They formed a compound in the center of their camp. They raised a defiant black flag overhead. Then New Haven’s “occupiers” stood on the steps of City Hall and ripped up a notice ordering them to leave the Green by noon Wednesday.
It was the latest salvo in a increasingly tense showdown between the city and Occupy New Haven, the protest movement that’s been camped on the Green since Oct. 15, 2011.
New Haven police visited the camp Monday morning to deliver word of the city’s deadline: March 14. They knocked on tents and duct-taped a city notice to tarp-covered dwellings.
In response, Occupy New Haven held a 12:30 p.m. press conference on the steps of the City Hall, where members defiantly rejected the notice.
New Haven’s occupation is one of the the last standing of those that sprang up nationwide last fall, when the Occupy Wall Street movement began protesting against corporate greed, income inequality, and money in politics. Occupiers claim it’s the last one in New England.
New Haven’s Occupy camp has remained while others have failed thanks in large part to the protesters cooperation with the city. That cooperation has broken down as the weather has warmed. Two meetings between the city and Occupy New Haven resulted in a city “proposal” that the camp pack up and leave by mid-March. That notion was officially rejected Saturday, and officially re-affirmed—with a new March 14 deadline—by the city on Monday morning.
The city wants Occupy to leave now only because Yale graduation is imminent, charged occupier Ben Aubin (pictured), who emceed the Monday press conference.
“We’re coming in on Yale territory,” Aubin declared. “We’re out-occupying them.”
He said the city has refused to answer any of the demands that Occupy issued Saturday along with its official refusal to vacate. The city has proven that it is not willing to cooperate with the occupation, he said.
In response to the city’s suggestion that the occupation might be able to return—with permits—to the Green for periods of up to a week, occupier Josh Heltke (pictured) wiped his butt with the city’s latest notice. Occupiers waggled their fingers in approval of his comments.
He also posted a sign on City Hall reading, “You have no right to remove people out of land that you never owned.” He later began writing on the wall of City Hall with purple chalk, until Officer Matt Wynne stopped him.
“They have no intention of working with us,” Aubin said of the city. “They have no intention of doing anything but removing us. That’s not a conversation.”
The city’s notice includes a phone number occupiers can call for homeless services. Occupier Sara Ferah, who said he’s homeless, said he does not want to re-enter the city’s shelters. Occupy New Haven is the third camp of homeless people that the city’s shut down in three years, he said.
“People want to make us invisible,” he said. The shelters “treat us like little kids. ... I want to be treated with dignity and that’s what I’ve found in this movement. It’s immoral and unjust to kick us out of here.”
Aubin said Occupy New Haven has succeeded in “creating a set of people who aren’t going to stop.”
“We’re not giving up without a fight,” he said. He later clarified that he does not mean that occupiers will engage in physical violence against people.
“I Pay Taxes”
“Why are you entitled to public space?” asked a passerby, Frank Mongillo, a doctor with offices downtown.
“I pay taxes,” said occupier Ray Neal (pictured). “I’m a homeowner. I’m a family man. That’s my Green.” The occupation is a symbolic “beachhead” of a struggle against problems caused by corporate greed and income inequality.
“You’re making it impossible for anyone else to enjoy the Green,” said Mongillo.
Not true, occupiers said. People play soccer and make out on the Green all the time, one said.
The press conference ended with occupiers marching back to their camp, chanting “Hell no, we won’t go.”
All Tactics On The Table
Back at camp, Aubin and others helped move a new black flag to a more prominent position in the center of camp.
The flag is a symbol to the world that “we’re willing to move forward with tactics we haven’t previously used.” All tactics are on the table, he said. Physical violence against people is not an option, but destruction of property may be, Aubin said. Otherwise, “that wouldn’t be a full diversity of tactics,” Aubin said.
A black flag is often used by anarchists as a symbol of defiance, the opposite of a white flag of surrender.
“It’s not a threat,” Aubin said. “It’s an invitation to have a conversation” about tactics. Occupy New Haven is “putting word out to other radical communities,” he said.
The flag flies over a re-designed compound at the center of the camp. A tarp wall now creates only one entrance to the area around the central food tent. Smaller tents have been clustered inside the new cul-de-sac in preparation for an expected police raid.
“This is the last stand,” Aubin said.
Others, meanwhile, are quietly discussing alternatives with the city. An occupier who gave his name only as JP said he’s been talking with Chief Administrative Officer Rob Smuts about the possibility to setting up camp somewhere else in the city.
Smuts visited the camp Monday morning and spoke with him. After Monday’s press conference, JP met with Smuts along with Ferah and another occupier, Roger Card.
JP said Smuts might work out a place for people to meet periodically after Occupy is disbanded, possibly in the New Haven public library.
JP said he hopes the occupation continues elsewhere, maybe on a rotating basis at different locations in the city. “It’s a great way of spreading everything,” he said.
Smuts could not be reached for comment.
