Time: 8:43 PM
Time: 4:10 PM
The victims from the horrible fire on New Street could really use your help. PLEASE donate any clothing, medicine, diapers and other materials you have and drop them off at the home of Maxine Nery, 155 Westville Ave. Ext.
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Time: 2:15 PM
Remember that projected state deficit figure of 350 million? Well, you can throw that out the window.
With numbers like this, along with that situation in Bethel, unanswered questions surrounding the city's pension, and the ongoing controversy with the 2.5 million in bonding the mayor rammed down our throats without our approval, it begs the question why aren't more people questioning city hall about the financial shape of the city.
...food for thought.
Will the News-Times be next
Time: 9:55 AM
HatCityBLOG EXCLUSIVE: Ad-hoc committee, Government Entities
Time: 1:59 PM
City Hall 01.16.09
Last night, the ad-hoc committee responsible for re-newing various government entities in Danbury (i.e., Danbury Parking Authority, Commission on Aging, Cultural Commission, etc) convened.
Here's footage from the meeting (video starts about 5 minutes into the session).
If they're out 909,000...
Time: 9:08 AM
Food for thought.
LIVE STREAM: Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano confirmation hearing
Time: 12:47 PM
Why is this important to Danbury...because of President-Elect and nominee to head DHS have a vastly different approach to immigration enforcement that the anti-immigrant community here in the city WON'T like.
President-Elect Obama and Napolitano are on record as someone who doesn't like the way ICE is enforcing policy. As well noted, in a speech to the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group, Obama has talked about communities being "terrorized by ICE immigration raids." As USA TODAY note, Napolitano has taken a much more moderate approach to immigration that has long irritated the anti-immigrant xenophobes.
Arizona's governor since 2003, Napolitano vetoed hot-button bills to require police enforcement of immigration laws and to bar illegal migrants from receiving state tuition aid and other education benefits.
Napolitano shuns ideological talk and expresses positions in terms of practicality. The bill last year to require police enforcement of immigration laws was widely opposed by immigrant advocates as punitive. Napolitano called it "simply an unnecessary, unfunded mandate to law enforcement."
That's not to say that Napolitano is against enforcement...but with the economy being the top concern among voters in the country (while the topic of immigration couldn't make the top five on list of concerns), the waste of time spent of by ICE will result to something even the mayor has off-handedly acknowledged...the anti-immigrant pipe dream of a 287g partnership in Danbury will NEVER become a reality.
You can watch Napolitano answer questions during her confirmation hearing live online by below (you can turn the feed off by clicking on the power button on the lower left hand of the video feed). NOTE: Although the hearing is over, you can still watch the video, which is set for a continuous loop.
UPDATE: The live feed is closed. I'll post the Youtube video footage of the hearings once it's available.
Community Forum 01.14.09 broadcast
Time: 11:41 AM
Guest: Former Mayor Gene Eriquez
McLachlan appointment continues to raise questions
Time: 3:27 PM
During last month's state of the city address, one of the items that received the most buzz was the appointment of then State Senator Elect Mike McLachlan as the city of Danbury's director of economic development.
Throughout his campaign, as the Danbury News-Times accurately noted, McLachlan stated that, if elected as State Senator, he would give up his post at the mayor's chief of staff because of the OBVIOUS conflict of interest this would create. This being the case, in his statements, McLachlan gave the clear impression that, if elected, he would, in terms of employment, severed his ties with city hall for the good of the district he is suppose to represent.
Well, now we know that McLachlan and Boughton had other ideas...and The News-Times called out Boughton and McLachlan on this dishonesty in a Dec 29th editorial:
This is not the time for Danbury to pull back on efforts to attract new businesses and new jobs. But Mayor Mark Boughton is doing that as he reshuffles personnel in City Hall.
The motive behind the shuffle is Boughton's desire to give a part-time job to Michael McLachlan, his long-time chief of staff.
In November, McLachlan was elected to fill the 24th State Senate District seat -- serving Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield and Sherman.
During the campaign, McLachlan and Boughton said McLachlan, if elected, would no longer serve on the mayor's staff because of obvious conflicts of interest that would develop in serving their different constituencies.
The promise made sense. But with the election over, it turns out there was undisclosed fine print attached to the promise.
McLachlan won't be Boughton's full-time chief of staff. Instead, he will have a part-time city job as economic development director to supplement his part-time job as a legislator.
To accomplish this maneuver, Boughton says he will downsize the economic development job to part time and move the current full-time economic development director, Wayne Shepperd, to the job of full-time chief of staff.
