Hello Madame? Did you fall asleep at your knitting table or something? How did you miss this gem in last week’s Stratford Star? Jeeeesssssuuuuusss. This post cannot wait any longer so RockAnnand to the rescue!
We have known for sometime there is something seriously wrong with Town Hall. There is no indication yet of what might be causing the disease, but the symptoms are obvious: the inability to do basic math. You know? The kind we did in grade school? Add and subtract? I finally caught up on my reading and noticed an article by Melvin Mason in the Stratford Star “http://www.stratfordstar.com/64702/harkins-stratford-on-the-rise/” about Mayor Harkins “Farewell Address” when I realized that what Harkins was quoted as saying made no sense at all.
For example there was this:
“By aggressively pursuing new businesses and assisting companies here in Stratford who wanted to expand, we have seen our taxable grand list grow by more than $600 million in the last seven years,” Harkins said…”
That was interesting. As a Stratford resident and taxpayer I hadn’t noticed that the good times were rolling. So I went and checked. That was unfortunate because it just made me depressed. Back in early 2010 when Harkins took office (his example, not mine) the Mil rate was 30.36 on a Grand List of $4,625,845,556. That was exactly seven years ago.
So how well has Harkins done since he’s been collecting a Town salary? According to last year’s budget the Mil Rate was 38.99 on a Grand List of $4,492,487,619. Now, I am not claiming to be a math mensa, but that seems to me to be an increase in the Mil rate and a lowering of the Grand List since Harkins has been mayor. It also is more aligned with the reality that residents and taxpayers experience. [Just so you know, he is proposing another Mil on top of that to 39.93 for next year]
In case you are wondering, that is a $133,357,937 DROP in the Grand List and a rise of 8.63 Mils. That translate into an almost 30% increase in your property taxes since he took office to cover his burgeoning municipal budget. A budget that included 20 to 110% salary increases in 2014 for all non-union employees (including himself) and a veritable fleet (27) of expensive town SUVs complete with gas and insurance for directors, department heads and special employees.
So tell me again Mayor Harkins how you made economic development and growing the tax base the hallmarks of your time in office? And what DID Karen Kaiser do all these years as your Director of Economic Development? And what did Mary Dean actually accomplish as Director of the Stratford Chamber of Commerce? Looks more like rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship while living high off the hog at the expense of Stratford’s hard working taxpayers.
It makes you wonder how much of what Harkins said in the article is equally ‘true’.
“It is truly amazing what can happen when people can set aside personal and political differences and work together for the collective betterment of all of our residents,” he said.”
Outstanding. Except it was Harkins that ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses taking voters to court to prevent them from voting to stop the sale of valuable Town assets and raising their sewer fees. Which of course meant that we the taxpayers funded the legal maneuvers against ourselves. Harkins was THAT guy. And speaking of putting aside personal and political differences … have you met Lou DeCilio?
Filed under: Stratford Political Theater | 1 Comment
I’ve been watching the BOE budget process from my perch while knitting away. Facebook is all a twitter with posts of all shapes and sizes, loaded with interesting facts and figures extracted from Monsieur Zachary painfully. Beaucoup emails cryptique plus many privy messages and meetings. Videos of BOE and Finance Committee meetings.
Ah mon dieu, Quel désordre!! Has everyone forgotten what happened last year? The BOE, much to their surprise, asked for a $7 million increase and the newly installed Town Council lost their moral compass and gave the BOE and Harkins what they wanted without a fight. So the good Docteur Robinson and Monsieur Clarence got 2 years worth in one shot! C’est formidable!.
Now they want more? Initially 5% more or $112 million, but the BOE – under intense public pressure – “settled” on a 3.5% increase or $110.4 million. Let’s look at the “fun facts”:
- Your tax bill will increase $120-150.
- Administrator and custodian salaries up 37% and 42% over last 4 years.
- BUT teachers salaries up only 7% over same 4 years.
What about “the children”? We thought – according to the good Doctor Robinson – that investing in teacher resources would have the greatest impact on student performance, n’est pas?
And what about this? Did you know that they OVER budget each year to the tune of $2-3 MILLION more than really need? That’s another $100-125 MORE in your tax bill every year for last three years. How do you say “slush fund”? Oh yes, they find a way to spend that money too. No wonder they have worked so hard all these past few years to keep the good people of Stratford in the dark.
And what about those BOE and Finance Committee members? Watch those videos of their meetings and you will see many heads in the sand while the superintendent and her COO pad their budget at taxpayers’ expense with hardly a whimper. Incroyable!
