Stratford Democrats

07Nov13
Here Lies The Democratic Town Committee

Here Lies The Democratic Town Committee

We are now officially a one party town. The Democratic Town Committee was run out of Town on Election Day. With the lone exception of Stephanie Phillips, third district (or is it second dictrict?) councilperson who ran unopposed, not a single Democrat was elected to an office. Even Ms. Phillips might have lost if the RTC could have found a candidate.

It is hard to imagine a clearer message from voters than Tuesday’s results. Stratford voters want none of what the DTC has to offer. It is not as if the Republican Town Committee has a better plan or message either because clearly they have none. Neither the RTC Chairman Lou Decilio nor Mayor Harkins has ever offered any commitment to anything. “Civility” doesn’t count. When you run a civil government you are supposed to be…well…civil.

The problem therefore is not that the RTC has programs and plans that voters prefer. The problem is the Democratic Town Committee itself. The DTC at this point (having already landed at the bottom of the cliff) must start over from scratch. That should begin with new leadership. Sometimes voters have long memories. The DTC simply cannot have the same old Miron cronies running the DTC. It is ridiculous to assume that voters do not understand that the current DTC Chairman was the Town Attorney for Miron and is simply waiting for another chance at the $1.8 million (it was $2.3 million during his tenure) Town Attorney budget.

The Democratic Town Committee lacks any credibility at all. The RTC knows this, businesses know this and, most importantly, voters know this. So our message to the DTC leadership if they haven’t gotten it already is to collect all the losing lawn signs, write your letters of resignations and step away from the political process. Do it now before anyone else gets hurt.

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49 Responses to “Stratford Democrats”

  1. In my opinion I think its time in Stratford to have a conversation about a third party. Democrats have a permanent black eye in this town and one party rule do nothing but corrupt Stratford further. This party has to be separate from both of the other 2 parties with fresh leadership and some new ideas. I voted for Joe Paul, and I was very proud to vote for him and it is diappointing that we ended with the same old for Stratford for four more years.

  2. 2 Rockannand

    3rd party???? AYFKM?? Jezz is post on with this post. There is too much apathy in this town and the fact that the DTC could not get its collective act together to find and rally around one candidate for mayor speaks volume at the dysfunction of the group. The basically took the one candidate who was gung-ho to run and undermined him by bringing the entire B of A scenario to light. Then Beth DaPonte became the reluctant, accidental endorsed candidate and LOST the primary. That means the party went almost 4 months until mid-September not knowing who would face off with Harkins. So Ken Bruno decides “why not, I’ll run”. What a joke that was. The DTC blew the best shot they had a taking over the mayoral office and a couple of council seats. Whether they are mad enough internally to tell Beth and Rich B to leave is another matter.

  3. 3 jezebel282

    Rock,

    “There is too much apathy in this town ”

    Who’s fault is that? Did you happen to notice the Vicki Soto 5K run? There were at least twice as many people than expected show up. According to PD sources instead of about 2,000 people there was about 5,000 people.

    Voters have not been engaged by either Town Committee. No plans were put forward, no agendas proposed, nothing was promised, even less of substance was discussed. The hottest issue in the mayoral debates was whether we should have bonded to pay pension benefits. Really? A discussion of something that has already been done? It’s not that voters are apathetic, it’s that the Town Committees are not talking about anything worth their interest.

    “mad enough internally to tell Beth and Rich B to leave”

    You don’t have to be mad, you just have to admit that four (or is it 5?) crushing defeats in a row requires a change of leadership.

    The choice voters had in this election were voting for a candidate from the Republican Town Committee that hadn’t managed to blow up the Town in the last four years versus a candidate from The Democratic Town Committee who did blow up the Town. Since neither side stated any sort of plan or agenda that’s what the choice came to.

    So, to the new leadership of the Democratic Town Committee, or whatever it is going to be called (Camaroguy may have a point), have a plan and an agenda and make sure voters know what it is. Voters would much rather vote for something than against something.

