Hamden Daily News - Your hometown cyberpaper
Hamden Weather
What We Are | Inside Hamden | Letters to the Editor | HDN Contact Info | Archives | Send Us Money
Search the HDN
Click here for
2007 Municipal Election Results

Inside the HDN
General News
Town Government
In Your 'hood
A Chat in Hamden
Kids' News
Mark Your Calendar
Press Releases

Highville Charter School Story
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

At Least Think About This New
The Dunbar Hill Report
Guest Column
HHS Newsroom
My Word
Ron Responds
Tony Talks Sports
Victual Reality New
Whitneyville Before Elvis

Neighborhood News
Mount Carmel Buzz
Wanna be a neighborhood columnist? Please click here.

Special Sections
Hamden Milestones
Hamden Landmark Tales
Hamden's 70th Memorial Day Parade
Scenes from Summer Camp
The Angels of Martyrdom,
a novella by Hamden High senior David Amrani

The 7th Annual Brooksvale Fall Festival
Maple Sugaring at Brooksvale
Inside Hamden's Farmers Market
Hamden Snapshots, 2007

Town Stats
Local Obits
Bad Boys, Bad Girls 2008
Red Hot Calls 2008

Local Politics
Legislative Council '07-'09
LC Committees '07-'09
Board of Education '07-'09
BOE Committees '07-'09
Hamden Democratic Town Committee '08-'10
Hamden Republican Town Committee '08-'10
Hamden Green Party

Local Sports Links
Hamden High Cheerleaders
Hamden Hurricanes
Hamden Fathers' Baseball/Softball

Hamden Fathers' Basketball
Hamden Youth Lacrosse
Hamden Youth Hockey Assoc.
Hamden Figure Skating Assoc.
Hamden Soccer Assoc.
Greater Hamden Baseball Assoc.
Hamden Heronettes Synchronized Swimming

Town Links
The Mayor
Town Clerk
Town Hall Departments
School Superintendent
School Department

Hamden Police Department
Hamden Professional Firefighters
Hamden Arts Commission
Hamden Public Library
Hamden Dog Park
Elections & Registrars


Hamden State Reps.
Peter Villano
Brendan Sharkey
Cameron Staples
Alfred Adinolfi

Hamden State Senators
Martin Looney
Joseph Crisco

Interesting Links
Vision Appraisal, Hamden
Concerned Citizens for Hamden Neighborhoods
Hamden Alliance for Responsible Taxation
Hamden Tax Relief
Hamden: Nobody Gets Out Alive
Hamden High Student Web Site
DEP Newhall Community Blog
Newhall Project Remediation
The Cheshire Town Post
Underground Town Hall
New Haven Independent
My Left Nutmeg
Connecticut Local Politics
Colin McEnroe, To Wit
Kent Tribune
The Huffington Post
Drudge Report

Yale Rep
Long Wharf Theatre
Shubert Theater

U.S. Veterans Affairs

My Word

August 12, 2008

Dissect Now

By Sharon Bass

A constitution is a breathing document. Like anything that breathes, it needs checkups from time to time. See what’s working. See what’s not. Make updates. It’s been a quarter-century since Hamden touched its local charter. It’s been breath-less. It needs major surgery, but politics keeps getting in the way of doing the right thing.

The local Democratic machine doesn’t want to open the document's 29 pages. After all, the machine controls the mayor’s office, the Legislative Council and the Board of Education. In other words: The Town. So why mess with the charter?

Meanwhile, the people are getting screwed.

I believe we should re-sculpt our charter to reflect the 21st century and to fix the ills in our town government. Congrats to community activist/lawyer Mark Sanders for starting “Charter Reform Now.” He’s begun a petition to force the resistant council to open the damn charter.

Here are some changes I would like to see:

  1. The creation of a town (city?) manager/council system. The town manager would be hired by a nonpartisan board of councilpeople, board of ed members, town and school department heads/administrators and residents. The manager would get a three-year contract and could only be terminated by a majority of the hiring panel.  I believe this move could dramatically cut down on the vast amount of time and money wasted on politicking.
  2. The legislative council would elect one of its own to be a token mayor for a one-year term. There would be a modest fee of say $1,000 paid to the councilmember/mayor. She/he would do stuff like cut ribbons, attend community events and give speeches.
  3. Professionalize the finance director. Give him/her a three-year contract and up the pay significantly to attract a really good money person. Though I didn’t arrive in Hamden until the tail end of Carl Amento’s third and last term (2005), I have heard (both sides of) the revolving FD door saga. Henrici may have avoided the revolving door by keeping Mike Betz at the helm of the Finance Department for the last three years, but at what expense to the town? Betz has not produced one sane, honest operating budget. The mayor’s proposed ’08-’09 tab even included many underfunded and unfunded contractual items. Those are provisions agreed upon between town management and union. You can’t just decide not to fund them. You can get sued for that. Since the finance director advises the mayor, a good part of the blame goes to Betz. But only the mayor can fire him. We need a professional, not someone who was fired from his last three municipal jobs, which were all much lesser positions than finance director, as confirmed by officials from the towns Betz was terminated.
  4. A budget referendum may not produce a homerun, but it does give people an opportunity to have a voice in how much money they have to pay the town for the next 12 months of services. So I would like to see that in the charter. The council now makes that decision.
  5. I'm on the fence about increasing -- or even having -- guaranteed minority seats on the council and board of ed. There are definite pros and cons, and they should be discussed.
  6. Since there will be a town manager, there will be no mayoral hiring/firing powers. Department heads, who are chosen by the mayor, would instead be hired by a panel such as the one described for town manager. Most other mayoral appointments will go through civil service selection.
  7. Cleanup and update. There’s outdated stuff in the charter, such as a welfare department and water pollution control. Those services no longer exist in Hamden.

