Mass Transit The Winner At Mayoral Debate

Melissa Bailey PhotoSundiata Keitazulu took the city bus Sunday to a mayoral candidates’ debate—and discovered many of his opponents had not done so in years, in part, they said, because of a “broken” transit system.

The candidates revealed their bus-going histories, and posed solutions to improving the bus system, at an economic-development-themed debate Sunday afternoon at the Davis Street School in Westville. The event was sponsored by the Ward 25, 26, and 27 Democratic Party committees.

With the debut debate performance of state Sen. Toni Harp, Sunday marked the first time all seven Democratic mayoral candidates have participated in a debate together. Harp joined six men: Hillhouse Principal Kermit Carolina, East Rock Alderman Justin Elicker, former city economic development chief Henry Fernandez, state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, former Chamber of Commerce prez Matthew Nemerson, and Keitazulu, a Newhallville plumber. They are all seeking the party’s nomination in a Sept. 10 primary to succeed retiring 20-year incumbent Mayor John DeStefano.

Keitazulu, who couches himself as the common man’s candidate, and Holder-Winfield were the only two candidates who said they use the CT Transit city bus on a regular basis. Holder-Winfield said when the state legislature’s not in session, he hops on the B bus daily to get to his job as a union staffer at Southern Connecticut State University. At the other extreme, Harp said she had not ridden a city bus in 20 years. The rest of the candidates said they rarely if ever ride the bus, given inconvenient schedules and routes. They agreed that as mayor they would push the state and the Yale shuttle system to go more places more often in New Haven, so more New Haveners can travel by bus to their jobs.

Fernandez declared the bus system broken. It’s backwards, he said, that businesses see bus stops as a threat to businesses, instead of a benefit.

In a rare moment of unity, all seven candidates declared that—unlike the Board of Aldermen—they would have voted in favor of accepting a $800,000 federal grant to study the feasibility of bringing a trolley system downtown. Those voting no at the time argued it wasn’t worth a required $200,000 city contribution to get the federal grant, especially when the proposed trolley system was limited to downtown and would duplicate routes already served by Yale’s shuttle system. Proponents said the trolley system would bring much-needed mass transit, and that the routes could be redesigned to avoid duplication.

The sharpest exchange Sunday took place when candidates got to ask each other a question. Elicker asked Fernandez why he hasn’t seen him around town at “hundreds of meetings” across the city in recent years. Elicker, a New Canaan native who came to New Haven six years ago to attend Yale graduate school, opened himself up for easy attack.

“I’ve been here 23 years, not six,” Fernandez snapped back. He listed a range of New Haven activities over the years—from co-founding the LEAP youth program to overseeing neighborhood development and economic development at City Hall—and then said in more recent years he has worked on national progressive causes like immigration reform and African-American voter registration.

In her debut performance, Harp appeared most passionate in her closing remarks, when she called on the city to invest in adult education and stop letting high school dropouts slip through the cracks.

“We can’t give up on our kids when they are 16, 17,” she said. “We’ve got to stop our high schools from throwing our children out and not educating them.”

In other debate highlights, Carolina came forward in favor of using eminent domain to seize Church Street South, the rundown housing project across from the train station. He said the private landlord, Northland Investment Corporation of Boston, has failed to maintain the property. He said he would find affordable housing elsewhere for the project’s current tenants, then have an upgraded development built on the property that would better connect the train station to downtown.

The event kicked off at 4 p.m.

A live blog follows:

4 p.m. The candidates are here on stage. (Many rushed over from the Freddie Fixer parade.) We’re beginning soon.

4:07 Bass explains the process: First, candidates are going to ask questions submitted by folks from Wards 25, 26 and 27. Second, candidates will get to ask each other questions.

First question: You’re the mayor. A new developer asks: How do we do business in New Haven?

Carolina: You can’t do business here unless you’re willing to hire New Haven residents.

Elicker: They don’t have to contribute to my campaign to get business with the city. Need to change the zoning code to give developers more predictability.

Harp, who has been tied up in Hartford while the six men gathered for previous debates, is making her debut debate performance here. She calls for making developers sign project labor agreements. She opposes giving out tax credits to lure developers to the city.

Elicker later rebuts Harp: We can’t require project labor agreements as a matter of course, for example as a prerequisite to getting zoning approval—it’s illegal to do so.

