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.
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.