Pompous, arrogant and self-serving. That is, of course, your opinion and your choice of words. It is also name-calling, and not deemed an effective way of debating. I wrote a column on a few of the more interesting constituent problems I've been involved with -- and nothing more -- and you can't control your animosity. My guess is that you have a beef with me over something else, and it really doesn't matter what I do or write. You will take the time to fling all types of names at me. View Comment
Dawn, of course it's part of my job. The point of the column is that this type of Council work is rarely covered by the local media -- and in many ways it's more interesting than the formal items we deal with at full Council meetings. View Comment
Our representative in Hartford are "grateful?" What an interesting choice of words. What it reflects is anybody's guess. The bottom line is, though we're receiving much needed funds to fund our schools the coming fiscal year, the ECS formula seems to have been "tweaked" by the Education Committee that again short-changes Norwalk big time. We're back to where we were before Malloy established his ECS task force. The Education Committee took from us a whole lot, and the Appropriations Committee gave back a few crumbs. What a shame. And our folks are "grateful." View Comment
I agree with Norwalk Native. The absence of civility, the snide comments, the personal attacks... and all done hidden behind various disguises, should end immediately. The point? As Ms. Maggio makes crystal clear: In light of what happened last year, this year's budget discussion has been remarkable. Now, I'm sure someone will respond to this comment by calling me a name, questioning my integrity... You get the point. View Comment
I may be responsible for the confusion on department heads attending or not attending.. Thinking about the issue later, I seem to recall the period between 2001-05, when the Council and the BET often held joint public hearings on the operating budget. I am fairly certain that department heads attended those meetings and often answered questions. In fact, we used to have two sign up sheets, one for BOE issues, one for "city" issues. I did not realize that my inaccurate statement would become a pretext for not voting on the cap motion last night. Going forward, though, I believe it would be a good idea for all department heads to attend these hearings so that they, too, have another chance to note the difficulties they face when their requests are cut. It would broaden the perspective of both Council members and the public. View Comment
Lisa, that's not exactly accurate, although a case might be made if the city had more advanced and more expensive software in its accounting system, the error might have been flagged earlier. (The Council has recently voted to fund the necessary upgrade, and both the BOE and the city will be using it in the future.) The auditors found that the BOE's insurance projections, done by a consultant, were sufficient to cover claims the last three years. However, the BOE, for rather fuzzy reasons, never budgeted the full amount (believing, erroneously, that the city would cover part of the OPEB contributions to the fund. Because of this, the BOE insurance reserve, which at the time was too high -- pushing $6 million -- began to be drawn down each year. The city knew this, but had earlier been pushing the BOE to begin drawing it down. When the reserve was deleted, the deficit emerged, and Longo realized what was happening. One might argue that the city should have noticed the depletion of the reserve, but that's really the responsibility of the BOE. View Comment
The plan pushed by opponents of the Washington Village project is to locate the new housing three blocks away, on the Webster Parking Lot, of all places. Then the park can be expanded into what had been Washington Village. Regarding the flood plain issue: The city will eventually have to foot the bill for all flood mitigation on Water Street anyway; rebuilding Washington Village might make that easier because the new construction will be done in a way designed to prevent flooding. View Comment
I generally do not respond to personal attacks, but in this case I believe it is necessary to make an exception. I believe everyone has a right to express their opinions and members of the local Democratic organization can say what they will about me. That's their right, and I respect that. However, for the record I would like to note that I did not "quit" on our "kids," as the letter states, when I stepped down from the BOE. As the author of the letter knows, and as the signers know, I was forced to step down from the BOE in Feb. 2009 because of an extremely serious illness in my family that required me to be home at night for an extended period. Fortunately, by the summer of 2011, family circumstances had improved enough for me to run for the Common Council. Including that phrase in the letter, and then having it remain there after all of the signers read and signed on to it, reflects poorly on the district D Democratic organization. View Comment
What's past is, hopefully, truly in the past and we can look forward to a new beginning with a new set of relationships, among Board members and also between the Board and other city agencies. Good luck to Mike. I look forward to working with him and others during the upcoming budget cycle. View Comment
The so-called "Mayflower" problem is currently a big issue in American education. Unlike other developed countries, where students become well versed in "core content," students here -- because "skills" generally trump "content" -- end up with minimal to virtually no knowledge of the world in which they live. Ironically, much of the serious research in literacy indicates that truly focusing on content inevitably leads to acquisition of skills.