4:18 Tweed-New Haven Airport: Keep it or sell it?

Elicker: Tweed has an incredible benefit to our city, however, need to have a timeline to “wean it off” public assistance.

Harp: The state has been subsidizing Tweed. Need to keep it—and support it more, so more people will use it.

(The room is filling up now in the Davis’s nice new auditorium.)

Holder-Winfield: We need to find a way to help Tweed start paying for itself.

Keitazulu: If Tweed doesn’t start paying for itself, let it go.

Nemerson: “Tweed is one of the most important assets that we have.” Need a commitment from the governor to support Tweed more. Tweed should be serving not just Philadelphia, but places like Florida, too. “This is a mandatory thing to do.”

Carolina: Keep Tweed.

4:20 Q: Should the city put dollars on the table in order to lure developers to come to New Haven; or to stay here, in the case of the 9th Square?

Fernandez: We need great schools and public infrastructure that supports developers. If we don’t have those things, “we’ll always have to pay off developers to come here.”

Harp recently came out expressing doubts about a proposed 9th Square bailout, where the city and state struck a deal with a developer, apparently without expecting that developer to pay the money back. Harp says we cannot afford to use tax abatements unless we can be sure there will be payback, and quickly.

Nemerson says we do have to issue incentives. “The first thing is to compete” against other cities, and to win. “We have to have a level playing field” to lure developers here.

Carolina said one of the city’s priorities is to create affordable housing here. Yes, he would put city dollars on the table to that end.

Elicker frowns on incentives in general. Potential residents don’t get tax abatements to come here, he argues; the city should keep taxes down in order to make it a more attractive place to live. That means not giving money away to developers.

4:33 Should the city bail out the 9th Square?

Harp stops short of saying no, but she’s skeptical. “We’ve got to take a long look at this developer.” This project should have worked. Why didn’t it? How much money has been taken out of the project and gone into the developer’s hands?

Nemerson takes a different angle: The point of investing money in that project was to encourage other development around the area. Why didn’t that work?

Elicker: It’s premature to take a stance.

4:39 Q: Is eminent domain for economic development OK?

Harp: I wouldn’t do it unless I thought there was a greater benefit to the city.

Holder-Winfield: With eminent domain, you’re not just taking people’s property; you’re taking their whole life. Eminent domain is something I would hope that I would never have to do.

Keitazulu: Yes. If it would create jobs and help the economy, you have to do it.

Nemerson: Yes. “Eminent domain is an important tool that we must use.” “There will be times when we have to take property.” But we have made mistakes in the past—in developing Long Wharf, and parts of downtown.

Carolina is losing his voice “from yelling at the Freddie Fixer parade.” He comes out in favor of using eminent domain to take over the Church Street South housing complex across from Union Station. The landlord has failed to take care of the property, he said. He calls for a new development there, and a creating new road through the complex that would connect Union Station with downtown.

Elicker: Wouldn’t take eminent domain off the table. “Cities in governments are not the best predictors of what the market will allow.” This is a classic example of making decisions without public input, a problem the city has had in the past, he argues. Elicker gets the first applause of the day by criticizing the city for past decisions that did not involve public input.

Fernandez said he has used eminent domain to some success: For example, the port area. And River Street, to get rid of junkyards to make way for businesses. (He gets some applause, too, from people wearing Henry for Mayor shirts.)

4:46 What can we do to fill vacant buildings in neighborhoods like Westville and Newhallville?

Nemerson—we need branding and “themes” on neighborhoods, in the way that Wooster Square is Little Italy. Need to create “ethnic themes” to attract folks from the suburbs. With the branding we have with downtown and Yale, use Connecticut Magazine and other magazines to attract more visitors downtown.

Carolina brings up Double G’s on Dixwell Avenue, a “life-enhancing business.” We need more places like (Westville coffehouse) Deja Brew in other neighborhoods. He calls for tax breaks for small businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer).

Elicker: Economic development focuses on downtown. “We can’t neglect our neighborhoods.” You need a better gathering place for events such as the holiday tree lighting. The state screwed up the widening of Whalley Avenue. You deserve better. (He gets applause for this.)

Fernandez: Slow down traffic so that people patronize local businesses. He also calls for cutting crime so people “feel safer shopping” in all neighborhoods.

