Policy

City To Continue Withdrawing Money From Wells Fargo

March 2, 2018 - 

Two dozen protesters marched from City Hall to the Wells Fargo building on Church Street on Thursday afternoon to celebrate the recent federal downgrading of a bank that has invested in controversial oil pipelines and defrauded hundreds of thousands of customers with unnecessary fees and fake accounts.

The protesters called on the city to expedite its divestment of funds from the bank, Wells Fargo, and encouraged New Haven to move that money instead to a local or regional bank unsullied by fossil fuel associations.

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Mayor Proposes 11% Tax Hike

March 2, 2018 - 

Mayor Toni Harp is calling for a 11 percent tax increase and a $1 million reduction in the rainy day fund in a proposed new city budget that she described as the most difficult one she has ever had to draft.

It includes 11 new positions and assumes the city will receive millions of dollars in new contributions from big not-for-profits like Yale and labor union concessions.

The mayor unveiled her proposed budget Friday. It would cover the fiscal year starting July 1.

Harp said she hopes to counterbalance an anticipated decrease in state aid and building permit fees next fiscal year with concessions from municipal employees, intradepartmental efficiencies, and hoped-for increases in voluntary contributions from partners like Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital.

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Female Ex-Cons Band Together

 Jackie Lucibello (Paul Bass photo)

Jackie Lucibello (Paul Bass photo)

Friday, December 8, 2017 - 

Jackie Lucibello was serving a three-year sentence at the York Correctional Institution when she found out that her mother was dying from complications related to AIDS.

If Lucibello wanted to visit her mother in the hospital, she first had to be “blackboxed.”

A high-strength plastic box was placed over the key hole to her handcuffs to keep her from trying to pick the lock.

Chains running from her ankles to her waist to her wrists all intersected in that black box, rendering her practically immobile.

At the hospital, she was pushed in a wheelchair through the corridors, was not allowed to see any other visiting family members, and was watched by two guards with the hospital bedroom door open as she spent her final moments with her mother.

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“Debate” Features Call For Democracy

 Paca, Ganong show up.

Paca, Ganong show up.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 

At a mayoral “debate” Tuesday night where no active mayoral candidates debated each other, two policy proposals did surface: creating a hybrid elected-appointed Board of Police Commissioners and expanding public financing for city elections.

The New Haven Democracy Fund organized a mayoral debate on Tuesday night in the library of the Benjamin Jepson Magnet School on Lexington Avenue in Fair Haven Heights.

The Democracy Fund is a city program that provides public matching dollars for New Haven mayoral candidates who abide by certain fundraising restrictions, including limiting individual campaign contributions to no more than $370 each.

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Dems Hammer Out 1st-Ever Issues Platform

 Underwood presents platform to DTC Thursday night.

Underwood presents platform to DTC Thursday night.

Friday, June 9, 2017 - Candidates seeking the backing of Connecticut’s most influential local Democratic Party are on notice: They have some policy questions to answer.

Do they support eliminating school suspensions, expulsions, and arrests for all K – 12 students? How will they work towards ending institutionalized racism in the economy? Do they support drastically cutting the military budget and boosting public investment in airports, roads, bridges, and broadband?

The New Haven Democratic Town Committee (DTC) now has an official platform that embraces those positions, providing politicians at all levels of government with a template for the progressive causes that local Democrats support and seek to accomplish.

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Panel Gives Three Takes on Race And Education

 Johnson, Walter, and DuBois-Walton at a panel on race and education on Tuesday night.

Johnson, Walter, and DuBois-Walton at a panel on race and education on Tuesday night.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - How does racial disparity make itself felt in in the New Haven public school system today? And what is the best way to address that disparity so that all New Haven students are sufficiently prepared, supported, and empowered to become productive, self-sustaining citizens by the time they graduate high school?

Three local educational and policy experts offered three different takes on these questions during an hour-and-a-half panel discussion held on Tuesday night at the New Haven offices of Educators For Excellence at 153 East St.

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“Participatory Budgeting” Takes On Olive Street Speeding

Friday, May 19, 2017  - Olive Street will be the beneficiary of a new mobile, radar speed sign next year as the result of an annual exercise in “participatory budgeting”: a democratic decision-making process that empowers a neighborhood to decide how to spend a small share of the city budget.

During its monthly meeting at City Hall this week, the Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team (DWSCT) voted to dedicate $5,000 of its annual $10,000 in “Neighborhood Public Improvement Program (NPIP)” allotment towards traffic calming on Olive Street.

For the past three years, the Livable City Initiative (LCI), the city’s anti-blight agency, has distributed $10,000 in NPIP money to each community management team in New Haven to spend as it chooses. The program allows community members themselves to debate and decide on which quality-of-life issues they would like to address in any given year.

