Thank you for the privilege of serving you on the Town Council.
During the last two years, I've successfully pushed the Council to:
* restrict the use of the nearly two dozen town take-home vehicles ;
* modernize the town's pension system to avoid future liabilities ;
* consider performance contracting to save taxpayers' money, conserve energy and make needed infrastructure improvements to our aging schools ; and
* add video of Council meetings to the town website .
However, I've also been frustrated by the lack of progress on other issues.
If re-elected, I will continue to push the Council to:
* deal with the Town's failed management, including in public works;
* address low employee morale, especially the police department crisis;
* end the relentless, wasteful hiring of unnecessary consultants ;
* solve and move past the pool bubble ;
* set priorities in spending; and
* eliminate favors for moneyed interests.
I ask for your vote on Tuesday, November 3, so I can continue to work for accountability, transparency, good services, responsible spending, and real solutions to the problems facing our town.
 see me investigating the practice and getting results
 see a history here, progress here, and action here
 see a history here and progress here
 here is the initial idea, my continued advocacy and a bi-partisan success!
 i.e. the $50,000 road consultant, the $20,000 pool consultant and the $150,000 building assessment consultant
 my sincere efforts cannot find five votes because of realpolitik
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Thank you for the privilege of serving you on the Town Council.
The WRAs Lauresha Xhihani reports on recent developments in the Norton boiler bidding fiasco:
October 30, 2009 - A heating contractor who lost out on a third round of bids on a boiler replacement project for Norton Elementary School has sued the town.
Connecticut Combustion Corp. of Middlebury filed a lawsuit last month alleging that the town breached a contract with the company in August 2007 and violated the Unfair Trade Practices Act by improperly controlling the outcome of the bidding process.
The Norton project was bid three times over the course of a year after the bidding process was repeatedly fumbled.
The missteps increased the cost of the project considerably.
Personally, I think this whole issue relates directly to the Town's failed management. Keep in mind that this fiasco - for which there have been no consequences, except to the taxpayers - cost an extra $68,000 + attorney fees.
Then there's the extra $100,000 for the Lilac Drive pump station.
And in August 2008, we spent $50,000 on a road consultant to prioritize our roads and tell us which roads to repave. But by August 2009, we learned that we're not allowed to know which roads will be repaved next year, if the $1,000,000 for road repaving passes at referendum this week.
Hopefully there will be some changes in the Council composition on Tuesday.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
The NHRs Luther Turmelle gives this recap of Election 2009, including:
“I think the bigger issue here is management in general,” White said, adding his biggest concern is the recent no confidence vote by the town’s police union against Chief Michael Cruess. “The town manager has had a year to address this and attempts at mediation have failed. The council needs to act immediately and my recommendation is to hire an independent investigator and get the facts and comments of all the principals involved.”
For the record, I think the issue that needs to be fixed is management. But since I'm only one of nine - and action requires five Council members - my second choice is an impartial, independent investigator.
And also... considering that the bond rating upgrade is being hailed with great fanfare, I hope you take a look at this June 2009 post. One of the truly honest and memorable quotes from 2009:
“Ratings agencies just abjectly failed in serving the interests of investors,” SEC Commissioner Kathleen Casey says. (Bloomberg News, by David Evans and Caroline Salas)
The ratings agencies should be immediately redacted from all US law. They are at the heart of America's economic meltdown... right up there with my "buddies" at
The Squid Goldman Sachs and the Federal Reserve.
Anyone sense there was a message being sent in this advertisement that was in last week's Herald?
Any comments on the last edition of the Herald before Election Day 2009? I'm assuming there will be endorsements tomorrow. I'll probably post my complete letter tomorrow night.
And a message from me to the many Town employees... I hope you vote next Tuesday. And I hope you encourage your friends and family to vote, as well.
6 days and counting...
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
As some of you may know by now, I am seeking election to the Board of Education. My wife & I chose to live in Cheshire 10 years ago because of the wonderful community and our great school system. Cur children are students of the Cheshire public schools and we care very much for our school system. Our daughters' desire, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn have been a major inspiration to us. That's why I decided to run for the Board of Education...
These are just some of the issues you've raised to me during my campaign but I chose to focus on our finances in this letter. Smaller class sizes, hiring the best qualified teachers we can find, implementing a more rigorous curriculum, long-term infrastructure planning, technology in the classrooms, balancing our needs vs. our wants...our budget helps make these goals happen. As with our core education foundation: Reading, Writing, Math & Science...our budget foundation must also be solid. It starts with the right leadership asking the tough questions and making the right choices. On November 3rd, please vote for a solid, long-term quality education system that responsibly exceeds the needs our community. Vote for Tony Perugini. Thank you.
Read the rest here.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
That's what I'm hoping could be financed using performance contracting.
Did you see the meeting tonight? I thought it was extremely worthwhile.
Chris Halpin of Celtic Energy explained the concept of performance contracting. And I thanked Councilman Altieri for having helped the Council continue moving forward on this promise that was made in August 2007:
Sometimes it just takes a while to build the strong bipartisan support necessary for action. Thankfully though my perseverance paid off tonight. The Council now has PC back on the right track and moving forward.
As I mentioned tonight, if the Town engages in a PC I would have three main goals:
1) save money
2) conserve energy
3) improve infrastructure, particularly our aged schools
Monday, October 26, 2009
I got my first confirmation of adults - not kids - stealing my signs. I had noticed several that had been vandalized. Frankly though, I was chalking it up to kids who should've known better, but did it anyway. Regardless, I understand that the police were notified.
I recall two years ago when a supporter of mine did something similar. Upon learning of it, I immediately spoke with the Cheshire DTC Chairman. I apologized and attempted to rectify the situation by personally replacing the "lit drop" that had been taken.
I've already spoken with my opponent and I'm confident that he has nothing to do with this. But I do hope the party immediately acts to rectify the situation.
