Budget Conference Room

Budget Conference Room

First Board of Ed budget proposal calls for 7.3% increase
By Melvin Mason on January 26, 2016
http://www.stratfordstar.com/46078/first-board-of-ed-budget-proposal-calls-for-7-3-increase/

A $5.4 million deficit? Who cares? The BOE wants a $7.3 million increase. On the BOE’s home planet that’s what you do when faced with a deficit…ask for even more. Apparently, tuition of $14,000 per student simply isn’t enough to educate the children of Stratford. We’re going to need another $4,620,000 in salary increases and benefits. It’s obvious to any administrator that we need even more assistant principals and math coaches. Hey, wait a minute! What’s a “Math Coach”? Is that a full time position with benefits? Or is that someone like a parent or perhaps a college student? And of course we need a Security Director because a $12 million/year police force with a Chief, Deputy Chief, Captains, Lieutenants and sergeants can’t handle security in this enormous town.

Sadly, no one will care. Certainly not the elected BOE members. They can barely keep up with the run around they’ve been getting from this administration. Already we have the DTC Chairman/Board of Ed Vice Chairman Len Petruccelli saying “the school board has to do what they think is best for the students.” Sure, Len. It’s all about the students (wink, wink). Perhaps Harkins, of all people, will simply say $7.3 million is way too much. Parents will cry out and rent their garments and Robinson will settle for $3.1 million and claim her budget was “cut”. As long as the BOE administrators get their raise, that’s all that really matters isn’t it? Hold on, we forgot the most important part; we get to pay for it.


Not Quite GAAP

Not Quite GAAP

The budget workshops have concluded. For now. We were actually quite impressed with the degree of cooperation between the Council and the various departments in Town. Of course, each department thinks they need every penny they are given to survive. We know that is not true due to the work by Councilman Dumas and the ridiculous stipends given out to a select few favorites along with take home cars to six figure employees. We are a bit surprised that the twenty seven or so sets of car keys haven’t been confiscated yet.

Nonetheless, we congratulate each and every Councilman for the hard work and attention they’ve given. With one exception, which we will get to shortly.

The BOE accounts for slightly over half of Stratford’s expense and yet not even a comment has been made by the BOE chairman Feehan, Superintendent Robinson or COO Zachary. Either they believe they are unable to save a single dollar or they believe that they are above review. Both views are completely wrong.

And now to the glaring exception. One Councilman has taken it upon himself to exact revenge for perceived personal slights that occurred over five years ago. That is Councilman Harden (4th District). Mr. Harden was a member of Stratford EMS before he was asked to resign his commission as a “lieutenant”. Mr. Harden has refused to volunteer as an EMT ever since. Now that he has been elected to the Council against almost zero competition, his only stated interest is cutting the EMS budget and exacting his revenge on the membership. Mr. Harden has made broad and specious claims about EMS operations, policies and commitments that we know to be untrue. He has made claims that he has been given exclusive power by his colleagues on the Council to decide the fate of Stratford EMS. He has already consumed hours and hours of EMS administrative time with frivolous demands. Of all the departments in the Town, it is sad that he would place his personal feelings above the citizens who are sick and injured. We can go further and state that he will seriously impact the ability of EMS to be a profitable enterprise that generates real revenue. We find his actions disgraceful.


Budget Freeze

16Dec15
Until the Budget Freezes Over?

Until the Budget Freezes Over?

The voters have selected a new Council and the political power has shifted mightily in Stratford. Through the will of its voters and the very hard work and expense of a few dozen citizens, Stratford no longer has a single political committee running everything.

The question now is what to do with that power. Let us keep things in perspective as well. Stratford contains 50,000 residents and is 98+% developed. No matter many hundreds of thousands of dollars we invest in an Economic Development Director we are not going to see any significant new development in Stratford. We would have to hire an army and conquer say, Shelton, for that to happen. Nonetheless, Stratford municipal government operates on a $200+ million/year budget. That, as every resident knows, is far too much to pay for what we get. There are far too many overpaid and under-worked administrators and staff in both the Town and BOE. There are far too many unjustified capital items in the budget. There are far too many legal expenses. There are far too many unnecessary perks given away in contracts and deals. Where to start?

We congratulate Councilman Dumas for making a start with a proposed hiring freeze. As we had mentioned, that effort would be mostly symbolic. We would suggest lopping off the low hanging fruit first. Convert the Town Attorney to a salaried position and pass around the bucket and collect the keys to all the Town owned cars.

