Paca Blasts City Budget

Marcus Paca, who is seeking the Democratic mayoral nomination against incumbent Toni Harp, Thursday night blasted her proposed $554.5 million operating budget for the coming fiscal year, for increasing spending rather than cutting it.

Paca offered a sweeping indictment of the proposed budget in remarks delivered at a public hearing of the Board of Alders Finance Committee held at Hillhouse High School.

The text of his statement follows:

I’m Marcus Paca and I am running to become the next mayor of the City of New Haven.  Right now, too many New Haveners are suffering. Far too many folks in our communities cannot afford high city property taxes, our senior centers aren’t well-maintained and there are students without textbooks or supplies in their classrooms. Many New Haveners are also out of work or not earning livable wages. The State of CT is anticipating a $2B shortfall and the city learned yesterday that the US Attorney General intends to hold up $200K in justice funding for the city. Millions more in cuts to New Haven have been proposed by the Trump Administration.
This situation is a travesty and the city’s economic conditions speak directly to the mismanagement and priorities of the Harp administration. During these very difficult financial times, where every dollar must be budgeted and spent with the upmost respect for taxpayers, the Harp administration has chosen for the fourth consecutive year to present a budget that proposes more spending, places even greater reliance on shrinking state and federal aid, sets aside funding for pet projects and political patronage, and proposes no spending cuts. This fiscal irresponsibility needs to stop now. That is why I’m running for mayor.
I attended the city budget hearing yesterday evening and was alarmed by what I heard.  Every department that presented its budget asked for additional funding from taxpayers, yet almost no city administrator could provide a project plan, budget or timeline for the work proposed. None could explain why there were millions of dollars in unspent capital funds from projects that were funded in previous years, but never got off of the ground. This lack of preparation and planning was unexcepted from the stewards of the taxpayers’ money during these hard times. It is painfully clear that New Haven does not have a revenue problem, New Haven has a spending problem.
Last night’s budget meeting ran over 6 hours and I posted most of the testimony on my Facebook page – Marcus Paca for Mayor of New Haven. I would not want New Haveners to rely on my word alone, so I’ve given people the opportunity to watch the testimony for themselves. Here are a few of the highlights:
• There were no relevant spending cuts proposed by the Harp Administration to offset status quo and/or increased spending. True, despite declining external funding. In fact, some New Haven homeowners will see property taxes increase by more than 150% this year.
• The year over year increase in Mayor Harp’s proposed budget is more than $30m or a 6% increase, while the state budget looms at $2b. We cannot count on the state to bail us out of our spending problems!
• Because of mismanagement and lack of planning, millions of capital fund dollars have not been utilized during this administration, yet every year department heads request millions more of taxpayers’ money.
• The city continues to borrow more funds and increase its debt with no reasonable plan to pay it down in future years. We continue borrowing from our children’s futures. These actions have also lowered the city’s bond rating.
• $400k has been spent on a teen center, yet city officials couldn’t explain anything about progress to date nor articulate a plan of action going forward. At the same, City Hall is asking taxpayers to foot the bill for more spending on the project in perpetuity.  At least $200K more has been requested. There is still no project plan, budget or timeline to complete the center. Meanwhile, we have $1B in new schools that sit largely unused after 3PM.

• The City’s Economic Development Administrator confessed to lying to the Board of Alders about the illegal destruction of City Commission on Equal Opportunity records last year.  Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been spent on litigation, termination and unemployment hearings, and state arbitrations against Nichole Jefferson and other CEO staff.  That number continues to grow with no plan to stop the bleeding. To date no evidence has been produced by the Harp administration to support the allegations that were made against CEO staff.  In fact, the FBI, IRS, States Attorney Office and State unemployment agency have all universally exonerated Nichole Jefferson.  How much longer will we to have to pay for the mayor and city corporation counsel’s personal political wars??
• An interim CEO Director, Angel Fernando-Chavero, was hired six months ago for $92k per year. Last night he stated that “no work” has been done since he was hired; he has not made one on-site construction visit to ensure small, women and minority contractors are being hired; and his board has met zero times since his tenure began! We can no longer afford to put our city’s construction workforce compliance in jeopardy for political reasons.  Taxpayers also cannot afford to pay salaries for little or no work output.