In response to questions about a cut in commitment to the economic development position, the mayor says Shepperd will still be involved in economic development.
All of this to satisfy the new state senator's need for a part-time job and the mayor's interest in giving him one.
Danbury's needs, not McLachlan's needs, should be the mayor's focus.
With his experience in public life, McLachlan should know better than to get into this situation. It clearly is not what he promised as a candidate. In addition, this new role automatically comes with a conflict of interest.
His part-time city job could involve advocating development that is opposed by constituents from his other part-time job as legislator. If he recuses himself because of legislative conflicts, he will not be doing his job as a city employee.
This job shuffle requires a second look. It doesn't serve Danbury, the mayor or the new state senator.
Clearly, McLachlan is going back on his word to his constituents in the 24th district. Think about it for a second. How does McLachlan serving as Director of ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (who by definition is responsible for helping "businesses already in Danbury find the means to expand as well as to attract new businesses to Danbury") help the residents of other areas in the 24th such as Bethel? Why would McLachlan attempt to expand Bethel's economic base as State Senator IF he's employed by the city of Danbury for that very purpose?
In essence, the whole affair didn't make any sense and didn't go unnoticed by the members of the media who were in attendance or throughout the state as the appointment of McLachlan to this position raised quite a number of eyebrows and was picked up by newspapers ranging from the Hartford Courant to the New York Newsday as well as WTNH.
It was only a matter of time until other media outlets would look deeper into this story.
Today, the Fairfield Weekly took thing a step further and shows what happens when you have a week to work on a story as opposed to a day.
Lets dig in...
At his State of the City address, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced he was handing over the city's Director of Economic Development post to Michael McLachlan, his former chief of staff who weeks ago had been elected state senator for the 24th District (Danbury, New Fairfield, Sherman).
As announced previously, the position would be changed into a part-time one, 15 hours per week — not because of McLachlan's duties as a state senator, another part-time position, but to save costs for the city.
During the campaign, McLachlan said several times that if elected, he would no longer serve on the mayor's staff because of "obvious conflicts of interest that would develop in serving the different constituencies."
Area residents, as well as the Danbury News-Times' editorial board, saw a potential conflict of interest regarding the new post — the mayor moving someone close to him into a newly-revised $32,000-a-year, part-time city job, one where he could use his clout in the Capitol to lobby for the city's economic development (perhaps with less interest in the rest of his district). Shouldn't there be a board that looks into and okays this stuff?
Now, here's where things get interesting...
There are two, in fact, the Danbury Board of Ethics and the Office of State Ethics in Hartford — but McLachlan didn't seem anxious to hear what either had to say.
He says he e-mailed the Danbury board on Dec. 18, a day before Boughton's State of the City address. As for the state office, e-mails obtained from it show McLachlan sent them an e-mail at 6:31 a.m. on Dec. 19, mere hours before the lunch-time address.
McLachlan was offered the economic development job the weekend before Thanksgiving, both he and Boughton confirm. If he wanted the opinions of either ethics office, he could have asked long before the mayor announced it.
Makes sense right? If McLachlan thought there was a chance that there would be a conflict of interest (or even if he wanted to double check and make sure his appointment to Director of Economic Development was okay, WHY WAIT UNTIL THE DAY OF THE STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS to inquire with the State's ethics board?
What's more troubling is the time in which McLachlan made the inquiry, the time of the response, and the time of McLachlan's reply. You see, I filed a FOIA request for all communications between McLachlan and the state's ethics board in regards to this matter. Here's what I received in return...take note of the times in which the emails were transmitted.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD
Although the Weekly was correct in stating that McLachlan's initial email inquiry with the state's ethics board happened at 6:31 as on the day of the state of the city address, what's more troubling was WHEN the state ethics board REPLIED as well as when McLachlan REPLIED to the state ethics' email response.
First, the importance isn't what the state's ethics board said to McLachlan, it's the timing of the entire matter. You see, the state replied to McLachlan at 12:10 PM...a mere minutes before Boughton delivers his speech AND McLachlan replied to the state at 4:11 PM...hours after Boughton announced McLachlan's appointment.
As the Weekly stated, why did Boughton and McLachlan wait until the day of the state of the city address to place an inquiry with the state? Also, my looking at the timestamps, it appears that McLachalan didn't know the answer until after the address.
Here's McLachlan's comment that appeared in Dirk Perrefort's article on the state of the city address which was published on the News-Times' website on 12/19/08 at 6:31 PM.
He [McLachlan] said he's asked for opinions from the city's and the state's ethics commissions on the matter.