An honest, exhaustive checkup for the book that outlines the way Hamden does business is way overdue. Please join Sanders in his struggle to make the town open up the charter, and then let's hope the council will do the right thing.

January 20, 2008

Park This

By Sharon Bass

OK, so first readers of the New Haven Register get a botched-up, misleading endorsement for Mayor Craig Henrici last fall. Even when notified via letters to the editor of the black-and-white mistruths in the endorsement, I was told the Register editor said nothing further would be printed in the paper about the Hamden mayoral race until afterwards. The mistruths will stand.

OK, then I read the Register’s Jan. 16 editorial headlined, “Mayor uses own car, saves town money,” with the subhead, “Henrici’s elimination of town cars pays off.”

My head is spinning. What does allegedly saving the town money have to do with the controversial mileage logs the mayor has been submitting since July 2007 (the real point of the Register’s editorial)? Why, that’s the same illogical explanation the mayor’s spin team has been feeding the local media. (Click here, here, here, here and here for background stories.)

The NHR editor has to know those two statements are unrelated, but uses them anyway to buttress his opinion that people should mind their own business about Henrici’s mileage logs. They’re asking too many questions.

Such as, why were the logs withheld for over three months (and after the November election, where Henrici had a tough battle)? The Hamden Daily News began sending Freedom of Information requests in early September ’07 and also filed an official FOI complaint. The logs arrived in mid-December. That doesn’t make a news outfit suspicious?

Instead, the editor tells “Henrici’s critics” to park the mileage issue. Nothing was done wrong. Leave the mayor alone. After all, he did start that ambulance service for seniors.

Oops, that’s right. There is no municipal ambulance service (one of Henrici’s ’05 campaign promises). In the Register’s endorsement, it praised the mayor for establishing that service. One of the uncorrected mistruths.

Like the endorsement, the “leave the mayor alone” editorial is also faulty. For instance, it says the 48.5-cents-a-mile reimbursement Henrici is supposed to get for business travel does not include gas.

Come again?

“He pays for his car’s insurance, maintenance and gasoline,” writes the editor. A quick call to the Internal Revenue Service or a discussion with any of the millions of American workers who have been reimbursed for business trips would have pointed out that the 48.5 cents not only covers insurance, maintenance and gas, but also wear and tear, depreciation and the cost of a lease.

The ongoing dispute over Henrici’s mileage logs is about the way he submitted them. He jotted down, and was reimbursed for, every mile put on his car each month instead of itemizing business trips, as is required. His spin team said he didn’t know what to put on the forms (click here to see the ridiculously complicated town-issued mileage log), and that he was told to do the best he could, and that the legislative council never specified which miles should and shouldn’t be claimed.

Back to the Jan. 16 propaganda piece. The NHR editor writes, “The Legislative Council sets the rules for the mileage reimbursement. Under them, Henrici only lists his beginning and ending odometer readings each month. Critics of the practice say there should be more detailed information about the mayor’s travels.”

Like proof that he put in more than 20 or 30 actual business miles a month instead of claims he made of up to 1,700? As for being on call 24/7 -- another explanation being used for the scantily filled out logs -- I’d like to know if Henrici has ever responded to a business emergency after work hours. I’d also like to know about the business trips he’s made since July 1, 2007. He should be forced to divulge that information. This is the public’s business, even if the Register doesn't agree.

The Reg editor is also wrong when he says council rules only require “beginning and ending odometer readings each month.” There are no such rules. In fact, the council did state during last spring’s budget deliberations that the mayor would be reimbursed for business miles. Business. I remember hearing that. Councilwoman Betty Wetmore told me she remembered it being stated. Unfortunately, budget-deliberation meeting minutes are not recorded verbatim as council meetings are.

The media are charged with bringing out the truths no matter whom they piss off. To dig. To question. Not to park it. We owe it to the public. Nothing will change if the truth is not sought after and revealed.

I think the New Haven Register should park its own corporate butt to rethink its editorial mission -- and to consider using facts, instead of spinning wheels, to support its opinions.


Auto Accidents
860 343 3443

email us

Check us out!

Help support the Hamden Daily News by clicking a link below. If you purchase something at one of the advertised businesses via that click, we get a few bucks -- while you don't pay an extra cent.

21st Century Insurance
Anna's Linens
Barnes & Noble
Beau Ties
Beyond Bedding
Big Mans Land
Cheap Trips
Constructive Playthings
The Container Store
Cuban Crafters
Dancing Deer Baking Co.
Green Cine
Kaplan Test Prep
Lane Bryant
National Pet Pharmacy
Nirvana Belgian Chocolates
Office Depot
Sierra Club
Thrifty Rent-a-Car

Talk To Us
Talk To Us
Letters to the Editor
Copyright© 2005 Hamden Daily News
Site designed by Joanne Kittredge

Tip Us Off
Send news tips