Friday, March 13, 2015

And Justice for All: "Going for a Third Term" by John Milardo

 Going for A Third Term Issue 
And Justice for All #34 Opinions Of A Citizen March 1, 2015 
By John Milardo  
“And Justice For All” is a newsletter involving my opinions, views, and commentary as a life long Middletown resident. In my capacity as a former employee and staunch labor leader of City of Middletown (retired) for over 42 years, I have a different perspective regarding how and why public figures do what they do. 

I hope everyone is safely getting through this tough winter. Only a couple to a few more weeks and we’ll be on our way to warmer weather!

I see Dan Drew has announced he’ll be running for a third term as Mayor of Middletown, which is now a 4-year term of office. It’s sometimes funny to read how great some people believe they are. Dan Drew is one of those types of people. I don’t know if it’s a politician being deceitful or just plain arrogant! The following is from his January 15th campaign announcement.

“In the past three years, our community has come together to do incredible things,” Drew said in his statement. “We have increased economic development, increased public safety, cleaned the environment and ended the conflicts with the schools left by the previous administration, saving millions of taxpayer dollars.”

It would be nice if Mayor Drew would have made factual statements instead of the same old political rhetoric. Just like when he said his City department reorganizational plan would save the taxpayers money and increase productivity. We now have in place a reorganization Committee to determine what, if anything, came of the merger. I didn’t want to wait for what Drew’s committee has to say, so I took matters into my own hands, using the same public on-line budget information his panel will be utilizing. I’m simplifying all the information, so I don’t bore you with 100 pages of budgetary line items.

Now mind you, there haven’t been any significant employee increases, because three (3) of the City Unions have been without new contracts for the past few years. (Mayor Drew can’t claim wage increases have impacted the budgets.) Nor could Mayor Drew claim increased wage salary because of increased hiring, as he claims in another statement he has reduced the municipal work force. The 2014-15 budget was not used as it is currently in use and will not be completed until June 30, 2015.

Reorganizing of the Parks Maintenance Division into the Public Works Department
The fiscal budgets for these two (2) individual divisions/departments in 2010-2011, prior to joining them together was $6,040,000. ($1.32 million for Parks, $4.72 million for Public Works) The 2013-2014 fiscal budget which is after consolidation of these two (2) departments is $6,214,000; an almost $200,000 increase to perform the same work as prior to the consolidation, with less personnel. The only difference is that the Public Works department doesn’t borrow equipment from Parks anymore, they now confiscate it. These figures do not include any additional expenses not included within the department budgets for work performed by private contractors.

Reorganizing of the Personnel Department into the Legal Department (aka Office of General Counsel) 

The Legal Department has always included the Risk Management division. The reorganization of departments consolidated the Personnel Department, (aka Human Resources).

Prior to the consolidation, the 2010-2011 fiscal budgets totaled $716,000 annually. $370,650 for Personnel, and $346,000 for Legal/Risk Management departments.

Post consolidation, the 2013-2014 fiscal budget totaled $903,430; an almost $200,000 increase to perform the same work. (This cost does not include any monetary awards which have been paid to plaintiffs.)

There are still private legal fees paid to outside lawyers to represent the City against lawsuits brought against the City (Mayor Drew) for various reasons. There are several outstanding suits which will probably cost the taxpayers big bucks in settlements.

As of right now, I can say the reorganization of City departments cost the taxpayer approximately $400,000 plus for the same or less service which they have received in the past.

Mayor Drew states he has saved the taxpayers millions of dollars brought on by the prior administration because of conflicts with the Board of Education. Show us! Legal fees were in the tens of thousands for both parties. Where have millions been saved? The Board of Education budgets have gone up every year since Drew was elected. It was the newly elected BOE who terminated the then BOE Superintendent and his administration to correct the problem. It wasn’t Dan Drew! He’ll take credit for it anyway. If millions were saved, why weren’t they passed on to the taxpayers?

Taxes have steadily increased since Dan Drew was elected Mayor. Luckily, the Common Council didn’t approve his City wide budget requests, they cut them, or the mil rate increases to taxpayers would have been double of what it has been!

I recently read a legal document regarding a City employee who has won a settlement award from the City due to an action taken by Mayor Drew and administrators of the City of Middletown’s habitually worst run department. If the Mayor was in fact dedicated to the citizens of Middletown and wanted full transparency in government, both of these department administrators should be terminated before they cost the taxpayers more than just money. But that won’t happen. Mayor Drew condones their actions. This same director and Mayor terminated a department employee a couple of years ago, for using threatening language. Just a month or so ago, another department employee used almost identical language, and received a light suspension. Why the discrepancy? Gender based, politically connected, or both? To all Common Council members, newsflash! This is why this department has so many problems! Issues in this department have always begun at the head of the snake! But y’all know that, just don’t want to do anything about it. Do yourself a favor and ask the Office of General Counsel for a copy to read.

On a positive note, the new Senior Center is up and running, and seems to be a welcomed improvement for our Senior citizens. I read in the newspaper when the new facility opened, how Mayor Drew couldn’t praise it enough, and felt it was long overdue. Maybe others don’t remember, but I do. When Dan Drew was a Councilman for a short period of time, thanks to Vin Loffreddo, Dan voted against the purchase of the of the building which he now praises. It wasn’t a priority at the time. One of the most important things a politician relies on is that “the voters have a short memory!”

Rumorville: Someone gave me a call a while ago, stating Mayor Drew was away from his office for 2-3 days a week back then. Rumor was Mayor Dan was attending classes at Columbia University on the City’s dime, and continued to receive his pay just as if he was working. This is a rumor as far as I know, and don’t know if it is true or not? If he did go to Columbia, more power to him. If he didn’t use earned time off to go, shame on him. Besides being unethical, it is a misuse of power and resources - perhaps the great Mayor should Google: Rowland, Ganim, and other Connecticut political leaders that were brought before the justice system for their deeds.

The next municipal election is critical as we will be installing a Mayor and Common Council to 4 year terms. Voter’s need to become educated beyond what a simple press release states. It’s easy and unfortunately all too frequent that politicians place themselves on grandiose pedestals touting records that are far less lustrous when you pull back the layers of fake gold and silver. Remember…. If all these glorious feats were indeed factual… why did our mil rate for general government go from 26.40 in 2011 to 32.70 in 2015???? `

Stay strong. Stay involved. Stay together. Wake up and seek the truth.

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