Harp: “Westville has done it right. The Westville Village Renaissance Alliance has done well to recruit business owners to its main street.” The city needs to support businesses more… Other main streets need the kind of support that businesses in Westville get. ... She announces money on the state bond agenda to create a “new, better Whalley Avenue.”

4:54 Next question: Many people would like to commute to work by bus, but can’t. How would you convince the Yale shuttle and CT Transit to run buses more often and later at night?

Keitazulu, who has couched himself as the common man’s candidate, declares: “I took the bus today, Paul.” He took it to get to this debate. He cites more personal experience: His daughter got stuck at the Milford mall because buses weren’t running that late at night. He calls for better night service.

Nemerson: The last time he took a bus was a year and a half ago, because his daughter had his car. The question is, how do you convince Yale to open its shuttle to all New Haveners not just those in the ivy tower?

Carolina: “It’s been a long time” since he’s taken the bus. But “I have walked and jogged in a lot of places in the city.” He said in places like West Rock, low-income people are stranded by poor bus service.

Elicker: “I haven’t taken the bus in a long time and that’s a problem.” He said one problem is a disjointed transit system; the Yale and CT Transit bus systems are not coordinated.

Fernandez: “It has been years” since he took the bus because the transit system doesn’t function well, he said. In New Haven, he said, developers complain when they have a bus stop in front of their building. That’s backwards, he said: Bus stops are seen here as a threat to economic development, instead of an engine for economic development.

Harp: It’s been 20 years since she took the bus. She said she has fought at the Capitol to keep fares down.

Holder-Winfield: About a month ago. When he’s not at the Capitol, he takes the bus every day to get to his job at Southern Connecticut State University. “I get on the bus so that I understand what that experience is.”

Fernandez: “The state has failed us. Our department of transportation cares about highways”—not buses in inner cities.

Elicker: Public transportation’s value is in economic development.

Nemerson: The best cities in America have good bus systems.

5:03 Bonus question: Aldermen voted not to accept a federal planning grant to study the feasibility of bringing in a trolley system downtown. Would you have voted yes or no?

Wow, we have agreement here—they all say they would have voted yes. (Elicker said he did, indeed, vote yes.)

5:04 Now candidates are asking each other questions.

Harp asks Carolina what he would do for older kids who fail in school to make sure they get career-ready.

Carolina: Kids need to learn soft skills, such as respect and punctuality.

Fernandez to Elicker: “Justin, can you give specific examples of the experiences you have had that you think you can apply to creating jobs in New Haven?”

Elicker: Disclaimer: A mayor does not create jobs; he creates situations where people can get jobs. But he said as alderman, he has worked with merchants such as Marie Gallo in Cedar Hill to organize and attack problem properties and clean up the neighborhood so that businesses can thrive and bring jobs.

5:08 Keitazulu to Nemerson: How would you address poverty in the city?

Nemerson: We need more manufacturing jobs. And more vocational technical opportunities so people can land those jobs.

Nemerson to Harp: We’ve seen very little development in New Haven, while metropolitan New York area has snagged much more. “Why have we seen such a dearth of major projects in the last 10 years?”

Harp: Developers would say the state of CT has not had a housing agenda. There are not resources available to support building housing. But the reality is, we haven’t had the way to assist developers in our state. Also: We need a way of clearing land and making housing available to make way for development because there isn’t enough undeveloped space.

Carolina to Holder-Winfield: Which agencies or programs would you cut in the city to save money in the city budget?

Holder-Winfield: Evaluate current programs and eliminate them if they don’t work. Case in point: We have programs that help people land jobs, but people don’t end up holding those jobs. If a program isn’t working, “we should shut it down.”

Elicker to Fernandez: I’ve been to hundreds of meetings, block watches, neighborhood meetings. Before you announced you were running for mayor, I didn’t see you at those meetings.

Fernandez: I’ve been here 23 years, not six. (Zing! Elicker, of Canaan, came here six years ago to attend Yale.) Fernandez admits he has been focused on other issues outside the city for the past 7 years, such as defeating the death penalty in Maryland and working with the NAACP to register African-Americans to vote. He returns the barb: “When you’ve lived here 23 years, let me know.”

Holder-Winfield: How would you improve education?

Keitazulu would require kids to learn Spanish and Chinese.