  4. 4 mikereynolds

    Wasn’t there an offshoot of the Democrat party led by Ray Voccola?

  5. 5 jezebel282

    Mike,

    Yup. United something or other. It was an internal personal thing (isn’t it always?).

    But this time the DTC is dead. No pulse. No respiration. Dead. The leadership killed it.

  6. People are sick of the two party system and people are obviously sick of the Democrats in Stratford. I was going to some DTC meetings coming up to the elections and there is a lot of in fighting and I doubt that there will be a change in leadership considering Joe Paul lost the election. There are a few towns in CT that elected third party candidates first selectman or mayor. Woodbridge, Windham, and Willington just to name a few, its not a completely absurd idea. I also voluteered for the Paul campaign and I met a lot of people genuinely concerned about what is going in Stratford including Joe Paul himself who i had the pleasure of doing some door knocking with. Quite frankly the voter turnout for this election was absolutely pitiful, a little over 10,000 for a population of over 50,000. The poor voter turnout usually works in the favor of Republicans.

  7. 7 jezebel282

    Cam,

    A third party is a nice idea. I’d go with the “What Works” Party. But we have closed primaries in this State (another mistake). Registering with a third party eliminates your chance to vote in “R” or “D” primaries.

    The DTC has 2 years to reinvent itself. Until then, we have a municipal government run by the Republican Town Committee. They have just been given a permission slip by voters to do whatever they want without discussion.

  8. 8 ronmoreau

    Jez,

    “The DTCas 2 years to reinvent itself”

    Perhaps it’s time to revisit this past thread. If we say it enough times….It all begins with Town Committee elections and the election of committee leaders.

    https://stratfordcharter.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/gang-wars-coming/

  9. 9 ronmoreau

    They don’t have 2 years. They have 2 months.

  10. 10 jezebel282

    Ron,

    I suppose I could have saved myself some time and just cut & pasted what I wrote four years ago.

    “A complete change in membership of the DTC is necessary otherwise it will be business as usual for Stratford Democrats and Stratford residents will again be subject to their drive-by shootings.”

  11. 11 ronmoreau

    If all 10,000+ registered democrats showed up for this election. There’s no place in town big enough to hold the election.

  12. 12 jezebel282

    Ron,

    “If all 10,000+ registered democrats showed up”

    You can’t put it on Democratic voters. Not that many Republicans showed up either. It was an off off year election. Harkins’ 5,700 votes in a Town of 50,000 is not exactly a ringing endorsement. Lawn signs and glossy junk mail do not translate to votes.

    The only interesting aspect (to me) was how far Harkins went in ridiculous “achievement” claims. Some were breathtaking. You know like “managing” the Town Attorney budget to only 300% more than any other Town. Or ordering the U.S. DOT to construct Exit 33. Or the SAEP sale.

    When it came to it the voters were left with a choice of no plan vs. no plan. Nobody really knew what Harkins wanted to achieve in the next four years or how he would do it. Even less so for Joe Paul.

    So what should voters have voted for?

  13. 13 Rockannand

    Yes Jez, all of Harkins “accomplishments” happened without much effort on his part and some like SAEP cannot be claimed as anything yet – that press release said nothing. He ran not to lose by avoiding debates (there were 10 or more in 2009), having some street paving projects so through in various areas of town and doing lots of smiley faces ads all over CTPost and Star web sites.

    I don’t agree that Joe Paul offered less than Harkins on plans. Harkins has already proven he has no real operational skills to get things done and that was the question that Joe could not answer with his B of A experience so muddled by what Beth and friends did to him before the primary.

    JOe was not willing to throw some real punches to poke serious holes in Harkins claims and the DTC really did not do much to execute a strategy to win this time around. If i were Joe and Terry Masters, i would seriously consider forming a 3rd party because the DTC leadership still have not embraced them as the future of the party.

