Letters to the Editor
May 31, 2007
Well, the election “silly season” is now upon us.
Most silly of all is Democratic Town Chairman Joe McDonagh’s recent comments in the Hamden Daily News regarding the state of the Republican campaign for mayor.
He is quoted as saying: “If Ron’s (Gambardella) only policy is I’m going to cut this and I’m going to cut that, it’s hard to know what he’s for. It seems like the Republican campaign already has a schizophrenia problem.”
Sorry Chairman Joe, if you honestly believe that, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. There is no schizophrenia problem on the Republican side. We are unified and under a clear message: the Henrici Administration gave the taxpayers the largest single tax increase in the history of the town, and next year’s budget has increased by almost $10 million. A majority of Council members are out of touch with the taxpayers.
Republicans hear taxpayer concerns about why this administration had the audacity to recklessly give them a huge tax increase, and then have the mayor in turn ask for a raise for himself, along with a travel allowance to boot!
At the “Rally Against Hamden’s High Taxes” event held last week, it was refreshing to see a huge bipartisan gathering. Republicans, Democrats, former Democratic and Republican council members, independents, Green Party members and members of taxpayer groups. The groundswell of support and applause was refreshing to Hamden politics.
The gathering was a clear indication that the Henrici Administration’s reckless actions have upset people from all walks of life and from all political persuasions. This gathering is what town government should be about -- bringing people together from all points of view to work together to come up with solutions to the town’s problems. Not the stale, old “politics as usual” from the Democratic machine that has run our town during the last two years.
Residents have had enough broken promises and they want explanations as to why they saw their taxes have risen nearly 30 percent in the last two years.
The townspeople of Hamden are smart voters; we saw this in the last election when Gov. Jodi Rell and state Rep. Al Adinolfi won Hamden handily over their Democratic opponents. This proves that there is no “sure thing” or a total party dominance of power in Hamden politics, as many would have you believe. When the right candidate with the right message resonates with voters, he or she can win the support of voters, regardless of party affiliation.
Councilman Gamdardella’s message is resonating with voters and excitement is growing around his campaign. We recently saw this momentum at the Memorial Day Parade when Councilman Gambardella was inundated with residents coming up to him thanking him for running for mayor. They see him as the voice of reason and of change.
The Gambardella campaign represents a coalition of Republicans, Democrats, independents, Green Party members and tax groups such as HART. Ron Gambardella’s campaign is gaining momentum and if elected mayor, his administration will be one that brings in a diversity of viewpoints and ideas to solve problem -- not point fingers. Most importantly, he will put taxpayers first.
Mr. Chairman, this election season can be very informative if we stick to the facts, debate the record of the administration during the last two years, and consider the interests of Hamden residents first, instead of resorting to silly name calling, election-year propaganda and blaming previous administrations for the problems created by this one.
Austin T. Cesare
As I read the HDN article about Mayor Henrici and his black book of achievements, I couldn't help thinking about just how light a read it was. The man is so desperate to show that he has actually accomplished something in almost two years that he includes 50 feet of sidewalk and some new steps at the Government Center as a "major" project. Anyone else would consider it routine maintenance.
What I found most disturbing was his attempt to take credit for six projects out of his 20 listed "achievements."
As former chair of the School Building Committee, I am very familiar with the history of the school projects that Henrici mentions as if they were his own.
"Accomplishment" No. 5: The furniture and equipment for the new middle school was the responsibility and work of the SBC and the BOE. The bid specs and decision of what was needed had been formulated long before I left the committee. A budget had been created, funding set aside in the school project and everything was in place to move forward under the able leadership of BOE member John Keegan, who headed the Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment Committee. The mayor had virtually nothing to do with the purchase and provided no input into the project.
"Accomplishment" No.9: The widening of Dixwell Avenue was part of an independent project to improve the Sanford Street. intersection that had been initiated by the state Department of Transportation. When Meadowbrook was selected as the site for the new middle school, the opportunity arose to integrate the entrance and exit of the school with the existing DOT project, which was already in the initial planning stages. The design of the road, the selection of vendors and the bidding processes had all been completed long before Henrici came on the scene. Again, aside from being mayor when the actual construction was completed, Henrici had absolutely nothing to do with finishing the project. If he did, perhaps he could have arranged for the giant pile of contaminated soil that still dominates the middle school to be trucked away on his new road.
