NOTE: For those looking for the video footage from the address, the file is still uploading. Due to the large size of the file, it will take some time for YouTube to process everything so please hold tight. The video should be available for viewing by Saturday morning.
Well, that was an interesting ride home. Took me 50 minutes to get from Mill Plain Road to Main Street. Now that I'm home, I'll get to work processing the video from today's state of the city address.
There were some rather interesting developments today.
- Topping the list is not who's Mark Boughton's new chief of staff, but who's his new Director of Economic Development.
Former News-Times publisher Wayne Sheppard will fill the position of Chief of Staff while, State Senator Mike McLachlan will take over as Director of Economic Development. What's interesting about McLachaln taking this role with the city is multi-fold.
First: I think I'm correct in stating that it was McLachlan who stated in the press that he would serve as State Senator exclusively. McLachlan, Sheppard, and Boughton should be questioned immediately about when this deal was made as well as whether or not McLachlan was being straight forward with voters during the campaign.
Second: as being, in essence, a person who has the sell the city to businesses, you can easily foresee a situation where there would be a conflict of interest between his role as State Senator and someone who to trying to promoting economic development in Danbury.
Lastly: (and most importantly) the people who make up the
26th24th district should be concerned that McLachlan will have Danbury's interest first over the interest of the other towns that make up the district in terms of attracting businesses to areas besides Danbury.
- The city of Danbury is taking the steps to acquire the Transfer Station on White Street.
There will be a special meeting of the Common Council where they will discuss this matter; what's strange is that it seemed that members of the council were just informed about this special meeting today. If they are required to vote on anything, YOU should be concerned as there doesn't seem to be a great deal of information about how the city is going to operate this facility (or more importantly, the COST involved in running this facility).
- The economy WILL have on major impact on this year's budget. Although the mayor stated that he would not increase property taxes, sewer and water rates, as well as announced that he has not called for any layoffs (and stated that he has no plans to layoff anyone when question at the Community Forum), the question remains, with the economy going into the toilet, unemployment on the rise, number of building permits in Danbury on the decline, and the cost of living increasing, HOW will Boughton be able to juggle everything since his projected numbers from 2007 were off due to the economic crisis.
- Recycled several points such as tackling the homeless problem, although his proposal for the homeless in 2007 didn't come to reality (more on that later), open space, crime rate, and etc, etc.
In short, Boughton is taking a rather ambitious plan to take over the transfer station while offering few details when it come to details (besides creating a Danbury Solid Waste Authority). In terms of the station, although is sounds like a good idea, MUCH MUCH more details need to be presented so the public can have a full picture in terms of what the city is getting into. Boughton, Sheppard, and McLachlan should answer questions about the re-shuffling of the deck. If McLachlan went back on his word, then he could face some rather harsh criticism.
Now, before watching the clip, a little background.
The interview WTNH conducted with Mayor Boughton happened before his state of the city address when the audience were eating their lunch and we in the press were freaking out over the amount of snow that just started to drop. The interview with Boughton in the clip was the SECOND (and VERY brief) interview they did with him...the first interview was conducted in the hallway and took...oh, I would say about 7-10 minutes (once again, I know this because I was walking back and forth checking the snow and getting rather worried that I was going to stuck at the hotel (if anyone knows that particular hotel's driveway, then you understand).
In short, ALL the footage of Boughton during the first interview in on the WTNH's cutting room floor and in exchange, the focus of the interview has to do with the ONLY subject Boughton is known for...illegal immigration.
Why is this of note? Because, as Boughton launches his next (and probably last) it's apparent that the topic of illegal immigration will be the albatross over his legacy...and depending on where you stand, Boughton will be remembered as a illegal immigration enforcement champion or an anti-immigrant bigot whose actions created an almost irreparable racial division in a city once known for it's diversity.
Also of note, listen to Boughton (or as WTNH called him "BOUGHT") as he, once again, tries to make the tired old argument that Illegal immigration was the TOP priority in the country. This is a LIE as EVEY single poll in the last two years CLEARLY showed illegal immigration down the list, not even coming close to other topics such as the war, health care, and of course...the economy.
Here's a challenge...lets see if the city has the guts to ever do a cost analysis on EXACTLY how much it would cost the city to fully implement 287G. I mean everything which includes training, purchasing of new equipment, access to the federal database, etc. You can crunch the numbers in your head but I'll just say that IT WILL COST A GOOD CHUNCK OF CHANGE...and this for a city that the mayor proudly states is one of the safest cities in the country.
Food for thought.
Honorable Mark D. Boughton
State of the City 2008
December 19, 2008
Thank you and I would like to thank each of you for being here today.