5:16 Closing statements.

Nemerson: My vision is New Haven must compete in the New York metro area. We have to change zoning to do that. And “move beyond the rhetoric of reform” to improve the schools more. He would reach out beyond the teachers union, beyond the school board to do that. Calls for “zero tolerance” on criminals to make the city safer. Ends with a pledge not to increase taxes.

Carolina: Make clear to developers: “New Haven is not for sale.” Stresses his participation in the Democracy Fund, the city’s clean elections program. Clean up crime. Include more residents in decision-making. And “eliminate wasteful spending in city government.”

Elicker: Developers want a predictable environment: Update zoning, use Democracy Fund to avoid contractor shakedowns. We also need to invest in neighborhoods (not just downtown). DeStefano invested in “the roots of the Elm tree,” aka downtown, but the city needs to invest in the branches—e.g. Whalley, State Street.

Fernandez: We need to stabilize and lower taxes. We need to grow the commercial tax base. But we really need to improve the schools. And cut crime. To make “big leaps forward,” we need to work together as “One City.”

Harp: We have focused too much of our development around Yale and downtown. We need to “integrate the community people” with developers planning new projects. Must expand the state-funded main street program, which supports Westville, into other neighborhoods. It’s good to focus on early education, but we need to look at adult education—schools are pushing our kids out into adult ed. “We can’t give up on our kids when they are 16, 17, out of school. ... We’ve got to stop our high schools from throwing our children out and not educating them.” (She’s forceful here. Applause.)

Holder-Winfield: Disagrees with Harp—at the Capitol, we haven’t focused enough on early education. Need to support more startup businesses. Neighborhoods like Newhallville need attention like Westville gets—not only do we not have traffic-calming; “we don’t even have speed bumps.”

Keitazulu: “Crime has destroyed our city.” Jobs are the pathway out.

5:28 p.m. That’s a wrap, folks!

Post a Comment

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posted by: anonymous on May 19, 2013  7:10pm

“Harp announces money on the state bond agenda to create a “new, better Whalley Avenue.”

Why didn’t she help get it right the first time around, after hundreds of her constituents complained about the road being widened into a death trap the year after an 11 year old was killed on it? The city, state, and DOT failed on this.

On the free Federal & State money for streetcars & improved bus systems, the fact these seven disparate candidates agree it should have been accepted shows that the Perez/Marchand/CCNE move to kill it was the single worst economic development decision in New Haven’s 375-year history.  Too bad we can’t bring that back.

posted by: Xavier on May 19, 2013  9:47pm

Hooray Democracy
to Paul for moderating it.

As you may well guess, I just think One City Henry has got what it takes to run this city.

To give the other candidates their due, they are helping us all to make the right decision. The more of these debate encounters throughout the city, the better informed we will all be and the clearer the decision will become.

A glimpse of One City Henry’s wit and wrath shows this is a man who can think on his feet and has gotten stuff done. I loved the “Leap” reference.

His work with the NAACP should help him get their endorsement.

ONE CITY Henry - mayor.

posted by: anonymous on May 19, 2013  10:13pm

Correction to article: The city contribution was far less than $200K, after the State stepped in, and probably could have been waived entirely.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 20, 2013  8:04am

Not one candidate ruled out using Eminent Domain for Economic Development, something the State Legislature could have done, but didn’t.

Someone cited the New London disaster that destroyed the Fort Trumbull neighborhood for a promised development that never happened, but just look at Route 34 and the loss of the neighborhood there. Now the Hill is permanently cut off from the rest of the City. And those lost friendships and connections are gone forever too.

Eminent Domain give government the right to take private property - a house or a neighborhood - for economic development. It is an invitation to exploit and abuse because in the end the government is only people and they are flawed.