"Accomplishment" No.12: The renovation of the Dunbar Hill bathrooms was a BOE project that again was initiated long before Henrici came on the scene and, again, because it is under the authority of the BOE, the mayor would have little if anything to do with it. He would have had about as much influence in completing the project as he did in his flagging effort to convince the BOE to move to Government Center. Apparently, new sidewalks and steps aren't enough of an enticement to get them to move in.
"Accomplishment" No.18: The upgrading of the alarm systems is again a BOE project and was in the works long before Henrici, and as such he would have had virtually no role in the project.
"Accomplishment" No.19: The Hamden High School air-conditioning project was yet another BOE project whose design and bid specifications had already been completed by the SBC long before Henrici took office. Again, he would have had virtually nothing to do with bringing the project to completion. It is interesting to note that Henrici was president of the town council when the school was being renovated. He was instrumental in turning down a request for $500,000 in additional funding for the complete air conditioning of the school. The cost 10 years later to complete the project? $3.4 million! That's what I call good money management and forward thinking on his part.
"Accomplishment" No. 20: The agreement for the remediation of the fatally flawed design and construction of the high school football field had been hammered out under the Amento Administration, largely due to the efforts of SBC resident elector Chris Dauer, who spent countless hours with the four companies involved in the debacle and with the attorney hired by the town to negotiate the "fix." That attorney, incidentally, was let go by Henrici in the middle of the negotiations. The agreement Henrici signed off on is the same agreement that was reached under the Amento Administration, and the repairs are the same as proposed in the original settlement.
Far from being "perfect," the field as it stands will not tolerate the water conditions generated by a 25-year storm as was originally promised and paid for by the town. At best, it will only stand up to the worst storm that might occur every five years and there are serious concerns about the guarantees on the artificial turf.
So, as you can see, Mayor Henrici is exaggerating his part in over one-quarter of his list of achievements while touting the scrapping of obsolete or non-running vehicles as an "accomplishment of some note." The only major projects that he can point to are not even his.
If anyone deserves any credit, it would have to be Purchasing Agent Judi Kozak. She did work with the BOE and the SBC on the above projects and was ultimately responsible for signing off on all the bids for the projects.
Unfortunately for Mayor Henrici, most of her work on those projects was done while she was working for the Amento Administration.
So, I think that Mayor Henrici is coming up a little short on his list of achievements and is curiously silent on the wi-fi and ambulance service that he promised.
And finally, why is that big pile of contaminated soil still sitting in the middle of town after almost two years of his "get it done" administration? Is it that complicated? Call the help desk. Maybe they can get rid of it.
May 25, 2007
In reading Ron Gambardella’s article about the substandard condition of the Hamden Police Department facilities, I couldn’t help but picture some young child running around the house banging pots and pans together in order to draw attention to themselves.
I can’t believe that Mr. Gambardella was so “clueless” about the deteriorating condition of that building. Where has he been? How long has he lived in Hamden?
This is the same old story that I have heard from a long line of politicians, both Republican and Democrat, banging pots and bans to promote themselves for decades while giving only lip serve to this and other issues. If Mr. Gambardella feels any real “shame” it should be directed at himself and the other do-nothing leaders back in my old home town.
When I served as a Hamden supernumerary police officer in the late '70s, the headquarters was already undersized for the department and in failing shape. I feel quite confident that the water stains, tattered carpeting and exposed wiring that Mr. Gambardella referred to in his article are the very same ones I noticed when I served the department 30 years ago.
I also find it very disingenuous of Mr. Gambardella to attempt to hang this one on the present administration. This has been an embarrassment for the department and the town of Hamden for decades. Far too many town councils and mayors from all political parties have know about this problem, talked about, and in the end failed to have the political guts to correct it.
Any true attempt to remove this long blight from the town’s memory will take time and a very large commitment of tax money. All the temporary and patchwork solutions have already been tried to address this shortcoming have failed. My questions to Mr. Gambardella are as follows: Do you have the political testosterone to blow out your clogged sinus passages and put yourself up on the skyline to make this happen? For a man who spends his time complaining about the taxes, will he have the courage to stand up and raise the tax money required to make this right?
