Smear Campaign


Stratford Politics

Stratford mayor: critics waging ‘smear campaign’
John Burgeson

Updated 11:13 pm, Wednesday, April 29, 2015

“The group seeking to scuttle the sale of the waste treatment plant on Birdseye Street is dealing in half-truths and staging a “smear campaign,” according to Mayor John Harkins.”

We are amazed at our great good fortune. We have been treated to several statements lately from Harkins/Decilio that have appeared in the friendly and uncritical local print media. We, of course, will analyze the statements in detail below.

However, we would take a moment here and discuss the purpose of municipal government. This mayor has stated repeatedly that Stratford should not be in the “business” of waste water treatment. We ask, why not? How dissimilar is it from solid waste management. Does that go next? How about fire protection, traffic control, crime, emergency medical services or education? Should municipal government be in those “businesses” either? Why do we need municipal government at all? According to Harkins, we don’t. We as residents will be much better off if private corporations sold us these services for profit. That way we could “vote” by refusing to “buy” these services. We could just let our houses burn down because Fire Department Inc., charges way too much. Or we could refuse to use Stratford EMS Corp because maybe the heart attack will just get better on its own.

An herein lies the problem. Once we sell off municipal services, in this case to the lowest bidder, there will be nothing like the competition that exists in a retail market. The rate we pay will be whatever the company says we pay.


35 Responses to “Smear Campaign”

  1. 1 Rockannand

    Oh my!! I think you just set a new LAN, digital posting speed record for analyzing an article posted by a local paper 4 hours after it hit their web site. At night no less. Your talents have no bounds

  2. 2 jezebel282

    And now for the fun part.

    “That group, operating largely from its Facebook page, WPCA Stratford: Get Answers, is collecting signatures in a petition drive that aims to put the matter of selling the plant to the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority up to the voters in November.”

    That group? Hey! We’re feeling kind of left out here, you know.

    “I have not received one phone call or one request for a meeting from this group,” Harkins said Tuesday during a meeting at Town Hall with Hearst Connecticut Media.

    Ummm, what about all those angry residents and voters who spoke out during your hearings or at the public forums?

    “Now, what I have been getting — from people who have looked at this objectively — are comments to the effect that this move will be a good one for Stratford.”

    Probably because the only people you meet with depend upon your signature on their paychecks.

    “The mayor said the town will see $16 million in cash and the removal of $37 million in Stratford’s bonded debt when the transaction is inked.”

    This is simply not true. $5.2 million of that $16 million is our money. And the $37 million will still be paid by Stratford sewer users.

    “…Chief Administrative Officer Stephen Nocera. “But, in reality, New Haven projects increases of approximately 3.85 (percent) on average over the next five years…”

    Mr. Nocera has absolutely no way to tell what sewer fees will be 5 minutes after the deal is signed. He will have no budgetary control over any of it.

    “Nocera also takes issue with the Get Answers position that the New Haven WPCA is “borrowing the purchase price so Stratford taxpayers will be responsible for another $11 million in debt repayment in addition to the $37 million debt that’s outstanding.”

    Nocera is slightly correct here. Once Stratford’s WPCA is sold, we will be responsible as a member for all of their debt, not just the $11 million purchase price. (Hey wait a minute! Wasn’t it $16 million just a couple of paragraphs ago?)

    “Nocera said. “In total, Stratford residents and homeowners will save $5.4 million over the next five years.”

    Yet again, Mr. Nocera has no possible way of knowing this.

    “Cash from the sale is needed to balance the books.”

    And here it is. Finally! If you recall last budget season, the mayor and Council decided that they would foreclose on a hundred or so properties and counted that imaginary money as real. Surprisingly, the Town has not sold a single property. (Where is that Economic Development Director anyway?). So guess what? The Town is now short about $5 million.

    “Taking that $37 million in debt off the books — 10 percent of out total bonded debt — is important because it’s something that the rating agencies like to see,” Harkins said.”

    It only takes $37 million off the Town’s books. We still get to pay the debt.

    “The mayor also said the town will see an annual payment in lieu of tax of $200,000 in the first two years, increasing to $400,000 by 2020.”

    But we lose $600,000/year in rent payments to the Town and $300,000 in transfers to the General Fund. That’s at least a $500,000/year loss.

    “Stratford will get two seats on the regional authority’s board of directors, which will then have 11 seats. The WPCA now includes New Haven, Hamden, East Haven and Woodbridge.

    Because 10/10 votes is worse than 2/11?

  3. I see the articles about this petition but where on Earth do I go to sign it? No one has rung my doorbell with a petition. I would like to have both sides put out their information side by side so we the voters can decide what we think and vote on this.