Irving Pinsky, the so-called “lawyer for Occupy,” announced at the press conference that he’s trying to put together a team of lawyers to bring a class-action suit to stop or rectify the city’s removal of the occupation.
City corporation counsel Victor Bolden has said that the city’s proposal is “both appropriate and lawful.”
City spokeswoman Elizabeth Benton had no other response to the occupy press conference.
City officials have been consulting regularly on tactics and response with the self-perpetuating not-for-profit group that actually owns the Green, the Proprietors of the Green (formally known as The Committee of the Proprietors of Common and Undivided Lands at New Haven). The group’s point person has been its chairman, Yale law professor and formerly Clinton Administration Solicitor General Drew Days. (Click here to read about Days’ recent meeting with the occupiers.)
To the Proprietors, “it’s really a question not so much of their political views or their analysis of the economy, but the reasonable time, place and manner of regulations” for camping on the Green, Days said in a conversation Monday. “It’s a question of to what extent, even conceding the merits of a particular point of view, whether that justifies depriving other people of a free and happy use of public spaces.”
Notice To Leave
The end is nigh, the city warned in a Monday message to Occupy New Haven: Be off the Green by Wednesday at noon.
That message was delivered in the form of a public notice handed out Monday morning at Occupy New Haven by city police.
“This notice is to inform any and everyone who has been participating in the Occupy New Haven demonstration that WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2012 is the last day tents, other structures and any other such materials will be permitted to be on the New Haven Green lawfully,” the notice reads. “On or before that date, you must take down any and all tents and structures and vacate the New Haven Green.”
On Saturday, Occupy New Haven officially refused to comply with the proposal. The protest instead issued a list of demands.
Monday’s deadline notice from the city includes a phone number for those occupiers wishing homelessness services.
It also includes the following appreciation: “Both the City of New Haven and the Proprietors of the Green appreciate the dedication you have brought to the cause of economic justice, and we wish you well as you move forward elsewhere.”
The Proprietors of the Green is the private body that legally owns the public park at the center of the city.
“I guess we expected it,” occupier Neal said of the city’s deadline announcement. “We’re having an emergency G.A. [General Assembly meeting] tonight to talk about it.”
“We, the activists of Occupy New Haven, refuse to vacate the Upper Green or dismantle the camp,” states the letter, which is signed Occupy New Haven. “Our presence is not a camping trip. Being in solidarity with the global Occupy movement, our presence is a visual testament to the growing class inequality present in our city, nation and world.”
The letter (read it below) includes a list of “grievances and demands,” including extending library hours and reducing the mayor’s and police chief’s salaries.
City spokesperson Benton had the following response Saturday: “We will review Occupy’s letter regarding broader city concerns. At this point, the city’s intention regarding the Occupy encampment is to assure that the Green remains a place for all to enjoy.”
The official Occupy New Haven statement reads:
Dear City of New Haven Administration,
Occupy New Haven has received a letter from the City of New Haven stating that the City would like the encampment on the Upper Green dissembled and removed by “mid-March”. After this time, we would be allowed to return every so often, pending the granting of permits by City Hall. Seeing that significant changes have not occurred in our government and the broader society at large, we at Occupy New Haven would like to take the opportunity to deliver an official reply to the city’s request:
Globally, across the nation, and here in Connecticut, the 1% and those acting in the interests of the 1% have carried out a one-sided assault on working-class people, which has been exacerbated by the economic crisis created by the same 1%. Lawmakers, politicians and corporate interests have eroded the living standards of ordinary people, as Wall Street criminals have lined their pockets with taxpayer-funded bonuses. At the same time, our rights have been taken away by the PATRIOT Act, NDAA and other violations of civil liberties. We, the activists of Occupy New Haven, refuse to vacate the Upper Green or dismantle the camp. Our presence is not a camping trip. Being in solidarity with the global Occupy movement, our presence is a visual testament to the growing class inequality present in our city, nation and world.
The following list of grievances and demands outlines the corruption and moneyed interests that plague our city. As Occupy New Haven is a broad collective of people from many struggles and walks of life, this list does not represent every interest, but some of the most critical for our city at this time.
Fund all public schools equitably and sufficiently. Stop all public school giveaways to for-profit corporations and charters. Extend library hours. Provide funding for community-led youth and social programs, so that youth have access to safe spaces that offer engaging and enriching programs. For example: reopening the Dixwell Ave. Q House Provide safe and adequate low-income housing. Replace all low-income housing that has been removed to make way for luxury living units. Utilize and repair currently empty houses to prove stable living situations for the city’s homeless population. An immediate end to foreclosures and gentrification processes that marginalize the community to create profitable opportunities for corporations at the expense of working-class people. Establish a real All-Civilian Review Board for the NHPD, independent of the police department, that would be transparent and accountable to the public and able to discipline officers who commit crimes against the people. Invest in meaningful, well-paying union jobs in our communities and stop privatizing public-sector jobs. Seeing as the mayor makes $127,070 per year, and the police chief make $150,000 per year while the average family income in New Haven is $35,950, limit the salary of elected and appointed city officials to match the average income of a family in the city. End tax exemptions for Yale, which is the among the top 5 richest universities in the world.
