Wednesday, October 28, 2015

And Justice for All; "The Columbia Connection" by John Milardo

Preface:  This Newsletter was going to coincide with a “Press Release” from Republican Mayoral Candidate Sandra Russo-Driska, requesting Mayor Daniel Drew to give Middletown residents’ truthful answers to the questions of how he earned a degree this year from Columbia University in New York, while also being Mayor of Middletown.  Most importantly, his attendance record at the school was being questioned?  Unfortunately, the Middletown Press and Hartford Courant informed Republican Mayoral Candidate Russo-Driska minutes ago, they will not run the “Press Release”, because it may not be news worthy.  Nor, are they letting the public know that former Democratic Mayor Michael Cubeta, has endorsed Republican Candidate Russo-Driska for Mayor of Middletown. 

The Columbia University questions are legitimate issues a newspaper or news outlet should have asked long ago, but they have not.  Working on many Democratic Mayoral races in the past, I can tell you from this experience that the local “Press” does not look favorably on Republicans in Middletown.  They shelve issues sent to them, but will give the Democratic candidate free advertising for himself by putting his face on the front page getting a flu shot or eating a piece of cake.

Label me naive, but I thought the “Press” was supposed to be our watchdog for the truth, and not one-sided.  Seeing how they operate, I will continue to bring you whatever issues and opinions I can to you attention.

You can get all your local news and event articles, and Mayor Michael Cubeta’s endorsement letter from the following news blogs:
The Middletown Insider (

Beginning of the original Newsletter

In May 2015, Mayor of Middletown, Daniel T. Drew, earned a masters degree from Columbia University in New York. ( )  My first thought was, “Wow, I give the guy credit for doing this!  I wish everyone who wants a college education could get one.”  That thinking subsided quickly.  Now I started to wonder how does he earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree (according to the Press article) from such a prestigious university like Columbia, while working full-time as the Mayor of Middletown, Connecticut?   Boink! “The employees at City Hall who were bugging me for the past year were right!  He’s been going to school while he’s supposed to be working!”    

In 2014, not 2015, I had contacted a local news reporter and discussed what I had heard about Drew attending college.  Both of us had even went on the University website and turned up a student email address for him at Columbia University.  At the time, we discussed this issue, but the research ended there.  Fast forward to the above “Middletown Press” article regarding Dan Drew’s Master Degree. I looked deeper into it!

The first thing I did was send Columbia University officials some emails (which I kept) regarding Mayor Drew’s attendance to their program.

My first question was: Are their any on-line-courses for the “Social-Organization Psychology, M.A.” program?  The answer from Lynda Hallmark, Program Manager of the University was, “It is an in person only program – no online options”
Next question; Does the “Executive Masters Program in Change Leadership” program have any on-line options?  Ms. Hallmark’s answer was, “Sorry, no, it does not.  It’s a “residential” cohort program that meets 4 times/academic year for about 10 days per module.”

I asked Ms. Hallmark one last question, which she forwarded to Dan Drew’s professor.  The question was as follows: Did Columbia University make any exceptions for Mayor Drew regarding his presence and attendance for his classes in New York?
Dr. Debra A. Noumair, the Director of the “Executive Masters Program in Change Leadership” responded with the following; “We did not make any “exceptions” for the mayor regarding his presence and attendance for his classes in New York.”

Columbia University’s website regarding the “Social-Organization Psychology MA Programs”
( state the following for their M.A. Program – “Full-time students complete their program in two academic years, and our part-time students complete their program in approximately three to four years.”  
For the “Executive Masters Program in Change Leadership” program it states – “The program is delivered in four 1-week modules extending over one year and includes pre-work, post-work, and guided independent study/action research as part of the formal program requirements.”

So, regardless of which degree Drew earned, it was mandatory he be physically present in classes at Columbia University.  The program with the minimum time spent in New York as described by the Ms. Hallmark is the “Executive Masters Program in Change of Leadership”.  According to her response to the above email question, it is a 10 day per module, 4 modules per year, residential only program.  That equates to 40 days in New York to attend these classes at Columbia University.  The University made no exceptions for the Mayor.

Giving Mayor Drew the extreme benefit of doubt, if he did indeed get his degree in the “Executive Masters Program in Change Leadership” and not the “Social-Organization Psychology, M.A.” (M.A.) degree, the minimum days he spent in New York for classes were 40 days.  If he received his degree in the latter, days spent at Columbia University in New York will be considerably more.

According to Columbia University’s website, The “Executive Masters Program in Change of Leadership” classes begin at 8am and end sometime in the evening, sometimes going into the weekends.  Along with this time spent in classes, Dan was also responsible to complete “10 hours a week on course-related assignments and action learning projects,” and “There will be monthly virtual check-in sessions in between the modules in order to provide scheduled time for project supervision, teamwork, information sharing, and additional hot topic lectures.”

Where am I going with this?  The FOI of Mayor Drew’s calendar provides 17 hours devoted to Columbia University from September 2014 through August of 2015.  Most of it is for “conference calls” to the University.  Why isn’t there any the time marked on his scheduling calendar for the time he had took off to attend classes at Columbia University in New York?  He put everything else on his calendar.  How does a mayor of a town, miss 40 days of work and no one notices it?  Who covered it up for him?  The Middletown Press stated Drew said the program was structured in a modular format, so he was not required to be in New York City, where the university is located, on a weekly basis, and when he was needed in classes, wasn’t all that far to travel.  That comment by Mayor Drew is disingenuous at best.  How about the complete truth for the public who kept on paying your wages - while you were away at school!