• Additionally, we learned that the City’s Economic Development Administrator has continued to outsource the work of unionized employees to private organizations. This needs to stop!  It is a slap in the face to disregard our collective bargaining agreements in this manner and unilaterally take work from city staff.  It lowers morale and causes unnecessary labor litigation. Additionally, it costs taxpayers double when we pay outside contractors to perform work that city employees are already compensated to do.

• The City is asking for a nearly $2M IT slush fund, yet no specific IT Strategic Plan has been presented and no explanation has been given for why there’s been no progress on major IT issues such as revamping the city’s very out-of-date website to make it more user-friendly and informative for residents and closing the digital divide.

• Pension rates of return for the Fire and Police and the City Employees Retirement Fund (CERF) was dropped to 7.75%. Are we enlisting skilled market professionals to manage these funds?  What are entities like Yale University that see year-over-year market increases doing? Why aren’t we doing the same?

We do not have to accept these conditions as inevitable neighbors. New Haveners have a choice, an option, and an alternative way to doing business. Instead of administrators, the majority of whom do not live in New Haven or have lived here for fewer than 5 years, loosely spending taxpayer money, those of us invested in this city can fight to tighten the reigns. My fiscal responsibility plan is comprehensive, detailed and always places New Haven and its taxpayers and residents first.  I am from New Haven so I feel obligated to be a conscientious steward of the city’s resources. As Mayor of New Haven I would: 
• Develop a cost savings plan that spans across city departments.
• I would cut spending on projects that can’t be justified, get rid of duplicative city programs set up by the Harp Administration that compete with New Haven’s hundreds of great nonprofits;  and reduce waste such as excessive travel and 24/7 mayoral chauffeuring and security.
• I will introduce a Program Performance Evaluation system to evaluate the costs and benefits of city programs, including those at the BOE, with an eye towards reducing and eliminating waste.  Every dollar spent must be one that is well spent.
• I also plan on restoring New Haven’s bond rating, as it was down- graded by Moody’s in late 2016 due to, I quote, a “narrow financial standing and reliance on debt restructuring to address the city’s financial challenges”. This administration’s precedent of balancing multiple budgets on the backs of our children and grandchildren is no way to show that we care about our city’s future.

Please go to my website and my Facebook page, Marcus Paca for Mayor of New Haven, for more details on my plans for constituting a more fiscally sound and responsible government because we cannot continue to tax or spend our way out of these problems.  We have to think smarter and be more strategic when it comes to the taxpayer’s dollars. “We need to begin to plan, before planning to spend”. Repeat.
I thank the Finance Committee and the Board of Alders for your service. I want you to know that there are many New Haveners who are looking to you to ask the tough questions and make the hard-financial choices that are ahead of us.

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posted by: Dwightstreeter on March 31, 2017  9:02am

Paca doesn’t mention the need for a Civilian Review Board with subpoena power, something New Haven has waited 20 years for.
No mention either of the need for an Ethics Commission and an Ethics Ordinance that says something.
No mention of continuing the effort to tax the wealthy non-profits that feed off the City.
No mention that he won’t take corporate or PAC money either and instead go to the Democracy Fund.
So far his program only nibbles on the edges.

posted by: informed on March 31, 2017  10:42am

@Dwightstreeter, Paca has clearly addressed the needs for both a Civilian Review Board and restoration of the Ethics Committee on his website: I’ve read it… have you?? I encourage you to read it before launching your critique. Moreover, last night was a budget meeting, so his talk critiqued the city’s financial issues. I was there, were you? I’m not sure why you’d expect him to discuss the issues you raised in that setting. Based on what I’ve read about his ideas, I think he has a different take on taxing nonprofits than you do. I, like many other New Haveners, don’t believe we can continually keep trying to tax our way out of problems. It seems you disagree. I have no clue about whether he’ll take money from big donors, but if he wants to win, I’d strongly encourage him not to use the Democracy Fund unless his opponent does too. To my knowledge Harp has never used the Democracy Fund. She relies heavily on big out-of-town donors to fuel her coffers. Lastly, I find it comical for you to suggest that his plan “nibbles on the edges” when it is literally the ONLY plan taxpayers have been presented with. Do you have a more comprehensive plan? Does Mayor Harp have ANY plan or even an interest in correcting course? These are not rhetorical questions, by the way

posted by: Dwightstreeter on March 31, 2017  6:14pm

@ Informed. Yes I did check out the website when it was first set up and I was not impressed with what I saw.
Reviewing his wife’s background, I wondered why she wasn’t the candidate?
As for avoiding the use of Democracy Fund money because Toni Harp didn’t use it is just feeble.
Public cynicism about politicians being bought and paid for has not stopped.
It’s the elephant in the room and it has to be addressed.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on March 31, 2017  8:12pm

Informed is spot on.