  14. 14 jezebel282

    Rock,

    The RTC’s use of Paul’s BoA employment was the lamest accusation I had ever heard. As if he had some personal responsibility for what a 285,000 employee company did. In banking, except for the tellers, everyone is a vice president. It’s like saying Harkins was responsible for the government shutdown because he’s a Republican too. Employment actions are brought against corporations on a daily basis. Thanks to our HR department, the Town finds itself in front of the DOL or courts regularly as well. (Why is that?)

    But this just brings us back to what should have been discussed by the DTC last January. “What is the DTC plan for the next four years” and “How will we do it”. That discussion never took place. Instead I fear it was more like “Who wants to run? Come on, there must be somebody.” and “Whatever”.

    And just to be fair, the RTC discussed even less: “Who wants to run again?”

    If you are going to unseat an incumbent they have to had really screwed up astoundingly (like Miron) or you need a better plan. In this election the DTC still had the same old Miron cronies and they had no plan. What can you expect?

  15. 15 appalledandamused

    The DTC needs to be up-ended and replaced almost entirely with new blood. Either that, or they need to just disband completely and let the RTC continue to run the town into the ground without challenge. Maybe then some of these younger Democratic families in town will stop focusing solely and completely on their little insular lives and take notice that the town is becoming a sh–pile. And maybe then they’ll stand up and push back on the RTC. It’s a crime that so few Dems get out to vote. The only reason Republicans win is voter apathy and that is the DTC’s fault. They do nothing – absolutely NOTHING to engage the younger voters in town. Not sure what the RTC does to entice more Republican members into their coven, but eating kittens has to be part of it. The DTC can’t seem to find that thing that engages those residents who are registered Democrats to give the kitten-eaters a serious run for their money. Short of doing away with the party system in the election process in town, I can’t see any other way around the present fustercluck.

  16. 17 jezebel282

    “Buturla said, “The party has made great strides since 2009” when Democratic Mayor Jim Miron lost, getting only 29% of the vote.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  17. 18 Rockannand

    That article by Greg is an embarrassment to DTC, Buturla and DaPonte. They look silly and Joe Paul’s stature and credibility only improves. The fact that Joe is willing to stick around and have another possible go at this in 4 years is something the DTC should get behind since they have no one else to build a strong campaign around. So what happens in the meantime?

  18. 19 jezebel282

    Well, the obvious thing would be for Buturla to resign and for the DTC to elect Paul as chairman….never happen.

  19. 20 mikereynolds
  20. 21 jezebel282

    The actual question would be why would anyone want to automatically be a member of the DTC. Sounds like a negative thing to me.

  21. 22 jezebel282

    The truth of the matter is that the Democratic Town Committee hasn’t won an election of any significance since November of 2005. Even then, they only managed 34% of the vote.

    I’m not sure what other evidence would be required. The DTC leadership is clearly incompetent and lacks any degree of credibility. This latest petty and mean spirited move is just more of the same. It is almost as if anyone with a DTC endorsement is guaranteed to lose.

    Unless and until the DTC leadership changes we will only be a one party Town with Mayor-For-Life Harkins. Without debate and discussion, what sort of representative municipal government is possible?

    So while Lou Decillio may be gleeful, a one party Town is a bad thing for residents and businesses.

  22. 23 jezebel282

    Update:

    The DTC chairman has submitted his resignation. The balance of the executive committee should be submitting their resignations soon.

    There might be hope for Democrats in Stratford yet.

  23. 24 mikereynolds

    That’s too bad. The RTC might actually have to work now.

  24. 25 mikereynolds

    From the Stratford Star:

    To the Editor:

    The talk of changing DTC rules is clearly another attempt to attack me and another attempt to oust someone who is working for the people. They can’t beat me fairly in a primary, so they will change the rules to limit the 4th District quality representation. Any way you slice this possible change, it goes to show the DTC has still has sour grapes, because I was the only Democrat, who succeeded in winning a Council seat with an opponent!

    Most of the DTC candidates who ran for office did not win, because they listened to Councilwoman Stephanie Philips. In my opinion, she has made the DTC the laughing stock of the town with none of the candidates that she backed winning.

