Fasano Credits Harp—& Fasano

Peak, Bass PhotosMayor Toni Harp did something smart, according to the state’s top elected Republican: She listened to him.

The Republican, State Sen. Len Fasano of North Haven, made that assessment about the mayor’s recent steps to address the rise of drug abuse and overdoses on the New Haven Green.

He said that after he publicly attacked her for ignoring the problem, she listened and took the right steps.

Harp’s response?


The pair made those remarks in back-to-back interviews on WNHH radio.

The back-and-forth began on Aug. 16, while city emergency crews and officials raced to respond to a spate of over 100 overdoses on the New Haven Green caused by a bad batch of the cannabanoid K2.

Fasano, the Republican president pro tem of the State Senate, issued a blistering press release. He accused Harp of ignoring a problem right outside her office window and allowing the Green to become a “place of despair.” That led to responses from Harp and others in town who were outraged that a suburban legislator would inject himself into a local issue like that for, in some people’s view, political gain. (Read Fasano’s statement and some local responses here.)

Fasano said in an interview on WNHH’s “Dateline New Haven” program that, as someone who works in New Haven, he had seen the problem firsthand and needed to speak out.

The city has increased police patrols, arrested K2 dealers, worked with medical institutions to identify and help addicts, and worked out on a longer-term plan that includes a probable new drop-in center run by Hill Health Center to help overdose victims and others using drugs on the Green.

“Mayor Harp has stepped up. I call them like I see them. She has shown leadership and said, ‘We’re going to deal with this problem,’” Fasano said in the radio interview. “I think she’s done a good job since it reached that pinnacle.

“But until it reached this pinnacle, nothing was being done. The only time she took action was after I wrote that letter. Now she showed mayoral leadership. She’ll get all the credit from me that she did take to heart and worked on this. When you reach national exposure, you have to do something, and she did. Better late than never. And I applaud her for it.”

“B.S.!” Harp responded with a laugh the following day on WNHH’s “Mayor Monday” program. “So like it was him!”

“We’ve been working on it for four years. And we could use some help, by the way. Don’t criticize unless you want to ante up and do something about it. That’s my challenge to him,” Harp added.

Fasano said on the program that he’d be willing to support increased reimbursement to the city under the state’s Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program, more money for treatment, and the proposed drop-in center.

But he added that he expects more transparent and responsible public spending in return from the city.

Which leads to the second chapter of this unusual series of exchanges between two former State Senate colleagues. Fasano issued a second press release personally attacking Harp soon after the K2 episode, responding to news reports that she spent $4,000 on new uniforms for mayoral staffers.

Fasano said the story “speaks volumes about Mayor Harp’s priorities…. Taxpayers in New Haven and throughout the state should be furious.”

Why would an out-of-town legislator weigh in on $4,000 of spending in one community? Would Fasano apply the same scrutiny to, say, the four-figure spending decisions of municipal officials in Avon or Winsted?

Fasano said he focused on New Haven because he grew up here and works here (as an attorney), and because Harp had criticized the state for cutting aid to the city.

“She went up 11 percent on taxes across New Haven. She argued that she needs more money. The city is broke. She went up 11 percent on taxes. The state’s not giving her enough money. She blamed everybody in the world. She’s telling the residents of New Haven, ‘We are broke. We have to tighten our belts. We have to go up 11 percent.’ Then you take money out of a firefighter’s fund, create a new line in your budget for wardrobe.”

It is “symbolic” of irresponsible spending, he contended.

“We need to give New Haven more money. But when I see $4,000 being spent on uniforms, it speaks to a fundamental fairness of fiscal responsibility. In North Haven, where I come from, my first selectman isn’t buying uniforms for his staff.”

He added that because New Haven’s a one-party Democratic town, no elected officials will criticize a Democratic mayor. So someone had to do it.

Harp responded that Fasano failed to call her or otherwise get the full story on the expenditures. She said his true motive is political: Donald Trump’s unpopularity is threatening the chances of statewide Republican candidates this November, including “somebody nobody knows” running for governor, and Fasano was looking for a Democratic punching bag as a scapegoat and diversion.

“I think what he is doing is attacking me to rally his base,” Harp ventured. “It’s fine with me. But get the story right.”

Fasano denied any political motivation in his remarks; he’s not “running for mayor,” he said.