As we have not seen the change we demand in the city, the nation, and the world, we will not be leaving the Green at this time.
Some of these demands are spot-on, and I am personally disappointed in our civic leaders.
People I see at cocktail parties and events, who do have the power and the platform to advocate for some of these demands, say absolutely nothing about them, but instead issue snide remarks about Occupy & Occupiers.
The demands that I believe are particularly reasonable and doable include:
1. “Establish a real All-Civilian Review Board for the NHPD, independent of the police department, that would be transparent and accountable to the public and able to discipline officers who commit crimes against the people.”
This is a serious need in our city, and it is beyond disappointing that very few of our civic leaders stand behind this.
The poor, the voiceless, and those without significant political connections have experienced any number of problems at the hands of a small number of individuals.
Those individuals—a very small percentage of our police force—are allowed enormous lee-way and latitude, even after severely beating innocent citizens.
Our own Mayor speaks out against the excesses in East Haven, but refuses to implement a citizen review board with any teeth.
Rob Smuts—who is the direct supervisor of the NHPD—has not acted on this despite direct communications from people in his peer group and first-hand evidence of the realities of abuse.
2. “Seeing as the mayor makes $127,070 per year, and the police chief make $150,000 per year while the average family income in New Haven is $35,950, limit the salary of elected and appointed city officials to match the average income of a family in the city.”
Why shouldn’t top officials salaries be pegged to annual income? I’d even be willing to compromise on this and see it be “no more than double” the average annual income. Why should we be paying our BoE president, Mayor, and Chief of Police so much more than their constituents?
3. “Provide funding for community-led youth and social programs, so that youth have access to safe spaces that offer engaging and enriching programs. For example: reopening the Dixwell Ave. Q House”
The city currently plays games with non-profit funding, promising large sums while knowing that our budget doesn’t balance, and then rescinding them. After public outcry, they restore a portion of the original promised funding.
Why not just deal honestly from the get-go, and either tell non-profits they need to seek funding elsewhere, or come up with a smaller number?
Some of the non-profits are providing essential services that are the cities responsibility—they do it cheaper than the city could, so they get funding. This is good, but the city should honor this and institutionalize the funding, treating the non-profits as contractors.
3. “Fund all public schools equitably and sufficiently. Stop all public school giveaways to for-profit corporations and charters.”
The city is currently pursuing “school reform” that has achieved national attention, but is really shaping up as teacher disincentive.
School reform is a complex subject matter, and the city is completely dismissing the very valid concerns of scholars, researchers, and sociologists who point out that standardized test scores do not accurately reflect teacher performance.
Even proponents of these measures acknowledge that there is a margin of error of THIRTY PERCENT or more. THIRTY plus percent. This isn’t a valid statistic if the deviation is so high.
Why isn’t the city leading the state in pushing back on Malloy’s corporate school plan? We are willing to stand up to ICE because it plays well for the local media (and I applaud this stance), but I am disappointed that we can’t stand up for public schools.
When you penalize teachers for low-performing students, you are throwing away the vast research pegging student performance to home life, neighborhood issues, and socio-economic status. Great teachers often choose to work with the students who face the greatest challenges. There needs to be other methods of evaluating teachers that don’t come down to CAPT tests.
4. “An immediate end to foreclosures and gentrification processes that marginalize the community to create profitable opportunities for corporations at the expense of working-class people.”
While grandstanding against banks, the city has been party to foreclosures on low-income residents. What is good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander.
We ignore the working class (and unemployed) when they make quality of life complaints about their neighborhoods, but bend over backwards for large corporations like 360 State when they file ONE complaint about noise at Ideat Village.
We bend over backwards for Yale New Haven hospital, completely compromising the vision that our citizens articulated for the Route 34 re-do—a project which has been labeled the “largest misuse of federal funds” by the former governor of Milwaukee and drawn criticism from actual urban planners and transportation planners in the tri-state region.
New Haven can do better, and Occupy is demanding we do better. Can we try to fulfill some of their requests before we evict them?
posted by: jt75 on March 10, 2012 7:06pm
A agree with a lot of the points from Streever, and some of Occupy’s, but I have a problem with some.
1. Occupy suggesting that the mayor and police chief salaries be limited to $35,950 is totally absurd. How are we supposed to bring in qualified leaders when you want to chop their salaries but more than $100k?
Look at last year’s mayoral election. There was hardly a qualified challenger to take over Mayor DeStefano’s “high-paying” position. I can’t imagine what the field would look like if the salary was under $40k.
2. The City is involved in a tiny fraction of all foreclosure cases in New Haven. The vast majority of cases are foreclosures by the big banks, and many of the vacant homes are owned by these large corporations, not the City of New Haven. Do you think the City wants these houses vacant and/or off the tax rolls? Not a chance.