  4. 4 shanliss

    781-710-2484 will get you to Henry Bruce, Lee Anne; he can direct one of the many, many canvassers or “circulators” to come and get your signature. We’re all looking forward to a “side by side” comparison, because we know who will run screaming when they see how short-sighted this sewer sale really is. The Mayor has his blowzy powerpoint slides, which show blue sky as far as the eye can see. The citizens organized to oppose the sale have line by line, point by point rebuttals. Plus other goodies such as information on the sleazy team we’d be getting in bed with if we really go down the road to New Haven. The referendum will give everyone time to have a good luck. Who knows, some Councilmen who voted in lockstep with the Mayor and his henchmen may find themselves on the road to Damascus! Not too late to take back your vote, counselor! You can always say you were not fully informed, like on that cell-tower in Longbrook Park.

  5. 5 appalledandamused

    If regionalization was his goal with our state of the art facility, why not have other towns nearby connect to our water plant instead of selling it? This is about privatizing – next up will be the sanitation service and yes, fire, police and public works.

  6. I can’t believe the Star published a letter in support of the WPCA sale written by Amy Knorr, Supervisor of Economic Development (not the Director) and did not require her to divulge her affiliation to this whole cabal. What tangled webs we weave……

  7. 7 jezebel282

    Once again, you only support the sale of the WPCA if Harkins signs your paycheck.

  8. 8 Rockannand

    This reminds of Flounder in Animal House when all hell breaks loose in the end at the parade and he screams, “Isn’t this GREAT?”. CTPost sends Harkins an abbreviated “Just the Facts” 1-sheeter we sent the Post Tuesday making the same points the WPCAStratford Get Answers group have been making for 6 weeks and Nocera responds with more information than we have seen in a year. THIS is why we need the referendum vote because Harkins and Lou Deceitful have been withholding the fine print of this deal for over a year. They thought they could treat us like mushrooms – keep us in the dark and feed us $#it. Well as my long deceased Mom always used to say, “I was born at night, but i was not born LAST night.” IN honor of Mother’s day in a week, “Thanks Mom”.

  9. 9 Rockannand

    FLASH: From WPCA Stratford FB Page:

    Referendum Petition Submission RALLY:
    WHEN: Tuesday May 5th 10am
    WHERE: Town Hall
    WHO: Volunteers, families, friends and petition signers
    WHY: To witness Stratford history and democracy in action

    Bring your family, friends and neighbors to see the final fruits of this amazing citizens campaign to bring the democratic process back to our town. What better way to educate our children on citizenship and democracy then to attend this historic event. You don’t want to miss it.

  10. Is this situation similar to what was happening down in Asheville NC?

    Also, the firm “Arcadis” that conducted the study I believe is strongly connected to the Koch brothers “ALEC” group.

  11. 11 jezebel282


    The problem with the “analysis” that comes out of Town Hall is that it is based on an accounting system from another planet.

    Nocera discounts any investments made via grants. As if that wasn’t real money. That way we don’t lose as much. In other words, that’s comparable to receiving a helping hand from your parents with a down payment and then deducting it from the sale price 10 years later.

    In addition, Nocera makes assumptions about what the GNHWPCA would do to our rates as if there is some sort of written agreement in place. There is not.

    It is pretty much “Same sh#t, different day.”

  12. “Ummm, what about all those angry residents and voters who spoke out during your hearings or at the public forums?”

    Jez ~ from where I sat, he wasn’t paying attention. He was scrolling through his phone (maybe playing candy crush or [t]exting his EDD who maintained distance from him for appearance sake, I’m sure). He was paying absolutely very little attention to what anyone had to say.

  13. 13 stfdprofessor1

    What I want to know is if the “John” showed up at the Brewery last night or hid under his favorite rock. I would have went but I prefer to see reptiles at Beardsley zoo where they are safely behind glass and can cause no harm.

  14. 14 stfdprofessor1

    PCS, do you know if that’s a taxpayer funded phone. If it is I bet that phone could tell some stories.

  15. Oh, professor… there we go, smearing his good name again!

  16. 16 stfdprofessor1


  17. We live in a Town that has absolutely no transparency, There’s way too much Kool-Aid. Anyone want to buy a house?

  18. 18 jezebel282


    Speaking of transparency, we couldn’t let this one go from Amy Knorr, Supervisor of Economic Development at the Town of Stratford.

    To the Editor:

    I’m a parent and I work hard to live in our home town. I love Stratford because we have so many wonderful amenities; the beach, the forest, parks and our neighbors. We all have complained time to time about how expensive it is for us to enjoy these features and services that our town provides. And that is exactly why I am in favor of regionalizing our sewage treatment plant.