Mr. Gambardella is correct that the time to act is now, and that your police officers deserve better. If the town demands that its police department be modern and progressive, your officers have a right to the facilities and equipment to make this happen. I’ll be watching this from my home down here in Virginia, but my fear is that the sound of the latest pots and pans will just fade away.
Prove me wrong, Mr. Ron Gambardella.
Thomas H. Connelly
May 22, 2007
It is amazing how tolerant taxpayers are. Many towns are exposing various types of mishandling of taxpayers’ money. We see incompetence, overcharging, nepotism, entitlements with no checks and balances in place. Yet, we see that taxpayers are willing to give more without pleading for more accountability.
As long as the addiction to the free flow of money continues, so will the abuse. The arrogance of always expecting a raise will never stop. Other towns are actually reducing property taxes. Why? For example, they have town managers in place working closely with the finance department and together they keep the abuse to the minimum. It is absolutely possible to manage our affairs the right way, even with tighter budgets.
Hamden is in dire need of new attitude, leadership and town government. The last thing we need is leadership who thinks money grows on trees and they’re entitled to it infinitely and without accountability. All taxpayers should register to vote by June 11 and be ready for the September Democratic primary to make sure a better qualified council will be in place for the next term. A willingness to want change and cooperate is our only chance and it’s in the interest of all residents.
Richard and Marianna D’Albis
May 21, 2007
My first adventure in local Hamden politics has been very frustrating. I attended most of the budget meetings and spoke my mind along with others, some who advocated fiscal responsibility as I did, and others who spoke for their own special interests. Those included librarians, teachers, police, all pleading for bigger budgets. Sadly the special interests have prevailed.
Later the Council approved other increases, including several more police officers. Last week, at the final meeting, there was a fleeting moment of legislative responsibility when John Flanagan's motion for a $1.9 million cut to the school budget was approved. The high moment in the discussion was when Councilwoman Noble, herself a retired teacher, said school spending had simply gone too far. As in a bad dream, the Democratic caucus convened, under the direct influence of the education folks, and returned to re-vote the cut down to only $500,000. The whole scenario was surreal and appalling.
Without a doubt, the upcoming municipal election in Hamden is going to be about runaway property taxes. As you probably know, taxes and spending have increased by historic proportions over the past two years. The Legislative Council just rubberstamped yet another huge tax increase for this year. This cannot continue. We need a change.
On May 24, at the American Legion Hall, 3005 Dixwell Ave., at 6 p.m., the Hamden Republicans will be holding a rally against the largest tax increase in Hamden's history. Taxpayers are rightfully enraged. Hamden Republicans hear you loud and clear and we are committed to putting up fiscally responsible candidates and ask you, regardless of your party affiliation, to help us make a change in November.
If you are not aware, last year taxpayers were hit with the largest tax increases in the history of the town and this year, we will receive another.
The Republicans on the Legislative Council and Board of Education continue to fight to keep taxes under control. Republicans are beginning their campaign to control spending and keep a grip on soaring taxes. We need your help. I invite all taxpayers to support this function. If you need tickets or would like to volunteer, please contact me or just show up at the event. Your support is crucial to the success of our town.
May 17, 2007
Over the years, Councilwoman Carol Noble has shown a deep understanding of what the taxpayers of this town have to go through to pay their tax bill. She has tried her best to keep our property tax low. She has stood up to mayors and other council members that wanted to increase our taxes.
May 14, 2007
On May 4, my wife, Leslie, and I hosted a fundraiser, "Skate for Cameron," at the Louis Astorino Ice Rink. The fundraiser was for a 12-year-old Hamden boy named Cameron Twitty. Cameron was stricken with XLP syndrome, a rare disease that affects the immune system. He recently underwent a bone marrow transplant at Cincinnati's Children's Hospital. He is 30 days post transplant and has been released from the hospital. This in itself is a great accomplishment.
It gives me great pride to say that this event was the brainchild of our 14-year-old twins, Taylor and Jordan. They came to my wife and me for help to get the event off the ground. They had help from fellow students at Wintergreen Magnet School, where they all attend, including Cameron. The event was a great success and the kids met their goal of raising $1,000 for the Twitty family.