Congratulations are in order for Richard Steiner and his family for running an outstanding organization. The Steiner family, and the Steiner companies have been among the leaders of the Danbury business community for decades and have improved the quality of life for residents throughout the greater Danbury area.
I would like to acknowledge all of our dedicated elected officials who are here today. Danbury works because we all work together regardless of party affiliation for the betterment of our city and our community.
Joining us here today are:
We are also joined by members of the Common Council.
I would also like to recognize our Judge of Probate Dianne Yamin.
In addition, I would also like to recognize members of our state delegation that are here today.
I would also like to thank and recognize our team of dedicated city administrators and department heads for their work in making Danbury a better place.
I would like to thank Steve Bull and Harry Carey and the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce for putting this event together.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to report to you today that City of Danbury is in strong financial shape, maintaining the highest credit and bond ratings in our city's history.
Due to the hard work your finance department, this year Moody's has increased our bond rating based on our sound financial practices, and Fitch is considering an increase in our bond rating as well.
As I speak to you here today, Danbury is maintaining the lowest unemployment rate in the State of Connecticut.
We were just rated the safest city in Connecticut.
Our taxes continue to be some of the lowest in the state and our sewer and water rates continue to be 100% below the state average.
While a downturn in the residential real estate market has turned into a fuH blown economic crisis, Danbury continues to be a desirable place to raise a family. Our business community continues to meet the current economic challenges head on.
There are, unfortunately, storm clouds on the horizon. The State of Connecticut is experiencing unprecedented economic challenges.
With a projected deficit of 6 billion dollars over the next two years, the state deficit will result in severe cuts in state aid which will have an impact on our locat budget and wiH impact our ability to deliver services to our community.
In light of the economic uncertainty, I have already taken several steps to help mitigate the pending crisis. I have already implemented a spending freeze and a hiring freeze for all non-essential personnel. I have banned all out-of-state travel for training, and have begun to review the assignment of vehicles and cell phones.
Through attrition, we have eliminated approximately 10 positions in City government, and the Board of Education has announced an early retirement incentive program that will enable us to restructure some of the delivery of educational services.
We have begun an assessment of our public improvement projects to see is we can delay some those projects while we wait for more favorable economic conditions.
We have also included some 50 million dollars worth of public improvement projects in our request to the incoming Obama administration for funding in the anticipated economic stimulus program.
I n the meantime, the rest of our public improvement projects are moving forward, some highlights include:
The new Police Station which will be open and fully operational May 1, 2009, approximately 5 months ahead of schedule.
We have completed the rebuilding of three new bridges, one on Rose Hill, and two on Padanaram Rd.
The brand new Ellsworth Ave. Elementary School will be open in the fall of 2009.
We are rebuilding several fields and adding a new multi-purpose field in Rogers Park.
We are in the process of adding open space and acquired the development rights to Taylor Family farm in the Great Plain area.
We also have completed a number of projects that have added value to our community..
Paving and drainage work has been completed throughout the city.
A cut through has been completed for the residents of Pocono Lane.
The widening and streetscape of White Street has been completed.
We have completed and presented to the Veterans of this City a new building called Veterans Hall in Rogers Park.
We are also in the process of development of a strategic plan bV a task force designed to assess our Main Street and work closely with City Center. The Main Street Renaissance Task Force, led by John Kline, has helped us look at our Main Street in an objective fashion and will help us formulate a lasting strategy for its long term success.
The Danbury Schools 2020 Task force has begun its work and will formulate a strategic plan that will engage our community and corporate partners. Chaired by Rosty Siabicky and Janis Reid, we are in the process of designing an educational system that will meet the needs of the 21st century and will be cost effective and efficient.
We have started the process to update and revise our City Charter.
This administration has accomplished much over the last several years and f am proud of its record.
I am also excited and energized by the prospects of another year in office. Yes we have challenges, but we also have so much to be proud of.
I am proud of our rich multi-cultural community that celebrates me and recognizes the importance of each person in Danbury.
I am proud of our elected officials, both Democrats and Republicans; they are committed to putting the needs of our city and its residents first.
I am proud of arts community, the strong growth of the ives Authority, as well as a successful first run of the Connecticut Film Festival.
We experienced successful Nutmeg Games, hosted in our city and are gearing up for another successful summer games for 2009.
We have a University that is the flagship of the State University system, and is once again having a record year in terms of applications for enrollment and has secured funding for a multi-million dollar performing arts center on the west side campus.
We have a first class Hospital providing outstanding care to our residents.
We have a growing and diverse faith based community that has become strong care providers and partners with the city to help those who are the most challenged in our community.
This year we saw the opening of two facilities that serve the disadvantaged of our community. The Samaritan Center located on Rose Street, and the nmn located on Maple Ave.
