Charter revisions are bold, new step
The City Council is now deliberating the new West Haven City Charter. The Charter Revision Commission has worked long and hard to research and then develop this new charter which puts West Haven on a bold new course.
The new charter would put West Haven on a City Manager-model of government. According to the Charter Revision Commission, this model has worked well for other municipalities of our size and has been very successful in Connecticut. The City Council now becomes like the Board of Directors of a corporation-setting the broad strategy which the city manager then executes. The city manager will be a hired employee, hired by the City Council. In this model, the mayor becomes the chairman of the City Council and would be the chief strategist for West Haven. The mayor is Chairman of the Board; the City Manager is CEO.
I would like to address some of the recent criticisms of the new model. First, that under the new charter West Haven citizens would lose control of the executive branch of government, because the head of the executive branch is no longer elected. True, the executive branch would now be all hired employees, no longer ‘headed’ by the mayor. But to have both a mayor AND a city manager in charge of the executive branch would in effect give you two CEOs of the city, or else a lame duck city manager. It cuts off the legs of the new model. The whole point of the city manager-model is to delegate operation of the city to the city manager, who is trained in Public Administration. If the city manager fails to carry out the vision of the City Council and the mayor, he or she can be removed.
Another criticism of the new charter is the added expense of the city manager’s salary. However, it is impossible to predict what the OVERALL savings or expense will be in the new model, because the new City Charter gives the city manager the flexibility to restructure the administration. The language in the new charter says that we “may have” rather than “shall have” certain city departments, allowing some departments to be combined, eliminated, or augmented. Through attrition there is opportunity to streamline, over time, so that no one loses their job. This is a brilliant change.
Another criticism of the city manager is that it puts the hiring decision of the city manager in the hands of the entire City Council, rather than in the hands of just the mayor. I don’t see this as a negative. With good City Council people and the deliberative process, why can’t the City Council make a good choice? If necessary a search firm can help. The citizens of West Haven remain in ultimate control: the people elect the City Council, and the City Council (headed by the mayor) hires the city manager.
The mayor retains a powerful position-he or she is head of the City Council, is able to set direction and strategy, retains appointment power over most committees, has final say over ordinances, and is able to steer West Haven’s ship. Day-to-day administration is handled by the city manager, who ultimately answers to the citizenry. Obviously there will be a close working relationship among the mayor, the city manager, and the City Council.
This is a bold new direction for West Haven but is in no way critical of the current mayor, who actually got the ball rolling on this charter revision. But future generations will have a much wider pool from which to hire a city manager. Prior administrations have put us under state control twice. Let’s try something new.
It has been a long time since West Haven has had a Republican primary and I think it is great. The choice in this primary is very clear and I urge all registered Republicans to show up and vote for Michele Gregorio to represent our party.
In the decade or so that I have come to know Michele, she has impressed me with her work ethic and determination to make West Haven a better place for us all. Her past professional experience negotiating contracts with unions and managing budgets will serve the taxpayers of West Haven well. I got to see first-hand her grasp of financial issues facing West Haven in her service on the West Haven Board of Finance. Identifying spending overruns and recognizing where important cuts needed to be made seemed to come as second nature to Michele. As a candidate, Michele will bring tireless dedication and enthusiasm our party needs for a mayoral candidate. She will be so much more than simply being “not a Democrat.”
In 2009, the Republican Party put together a full ticket of candidates that had a real chance to revive the party and regain a voice in West Haven politics. The entire ticket and campaign fell to ego, arbitrary decisions and unfounded proclamations. If the party is ever going to regain a legitimate seat in city politics, we cannot do it with a repeat of a decade’s old failure.
Vote for Michele.
Park-Rec marks its own milestone
As everyone knows by now the United States landed on the moon 50 years ago. But do the people of West Haven know the Parks and Recreation Department also has some milestones is has crossed in the year 2019.
The first Parks and Recreation Commission was established on Aug. 1 1919. The members were Edward Gagel, President: Charles Treat, Vice-President; and Dr. Charles Phelps, Secretary. The main function of the commission back then was the acquisition of property to be used for parks and recreation purposes. Some of the properties they acquired by donation, purchase or by back taxes included Shingle Hill Park (1919) Painter Park (1920) Barney Hill Park (1928) just to name a few.
Other milestones Warley Softball Field at Morse Park 30 years old in April. It was named after one of our longtime co-worker and our own historian, Edward Warley. The Wooden Playground opened 25 years ago in 1994. It was one of the greatest undertakings of volunteers in West Haven history. Hundreds of people donated their time to build this wonderful playground for the kids in just one week. It was recently refurbished with help of the people of Lowe’s Home Improvement Store. It was renamed Maureen’s Dream after Maureen Blake who lead this undertaking along with her husband late Tom (Tinker) Blake, the late John Sullivan, Gerry Bonini and many, many, others that helped to make this dream come true.
Also 50 years of the Painter Park Day established in 1969 by then Parks and Recreation Director Bob Tingley and with the help of Ed Warley it was the first all-day camp and continues to this day with over 150 kids each session and eight weeks long. We have made changes and improvements over the years but it’s mostly about the kids and how much they enjoy it. That’s what keeps it going.
One big part of the Painter Park Day Camp was the huge oak tree that stood next to the day camp office that just feel one September night last year. Nothing weather related or anything else it was just old. It was estimated to have stood well over 100 years. It was always the go to place in the morning when the kids got dropped and the same place to be picked up at the end of the day. It’s why the name of the main office is named “Tall Oaks” because of that lone tree separated from the others providing tons of shade and the breeze blowing through it that we always get off the sound up there on the hill. The kids struggle now to find shade at the end of the day so you are always reminded that it’s not there anymore. It is sorely missed
We will find an away to get through it without the tree and continue our programs for another 100 years.
West Haven Parks and Recreation