    When I read about this whole thing I was skeptical, but after doing my own research (outside of the political hypersphere), I learned something is worth sharing. People who are a part of the region now are happy with their service, the group treats its employees extremely well, and they care about our environment.

    Put these facts together with the knowledge that this plan will help to keep me enjoying all that Stratford has to offer by keeping sewer rates and taxes down and I am in.

    Like I said, I love Stratford and I want keep my kids swimming at Short Beach and not some other town. Regionalization seems to be a move in that direction and I want to thank the Mayor and Town Council for proposing it.

    Amy Knorr

    Somehow the Stratford Star missed the fact that Ms. Knorr’s supervisor is the Economic Development Director, Karen Kaiser and that Ms. Kaiser and Mayor Harkins are…well, never mind about that.

    We are astounded that the Star didn’t recognize Ms. Knorr’s name. Perhaps the Star has never contacted the Economic Development Department In Stratford Town Hall before?

    But, getting back to this “unsolicited” letter. We would like to clarify one particular point Harkins and his employees keep bringing up. “Regionalization” has absolutely nothing to do with the environment. Nothing.

    Not a single drop of waste water will flow from Woodbridge, Hamden, West Haven or New Haven into the Stratford sewer plant. Not one person has ever proposed this.

    The entire proposal consists of Stratford sending it’s energy credits and cash to the Greater New Haven WPCA. It’s a one way valve.

  19. I’ll bet Ms. Knorr is perfectly capable of writing a letter on her own but wouldn’t you love to be able to ask her if she had any collaborators for this one? Someone who might have added a thought, changed some wording, or gave it their blessing?

  20. Jez ~ I am fully aware of who Amy Knorr is. I knew her when she was ran athletic programs at United Athletic Centers until they got kicked out by some pasta company. Sage loved her, and I like her and held her in very high regard, she was amazing with the kids. I have no problem with her. I have a problem with her lack of disclosure. I think it was very dishonest to publish that with full disclosure.

    I also have a very serious problem with continuing “incestuous” feel of Town Hall. Everyone hired has either done something politically (e.g., even Nocera is on the Board of Assessment Appeals in Simsbury [is that a conflict?] and has several campaign related items under his belt), related to someone in politics, etc. Even Karen Kaiser, the EDD, is related to the another Town Hall, politically-connected employee. There is so very little honesty. That’s why I doubt I’ll ever run for anything. I want to get out of Stratford. A few more years and hopefully that will happen. There’s nothing happening here and nothing will happen here. There will never be honesty or transparency. If you align yourself with a group – you have to “do as you are told” or conform. I am and always will be a non-conformist when it comes to stuff like that. I speak my mind and sometimes more harshly then I should…. it is what it is.

    Kubic mentioned at the vote on 4/9 that everything is getting regionalized. He even mentioned education systems. The main reason regionalization occurs in school systems is because there are areas (e.g., Oxford) is because there aren’t enough kids in a particular town or area. We don’t have that problem, but he just threw that out there – just to plant that seed.

    The only driving force for this regionalization is the budget gap! That’s the elephant in the room.

  21. 21 jezebel282


    We don’t discount the small possibility that Ms. Knorr took this opportunity to write her first letter ever about Stratford. But the high probability that Harkins/Decilio wanted someone, anyone, to write something supporting this horrible deal and directed her to do it is far more likely.

  22. Jez ~ given everything surrounding it, I tend to agree with you 100%.

    I think it would be extremely embarrassing to have to come out and admit the money that was written into the budget that they didn’t have. They started rumbling about this in March 2014. Then they wrote in all those millions, now all those millions don’t exist unless this deal happens.

    Town Hall continues to need a complete and thorough cleansing. A political enema!

  23. “Men seldom rise from low condition to high rank without employing either force or fraud, unless that rank should be attained either by gift or inheritance.” ―Niccolo Machiavelli

  24. This might apply to Gavin Forrester who has a love fest going on at the WPCA site. Seems he had a death bed conversion only when he found out that the town was overwhelmingly at odds with his rushed vote of April 9. Now he hopes to find out if he can have it both ways. Stay tuned.

  25. 25 Rockannand

    “I think it would be extremely embarrassing to have to come out and admit the money that was written into the budget that they didn’t have. They started rumbling about this in March 2014. Then they wrote in all those millions, now all those millions don’t exist unless this deal happens.”

