The question on the November ballot regarding proposed changes to the West Haven City Charter is a NO vote for me.
That the current City Charter is badly in need of revision and update in beyond dispute. The Charter Revision Commission has done yeoman service in reviewing the current charter, looking for examples of current best practice in municipal governance, and offering changes that should be made. The Commission’s recommendations deserve serious scrutiny.
The problem with the ballot question is the that is it too broad and all encompassing while at the same being too vague in the particulars. The question asks voters to approve charter “changes includ[ing] but not limited to” those outlined in the question itself. Voters are being asked to approve the Commission’s finding in toto.
This is too much.
For example, if you like the idea moving to Council- Manager form of government but think 4-year terms is a bad idea, you are out of luck. Similarly, if you think it is grand idea to keep the City Clerk, Tax Collector, Treasurer as elected offices.
There seems a definite prejudice that assumes that West Haven is being carved up between the “major” parties, viz Democrats and Republicans. For example, the process for filling any vacancies assumes that the vacancy belongs to the party of the vacating office holder. Why so? Why not let the voters decide? (And while we are at it, why does a city the size of West Haven need two registrars of voters? Surely one would suffice.)
The Commission recommends that the current ten voting districts be collapsed into three but does not offer a process for how this should be done. The devil is in the details. As we have seen in other parts of the United States, redistricting is too often an open invitation for gerrymandering aimed at voter suppression. We need to ensure that redistricting would be fair and impartial.
While the Charter Revision Commission’s recommendations provides West Haven with a very good starting point, as those recommendations are presented in the ballot question there is too much clumped together, with too little of the appropriate level of discussion and debate, and lacking a plan and project to make it real. It is a NO vote for me.
VIA says no
The Village Improvement Association (VIA) is asking voters to vote NO for West Haven charter changes. The VIA are volunteers who manage the West Haven Public Library system.
We feel that it is necessary to address the language change in the new proposed charter. The proposed charter changes the wording from “will fund” to “may fund” the library and its subsidiaries (Chapter XX Section 1). If the city can make $300,000 cuts to the library since 2014 under the “will fund” this will leave the library in unknown and alarming territory if it’s changed to “may fund.” Your high taxes should have comfortably paid for a first class library. Tragically, only 0.07% of city revenue is spent on its funding.
The library has had to cut its hours from being open 59 hours/week to 39 hours/week further restricting public access. Inhibiting West Haven taxpayers from making use of community purchased books, computers, educational programs for all ages and much more. In addition to the cuts in budget, the Piantino branch in Allingtown has been closed. The City sold the building to a contractor in January 2020 without discussion with the VIA.
This contractor, apparently had a first right of refusal provision in a contract that was not known to the VIA. Initially, the city made no plans for a replacement library building. It had been left for the VIA to solve. On a positive note, since July 2020 members of the City Council and Corporate Council have met with the VIA to research possible future sites in Allingtown to either rent or purchase.
The VIA ask for you to VOTE NO on the proposed charter so that the library funds can have a better chance to stop being cut any further. Be on the lookout for a proposed charter revision as part of our library campaign to permanently fund the library at 1.5% of the city’s revenue.