Columbia recommends students live within the city when attending classes.  Did he?  I guess to Dan, attending 40 classes (days) from early morning to late evening in another state, New York, isn’t a big deal to him?   I know as a taxpayer, it is to me!  I expect the Mayor of my town, to perform his full-time duties as Mayor.  You want to further you education, that’s great!  Then take a leave of absence like everyone else, and appoint someone to be in charge of Middletown.

All this time away from Connecticut and Dan didn’t see it necessary to place the Deputy Mayor in charge during his absences.  I wonder how he got to New York - bus, train, personal vehicle, or city car?  If he used the city car, did he reimburse the Finance Department for his personal use for gas and mileage driving to Columbia?  Or, was that on the taxpayer too?

Middletown’s Charter, Chapter IV, Section 2 states; “The Mayor shall be the chief executive officer of the City and shall devote full time to the duties of office.  Full time shall mean primary occupation.”  According to Dan Drew’s own calendar, he has been a part-time mayor for Middletown.  Over the past ten (10) months, including his education at Columbia University, days off from work for various reasons, and the time he has spent with his paid political advisors of The Vinci Group, he has missed a record 89.5 days of work (and that’s based on the minimum time at Columbia).  I had to triple check this number!  89.5 days of not being around and not doing business for the taxpayers of Middletown!  The taxpayers should be outraged over this!  City employees have been fired by Mayor Drew for doing far less than this!  What makes him think he’s so special?  What makes him think he is not accountable to the taxpayers as are all the other city employees he oversees?  Rules are not meant for Dan – just everyone else? 

Dan Drew has been a part-time Mayor for Middletown, only obsessed with furthering his political career and promoting himself through his paid political advisors.  He choose to live in Middletown for a specific reason – its Democratic populous for election purposes.  His disdain for the people who pay his wages and expect him to put Middletown first and not himself is not only shameful, but in my opinion unethical.  Dan Drew thinks nothing of lying to the people who employee him – the citizens of Middletown.  He has no integrity!

The voters of Middletown need to elect someone who wants the best for their town!  On November 3rd, vote Dan Drew out of office and give him the permanent leave of absence he so justly deserves. 

Stay strong.  Stay involved.  Stay together.  Seek the truth.

DISCLAIMER:  The opinions and views expressed in this newsletter reflect the opinion and view of the author, and should not be construed as fact or advice.  The author is a life long Middletown resident and taxpayer, and is sharing his opinions as such.  The opinions and commentary do not reflect the views of any political party, organization, or citizen group.  This newsletter reflects opinions and commentary which the author wishes to share with his friends.  


  1. Normally, John Milardo slams it out of the park with his hard-hitting and well researched editorial commentary. This time, though, he makes it to third base, but not quite home.

    While his indictment of soon-to-be former Mayor Drew's on the job attendance record while attending Columbia University on the taxpayer dime is indeed news worthy and deserves to be told, I say that John only gets a triple because he is, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, being a bit too hard on the Middletown Press.

    He states that; "Unfortunately, the Middletown Press and Hartford Courant informed Republican Mayoral Candidate Russo-Driska minutes ago, they will not run the “Press Release”, because it may not be news worthy."

    While I would not be at all surprised by a statement like that coming from the Courant, I know for certain that the Middletown Press had a cut-off date of Monday, Oct. 26 for submission of political letters.*

    Though we have never met, Middletown Press Managing Editor Cassandra Day and I have exchanged numerous emails over the last few years. She has published nearly every letter I sent in. She has even contacted me for permission to re-publish something I once wrote for another publication and more than once afforded me the opportunity to edit my comments.

    Cassandra has treated me (and other Conservatives) very well over the years, even though (I believe) we sit on different sides of the aisle. I cannot imagine a statement like that coming from her or her office. We are indeed in a heated political battle, but let's not hastily attack those who have, in my opinion, demonstrated a willingness to be fair minded toward us.

    *(How or why that date was determined I do not know, but it is a policy that is being applied fairly and across the board to all parties, regardless.)

  2. Mr. Boylan,

    First of all, thanks for the compliment. Secondly, I also get along with Cassandra.

    The Middletown Press and Hartford Courant knew the Columbia University information was coming out prior to a Press Release statement from Republican Mayoral Candidate Sandra Russo-Driska.

    Previously, on October 4th, I had submitted an Op-ed piece to local news sites. The Press editor asked me to "send this as a word document? Then I'll be able to run it in the paper. Thanks very much" I did, and it never ran in the Press.
    Not a problem.

    If a news site doesn't want to print a Op-Ed piece or story, that's their prerogative. At the next Press Release, it seemed as though Cassandra was eager to get the Columbia information, but disappointed when the release wasn't about that. She was told it was coming soon, and did in less than a weeks time.

    When the Columbia University Press Release came out, it was deemed as too late. I have no knowledge of cut-off times implemented by the Press. (I ran my Newsletter instead.) Okay, that's their prerogative once again to infuse a cut-off period for a release. In my opinion it still could have been taken on by the newspapers as a "story" of interest for the public. A reporter could have used the information - met with Mayor Drew, and asked him how he attended Columbia University while being Mayor? The investigating part was already done, and all the information was available to any news reporter who wanted it.

    If the Mayor was caught doing something else illegal and it came to the attention of the news sites, would they have not investigated it and put it in their newspapers? Just because it was a Press Release from a political candidate doesn't make it any less illegal or newsworthy.

    If this Mayor's deception and abuse of public funds and trust wasn't timely for a Press Release, it surely is a news article worth investigating.

  3. Interesting points, Mr. Milardo.


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