    I supported a Republican mayor because it was the right thing to do for the town and my district. There would be too much uncertainty with a Democratic mayor and with Stephanie at the helm.

    If the DTC wants to change the rules, by all means, that is their call. I can rest easy knowing that I have worked tirelessly for my district and my town.

    At this point, all that is left of the DTC are many people who use vitriol, deceit and lies to undermine elected officials and their districts. The DTC will continue on this downward spiral into obsolescence, until people that caused all this rancor with me are thrown out. This is not about me.

    This is about a person and her quest for domination of the DTC and my council district. I am talking about Stephanie and her followers. Thank God the town is in good hands with Mayor Harkins and the majority. Otherwise, I would hate to think how bad things would be under the control of Stephanie Philips with her brand of politics. This is an attempt to undermine people and put party over politics.

    In an e-mail Stephanie sent to DTC members attacking me, she alludes that the “good of the party should come before Town,” as the reasoning for changing the bylaws. This is what she is pushing and I want the people know this.

    Jason Santi

    Councilman, District 4

    Wow!

  25. 26 Rockannand

    Wow is right Mike. Gotta give Jason credit for putting it all out there. Let’s see what the next round of jabs has to offer. This is really getting good.

  26. 27 jezebel282

    “Gotta give Jason credit for putting it all out there.”

    We do? I dunno, Santi’s letter sounds a bit self serving to me.

    “There would be too much uncertainty with a Democratic mayor”
    Really? And what are we certain about with a Republican Town Committee mayor? Perhaps Mr. Santi can lay out the RTC plan for the next four years for us? Someone should because we certainly have no idea. I heard nothing from the RTC during the election campaign about anything other than being “civil”.

    With a 9-1 majority on the Council it is unlikely that we will ever hear anything. Until we get the bill, that is.

  27. 28 Rockannand

    Jez, i was referring more to his rant against Stephanie and the entire DTC hierarchy. Its a foregone conclusion he is a front runner whose political allegiance is aligned to where it serves him. The RTC throws him just enough crumbs so he can show his constituents what he got for them. Meanwhile he sides with whatever agenda items they want and yes we have no idea what that agenda is until it plays out. I can’t wait to see what gets posted in the Star next.

  28. 29 jezebel282

    I agree with your assessment. I just found it ironic that he voted for every single RTC motion and then is shocked, shocked I tell you, that the DTC is a bit miffed about that.

    The DTC has bigger problems than Santi. Statements like: ““When one person makes the decisions, all you have to do is take off the head,” said Manus, who is not a member of the DTC. “There is an enemy, and we will take him out.” http://www.stratfordstar.com/14722/other-matters-for-democrats-at-dec-2-meeting/ do not help.

    “Enemy”? “Take him out”? Are you kidding me? Competitors are not the “enemy”, they are competitors. Who said that “rats should be eliminated”? Oh right….Miron.

    Voters vote for plans and policies. It would be nice if we actually had that kind of choice. DTC members must remember that they are not in 8th grade anymore and they are not running for student government. They should at least appear to be grown ups.

  29. 30 Rockannand

    Maybe Lou is not the enemy, but he is major part of the problem with Stratford politics. He definitely got a copy of the Karl Rove/Dick Cheney playbook and is attempting to execute some of the plays. They work, but they are dirty and not civil as Harkins would have us believe.

    But what’s with this pollyanna statement by Rick Marcone who “reminded the members toward the close of the meeting that ‘we welcome a difference of opinion and we work out our issues.'” AYFKM?? Everyone is now publicly smoking the peace pipe after getting their a$$es kicked in November? Way late again don’t you think? They never work out their issues though because they don’t accept what the issues are.

    If the Obama campaign guy has brass ones, he will tell them what they need to hear and get the focused on organization, developing a platform and recruiting real candidates now. The problems are quite obvious and the solutions even more obvious. Lots of low hanging fruit to grab on to IMHO.