“I don’t consider myself a suburban legislator. I am as much an urban legislator as Sen. [Martin] Looney is. I was born and raised in New Haven. I work in New Haven. I come to New Haven virtually every single day. In fact, the legislators at the Capitol consider me a New Haven legislator because I vote in favor of [New Haven] bills. Because I believe the strength of our state is dependent on the strength of our cities….

“Look, I like Toni Harp as a person. I think she’s a nice person. I just think that some things in New Haven have to change. And some things I don’t think she got right.”

You can hear the two officials’ full explanations of their positions, including Harp’s update on the uniforms, in the videos below.

Click on the video to watch the full interview with State Sen. Len Fasano on WNHH FM’s “Dateline New Haven.”

Click on the video to watch the full episode of “Mayor Monday” on WNHH FM.

This episode of “Mayor Monday” was made possible with the support of Gateway Community College and Berchem Moses P.C.

Tags: , ,

Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: LookOut on September 10, 2018  2:57pm

is there any issue that Harp talks about that doesn’t include the “Give me more money” angle? 

Toni - sometimes you need to focus on better ways of spending the $500 Million you get every year rather than looking for ways to get more.

posted by: LookOut on September 10, 2018  3:10pm

my bad, just looked up the numbers….$500 million was a couple years ago (before the increases in assessments - 2 yrs ago - and mill rates - last year.  This year’s budget is $656 Million.  Amazing considering no growth in population, or businesses, or well education students, or fires,...etc

posted by: robn on September 10, 2018  4:50pm

Donald Trump is an idiot…but he’s not responsible for our fiscal mess. That responsibility rests with Mayor Harp and this awful suburban union controlled BOA. All should resign immediately.

posted by: Gary Stewart on September 10, 2018  5:12pm

I did agree w/ one thing Sen. Fasano said - No Dem. elected official will dare criticize a Dem. Mayor.  That , from my own experience , is painfully true .My own Alder . State Rep / State Senator won’t respond if I ask them to get involve din something that is critical of the Mayor , or the Yale unions.
It’s kind of like the White House situation - all we get are anonymous folks , or those leaving office.

posted by: dad101 on September 10, 2018  8:07pm

How about if MR Fasano kept his money opened a drug treatment center in his town opened a homeless shelter in his town, etc. Then his people wouldnt be on the green getting high they could do it in the comfort of their own neighborhood . They could get their methadone in their own community and hang out in the street and driveways panhandling there. I may not love some thing going on here but hold yourself in line before you start casting stones. OUR pilot funding shouldn’t be held hostage to do what you want done .Reality check the universities and hospitals are taking the TAXPAYERS for a ride and they are and have been in bed with the highest leaders of the state for many many decades. The pilot fund want never meant to be a political negotiation chip. MS HARP is doing with what she has and that is with no thanks to MOST of the suburban towns who would have you believe that NEW HAVEN IS SO UTTERLY DANGEROUS BECAUSE of NEW HAVENERS….Keep yours home and we would have a hell of a lot less danger to deal with!!!!!!!!!

posted by: Gimp on September 10, 2018  8:25pm

Wendy - Although I entirely agree with your assessment of the parties to this political clash, I am more concerned that they reciprocate the thought for each other. The biggest problem for New Haven is the prospect of a Republican governor, as we can all look forward to less State assistance, and probably a 20% or 30% or 40% mil rate hike next year.

Robn - Politicians don’t resign, they just carry on and get a spin doctor in to adjust public perceptions. Egos are worth much more than reality. I believe Winston Churchill once wrote that a successful person is one who embarks upon their next obvious failure as enthusiastically as the one they have just walked away from.

posted by: opin1 on September 10, 2018  9:44pm

I’m a Democrat but everything Len Fasano says here is spot on.  The fact he grew up New Haven, works in New Haven, and is a legislator in a town that borders New Haven absolutely gives him the right to speak out.

This in particular makes a lot of sense, I hope it happens:

“Fasano said on the program that he’d be willing to support increased reimbursement to the city under the state’s Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program, more money for treatment, and the proposed drop-in center. But he added that he expects more transparent and responsible public spending in return from the city.”

More PILOT money to New Haven in exchange for better fiscal responsibility and transparency. YES PLEASE!

posted by: 1644 on September 11, 2018  7:35am

Gary:  Actually,  Sen. Looney did push back at Harp when she claimed New Haven wasn’t getting its share of aid.