Now the city knows why I’m supporting this young man.  He’s absolutely correct in mentioning that the city doesn’t have a revenue problem.  To further substantiate his point here’s just a couple of examples how the Harp administration is fleecing the public.  Fernandez-Chavez is getting paid for nothing.  Jason Bartlett has created his own “Big Dig” with a structure that the city doesn’t even own.  The Economic Developer Matt The Divider, has only developed economically city jobs for his friends, and yet still receives a hefty salary.  The mayor has a city owned credit card that she uses unconscionably.  The mayor pulls money out of other departments to pad the pockets of her chosen staff.  Which results into less services for the people. 

This Harp administration is just laughing at the voters all the way to their personal bank accounts.

posted by: wendy1 on March 31, 2017  9:26pm

Looking forward to the next public hearing and I will be happy to loan out my cheerleading low amp bullhorn.  There are innumerable issues that may come up.  Running this city wont be easy for anyone.  We can look to better- run cities as samples for improvement.  I would hope that progressives and all their little local groups would coalesce, band together to support fresh young blood and I hope that our next mayor refuses to take anymore s*** from Yale who only pays 15 out of a 500 million dollar yearly city budget.  Time for a major rebooting which Harp cant supply.  The only reason she wont raise taxes is that’s a death knell for her bunch.  However the ONLY taxes to be RAISED should be Yale’s.  The locals are already squeezed dry and with no good results.  Yes, now Toni’s threatening to tax YNHH but too little, too late, and she sees a competitor coming up so she may be cooked if she stays silent.

Yale wants another mayor but one who will kiss their ring…..not happening I hope.  Until we get a macho mayor, I wont be satisfied.  I want a tall dark fearless man to speak loudly and clearly for a population that has been shafted for centuries… and mean it.  I want action not talk or hugs or compromises or fake smiles.  I dont even want to see a smile until next year…after Xmas.  I want neighbors that actually give a damn…the rest can move to the suburbs with the rest of the losers

posted by: LivingInNewHaven on April 2, 2017  12:20am

You’ve said you would be fair, but posting outlandish, untruths, by someone who doesn’t even live in New Haven is far from fostering healthy debate. This political failure, who lives in Georgia is making baseless accusations. 
“The mayor has a city owned credit card that she uses unconscionably”
If he can’t stick to New Haven facts, which since he lives in Georgia it’s hard to believe that he would rightfully know much, then the gossipy untruths need to be blocked.
Healthy debate about policy and community facts is what the community deserves to read.
It confuses me why someone who lives 100s of miles away can have so much idle time to lie about a traillblazing black woman. Disagreements around policy and governance are par for the course in politics, but the personal attacks that aren’t true…come on! These attacks are getting crazier and crazier.  #alternativefacts
You’ve blocked my comments for less.

posted by: mailuser1221 on April 2, 2017  5:09am

@Brian L. Jenkins

As always, every word you write is wholly accurate and spot on.  Thank you Mr. Jenkins for continuing to be a pillar of light and truth, here online and here in New Haven.

There is growing support for Marcus and I urge everyone in New Haven to do join in.  The biggest campaigner for Marcus is Toni herself.  Self-inflicted wounds.

Marcus For Mayor!

posted by: informed on April 2, 2017  11:46am

@Dwightstreeter, no doubt public cynicism for politicians taking big money is high, and I believe it should be. Nevertheless, those of us who want to actually see the politicians we support have a shot at getting elected appreciate that we must operate in the realm of reality - money is the lifeblood of elections. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, my friend. In other words, don’t let your self-righteous desire to get rid of big money push you to advocate for an outcome where the old guard continues to get their corporate donations and you hold upstarts and others to a higher bar. If you want to be a real “Citizens United” advocate, make a public call for people like Toni Harp to use the Democracy Fund. That’s braver and will have more potential impact than you calling on the little guys to take the lead on resolving the problem and constantly getting beat as a result. On the Paca website, boy do you set a high bar! I’ve been around New Haven politics for decades and have never seen anything close to the level of thought and insight put into Paca’s platform from any mayoral candidate, including our current mayor. What more would you like to see (as I previously mentioned, the points raised in your original critique were already addressed by Paca)? Again, do you have a more comprehensive set of ideas? Are you aware of someone else who has one? If so, I genuinely encourage you/him/her to run because you must be sitting on a goldmine of talent.