If those “fun facts” aren’t enough to turn your stomach, we hear stories of catered lunches at BOE offices on East Broadway most every day. Questionable 6-figure software systems that no one uses. And does anyone really know how much the good Docteur R and monsieur Clarence pay themselves? It’s been heard that the Docteur makes upwards of $250k in total compensation while Monsieur Clarence is pulling in over $180K. Plus town cars, unlimited expense accounts and god knows what else.
Heard enough mes amies? I’ve knitted many many rows with their names in the fabric. Remember. You mess with the Madame and you get the horns. We’re still listening.
Filed under: Stratford Political Theater | 9 Comments
Ah yes, the proposed BOE 2017-18 budget. Time to invoke that familiar refrain from our BOE elected officials, “It’s all about the children.” Last year it was a $7 million increase, now they want $5.2 million more for a grand total of $111, 981,480 or a $4.86% increase in your property taxes. How do you say, “Est pas extraordinaire?” Here is the budget: 2017-18 Proposed BOE Budget
With the 15 or so highest paid employees on the town payroll (who are not teachers), how do BOE officials and Mademoiselle Robinson present his budget with a straight face and say there is no fat? You would think that someone would ask where the performance metrics are to justify two large increases in successive years. You would think someone would invoke the “A” word – accountable, or is that being unfair to “the children”?
Fortunately, from a quick perusal of the Facebook page Stratford Get Answers, it does appear that one of the newbies on the Town Council, Greg Cann, is asking some interesting questions. Probably the biggest would be to have COO Clarence Zachary provide explanations to just about everything in the budget. Monsieur Jezebel was always asking those types of questions, but could never quite get an answer.
All I can say is that it sure seems that we are extremely generous to our administrators and to a large number of part-time consultants making over $75,000. It would be interesting for someone to show us a study showing the correlation between large admin salaries and test scores. We have not found one as of yet, but your never know what Google will find. We now have a few weeks to dissect this budget before we see how Monsieur Johnny plans to pull a rabbit out of his hat with the municipal budget to keep taxes in check in this big election year.
Where is the illusionist when you need him? We think Johnny, Feehan, Daponte and the rest of the crew of BOE and Town Council members will need a large team of them to keep the tax bill in check.
Filed under: Stratford Political Theater | 11 Comments
Hard to believe it’s been only 15 months since the WPCA referendum and 2015 election. In a total smack down of the aristocracy (Harkins and friends) the people said “NO” to his honor and to the candidates who put their interest ahead of the people’s. Unfortunately, the “old guard” aristocratic powers predictably have reared their ugly heads in response.
Who are the “old guard” you ask? Anyone who staunchly defends the status quo they have worked hard to preserve for decades. They fight revolutionary movements or candidates whenever they rise up. They exist in both your political parties and have a secret handshake understanding that ensures their positions of power and ability to live off the taxpayer’s largess is protected regardless the party in power.
It is important to closely watch behavior and not party titles to determine who is a card-carrying member. Here are some obvious members of the “old guard”. From the DTC we have Council Chair Beth Daponte, BOE Vice Chair Lenny Petruccelli, Former DTC Chairman Richard Buturla and DTC registrar Rick Marcome. On the RTC side we have Mayor John Harkins, State Rep Laura Hoydick, RTC Chair & registrar Lou DeCilio, 8th District Councilman Vincent Chase and sometime town attorney Ben Proto, just to name a few from a very long list.
Emerging from the WPCA fight we see a “new guard” of players not beholden to the “old guard” who are committed to serving the people they represent. They want to do what is right for all the people in town. The problem is that these new players represent a huge threat to the “old guard” and with the November 2017 election deciding who will be Mayor and run the Council, the stakes are extremely high. I’ll let you decide who are members of the “new guard”.
There a number of issues coming up now that should dominate this election, but make no mistake the fight will be between the “old guard” and the “new guard”. The winner will be in control for the next 4 years. The major issues are:
- Fiscal management of Municipal, BOE and WPCA budgets
- Economic development vision and plans
- Transit oriented development vision and plans
- Shakespeare development
In subsequent updates we will look deeper at these issues. Hopefully our readers will weigh in on where they see these issues going. The fight is just and revenge Is sweet. Just don’t mess with the Madame or you will get the horns!
Filed under: Stratford Political Theater | 7 Comments
My name is Madame Defarge. Perhaps you have read about me? If anyone has a right to be upset about the abuses that the aristocracy heaps upon the commoners, it is I. After all, my sister was raped by the Marquis St. Evrémonde. My father died of grief. My brother was killed trying to avenge our sister’s honor. All in all, I didn’t have the happiest of childhoods. Everyone understands why I want to play a big part in the revolutionary attempts to overthrow the power of the aristocracy.
