It’s Almost Time

30Jan13
Candidate Selection Process

Candidate Selection Process

That time is approaching again. The two gangs that run Stratford, the Republican Town Committee and the Democratic Town Committee, will decide who they will put up as the next mayoral candidates. We can hardly wait to be underwhelmed by the choices. Of course, everyone is anxious to see if Harkins will run again. The indication that he will run will be a budget with a zero (or close to it) tax increase. It is, after all, an election year. With an 8-2 majority on the Council he can pretty much pass whatever he wants. He’s already gotten his increases in taxes and sewer use fees. Even more interesting will be the DTC selection. After being trounced repeatedly by Republicans in election after election will they finally realize that another Miron crony is maybe not the best choice…Nah.

So while we prepare for the same old same old, we continue to hope for an actual independent candidate to organize an effective campaign. Town Committee politics has proven to be the most ineffective and detrimental system this Town has ever known. As a further reminder to readers, there is literally nothing that effects you more than Town government. It effects your mortgage payment, your rent, your cars, your children’s education, the services you depend upon, the very look of where you live. Ignoring Town government and how it runs is a very very expensive mistake.

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33 Responses to “It’s Almost Time”

  1. Very curious to see what names are in the ring…… and if anything will ever start changing (for the better)…… I’m dismayed!

  2. 2 jezebel282

    PCS,

    “I’m dismayed!”

    As you should be, Ms. Mayor.

  3. 3 nedsmithy

    This should be fun to watch.
    Thanks for starting the thread.

  4. 4 jezebel282

    Ned,

    “Thanks for starting the thread.”
    Feel free to list all of Harkins’ accomplishments.

  5. 5 nedsmithy

    Other then putting the screws to Chief Murray, I cannot think of any!!!

  6. 6 stfdprofessor1

    “Other then putting the screws to Chief Murray, I cannot think of any!!!”

    I think that situations more like the chicken hunting the wolf!!

  7. 7 stfdprofessor1

    If the citizens were smart they’d vote to close town hall for four years and save the electricity and heat, we’d be way ahead of the game!!!

  8. 8 jezebel282

    Ned,

    “I cannot think of any!”

    Really? In addition to the deplorable treatment of Chief Murray, I thought for sure you would go with the whole EMS mess. These cases are clear examples of taking careful aim at your foot and shooting. Repeatedly.

    My personal favorite was raising our sewer use fees by 34% using the justification that somewhere else in Connecticut residents were paying more than we were. The elegance lies in the word “fee”. You know in advance that the claim will be made that our “taxes” did not go up.

  9. 9 jezebel282

    Just as a reminder. the “Republican” Town Council (8-2 majority) wholeheartedly approved Harkins’ 34% increase in sewer use “fees”.

    Do I sound a bit irked by that? Well, I am. The sleaze factor alone is enough to irk anyone. But by calling it a “fee”, Stratford taxpayers are unable to deduct it from taxes paid. Beyond that, there was no financial need at the Water Pollution Control Authority for such an increase. In fact, the budget clearly shows that the “fee” increase is going right back into the General Fund. Just like our tax payments.

    So when your Councilperson or incumbent mayor tells you they “held the line” on property taxes you might want to ask them why they think our…ummm…errr… sewage…is so valuable.

  10. 10 jezebel282

    As we gear up for the coming bullsh*t storm from DTC/RTC candidates we wonder if the debate will turn to Harkins’ plan to privatize the Water Pollution Control Authority (sewers), the Transfer Station and, yes, trash pick up at your house.

    With an 8-2 majority on the Council and Kubic ramming it through, the “debate” may never get started.

    We can almost guarantee that should this happen, we will be getting new bills in the mail for weekly trash pick up and using our sewers. Our guess would be that it will be cash only at the private Transfer Station. Of course our property taxes will not drop as a result. We will be told that there will be no increase (this year) in taxes!

    Ummm…but those non-deductible bills in our mail?

  11. 11 sudds

    Here’s a pretty recent/relative question that our Council should ask themselves…

    If we outsource our garbage collection, and cut (more) Public Works Employees to save the town money… who is going to drive our plows the next time a blizzard (or even a light snow) hits???