3. Regionally speaking, New Haven offers a ton of affordable housing compared to its neighbors. We’ve been down this path before, so I’ll leave it at that.
4. As far as Yale, it’s not as simple as “ending tax exemptions.” I’m not saying that Yale shouldn’t pay more, but it’s not like you can just decide one day to make them pay up. I guess Occupiers haven’t been following the stormwater debate that’s been going on for some time now
I appreciate the deep-thinking nature of Occupy, but these are not things that everyone in the 99% want to see or want to advocate for.
posted by: Dean Moriarty on March 10, 2012 11:51pm
It’s my opinion that ONH has lost any remaining credibility by submitting this list of “demands” with a straight face. Let’s see, limiting a chief executive’s salary to 35K is absurd. Think we’re in bad shape now? Wait ‘till you see what that salary would recruit. What’s frightening is that you actually think this is tenable enough to include on your list. It’s embarrassing to the stand you’re trying to make. Likewise, your foreclosure point. In the real world, somebody pays back the funds they borrow. And if they don’t, the bank cannot just say “oh well, we’ll forgive it”. The problem is a number of people bought in over their heads in the hope of making future gains. Now, if they were led into that by unscrupulous banks or brokers, that’s very sad (and criminal)but it really isn’t an excuse. Low paying job, bad credit, but you qualify for a 200K mortgage! If something looks too good to be true, it isn’t. And it wasn’t. Now, people who have fulfilled their obligations for 20 and 30 years are being asked to help subsidize those that didn’t do their due diligence. As always.
As far as the Yale/tax/PILOT issue, jt75 is absolutely right. It’s not a simple matter. Not just a question of “they need to pay more!”. I agree, they do. But the issue has been ongoing for quite a long time. There’s a lot of facets to it, and it’s not something that can be solved by just demanding it.
I completely agree with Streever on the school issue. Very well said. I also believe ONH would have done better by addressing the massive school construction, and more pointedly the fact that New Haven’s BOE is appointed. If this were an elected board I think you would see changes very quickly. ONH purports to know so much about what needs to be done in New Haven. Why hasn’t the issue of the BOE being appointed been questioned?
And, one more thing you left off your demand list: flying cars. We’ve been promised that since the 50’s.
posted by: Walt on March 11, 2012 12:45pm
Agreeing with some and disagreeing with other comments, I get the feeling that each of the occupiers on the Green was given the opportunity to toss in one useless recommendation without anyone else questioning his or her suggestions as to validity or importance.
Thus the ridiculous idea of reducing payments of officials to the $35,000 level and the petty demand for more Library hours.
The Main Library. a couple of hundred feet from the occupiers, is apparently open about 60 hours a week and the branches although open less, offer both evening and daytime coverage.
Giving these pleas equal prominence with those re school and Police, to cater to someone who can’t seem to visit the Library in its sixty hours per week is,to me, very counter-productive
The proposal to limit employment to Unionized employees is another proposal not helpful to the whole City, but just to the Union folk
I only know one of the protesters I believe, a homeless ex-con, involved with several other drug users to my knowledge whose advice I certainly would not seek,
Obviously other Occupiers are much more knowledgeable
As a former member of Ben DiLieto’s unofficial citizen’s advisory committee when he was Chief I can see potential benefit if such a group were not really controlled by the cops, but not if control just shifts to the politically appointed folk, especially with New Haven’s current and likely future political leaders
The same applies to the idea of elected rather than appointed membmembers the BOE.
Who do you think will decide which candidates will run for those offices other than the Mayor or the Democratic Town Committee?
Hell ! Evict them!! If there are not better sources for legitimate advice, we are in a hopeless situation.
posted by: Westville Mom on March 11, 2012 1:41pm
Would the NHI be interested in providing some short biographies of the Occupiers? I am very interested in knowing some things about their backgrounds—where they grew up, what schools they attended, what degrees they hold and from where, as well as some info on who pays for their website and how are they supporting themselves at the moment? Professions? Jobs? Also, what other groups are they affiliated with or have memberships in? Are they married? Do they have children?
If this is available on Facebook, some of us have made intentional decisions not to join, so more public info would be welcome.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask of the Occupiers to provide this information, given that they are self-appointed “change” agents, as opposed to democratically elected (and presumably vetted) officials.
Inquiring minds want to know.
[Btw, $127,000 is NOT a lot of money for a mayor in a city with New Haven’s cost of living. Reducing it would guarantee future one-percenter mayors like Bloomberg ... is this what you really want? ... although I must admit a successful businessperson would be just fine with me.]
posted by: DownTownNewHaven on March 11, 2012 6:06pm
“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root,”
Occupy’s demands while well meant only address the symptoms not the real problem. As it stands thinking that this list of demands will even be considered before Occupy is evicted is a pipe dream.