"I don't anticipate any conflict but we are looking at it carefully to make sure it will be acceptable," he said.
Perrefort was at Boughton's address (in fact, he stood right next to me) so it's quite logical to assume that he received this quote from McLachlan after the Boughton did his address.
I think you get the point when it comes to the puzzlement in McLahclan and Boughton waiting until the last minute to inquire into this appointment so lets move on with the Weekly's piece.
As for the Danbury Board of Ethics: As of press time, chairman Arthur Mannion had not issued an opinion, but didn't think there would be a conflict "because it wasn't a money issue, referring to conflicts between public duty and private purses."
...and here is where the rabbit hole gets deeper.
Adding to the intrigue, Mannion is an area lawyer who serves on the Republican State Central Committee as co-chairman for the 24th District. His co-chair is Michael McLachlan. The man who could clear McLachlan on behalf of the City of Danbury has worked side-by-side with him for partisan goals.
Isn't this another conflict of interest?
YES...and it gets EVEN WORSE.
Les Pinter, Corporation Counsel for the City of Danbury, says that "only an officer or employee of the city who has a potential conflict can raise the issue" of McLachlan's closeness to Mannion. "That is not likely to happen. Either of them would have to recuse themselves."
Remember that point where I stated that McLachlan confirmed that he received the email AFTER the mayor's speech...
McLachlan tells us, "I knew there was no conflict of interest beforehand, as I studied law and consulted with my lawyers. I just wanted an official response from the state. And I received their decision before the mayor announced his decision."
Actually, the e-mail from the State Office of Ethics says McLachlan confirmed his receipt of the message at 4:30 p.m.; the mayor's speech was at 12:30.
From my memory, around 12:10 to about the start of the speech, McLachlan was busy handing out gathering and handing out the transcripts of Boughton's speech to the press. Again, I stood next to the reporter from the News-Times and you can see McLachlan work the room with the transcripts as well as see him give me a copy of the speech clearly in my video footage (which was timestamped).
The Weekly article ends on this note:
When asked if his closeness to Mannion was a concern, McLachlan simply answered, "No."
McLachlan has served many years on the State Central Committee, and serving as senator simultaneously is allowed. The day after I spoke with him, though, he tendered his resignation.
Lets take a look at the development of Boughton's statement in regards to McLachlan, Wayne Sheppard, as well as someone whose name never came up in his state of the city address.
It's easier if I do a bullet list:
- FIRST, McLachlan and Boughton stated that Mike would resign as chief of staff because of "obvious conflicts of interest that would develop in serving their different constituencies."
- THEN after the election, while Boughton stresses the economy as a major issue for Danbury in 2009, he changes the position of Director of Economic Development from a full time to part-time, 15 hour per week position (which at 41 dollars per hour amounts to 30,750.00 annually) and appoints McLachlan to take over that role (although he's a State Senator for the 24th District which includes areas which will reply on McLachlan in terms of economic development...such as Bethel).
From the 2009 State of the City address:
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 on 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.
This is ALL Boughton stated about McLachlan and Sheppard's changing of chairs.
- It was only until directly questioned by Eugene Driscoll for an article that was published on the 26th of December, were we told this NEW piece of important information from the last honest man in Danbury:
During his time as economic development director, Shepperd had a hand in bringing the Nutmeg Games, the Connecticut Film Festival and the American Junior Golf Association Championship to Danbury.
He was also involved in discussions throughout the year as the city lobbied to bring Pepsico from Somers, N.Y., to Danbury. The cola giant has not announced a decision as to whether they will renew a lease on property it rents in Somers.
How is a part-time director going to get things done in just 15 hours a week?
Boughton said the plan is to have Shepperd still be involved in economic development issues.
An unspecified portion of chief of staff duties will be given to Ted Cutsumpas, who works in the Mayor's Office as community services coordinator, Boughton said, so that Shepperd can continue to play a role in economic development.
Hmm...so ALMOST A WEEK AFTER THE STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS (when Boughton first announced McLachlan and Sheppard's new roles), we NOW learn that Ted will be assuming some of the chief of staff responsibilities AND Sheppard still being "involved" in economic development issues.
Are you following this?
You would think something as involved as this would have been explained when Boughton brought up the new appointments during the state of the city address...as opposed to revealing this point only after being questioned about his decision to reduce the position of Director of Economic Development to a part-time position...right?
...and then there's Boughton's defensive remarks posted on his site which came AFTER the News-Times blistering editorial...which came a day after Driscoll's article on the 26th. Again, why the details after the fact as opposed to fully explaining the re-shuffling during the State of the City address?