I understand that the "runner" was in her 30s to 40s with blonde hair. The "getaway driver" was about the same age, a brunette and she was driving a dark gray Suburban size suv.
This is an embarrassment. Frankly, I'm shocked that two adult women would behave this way.
From the Courant on Southington:
Southington Teachers To Forgo Pay Raise
From the NHRegister on North Haven:
Teachers’ pact bows to economy
But apparently Cheshire is different at least according to one Council member:
Or you can watch the entire November 12, 2008 discussion on the teachers' contract here and here.
And if you want to step back in time to get a sense of "where we were" when the Council adopted the current contract, click here. I still don't understand why it was adopted without further negotiations. Remember - it was adopted after the bailout.
Time for a change....
Sunday, October 25, 2009
As most of you know, there's an election in nine days.
If you're interested in taking part, I (and others) could use the help.
If you have any time available this week - and / or time available through 8pm on Tuesday, November 3 - please drop me a line.
Any time you can spare, particularly on Election Day, is helpful. And on Election Day, I can use help anytime between 6am and 8pm.
I appreciate your support!
The Personnel Committee will be meeting on November 9. The PD 'no confidence' vote will be on the agenda.
The vote happened on October 2 - after nearly a year of management intervention.
As I said at the beginning of October, we need an immediate and impartial investigation. Waiting more than a month to simply sit down with some people to begin addressing this is unacceptable.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Here's the agenda for Tuesday's Council meeting:
TOWN COUNCIL SPECIAL MEETING
7:30 P.M., TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2009
COUNCIL CHAMBERS, TOWN HALL, 84 SOUTH MAIN ST., CHESHIRE, CT
1. Roll Call.
2. Pledge of Allegiance.
3. Presentation on performance-based contracting.
Frankly, I'm thrilled that this is finally* on the agenda. I thank Councilman Altieri for his bipartisan support of my goal. Performance Contracting needs to be discussed as it may very well lead to some excellent public policy**. And it is good policy - not special interests - that leads to strong bipartisan support in every level of government.
* You can see a brief history here.
** PC has several potential benefits, including improving the infrastructure of our aging schools and town buildings, as well as fast tracking energy-efficiency improvements that will help to reduce America's consumption of fossil fuels.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Having apologized, I remain focused on addressing the issues facing Cheshire:
1) improving low employee morale, particularly in the area of public safety
2) solving and moving past the pool bubble
3) eliminating unnecessary spending, such as on consultants
4) minimizing taxes, while maintaining services
5) filling potholes, fixing sidewalks and working on behalf of the residents of the fourth district
Thursday, October 22, 2009
If you were watching the Council candidates' forum tonight, you may have noticed that my closing comments were partly extemporaneous... though I did come prepared with some quotes from this AP article. Regardless, I just videotaped and uploaded my prepared comments to YouTube... I love the tubes! Here is what I intended to be my closing statement:
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
FWIW, I've already sincerely apologized to Laura for inappropriate anonymous comments on my blog. I’ve also deleted the comments. I took both actions as soon as the inappropriate comments were brought to my attention.
But not-so-surprisingly, it appears to be the TalkingPointsMemo being used in this campaign.
Personally, I wish that at tonight’s forum candidates had focused on the issues – not distractions – and spoken more about how they intend to improve the town. For instance, how do candidates intend to address the Town’s low employee morale? This is particularly concerning when it comes to public safety.
Regardless, here are some quotes from the AP article (by Randall Chase) regarding the Delaware decision favoring the free speech rights of an anonymous blogger over the rights of a public official:
(Supreme Court Chief Justice Myron) Steele described the Internet as a "unique democratizing medium unlike anything that has come before," and said anonymous speech in blogs and chat rooms in some instances can become the modern equivalent of political pamphleteering...
Steele noted in his opinion that plaintiffs in such cases can use the Internet to respond to character attacks and "generally set the record straight," and that, as in Cahill's case, blogs and chatrooms tend to be vehicles for people to express opinions, not facts.
"Given the context, no reasonable person could have interpreted these statements as being anything other than opinion. ... The statements are, therefore, incapable of a defamatory meaning," he wrote.
I’m not sure where CT stands on this. Frankly though, I’m baffled as to why Dems are suggesting that Chief Justice Myron Steele is wrong. Nonetheless, I remain focused on the issues facing Cheshire’s fourth district, as well as the whole town.
UPDATE: And despite the obvious implication of the letter in today's Herald, I did not post the inappropriate comments about Laura.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Despite assurances made during the October 13 Council meeting, there will be no Personnel Committee meeting this week to discuss the public safety situation. The earliest a meeting may happen is Monday October 26. Obviously the Council doesn't share my concern about the urgency of the situation.
The BOE forum was tonight. Did anyone attend? Any comments?
And one more comment... since Labor Day, two members of the Dem team running for Council have said privately that they are not certain to remain Dems after the election. I find that interesting. I haven't heard any such comments from the R side.
Monday, October 19, 2009
A Newsletter Featuring Local News, Information and Opinions
Good policy is based on public input. Personal interaction through e-mail and door to door contact has provided me with good feedback about the issues facing residents. During this campaign I have canvassed virtually every street in the district. Here is some of what people are saying.
Household budgets are pretty tight, and the recession is still a major concern for many people. I ran into a resident who works at Pratt & Whitney. We had a brief conversation that was, frankly, a little depressing. He’ll probably be transferred to East Hartford but the disruption will affect him and his employer forever. Clearly, we still feel the effects of national recession locally. The pool comes up a lot, and residents want this thing fixed. There seems to be some interest in a major overhaul and long term plan to extend the life of the building. The possibility of a seasonal pool is another suggestion I hear. People also tell me it should be bulldozed. One thing is for certain, the pool can’t operate as is. Planning issues seem to come up from time to time. Some people wonder why some of our infrastructure is lacking. For example, why are some ball fields of such poor quality, while some are still under construction? Why do we start new projects when we can’t seem to complete what is underway, or maintain what we have? This is a question that I do hear from time to time. It’s really a question of priorities and focusing on doing basic things well. Maybe it’s time to do some catch up work; instead of adding more to the list of things to do. We have a lot to manage and our town is very active but our resources are limited. That’s why we need to focus on the quality of what we do, and not be too concerned about the quantity of what we do.