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Zoning Overhaul Hearings Postponed; Criticism Aired

Wednesday, May 17, 2017  - Two hearings scheduled for a plan to dramatically change how New Haven makes major zoning decisions have been postponed, and the proposal ran into some initial public criticism Tuesday night.

The Legislation Committee’s proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance governing “Community Impacts” came under sharp criticism from members of the Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team (DWSMT) on Tuesday night during their monthly meeting at City Hall.

The plan would create a new “high impact” category of zoning approval that would require Yale University to go through a new layer of review — and detail a wide-ranging list of “community impacts” — before it builds anything in New Haven. (Read a previous full article about the proposal, and arguments for and against it, by clicking here.)

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Non-Jail Program For Low-Level Offenders Pitched In The Hill

 Brown explains Albany’s LEAD program during Hill North CMT meeting.

Brown explains Albany’s LEAD program during Hill North CMT meeting.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 -  

The police get a call from Walmart that somebody has been caught shoplifting. The officers run the offender’s criminal history, and quickly find out that he has a 40-page rap sheet. Not 40 arrests; 40 pages.

Will one more arrest put this guy on the straight and narrow? Or is there another route, away from prison and toward social services, that would better change behavior, reduce recidivism, protect the community, and save the taxpayers money?

This was the central question under discussion Tuesday night during the Hill North Community Management Team’s monthly meeting at Career High School.

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Budget Critics Warn Against Reliance On Struggling State

 Alders at Monday night’s budget hearing at City Hall.

Alders at Monday night’s budget hearing at City Hall.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - Weeks before the city has to finalize and approve a new fiscal year budget, a handful of government watchdogs expressed their deep concerns that the proposed budget relies too much on expected aid from a state on the brink of financial disaster.

Such was the prevailing sentiment at an hour-long public budget hearing held by the Finance Committee of the Board of Alders at City Hall on Monday night.

Although the aldermanic chambers were crowded with city employees waiting for a closed-door executive session meeting later in the evening about union negotiations, only a half-dozen citizens testified before the committee, which has spent the past few months holding hearings on the mayor’s proposed $554.5 million operating budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18. The Board of Alders must approve a final city budget by the end of the month.

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A Moral Call To Action On Poverty

 Desmond, Gage, and Salgado onstage at CCA forum at Career.

Desmond, Gage, and Salgado onstage at CCA forum at Career.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - After spending years interviewing tenants and landlords and reporting on urban evictions, Matthew Desmond reached a conclusion that surprised him: Conventional liberal and conservative explanations that heap blame on everything from deindustrialization to out-of-wedlock childbirth overlook the actual root causes of poverty in this country.

Poverty comes not from an absence of resources, Desmond discovered, but from a national unwillingness to confront a profound moral problem. With empathy and effort and understanding, the communal choices that lead to unstable housing for this country’s neediest can be collectively rethought and made anew.

That rethinking about poverty and housing and that moral challenge took center stage Tuesday night in the auditorium of Hill Regional Career High School.

Read the full article here...

First Responders Seek A Clearer Connection

 Briscoe testifies.

Briscoe testifies.

Monday, April 10, 2017 - The city department that handles 911 calls is looking to upgrade a critical component of its communications technology to ensure that notifications sent to the fire department are appearing in a timely and accurate manner.

The technology it uses right now, which was first installed over two decades ago, is faulty and unreliable, and may exacerbate delays in dispatching emergency responders.

So testified Director of Public Safety Communications (PSAP, or “public safety answering point”) Michael Briscoe at a a Board of Alders Finance Committee hearing held at City Hall last Thursday night on the Harp Administration’s proposed $554.5 million operating budget.

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Shelter Starts Again In Home Search

 Clients waiting for the Grand Ave. shelter to open. (Allan Appel file photo)

Clients waiting for the Grand Ave. shelter to open. (Allan Appel file photo)

Monday, April 3, 2017 - New Haven’s top economic development official has promised to help a Grand Avenue homeless shelter find a new home now that the zoning board has denied its request for permission to move to an empty building on an industrial strip around the corner.

During the March meeting of the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), the board denied without prejudice the request from Emergency Shelter Management Services (ESMS) to receive a use variance to operate an emergency shelter in a light industrial zone.

ESMS currently runs the homeless shelter out of a building at 645 Grand Ave. The shelter is 6,400 square feet and serves 50-75 men per night, depending on the season.

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Bike Share Hits A Newhallville Speed Bump

 Legislative rider: Alder Adam Marchand samples prototype at hearing.

