about children and not politics take his place.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on January 9, 2018  5:55pm

@ Michelle93

If I were hungry and friendless today, I would rather take my chances with a saloon-keeper than with the average preacher.

Eugene V. Debs

posted by: Lets uncover the real problem on January 9, 2018  6:32pm

The real issue is why are there so FEW minority businesses in a city of minorities? Minority businesses DO NOT get a preference over any other business in New Haven, they get what is called City Based Preference Points, regardless of race, creed or religion. There are set asides to include a percentage of small, women, hispanic and minority businesses in the larger bids due to the fact without these none of the afore mentioned groups would get work. There has been a few small companies that have tried to grow but with a concerted effort to not allow this to happen from bigger companies and certain departments it’s almost impossible. The city is offered by most contractors a 2% to 5% discount for net 30 day payment. Instead the city will go out as long as 150 days for payment. ( do the research ). RCN is smart enough and willing to fill a void created by the city and their inability to pay its vendors on time. Has anyone ever asked to see the electric bill for the city? Better yet how about an accounts payable statement for the city? If we paid our taxes like the city pays it’s bills the city would have it’s buildings place under a lien, seized and auctioned off. It reminds me of tying to win a cereal box prize, many will enter a few will win. The entire system needs to be revamped. I would say that most of you reading this couldn’t go 3 months or more without getting paid as well. I know I can go three weeks. I am only one women’s opinion on what I see and as a city employee in my department I hear it all the time from vendors who are afraid to speak up. I am blessed to have a job and must tread lightly as anytime someone speaks up they get put down.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on January 9, 2018  8:11pm

@ ElmCityVoice,

Let me try to understand you correctly here, Darnell should remove himself from the board because YOU disagree with the position(s) he’s taken?  Utterly ridiculous.  Harries hired people in whom he knew from all over the country, where were your criticism then?

Can anyone who disapprove with the actions taken here, present some empirical evidence as to where Mr. Goldson, Mr. Vaccaro and Mr. Kimber did something illegal? 

It appears as though fishing season has began pretty early ... and rather than hold the rod, ElmCityVoice and others have taken the bait instead.

posted by: 1644 on January 10, 2018  12:30pm

“Ideally, the city should have a relationship with a nonprofit consortium of banks who’d make riskier loans available at lower interest rates.”
No, ideally the city would pay its bills on time.  Goldson, along with other BoE members, is responsible for the BoE’s late payments, which necessitate the services of factors.  If “the real issue” is correct, the BoE could likely save the equivalent of some guidance counselors, if it only paid its bills on time.

posted by: robn on January 10, 2018  2:37pm

I agree with 1644. The city should pay its bills in a timely fashion. This as well as other contemporary streamlining (like all city employees knowing how to open and read a PDF) is what a Mayor Elicker might have brought to us but that’s sadly a parallel universe that we can’t partake of.

posted by: TimeforChangeInNewHaven on January 10, 2018  11:07pm

I agree with @morganbarth in the investigation of contracts, relationships, etc.  the corruption runs deep in New Haven especially in schools.  The. We have an unstable BOE putting up smoke screens to the nonsense… Let’s do an audit of the NHPS budget to start….

posted by: ElmCitier on January 12, 2018  1:32pm

The City’s procurement office should have a differential time-to-pay arrangements based on successful bidder size.  In brief, the smaller the company the sooner it gets paid. Cash flow may be a factor, but I suspect it’s more paperwork processing time.