One thing that always comes through, however, is that residents love Cheshire. Someone said to me recently that Cheshire is a “big little town”, and that’s true. I think the small town “feel” is a key reason we love living here.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
From the League of Women Voters:
FORMAT OF CHESHIRE-WALLINGFORD LWV CANDIDATES FORUM
October 21, 2009
The Cheshire-Wallingford League of Women Voters, Cheshire branch, will hold their Candidates Forum on October 21, 2009 in the Council Chambers of the Cheshire Town Hall.
Candidates for Town Council for Districts 1 through 4,and At Large have been invited.
Reporters from the Cheshire Herald, Meriden Record Journal, Waterbury Republican and New Haven Register have been invited to present questions to the candidates. Questions will also be solicited from the audience.
Format of the evening:
7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. At Large Candidates
8:15 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. District Council Candidates
Each candidate will have 2 minutes cumulative to answer and rebut each question.
At Large: Questions will be asked to the candidates in order of ballot position and each candidate will be able to answer the question.
District Council: Questions will be asked to the candidates in District order.
Each candidate will have 1 minute closing statement. The order will be the reverse of the questioning.
My initial reaction to this bifurcation of candidate question sessions was enthusiastic - and still is. There is one potential downside though:
If a district candidate mentions an at-large candidate, the at-large candidate would have no means of responding. To address that potential inequity, I've already reached out to the LWV and simply raised this concern. My guess is that to some extent, the district candidates will need to self-police.
As for the BOE forum, I'm not sure about the details. However, I understand that it is scheduled for Tuesday, October 20.
Or maybe he's just taking a break, like CTBob* did one summer!
Either way... after the November 3 elections, Connecticut will be losing its premier star in vigilante journalism... a phrase I first heard used by GC.
Though the blogosphere has been abuzz with regrets of losing one of CTs best... the MSM is also mourning the loss of Genghis. The Courant offers:
Mr. Bigelow reflects both the opportunities and challenges of Web-based community journalism. He proved that one bright and talented individual with no major funding can develop what a post on the media blog The Laurel called the "most influential political blog in the state." ...
On the other hand, Chris Bigelow is one person with a day job — he is a college librarian....
All Web journalism operations, not just sole practitioners, face the challenge of sustaining quality reporting and commentary on little income. We are all trying to find a business model that works. Mr. Bigelow's blog showed that it is worth the effort.
GC was the first blogger I contacted when I started TWL in January 2006. In many ways, he inspired me. I thank him for all his efforts.
* If you don't know CTBob, he's the vlogger who enabled former Speaker of the House Jim Amann to have himself labeled "Crusher!" via this youtube classic.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Tonight was the night for the CPU fundraiser. I had a ton of fun. Yeah, it was pretty corny... but it was still pretty darn funny. Nicest thing I saw though was that despite the recent "no confidence" vote by the union, the CPD management* participated in the event as well. So while there are some extremely serious issues, the officers of the CPD continue to do their job with a strong camaraderie. The FD and others also got into the act.
The game included a halftime show that really was a show... while a few adults got gamed by the Superstars... a few peapots "won" the halftime activities with performances like this. It was really funny.
Here are a few pics from the game:
And here's a short video clip of the Harlem Superstars:
* I don't know all the officers, but I did recognize Captain Vignola and Deputy Chief Popevich (sp??).
Friday, October 16, 2009
Dylan Ratigan of MSNBC has a column on HuffPo that gives a fairly simple and high level explanation on how Goldman Sachs made $3 billion in profits last quarter:
we the taxpayer gave Goldman Sachs the following:
10 Billion in TARP
11 Billion from the Fed
30 Billion from the FDIC
13 Billion from AIG
Goldman at the apex of the crisis is delivered this money -- which they then use to borrow against at $20 or $30 for every $1. Which at 30x equals $2.1 trillion in available capital.
As one of the only banks in the world with money at the time, Goldman Sachs was able to buy billions in distressed assets around the world at record low prices -- only to watch $23.7 trillion in US taxpayer money be deployed during the past year to re-inflate the asset's values that Goldman had purchased with our tax money.
I thank the failed economic team of
Obama... I mean Bush! Geithner, Bernanke and Paulson... such great guys handing over the American economy to their friends at Goldman!
And since I'm discussing the hope and change of the current administration's economic policies... HuffPo also reported today that the SEC filled one of its key enforcement roles.
And where did he come from?
Come on... guess!
I know this is a tough one...
Adam Storch comes to the SECs enforcement division from none other than...
Thursday, October 15, 2009
It's gonna be some long days knocking on doors this weekend.
As the MRJs Jesse Buchanan mentions, the Cheshire Police Union is having a fundraiser:I encourage you to support this worthy cause that helps youth sports teams among other worthy causes.
Councilman Altieri's latest Herald ad caught my attention. As I've been saying on this blog, and during televised Council meetings, I truly appreciate that Matt is now seriously considering the use of performance contracting as a financing mechanism that may help the town save money, conserve energy and make much needed infrastructure improvements to town buildings... particularly our aged schools.
On the flip side though, I have no idea why anyone would campaign on having spent $50,000 on a road consultant and his PMS that can't even tell us which roads will be improved next year if the $1,000,000 gets passed at referendum. But hey, that's me.Tim White
You can find a link to today's WRA Cheshire article by Lauresha Xhihani here. The article is basically about this blog and inappropriate anonymous comments of a personal nature.
