By Ed Granfield and John Carrano
The time has come for the City of West Haven to take a long hard look at itself and consider three simple but serious questions: 1) Are you satisfied with the status quo? 2) Do you believe West Haven needs to change? 3) Are you willing to vote for that change?
Back in February 2018 the mayor and City Council agreed to open the City Charter for review and revision. A group of nine out of more than 40 applicants was selected to conduct this work, and to the City Councils credit, none of the group had strong ties to any one political faction.
We had 16 months to complete this task and submit our report to the council. During that period of time the commission considered 143 potential changes, some subtle in scope, others more dramatic, and just about all of them integrated to a degree.
This was not a simple nuts-and-bolts effort, historical and philosophical debate went on for weeks, especially on the big ticket proposals like restructuring city government, four year terms, credentials for city department heads, redistricting, professional city management, and ethics and compliance just to name a few.
At the end of February 2019, we turned over our preliminary draft to the city’s corporation counsel for legal review. They, in turn, brought in a second law firm to assist in their effects and the chairman brought his own legal team to conduct a review for a total of three legal teams. Upon completion of the legal vetting process, the CRC made all of the legally required adjustments and submitted a comprehensive report on behalf of the citizens of West Haven to the City Council on July 5. Per state General Statutes, the fate of this effort lies with the City Council as it is up to it to review our recommendations and decide if and when, some, all, or none of this will ever get on to the November ballot.
The problem here is the state’s mandated process. The CRC had 16 months to develop this comprehensive proposal for change, on behalf of our community, and the City Council only has 45 days to review it. State-mandated deadlines are looming large if we have any chance of voting on this in November.
Honestly, we could have 13 Rhodes Scholars sitting on the City Council, reviewing the changes in this timeframe will take a massive effort. Political and human nature can and will come into play with the review and opinions will always vary! Now, some folks could argue why should the City Council need to conduct a review at all? They opened the charter, selected a committee who conducted the work and submitted a report that was reviewed by three legal teams, what is there to discuss? This proposal is ready to go, let the voters decide!
The City Council has until Aug. 19 to complete its review and submit a list of recommendations, if any, for the CRC to consider or reconsider. The CRC remains steadfast in its support of our proposal. The legal review is complete, the back and forth between the two committees will be opinion based but can potentially kick the can down the road far enough that this may not be on the November ballot. Whether you may love it, hate it, or you may not be sure about it, this proposal is ready to go and in our opinion its fate should be decided by the voters in November.
If you feel the same way, please reach out to your local City Council member and let them know that you want the chance to vote on this in November, One Question – One Vote! The CRC respects the process and appreciates the council’s efforts in conducting a review. However, they should trust the results of our legally vetted report and send it to the people for a vote. The time and opportunity for real change in West Haven has come, if not now, when? One Question, One Vote! LET’S GO!