    PCS, Maybe they can give back those ridiculous raises, and that absurd 100′ $1.1mm Hess FireTruck and the $500+k fire boat. They deserve to be outed for the hole they dug for themselves. But that includes all the Councilmen that went along with this charade.

    And AlwaysLeft/Right, Gavin is not going to get away with this little game he is playing with the peeps on the WPCA Stratford site. He may fool some of the newbies, but we all know that Gavin has not changed ANY of his stripes. He is deluded by being back in the limelight again with the hope of someday becoming mayor. I think the next petition drive to take on is the one that gets rid of this ridiculous Mayor form of govt that this town foolishly decided to change to 10 years ago. Town Hall keeps adding employees in all sorts of places and its all politics and no results. There is NFW someone like Gavin is going to succeed this Mayor. I’ll personally lead that charge to prevent that.

    Are you reading this Gavin?

  26. I like the idea of a referendum to eliminate our mayoral form of government and a return to the days of hiring an independent, capable manager outside the political realm. I call it privatization.

  27. 27 jezebel282


    WPCA petitioners: 6,000 signatures collected
    By Melvin Mason on May 4, 2015

    Congratulations to Henry Bruce and WPCA Stratford Get Answers! 6,000 signatures of registered voters in less than 30 days is nothing less than a monumental feat. We are sure not a single one of the seven councilmen

    Gavin Forrester (R)
    Joseph Kubic (R)
    Peter Massey, (R)
    Brian Dempsey, (R)
    Ken Poisson (R)
    James J. Connor, Jr. (R)
    Jason W. Santi (D)

    who voted against every Stratford resident had even considered this as a possibility. We, of course, can’t leave out John Harkins or Lou Decilio from this list of nefarious politicians.

    Nonetheless, every volunteer who walked the neighborhoods, made the calls and every voter who signed the petition deserve our thanks and gratitude.

  28. 28 stfdprofessor1

    “I think the next petition drive to take on is the one that gets rid of this ridiculous Mayor form of govt that this town foolishly decided to change to 10 years ago. Town Hall keeps adding employees in all sorts of places and its all politics and no results. There is NFW someone like Gavin is going to succeed this Mayor. I’ll personally lead that charge to prevent that.”

    “I like the idea of a referendum to eliminate our mayoral form of government and a return to the days of hiring an independent, capable manager outside the political realm. I call it privatization.”

    NOW YOU’RE TALKING on how to cut a big swath of corruption out of this Town. I’ll camp out at the Dock shopping center for this one kids.

    I can see the signs now “restore the sanity”.

  29. 29 jezebel282

    Amazingly, Harkins has already decided to order Tim Bishop to claim the petition to be invalid. You’d think they’d wait long enough to read it.

    Yet more taxpayer money down the sewer.

  30. Surprised why?

  31. 31 jezebel282


    You know, that is a really difficult comparison. What’s worse, a sociopath or an adulterer and thief?

  32. Yes, odd comparison, while neither would be a great answer, another how many years of an adulterer and thief is rather indigestible!

  33. 33 Rockannand

    Well yesterday was the BIG FU to the public by Harkins and Lou Deceitful/ Further they blasted the Post last week over Burgeson’s article on the union action on 4/25 and again on 4/30 so the editors changed the headline saying AGAIN we are misleading the public.

    Now Harkins and crew are saying this is a $60mm deal? They change their “selling” points every week as we pound away at their numbers.
    They are stealing the cash reserve to payoff the $5.4mm budget gap for this year. That is illegal. That money belongs to every ratepayer and should be returned as a rebate of at least $250 per household. We will fight that action if they try to do it.

    Bishop’s “opinion” was written by the New Haven lawyers – Robinson Cole. He is clueless about municipal law when it comes to referendum matters. They threatened all employees that they would be punished if they signed the petition. They threatened to fire Susan Pawluk if she accepted the petition. I only hope that for those they threatened who are protected by a union, that they file a grievance against they low life.

    They don’t listen, they don’t care, they ignore you. And they think they will get away with it. 7,000 people signed on to this cause in less than 3 weeks. What do you think those people are going to say if they get away with this worst deal of the 375 year history of the town? Its an election year and there are just so many people you can payoff. We plan to take dead aim at Gavin, Santi and Massey for sure. They are VERY vulnerable and have been made promises to play Lou Deceitful ball.

    So as they say in the big leagues, GAME ON!!

  34. 34 jezebel282


    Jason Santi switched to the Republican Town Committee. And he wrote an exceptionally long letter to the Star as if it were news.

    We are shocked! Who knew Santi was a Democrat all this time?

  35. 35 stfdprofessor1

    …and this is what happened when Jason went across the street to Jakes Wayback Burger to celebrate:

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