Anonymous comments have pitfalls, but they also have great value. For more on my view on the value and origins of anonymous commenting, see here, here, here and here.
But there's still no reason to make personal comments. I strongly discourage such comments. And as I've done in the past, I will delete personal comments when I see them or when they are brought to my attention.
Also I note that I distinguish between comments criticizing policy and comments of a personal nature. For instance, I've had anonymous comments accusing me of everything from being an idiot to being corrupt to living in another town. In some regard though, they all related to my role as a Councilman. So I haven't deleted those comments because I figured they were all fair game.
UPDATE: link fixed
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Following the Town Manager's report during last night's Council meeting, I posed a couple questions to the TM:
It seems to me that town management that is apolitical in nature would not be discussing the timing of union business (in relation to an election) with union leaders.
In just the past few days, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) got shouted down by a bunch of unruly Ron Paul supporters. Senator Graham then commented that the Republican Party would not be hijacked by Ron Paul. In response, Ron Paul gave this interview on MSNBC:
I agree with Ron Paul that criticizing the policies of elected officials is appropriate. However, being critical in a personal way is inappropriate.
The NHRs Luther Turmelle offered this piece on last night's turf vote. And despite the comments made by the Council majority, such as the suggestion that the GOP was calling the BOE a bunch of liars, I think Luther's piece captured my sentiments on Tim Slocum's motion:
Republican Tim White called the effort to see if the money could be redirected “a question of priorities.”
“There are a lot of improvements that need to be made at the high school,” White said. “To me, the health concerns associated with the locker rooms make it more of a priority.”
The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports:
The police union president is taking issue with Town Manager Michael Milone’s characterization of efforts made to get union leaders and Chief Michael Cruess in the same room to resolve a dispute.
Police union President Kerry Deegan disputed a claim made by Milone last week that union leaders were reluctant to meet with Cruess to resolve the dispute, which came to head Oct. 2 with a nearly unanimous no-confidence vote against the chief.
“What he (Milone) said is misleading,” Deegan said. “He said to us in May that ‘an intervention needs to happen.’ But the only meeting we ever had was one in which the chief set the agenda and ran the meeting, and he (Milone) came late. It was pretty disappointing.”
Milone declined to respond to Deegan’s comments.
The TM should not be involved in this. The Council needs to take charge.
Hopefully by next Wednesday, October 21... the League of Women Voters' Council Forum will force people to go on the record with their views. This situation has existed for a long time and the Police Union has followed the chain of command appropriately. The least the Council members / candidates can do is let people know what they intend to do about it.
It's late. I'm gonna hit the sack in a second. Please consider this an open forum (registration no longer required) on the Council meeting. I'd say the highlight was the turf vote. Was anyone watching? One good thing tonight... Tim Slocum's motion to redirect the turf grant to the locker rooms was not described as "preposterous."
I may comment on the meeting tomorrow, but not tonight.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The following are the minutes from the 10/7 Personnel Committee meeting - agenda item 3 - vote of "no confidence."
3. POSSIBLE EXECUTIVE SESSION TO DISCUSS POLICE UNION
ACTION OF OCTOBER 2, 2009.
Attorney Dugas said that two questions were presented to him regarding this issue. One is the legal significance of the vote and if this has happened elsewhere. Mr. Dugas advised that the legal significance of a no confidence vote is none; it has no meaning whatsoever in the law; it has some political implications. In his experience he sees this with police unions using it as a tool and there are many examples which he cited, including New Haven, Stratford, East Hartford, Southington, Trumbull Police Department unions. However, the Town should still look behind a no confidence vote and see what the concerns are.
Mr. Altieri asked about action taken through outside sources in the State.
In response, Attorney Dugas said in most cases, things are solved from within. He has checked with the International Association of Police Chiefs in Washington D.C. for a sense of this, and they have a list of entities. In most situations everything is dealt with internally.
Mr. Ruocco asked if Town Manager Milone had made a statement in regard to the action taken by the police union.
Town Manager Milone read his statement into the record.
Mr. Ruocco asked if the Town Council body or as individuals should meet with union members directly, in executive session, to hear both sides. He noted the Councilors received correspondence from the union last week, and they want an immediate investigation.
Regarding executive session, Attorney Dugas advised the only thing the Council can go into executive session to discuss around this issue would be performance of an employee. In this case the person would be the Chief, and he has certain rights in that regard. Mr. Dugas would not encourage this meeting, and said the Town Manager is the Chief’s immediate supervisor and the person to deal with this. There is no technical legal standing, and he encouraged the Council not to go in this direction, and let Mr. Milone deal with him and address the issues. Mr. Dugas is always for the immediate supervisor to deal with an employee regarding an issue. As soon as you circumvent that chain of command and go to the Council, it will become politicized. Second, what is being done is empowering people to circumvent the chain of command using these avenues. The first time this is done there will be all sorts of investigations, hearings, etc. and people will keep coming to the Council and circumvent the chain of command.
On October 2nd, Mr. Ruocco stated the Council was given a letter from the president of the police union and he questioned whether this letter is public.
Attorney Dugas said once it is in the hands of the Council it is public.
Another letter was referred to in the October 2nd letter, and Mr. Ruocco said he has not seen that letter, and asked if this would also be a public document.
Mr. Dugas would have to see this document. When you are dealing with documents related to performance, Mr. Dugas said you are dealing with an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act. For the most part it is public, but some things may cross the line where there is no expectation of privacy as a result. The letter is probably a public document, but he needs to look at it. There is a process of notifying the employee and determination of anything in the letter that is personal or confidential.
When he met with the Council in July in executive session, Mr. Milone said the discussion on the summary of issues was from that document. It was not handed over because the communication between the union and him was to keep it confidential. Once it is in his possession he has not control over it…the law determines how it is handled.
Mr. Ruocco asked about proposals to resolve this matter and if it can be in open session.
