April 22, 2012

Higher $ Taxes, Less $ for Education, More $ for Mayor Dan Drew to Travel

The Common Council meeting held April 2, 2012 was eventful. Last week the Insider was the first to break the story of Mayor Drew going to China. Here is Our summary of the meeting &; response to what was left out of the Middletown Press article regarding the meeting:
    1. 9 out of 12 members vote in favor of reimbursing Mayor Drew $5.5k for going to China after he goes without consulting anyone but members Serra and Santangelo. Mayor Drew criticizes public and Republican Councilpersons Kleckoski and Salafia ( the two dissenting votes) for opposing this, for in their opinion failures to adhering to proper procedures regarding input from the Common Council and possible public comment regarding taking on such an endeavor.
    2. Mayor Drew proposes budget with a 1 mil rate increase in taxes and the addition of a $60k grant writing position.
    3. Mayor Drew proposes in his budget to reduce education by $3.5 million dollars, no mention of previous missing million.

     The rest of the Council was not told about even the possibility of such a the trip no asked for input until they were asked at the April 2 Common Council meeting by Mayor Drew for $5.5k in reimbursement. Drew's explanation was that at least he was asking even after they fact, that in his opinion he had ultimate authority to decide to go on the trip and ultimate say to even tell the Council after the fact so they should not complain. No official notice, no written email piece of paper was every generated to tell the Common Council – representing the public- that the Mayor was going to China or wanted money for it until he had already done so. Until Drew gives the Council a report he only promised after questioning by Councilman Pessina will the public know what was discussed in China or why this trip may benefit Middletown. Councilperson Pessina was among those who applauded and praised the secret trip and felt it will benefit Middletown. The Councilwomen who spoke questioned the failure of notification, secrecy behind the trip even from the Councilpersons, and the lack or transparency and explanation of benefits of the trip to China and Mayor Drew basically said they had no business asking such questions and criticized them for doing so. The only Councilmen who knew about the trip at all prior to the 15 min EDC meeting held that evening were Councilmen Santangelo and Serra.
     Councilperson Debra Kleckoski had this to say, which she posted as a comment on the Press, regarding the trip to China: “The endeavor is not the problem-we all want to have an economically secure and growing economy in Middletown. However, a 15 minute meeting prior to a Council meeting is just bad practice, and to those Councilman who said EDC was more transparent, really? Note, that there was no list of expenditures. How was the $5,500 spent? And, Councilman Serra said, "We decided"...going to EDC was more appropriate than the Community Promotions fund. I ask,"who is the "we"? Paying after the fact is the same poor fiscal management/accounting for which the Board of Ed was held accountable. Lastly, if the Mayor is representing the City, using monies which need to be approved by Council, the legislative branch should know about the project.” The Insider can answer the WE- its a select few Democrats who control the Council who routinely are voted in, and until that changes nothing else will.
     Councilperson Salafia echoed the sentiments of Kleckoski. She was quoted by the Press as saying:" I can’t support this, the EDC held a meeting 15 minutes before this one. I resent that I didn’t know prior to the trip. I would like to know beforehand. I agree with the public — we’re paying after it’s a done deal. I would like to have some input prior to your going.” You go girl. Councilperson Salafia also said “ I can't imagine how this trip will improve the economy in Middletown, but I hope I am wrong. I want this trip to work out for something since it is already done. I hope I am proven wrong and it is a good thing, but I still resent the fact that you did this without asking anyone for input that might have been beneficial, or asking us or the public to spend this money. You just went and did it and didn't care.”
     Councilperson Salafia asked Mayor Drew directly “ Are you going on any other trade trips on behalf of Middletown? Can you tell the public that? In the future are you planning on going us to tell us before you go?”
     Mayor Drew said he declined to answer at this time. WHAT! The Insider heard Drew is planning a trip to the moon in to talk about a possible interstellar Middletown-Moon colony. Don't worry; he plans to keep the receipt and stick citizens with the bill after the fact since now precedent has taken place.
     One nice sentiment from Councilperson Bob Santangelo was quotedin the Middletown Press who actually managed to get it right for a change: “I appreciate that you said in your campaign speech you made mention of the fact that if you had to, you would go to corporate headquarters,” Santangelo said. “You have to be bold and not sit there and expect the world to come to us. I commend you.”
     Point for the Deputy Mayor with the mustache. We commend you for remembering this! Yes, during the mayoral debate held at Wesleyan this past fall, Drew did say “ I will get on a plane if I have to and speak to the CEO's of the world on behalf of Middletown.”