A much more difficult effort that will cause a great deal of teeth gnashing and garment renting by Town/BOE employees would be to convert the Town Budget to a zero based budget. For the non-accountant readers among us, that simply means starting your budget with zero dollars and justifying the need and expense for every item instead of taking last year’s budget and seeing how much you can add. And that also means actually submitting and publishing a readable, understandable budget to the taxpayers (are you listening, BOE?).


The Next Item

01Dec15
How much am I bid for this nearly new school?

How much am I bid for this nearly new school?

Board of Ed to meet Wednesday on Center School
By Melvin Mason on November 30, 2015
http://www.stratfordstar.com/43682/board-of-ed-to-meet-wednesday-on-center-school/

Wait, what? We are tearing down a school? But didn’t the Superintendent, Janet Robinson, tell us how crowded our schools are and we had to buy these expensive trailers….umm, portable classrooms for our children? Because our school population went up but the population didn’t. Oh wait, look at that! Our school population didn’t go up either. In fact, it went down. Hold on for a second. What do they call that again when an administrator says one thing and it turns out to be completely the opposite? Oh yeah, now we remember, it’s called “lying”. Maybe if the Board of Education actually demanded real numbers from the Administration it wouldn’t be so…umm, confusing.

At least we are familiar with Harkins/Kaiser’s habits. They have apparently never seen a piece of Town owned property they wouldn’t like to sell at below market price. It kind of makes you wonder why there aren’t a few apartment buildings or condos being built in our parks. Paradise Green is in the Transit Oriented District isn’t it? There is the green on West Broad too…..


Next Steps

10Nov15
Sometimes Voting Isn't Enough

Sometimes Voting Isn’t Enough

Rather than accept the near total rejection of the Republican Town Committee by the voters of Stratford, Harkins/Decilio intend to proceed with the balance of their agenda while they still can.

At the last regular Council meeting the Republican Town Committee and their last majority on the Council for a long two years or more will attempt to conclude some of their favorite sweetheart deals (it rhymes with “Hotel”) and stuff as many commissions and unelected positions with RTC favorites like Rich Fredette and Mike Hendrick as they can.

Thank goodness for citizens and voters that no ordinance can go into effect for thirty days (We learned that from the referendum, didn’t we?) and the new Council can override or kill any ordinance passed tonight. Why? Because except for one lone councilman-elect none of the new council members are afraid of Harkins/Decilio.


Vote!

03Nov15
It's Today!

It’s Today!

Why are you here? Nothing has changed. You know what you should do. Go out and vote!


Everyone knows by now that these were mailed to nearly every residence in Stratford. In all the time of editing this blog and decades of residing in this town, we have never seen anything as desperate or disgusting.

What follows below are the names of the individuals and companies that funded (and continue to fund) this disgusting piece of politics at its lowest. They are all individually and collectively supporters of the Vote Yes Pay Less Political Action Committee. We are particularly stunned and appalled at the involvement of Stratford’s top public safety officials.

Tom Molloy
John Dobos
John Frey
Brian Albenze
Robert McGrath
Ronald Ing
Christopher Pia
John Harkins
Michael Mauzerall
Tim Bishop
Randy Vidal
Thomas D’Aulizio
David Fuller
Lou DeCilio
Patricia Gallagher
Joseph McNeil
Laurence Condon
Brian Oliver
Edmund Oliver
Thomas Cotter
William Harrigan
Michael Ryan
Patrick Gribbon
Laura & Paul Hoydick
John Florek
Frederick Hyatt
David Dunn
Paul Antinozzi
Patrick Rodenhour
Andrew Testo
Mike Henrick
Thomas Brattaglia
Rosati & Rosati
Winthrop Woods Developers
Burns Construction
Good Erath Tree Core Inc
N&S Electric
The Carlsen Company
Aircraft Facilities Group LLC
Mt Showerdoor Inc
Vimini Valmation Services
Bridgeport Fittings Inc
Main St Mortgage
Mitchell & Sheahan
Barnum Wine & Spirits
Day Smith Steele LLC
Karen Kaiser


WPCA Sale

WPCA Sale

We have heard nothing new from Harkins or any of the people he’s pressured into supporting the sale of the WPCA. The horrible deal he’s made with the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority remains what it was from the beginning; An awful deal for Stratford residents and businesses.