If they actually want to leverage their imminent eviction for the public good they should focus on passing Doug Hausladen’s resolution of corporate personhood.
posted by: anonymous on March 11, 2012 9:25pm
I would start small, for example, don’t widen Route 34 into a Carcinogenic death trap for local residents, using federal funds so that the top 1% (wealthy doctors in Guilford/Madison) can drive in and out of town more quickly.
A reasonable demand to make of City gov and one they have complete control over.
posted by: Wildwest on March 12, 2012 8:58am
Its too bad that their list of demands will be ignored, if the mayor was to comply with even half of the demands I might consider liking the guy. Like Streever said, the leaders will ignore/joke about these protesters instead.
posted by: Wakeupsleepyheads on March 12, 2012 9:33am
“embarrassment to our city”? Really that’s the best you can come up with when our government is buried in greed and corruptness, and that’s not an embarrassment? What is an embarrassment is that people are hypnotized and have forgotten that it is We the People, not the Corporations and that funny little doctrine called the Declaration of Independence that calls upon all of us to alter or abolish and form New Government when it no longer serves the needs of the people.
To people who question why I occupy I ask this: Do you steal from the country by passing legislation through Lobbyists to benefit corporations (ALEC)? Do you outsource jobs because of tax benefits? Do you control and poison the food like Monsanto? Do you threaten the country with a crash, ask for a bail and take bonuses and expect the taxpayers to continue this addiction? Do you send family members off to wars under the guise of Democracy to acquire resources and then pass laws like NDAA & EEA overnite during NYE. Drones are approved to survey you, as well as constant surveillance everywhere you go now. If you don’t then maybe you should re-examine why you aren’t out there with us & doing what it means to be a true American practicing our doctrines, and not just waving flags & wearing pins (made in china) on command when the bobbing head show tells you to. There will not be a television special about it, msm is owned and will not provide anything but the movie script. Wake up!
posted by: robn on March 12, 2012 9:57am
ONH lost me on a couple of points.
1) NHPS spends upward of twice as much money per student than other towns in CT. Funding isn’t the problem….how those funds are spent is the problem.
2) What low income housing has been torn down to build luxury units? The closest thing I can see fitting the description of luxury is the Eli (which is a renovation of the old SNET office building) and 30 State (which was built on a vacant lot. Counterfactual rhetoric blows your credibility.
Also, ONH seems to think that city government should become a jobs program. Well guess what; government can be a positive force in people’s lives, but the city shouldn’t be funding jobs that taxpayers can’t afford. We’re buried in debt service because of years of devil’s bargains between unions and politicians. So does occupy really support the 99% or just the 10% comprised of union membership?
3/5ths Are not these civic leaders part of the human race?
posted by: scsualum on March 12, 2012 3:38pm
I will gladly rent a bulldozer at no charge for the city to destroy the remained of the camp…I’m sounding the horn 3 times… please vacate….
posted by: the1king on March 12, 2012 5:53pm
We have a democrat president, democrat govern. democrat senators and Representatves democrat mayor and most the alder people are you guessed it democrat. But yet they blame the Republicians. As I said many times this group is a joke and has done nothing for the time that they have been there. They wasted tax payer money and now talk about legal action against the city. I pay taxes and want my tax money for better things then supporting this group. How about this you sue the city then us tax payers will sue ocuppy new haven since some of you have houses we will take them. The squatters need to go. Can’t wait I’m going to take lunch and sit on the green.
posted by: RCguy on March 12, 2012 9:34pm
The comments of that call the limitation of “high ranking” public officials’ salaries “absurd” illuminate the crux of the disconnect in American society.
As a concept, it is brilliant. It will do a lot to elevate the mentality and prosperity of the entire city. It will attract the RIGHT people to work for the city. There will be no problem finding someone to work for the people.
If the mayor made the same as the average family in the city, he would probably work hard on behalf of the incomes of the struggling families, thus improving his/her income.
What I also like about this concept is that it acknowledges a few things: 1) Compared to the so-called 1%, 35k or 127k is the same level of poverty. (Someone tied up with One Trillion dollars will tell you that) and 2)it hints at the fact that THE WAY WE ARE GOING NOW, the dollar will be worthless anyway. Tea Partiers and Occupiers can agree on that. So what does it really matter the $$$ salary of a small city Mayor when we’re all going to be living outside like the Occupiers in a few years anyway? It’s public knowledge now that money is pictures on paper.
I think the so-called “demands” in this Occupation letter are custom fit to New Haven. Some are more palatable to the Parade Enthusiasts out there, but all lead to good dialogue.
Occupy’s presence is a demonstration. I am grateful that this segment of society exists. The public can still enjoy the green… and if the public needs a place to go and make-out, they should consider the Old Campus. That’s also sorta public, right?
posted by: Jeff Klaus on March 12, 2012 9:49pm
This list is fascinating. They put charter schools at the top. Is there even one occupier, of the group actually living on the green and not the faux-occupiers, who has been to a charter school? Or even knows what a charter school is?
