Mayor Morrison’s On Call

Contributed PhotoNew Haven’s mayor was in China Monday pitching potential new local investors and sealing the deal for a new sister city.

New Haven’s mayor also welcomed the governor to Wilbur Cross High School Monday.

New Haven’s mayor has in recent days toured the Great Wall and the Beijing Opera. New Haven’s mayor has also met with department heads in New Haven City Hall and represented the city at the Criterion Cinemas at a preview of a new film about a legendary local pooch.

No, Hermione Granger has not become our city’s chief executive, managing to work in two far-distant spots at once.

Instead, we have an elected mayor and an acting mayor both engaged in official duties, on opposite ends of the globe.

FacebookThe elected mayor, Toni Harp, is on a 10-day official trip to China. Her mission: Talk up New Haven’s attributes to businesses considering investments in our region of the country; and carry out the final step to make New Haven and Changsha sister cities. (Click here and here to read more about background to the trip.)

Usually when a mayor leaves the country, the president of the Board of Alders steps in as acting mayor, to represent the city at events and be present in case of emergencies (like the historic 2013 blizzard that hit New Haven when then-Mayor John DeStefano was in Ireland; click here to read about then-board President Jorge Perez’s stint as acting mayor).

But Board of Alders President Tyisha Walker is accompanying Harp’s delegation on the China trip. That has left the next in line, board President Pro Tempore Jeanette Morrison, officially in charge.

Morrison has remained in her day job as a supervisor for the state Department of Children and Families (DCF). But she has made a point of showing up after work to check in at City Hall, where she has received briefings from, among others, local government’s acting budget director, community services administrator, and legislative liaison.

She also filled in for Harp welcoming Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to Wilbur Cross High School for an announcement about statewide graduation rates. She’s touting New Have Restaurant Week, which is underway. She welcomed World War I reenactors on Temple Street Sunday for the preview screening at the Criterion of Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.  The animated film tells the story of a New Haven-bred rescue dog who ended up as a decorated life-saver in the war. It was the opening event of a year-long local commemoration of the war’s end.

“He was so unassuming,” Morrison said. “He came from the rough and had the biggest impact on the world.” She said Stubby made her think of the Board of Alders, whose members “all come from different backgrounds” and make a difference.

Morrison made the remark on the latest edition of on WNHH FM"s “Mayor Monday” program, where she occupied Harp’s usual seat.

Morrison, who grew up in Newhallville and has been a social worker for 25 years, has an undergraduate degree from Morgan State University, a master’s in social work from Boston University, and an MBA from Southern Connecticut State University.

From teaching “Politics 101” at annual MLK youth conferences to serving as a state union steward to volunteering with her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Morrison in her busy life outside her job embodies what the political scientist Douglas Rae calls “civic density.”

She has served as an alder since 2011. In that capacity, she has helped lead the charge on the board and in the community for the $15.5 million project to rebuild a bigger new version of the old Dixwell Community “Q” House, where she studied gymnastics as a kid. She has also led the charge for a “Democracy Parking” program that now enables attendees of government meetings to leave their cars for free at an Elm Street lot (between Orange and State). As acting mayor, she signed off on a press release late last week that reminded the public about the program.

Morrison said serving as acting mayor reminds her of a prior assignment as a hotline worker at DCF, when she needed to be on call 24 hours a day. “You can get called at anytime if there are emergencies,” she said.

A caller asked Morrison if she plans to run one day to serve as mayor on a permanent, not acting, basis.

“I don’t know. That’s a very demanding job,” she said.

She did get accepted to the incoming 2018 class of Women’s Campaign School at Yale.

Morrison said she doesn’t see the class as a first step for running one day for mayor. “But maybe it will be the first step for running for something else in the future.”

Click on or download the above audio file or the Facebook Live video below for the full episode of WNHH FM’s “Mayor Monday.”

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

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posted by: Noteworthy on April 9, 2018  3:56pm

How many people are in Mayor Harp’s entourage to China? Did the bodyguard/chauffeur get to go too? What is it costing taxpayers? More importantly - what’s the quality of the meetings - who is she meeting with specifically, and what is the goal of each of those meetings? Will a formal report of the trip be issued when she returns or is this really just a high priced vacation at taxpayer’s expense? Has any trip to China actually yielded any results besides the sisterhood of cities? Like money, investment, companies moving here, jobs ..you know economic results?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 9, 2018  4:15pm

what the political scientist Douglas Rae calls “civic density.”

In the world of the people is also means.

Mark 8:36 KJV: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
No shame hast the Judas Goat!!

Morrison said she doesn’t see the class as a first step for running one day for mayor. “But maybe it will be the first step for running for something else in the future.

We have more Black elected officials in the United States than at any point in American history. Yet for the vast majority of Black people, life has changed very little. Black elected officials have largely governed in the same way as their white counterparts have.These black politicians are beholden to their wealthy donors and that is who drumbeat they will march to

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on April 9, 2018  5:55pm

3/5ths, “civic density” has absolutely nothing to do with the verse you cite. Have you read any of Rae’s work? If you had, you would had have known that “civic density” is an asset, particularly in lower-income communities.

I have never met Alder Morrison, and do not know how well she represents her constituents. But surely, she should not be faulted for being involved in the community.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 10, 2018  7:32am

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on April 9, 2018 5:55pm
3/5ths, “civic density” has absolutely nothing to do with the verse you cite. Have you read any of Rae’s work? If you had, you would had have known that “civic density” is an asset, particularly in lower-income communities.

In my Book it does.I know about his work.He has written about the decline of American cities.Your point.

I have never met Alder Morrison, and do not know how well she represents her constituents. But surely, she should not be faulted for being involved in the community.

I have.Have you talk with her constituents?I have.You need to talk to them.

My bad.Here is a better book.

Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, And What We Can Do About It
Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove

Like a sequel to the prescient warnings of urbanist Jane Jacobs, Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove reveals the disturbing effects of decades of insensitive urban renewal projects on communities of color. She estimates that federal and state urban renewal programs, spearheaded by business and real estate interests, destroyed 1,600 African American districts in cities across the United States. But urban renewal didn’t just disrupt black communities: it ruined their economic health and social cohesion, stripping displaced residents of their sense of place as well. It also left big gashes in the centers of cities that are only now slowly being repaired.

https://www.amazon.com/Root-Shock-Tearing-Neighborhoods-America/dp/1613320191

[Paul: I’ve read both Rae’s book and Fullilove’s book. The two of them basically agree.]