This could have never happened if not for the help of Parks & Rec Director Frank Rizzuti, rink director Rick Gentile, ranger Vinnie Lavorgna, rink employee Jimmie Wilson, who went above and beyond his job duties, the staff at the Louis Astorino Rink, DJ Brian Poole, Michele O'Connor and the Girl Scouts, Hamden's Rainbow Girls, The "Skate for Cam" Committee, pro boxer Elvin Aylaya, AJ Raccio from Raccio Insurance Company, the Parks & Rec Commission and the Town Council. We have two words for all of you: thank you. It is a wonderful to see a community come together for a common cause to help one of their own.
I spoke to Cameron's mom, LaDora, the night of the event and she said Cameron was doing well and can't wait to come back home to Hamden. We wish him a speedy recovery and send much love and prayers his way.
Again, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you Hamden!
Paul and Leslie Jacques
May 11, 2007
As a previous citizen of Hamden with family still in the town, I have tried to follow the various issues in town when I can. After a varied career, I am now working for a small city in Florida and so I have an appreciation of the frustrations and limitations that municipalities often face, as well as the seemingly blithe requests citizens often make for funding of areas they believe are overlooked or of vital importance to them.
In this context, I read the interchange of letters between Mr. Scalzo and Councilman Flanagan that you posted. I know neither of them personally and my following comments are predicated solely on those postings.
I can only hope that the derisive attitude that Councilman Flanagan displayed both in his letter and at the Council meeting (that Mr. Scalzo implied was the source of his frustration) was due to Councilman Flanagan having a bad day, week or month. Otherwise he shows himself to be little more than a bitter old man anxious to employ the arrogance of position and tu quoque attacks on his critics.
Councilman Flanagan's point about assessing program funding for "needs versus wants" is perfectly valid. But his decision to make that point through insult and personal attack on Mr. Scalzo's maturity and suggested lack of real world experience in his response letter -- and to use ridicule in his statements at the Council meeting (as suggested by Mr. Scalzo's letter) -- implies a significant insecurity and certainly political if not social immaturity on the councilman's part, or, as I said, a really bad day.
C'mon John, I pray the leadership of my old hometown is better than this. The kid was taking an interest in something that he believes has the opportunity to change his life for the better. Why belittle the program? Then again, by that same standard I presume you are anxious to shut off funding for all sports facilities and programs, parks programs, the library, etc. SYou are striking out funding for any July 4th festivities as well, right? After all, that's all just more municipal financing of "bread and circuses." Of course, some might call it quality of life.
John, you have your position because people thought you were capable of being a leader. Lead. Lead by encouraging involvement not insulting it. Lead by sharing what you know with those without your insights and experience rather than castigation. But also lead by listening carefully not only to your voting constituents, but the city's customers -- not all of whom can vote yet. If you are not personally strong enough to accept disagreement with your views without responding through mean-spirited comments and personal attacks, perhaps your public service involvement is not in everyone's best interest.
There's a school of thought that suggests that the sole reason for the being of a municipal entity is for the betterment of its citizens (and betterment is not necessarily limited to infrastructure and security). When I grew up in Spring Glen, there were potholes that never seemed to get repaired. But there were also teachers and coaches who changed my life. The library, and especially the Yale museums, opened up my mind to a world beyond the city limits. I'm sure city hall got calls complaining about the potholes, but I and thousands of others have been remiss in not calling city hall to compliment the wisdom of hiring those teachers and funding those "bread and circuses" programs.
Justin, Councilman Flanagan faces a wide variety of very complex tradeoffs and, frankly, a lot of no-win situations. No city has unlimited funding and what is of vital interest to you may well be of no interest to a majority of citizens. The frustrations of never being able to seem to satisfy everyone can easily wear tempers thin, and everyone in city hall hears far too many complaints and far too few kudos. Obviously, his perception of municipal priorities focuses on the needs of the many versus the wants of the few.
But don't give up. Are you willing to commit the time to developing a nonprofit funding vehicle and pursue endowment funds? How about local sponsors? Have you looked at how you might achieve your goals through qualifying for national NEA grants? Are you willing to stay committed to achieving your aims beyond your final year in high school (otherwise you've got an unfulfilled wish, not a goal that is truly important to you)? Go on, I dare you, make it happen.