Methinks this list was drafted by armchair revolutionaries from the comfort of an East Rock abode. The folks in the tents were exploited big time.
posted by: Westville Mom on March 12, 2012 10:55pm
Forgive me for my insatiable curiosity (which I acquired in public schools), but how on earth do you “occupy” while working as a full-time teacher?
Who paid for the very professional website linked in this article? (I really want to know this and would think you would want to know too.)
What do you mean by “community” support? (I was referring to funding.)
What does house “in area” mean? Do you live within the confines of New Haven or not? If not, who do you think has granted you the power to demand major changes in the city structure? I spend a lot of my time in Orange and Milford, but I don’t feel I have any right to demand anything of those towns.
And no, I don’t agree with most of what my elected officials do and that’s why I consistently vote against most incumbents. That’s also why I changed my party affiliation to Republican after 20 years of being a Democrat. If thousands of New Haveners did this, real opposition candidates would eventually emerge and democratic “change” could actually occur. There’s very little “democracy” in a one-party town, a one-party state, or a one-party country ... ask any North Korean.
Thank you for your answers. Regarding Bank of America, you may be one of the fortunate ones eligible for principal reduction of up to $100,000, if you are underwater. I would look into it. (Of course, back in the day, if you were underwater—and people WERE from time to time—it was just a sign that you made a bad investment and you had to take the knocks. What’s happening is that the reckless buyers/investors have ruined it for everyone, which is why banks are so impossible to deal with now.) No one ever mentions any more the huge numbers of “flippers” and “investment” buyers (especially in sunbelt states)—average folks—who contributed to creating this mess with the help of 0% downpayment, thanks to the ever-expanding pressure from the Community Reinvestment Act over the course of many years. Collective amnesia has taken hold, with substantial help from the propagandist media.
Recognizing that, you might have to occupy your neighbor’s doorstep instead of the Green.
I’m not as offended as many others that you are “occupying” the hallowed Green (if you really are, since you work)—I rarely visit the old city center any more and couldn’t care less—but I do oppose coercion in any form. You have no more right to demand things than I do. If I formed a mob like the one you have joined, you might not like the demands I would make.
What then, eh? Does the bigger mob win?
posted by: ChrisNHV on March 12, 2012 11:49pm
I’m 27 and grew up in the Stamford area. I do not have a college degree - I could not afford it myself and did not want to burden my working parents with that cost. I am a professional web developer and work - sometimes 60 hours a week - to support myself. I’m an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition and a member of People Against Police Brutality here in New Haven. I have no children and am not married.
Regarding $127,000 not being a lot of money with New Haven’s cost of living, I would then point to the fact that the average household income for a family is under $40,000. And look at the income disparity within the city! According to the report, “A Renaissance for All of Us,” “In East Rock, fewer than 6% of households earn less than $10,000. In Newhallville, more than 20% earn less than $10,000. In East Rock, 27% of households earn more than $100,000 per year, while in Newhallville, only 6% of households earn more than $100,000. All of this is closely linked with the inescapable racial geography of New Haven and America: East Rock is more than 80% white, and Newhallville is more than 80% African-American.”
I don’t want any 1%-er running the city - Bloomberg or Destefano or any of them. I am involved with the Occupy movement because I am tired of the 1% and their representatives attacking us workers at every chance they get, squeezing everything they can from us and always demanding more.
We deserve better. We deserve a society where the 99% don’t have to struggle day by day, but where the wealth from our work actually goes to benefit us instead of politicians and corporations.
posted by: Dean Moriarty on March 13, 2012 1:19am
@Westville Mom: What a succinct and coherent summation of all this. You’ve put into words what many feel, but may not have been able to state as clearly. I do believe it’s the one of the sanest and to the point comments I’ve read since the start of this. I especially agree with your view of the foreclosure issue. We bought our house (in New Haven) 23 years ago. I clearly remember months of going through every financial calculation I could imagine to be sure we weren’t getting in over our heads. The real estate agent, and bank rep, were exasperated with me because of the questions I flooded them with. But I had to be absolutely sure that we could afford this. Actually took about the first ten years ‘till I was confident we made the right move. The people who didn’t do their due diligence and the banks that led them on are the fault for the current situation. The banks, yes, certainly, but also the people, who saw no red flags at all when they were able to buy a 300K house when they MAYBE would have qualified for a 90K house. The blame is equally shared. Also your comment about the “right to demand” is equally accurate. Thank you!
@RC Guy: If it’s public knowledge that money is just “pictures on paper” can I have some of yours? Isn’t that how this “movement” works? I have no idea how close you follow financial markets, but right now they’re doing pretty darn well. And I’m certainly NOT one of the 1%.
And finally, at Josh H (whom I believe I’ve spoken to) in the main article: really classy with the butt wipe. Yeah, that really helps solidify your position.
posted by: publius681 on March 13, 2012 5:40am
And of course these people have the smarts and qualities to lead????
posted by: publius681 on March 13, 2012 5:49am
I understand that the Peace Corps is looking for volunteers.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 13, 2012 8:40am
They forgot to put the crooked Bankers on the list.
posted by: robn on March 13, 2012 9:06am
Thanks for pointing us toward that very interesting report. I’ll provide a link so others can read it too.
