The plan to have the city of West Haven run by a City Manager "czar" failed in the 2020 election. Over 14,000 people vote on the question, but only 48% were in favor. The West Haven Voice FB pages, quoting the City Clerk Patricia Horvath says " 7, 621 opposed the changes, while 7,182 were in favor. "
So what will the politicians do? They wanted a City Manager because they admitted they didn't know what do to about West Haven's problems, it deep shortage of income and the fenced off eternal project called "The Havens". Time for some new people to take over with boldly new visions for the city, don't you think?
On Nov. 4 the Call's Stanley Heller spoke to Brandon Patterson who has been active in the Concerned Citizens.
Q. You’re a leader of the Concerned Citizens/ That group was active in opposing the referendum. For what reasons?
A. We opposed it because we think community is everything. We thought it would relinquish the direct democracy rights of the citizens of the city. We know there’s a perilous economic situation and political problems, but that doesn’t mean we have to surrender the rights of citizens to choose their leadership and to make change. The details of the proposed charter change were very much relinquishing power to just a couple individuals and that doesn’t work well if you’re concerned with democracy.
Q. What was done to oppose the referendum by your group and others?
A. We mainly focused in an online campaign. We didn’t really spend money. We just post out posts with the Concerned Citizens label. We tried to educate voters on the details of the revision and it was very complex as written. Not too many people knew about it. We felt they should.
Q. There was a full page ad in the West Haven Voice.
A. We didn’t pay or plan that ad. Someone put the Concerned Citizens label on it. We agree with the sentiment of the ad. We would have written it differently.
Q. Tell me a bit about yourself.
A. I last worked as Community Center Director at LEAP. Currently I’m unemployed and looking for work during Covid. I’m also using the time to help the community.
Few know about it, but the politicians have put a referendum on the ballot for November that would replace the normal mayor-city council government in West Haven with a powerful “city manager”. There’s a special site with a Power Point with details, but not the actual wording. The official site is here. It’s on the city of West Haven site, but it takes a lot of searching to find it. You’d think something so big would be right on the home page. (Click here to see location of referendum on the ballot.)
The idea of getting rid of all the “politics” and corruption by appointing an expert to run the city was a hot new idea…in 1908. The idea was a city should be run with “scientific management”. The early 1900’s was the era of the “efficiency expert” the man who “scientifically” squeezed out every drop of work possible from an employee. City managers fit right into the mold. Why listen to the citizens when things could be run “scientifically”? BTW Hartford tried the City Manager system for 50 years and then dumped it in 2002.
The average pay for a city manager in CT is $150,000 a year. The contract with the manager would be for a four-year contract. He or she can be fired at any time by a 2/3 vote of the City Council, BUT our city would still be required to pay out the full salary of his/her contract at that $150,000 for each remaining year. Currently the Mayor is paid around $90,000 a year. That would be reduced to $30,000.
The real question is democracy, the power of the people to run their affairs. Right now it’s incredibly hard to get city officials to say anything about police practices. Imagine how hard it would be to influence a City Manager if he or she has a four-year term. (It's deliberately set to NOT run at the same time as the City Council elections BTW). And remember the residents of West Haven don’t ever vote on picking this powerful czar. It’s all done by the City Council.
Back in 2019 the head of the Charter Commission, Ed Granfield, said this was the reason to move to a city manager system. “The underlying goal of the proposed changes is to ‘raise the bar’ in West Haven, as the ‘city has been stuck in the political and economic mud for decades, while we all sit around and complain as we wait and hope for a Political Savior to arrive and fix all that is broken’”
So, the current politicians aren’t up to the task of running West Haven. City finances are in bad shape and the Havens seems a dream unsuited for the new Covid-19 age. OK, then open the door for new political leaders, those who aren’t so tied to real estate interests, those who realize that the town has large Black, Latinx and Turkish minorities, those who are willing to stop police abuses and even “defund the police”.
Let’s get all this debated. This city charter change is a big, big deal. These digital pages are open to your opinions. Write to us at WestHavenCall@gmail.com Be sure to include your full name and phone number so we can confirm you actually wrote the letter. We will NOT publish your phone number.
See our meme about this on our Meme Page.
Next Thursday, Oct 22 three candidates for the 3rd Congressional District will debate at a forum organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven. It will be shown live on WTNH at 7 p.m.
Candidates for the House in the 3rd Congressional District are:
We sent them this 9 question survey. We'll publish the answers as we get them.
1. Is the Federal response to the Covid-19 pandemic adequate? What suggestions do you have for improvements?
2. Millions are losing their employer medical insurance because of layoffs and tens of millions did not have insurance in the first place. How do you think this should be remedied? What do you think of the idea of improving Medicare and having it cover all U.S. residents?
3. Do you support calls to end police abuses of minorities and white supremacy in general?
4. What is your understanding of justice issues raised in the killing of Mubarak Soulemane by a state trooper in West Haven on January 15, 2020? Have you called for the firing of the State Trooper who killed him?
5. We have less than ten years to cut carbon emissions in half. What measures do you recommend?
6. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by a vote of 122 States. It bars possession of nuclear weapons. Should the U.S. join this treaty? Should the U.S. possess nuclear weapons?
7. Do you support cutting off aid or weapons to Israel as a way of making it respect the rights of Palestinians?
8. Should the United States supply Syrians isolated in Idlib with food and other necessities? What can be done to get the Assad regime to release thousands of political prisoners?
9. What are your qualifications for office.