John, I truly hope the evidence in the missives I've read is uncharacteristic. Underneath it all I see a councilman that is trying to make good decisions and to be prudent with taxpayer funds. Such an effort in the realm of public service is always laudable. But the next time you have a bad day or week I urge you to hold your tongue and your pen. If you never seem to have a good day, then take a break or a vacation or something.
With sincere good wishes for all concerned -- especially the future of Hamden.
May 10, 2007
Not so long ago, I wrote a letter to the editor concerning Democratic Town Chairman Joe McDonagh's attack on the credibility of Councilman Ron Gambardella. After trashing Mr. Gambardella, Mr. McDonagh went on to use the letter as a transparent means to tout the fiscal genius and record of the Henrici Administration and his handpicked town council in regard to their management of the town budget.
In closing I can only say, "Say it isn't so Joe, say it isn't so!"
Mr. Scalzo was disturbed by a councilperson the other night. And since I was the culprit questioning a raise and the relative merits of governments financing "bread & circuses" (that's what they used to call it in ancient Rome, Justin) for the masses, I'll respond to his less than wellfounded musings.
I was quite glad to see young Mr. Scalzo in the audience at the Council meeting the other night. Although I've known him since he was born, I hadn't realized he was president of the senior class. I have seen him in some of his plays at Hamden High School over the years. And he's become quite good. From his letter's verbiage, he may even have a modest future at script writing. Unfortunately, it appears he should have paid more attention in social studies class because an understanding of the functions of government is clearly lacking.
No one attacked the "arts" the other night, Mr. Scalzo. We discussed a salary, its alleged justifications and necessity. While I realize one's experience with spotlights may blur one's vision of reality, and realizing that one may tend to frame things (within their brief experience) as it relates to expressing themselves, it's time to go back and do a reality check.
While a council meeting may, at times, get theatrical, Justin, it's not a play. It's a varsity debate and mental contact sport with the only padding the choice of words by the participants. Unlike the plays you've been in, it's unscripted. And, no, you don't get to write one for us.
It deals with real people and their lives. No budget item exists in a void. Every action taken affects much more than a simple salary. It affects people you bump into in the hallways at Hamden High every day and their parents and grandparents. You may not have realized that. However, within a finite fund, every dollar allocated in one place deprives another. So it was, with that special consideration you advocate for.
Those 4,000-plus additional dollars above the salary increase I proposed for [Hamden Arts Coordinator] Ms. Coleman could, for example, buy considerable food or fuel if given to either of those functions. If a savings in the equivalent amount was repeated enough times (a thousand times would be 1 mil of property taxes), taxes might not have to go up as high. That would mean fewer elderly people on fixed incomes would have to spend the next year on the edge of financial difficulty just to live.
While I think "the arts" is, in many cases, wonderful and I have even, in times past, been threatened with arrest for supporting writers' and artists' rights to freedom of expression, I don't hold financing the "arts" to be a primary function of government.
It certainly can, however, be a function. But when, for example, it's compared with safety on the streets (police, fire, trash, paving, plowing, health, etc.), caring for seniors, helping those who are up against things in life (happens to all of us at times) or even the cost of educating the class you're president of, Mr. Scalzo, "the arts" goes very far down on my list of concerns. It's quite easy to see that "the arts" is a want not a need.
So get off the stage and/or soapbox, Justin. Start paying attention to people's needs not their wants. Taking the argument to an extreme, I'm unimpressed if the person loved that presentation of "Romeo & Juliet" but died of a rat bite because the trash was left on the streets outside the theater. The choices are made every day. Wants or needs?
At any rate, do well in college. Enjoy the additional time in a "womb" protected from the real world for four more years. It will go quicker than you think. Maybe, when you come out, you'll have figured out how to fund both the wants and the needs. Hope so. Next year will be 40 years since I left college. Damned if I've been able to figure out how to do it. And so I'll just continue to make the choices picking needs funding rather than wants funding. And sometimes, I'll win, and sometimes I won't get the votes, and sometimes you won't like it.
But please learn to listen intently to find out the other person's rationale before jumping to criticize a passionate opinion as bad staging. You'll run into enough bad staging and passionate opinions of those in your professors.
