Friday, April 11, 2008

Explaining my police budget vote

In an effort to explain what happened during the April 3 vote on the police budget... I remind you that Jimmy Sima tried to add funding for an additional police officer:To which the response was this:and this:I'm not sure why there was vehement opposition to this amendment, but I do have to say that I've been through five town budgets as a member of the Council... and there has been a tradition of not offering amendments on the night of the budget vote. I'm fine with that tradition because as I understand it, there is a real potential for professional risk to staff... and it would be unfair of me to expect that of staff, if they voiced a concern.

However, since staff said only ten minutes was necessary to make the adjustment, I didn't understand the vehement opposition.

Anyway, the bottom line is that Jimmy clearly didn't have all the information to which other Council members must've been privy... either information about process (the tradition) or about substance (at what point did Jimmy, and others, learn of the additional police officers being reduced from 2 to 1?).

So here is Jimmy (at the April 8 meeting) starting to set the record straight on "what he knew and when he knew it."And for my own take on what happened with this... at the March 25 budget meeting, someone (Ecke??) mentioned the Council's desire to keep 2 new police officers in the budget. Then the TM said something to the effect of:

I hear the Council "loud n clear."
I'm not sure of the precise words, but I distinctly remember hearing the words "loud and clear."

So that begs the question... at what point were the two positions reduced to one?

I now understand that change was agreed to in the budget committee on Tuesday April 1. So in fairness to Matt Hall, he was going on the basis that Tom Ruocco knew of, and agreed to, this change. And that's fine. But I'm sure Tom also had a million things running through his mind during those budget meetings... and while this was a significant change... he didn't necessarily speak with the three other Republicans all the time.

And remember... we're talking about a 48 hour window here... from the evening of Tuesday April 1 (budget mtg) to the evening of Thursday April 3 (budget vote). So as I mentioned during a previous post, when there are substantive changes to the budget... staff should make the nine individual Council members aware of those changes.

Anyway... assuming that I'm correct about these dates (particularly April 1), then that begs another question... were either Jimmy or I there... and should we have known about this change? Well, I have no idea if Jimmy was there because (if I have all my dates straight) I wasn't there. Rather, I think I got there as the meeting was adjourning. So Jimmy may or may not have been there. I don't know.

However, I will also point out that I do recall Tom mentioning the police change to me at some point during that 48 hr period... and I recall thinking that there was no point in working to change it because everything was already "set in stone." Therefore, I chose to spend my remaining hours (the evening of April 2) working to identify spending reductions. And yes, I realize those spending reductions (such as eliminating the trips to Seattle and Virginia and Lake George) would not be adopted by the majority... but I also felt as though I needed to explain my perspective to the public. I needed to explain my vote.

That's my perspective on what happened with the reduction of police officers from 2 to 1. Essentially, it happened under the cover of darkness... and I believe I only became aware of it after the final budget meeting.

So were there any underhanded tactics by anyone here? No. I don't think so. But if this version of the story is correct (and it could have errors... I haven't researched this thoroughly... this is based on discussions with other Council members... D and R), then it reinforces my belief that the Council simply needs to direct staff to update Council members of substantive changes to proposed legislation in a more timely manner.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

What difference would it have made if the budget was voted on at the April 8th meeting? There was nothing of importance that went on at that meeting. 48 hours seems to me short for such an important decision. Why the short time frames? Did the majority just want to get it over?

Anonymous said...

We can't stop for ten minutes to figure out how to hire another police officer, but we can waste hours on trumped up charges againt the Town Clerk, or figure out how to award another "consulting contract" to some political connected hack to help draw up a "strategic plan"

Anonymous said...

"strategic plan"

Bull S...

This is payola. Payment for misreprenting all the facts about the mall and helping the developers ruin our town. It goes to show how much the Dems don't care and how much they are controlled by the special interests.

The Lock-Step TC majority should be ashamed to give our hard earned taxes away to basically works for the developers.

What is our $100,000 town planner doing? Instead of warming a seat, he should seeking out what the people of Cheshire want and be updating any strategic plan with a require 2/3 majority approval of the TC.

The TC majority is out of control.

Anonymous said...

He will have more work to do now that the Assistant TP is leaving. She is moving on to bigger things. Good luck to her. Maybe we will bump into her again since costs are more manageable up north.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, if the police department was more expedient and could deliver the packages (on duty - in marked cruisers), from the Town Hall to the town coucil people, there would have been more time for MR. Hall and Mr. Sima to discuss the cuts and the numbers. Instead, the police were probably doing police work, instead of mail delivery. They need to prioritize better.