The smell has already been addressed; discussions took place yesterday. City Carting will immediately implement a number of procedures -- for instance, doubling the amount of misting, keeping all refuse trucks inside -- that should mitigate the smell. View Comment
I, too, find termination clauses confounding, but they are the price vendors must pay when dealing with municipalities. For instance, what if, after an election, a new legislative body decides to not fund a contract. Perfectly legal, and a big problem for vendors. I believe they have insurance that protects them from these types of circumstances. It is also why smaller vendors have trouble bidding on larger municipal contracts. These clauses also are an incentive, to put it mildly, to abide by the provisions of the contract and to come through with the savings. View Comment
Nobody threw me out of the Democratic caucus. Last November, I decided that after fifteen years of witnessing fighting, name calling, and absurd political theater by the local Democratic organization, I would sever all ties to that organization, including its Council caucus. View Comment
While I oppose building additional big box stores to Norwalk -- for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the inability in our state to tax inventories -- I applaud the compromise. It does seem reasonable. View Comment
I did not go down to Meadow Street; Mr. McCarthy did. The Meadow Street facility is not part of our solid waste disposal operation; all of it goes through the main Transfer Station. Actually, many of the issues you raised, such as market rates for glass, etc., were discussed during our negotiations. Thank you for taking the time to follow this issue. View Comment
We decided to bring the contracts to the Council tomorrow evening because some members accused DPW and the city of planning to sneak them through at our August 14 meeting, which was the original date. They said members of the Council, as well as the public, would be on vacation in August. Thus, we decided to see if we could wrap things up in time for the second meeting in July. And now we're being accused of ramming them through without discussion.
There have been countless hours of discussion, which have included what's happening in other towns. And Council members received all the pertinent information a week ago -- which had been vetted by both our law and finance departments. Most Council members attended last week's special DPW committee meeting, where there was a lengthy discussion of this issue. I find it interesting that one of the Council members quoted in the above article, who believes we are moving too quickly and has questions about the contract length, chose to attend a BOE meeting while the Council members were discussing the three DPW contracts -- including the reasons why a 10 year contract is a much better deal for the city.
The savings were built into the budget last winter because the city won the right, via binding arbitration, to outsource. The city won that right simply because the local union did not bother to present a counter offer, which meant, under state law, they had to lose. If, in the end, we do not outsource, it will not be difficult to adjust the budget.
I do not like outsourcing. And we strongly encouraged the union to present a proposal so that they could be part of the bidding process. Most Council members would have done all that we could to make sure they were the winning bidder. But, unfortunately, they decided they had philosophical differences on this issue, and did not present a proposal. All this happened while the city was desperately trying to figure out how to not lay off 20 teachers.
As a Council member from District D, I cannot walk away from these proposals; I am certain they will save taxpayers money in the years to come. View Comment
Lots of interesting comments on this issue. A few facts, however, might add to the discussion. First of all, the numbers were all vetted by the city's finance department -- a department that seems to have been trusted by all members of the Common Council on just about every other issue. Secondly, if the books had been cooked, the representatives from the losing bidder, Finocchio, would have questioned them during the presentations and the negotiations.Thirdly, we virtually begged the union to offer a proposal, and many council members, me included, would have done all we could to make sure they were the winning bidder. Fourthly, solid waste disposal was costing the city roughly $1.8 million a year, according to the city's finance department, and we will be able to cut those costs in half, thus saving taxpayers lots of money over the next 10 years -- and without anyone losing their job. Also, the contract with City Carting locks in costs, and thus ensures certain revenue levels, for the next 10 years.That contract also has a number of openers that protect the city should the economic environment change drastically.
I do not like outsourcing, but the city was not able to negotiate any changes in the existing contract, a contract that was too expensive. We went through mediation with no success; thus, we were forced into binding arbitration, where the union had to lose because it did not bother to counter the city's proposal, nor did it present an alternative proposal. As far as I know, the union did not present a single idea on cutting costs in sanitation. While the local was announcing that it had philosophical differences on outsourcing, and thus would not even present an RFP, the city was desperately trying not to lay off more than 20 teachers. Over the course of this contract, the city -- according to our finance department -- stands to save more than $10 million just on solid waste disposal. I cannot walk away from those kinds of savings, regardless of how I feel about outsourcing. View Comment