To wit, this explains the reason for my invitation from Jezebel to appear here and share my insights into a new story being written: “The Tale of Two Stratfords”. I’ve been following along all these years and I find great parallels in Stratford with my revolutionary cause to find justice for the wrongs committed by the Marquis. Jezebel admirably fought the battle against the evil mayors and rampant abuse of power. Now I want to help your cause against oppression and bring light and awareness to the atrocities and corruption.
The fight is just and revenge is sweet. I will share my insights and welcome yours.
– The Madame
Filed under: Stratford Political Theater | 10 Comments
We are making a rare guest appearance here in our old hang out. We felt it necessary to make a few points after November 8th. We cannot imagine a circumstance at which any point in the next four years will be “normal”. Currently nothing commentators, pundits, experts or even supporters say can make this situation normal. For the first time in living memory nothing a candidate said disqualified him from holding office. Literally nothing. In fact, this candidate stated he could walk down Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and he would still get elected. He’s probably correct. Nothing he says or does makes a difference to the Trumptards who voted for him. Not his previous statements, not his glaring conflicts of interest, not his poor management skills (Who loses $1 billion on a casino?), not his misogyny, racism, bigotry, narcissism, bullying nor anger. It just doesn’t matter. He can tell three lies per sentence and no one cares. Certainly not his Trumptards.
There are many voices that are saying to give him a chance. Why? Did he earn it? This is the same person who claimed for eight years that Barack Obama was an illegitimate president because Obama was born in Kenya and was probably a Muslim. And, as a reminder, Barack Obama won both the popular vote and the Electoral College…twice. Some people hold out hope that he will nominate someone stable to a cabinet position or White House staff who will provide “balance”. That is only wishful thinking. Nothing in the past indicates that there is any sort of balance within this person. We’ll only get more old white male bigots. Did that sound bigoted? Apparently this guy can say it and no one thinks it’s bigoted. Which brings us back to our point:
This will not be a normal four years. Everything this country of immigrants has fought for will be challenged. Rights will be taken away from groups that have fought and died for them. Voting rights have been under quiet threat for years. Now, it won’t be so quiet. Education will become more expensive and rarefied. If it is not denigrated. There will be massive efforts to dumb everything down. Up will be called down, failure will be called success and rich will be called poor. It’s not reality TV anymore. It’s reality. It just looks like a bad TV show.
Maybe in four years the Trumptards will be angry that they’ve been lied to. But they are willing believers right now. It is up to the rest of us to keep what we believe intact and fight against those who will take it away.
Here are some good places to start:
Note: We are not signalling our return. We now return you to your previous blog editor.
Filed under: Stratford Political Theater | 9 Comments
Sorry ladies and gentlemen, it’s been awhile for this Jezebel. The busy-ness of work, family and life just takes precedence over Peyton Place’s — oops, Stratford’s — drama!
With that said, we have a Special Election coming up on Thursday, October 13. This is for Districts 2 and 5 only, to fill the seats of Mark Dumas and Joe Gresko when they resigned their council seats. We wish them both well.
In District 2, we have Scott Farrington-Posner (D) and Ron Tichy (R). If I were in District 2, my vote would most certainly be with Scott. He has gone over and above proving himself a worthy representative in the short time he has been a Zoning Commissioner. I’m sure Ron is nice enough, but we certainly aren’t fond of some of the pals walking in support of him and with friends like that… well! Besides, Scott seems to be a very honest guy! He’s not afraid stand up for what he believes in.
And, in District 5, we have Greg Cann (D) and John Dempsey (I). Wait, wasn’t John Dempsey an (R)? Very confusing! So, he missed switching to a (D) to primary Greg Cann, so chose to run as an Independent? And then, the (R)s put up a guy who backed out. Oh well, if I were District 5, it would most certainly be an easy choice – Greg Cann all the way.
These should be easy choices. John Dempsey spent enough time on the Town Council and had a “seat warmer” too! If he couldn’t do any good for Stratford during those terms, then why would he be the smart choice now?
Let’s just hope the (R)s play nice in the sandbox and don’t try anything again with nasty mailers!
Filed under: Stratford Political Theater | 1 Comment
Sorry for the lapse in postings good people, but so many other things took priority.
Thank goodness for social media (Facebook and Twitter), since there has been some great coverage of things happening in Stratford.
We couldn’t let this one get away though a little more than six months in and in this week’s Stratford Star we get two letters, one from the Council Chair, Beth Osborne Daponte, touting the accomplishments she orchestrated (http://www.stratfordstar.com/54709/daponte-council-has-accomplished-plenty-in-six-months/) and the other from the DTC Chair, Stephanie Philips, requesting that the Council Chair, Beth Osborne Daponte, step down as Chair of the Town Council (http://www.stratfordstar.com/54693/philips-calls-for-daponte-to-resign-as-council-chairman/). Only in Stratford my good people, only in Stratford.
