Paca: I’ll Drive Myself & Own Up To Mistakes

Paul Bass PhotoMarcus Paca promised Tuesday that, if elected, he won’t have a police officer drive him around and he will promptly come clean with the public about mistakes like breaches of private health data.

During an interview on WNHH radio’s “Dateline New Haven” program, Paca, who is seeking the Democratic mayoral nomination, cited those two positions as examples of how as mayor he would run a tighter fiscal ship and communicate more openly with the public.

Paca said he plans to seek the support of the Democratic Town Committee at its upcoming nominating convention. If he fails to win the required one-third of votes to win a position on the Sept. 12 party primary ballot, his team will set about collecting the approximately 4,500 signatures of registered Democrats needed to have his name appear. Paca said he plans to open a campaign office at 132 Grand Ave. and launch a voter registration drive Friday afternoon.

Incumbent Mayor Toni Harp, also a Democrat, plans to formally announce her candidacy for a third two-year term at an event at Sound School Friday at 5 p.m.

In Tuesday’s interview, Paca said he would end the practice of having police officers drive the mayor. He said he would drive himself around town. “Listen, I’m 39 years of old. The mayor’s [69] years old,” Paca said. “I don’t feel scared or afraid to walk in my own community. A lot of folks look at that as a sign of disrespect. I’m approachable. I am not going to have a chauffeur.”

Harp responded Tuesday that she chose to have police drivers after then-Police Chief Dean Esserman recommended it. Esserman cited security concerns.

Paca gave the elimination of the driver position, which covers multiple shifts a day and can include overtime, as an example of ways he’d trim the budget. He criticized the Harp administration for proposing a new city budget that raises spending. “We have a spending problem” in New Haven, not a “revenue problem,” he argued, saying he doesn’t believe that the state will come through with a $31 million increase in municipal aid that the proposed budget counts on. Asked for other specific cuts, Paca said he couldn’t produce a total list but offered some suggestions: That better communication can reduce the number of costly lawsuits. That staff travel can be reduced. That “non-essential contracts” for grant-writing and in the education and legal departments can be reexamined. That the city can stop “duplicating” tasks done in the not-for-profit sector, like organizing food policy.

The candidate also criticized the Harp administration’s response to the data breach that occurred last July 28 in the health department, as an example of how city government can be run more transparently.

The state has charged a 36-year-old former city health department epidemiologist with two felony charges for allegedly sneaking back into her old office on that date, downloading computer files onto a personal thumb drive, then erasing the private records of at least 587 adults and minors with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) from a government database while an intern and a union steward watched. (Click here and here to read previous stories about the case.) It took the city close to six months to inform the victims of the breach; federal rules require a 60-day turnaround. The city also never posted a public notice about it — on its website, say — as recommended by the feds; the city’s health director has declined to make any public comments about it. The Office of Civil Rights of the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is conducting an investigation into the case. (HHS spokesman Lou Burton said in an email message Tuesday that the department had no information to release.)

Paca Tuesday said the administration should have immediately notified the victims and spoken publicly about the incident, as well as about what it learned form the mistake.

“The health department was compliant with reporting requirements once the police department conclude its investigation,” Harp responded Tuesday.

Her administration’s position is that, although city officials immediately reported the suspected breach to police the day after it happened, the city needed to wait for a police investigation to confirm the details of the breach before notifying the victims. The city barely made the 60-day deadline after the point at which police notified the health department that it had definitively confirmed the breach.

Paca called that explanation “hogwash.”

“They knew they did something wrong and tried to cover it up. That’s why they were not forthcoming with the information,” he alleged. “... They took several months out hoping nobody would find out. Let’s call it what it was. It was a coverup.”

Asked if he would have fired the union official who escorted the former employee on her mission that day, Paca said he would need more information to make a determination. He said he would have disciplined the health director.

“When we make a mistake — because we will make a mistakes no one’s perfect …” Paca said, “we will be man and woman enough as an administration to say that we were wrong, and rectify the situation.”

A report from the health department to HHS, obtained through the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act,  lists general actions the department has taken in the wake of the breach:

“• Adopted encryption technologies
“• Changed password/strengthened password requirements
“• Implemented new technical safeguards
“• Improved physical security
“• Provided business associate with additional training on HIPAA requirements
“• Revised policies and procedures
“• Trained or retrained workforce members.”

Click on or download the above audio file to hear the full interview with Marcus Paca on WNHH radio’s “Dateline New Haven” program, which also covered housing and economic development as well as his personal story. Click here to read a previous story about Paca’s education platform.

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posted by: Webblog1 on May 16, 2017  5:41pm

I offer Mr. Paca the following critique on his comment.

1. Maintain your positions as outline on your web-site and repeat them as often as the opportunity arises.

2. Driving or being driven, your response here is good “I don’t feel scared or afraid to walk in my own community. A lot of folks look at that as a sign of disrespect. I’m approachable. I am not going to have a chauffeur.”