     So yeah- you got what you voted for Middletown- a world traveler!
     The Press however, fails, once again to tell the whole story and publish comments that may seem unflattering to  certain members of the Democratic majority of the Council.
     Councilperson Tom Serra slammed Salafia by saying” Councilwoman Salafia, How long did you work for the City ? 25 years? Haven't you heard? You should  have found out from the gossip mill where the he [Mayor Drew] was.”Say what? To translate : Councilman Serra excuses the lack of transparency about the trip, ironic as this was a key phrase from Dan Drew during his campaign, and basically tells the public and the rest of the Council that their lack of paying attention and knowing the “in” people close to the mayor (himself & Councilperson Bob Santangelo ) its their fault for not knowing about the China trip or being allowed to have input.
     Mayor Drew rebutted (tried to cover his tracks) by saying he was concerned about his family's safety in his absence, however failed (miserably) to explain why he did not even notify the 12 members of the legislative body even confidentially.
     Prior to the Council's discussion, resident Kenneth McClellan,MRTC Chair, and who also serves as a Republican alternate on the Planning and Zoning Commission spoke passionately during the public session also about procedure.
     The Press quoted McClellan “The resolution has the appearance that the trip was approved after the fact. I’m looking forward to the report, but an after-the-fact approval of expenditures would set a precedent,” he said, before urging the mayor to inform the public if he takes trip.”
Resident (and former Council member) Earle Roberts asked the Council and more directly Mayor Drew
 “ All that I have heard is a bunch of promises and vague possibility of investments that in all likelihood, as world trends have indicated, from what I have read, I don't believe will happen. What I have a right to know as a citizen is : What exactly am I getting for my $5,500? What is China going to do for Middletown?” Well played, Mr. Roberts, we were wondering the same thing.
     Mayor Dan Drew responded to Roberts by saying something more about vague hints or inklings that he thought he got positive responses from the those who shall not be named mysterious Chinese investors. Drew also said he felt the “restaurants on Main Street will benefit from the increased traffic during the trade conference at Wesleyan in June.”  
     What the Insider would like to know is if Wesleyan University is hosting, ( any who by the way already has spent millions in China to develop a variety or branch & sister campus programs as part of its educational endeavors overseas) why didn't they pay for the trip or the Malloy administration who sponsored the trip? Is this “trade show” really what it is described as which as of yet is so vague we can't even find a description, or really part of Wesleyan's international China program which, let's face it, main goal is to benefit Wesleyan?
     The meeting closed with Mayor Drew giving some speech about “benevolence” or something, but the bottom line was he is proposing a budget to raise the taxes of Middletown citizens despite having campaigned on the promise he would not and hung his hat on the fact that previously he claimed to have single handedly re-written the prior administrations budget after serving only 4 months on the Council to save tax payer money. Un-oh Danno. No Republicans to blame this time, the Democrats are the super majority and YOU wrote the budget this time. Included, in this proposed budget is a $60k a year newly created grant writing job in the Mayor's office. Too bad there wasn't a grant writer already in the Mayor's office (cough Dan Drew cough). However,it will be convenient when Drew is at his office in Hartfordlobbying with Councilmember Todd Berch at the state capital forminimum wage increases earlier this year as reported in the Middletown Press & Courant, he is in D.C. chumming it up with Senator Blumenthal  & Rep. Rosa Delauro, or as proven with China, sending himself on secret mission on our behalf. The Insider would post the links to these promises & and in addition his  promised “transparency” in government, and the debates that were taped with him making this speech, but frankly, there were so many times he said this we might break the internet doing so. Here is an outline of Drew's campaign promises written by himself, so you can play along at home and cross off the ones he has already broken.Here
     So if you missed the Council meeting, rest assure the future is clear for Middletown: More international trips for “trade” that you as a citizen won't get as say in, go on, or even know about, but you will be paying for; more taxes- in fact a 1 mil increase- which by our calculations is about $40 a month in taxes not $13 as stated by the Mayor (differences in accounting principles where have you heard that before), and less education for your children 'cause Mayor Drew proposed a $3.5 million cut to that! Fugagettabout the $1 million deficit in the BOE budget, if we stop talking about it surely it will go away. Thankfully, Mayor Drew gave a few low income senior citizens a tax cut of about fifty bucks earlier this year, and oh we had that pond at Pat Kidney field that was supposed to be a skating rink or something, so its all good. :)