In reply, Mr. Dugas said “yes” but normally personnel performance issues are dealt with on a confidential level, and it would be unusual for them to be in open session.
Mr. Hall asked if the Chief’s contract is public record.
Mr. Milone said it is public record.
In the letter, Mr. Dugas some things are open, some are redact able. Under State Statute 7-278, and Mr. Dugas said there is an argument to waive the statute under the contract, that at the end of the contract the person waives rights under this statute.
Mr. Milone advised that the only contracted employee in the Town is the Town Manager.
Under Section 7-278, Mr. Dugas said the police chief can only be terminated by the appointing authority after a full hearing. The statute governs termination, and anything short of termination is not governed by the statute.
Mr. Slocum asked about a third party inquiry into the allegations or objections raised by the union. And, is it typical for a consultant to come in, and how to go forward with an impartial inquiry, with the Council seeking findings. He noted that Attorney Dugas said this action has no legal significance, but has political significance, and he sees a host of issues which could be legal.
The 1991 situation in Madison CT was cited by Attorney Dugas when the police chief was terminated, and this took 4 years, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and tore the department apart for years.
Mr. Slocum stated that, to him, it is not the goal of the Town Council to jump to the conclusion to fire the chief or police officers…but there should be a meeting of the minds. In a fact finding endeavor he asked if there is mediated determinations for efficiencies in the department, recommendations to the Council or Town Manager for the department to work more efficiently.
There are two things, and Mr. Dugas said the Council is talking about the performance of an employee, the police chief, and about an organization coming in. This is done on the operational side of things, and performance is different from operational things, and this is sometimes done by departments. In terms of performance, it is different. The supervisor has the authority to take disciplinary action, verbal warning, suspend, up to termination. In talking about termination, there is a statute which essentially says the appointing authority. That entity would prefer charges, hear evidence, and make a determination. Mr. Dugas explained that the only time he was involved with a third party involvement was because all the would be participants had expressed opinions ahead of time. Therefore, it was established there was bias on their part, they had to be recused, and the matter went to an independent third party.
Mr. Slocum asked about the union issue going to a fact finding, and it being an in-house operation, with feedback to the personnel director and Council.
It was stated by Mr. Milone that at the same time there could be participation of an independent third party to assist in the process.
Ms. DeCaprio commented on her understanding that this is a major issue and the recommendation of Attorney Dugas is not to set up committees, etc, but possibly use a third party to come in.
With handling this matter through the chain of command, Mr. Ruocco asked if it could still be seen as impartial.
Mr. Dugas said the only time you have impartiality is someone predetermining the issue. As long as there is an open mind, without a financial interest in the outcome, there is impartiality under the law.
Mr. Altieri questioned who says these things, and who these entities would be.
A case was cited by Mr. Dugas in Naugatuck CT where someone ran on a platform that the chief has to go and he would make it happen. When the time came for the hearing the chief’s lawyer wanted this person recused, and he declined. It went to court, and it was determined there was prejudice by this one person, who also prejudiced the others, and the whole process was tainted. It was thrown out and started all over again.
Mr. Slocum asked about being unhappy with a manager and there is proof…who looks at the proof and evidence…and deciphers it. He wanted to know where we are in this process.
In dealing with fairly routine stuff happening between supervisors and employees, Mr. Dugas said whoever the person reports to should deal with it. The only time to bring in an outside organization is with criminal allegations, such as what happened in Madison, CT when the State Police were brought in. For the Cheshire situation, there is nothing remotely close to criminal allegations.
Mr. Sima said it comes down to a morale problem in the police department, with 42 officers saying there is a bad work environment. He questioned what will keep officers near the end of their career from just retiring, or others fully trained going to other police departments, with Cheshire having a skeleton department. He asked if this comes into play.
Attorney Dugas said this is part of the management of the situation. In any organization there is a first line manager, some producing good bottom line results, but not good in other regards, and pluses and minuses must be looked at. This is something to be looked at and be managed.
Mr. Sima said none of this impacts the result of what you can do with the chief at all, and he wants to know where the Town stands if there is a big problem.
According to Attorney Dugas the standard is just cause, and he could not read a litany of what this means. It is a good and sufficient reason with backup, notice and opportunity for someone to change whatever the problems were...not a problem because someone says so, but in the eyes of the manager it is deemed to be a problem. With the chief of police we don’t get there until there is hearing, from which they have a right to appeal to Superior Court. On the one hand just cause is not like a criminal standard, it is a good sufficient reason. When you get before a judge and say you fired someone, and want the judge to bless it, they will look at it like an arbitrator would. A judge would ask if the person was told about the problems, was support given, was opportunity given, and how serious were the problems. The judge will agree or disagree with the termination.
Ms. DeCaprio said her understanding is that Attorney Dugas is for the Town Manager, as immediate supervisor, continue to do what is being done. Also, there are other tools available outside of termination.
Stating the matter should not be ignored but looked into, Attorney Dugas said some things may be minor or not. The manager has the responsibility for correcting issues, and make a decision that negatives outweigh positives and something should be done. This would start the process being discussed under the statute.
Mr. Altieri noted that the Town Manager has met with the union representatives, police chief and representatives of the police officers. From his discussion with Mr. Milone, the situation is being intensely supervised than other situations. He has had the chief and the union people in a meeting.
The Council was informed by Mr. Milone that there was one meeting with the chief and the union leaders. Another meeting was scheduled and cancelled. There was discomfort, and Mr. Milone felt in order to bring about some kind of the seriousness of this it was important for a discussion among union leaders and the chief. Union leaders were uncomfortable with this. It took many meetings for him to get to a point to explain to the union leaders that the only way he could get to really address the issues was for the union to tell the chief what they told the Town Manager. The union was uncomfortable confronting the chief with Mr. Zullo and him present to state the issues for a clear venting of the issues and break down of the barriers. Mr. Milone told the union leaders that to resolve this we must sit across the table, and he must be trusted that there would be no repercussions in being honest and forthright.