We have a first class effort to address the issue of homelessness in Danbury.
In our community we did not wait for an economic crisis to address the issue of homelessness, we were deep into the implementation of our Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness before the economic downturn took place.
That's why we have reduced chronic homelessness in the area, and are putting new housing units on line for those among us who face the crisis of being without a home,
With the assistance of the V.A. and our local Housing Partnership team, we have created a new program called Housing for Heroes to help homeless veterans off the streets and into new housing opportunities.
I would like to thank Mark Nolan and the Danbury Housing Partnership for their dedication and their commitment to our city's homeless population. They are doing remarkable work. Their work has been recognized across the State of Connecticut and across the country as model for other communities to emulate.
We have engaged our seniors by tapping into their wealth of experience and Knowledge for the betterment of Danbury by encouraging them to donate their time to the city or their favorite non-profit in exchange for a credit on their property taxes.
While I am proud of our community, I also recognize that we do have challenges and just as you have grown to expect from this administration, we will meet them head on.
The economy is our number one challenge moving forward into 2009 and beyond. While we have taken strong measures to address expenditures in city government, we will still be challenged by falling revenues.
As many of you are aware, over the last several years, the waste hauling industry in Western Connecticut and as well as Eastern New York has been subject to a federal investigation regarding its business practices. The investigation was sweeping and far reaching, resulting in many indictments of people and companies.
The investigation has been completed and most of the assets of the companies in question were seized by the federal government. Those assets will be auctioned off by the United States Marshall Service sometime in the next several months.
The most important part of the seized assets for our region is the Transfer Station located at 307 White Street. The Transfer Station handles approximately 120,000 tons or 95% of the trash generated per year from our region. It is a critical component for the delivery of trash disposal services in the greater Danbury area.
Over the last several months, the Housatonic Resource Recovery Authority, our regional trash authority, has been pursuing public ownership of the facility, It has become evident to the Authority that it would b€ too difficult for the 11 towns in the region to acquire the facility.
It also became dear to the Authority and become dear to myself, that the City of Danbury would be uniquely positioned to acquire the Transfer Station, and ultimate.ly to operate it.
Since early September, I have been working with our legal team and our consultants, Malcolm Pirnie, to determine the economic viability of the Transfer Station, and to make revenue projections for the future.
Based on our preliminary assessment, I am reporting to you today that the Transfer Station is viable, and more importantly, could provide a significant revenue stream for the City of Danbury.
Today, I am proposing that the City of Danbury create the Danbury Solid Waste Authority to oversee operations at the Transfer Station, I am proposing that the City of Danbury, and the newly created Authority acquire the site and the facility to protect and preserve the waste disposal system we have in place.
Since the City of Danbury and the Authority will be assuming all of the risk, it is only fitting that we will be keeping all of the revenue generated at the facility.
Ladies and Gentleman, we wiH turn Danbury's Trash into Cash.
Cash that in the future, could help balance our budget, fund our schools, clean our streets, and provide much needed property tax relief to our homeowners.
At a special meeting this morning, HRRA has adopted a resolution that endorses the City of Danbury's proposal.
I am also thankful to Congressman Murphy for endorsing Danbury's effort to place the Transfer Station in public ownership.
I am calling for a special meeting of our Common Council for Monday Dec. 22°cl at 7:00 PIVI where I will ask the Council to begin the process of acquiring the Transfer Station. As I speak to you today, the notices of the special meeting are being delivered to our Council members.
Aside from the revenue that will be generated to provide property tax relief, there are other equally important reasons to have the Transfer Station under public ownership.
Equal access to the site is critical to the operations of the many haulers who operate within the area. Equal access will provide a level playing field to all haulers so that consumers will benefit from lower pricing in a competitive marketplace.
Having a citizen panel of Danbury residents to oversee the general operation of the facility will ensure that there is transparency of its operations.
Flow control, the direction of the trash stream, will finally be enforced in the HRRA region.
Public ownership will ensure that the City of Danbury's Mom and Pop Recycle Center continues to operate unimpeded for the benefit of the taxpayers of Danbury.
Public ownership over a period of time w1l1 result in lower costs to our residents by lowering tip fees to the haulers.
In light of the federal government's allegations regarding unfair competition in the market place, I believe that the only solution to restoring competition and to ensure that. another situation does not arise that restricts an open market place is that t.he City of Danbury, through the Danbury Solid Waste Authority, runs the Transfer Station.
Putting the dollars generated from our trash generated by the residents of Danburv, back into the hands of the taxpayers and businesses of Danbury, is the right thing to do.