The Council last evening heard public input from citizens, a union rep and a town employee (me) concerning pension obligation bonds. Opinions pro and con were thoughtfully delivered to an apparently attentive Council.
All in attendance expected a lively debate and a yea or nay vote. Wrong! The Dems went into a 30-minute caucus in the back room and came out and tabled the proposition. This is not what I consider open government. I understand going behind closed doors to discuss personnel matters. But pension obligation bonds should only be discussed in front of the people who will have to pay for them over the next 30 years.
The question has been on the table for months. What more information is needed?
No one appreciates the hours of hard work the Council puts in more than I do -- but yesterday evening was a bad joke.
May 9, 2007
On Monday, I attended a Hamden Town Council meeting with fellow Whitney Players cast member Tracy Barletta, assistant director Megan Treichel and co-founder and director Cindy Simell-Devoe. We all attended in support of the first topic on the agenda: Hamden Arts Commissioner Mimsie Coleman's 16 percent pay increase to match what she has been deprived of for some years now. Fortunately, the decision was in our favor and I wholeheartedly believe Ms. Coleman deserves the increase for all she has committed to the arts.
The aforementioned, however, is only foundation to why I am writing this letter. As I sit and reflect on what was discussed at the meeting, I am completely appalled at several negative enforcers on the Town Council. Those who attended will be able to figure out exactly who I am talking about without naming any direct names.
To blatantly state, two councilpersons showed complete disrespect not only to Ms.Coleman herself, but the position she holds and to the arts in its entirety. Being a student actor planning to pursue theater in college and a senior at Hamden High School -- a place where the arts is given utmost respect -- I was personally enraged with the neglect and disregard show to the arts, more so by the councilman with underlying support by the councilwoman.
The carelessness and demeanor, or lack thereof, employed by the councilman in his opposition was rather ironic to his opinions. With his melodramatic dictation it seemed that this man, who so seemingly and outrightly detests the arts, was in full character, putting on an Oscar nominee act, as if he himself was on the stage in order to “express” his opinion and win over his “audience."
Fortunately for Mimsie Coleman, the Hamden Arts Comission and future student actors, this “character’s” performance remained at just that -- a nominee and not the winner.
May 7, 2007
I read in Friday's HDN that the Hamden Women for Honest Government Web site is on "life support." Last Thursday, there were 1,208 page views and 11 posts; the day before there were 1,385 page views and 11 posts. The site is far from dead and I encourage your readers to keep reading and posting on HWHG.
I have no problem with the administration blocking access to HWHG from town computers, but you are incorrect and do your readers a disservice when you suggest that HWHG is no longer a source of information and a site for discussion of local issues.
Whenever the HDN needs readership statistics from HWHG, a simple request will receive a prompt response.
Ann M. Altman
Council meetings are free to the public. Hamden taxpayers can learn how the Council members are modifying the mayor’s proposed budget. As we're getting closer to the final version of the budget, it’s obvious that taxpayers made a big mistake to put their trust in Mayor Henrici and most of the residing Democratic Council members.
There is no relief in sight and we have to be prepared that the proposed 6 percent increase in taxes will even go higher. We must remember this come] November. We must also question the legal power of the mayor and Council to enter a 30-year commitment using pension obligation bonds. The Town Charter does not provide authority for bonding out liabilities, and such, not returning a real asset to taxpayers.
The only option Hamden residents have left is to sign a petition for a budget overrule. It’s hidden in our Charter in 18-5. It gives taxpayers a chance to collect around 7,000 signatures within 20 days of the announced budget and submit a petition to call for a referendum. This is the only control Hamden residents have been given to vote the budget down. Care to join? Please read more and contact us at www.hamdentaxrelief.com. We have collected 751 signatures asking our elected officials to consider the taxpayers' interest first by not increasing our taxes. If everyone collects 10 more signatures, we can stop the proposed tax increase.
Richard and Marianna D’Albis
May 4, 2007
The removal of two technology positions at the Miller Memorial Library, as proposed in the mayor’s current budget, is of great concern to me and should be of great concern to all other citizens of Hamden as well.