Legislative rider: Alder Adam Marchand samples prototype at hearing.

Thursday, March 23, 2017 - Lawmakers were urged to approve a new bike share program in New Haven — as long as it includes neighborhoods away from downtown.

Which might not prove so simple, at least at first.

A public hearing Tuesday night drew enthusiastic support for the planned new project, which would eventually make at least 300 bicycles available for short-term rental at 30 stations located around the city. The Harp administration has chosen a company to run the program, which is similar to New York’s Citi Bike, and now needs Board of Alders approval to roll it out.

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Would 5 Miles Per Hour Make A Difference?

 Antunes, at center, with Alders Delphine Clyburn and Sal DeCola.

Antunes, at center, with Alders Delphine Clyburn and Sal DeCola.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - Two Alden Avenue neighbors offered different takes on how to slow down cars on their street — while lawmakers tried to figure out how much control they have over how fast people can legally drive in town.

The two-hour trip down Transportation Policy Road took place Tuesday night at a hearing at City Hall of the Board of Alders’ Public Safety and City Services & Environmental Policy committees.

The hearing concerned a proposed bill by Beaver Hills Alder Richard Furlow to explore the best ways to calm traffic and possibly lower the speed limit on city (as opposed to state) roads from 25 to 20 miles per hour.

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Top City Lawyer To Oversee New Department, Old Drama

 Rose (center), his executive assistant, Counsel Pernal Paula Marie (right), Deputy Corporation Counsel Phoenix Cherie (left) at hearing.

Rose (center), his executive assistant, Counsel Pernal Paula Marie (right), Deputy Corporation Counsel Phoenix Cherie (left) at hearing.

March 17, 2017  - A hearing about the city’s top lawyer’s budget turned into an examination of why his office is taking over the labor relations department, when he plans to fill a top vacancy there, and whether he’s assuring that city officials are up to date on how to properly handle and dispose of official public records in the wake of a still ongoing controversy over a high-profile firing.

Corporation Counsel John Rose Jr. fielded those questions when he presented his proposed new budget at a three-hour-plus budget hearing held at City Hall Thursday night by by the Board of Alders Finance Committee.

Few of the questions had to do with the relevant numbers in the mayor’s proposed budget, however, which asks for Corporation Counsel to incorporate the three-person staff and $425,000 budget of labor relations into its purview.

Click here to read the full article.

Zoning Overhaul OK’d

 Marchand reviews example of mixed-use development before vote.

Marchand reviews example of mixed-use development before vote.

March 13, 2017 - Karyn Gilvarg and Tom Talbot of New Haven’s City Plan Department have been working on amendments to the city’s zoning ordinance that make it friendlier to mixed-use development: the idea that stores and apartments and offices can be mixed all together in dense city blocks rather than separated in specified districts.

The Board of Alders Legislation Committee has unanimously approved their proposed text edits, allowing the changes to be voted on at the next full Board of Alders meeting.

Click here to read the full article.

New Food Cart Rules Advance

 Hot dog man Sweeney: “Don’t put dollar up front!”

Hot dog man Sweeney: “Don’t put dollar up front!”

March 10, 2017 - The city came one step closer to realizing a new regulatory framework for monitoring New Haven’s food trucks, carts, and stands thanks to a vote following a three-hour public session at City Hall.

Before the vote Thursday night, some vendors told lawmakers they remain concerned about the unintended consequences that these regulations might have on the traffic safety of both their employees and their customers.

Click here to read the full article.

Shelter Change Draws Local Opposition

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - A plan to change a small Hill homeless shelter into a rent-subsidized residence for young people who have aged out of the foster care system is meeting with opposition from neighbors worried about parking and crime problems.

That opposition surfaced at a Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) public hearing at 200 Orange St. on Tuesday night on New Reach Inc.’s request to convert its Careway Shelter at 223 Portsea St. in the Hill’s Trowbridge Square area into a more conventional affordable housing residence for previously homeless and at-risk young women.

New Reach came up with the new plan two years after losing city funding and embarking on an effort to rethink how to house people who are, have been, or at risk of becoming homeless.

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Skateboarders Brainstorm On Coogan 2.0

  Tuesday’s night’s meeting.

Tuesday’s night’s meeting.

Tuesday, January 25, 2017 - David Moser offered a simple choice to the group of skaters and bikers and rollerbladers gathered in a circle before him Tuesday night: “Concrete vs. asphalt.”

“How critical is that difference?” the city’s landscape architect asked, flipping through his notes on the ideal design of an urban skate park.

“Very!” Nearly everyone in the room shouted at once, voicing their unanimous support for concrete.

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