    (Sudds’ solution: TEACHERS! They’ll have the day off, they’re salaried employees, etc, etc, etc.)

  12. 12 jezebel282

    Sudds,

    “who is going to drive our plows the next time a blizzard (or even a light snow) hits???”

    The real answer is either the lowest bidder or the highest donor. You can bet that whatever company gets the contract that they will have exclusive rights to whatever service they provide.

    Fire, PD and EMS might be next. “So how much is it worth to you to put out that kitchen fire? Let me give you our rate chart. We’re having a special on garage fires this week.”

  13. 13 nedsmithy

    Yup! In some areas of the country if you’ve not paid your “Fire Taxes” they will watch your property burn to the ground while protecting your neighbor’s property from catching fire because of your home burning down , as they paid their “Fire Taxes”.

  14. 14 sudds

    WELCOME TO STRATFORD…

    December 7, 2011, 12:29 PM
    SOUTH FULTON, Tenn. – A Tennessee couple has lost everything after their home burned to the ground as firefighters watched and did nothing.

    Vicky Bell told WPSD-TV that she called emergency dispatchers when her mobile home caught fire. Firefighters responded but did not put out the blaze because she does not subscribe to the local fire service. Bell doesn’t qualify for home owner’s insurance, which is a requirement according to the city ordinance, according to CBS Radio News.

    Bell says she could “look out my mom’s trailer and see the trucks sitting at a distance.”

    Rural residents who want fire protection can get service from the nearby town of South Fulton, but they must pay a $75 a year fee. South Fulton Mayor David Crocker said that if the city’s firefighters responded to people who didn’t pay there would be no incentive for anyone to subscribe. He said firefighters will help when people are in danger, regardless of whether they have paid.

    Bell said she wasn’t angry with the city. “Like I said, I’m just happy they came out and watched out for my neighbors,” she said to CBS Radio News. She believes no amount of help from firefights would have prevented her trailer from burning to the ground. She added the city has offered to help in any way they can.

  15. 15 jezebel282

    I hear Chief Murray is available…..

  16. 16 nedsmithy

    YUP! But I’m told, from a very reliable source, the he’s getting a little long in the tooth!!! 😛

  17. 17 jezebel282

    Sudds,

    “cut (more) Public Works Employees to save the town money”

    I am sure that is the way it will be presented to us. If anyone bothers to justify it at all. By now we should have all developed at least minimal pattern recognition skills.

    As with the recent increase in sewer use “fees” we saw that not a dime was saved. The burden was greater on the taxpayer and it was simply called something else. Without a doubt, if Harkins is successful in selling off (out?) Public Works functions our cost of living here will only increase. Instead of seeing our mortgage and rent payments going up we will be writing checks to whatever contractor wins the bid.

    In the meantime, we will be told that the line was held on tax increases. But rest assured, our taxes will be the same amount. The difference will be writing separate checks for services we used to think were included in our taxes.

  18. 18 ronmoreau

    Jez,

    Sounds like this,doesn’t it?

    Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, voiced concern Wednesday that Chinese companies are benefiting from U.S. taxpayers’ investment.

    “Obama’s green energy investments appear to be nothing more than venture capital for eventual Chinese acquisitions,” Thune said in a statement. “After stimulus-funded A123 was just acquired by a Chinese-based company, it’s troubling to see that yet another struggling taxpayer-backed company might be purchased under duress by a Chinese company.”

    Grassley added: “Like A123, this looks like another example of taxpayer dollars going to a failed experiment. Technology developed with American taxpayer subsidies should not be sold off to China.”

  19. 19 jezebel282

    Ron,

    Don’t Republicans call that the “free market”? It seems the story is a bit more complex than just the evil Chinese taking advantage of us or government grants being the root of all evil: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/feb/19/fisker-automotive-files-90m-claim-for-a123-battery/

    I am a little more obsessed with our Republican mayor and Town Council pulling a fast one than I am about Republican claims of Obama conspiracies.

    But keep up the good work. Just try to stay a bit more local. Like maybe east of the Mississippi?