    Fine, kick Santi out, but do it fast and move on to the more important tasks. Those that are dragging their feet have to look in the mirror and ask if they want and can be part of the solution. If not they are part of the problem. As George Carlin so aptly put it years ago, for these DTC members its a matter of “move, follow or get out of the way.”

  30. 31 jezebel282

    Yup.

  31. 32 jezebel282

    “Stratford has 10,389 registered Democrats, which is about double the number of registered Republicans, so party leaders say they’re baffled by their lackluster results on Election Day.”
    http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Change-in-store-for-Stratford-Democrats-5046613.php

    Baffled? Could someone please send them a link to this page? The answers are explained above.

    To be a successful challenger it is helpful to have an actual plan or agenda rather than simply saying “Trust me”.

  32. 34 jezebel282

    “Before Buturla placed his support for Petruccelli”

    It might be better for Petrucelli if he were endorsed by Lou Decilio or John Harkins instead of Buturla.

  33. 35 jezebel282

    Note to Stratford Democrats:

    While you are bickering, gossiping and backbiting about the next DTC Chairman, please keep in mind that voters have been rejecting you for the last eight years. And they have done so overwhelmingly. You might attract more voters by offering a Zumba class or knitting lessons.

    None of us believe that either the Republican or Democratic Town Committees have anything to do with actual Republicans or Democrats. In fact, we have elected an RTC mayor, Council and Board of Education that consistently raises our taxes and has yet to offer any sort of direction or commitment to voters.

    Let’s review: The typical homeowner is taxed at a staggering $6,500/year to $8,500/year or more…much more. (Median house. Nice neighborhood. Couple of cars. Sewer hook up.) And let’s be honest here. For the overwhelming majority of Stratford residents what they get for that is their garbage picked up once a week, their kids probably walk to school and their streets are plowed occasionally.

    Now, what do you think voters want to hear? Civility at meetings they never attend? More pizza places? Pie in the sky projects the Town has no control over?

    Perhaps they would like to hear a real plan that involved spending their tax dollars wisely and more effectively? If whoever you elect as chairman has no such plan or vision, I’m am sure there is a Zumba instructor or crafter that has some time on their hands.

  34. 36 jezebel282

    Update:

    The DTC has ushered in a “new” slate. Well, sorta.

    The newest and most notable new name is Patricia Clark Sperling. Go get ’em, Patty!

  35. 37 ronmoreau

    Patty,
    Good Luck.

  36. 38 jezebel282

    And the beat goes on…

    “Democrats elected their slate of town committee members on Jan. 9 in a caucus that took place at Bunnell High School. As Santi is quick to point out, he’s the only Democratic office-holder in town who’s not on the list.
    “They’re trying to punish me because I supported someone who will actually do something for the town of Stratford,” Santi told the Post.”
    http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Santi-on-outs-with-Democrats-5142834.php

    So what do you call someone who votes with the Republican majority on every single vote no matter what? Perhaps if Mr. Santi managed to cast a single protest vote against the RTC members……

    Is there some sort of written test or financial statement that is required to join the Republican Town Committee? Mr. Santi has done more to support the RTC than their own members. That is clearly his best option.

  37. 39 appalledandamused

    It’s surprising that Santi hasn’t thrown in with the RTC and made it official. He might as well since the DTC will never trust him in the inner sanctum again (nor should they). A Democrat who votes so consistently with the Majority only serves to grant them the ability to claim a bipartisan vote on the especially ugly bills, budgets and tax increases churning through the Council. Can’t fault the Dems for wanting to stop the charade.

  38. 40 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    “will never trust him in the inner sanctum”

    There’s an inner sanctum at the DTC? You mean they’ve been this incompetent on purpose?

  39. Thanks Jez and Ron….. New blood is always a good thing! Time to rebuild and make it better….. together!

  40. 42 jezebel282

    One reason that this extravagant budget and fire sale released by Harkins will sail through the Council is that Stratford is a one party town.