Recently, the Democratic Common Council caucus sent a letter to Mayor Boughton that echoed the questions raised in news reports.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD
In short, in his new role as Director of Economic Development for the city of Danbury, by the definition of his new responsibility at City Hall, when it comes to the providing state assistance in regards to expanding a municipality's economic base, Mike McLachlan there will always be a question on whether or not the new State Senator will work in best interest of his constituents in the 24th district. At the very least, McLachlan and Boughton should have been more straight forward with voters in the 24th district about the possibility of MacLachlan still working for the city of Danbry if elected State Senator.
Mike McLachlan's bad day
Time: 1:47 AM
...what, you didn't think I wouldn't have something to say about McLachlan's latest bout of dishonesty did you?
I'm off to bed, I update everyone later...this is going to be ugly and I'll need a full night's sleep.
Where are the details?
Time: 4:12 PM
Simply put, there are WAY too many unanswered questions surrounding this very complex attempt by the city to acquire the rights to the property and without the information needed to form an opinion one way or the other, by default, this entire proposal should neutral ruling.
Whether it's what we were told regarding the parade ordinance, the volleyball ordinance, the whole "casino" fiasco, denial of funding of the Hispanic Center, "bundled campaign contributions from James Galante, sex offender ordinance, the BRT tax giveaway, or the infamous 287g partnership as well as the Danbury 11 case, history has proven that when it comes to ANYTHING politicians say, you better double check and make sure you're not being sold a bag of goods.
As I state on this site on numerous occasions, transparency is the only method in which one can verify a politicians' claim. In the case of the Transfer Station, the question (at this point) shouldn't be whether or not this is a good thing but rather do you have enough information to form a educated opinion. Based on looking at all the information that is available on the city's website, the answer to that question would have to be NO.
Let me explain.
The mayor's first public comment about the Transfer Station occurred at his State of the City address on Dec 19 2008 at which time he announced that he was holding a special common council meeting on Dec 22 (he actually gave out announcements of the meeting to members of the council AT the State of the City address). Although fulfilling the state statue requirements of calling a meeting, the problem with this situation was that the public was completely in the dark in terms of details of the items of the agenda of the special meeting.
Here's a look at calendar on the city's website for that day (Dec 22 2008) and the three items on the agenda:
1 – RESOLUTION – Resolution of Intent,
2 – ORDINANCE – Danbury Solid Waste Authority, and
3 – COMMUNICATION – Request for Funds – Legal Fees.
There is another item on the agenda but it involves information that is withheld from the public...but that's not the problem. This issue lies in the fact that the public is completely in the dark in terms of the details of each item on the agenda because our lovely city clerk failed to provide the public with the documentation that went with each item on the city's website.
Maybe she's too busy performing weddings during city hall business hours...but back to the point.
Usually the procedure on the city's website is that any item on the Common Council agenda is accompanied with documentation related to that particular item. In this case, nothing was provided to the public...in fact, I took it upon myself to get the information myself and make it available to the public on this site. As I stated last month, how can anyone in their right mind sign onto a proposal without knowing any of the details...especially something as complex as this situation.
Do you honestly think a couple of News-Times articles is going to tell you all you need to know about what the city is doing? Really?
Back in December, after the Common Council Special Session, a interviewed Minority Leader Tom Saadi and asked him about this situation and this is what he had to say...
Now, to Saadi's credit, he was not aware that the information regarding the items on the December's agenda was STILL NOT AVAILABLE on the city's website.
...and that brings us to last night's public hearing on the creation of the Danbury Solid Waste and Recycling Authority. Take a look at this snapshot of the agenda on the city's website.
See something missing? Here's a hint, it has something to do with documentation. Once again, the city clerk has not provided for the public any documentation relating to the items on the agenda.
I took the liberty of grabbing the documentation so you can read it for yourself.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD
In closing, I think this is very simple. It's not whether taking over the transfer station is a good idea or not, it's about the city providing ALL THE DOCUMENTATIONS to the public so that WE THE TAXPAYERS can form a well-rounded/educated decision. Take every single quote you've read in the press about this acquisition with a grain of salt until you have enough information to form YOUR OWN OPINION. When it comes to this situation, the city is providing more quotes to the public than the facts...which is a disservice to us all.
Quote of the day
Time: 9:39 PM
"A public library is one of the strongest resources in the city...even though we are willing to do our part to save the city money, it just seemed like the negative impact outweighed the savings."
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