Especially since the Mayor volunteered the weak response:  “Harp responded Tuesday that she chose to have police drivers after then-Police Chief Dean Esserman recommended it. Esserman cited security concerns”. It raises the question what security concerns does she fear.

3. Although the city provided a belated report to HHS citing:

• Adopted encryption technologies
“• Changed password/strengthened password requirements
“• Implemented new technical safeguards
“• Improved physical security
“• Provided business associate with additional training on HIPAA requirements
“• Revised policies and procedures
“• Trained or retrained workforce members.”

The city still has failed its most important responsibility.. that of securing and paying for their long term Identify care from thief and selling of important personal information.

4. Going the Democratic Town Committee route seeking the nomination is a complete waste of your time, energy and money. Just review the record of your predecessors zero for ten against the incumbent.
Collection $4,500 verifiable signatures will take the collection of 12-13K signatures, just ask Ron Smith and Justin Elicker.

5. Asked if he would have fired the union official who escorted the former employee on her mission that day, Paca said he would need more information to make a determination. He said he would have disciplined the health director. Hell yes, you were fired for far less and did not affect 587 people.

6. Just saying!

posted by: Webblog1 on May 16, 2017  5:42pm

OH… and name a city clerk running mate candidate very soon.

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on May 16, 2017  9:33pm

Unlike two years ago, this year I am looking forward to a real, competitive mayoral campaign. I can hardly wait for the mayoral debates so that the people can make informed, educated decisions about casting their votes for the next mayor. New Haven is in dire need of fresh, new, innovative leadership. Marcus Paca represents the future of New Haven.
I have listened to this entire interview of Marcus Paca. I was very much impressed by this young, personable, energetic, intelligent, articulate and informed candidate. Paca addressed the various issues raised by Paul Bass with ease and confidence and mastery.
For those who are not familiar with Paca and his campaign, I encourage you to listen to this excellent interview. Raised and educated in New Haven, Paca has a vision for this city that is inspiring and optimistic. He has had experience in government service and in the business field.
The people of New Haven are going to have real choices in this campaign. And rightfully we should! Democracy in New Haven has been sadly weakened in this city which has been dominated by the Democratic party for over six decades! That will not be easily undone, but within the framework we have, the people should have real choices between an entrenched incumbent and a new voice.
The choices so far are Toni Harp or Marcus Paca, and possibly one other candidate. After hearing this interview, I am convinced that the Harp campaign with have a very strong and articulate challenger in Marcus Paca. The next six months should be quite interesting!

posted by: budman on May 17, 2017  8:55am

Pack is as much of an embarrassment to New Haven as Trump is to America.  My only hope is that he will gain enough traction that a truly viable candidate will enter the race.

posted by: westville man on May 17, 2017  2:42pm

Budman-  can you elaborate with specifics for the benefit to those of us who are undecided?

posted by: U.need.more.people on May 18, 2017  3:43am

Give me a break!  Paca is not qualified to be mayor. In his radio interview he speaks of people who can no longer afford to reside in New Haven or pay property taxes.  Paca is one of those people.  He has never owned ANY property, but all the sudden he is an expert on affordable housing, property taxes, and home ownership?  Really?

Paca speaks of bringing jobs to New Haven, but he has had his own difficulties in maintaining consistent employment for himself.  He is currently unemployed after being fired from his city position by Mayor Harp.  You won’t find that information on his website. Paca should try get his own personal finances in order before he tries to take on New Haven’s finances.

Paca’s campaign ideas sound delusional, and fiscally ignorant to how cities are actually managed. 

Paca insinuates he supports age discrimination by negatively referring to Mayor Harp’s age. However, he should acknowledge wisdom & EXPERIENCE comes with maturity.  Someone who is actually doing the job of Mayor day in and day out, and putting in the work is a true leader. Not someone who woke up one day wanting to be mayor, and thought by attending functions & taking pictures made him qualified.

posted by: informed on May 18, 2017  1:37pm

(2 of 1) It is also hardly a disqualifying factor to have a boss who you don’t see eye to eye with, particularly one who seems to be struggling to perform her own job.Have you and your boss always agreed? If so, it’s a charmed life you live! I, for one, would like to better understand WHAT exactly it was Toni and Marcus disagreed upon. That’s relevant to this campaign, but not the simple fact that he didn’t work well inside her administration.

Now that we’re over the silliness and hopefully back on track, let’s get to the core of what should be your argument: “Paca’s campaign ideas sound delusional and fiscally irresponsible and ignorant to how cities are managed… Mayor Harp has wisdom and experience.” Can you provide specific examples of either so we can substantively debate those points?