Oh and according to the rumor-mill Councilmember Tom Serra says we should all pay attention to and get our “official” information from- Mayor Drew, Deputy Mayor Councilman Santangelo, and Big-Cheese Council Majority Leader Tom Serra have redesigned, relocated, the proposed Senior Center project away from Eckersley hall which was already purchased for the project and bid on for design services. Stay tuned.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is small potatoes compared to what our last mayors wasted of tax payers monies. Give it a rest people. he didn't take his family to Disney. He went to China for crist sake. Rework the energy you are wasting on this issue and put it to something that is a real concern.

john brush said...

This Drew character is cut from the same cloth as Obama: secret travel on a moment's notice, obfuscation and dissembling about his mission; blatant disregard for earlier pledges; answerable only to one or two trusted toadies. Sadly, Obama is the model for Malloy and Drew. All three are examples of what is happening to this once great Republic, now descending into tyranny.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 8:47:

You give it a rest! The press should be pointing out the sneakiness of these politicians. Washington D.C., China, and now the eradication of the Senior Center. What gives?? What's next take money out of the pension fund to pay for his little adventures? Oh right, that' is happening.. You give it a rest!

Anonymous said...

I resent the timing of released information. There is nothing underhanded? Then why is everything coming to light after the fact? Are we really to believe that the Drew family is living in fear for their safety in the Middletown that he loved so much he desired to be Mayor of? Do I look like I just fell off the turnip truck?
I can’t speak to the issue of City Hall needing renovations, but I can say with near certainty that stuffing a few rooms into an afterthought of an addition and calling it a Senior Center is insulting at best. The thought that there would be ample parking for such a purpose is ridiculous. A parking garage behind the courthouse/police station and Melilli Plaza (both paid parking lots) are not adequate facilities for seniors. If you build it – they won’t come.
Due diligence may be the words exiting Drew’s mouth, but we all know who’s hand is making it move. In this case, the words are equal to stall tactics, sabotage and much more misleading rhetoric.
We need someone who will act on Middletown’s best interest – where the benefits will be reaped long after he’s moved on to a more aspiring political career.

Anonymous said...

2013 Headline. Mayor Drew successsful. China opens chop stick factory in Westfield. will employ 2.

Anonymous said...

"Due Diligence"-- Mmm, those words usually come out of a noted former mayor and current councilman.

Were you better off four months ago? You bet your ass you were. Remember, it SG, a Republican lost by 551 votes in a town that is primarily 4-1 Dem over R. They outspent SG's campaign by almost $35,000 and had to bring in Senator Richard B., Governor "I Hate Teachers" Malloy as well as bribe Wesleyan kids with Pizza and a ride in order to cough up 551 votes.. Get real.. This is a diaster!

Anonymous said...

Shades of Jeremy Shingleton...