Mr. Altieri stated that everyone is concerned about what has happened, and the vote of confidence was surprising in the numbers. He asked Attorney Dugas for advice about going into executive session for further discussion.
Attorney Dugas advised the Council that executive session is for certain reasons, and he is hearing one of performance of an employee, and this is the basis for executive session.
In order to vent out the issues in terms of performance in executive session, Mr. Altieri said the Council could then come out and outline recommendations.
Mr. Ruocco stated that Town Manager Milone, the chief and union leaders should meet to review the situation.
Mr. Zullo advised that the union cancelled the October 1st meeting with him and Mr. Milone.
Mr. Ruocco said he wants to know specific performance issues, and the Council needs to know them, and he does not want to deal with hearsay.
Stating his agreement, Mr. Altieri said the Council needs to review performance issues in executive session, and move forward. At this time the Council does not know what is rumor or fact or hearsay. There may not be a definitive answer because all parties are not in a room at the same time.
MOTION by Mr. Hall; seconded by Mr. Dill.
MOVED that the Town Council enter executive session to discuss performance issues and issues ancillary to the police union’s vote of no confidence on October 2, 2009, to include Town Manager Milone, Personnel Director Zullo and Attorney Dugas.
With the Council going into executive session to discuss performance of an employee, Mr. Sima asked if the employee has been notified.
Mr. Milone stated that the police chief has been notified.
Ray Squier stated that the Council should not go into executive session giving credence to a list of ideas. He said the chief is already under a cloud, and this matter should be settled at the managerial level.
In response, Mr. Hall stated that there are questions on how the union’s actions relate to Section 7-728 and the standards set forth. He disagreed with Mr. Squier’s comments. For the record, Mr. Hall said no one should take his motion as a statement of a pre-determination or determination on the outcome of the discussions.
VOTE The motion passed unanimously by those present.
MOTION by Mr. Ecke; seconded by Mr. Dill.
MOVED that the Town Council exit Executive Session at 9:30 p.m.
VOTE The motion passed unanimously by those present.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Tomorrow's Council meeting includes discussion on the turf. The proposed resolution is a request to redirect the $525,000* for turf at the CHS Athletic Complex to locker rooms at the CHS Athletic Complex.
I support the idea. For me, the locker rooms are definitely a higher priority than turf.
I have doubts though about this garnering five votes. In July 2008 I made a similar request to redirect the funds from the turf to the pool. And while I thought that proposal made a great deal of sense, the Council leadership described it as "preposterous." And the motion failed along party lines.
And so you know, with regard to the $500,000 CHS infrastructure improvements referendum... since the referendum includes no language prohibiting the use of this money on turf... it may be used on turf. Or more precisely, since both the referendum and the supporting explanatory language are "unclear," the use of the $500,000 on turf is not a legal issue. It is a political issue... no different from another hot topic in town.
* funded from
Crusher's $12,000,000 slush fund the Speaker's annual $12,000,000 "discretionary fund"
Sunday, October 11, 2009
The MRJs Jesse Buchanan continues reporting on the "no confidence" vote:
Without allegations of wrongdoing, there's very little likelihood of removing a police chief for management style, according to Cheshire town labor counsel Floyd Dugas.
The no-confidence vote "has absolutely no legal significance," Dugas said.
I agree. But the story continues:
He advised the Cheshire Town Council last week against conducting an impartial investigation, requested by the police union, since it could set a precedent and become politicized. Personnel matters should be handled by the employee's supervisor, in this case Town Manager Michael Milone, who is directly above Cruess.
So the Police Union unanimously votes "no confidence" and the Council is supposed to continue deferring to the TM? Make no mistake - the TM is part of the problem.
As I've said before, the Council should immediately begin an impartial investigation. But now I add one thing... the Chief doesn't report to the Council. The TM reports to the Council. The Council hires / fires the Town Manager. That's where the Council could / should take action immediately.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
The NHRs Luther Turmelle continues reporting on the Police Union's "no confidence" vote:
Town Manager Michael Milone said he has been trying to get both sides together with him at the same time to resolve an ongoing dispute that resulted in a nearly unanimous vote of no-confidence in Cruess by union members last week. Milone discussed the problems between the union and the chief during a meeting of the Town Council’s Personnel Committee Wednesday night.
But what if the union views the TM as part of the problem? Keep in mind, last Friday the police union came directly to the homes of all nine Council members. It seems to me that they're asking for more than the Council to be aware. It seems to me that they want the Council to intervene.
The story continues with the labor attorney's comments:
Dugas said the no-confidence vote “has no legal significance.”
“It has some political implications, though,” he said.
I'm glad we got independent confirmation of that. I mean, I knew it. But I'm uncertain if the voters knew it. And for the record, I have no problem with that. For as long as I've been alive, unions have been involved in the political process. Not so much in Cheshire... but I do recall hearing that Diane Visconti got a bunch of help in the 2005 election from unions across the state. So it's certainly not new to town.
And for the record, I oppose leaving town management involved in this issue. I've mentioned before that cops have quit - in part - because of this situation. And to permit the usual tactics of "deny, defer, delay" to continue is entirely unacceptable.
The police have followed the chain of command. They've tried to work with the Chief. And for the past year, they've tried to work with the TM. And that has gone nowhere. They've now come to the Council.
For the Council to punt this back to the TM is entirely unacceptable. As for me, I recommend an independent, impartial investigation.
I'm not sure if I'll be able to readily access a computer over the next few days. As such, I'm not sure if I'll be:
1) posting new content and
2) able to delete OTT comments.
So I'm going to require you to register to leave comments for the next few days. I just saw a few comments that were, IMO, unrelated to the posts under which they were left.