Harp and Bass are in a Trump-like land of self-delusion saying the city was shorted $9 million.  The budget Harp proposed, and that the Alders irresponsibly adopted,  included all Malloy’s proposed increases in aid, but omitted Malloy’s proposed shift of Teachers’ Retirement costs to municipalities.  The result was, even if the Governor’s budget had been adopted, New Haven would have been $15 million out-of-balance because it failed to provide for TRB payment.  (At the state level,  shifted TRB costs to towns was critical to balancing the Governor’s proposed budget and funding massive increases in aid to cities, which essentially filled the hole made by the TRB charge.  One couldn’t happen without the other.). Bass seems ignorant of NHI’s reporting, some of it his own.

posted by: Noteworthy on September 11, 2018  7:37am

Resign Toni Harp Notes:

1. The leaders in Avon, East Haven or Winsted are not buying clothes for the staff people in the First Selectman’s office. They’re not making useless trips to China, threatening not to pay into the pension fund or using mountains of debt to keep the lights on.

2. This is the fundamental dishonesty of Toni Harp - she blames others and she’s sneaky with the money. There was no wardrobe line item in her budget so she just took it from a department where there was one. There was no line item for monster pay raises for her inner circle so she just took them from where there was money. And lied about it. These things were not done in public - she hid them.

3.  Moreover - her plan B to cover last year’s debt was also shrouded in secrecy. When asked how the city was going to cover the defict - “Acting” Budget Chief Gormany lied and said he didn’t know even though he knew, Harp and Controller Jones all knew they were going to use debt refundings. And that process had already begun. You don’t refinance $160 million in a matter of weeks.

4. Failure to take responsibility - to fundamentally keep our city fiscally sound, able to pay its bills on time and therefore adequately take care of her people - is the mayor’s number one priority. But Harp spends money as if there is an endless supply and regardless of the budget which she refused to cut.

5. What’s worse however, is a failure to own the K2 and the New Haven Green drug dealing. Any of us who walk across the Green know what goes on there. To irrationally blame state funding - especially with her track record - knowing full well nothing has been directly and specifically cut for any intervention in the city is dishonest.

6. Enough is enough. Harp clearly doesn’t want to lead. She wants to be an empress. We don’t need royalty - we need loyalty and integrity. We rise and fall together - so far, she’s making us pay for her failures and diminishing us in the eyes of the state and country.

posted by: fastdriver on September 11, 2018  7:59am

Everything that Senator Fasano said is true. The only reason she’s reacting is because probably somebody told her that she had to say something and then they probably wrote it for her so she could read it like she always does. Can’t ever ask her anything without having it written in front of her because she’ll just give you answers off the top of her head like she did with the trip to China costs and the 11% raises! Her figures were miles off.

posted by: s093thead on September 11, 2018  8:02am

If you look at the logs of EMS calls to the green you will see that there should of been no concern for what Fasano said. If he wants to talk about anything look on some telephone polls where just before this happen YALE posted tested come do K2 research for 650 dollars then the out break happens. Now you have the Presidents Drug Czar come to town to asses the problem. Now wait for it here comes the influx of money to who the group that’s doing the study Yale. Fasano didn’t say how many of those people that OVERDOSED were actual New Haven residents some of them may have come from North Haven that some of his officers may have dropped of just something to think about.

posted by: Gary Stewart on September 11, 2018  12:06pm

To 1644: You’re correct re: Marty Looney , who was the only elected Dem. who did have the decency to communicate w/ me. My State Sen. is Gary Winfield , my Rep.- Pat Dillon , my Alder Evette Hamilton. Those are the folks I was referring to.

posted by: 1644 on September 12, 2018  9:53am

dad101:  North Haven has an APT methadone clinic, on State Street, so addicts from North Haven don’t have to come to New Haven.  I believe addicts hang out onto Green because they find a community there where their behavior is accepted.  Less compassionate and accepting law enforcement could remove that environment. 
BTW,  Madison has an drug abuse treatment center, both residential and outpatient.  A recent article profiled its treatment of a New Haven resident.

BH Cares, headquartered in Branford,  maintains many residences in Branford for mentally ill people, many drug addicts.  These residences are a large user of Branford’s EMS service.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 12, 2018  10:04am

Corrupted by wealth and power, your government is like a restaurant with only one dish. They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen. 

Huey Long