  20. 20 ronmoreau

    Jez,
    “I am a little more obsessed with our Republican mayor and Town Council pulling a fast one than I am about Republican claims of Obama conspiracies.”

    Isn’t this also called the “free market”
    Increasing sewer use fees (stimulus) to make the sewage plant operation attractive to outside interest/investors?

  21. 21 jezebel282

    Ron,

    It would be if, say, the sale price went into the owner’s pocket. In this case, that would be us. But you know that won’t happen.

    To make matters worse, it will create a monopoly where none existed before. Can you call a different sewage treatment plant and get a competitive price for your waste? Do you not think that the contract to pick up your curbside trash won’t be granted on an exclusive basis? When your rates go up you will, of course, have the option of not generating any more trash or digging a hole in your yard and being careful you don’t fall in.

  22. 22 ronmoreau

    Jez,
    “It would be if, say, the sale price went into the owner’s pocket. In this case, that would be us. But you know that won’t happen.”

    Where else would that sale money go?

    :”…it will create a monopoly where none existed before.”

    Doesn’t a monopoly already exist?

    The argument should be that we now have some say what the ‘fees’ are. If sold we(the tax payers) would have NO say what fees a private company charges for the same service.

  23. 23 jezebel282

    Ron,

    “Where else would that sale money go?”

    A check to every taxpayer who pays the sewer use “fee” would be ok.

    “Doesn’t a monopoly already exist?”
    No. I can explain that if you need me to.

    “If sold we(the tax payers) would have NO say what fees a private company charges for the same service.”

    I think I said that. You left out the part where we would be paying the same taxes anyway.

  24. 24 jezebel282

    Compared to the 34% increase forced on us, this sounds mild. But it is sort of like looking into our future.

    Rising sewer fees may raise stink
    Brian Lockhart
    Updated 11:23 pm, Thursday, February 28, 2013

    BRIDGEPORT — Property owners should brace to flush more of their money down the drain.
    A change in the private operators who manage the city’s two wastewater plants could result in higher sewer use fees, according to the Water Pollution Control Authority.
    This after Bridgeport recently topped H&R Block’s list of the most taxed cities in America.
    “Although we are looking at everything possible to minimize a rate increase it appears to be unavoidable,” William Robinson, the WPCA’s acting general manager, said this week in an email.
    He will have a better idea of the details when the WPCA submits a budget to its commissioners in late March. Over the last four years sewer rates have risen about 5 percent to $4.40, from $4.19 per hundred cubic feet of water used. In 2012 the WPCA earned $26.7 million in sewer fees, that year’s audited financial report shows.
    For several reasons the timing is bad for the WPCA to hike what some city officials call a “secret tax” on sewers.
    Residents are waiting to see if Mayor Bill Finch’s 2012-13 budget will contain additional property tax increases.
    And Aquarion Water Co., which services the city, wants state regulators to approve a 17 percent rate increase.
    “That’s a lot of money these days and we don’t have much, especially in the poor communities,” said Councilman Lydia Martinez, D-137.
    Martinez, Council President Tom McCarthy, D-133, and their colleagues on the budget and appropriations committee briefly discussed sewer fees with Robinson in January.
    At that time, McCarthy said, “We look at it as a secret tax on the taxpayers … They have too much of a burden right now.”
    “Point taken,” responded Robinson.
    Higher sewer user fees may be on the horizon because the WPCA is in negotiations to hire a new private operator, Severn Trent, based in the United Kingdom.
    Severn will replace KGI Bridgeport — part of the U.K.-based Kelda Group — which entered into a 10-year agreement to manage and maintain Bridgeport’s wastewater facilities in 2003.
    That contract expires in April and KGI wanted out because the company was losing money.
    “We were working on a 10-year-old operator’s contract that, quite honestly, was a great benefit in price to the WPCA,” Robinson said in January. “We’re not going to be able to match that price.”
    At the end of the day it is the WPCA, not the mayor or council, that has the final say over its budget.
    Finch and the council do make appointments to the WPCA commission, however. Finch’s office would not say where the mayor stands on the sewer fees, deferring comment to Robinson.
    So what will a sewer user rate increase look like?
    Robinson this week declined to speculate, citing ongoing negotiations with Severn.
    “We do not want to prejudice those negotiations by speculating what a price increase might be,” Robinson said.
    The WPCA does not exactly have a lot of leverage. The agency put the operator’s contract out to bid twice.
    “You have sewer lines here over 50 years old. They break constantly,” said Charles Valentino, a former WPCA commissioner. “We can’t get a firm to take over this job unless they get a certain amount of money.”
    The city, to lure bidders, altered the terms of the contract proposal and eliminated a long-standing provision requiring a private operator honor employee wages and benefits, according to the WPCA’s union.
    “By law they have to recognize the union, but that’s it. They don’t have to offer us the same wages, benefits, pension,” said Mark Pagnozzi, a collection system foreman and union steward.
    Pagnozzi’s members are worried the WPCA may try to minimize a sewer fee hike on their backs.
    “Rates are going to have to go up. They’ve been eating it for the past ten years,” he said.
    Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Rising-sewer-fees-may-raise-stink-4318303.php#ixzz2MHioyo64