The NHRs Luther Turmelle reported on the continuing developments of Friday's vote of "no confidence" by the Cheshire Police Union. Most interesting to me was the last paragraph:
Democratic Councilman Matt Altieri, chairman of the personnel committee, said the council “will do whatever it takes to resolve this problem.”
If so, then why hasn't this already happened? As far as I'm concerned, there are only two ways of looking at this... either the Council members did know or should have known.
The MRJs Jesse Buchanan also has an online followup piece.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
I think it blindsided all of us. I didn't understand that it was at this point yet.
Yup. That's how the MRJ (by Jesse Buchanan, October 6, 2009) quoted her.
I certainly hope she wasn't referring to the full Council when she said that. I can speak for myself, thank you. And I certainly wasn't blindsided by this. Frankly, any Council member who was blindsided shouldn't be on the Council.
But to show just a bit of recent history on the situation, here are some 2009 highlights related to town employees. Though this is a quick recap and certainly incomplete, I think it paints the picture well enough:
January 28, 2009
The Cheshire Police Union got a new President, Lieutenant Kerry Deegan.
February 3, 2009
On the heels of several town residents (who are also town employees) voicing recessionary concerns about payraises for particular individuals, I asked the Personnel Chairman questions about pay increases for non-union employees.
February 7, 2009
The Personnel Chairman made it clear to me that he wasn't interested in the payraises... again... the concerns that were voiced to me by residents / employees.
March 4, 2009
The Council was informed of a proposed early retirement offer for some town unions. The Police were excluded from the offer. Why? I missed this one, but it's just one of many warning signs this year.
March 9, 2009
I again mentioned the disparity in payraises during the recession.
March 12, 2009
The NHR mentioned the early retirement option. Why aren't the police included?
March 22, 2009
I got beat up by a bunch of you for mentioning the new CPD dress code. One person wears a white shirt. Everyone else wears blue. Very minor detail? Yes. Part of a bigger picture? I think time will tell.
April 26, 2009
I asked for a status update on union negotiations.
April 29, 2009
I noted the Southington PD's vote of "no confidence" in their Chief. I then pondered Could such a widespread discontent exist in Cheshire? In the PD? In other unions?
May 8, 2009
I looked forward to learning the status of ongoing union negotiations.
May 13, 2009
We learned that one of our unions had already moved from negotiation to mediation. I wonder how long that negotiation lasted? Any chance it didn't go very well? Could that be part of a larger pattern of a tangentially-related personnel issue?
May 20, 2009
I joked that the teachers' union had agreed to concessions... of course, that was in Guilford... not Cheshire. But I also mentioned that while the Council majority continues to "show so much concern for the union across the street... they continue refusing to acknowledge the very serious morale problems that exist under their own noses... issues of which they've been aware for more than a year... and continue to ignore."
May 26, 2009
Nearly three months after the early retirement offer was proposed, neither I nor any other Council member asks why the option wasn't offered to the Police.
Memorial Day weekend 2009
I didn't mention on this blog, but several cops - who trust me - mentioned some serious concerns to me about the department.
June 15, 2009
Still no questions from the Council majority on the payraises of 5% to 7% during a recession.
Early July 2009
Two meetings had passed since some police officers had mentioned their concerns to me. So I asked staff if there was anything happening with the PD.
July 11, 2009
Just wondering aloud if the unions will agree to 0% increases on the heels of some people getting pay increases of 5% to 7%.
July 14, 2009
I experienced my shortest-ever regular Council meeting, excluding executive session. Hmmm... what might we have been discussing at great length during the executive session?
August 11, 2009
I described part of the evening's Council meeting by writing: The Town Manager's contract extension passed (7-1). I opposed it. I offered several thoughts - both complimentary and constructive. I may elaborate later this week. But in the meantime, if any reporters are reading this... I suggest you call Councilman Ecke to ask for his views. I think it would be interesting to mention to him that I voiced concerns about employee morale, particularly with the CPD. Then ask him if my concerns are legitimate. I'd find his response fascinating. Oh... and... btw, it wouldn't surprise me at all if that was part of why he wasn't there tonight.
My comments from the vote are here. If you scroll to 1:38, you'll hear me mention my concerns with the PD in particular:
October 2, 2009
The Cheshire Police Union, AFSCME 15, Local 1720 unanimously votes "no confidence" in Chief Cruess. The Town Council is personally notified by the union and the press release is withheld out of respect for the Council. The union wanted the Council to be notified before the press.
October 5, 2009
As a reporter is interviewing me for today's story, it's mentioned that the reporter knew about a possible "no confidence" vote back in May 2009.
October 6, 2009
"I think it blindsided all of us." - Council member Laura Decaprio (D-3)
What a bunch of nonsense.
But what may have been even worse than that comment was the apparent attempt to diminish the significance of this unanimous vote by mentioning a dress code grievance!
Anyone think there's going to be any 3rd district CPD officers voting for the incumbent? Heck... anyone think there'll be any union members voting for the incumbent? I suspect AFSCME could get out the word pretty easily, if they so chose.
JOINT PERSONNEL COMMITTEE AND SPECIAL TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
7:30 P.M., WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2009
ROOM 207, TOWN HALL, 84 SOUTH MAIN STREET, CHESHIRE CT 06410
1. Roll Call.
2. Pledge of Allegiance.
3. Possible executive session to discuss police union action of October 2, 2009 regarding Chief of Police.
4. Status of union grievances, possible executive session.
5. Status of collective bargaining negotiations, possible executive session.
I find the wording of #3 interesting. While the rest of the world talks about a "vote of no confidence," The Boss deems this a "police union action." As I said yesterday, I guess this is NBD. Whewww... that's a load off!
FWIW, I'm guessing the grievances are on the agenda at my request. At this point, it will probably surprise no one why I've been asking about grievances for the past two years. But hey...
