Saturday, February 25, 2017

Notes from the Road -- The Colonel Carries On #72

By Narya Whisper


“Vacations are good for a change and a rest. The bellboy gets the change and the hotel gets the rest.” --Henny Youngman


Truck stops have the most wonderful assortment of electronic gadgets and connectors, all overpriced.


In many states, gasoline is around or under $2 a gallon.


Those high-velocity hand-dryers are effective, but noisy.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Film Celebrating Civil Rights Leader to be screened at Russell Library February 28


Harold Washington and Alice Tregay, who worked on his campaign.
On Tuesday, February 28, at 6:30pm, Middletown's NAACP and Russell Library will present a film which profiles Alice Tregay, an unsung heroine of the civil rights movement in Chicago. 

Alice’s life story reads like a history of the movement. In 1966, Dr. King came to Chicago. Alice and her husband James Tregay, marched with him, often at great personal risk. It was at this time that Dr. King joined the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and the Reverend James Bevel to form Operation Breadbasket (now called Rainbow PUSH).  Breadbasket fought racism on many fronts, but its main task was jobs for African Americans, particularly from those businesses drawing profits from the African American community. Under the leadership of Reverend Jackson, the months that Alice and her 'ordinary people” spent picketing led to real change. 


Grady Faulkner will lead a discussion after the film. 

Former City Employee, and Local Union Leader Questions Mayor's Run for Governor

COMMENTARY  by John Milardo
This is an opinion piece originally published in an occasional newsletter, "And Justice For All," by a former longtime Middletown city employee, union member and union representative. Statements made in this commentary are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of other editors and authors whose work appears here.
Our Mayor, Dan Drew, has announced he is looking into running for Governor of our State.  Well that comes as no surprise to me and probably most of Middletown.  As Councilman Thomas Serra once said, he wanted Middletown government to be transparent.  Our mayor is the most transparent person you will ever see through.  

Drew claims in his current political propaganda how Hilary Clinton’s loss as Presidential candidate was an eye opener for the Democratic Party.  How he is the best person because of his vision, for these political times to correct the States woes.  How Governor Dannel Malloy has created a mess in Connecticut (which I cannot disagree with), and he can fix it.  (Drew sounds like Bernie Sanders now that Hillary has lost)  Dan Drew was one of Hillary’s biggest supporters and denounced Sanders during the Democratic Presidential primary.  Now, he critiques the Democratic Party and all that he and Malloy stood for, but not totally.  He still needs their money and support for a Governor run. 

Dan Drew and Dannel Malloy were conjoined at the hip until Hilary Clinton was defeated this past November.  What changed their relationship that Drew is contemplating running for Governor now? 

1.)  Everyone knew when Hillary won, Dannel Malloy was going to be appointed to some type 
of seat in Washington D.C.

2.)  When Malloy left Connecticut for Washington D.C., Dannel would have endorsed Dan Drew as his successor for Governor of  Connecticut.

3.)  Oops!!!  Donald Trump won the Presidential election!

The Democrats didn’t think Trump had a chance in hell to win the Presidential election, and that put a monkey wrench in everything!  Everything includes both Malloy's and Drew’s future political dreams.

Back to the present.  Dan Drew is not going to sit in Middletown and wait to get to higher office.  It's clear to me that he had a game plan, which was disrupted, so he will go to plan #2 -- which is to run for Governor now!  If that fails, he will run for another political Connecticut position which will help land him in Washington D.C. eventually. If you think that won’t happen, just wait and see.  No one, including Dannel Malloy, had an inkling that his favorite Connecticut Mayor would announce he was running for Governor.  Nothing is sacred to Drew.

Mayor Dan Drew loves to tell everyone how he changed and brought Middletown into the future.  That it is only because of his leadership that Middletown is such a great City.  In his estimation, all past and present department Directors, have or had, no idea how to do their jobs.  Of course he won’t acknowledge any shortcomings of Middletown while he’s been at the helm.  

That’s my job.

Drew consolidated departments with his reorganization plan, stating it would save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions each year.  That it would better serve the public and get work done more effectively and efficiently. It has been an epic failure of money and efficiency.  It has cost the taxpayer much more money than if he had left the departments alone.  He has never proved the reorganization has been effective.  His own budgets have proved that point.

Drew attended school while he was Mayor to receive a Masters Degree from Columbia University.  All under secrecy and on the taxpayer’s dime.  Reportedly staff had to fudge his absences to the public and newspaper reporters when asked where he was.

Drew never said a word when Governor Malloy took money away from Middletown.  All he said was it won’t affect us because we can pay for it with funds in our budget.  Drew's attempt to show what a great administrator he is indicates, it seems to me, that we must be over taxed if you’ve got that kind of extra money in the kitty.

Under his leadership the City has taken over street lighting, which we were told was going to save millions.  Currently, according to budgets, it seems as though we are breaking even or maybe saving a little.  But, there is no funding for replacement of lighting poles, fixtures, and so on, in the budgets.  That equipment replacement is going to be very, very, costly.  When will that cost be dumped on the taxpayer?