It is stunning that not one candidate would say no to using it.

posted by: Noteworthy on May 20, 2013  8:22am

If there is any doubt that DeStefano is found in Mini-me Fernandez, he made the case himself with his dismissive and entitled response to Justin Elicker’s where have you been question. Instead of just answering the question, Mini-me pulls a DeStefano and attacks the questioner because he’s been here 6 years to his 23 - six as an absentee occupant. If longevity is the measure of who should be mayor, then Harp wins. This city has put up with 20 years of DeStefano style leadership. We don’t need more. The mayor’s role is too important to treat it like a longevity bonus.

posted by: Honest in New Haven on May 20, 2013  8:23am

Fernandez did notco-found LEAP.  He was its Read the coverage in the New Haven Register and found some interesting remarks from Fernandez.  He continues to claim he co-founded LEAP, when he was only its first Executive Director.  That does not make him a co-founder.  As for “helping run the Obama-Biden transition team” REALLY???  He played a minor role as part of the Center he is affiliated with in DC, and to characterize that as “helping run” the transition and developing the Stimulus (as claimed in the Register coverage) and registering over 450,000 voters wth the NAACP is highly overstated.  But that’s Henry.  The facts typically fall far short of the hype.

posted by: Curious on May 20, 2013  9:21am

So if you’ve been here for 23 years and not been as involved as someone who has been here for six, does that make you a better candidate somehow?

That’s a good soundbite, Fernandez, but not a good answer.

Showing up at meeting sonly now, in campaign mode, is just politics - not community involvement.

Less politics, more good government!  Go Elicker and Holder-Winfield!

posted by: anonymous on May 20, 2013  9:30am

Agree: Instead of answering Justin’s question about whether Mayors should attend local meetings, Fernandez essentially said, “I’ve been here 15 years longer than you have, so I do not need to attend neighborhood meetings.” He confirmed exactly the concern that Justin asked about.

On the other questions, however, Fernandez and Elicker absolutely dominated the debate in terms of giving specific speaking points and concrete ideas.  Harp was shockingly incoherent at times - perhaps she was just tired.

posted by: markcbm on May 20, 2013  9:48am

@Noteworthy:  You clearly have some kind of an axe to grind, and with your sharp words, I fear to put myself near that axe. 

That said, in fairness to “King John”, New Haven has improved during his tenure.  Perhaps it could have done better under someone else’s leadership, but he bequeaths a town better than the one he inherited. 

With regard to Elicker’s “where have you been?” question - I think Fernandez’ response was fair, if dismissive.  Mr. Elicker seems a fine guy, but in my opinion only 6 years in New Haven and fewer years than that serving as an alderman to East Rock, perhaps New Haven’s least representative neighborhood, is arguably worth sniffing at. 

If Elicker really wanted to be part of the fabric of this entire city, he could have resided in one of its many more working-class neighborhoods - just as the out-of-towners Holder-Winfield and Mr. Mini-you Fernandez have done.  Even Tony Harp held her kickoff event in the Tre. 

Throwing your hat in with the St. Ronans, Ogdens and the Livingstons - fighting for the haves - is to me wholly unimpressive.  Living among and fighting for the Winchesters, Kensingtons, Poplars, Rosettes, Valleys, Brooksides, Clintons, and Eastern Circles of this city earns the plaudits. 

I’m sure there will be some fine rebuttals to my post, all merited.  Just let me say this last bit: I’m really glad Keitazulu is in this contest; he helps take some of the luster off of the other candidates by putting their gloss in bas relief.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on May 20, 2013  9:52am

Carolina: “You can’t do business here unless you’re willing to hire New Haven residents.”  And skills or qualifications be damned! Here’s a cheap solution: buy thousands of brooms & hire everyone in New Haven to sweep our streets—since the city stopped doing this on a regular basis years ago. Oh, wait: clean streets are one of those silly Quality of Life issues that the city has ignored for years. Harp “calls for making developers sign project labor agreements.”  Of course: she’s the candidate with the Union Label. Nemerson: “Need a commitment from the governor to support Tweed more”,  a sentiment echoed by Harp & Elicker. Did they forget that the state & feds are heading towards bankruptcy? Carolina: “We need more places like [Westville’s] Deja Brew”. Translation: we need more gentrification. Carolina: “Kids need to learn soft skills, such as respect & punctuality.” Translation: Let’s continue the trend of having public schools take the place of parenting. Nemerson: “We need more manufacturing jobs.” Reality: manufacturing was relocated out of the country due to labor costs. Most products manufactured in New Haven would be too expensive for most folks to purchase. Harp: “We need a way of clearing land and making housing available to make way for development because there isn’t enough undeveloped space.” Note the contradiction here: need a way of clearing land vs. there isn’t enough undeveloped space. So we should bulldoze developed space—to create undeveloped space—then redevelop it? Harp: “We’ve got to stop our high schools from throwing our children out”.  Actually, they’re DROPPING out—but we need to blame the institution: it’s much easier than looking at REAL issues like teen pregnancy, lack of parenting, etc. I mean, Social Values are so passé. The REAL problems today are The System, the One Percent, and those nasty Institutions.  Sigh. I’m grabbing my broom and going out to sweep my street—again. The city hasn’t done it in weeks…

posted by: markcbm on May 20, 2013  10:03am

@Honest in New Haven:

Hate to disabuse you, but Henry Fernandez DID co-found LEAP, in collaboration with Anne Calabresi and the philanthropists Jerome and Roslyn Meyer.  The Calabresis and the Meyers put up the money; Henry (just out of Yale Law School, preferring to do community organizing over the corporate world) did the work.  Facts are facts, please do not warp them.

Also, with regard to participation in a presidential “transition team”, my understanding is that it is more of an honorific than an important policy position.  I don’t think Fernandez is trying to make the position sound like something it isn’t, it’s more that he is referencing the influential circles in which he runs (whether running in those circles is a good or bad thing I leave up to you).

posted by: Jill_the_Pill on May 20, 2013  10:56am

branding??  Connecticut Magazine??  “ethnic themes” to attract folks from the suburbs??

Does Nemerson think New Haven should be Disney Epcot?  Ethnically diverse residents are not tourist attractions for wealthy suburbanites.

Ask the citizens of Hartford whether marketing has improved their city.  New England’s Rising Star!

Trying to “sell” a city is always a mark of desperation, a sign of a failing, troubled place, and a huge waste of money.

posted by: Hmmm on May 20, 2013  11:05am

“Honest in New Haven”:  Like you, I am astounded by how Henry inflates his involvement in various things. I think his ego and half-truths will be his Achilles’ heel in this campaign for those who actually fact-check his delusions of grandeur. If you go to LEAP’s Web site, it lists the co-founders as Anne Tyler Calabresi, Jerome Harris Meyer, and Roslyn Meyer. There is no mention of Henry in this capacity. In my opinion, he shot himself in the foot when he chose to slam Justin for being here for 17 years less than he has been. Justin is omnipresent at community events and meetings citywide and has been since he became an alder, at the minimum. Where have YOU been Henry? You don’t even attend Fair Haven events, as far as I can tell. It is not the time you have lived in a community that matters, it is the time you put into said community.

posted by: DEZ on May 20, 2013  11:27am

Anyone who participated in Fair Haven’s Quinnipiac River Community Group (QRCG) meetings during the closed Ferry Street Bridge and Quinnipiac Avenue Re-do era will remember Henry fondly for how he treated the invested citizens of New Haven with the same aplomb found at this debate.  Thankfully we were sent the less hubristic Rob Smuts who actually knew how to have a dialogue with the community.  Evidently Danny Glover supports Henry Fernandez.  Does Hollywood have an inside on the needs of New Haven?  Underwhelming.

posted by: YumpinYimmy on May 20, 2013  11:28am

Except for Toni Harp, Nemerson was the only candidate not wearing a necktie.  I like that!

posted by: Curious on May 20, 2013  11:29am

Not a single mention of Fernandez on the LEAP website.

posted by: TheMadcap on May 20, 2013  1:06pm

No candidate ruled out eminent domain because it’d be absurd to do so. Even if you really dislike it, there are times where it may have to be used. If you use it after saying you wouldn’t, you’re setting yourself up for a barrage of attacks

posted by: Wooster Squared on May 20, 2013  1:46pm

I too found Henry’s response to Justin’s question to be clever and witty, but it showed him to be as touchy and temperamental as his old boss, John Destefano, who is himself as master at throwing whiny barbs at opponents when he can’t handle a question.

Elicker asks Fernandez why he hasn’t been involved locally for some time now, and mini-me Fernandez snaps back, “I’ve been living here longer than you!”

Here’s a question for mini-me Fernandez, haven’t Sundiata Keitazulu and Toni Harp both been living in New Haven longer than you? Should they go ahead and use that as an excuse not to answer a basic question?

