From the Chair
The chickens have come home to roost in a longstanding communication gap between Mayor Stewart and the Common Council. To preserve his dubious mantra of “no new taxes” (or this year lowering his proposed tax increase) Mayor Stewart has refused to budge on giving $1.5 milllion appropriated by the Council to reduce the number of teacher layoffs projected for the 2010-2011 year.
The Mayor’s position — using a veto pen to inappropriately reduce a portion of school appropriations and not the entire education line item — is being challenged by the Council for abusing the city charter and upending the shared executive and legislative governance that the Charter intends.
It should not be lost on the citizenry that this breakdown has occurred when the differences between the Mayor’s budget and the Council’s are not far apart. They would be easily resolved if pertinent facts were put on the table and a truce could be declared between the Corner Office and the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall.
As the new fiscal year approaches on July 1, however, Mayor Stewart and his minions are mounting a disinformation campaign on several fronts, engaging in a blame game that won’t solve the current budget impasse nor help the city get through these recessionary times.
They seek to discredit Democratic legislators for not getting more state money for education. We are supposed to forget their silent support of the Republican Governor’s efforts to make deeper cuts in state aid when New Britain lawmakers successfully helped to restore funds. Not long ago Stewart and company were crowing about not being so reliant on state aid to run the city. The New Britain GOP supports a status quo that continues reliance on the property tax, agreeing with their wealthy GOP standard bearers at the state level. In reality, New Britain gets the sixth highest amount per student among the state’s 169 cities and towns at $6,583 in education cost sharing funds. Now the New Britain Republicans complain that Democrats in the Legislature should get water out of stone to bail them out.
In his official June 17th budget veto, Mayor Stewart upbraided BOE Pres. Sharon Beloin-Saavedra for devising “a plan of attack” in an attempt to “politically blackmail me and the Council” into increasing the education budget. Beloin-Saavedra, whether you agree with her on school priorities or not, deserves more respect for her long hours of service than name calling from City Hall. Simple math will tell you a pattern of under funding schools exists by the Mayor and the Council , including denying funds earmarked for education in past years.
Stewart also unloaded on Council leaders and State Rep. Tim O’Brien for “threats” and “bullying” when it is his rhetoric that is pouring gasoline on the fire. O’Brien says he was offering an opinion to the Corporation Counsel having been on the Council when the Charter took effect. Sherwood and Trueworthy sought a meeting with the Mayor to strike a compromise for the better part of a week to no avail. Stewart further scorns the modest revenue estimates of the Council budget, including property sales that the Mayor termed “undocumented.” For years Stewart has inflated sales of development properties that have not materialized just to keep his “no new taxes” mantra going. Stewart lashes out when he knows his own “smoke and mirrors” budget tactics are unsustainable in FY 2011.
The crisis over the municipal budget and school appropriations won’t be resolved any time prior to the July 1 start of the fiscal year.
That’s why residents need to speak up for a fair budget for all and an atmosphere of civility at City Hall. It may be time to march on City Hall to make those outcomes come true.
For a Democratic Town Committee Fact Sheet on the municipal budget and the impact on schools make your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Geragosian 2010 Event Is July 4th
State Rep. John Geragosian (D-25) will kick off his re-election campaign with a bang at a Sunday, July 4th picnic from 5-7 p.m in Rep. Geragosian’s backyard, 39 Pendleton Road. Guests are welcome to stay after the event for New Britain’s annual fireworks display at Stanley Quarter Park a block away from Pendleton Road.
Geragosian, the senior member of the city’s legislative delegation and the Co-Chair of the Appropriations Committee, was elected to the House in 1994. “I intend to return to the State Capitol to fight for working families’ access to health care, quality education and good jobs. I’ll also continue the struggle for a tax system that is rational and fair,” said Geragasion, a former member of the Common Council (1989-93) and a Realtor since 1984. Ward 3 Alderwoman Shirley Black is serving as Geragosian’s Treasurer.
Marzi Joins District 8 DTC
At its June 17th meeting the Democratic Town Committee filled a vacancy in Voting District 8 with Richard Marzi. Marzi is leader of the North-Oak Neighborhood Revitalization Zone and a strong advocate for safety and code enforcement in city neighborhoods.
An official welcome and congratulations to Rich for joining the committee.
New Britain’s Stephanie Podewell Elected To Lead Connecticut Young Democrats
Stephanie Podewell, an aide to U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, was elected President of the Connecticut Young Democrats last week. The Young Dems have chapters throughout the state including a Greater Hartford Chapter.
Podewell,a graduate of Boston University, was elected to the Democratic Town Committee in District 10 last March. Congratulations Stephanie.
Condolences to Joe Willis And His Family
New Britain Democrats extend condolences to the family of Marilyn (Gomes) Willis who passed away June 20th in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ms. Willis, a New Britain native and longtime resident, is survived by her husband, Joe C. Willis, Sr., a former City Constable and Democratic Town Committee member.
Homegoing Celebration for Marilyn will be held Monday (June 28, 2010) at noon at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 45 Daly Avenue, New Britain, CT Committal service and final resting place will be in Fairview Cemetery, 120 Smalley Street, New Britain, CT. Relatives and friends may call at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, Monday from 11-12 p.m.
There is no victory to be had in Afghanistan, only grief. We’re bulldozing Detroit while at the same time trying to establish model metropolises in Kabul and Kandahar. We’re spending endless billions on this wretched war but can’t extend the unemployment benefits of Americans suffering from the wretched economy here at home.
Bob Herbert, New York Times Op-Ed column, June 26th. p. A-19