Harkins has put forth no new information and has aggressively withheld key financial data. We are, therefore, forced to conclude that if he releases the financial data (rate determination, fees and costs) the “deal” will look even worse than it already does.

In reality, we have two issues to decide on Election Day. The first one is easy, or at least it should have been. Vote NO for selling our WPCA.

The second issue has almost as much significance. This mayor and his eight weak and stupid Councilmen have dug us into a deep financial hole. How deep depends upon who you believe. We do not think it is all that deep and can be resolved with a bit of fiscal restraint, leadership and the end of some rather unethical practices. Which is why who you will vote for Town Council, the Board of Education, Zoning and Planning are more crucial than ever.

Here’s a good way to tell if you are making the right choice: Was your candidate one of the weak and stupid councilmen that dug us into this hole and tried to keep you from voting? Or is he endorsed by the Mayor/RTC Chairman?

See how easy that is?


Yes or No?

14Sep15

JUST SAY NO A

The lawn sign wars have begun. It appears Harkins is going with “If you tell a lie often enough…”

But we get ahead of ourselves. Let’s review a few things first. If we remember, Harkins tried to slide this deal passed the WPCA Board/Town Council (they are the same thing) with as little public view as possible. There was one (Count ’em, 1!) public hearing on the sale of the WPCA and it was conducted by Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority (GNHWPCA). Hardly a disinterested 3rd party. Three days later, the weak and stupid RTC Council passed it.

After the weak and stupid Council passed this horrible deal real citizens said, “Hold on there a minute, Buckaroo. We think we should all vote on this.” Astoundingly, within a mere two and a half weeks, citizens organized and collected 7,000+ signatures of registered voters. This was an amazing accomplishment. Any sane person would have understood the voter sentiment against this sale. But Harkins then ordered his Town Attorney to stop any referendum by claiming that voters did not have the right to petition the government. No big deal. Just take away Stratford citizens’ First Amendment rights.

Luckily for us, Marianne Antezzo, Matthew Catalano, Lisa Donnelly, Tina Marie Manus, Philip Young and Benjamin Proto all stepped up to defend our right to vote. Not once, but four times! Harkins would not go down to defeat without spending more of our tax money on attorneys and appeals. Nevertheless, he lost and a referendum was scheduled.

Now we have the Lawn Sign Wars to be followed by the Mailing Wars.

And what slogan is Harkins using? “Vote Yes, Pay Less”  Pay less what? GNHWPCA current rates are $435/year for a residential account. . All of this so we can “save” $15 per year? (Well, that is IF GNHWPCA keeps their rates the same next year which is something they’ve never done.)

Harkins, and whoever is financially backing him, are counting on the voters to not believe their own common sense. Vote Yes Pay Less is wrong. No one knows that anyone would pay less. Whether or not you support or are against this sale you cannot say that rates will go down because WE WON’T OWN IT ANYMORE.


Mayoral Office Equipment

Mayoral Office Equipment

We must admit even we grow weary of going over the same material time and again. But apparently we must.

“The mayor has maintained, however, that this “Vote No” assessment of the issue is simplistic — and that the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority would be assuming the cost of the 17 employees of the waste treatment plant at the foot of Birdseye Street, as well as the high cost of maintaining more than 200 miles of sewer pipes and 13 pumping stations. The sale would also reduce the town’s bonded debt, Harkins said. And, he has said, if the sale is scuttled, the town’s bond rating will suffer because the the current and previous town budgets were predicated on the sale taking place.This has resulted in the town’s reserve fund to drop precipitously — a key factor that bond rating agencies look at.” http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/In-Stratford-Vote-Yes-event-an-opportunity-6486204.php

Sound reasonable? It might if any of it were true. In fact, the only true part was “the town’s bond rating will suffer because the current and previous town budgets were predicated on the sale taking place.”  Let’s go all the way back to Home Economics. What do they call it now? “Domestic Science”? You don’t count as actual money the things you haven’t sold yet. But that is exactly what this mayor and his weak and stupid Council did! And then they spent the imaginary money as if it were real money!

If this deal wasn’t so bad and the mayor didn’t lie about it so much,  maybe so many thousands of registered voters wouldn’t be so mad. On the other hand, if your grandmother had…..never mind.

It’s still a horrible deal and no amount of $100 party tickets will change that.




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