Mini-me needs to get a platform beyond “more of the same”, and stop whining about who’s lived where and for how long.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 20, 2013  2:37pm

to MadCap:
  Eminent Domain for purposes of economic development, as opposed to things with a public benefit attached, such as a new school or similar facility, gives an incentive for developers and politicians to align to take what used to be protected private property to build a mall.
  Is this the America we want?
  The Supreme Court has shredded the Constitution and this disastrous ruling has been modified by a significant number of state, but not Connecticut.
  Be afraid.
  Ask yourself how you’d feel if it were your house and your neighborhood.

posted by: Xavier on May 20, 2013  4:12pm

I feel that One City Henry is being beaten up by the commentators for one little quip he made when Elicker open that can up.

Look One City Henry maybe a little rough around the edges, he may even upset you at times, but of all the candidates, he has the experience and what it takes to run New Haven.

People can foolishly continue to wish for something that does not exist. One City Henry knows the beast and can tame it.

Let’s have something more substantial to argue about than One City Henry’s personality. He really is a funny guy once you get to know him.

One City Henry - for mayor

posted by: Wooster Squared on May 20, 2013  5:33pm


I don’t think anyone believes Henry’s personality is the problem. The problem is that he doesn’t have any courage, no guts. He didn’t join the race until DeStefano bowed out, which means one of two things:

1. He doesn’t think he can do as good a job as DeStefano

2. He doesn’t have the guts to take on DeStefano

You saw this lack of courage again when Henry was faced with a pointed question from Justin about his lack of involvement. Instead of having the guts to answer a tough question, he made a smart-aleck remark, albeit a quick-witted one.

You see this in his platform as well. He doesn’t have the guts to say no to the big donors and developers and use the Democracy fund. He doesn’t have the guts to lay out his own vision for the City, relying instead on a repackaged version of the DeStefano administration.

Personality is one thing. A mayor can be prickly or a little rough, but a mayor needs guts and courage, not just a big campaign fund and a way with words.

Justin and Gary both had the courage to get in the race when DeStefano was still in it, not just when it became convenient. I want to see a major that does what he or she believes needs to be done, not merely what is expedient or convenient at the time.

posted by: HewNaven on May 20, 2013  7:22pm

Throwing your hat in with the St. Ronans, Ogdens and the Livingstons - fighting for the haves - is to me wholly unimpressive.  Living among and fighting for the Winchesters, Kensingtons, Poplars, Rosettes, Valleys, Brooksides, Clintons, and Eastern Circles of this city earns the plaudits.

I believe Fernandez is over the bridge in the Heights. Not exactly East Rock, but its not Winchester either.

posted by: Powers on May 21, 2013  9:06am

“Fernandez: In New Haven, he said, developers complain when they have a bus stop in front of their building. That’s backwards, he said: Bus stops are seen here as a threat to economic development, instead of an engine for economic development.”

And why do you think this is, Mr. Fernandez?  What exactly is the reason for the higher crime rate in lower- versus upper Chapel street? There’s no inherent reason for crime to hit one end of the street more than the other, and with the new apartments on lower Chapel, there’s just as much foot traffic on one end versus the other. Could it be that lower Chapel has heavily-used bus stops that provide a place for unsavory characters to loiter and—as reported by this newspaper—conduct various forms of illegal activity (  To criticize the businesses that have bus stops in front of them for not taking the rosy outlook that “they should be seen as an asset” is grossly out of touch with reality and represents exactly the kind of head-in-the-sand approach to crime to be expected of a Fernandez candidacy.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on May 21, 2013  9:16am

Right now I am still finding Justin to still be the all around better candidate. But I have to say Kerm and surprisingly Matt seemed be nailing it on some issues.

posted by: Curious on May 21, 2013  9:39am

Cedarhillres, I am liking a New Haven with Elicker in the mayor’s seat and Nemerson in Kelly Murphy’s.

posted by: markcbm on May 21, 2013  10:26am


Fair ‘nuff. Point taken!

posted by: nellie bly on May 21, 2013  12:00pm

Yale Daily News 12/4/03 No mention of Henry do-founding LEAP. The creation was NOT his brainchild but that of Jerome and Rosly Meyer.
He was just the first director.

Henry continues to remind me of the Kipling classic-The Emporers New Clothes.

posted by: ebw1957 on May 21, 2013  2:43pm

Not one stepped out of the liberal talking points comfort zone. The bus in New Haven is a joke and everyone knows it who pays even a little attention. I check out how many people are on the bus when i pass by them and even at “rush” hour they are never even 1/4th full.