Acquisition of the site wii! be difficult and challenging. This is a complex operation that involves many players. I also recognize that these are difficult economic times. We will place site acquisition of the a Transfer Station as well as capital work that must be completed at the facility at the top of our funding request from the Incoming Obama Administrations economic stimulus plan.
Since this is a regional facility, we will also appeal to the State of Connecticut for funding assistance as well as assistance with the various permitting fees.
The City of Danbury and HRRA are once again appealing to the federal government to work in a cooperative fashion with us to sell the Transfer Station for a minimal fee to the Danbury Solid Waste Authority.
But make no mistake.
Because public ownership off the Transfer Station is critical to ensuring that there is a place to sort our trash and recycling materials for the future for the 11 towns in our region,
Because the residents and businesses of Danbury have been harmed by over paying for services for years and have been victimized by unfair competition in the market place and deserve the revenues that are generated at the facility,
The City of Danbury will use every tool in its tool box to ensure that there IS public ownership of the Transfer Station.
The City is also entertaining two interesting land proposals on the west side of the Danbury. One proposal is for the purchase of by the city of 200 acres of open space bordering New York State and Joe's Hill Road, and the second is a development proposal for the 13 acres of city owned land along Old Ridgebury Rd.
The open space parcel is one of the most desirable in the city including what was the former Farrington compound now owned by AIG. There are several buildings on the property that could be used for the Arts as well as the Danbury Land Trust. Sanford's Pond, and the head waters of the Still River, is located within approximately 200 acres of pristine woodlands.
The second proposal includes a 400 seat independent film theater as well as 5000 square feet of flexible space dedicated to the city to host various film production efforts in the area.
As many of you are aware, Danbury has become a sort of mecca for film makers. Having flexible space for film production will help us market the city as a desirable location to make a film.
In addition, shops and a small outdoor performance center will be available for intimate performances.
A land lease would be required to use our land, and the dollars generated from the lease could be used to leverage the borrowing necessary for the acquisition of the open space owned by AiG. in addition, jobs would be created, as well as much needed tax revenue for the City.
While acquiring the Transfer Station for the region, and open space for the City are important, the issue first and foremost on our residents mind is the economy.
The City will do everything it can to keep property taxes at their current level. We will do everything we can to keep sewer and water rates at their current level.
This coming budget season, we will have to make some difficult and tough decisions. Our next budget will reflect a retrenchment of our basic services. It will be painful, but it is necessary as we manage the economic downturn.
We will also work closely with the Chamber of Commerce and the our own office of Economic Development to conduct a job fair in the spring for our residents, as weI! as partner with Westconn to conduct economic literacy programs for our residents.
We will continue to address the issue of homelessness in the City and in light of the economic crisis accelerate our efforts.
We will work to give our residents a hand up during these difficult times. We wi!! support and care for our brothers and sisters in need.
Over the years as mayor, I have been blessed with a great staff. This year! am sad to lose Michael McLachlan. Mike has done an outstanding job as chief of staff. Mike is moving OF! to be the next State Senator from the 24th District and will be moving on to a different role for the City of Danbury.
Today I am proud to announce that Wayne Shepperd, our current Director of Economic Development will assume the role of chief of staff. I am excited to work with Wayne. He has been a mentor to me (as to most of you in the room) over the years and he will do a terrific job.
Michael McLachlan will move to Wayne's position as the new Director of Economic Development. The position will be reduced to 15 hours per week. I honored and excited that Mike has agreed to take on this new role for Danbury. He brings an incredible amount of knowledge and skill to Danbury.
Congratulations to both Michael and Wayne.
I also want to take a moment to wish our new President Barack Obama, the best as he is sworn in next month and embarks on the first 100 days of his administration. He will need all of our support as he faces many difficult challenges and many difficult decisions.
Being mayor of the City of Danbury has been the highest honor for me. 1 am humbled each day that I walk in the office.
I am honored by your faith and the support that you have shown me over the years. I appreciate the feedback that many of you have shared with me.
Ladies and Gentleman, I am proud to report to you that Danbury is blessed with a strong economy. Danbury has a stable and responsive government and a compassionate and caring people.
We are a community of people from all over the world, dedicated to making this city an outstanding place to live, work, and be educated in.
In this holiday season, we need to express our faith to one another. We need to show faith in America, faith in our economy, faith in our leaders, and faith in our families.
As we move through the business of our day, let us all remember just how lucky we are. We are lucky to live in this wonderful community.
Let us renew our faith in our purpose, let us vow to continue the fight to renew our community, house by house, street by street, block by block.
These are tough times, but let us not forget, America is the shining star of our planet. We are the last best hope on earth. We will endure these times and we will continue to share the American experience.
Thank you for coming on this snowy day.
Happy Holidays to you and your families.
God Bless you and may God Bless America.