Technology librarians are trained to manage and maintain integrated library systems. These systems are sophisticated, relational databases, designed to keep track of well over 100,000 items and just as many patrons. In addition, technical services librarians are trained to catalog and classify material so that, once placed on the shelf, the material is easily retrievable through a catalog search or by browsing in the section that houses the same subject. (Raise your hand if you know the Dewey Decimal System!) Typically, internet technology graduates (non-librarians) do not acquire the skill sets necessary to operate and maintain these databases. They know about computers, but not about libraries.
These two employees also take turns at the public service desks, meaning that without them the library staff will be stretched thin, and forced to consider shortening hours of operation. As a citizen of Hamden, I’m proud of our library system and the services it provides. I feel I’m getting my money’s worth when I fund these positions. In fact, if the mayor promises to give more funding to the library and thus increase its hours and services, he should feel free to raise my property taxes!
May 3, 2007
In the Hamden Daily News, Councilwoman Carol Noble said she's "uncomfortable" with the mayor's request of a $570 monthly travel allowance. I agree with Councilwoman Noble. The mayor should be paid 48 cents a mile when he uses his personal car for town business.
Many moons ago, my family lived in Hamden. I am not qualified to write to you about Hamden's problems. I was just reading your e-news. Fun to read about things in the news everywhere today. We are having the same problems here in Florida. The only opinion I can write about is uniforms.
They are good because they put everyone in the same bracket of identity for a few hours in the day, just five days a week. It is the precursor to the working environment. You wear a suit, or uniform, there also. In addition, it makes people look decent, not like a centerfold in the magazines or a fashion diva. It keeps you from being distracted, to say the least, so your minds are on class work instead of how you appear to others.
One other thing, it saves mom and dad money from buying clothing that is way too expensive. Thank you for letting me put my 2 cents here. God bless. Think about what I have said, kids.
As a parent of two children in Hamden Public Schools, I am both outraged and not surprised at all by what you overheard at the Highville School. I would like to take the time to commend you on your willingness to report the truth as you heard it.
Perhaps this should be an eye opener to all, that if it can happen at Highville, why not anywhere else? For too long, school administrators have been given the ability to do as they please and not be held accountable for their actions by anyone.
The parents of these children at Highville should be outraged at this abuse. Pitter's racist comments should also be addressed. My point here is that this goes on around us in all schools in Hamden and it is met with very little willingness from the press or anyone else to be exposed.
May 2, 2007
I share the concerns expressed by others about Mayor Henrici’s double-barreled request for a pay raise in fiscal year 2007. To ask for both a salary increase and an inflated vehicle allowance in these tough fiscal times not only violates the letter and spirit of his campaign promises, but sends an offensive message to demoralized taxpayers about the importance, or lack thereof, of shared sacrifice.
Beyond these instinctive concerns, however, I’m troubled by the possibility that in granting the mayor his wishes the Legislative Council may be placing itself in legal jeopardy. Section 2 of Article 11 (as amended by Article XIX) of the Connecticut Constitution provides that no town “shall pay or grant to any elected official ... any compensation greater than the amount of compensation set at the beginning of such official’s term of office ... ” “Compensation” is defined by that section as “such official’s salary, exclusive of reimbursement for necessary expenses or any other benefit to which his office would entitle him.”
I have no prior experience with this constitutional provision, but it appears on its face to prevent the Council from granting the mayor’s proposed salary increase as requested. Of course Mayor Henrici could modify his request to back load the entire increase into the second half of the fiscal year, i.e., after the commencement of the next mayoral term, in hopes that he is re-elected. But of course the effect of such a cynical manipulation would be a doubling of the proposed increase in the mayor’s rate of pay, to the further detriment of the town.
The proposed vehicle allowance requires a bit more analysis than the salary request. If the mayor were simply requesting mileage reimbursement at the federal rate, there would be no constitutional overtones since that would plainly be “reimbursement for necessary expenses,” and thus not “compensation” within the meaning of the constitutional provision. However, because the requested allowance clearly exceeds the amount of standard mileage reimbursement, and is not a traditional “benefit to which [the mayor’s] office entitle[s] him,” it too may violate the Constitution’s prohibition of mid-term compensation hikes.
In light of these constitutional concerns, I strongly urge the Legislative Council to seek the opinion of the Attorney General or town attorney before considering any salary or benefit increases for the mayor.
Mark D.G. Sanders
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