Until the suburbanites accept bus use it will never work and no one from Woodbridge, Branford or Orange is interested. It is wasted money. I would rather buy a car for all those who need rides- it would be cheaper!

posted by: nellie bly on May 21, 2013  3:11pm

oops-my bad Not Kipling but Hans Christian Anderson.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on May 21, 2013  3:41pm

Harp asks Carolina what he would do for older kids who fail in school to make sure they get career-ready.

Her question was regarding the young men who failed in school.  Who are now walking amongst you with no skills, diploma or direction.

Carolina’s response, “Kids need to learn soft skills, such as respect and punctuality.”
This is exactly what I meant when I said in an earlier comment that Kermit was in over his head.  Nothing personal, just political.

Harp vs. Winfield

Harp: We have focused too much of our development around Yale and downtown. We need to “integrate the community people” with developers planning new projects. Must expand the state-funded main street program, which supports Westville, into other neighborhoods. It’s good to focus on early education, but we need to look at adult education—schools are pushing our kids out into adult ed. “We can’t give up on our kids when they are 16, 17, out of school. ... We’ve got to stop our high schools from throwing our children out and not educating them.” (She’s forceful here. Applause.)

Holder-Winfield: Disagrees with Harp—at the Capitol, we haven’t focused enough on early education. Need to support more startup businesses. Neighborhoods like Newhallville need attention like Westville gets—not only do we not have traffic-calming; “we don’t even have speed bumps.”

How can he (Gary) possibly, with any substance, disagree with Toni on this?  Toni is spot on and well abreast of issues both locally and statewide in ways of advancing New Haven to the next level.

Gary conversely, is running a bewildered campaign with a tinge of anger towards Toni for her announcement to become the next mayor.

Some of these guys are just running with hopes of acquiring greater or some name recognition for perhaps a future campaign.

The city can’t afford to take a chance on a mayor wanna be.

posted by: anonymous on May 21, 2013  4:25pm


1) The buses are often severely overcrowded.  Guess you don’t take them.

2) Most people recognize the fact that not everyone has the ability to drive a car, even if you give them a car plus $10,000+ per year for gas, parking, and maintenance.

3) The buses would get more use if they ran every 10 minutes, instead of every 20 minutes. Matt Nemerson mentioned this in his reply to the question - it is actually a very important concept, one which most of our elected officials and planners fail to understand, since practically none of them take the bus.

posted by: GoodNatured on May 22, 2013  1:24am

Want to know what’s been happening with the city budget? With crime? With the schools? Fernandez has been absent for 6 or 7 years. 

Gary or Kermit or Justin have all been in the trenches.  Kermit knows better than any candidate what’s been happening in the schools. Justin knows better than any candidate what’s been happening with the city budget, taxes, and development (like Downtown Crossing). 

Fernandez now says he “would” have voted Yes on the state grant to develop a trolly system—But where was he when the Board of Aldermen was debating it?  Was he there, at meeting after meeting, going over the figures to see if it would work? Was he there to advocate for it?

I respect that fact that he’s smart and witty - but I see some pretty big claims and a pretty big ego, and not much willingness to get down in the trenches, listen to people and get things done.

My vote is with Carolina or Elicker—because they’ve put in the sweat equity to show they really care about the city, not just about their own careers.

posted by: Xavier on May 22, 2013  9:26am


One City Henry was not absent from the city- he was working from his home and from DC.

One City Henry was pedaling around his bike around to every little meeting that was happening in the city.

If you think being omnipresent makes for a good mayor, you are mistaken. A good mayor knows how to manage, delegate to effective staff. One City Henry knows this.

You do not become a mayor of New Haven attending every little meeting, commenting on every little proposal that gets sounded off.

As far as the schools go, Kermit has benefited from the Destefano-Mayo marriage- catapulting up through the ranks. It is a bit disingenuous to start biting the hand that has fed him and more so as part of the inept administration of the schools.

One City Henry has got what it takes to run the city. The machine knows this and that is why they are working like hell for him.

Everyone wants some sort of revolution here now that the reign of JD is over. But to avoid a collapse into chaos, One City Henry will bring about a transition of power.

To do this, One City Henry will have be less vindictive than JD, and I think he can overcome some of his character flaws to do so.