Next Steps

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.


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



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?



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.”

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.

New Sign Proposed by Mayor

New Sign Proposed by Mayor

It sure has been a confusing summer. The citizens are just waiting for the next “thing” to happen. And a lot of us are wondering why we’re being subjected to these ridiculous maneuvers. It seems incredible that these things continue to happen.

For example, why does someone tear down a fairly new school to create a parking lot?

Why is it a surprise that barrels of cyanide are found at a brownfield site that the EPA has known about for nearly a decade?

Even after 6,000+ voters (Not just residents, but registered voters of both parties.) in a mere three weeks sign a petition, why does this mayor persist in claiming doing this horrible deal with Greater New Haven Water Pollution Authority is a good thing?

Why does our Economic Development Director think that bringing in hundreds of tow trucks day after day is a great asset for Stratford?

Why can’t Matt Catalano fill out the forms correctly just to leave us with a candidate who’s history of arrests, bankruptcies and business dealings would only qualify him to be on an episode of “Cops”.

Should we be in contact with Aquarion? It must be in the water.


What a Vote Can Do

What a Vote Can Do

It is a rare occurrence that so many Council terms are expiring at the same time. Much talk will take place about who will run. While that is important, equally important is the reason why a candidate would run. For decades, we have been subjected to the dominance of a very, very small group of influence peddlers and profiteers. In fact, the only interest group that has not had their pocket filled or their palm greased is the Stratford taxpayer.

What we would like you to imagine is the election of at least seven strong willed, independent representatives of the voters of Stratford. With seven votes, a Council can make a mayor almost irrelevant. We would also like you to imagine what that could mean to voters/taxpayers.

  • An independent forensic audit of the Town’s books which would include the Board of Education.
  • Conversion of the Town Attorney’s position to a salaried position.
  • A review of the policy and procedures of each department.
  • A conversion to zero based budgeting.
  • A review of all consulting and contracted services and fees.

With these few steps, an independent Council would be able to lower taxes and, yes, sewer fees. Imagine Stratford with the mystery and secrecy gone from Town Hall and the Board of Education. Imagine the pride residents and businesses would have by virtue of simply being here as victors instead of victims. It could happen. But it can only happen when voters stop paying attention to the “R’s” and “D’s” after a candidate’s name and start paying attention to what they are saying.

Each of the above points are entitled to a thorough debate. It is not enough to say to voters, “I am running because they couldn’t find anyone else.” You have to have a plan, a mission, a goal to achieve that your potential constituents agree with. This space is, of course, available to any candidate who wishes to use it. There are other spaces as well that are free to use. But if you, Mr./Ms. Candidate, choose to remain silent and depend solely on the placement of lawn signs, we certainly have no reason to vote for you.

Budget Stories

Taxpayer Alert

Taxpayer Alert

Stratford Residents Deserve Much Better

It is time for every single Stratford resident to become aware of the situation concerning the sale of the Stratford sewer treatment plant.  Once residents become engaged they will inevitably come to the sad conclusion that their elected officials have not represented their best interests.

Again the WPCA aka Town Council voted to increase the Sewer fees to $450 /household with the weak excuse that it is still lower than Trumbull.  In just a few short years Stratford residents have seen their sewer treatment bills go from $280 to $450 – a 61% increase.  Annual sewer rates in Milford are $298.44 and Shelton $198.00; both have sewer facilities and infrastructure needs similar to Stratford.  Common sense says Stratford can do better.  Maybe those Stratford council members hope to push the public to sell the plant – who knows?

A key reason our sewer fees are so much higher is because they are based on grossly inflated costs.  During Mayor Harkins’ tenure the Town Council has decided to charge the WPCA $600,000 for use of the land the treatment plant sits on, $300,000 for bookkeeping and administrative expenses, and $500,000 for public works services.  The effect is to transfer $1.4 million annually from town expenses to sewer expenses.  This means that town residents are now paying higher sewer fees instead of property taxes. The net effect is a second tax on Stratford residents. Your elected representatives may argue that it makes no difference, but remember that property taxes are deductible while sewer fees are not.

Another thing that should concern every Stratford resident is the hundreds of thousands of dollars expended on legal fees. Each year from 2013 – 2016 almost $500,000 has been added to the WPCA budget Contractual Services line that we now learn was for legal expenses. This year the Harkins administration has waged a costly court battle to prevent citizens from exercising their right to vote in a referendum on the sewer sale, and lost every court case and appeal along the way.  Scratch below the surface, it gets worse.  By what authority was that money spent?  Neither the Town Council nor the WPCA voted to authorize the expenditure of these funds.  How can the town or the WPCA proceed with court actions that were never authorized by a vote of the people’s representatives?

It is time that the Harkins administration stood up to protect the residents of Stratford.  Mayor Harkins and his council members are responsible for this mess and must be held accountable. Selling a significant town asset for pennies on the dollar to plug a budget hole is not the solution.  The Town Council should set a date for the people of Stratford to vote on this issue and immediately release all documents so residents can inform themselves.  That is the purest form of democracy, and it is a shame that so much time, effort, and the people’s money has been wasted trying to prevent it from happening.

Stephanie Philips

3rd District Town Council Member

Submitted to Stratford Star, and CT Post.  6/28/2015

 Reprinted here with no edits and no one’s permission.

Stratford Mayor-visual approximation

Stratford Mayor-visual approximation

Step 1: Find a journalist that will print anything you say without question.

Step 2: Say that the world will come to an end unless you raise taxes and fees.

Step 3: Deny any responsibility by blaming someone else

Step 4: Blame “they” or “them” for layoffs, service cuts, higher taxes and anything else you can think of.

Step 5: Try to look like you’re doing the right thing by making the entire population suffer the consequences of your blundering.


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