I did not hear any delusional ideas in the interview nor have I heard him articulate any to date, but I’m open to being convinced otherwise. I also need to be convinced on examples of Mayor Harps wisdom and experience. We are facing a multi year $5B state deficit that she had her hands in creating as head of appropriations for 10 years. The city finances are also currently in a mess. I really don’t think we need more of that kind of wisdom and experience, but am open to being convinced otherwise. That’s what voters need to understand to make a decision. Help us.

posted by: informed on May 18, 2017  1:43pm

(1 of 2) @U.need.more.people, which I assume is short for screen name “u need more reasons to hate Paca and love Toni Harp”, your statements are a little perplexing. First, are you suggesting that there should be a home ownership litmus test for political service? If so, you are advocating disenfranchising MOST Americans and more importantly most New Haveners and further relegating our political world to one in which truly only elites can lead. Most democrats don’t subscribe to that. Presumably you are republican. I’m also not sure how you deduced that not owning a home means ones finances are “not in order”. Again that must be your personal litmus test. I also wonder about Harps personal finances. The only thing I’ve ever heard reported is significant debts owed to the state. But apparently that’s not a disqualifying factor for you…

Regarding working during a political campaign, I’m not aware of any politician who does that, so I’m not sure why that would be your expectation for Paca other than “u need more reasons” to encourage people to hate him and love Toni. The candidate you are asking us to support, Toni Harp, did not work while she ran for mayor in 2013 nor did Justin Elicker. And if they had worked, then they most certainly would have robbed their jobs, as both were full-time on the campaign trail. A city-wide election is not a part-time endeavor.

Also I don’t think it’s any secret that Toni Harp was/is not a fan of Marcus Paca and of his ideas/ways of doing business in the city. This paper as well as the Register reported extensively on her firing of him. Contrary to the tales you spin, there is also mention of his past employment at the city in both his bio and in his campaign announcement, which is linked on the site: (That’s where I read about it.) Continued…

posted by: U.need.more.people on May 18, 2017  4:05pm

It appears from your rant I have struck a nerve. 

Let’s be clear, I only stated the facts about Paca.
If you are so knowledgeable about him, then you would also know the majority of his work history listed on his website, he was also terminated from.  I guess he didn’t get along with those bosses either?  Someone with such a sketchy track record should not lead our city. 

Home ownership is not a prerequisite to public office, but how can he relate to home owners if has no idea what they are experiencing?  He cannot relate. If a public figure such as mayor is going to advocate in regards to lowering property taxes, and affordable housing; they should have some idea what they are talking about.  Paca owns nothing, and I would not want that person advocating for me.

Voters aren’t fooled by the glossy website, or sold on the soft propaganda.  He spoke of ideas, and provided no viable details on how he would execute these “ideas”.  Did you listen to the same interview?  See you at the polls.

posted by: informed on May 18, 2017  7:16pm

(1of 2), we can leave this here because it’s clearly going no where. I asked for you to address specific things that he stated that you think are inoperable in his plan and specific things you think the mayor has done well. (That’s a recurring theme on these boards by the way.) I do not know the man personally, but I do know that it’s only reasonable to assume that unless you are Paca you would have no basis for alleging that he was terminated from all of this jobs. Can you provide us some proof of the “facts” you’ve alleged about this man? Without that your posts are sounding alarmingly Trumpian, e.g. Hillary is the most crooked politician ever. Anyone can just throw out random, unsubstantiated hyperbole and allege it a fact, especially these days. Give us voters some proof. Again I encourage you to focus on the issues, as that’s the best way to help your candidate. As you stated voters are not fooled by the baseless attacks: Paca is Trump, Paca was fired from every job, Paca has bad finances, Paca is terrible! Vote Toni! I encourage you to give the voters something to vote FOR at the polls, not just “a villain” to vote against. Regarding the little substance you were willing to delve into, I think you’re a bit confused about the way taxes work. Whether or not one ones property, he/she absorbs the cost of high taxes through higher rent payments and higher prices in stores from the landlords and businesses that pass of those externalities. This is simple macroeconomics. Therefore we can ALL understand the burden of high taxes and be effective advocates for tax cuts. Unless of course one is homeless (perhaps you will next share with us that Paca is in fact homeless), which I’m certain you’d consider a disqualifying factor for office also lol. Lastly, your argument that his lack of homeownership means he can’t relate to homeowners is a dangerous path for you do go down, my friend. Continued…

posted by: informed on May 18, 2017  7:25pm

(2 of 2) Has your candidate been homeless, had children in public schools, lived in an inner city ever in her life? I assume you think she’s disqualified from representing anyone who has those lived experiences. I love the intellectual debate about the issues though btw :)! Keep thinking through it!

posted by: Seth Poole on May 19, 2017  10:52am

Paca has been playing with house money since 2008.  Create something, build it, maintain it, and then say you’re capable of running the show. 

“My rent pays for property taxes”  said Paca.  I raise your “Hogwash” with a Bally-hoo.

I’m out!