  25. 25 jezebel282

    Update:

    In the Blue corner:

    “Joe Paul has announced the formation of his exploratory campaign committee for mayor in Stratford, Conn.

    “I was born and raised in Stratford and attended our public schools,” Paul said. “This is a town that I have always loved and know it has the potential to be vibrant and successful.”

    Paul said Stratford is faced with the same economic struggles that challenge our state and other municipalities, and he believes his fresh perspective and vision will make a difference.

    In his former role as senior vice president of one of the nation’s largest banks, he managed over 3,000 employees and guided government clients toward products and services that increased government efficiency at all levels.”
    http://stratford.patch.com/articles/paul-to-run-for-mayor-of-stratford

    We must admit, we know nothing about Mr. Paul. That is probably a good thing…

  26. 26 mikereynolds

    “We must admit, we know nothing about Mr. Paul. That is probably a good thing…”

    Lol…yes that’s probably true. Well he will at least have the 2nd and 4th locked up.

  27. 27 jezebel282

    Mike,

    The RTC usually doesn’t even bother fielding a candidate in the 2nd. The 4th I’m not so sure about.

    Nonetheless, I am very interested in Mr. Paul’s positions on some of the issues that significantly impact our lives and wallets. The sale of the WPCA, privatizing portions of Public Works, the re-routing of Main Street and the abundance of toxic waste sites. This is not to mention the bloated administrative (tell me again what a “chief of staff” does?) and Town Attorney’s budget.

    Perhaps Harkins may have actual positions on those items as well. You never know.

  28. 28 jezebel282

    Update:

    And on the lighter side. you can find postings on other blogs that Miron should be elected again. As if we haven’t suffered enough.

    Let us hope that members of the Democratic Town Committee have grown weary of losing elections and being a never-ending source of amusement for the Republican Town Committee. It is time to return to a viable two Committee system in Stratford. That means finally letting go of Miron and his cult.

    Who knows? The DTC might even endorse a candidate with no connections to Miron or Berchem Moses & Devlin. Someone like Joe Paul?

  29. 29 ronmoreau

    Jez,
    “The DTC might even endorse a candidate with no connections to Miron or Berchem Moses & Devlin.”

    That doesnt seam likely . Didn’t the Stratford Democratic party elect Mr. Rchard Burturla chairman of the DTC last year and isn’t he an attorney that works for the law firm Bercham Moses and Devlin?

  30. 30 ronmoreau

    They are ‘stitched into the fabric’ of the Stratford DTC.

  31. 31 jezebel282

    Ron,

    “the fabric’ of the Stratford DTC”

    To be that stupid for that long requires commitment & practice.

  32. 32 jezebel282

    Update:

    “The total proposed budget comes in at $192,596,240, a 0.91 percent increase in spending over the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.”
    http://stratford.patch.com/articles/stratford-mayor-s-budget-raises-average-tax-bill-28

    Apparently, it is safe to assume that Harkins will be running for re-election. More on the proposed budget later.

  33. 33 jezebel282

    And yes, Harkins would like to raise our sewer use “fees” by another 11%. That would be a whopping 50% increase in the span of two short years.


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