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on April 2, 2017  10:29pm

@ LivingInNewHaven?,

I’m indeed enamored with your fixation of me.  In fact, just to prove to you how touched I really am; I’m going to get a haircut, buy a pair of gators and a new suit so that I’ll be better dressed the next time you whine to Paul about my words.

Regarding “personal attacks.”  I have never attacked Toni personally. In fact, I gave her my word that I would never disclose personal things that I know about her.  This is strictly political my friend.                                                           

Rather than opine about where I sleep, how about furnishing facts to the readers of this very popular paper that dispel my assertions?  Surely as a sycophant to the Harp administration and my number one fan, you should be able to enumerate a plethora of Harp policies that helped tax payers?  I’ve asked you for this ad nauseam, and am yet to read anything.

Yes, I do own property in Georgia.  I also own property in two other states, and am looking for a home in Bethel, CT.  Does Bethel sound familiar?  For now, I’m camping out at my sister’s domicile when in town.  Let me put it another way, I’m in NH as much as the mayor’s in NH, the only difference is, I pay for my travel while the tax payers pay for hers.

“Healthy debate about policy and community facts is what the community deserves to read.”  I agree with that statement wholeheartedly.  Unfortunately, none of this emanates from the Harp administration. 

Let me end this soliloquy by conveying that this Trump like machination to try and psychologically dictate to the NHI regarding which comments they should allow or disallow in their paper is laughable.  Clearly this is a feeble attempt to deflect from the emptiness of the Harp administration.

@  mailuser1221,

I give God all the Glory.  I also give people like you tremendous recognition for your love of city and thank you instinctively for your gratuitous comments.

posted by: LivingInNewHaven on April 3, 2017  8:31pm

This guy who lives in Georgia said this not even a year ago. No credibility.  How much is he being paid to slander the mayor?

“posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on April 25, 2016 6:13pm

Knowing the mayor and Tomas as I do, this was indeed an arduous decision for them to have made.  To hear about anyone getting fired; especially a husband and wife, is of in itself most devastating.

Certainly for me, my morals and upbringing will not allow me to cast aspersions on these two like others have demonstrated.  But they have my prayers and I wish them both well.

To those who are blaming the mayor for hiring this young man to fill that position, shame on you.  Such an accusation is tantamount to saying that those who are qualified and occupy positions accordingly, don’t make mistakes or get fired.  To the mayor’s credit, she gave the young man an opportunity to display his talent in an area that may have been a bit too much.  Unfortunately, he faltered.

However, both of these persons are highly skilled and highly talented and will likely land on their feet impressively/”

posted by: Brian L. Jenkins on April 3, 2017  11:42pm

I also said this regarding the Jackie James and Matt Nemerson matter on April 20, 2016: 

[If] Ms. James’ claims are substantiated, then Mr. Nemerson should be removed.  If not, then she should be removed.  This isn’t about black or white.  This is about right or wrong.  In government, you handle everything via paper or email.  In essence, where’s the proof?  Mr. Nemerson shouldn’t be removed based on perception.  But he should be removed based on facts.  That is of course if the accusations amount to anyone’s dismissal. 

As I later discovered that the Paca"s were fired unjustifiably and so to was a very decent man that I cared for a great deal, Mr. Ron Manning.

I stand by EVERY word I write, that is why unlike you I hide from no one (Youth Coordinator) and provide my name.

If you think you can play “gotcha” with me you got the wrong one my friend.

Unlike many, I change when the facts change.  E.g., If I grew up with a friend that has shown nothing but love for children, and suddenly I discover that he had abused children, should I still consider him a friend?  My character will never allow me to see that person in the same light I once have. 

As Toni became mayor, I watched her morph into something politically contrary to the way in which I have known her to be.  So maintaining my consistency regarding strength of character, I can no longer support her politically. 

My pulling support away from Toni isn’t unique.  There are scores of people citywide who are no longer supporting her for a variety of plausible reasons. 

Of course I know that your attempt is to deflect from her disastrous administration by pointing your ammunition at me.  Just know this my friend, I look forward to it.

However, I cannot let you escape without again asking you for the twentieth time, WHAT HAS SHE DONE TO SAVE TAX PAYER’S MONEY?!!!!