Yes there is great disparity between wealth in Newhallville and East Rock but my problem with your interpretation is that you’re lumping East Rockers in with Bloomberg and one percenters and that’s just not true. Here’s another interpretation of your study (chart page 9).
73% of East Rock households earn less than $100K per year.
This puts the vast majority of that neighborhood squarely in the middle class. This is an area with the highest taxation in the city (maybe the nation). Taxes for average homes in East Rock will range from 7K to 15K per year under the new reval, so that means a lot of families will be paying 10-20% of their income in property taxes. Highest in the nation->
Jeff-i understand your concerns about the demand that the city not turn over any public schools to charters.
I personally respect you-your schools-and the work being done in New Haven.
With that said, I’m uncomfortable turning public schools over to any group that can deny students who-for instance-speak spanish as a first language.
Charter schools work and are effective and have a place. I don’t think that place should be “replacement” for public schools. Most education reform seems to acknowledge that the charter schools would not perform as well as they do if they were the de facto public schools.
As I said-I respect and admire your work and genuinely believe you are doing incredible things. I just don’t think that charter schools should be the ONLY solution, as Malloy seems to imply, which is what I think occupy is targeting in their demand. I think the occupiers are using the classic negotiation strategy of asking for more than you can get and winning in the compromise.
Charters are a great option for some students, but we need a strong public school system, not one that is threatened with being sold.
posted by: ChrisNHV on March 13, 2012 10:23am
I didn’t intend to equate people who live in East Rock with the 1%, and looking back over my comment I think you’re interpreting that way out of context.
Let’s be clear on who the 1% are - they’re not people who make over $100,000 a year, or even $250,000 a year. They’re the people who own the corporations and banks that got us into this crisis. My neighbors are certainly not the 1%.
posted by: Mister Jones on March 13, 2012 11:40am
I am generally supportive of the Occupy movement, but it’s time for the New Haven encampment to move on. Looks to me like the City and the Proprietors of the Green have thoughtful, respectful proposal that accommodates the Occupiers desire to protest and the public’s interest in the space. If the Green is to remain a public space it cannot also be a permanent residence to members of the group.
“In response to the city’s suggestion that the occupation might be able to return—with permits—to the Green for periods of up to a week, occupier Josh Heltke (pictured) wiped his butt with the city’s latest notice. Occupiers waggled their fingers in approval of his comments.” Really? Wiping your but is part of civil discourse? Followed by the silly hand signals Occupiers must use to communicate.
Reasonable minds can differ about the wisdom of some of the demands listed by the group, but the idea that they won’t leave until their demands are met—that’s pretty half-baked. Protests have an important function, but if they want to see these changes they need to engage in the governmental process.
Finally, do the Occupiers have anything to say about the damage they have inflicted on the natural resource—the grass on the Green? The lawns get stressed from various transient activities like concerts but it grows back. I expect to see lots of dead areas, ruts and mud once the tents are removed. Will the occupiers re-seed and re-sod, or will that too be on the city’s dime?
posted by: robn on March 13, 2012 12:12pm
Yet 50% of your ONH demands involve the city spending more money; money which “workers” have to pony up in property taxes.
Another 20% are state or federal matters; completely out of the hands of local officials.
You guys want to have a profound effect? Try one of these three things:
1) Camp out in City Hall until the mayor and the BOA cuts the budget and alleviates the local tax burden.
2) Camp out in the state house until Pilot is structured to cover all tax exempt property is fully funded.
3) Camp out in front of the houses of our Congressional delegates until they get red states to stop siphoning off income tax dollars from our state.
(These are our problems. Notice that the first thing is exactly the opposite of what ONH proposes in its manifesto, and the other two things aren’t controlled by city government.)
posted by: Curious on March 13, 2012 4:55pm
I am with robn 100%. Occupiers, go do something useful and meaningful. Camping on the green IS a camping trip, it does nothing.
Go hand out credit union flyers on the steps of the bank chains around town, tell people how they can switch.
Go protest at City Hall, or the Capitol. Make some noise, get arrested. Instead of sending four people to Groton to protest at Pfizer, take your whole encampment to 1 Howe Street right here in New Haven, where Pfizer has a major research center. It has a big Pfizer sign on it.
“Fund all public schools equitably and sufficiently. Stop all public school giveaways to for-profit corporations and charters.”
Agree about the charters, but define “sufficiently”.