    Rockannand was clearly on the mark when he wrote “…get the focused on organization, developing a platform and recruiting real candidates now. The problems are quite obvious and the solutions even more obvious. Lots of low hanging fruit to grab on to IMHO.”
    https://stratfordcharter.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/stratford-democrats/#comment-21106

    We have heard nothing from any member of the Democratic Town Committee. In fact, the only member of the DTC on the Council voted for the enormous raises for the Registrars of Voters. Figure that one out.

    This budget is one giant gift to the DTC from Harkins. There is barely a line in this budget that doesn’t slap the voter in the face. DTC members should be giddy with glee. We detect nothing from the graveyard where the DTC is buried.

  41. 43 1cyclops

    The Registrars can at least justify the huge salary increase because the office hours are being substantially increased. But, how does the mayor justify the salary increases for all of the non-union department heads which range from a high of 25.5% to a low of 3.6%? I would be interested in knowing if they have given back to get these increases. Are they being asked to contribute more toward their health insurance benefits? Increases to salaries in these amounts are unheard of in this economic climate. I hope at lease one councilmen will at least ask for a public explanation so that the taxpayers will be aware.

  42. 44 jezebel282

    Cyclops,

    “The Registrars can at least justify the huge salary increase because the office hours are being substantially increased.”

    And who will check to see if they are actually there? Let’s be honest here. Do they have enough of a job description to keep them busy 37.5 hours/week? How many times does anyone need a Registrar of Voters? Once in their lifetime? Maybe twice if they switch parties? If they move into town? What test or certification is necessary to be a Registrar of Voters? How many times have current voter registration cards been issued to voters in the last 10 or 20 years?

    When there is an election or primary their main function is to provide a list of voters to the volunteers that man the voting booths. These remain purely political no-show jobs that can be done more effectively and at less expense by the Town Clerk’s office.

    “how does the mayor justify the salary increases for all of the non-union department heads which range from a high of 25.5% to a low of 3.6%?”

    So far he hasn’t. Maybe Harkins thinks there is no need to justify anything with his 9-1 majority. And, not for nothing, but who didn’t get a raise? The professional paramedics and EMT’s of Stratford EMS, that’s who. You know, the people who come to your house and save your life? No snow days or holidays for them. They haven’t gotten any increase in at least five (Count ’em, 5!) years. In fact, the volunteer paramedics and EMT’s who are dedicated enough to show up for no pay are taxed twice. Once for their donated labor and again in their property tax bills. Just sayin’….

  43. 45 1cyclops

    I think I hear you sayin’ …there is no accountability at town hall. Perhaps the mayor should have one of his many aides look into it. As for the professional paramedics and EMT’s of EMS, why don’t you lobby your supervisor and the town council if you are not being heard by the mayor. Heck, lobby the taxpayers, create a scene….now seems like just the right time. Everyone else is receiving a pay increase, it appears, why not the EMS?

  44. 46 jezebel282

    Cyclops,

    As we all have learned (the hard way), the only time a mayor is “accountable” is once every four years. In the meantime, they do whatever they want. Especially when they control 9 out of 10 councilmen.

  45. 47 jezebel282

    Update:

    If you want an indication of just how dead the Democratic Town Committee is just read their comments concerning Harkins’ budget and unconscionable raises and fees he is proposing.

    What’s that you say? There are no comments?

    Precisely.

  46. 48 jezebel282

    Update:

    We are aware that not a single taxpayer has mentioned this (OK, except us) but the BOE still has not provided a published and approved budget.

    Frankly, this is an unconscionable abdication of responsibility by the entire Board of Education and Superintendent. Fully half of our tax dollars are spent by these people and yet they have not provided a single taxpayer with any indication how our money will be spent or even when they will provide any such documentation. How many of us would give anyone any large sum of money and just say, “Don’t bother telling me what you want it for.”?

  47. 49 jezebel282

    Update:

    Just a quick fact for parents. According to the BOE budget information that is available, the Superintendent claims that it costs $14,000 per student to operate the Board of Education.

    Question to parents: Is your child receiving a $14,000 per year value from the BOE?


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