Nowhere in Ms. Daponte’s letter did she mention how she managed to offend so many in not only her District, but those of Councilmen Wali Kadeem and Dave Harden (Districts 3 and 4). You know, the “incident” during a recess at a recent Council meeting where she made the comment “F$%* the South End” because Councilman Kadeem wanted to work for things in District 3, a district that has long been neglected by prior Town Councils. Councilman Harden was there for the discussion and not only did HE hear that comment, but so did is young daughter. Not very nice. Her apology on July 11, bogus. Not a true apology at all.
And then, to add gas to the fire, she called Councilman Kadeem’s requests “pork”! However, in reviewing the 2016 LoCIP Guidelines there is an item that allows for use of LoCIP funds for public park improvement (it’s Item H – Public Park Improvement in the statute). Improvements to the long-neglected Juliet Lowe Park is one of the things Councilman Kadeem was requesting. But, in her half-baked “apology” she referred to Councilman Kadeem’s requests as “pork”! Ms. Daponte, it’s not “pork” when there is money for these types of improvements that can be obtained from the State, and money has been put every where else but in the South End! According to the 2016 Certified Municipal Entitlements for 2016, Stratford’s balance as of March 1, 2016 was $656,200.33. I’m sure there’s a little there for the long-neglected South End area of Stratford (unless, of course, Council Chair Daponte has it all spent already). Over the last 10 years, Stratford has received just under $400,000 each year for LoCIP. That’s almost $4 million in 10 years, there was a balance of $656,200.33 as of March 1, 2016.
Another reason for utilization of LoCIP funds is Item U – land acquisition, including for open space, and costs involved in making land available for public uses. Would Council Chair be “poo-poo’ing” on Councilman Kadeem’s requests in order to purchase the controversial piece of land on James Farm Road? Inquiring minds would really like to know the answer to that. Keep your eyes on the prize good people of Stratford. You can follow LoCIP spending on the posted monthly “Project Authorization List” on Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management website (http://www.ct.gov/opm/cwp/view.asp?q=383108). Know where money is going! It’s your tax dollars that come back for spending!
The bottom line is that this Jezebel agrees without hesitation with DTC Chair, Stephanie Philips, request that the Council Chair step down. She is unfit for that position and will without a doubt do more harm than good during her term.
Filed under: #RecallBeth | 10 Comments
Next, on Another World: Stratford Style!
Tonight, for your entertainment pleasure, the “Battle of the Budgets.” The first Town Council meeting since the overinflated budget was approved AND the BOE Meeting where their budget to spend that outrageous $6.8 million given to them is approved. Tonight’s episode will contain answers to the following questions:
- Will Chairwoman Daponte have a change of heart (doubtful, but we could hope)?
- Will the budget lies continue?
- Will council members come to their senses and fight for the people who elected them?
- Will they really make cuts to our EMS services?
- Will the truth set them free?
- Will the BOE budget be rubber stamped without question?
- Will World Language really be eliminated in elementary schools?
- Will the BOE Board finally come to the realization that there are inaccuracies?
- Will Superintendent Robinson’s contract be renewed?
- Should Superintendent Robinson’s contract be renewed?
Filed under: Stratford Political Theater | 7 Comments
The Town Attorney (from the firm of Berchem Moses & Devlin) has decided they want a “declaratory judgment” concerning the ability of the citizens to circulate in District 1 a Recall Petition. This is the second time an attorney has tried to stifle the rights of Stratford citizens.
A “declaratory judgment” is when a party petitions the court for a legal determination on an issue for which there are uncertainties. I wonder if the associate doing the research is confused by his findings, so he can’t really, honestly say that the people don’t have the right to recall.
On the Town Attorney side of the coin, the opinion is that Stratford’s recall provision were invalidated when Stratford changed its form of government. They believe that because the old charter was replaced by a new charter, which invalidated those provisions. If they were invalidated, why would they continue to be in the Charter document? To tease the voters with something they could never do?
Flip the coin over and floating around social media (Facebook) and the WWW is information that may indicate something quite different. There is information that because the recall provisions in Stratford were enacted by a Special Act and not Home Rule laws, they did not become invalid.
Also, someone posted a link to an ACLU project “Recall the Rogues” that on first glance seems to stomp out what the TA would like us to believe. But, in keeping with the status quo, the Town Attorneys love spending our hard earned money and refuses to believe anything but what they want it to be. We give them MILLIONS annually. They are another group that tries to rule with intimidation. But wait, don’t we have rights?
For the Stratford Star article: http://www.stratfordstar.com/52396/town-attorney-wants-court-ruling-on-recall-effort/
Filed under: Stratford Political Theater | 7 Comments