Middletown currently has over $100 million in bonds out for projects in town.  The projects are needed, but this is taxpayer debt to be repaid over time.  The reason we are highly rated for bonding is because we pay our debts back.  It's a debt the taxpayer will pay it back through higher taxes.

Drew proposed a $34 million bond for Public Works and Parks improvements, with absolutely no plans.  It's a blank check for the Director of the department and whatever committees are put together to disperse the funds.  I’m sure a few cronies will be on the committees.  Never heard of a bond going out without an approved plan of action.  This is a first.  

Speaking of taxes.  Mayor Drew states he lowered Middletown’s taxes.  I don’t know about you, but everyone in Middletown has paid higher taxes each year, with the exception of election year, since Dan Drew has been in office.  As a matter of fact, Dan Drew’s budgets have been higher than what is approved by the Common Council.  If it weren’t for the Common Council cutting the Mayor’s budget proposals, we would be paying even higher taxes.  In the end, Drew will take the credit.

Mayor Drew always touts he is a great leader. Yet he has left Director and other management positions unfilled for years, not months.  Only one or two have been filled within a year's time. 

The Director of Recreation is a position which has been vacant for four (4) years now.  The Assistant Director was appointed to that position in the “Acting” capacity.  Drew refused to appoint her permanently.  Why?  She has all the qualifications needed, and has been doing the job.  If she wasn’t doing the job, I would assume the Mayor would have removed her from the position immediately!  

Drew appointed a Director to a position he/she did not meet the required minimum qualifications for.  He did that by violating the Personnel Rule for the City of Middletown.  The person worked only long enough in that job to bolster their pension by quite a lot. 

The Water & Sewer project was $15 million over budget (and yet to be completed), but no one in the department is held accountable.  The Director has since retired, and the Deputy Director is now the “Acting” Director of Water & Sewer.  Another qualified person in the “Acting” position.  

The IT Director position was vacant for 3+ years also.  Drew had the Assistant filling in as the “Acting” Director, and did not appoint him to the position.  To appoint someone in the “Acting” capacity, said person must, not may, be qualified to do the job.  How can that person then be told when they apply for the vacancy they are not qualified?

The Planning, Zoning & Conservation Director is currently vacant, for the second time while Drew has been Mayor.  Instead of appointing the Assistant Director in an “Acting” capacity as Director, Mayor Dan assigned his Administrative Assistant, Joe Samolis, a political appointee in the Mayors Office, as the Acting PZ&C Director.  A person who has absolutely NO qualifications or experience to be in that position.  How can this happen!!  Where is the Union?  This is an UPSEU position and should have been filled with an UPSEU member.  That is what the Assistant Director is there for; to fill in for the Director during his/her absence - for whatever reason.  Can anyone tell me why a Union complaint has not been filed?  This is an UPSEU bargaining unit position!  For full disclosure, this is my old Union which I am calling to task.

The Mayor is hoping the Democratic Council will approve Samolis as a permanent Director.  If that does happen, will Drew's new appointment for the Administrative Assistant be a former political consultant who will be tasked with helping in Drew's run for governor?

Mayor Drew brags about saving $800,000 for the taxpayers through his adjustment of Retirement funds several years ago.  The truth is he refused to adhere to constraints of the Retirement Actuary to properly fund the pension plan, playing dangerous games with the funding.  

In the past, the Trade Unions have endorsed Dan Drew for his Mayoral runs.  I am very familiar with the Trades and other Union organizations and understand how and why they make endorsements on the State and National levels.  I would recommend that the State and National reps consult with the Unions of the towns from which the candidate hails.

Middletown Unions, with the exception of one, have had a tumultuous relationship with Mayor Drew, especially during negotiations.  The local Unions have taken a step or two backward economically under Dan Drew.  He has yet to complete Union negotiations under time limits.  Police have gone to mediation and arbitration.  AFSCME has been to mediation/arbitration.  UPSEU’s negotiations were on the verge of meditation/arbitration until they gave up certain Union members to the Mayor. UPSEU lost many members to reclassification as exempt status (non-union) employees.   

Mayor Drew has proved to be anti-union through his workings with the local Labor Organizations he is directly responsible for.  The City employees who were once Union members and are now “exempt”, receive better wage and benefit packages matching Union member advances.  You cannot tell me he doesn’t do that for any reason.

There are Union representatives who are afraid to properly represent their membership because of Dan Drew’s heavy handedness.  They have experienced his intimidation and harassment for doing their job as a Union Representative.  

Lastly, to my Union Brothers and Sister I say this, and I say it with love and respect, as I know how difficult being a Union Representative can be.  If you unable to do your Union job properly because of fear of retaliation, step aside, and have your International Local represent your Union.  You are not serving your constituency well if you cannot perform the job you were elected to do.  A Union represents all the members and issues all of the time!  Not doing so only injures them and their families.

In Brotherhood and Sisterhood.  Stay strong, stay involved, seek the truth!