And so you know, I unfortunately will not be able to attend tomorrow's special meeting. I had plans to be out of town two months ago and was unable to change those plans even after I learned of the Personnel Committee meeting.
Monday, October 05, 2009
No confidence? It doesn't matter. Altieri said "Council does not need to know what is going on at ground level."
Some of you may have heard that the Cheshire Police Union had a unanimous vote of "no confidence" in the Chief.
Thankfully though, if there are any real issues we have Personnel Committee Chairman Matt Altieri to save the day! And he has an "Outstanding working relationship with Town Hall."
So I'm sure he's already dealt with this and put it to bed, right?
Besides, I'm sure a vote of "no confidence" doesn't really matter. Remember that the minutes of the Personnel meeting on January 17, 2008 clearly state:
"Mr. Altieri said he has always felt that things are done on a daily basis, and if something is wrong, there is a process to go through in order to change things.... It seems to him that Mr. Sima wants to know what is going on at ground level, and Council members will never know this, and it is the job of the administration to know what is going on…not the Council.... Council does not need to know what is going on at ground level."
So there you have it. The Council does not need to know about these irrelevant votes of "no confidence!" Yippee! My life is so much easier.
Now if everyone would just realize...
And move along!!!
p.s. Being serious for a moment... last night Personnel Committee member Tom Ruocco emailed Personnel Chairman Altieri to request this vote of "no confidence" be placed on the Wednesday agenda for the already scheduled Personnel Committee meeting. This morning, Chairman Altieri called Councilman Ruocco to tell him that was not going to happen. But by this afternoon, staff had advised the Council that the vote of "no confidence" would be placed on Wednesday's agenda.
As I previously mentioned, there are some problems at the wastewater treatment plant:Now the NHRs Luther Turmelle is reporting:
James Sima, a Republican councilman, said he was disappointed that wastewater treatment officials never made the council aware of the problem with holding tank cover that happened at the beginning of the year.
“If they had made us aware, maybe we wouldn’t taking a band aid approach to fixing it like we are now,” Sima said. “We ought to fix it and do it right the first time.”
Labels: public works
Sunday, October 04, 2009
From the NYTimes' Raymond Hernandez:
She emerges from an apparent coma and kicks her cheating husband in the groin. In a showdown with her daughter, she goes flying to the mat after her daughter smacks her in the face. And, after a black-booted bald man hoists her feet-first in the air, she falls on her back, bouncing slightly in her business suit before splaying helplessly on the ground.
As Linda E. McMahon and her husband built a small family business into the billion-dollar empire of World Wrestling Entertainment, she was more than its chief executive: She was sometimes a character in its wrestling matches’ soap-opera style story lines involving family quarrels, infidelity and, of course, mock violence.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Many people have asked me, on this blog and in person, if it's true that the Cheshire Police union has voted "no confidence" in the Chief.
A vote of "no confidence" by town employees is a serious matter which will be taken up by the council. I withhold comment at this time.
Councilman Tom Ruocco had a small gathering tonight. His special guest of honor was state Senator - and future US Senator - Sam Caligiuri. Good luck Sammy!
As for Sam's chances in the primary, I suspect he'll do well with GOPers primarily concerned with Roe v. Wade, the 2nd amendment and homeschooling... all groups that likely will constitute fairly significant voting blocks next August in the primary... as well as at the convention next May.
From the Campaign for Liberty:
Washington D.C., October 3, 2009 -The number of cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives for HR 1207, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, climbed to 299. Including Congressman Ron Paul, the bill's author, 300 members of the House of Representatives now support an audit of the Federal Reserve. S 604, the Senate companion bill, currently has 30 cosponsors.
HR 1207 would open up the Fed's funding facilities, such as the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, Term Securities Lending Facility, and Term Asset-Backed Securities Lending Facility to Congressional oversight and an audit by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office. Additionally, audits would include discount window operations, open market operations, and agreements with foreign central banks, such as ongoing dollar swap operations with European central banks.
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and speculate that the Senate Banking Chairman, Chris Dodd, still does not support S 604... nor does Joe Lieberman. Thankfully one of my representatives, Congressman Chris Murphy, supports an audit of the Fed.
Friday, October 02, 2009
From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:
Town officials are considering whether to pursue an offer made by the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority to accommodate a landfill for ash that is left over at the agency’s trash burning plants around the state.
Nonnenmacher said that the current amount of ash generated by trash-to-energy facilities that the CRRA operates in Wallingford, Hartford and Preston is about 300,000 tons. State statutes call for any community hosting a publicly owned ash landfill to be paid $5 per ton, he said, which would translate into about $1.5 million a year.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Matt Altieri is the hardest-working Council Dem. I appreciate that. But I also disagree with him on a number of issues, for example: the turf.
The election is about a month away. And I fully expect that he will stick by his guns and continue advocating the turf through the election and into the next term. But he's also campaigning on his:
"outstanding working relationship with town hall."
I wonder if he'll still have that in his campaign platform by November 3?
Some really good news from the CTPost's Daniel Tepfer:
A career burglar, after accusing Hamden police of trying to force him to confess to dozens of home break-ins, on Tuesday admitted to burglarizing three area homes.
Robert Tagliaferi, 46, of Cheshire, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge George Thim to three counts of third-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree larceny.
State's Attorney John Smriga told the judge he will recommend Tagliaferi, who has a long prior criminal record, serve up to 16 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 19.
h/t to M!
Labels: public safety
The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports:
The replacement of the Route 42 bridge over Roaring Brook is scheduled to begin today, with work on the $650,000 project scheduled to last through the end of the year.
The state Department of Transportation decided to expedite replacement of the 47-year-old bridge after a routine inspection this spring found “a rapid deterioration of the bridge that was indicative of repeated usage by oversize, overweight trucks,” said Kevin Nursick, a DOT spokesman. The bridge is located between Whispering Hollow Court and Mountain Road.