“Provide funding for community-led youth and social programs, so that youth have access to safe spaces that offer engaging and enriching programs. For example: reopening the Dixwell Ave. Q House”
There’s been a lot of talk about the Dixwell Community House and I’m not so sure its the silver bullet that many people seem to think it is - when the Q House was open in the late 80s and early 90s, New Haven was far more dangerous than it is now and may have been in worse financial trouble (the mill rate was upwards of 60). Besides the city already has schools, parks and playgrounds that could be used more effectively for recreation, tudoring, nighttime and winter activities, neighborhood meetings, etc without funding more buildings located on an ideal commercial street like Dixwell.
“Provide safe and adequate low-income housing. Replace all low-income housing that has been removed to make way for luxury living units. Utilize and repair currently empty houses to prove stable living situations for the city’s homeless population.”
Not the city’s job. In the late 80s and early 90s New Haven had one of the highest - sometimes the highest - concentrations of subsidized housing units per capita in the nation, which contributed to us also having one of the highest crime rates. The city and the housing authority have since been deconcentrating poverty in housing projects and neighborhoods by using federal programs liek section 8 and HOPE VI in addition to some state programs. New Haven cannot continue to house the region’s poor - its an unworkable burden. However, I don’t want poor people to be displaced, I want the state to step up and mandate that suburbs take meaningful steps towards providing real affordable housing of good quality by promoting transit-oriented development, multimodal street design, and employment located in relation to employee housing (and vis versa).
“An immediate end to foreclosures and gentrification processes that marginalize the community to create profitable opportunities for corporations at the expense of working-class people.”
I’m not a fan of practices like the unnecessary demolition of buildings (http://g.co/maps/hvsuu, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjNdq4gDN2M), auto-oriented design, and single-use districts that tend to disporportionately impact poor people. I’d prefer the city encourage practices like infill, renovation and adaptive use initiatives that accommodate new uses and people into existing fabric and character and when done correctly creates a blend of incomes and household types without requiring displacement and demolition.
“Invest in meaningful, well-paying union jobs in our communities and stop privatizing public-sector jobs.”
Great, but first we have to broaden the tax base and consolidate resources and services by regionalizing.
“Seeing as the mayor makes $127,070 per year, and the police chief make $150,000 per year while the average family income in New Haven is $35,950, limit the salary of elected and appointed city officials to match the average income of a family in the city.”
Sounds like a great way to attract a bunch of unqaulified city officials to very powerful and important positions. The city has to remain competitive when listing important job openings. I would love to see highly-paid city employees take large salary cuts, but it has to be voluntary, or agreed upon by a majority of employees. “End tax exemptions for Yale, which is the among the top 5 richest universities in the world.”
I know Yale is rich, but you can’t single it out. Either this tax would apply to all private colleges or none. I think classrooms, libraries, administrative office, laboratories and research facilities should remain tax-exempt while dining halls, residence halls, professor offices and recreation facilities should be taxes a special reduced rate. It’d be considered ridiculous if Yale had a clothing store open in the center of one it’s gated courtyards that sold merchandise only to students, yet it’s completely acceptable to do the same thing with dining halls? If colleges want to institutionalize things like student health service offices, dining, housing and other services that would normally be provided through city tax-paying commercial establishments then they should pay a tax for it. If they don’t then should other non-profits like churches be able to buy up city houses and apartment buildings in order to house their parishioners then claim those houses should also be tax-exempt because they are part of the “church community experience”? No, then why do private schools get to do it? Colleges and universities (public and private) should plan their growth in coordination with whatever municipality they are located in. Yale, SCSU, Gateway, etc should have urban plans that are designed to mesh the studentbody and staff populations into the city and when there is a good reason to institutionalize something, then they should pay a tax on it because that dining hall, or that fitness center, or that residential dorm that is institutionalized kills the market for things like private gyms, restaurants, and apartments that would pay city property taxes. Imagine how many more businesses there would be in the city if those 12-15,000 college student underclassmen didn’t eat 17 out of 21 meals a week in a tax-exempt dining hall, or use a tax-exempt school gym. It seems that the construction jobs and occassional student shopping and dining out are crumbs compared to what the city trully misses out on in revenue.
posted by: Mister Jones on March 15, 2012 1:18pm
Jonathan Hopkins, you probably know better than I, but as I understand it, Yale’s dormitories and dining halls are a 20th Century innovation. Before the big build-out, Yale students lived and ate in privately-owned facilities.
Since being in New Haven, Yale has always had some students living in campus housing, which is true even of the old brick row (Connecticut College is the only original building that remains). However, the student population pretty much always exceeding the rooming capacity of Yale, so many students had to rent private apartments through landlords that paid city taxes. Students were essentially just like regular residents - they ate at restaurants, live in apartments, and shopped at stores along with other city residents. Prior to Yale’s acquiring of a large endowment, the State funded their buildings. By the early 20th Century, however, past alumni donations, Yale’s tax exempt status, and their investments in the city allowed the college to massively expand its campus using the residential college model of older universities like Cambridge and Oxford in England. This ended the era of Yale not being able to keep up with providing facilities for its undergraduate students, which resulted in the institutionalization of many functions that had previously been provided for by tax-paying private businesses, stores, and offices.