Danbury's Charter Revision Commission was bringing the city down the wrong path -- advocating a switch to four-year terms for elected officials.
There was no public demand for it. The push came from some members of the Republican Party, including Mayor Mark Boughton.
But something remarkable happened last week. The Common Council, which has a Republican majority, recommended that the proposal for four-year terms be stripped from the commission's plan for charter changes.
The proposal is a political loser and the council wants to dump it.
Advocates of four-year terms said the job of governing Danbury is too difficult to learn in a two-year term -- an amazing claim. But the four-year-term proposal was really about giving politicians a break from running for re-election and staying in touch with voters.
The commission and the Republican mayor should have dropped this four-year-term proposal long ago.
Credit Republicans on the council for backing away from what was really a grab for power."
And credit Democrats on the council for intelligently challenging the charter proposal and refuting claims that an elected official needs a four-year term to figure out how to govern in Danbury.
As the Democrats wrote in a position paper on the charter proposals: "Two-year terms make elected officials answerable to the public in close proximity to the decisions they make. We know of no crisis or lack of ability of the overwhelming majority of elected officials that would necessitate four-year terms."
A charter establishes how a community will govern itself. At its best, a charter promotes efficiency and responsiveness. The result of four-year terms in Danbury would have been limits on efficiency and limits on responsiveness.
* Mayor Boughton suggests that commission members comprise three Democrats, three members of the GOP, and three Independent members.
* Boughton also suggests that letters for recruitment be sent to the head of the Democratic Town Committee and Danbury CT Republican Town Committee. He described these measures as essential for transparency and for the public's trust in the process.
* There were NO elected officials on the commission, and the then Council President (Joe Cavo) was invited to participate as a commission member.
* The commission members were approved a month AFTER the council approved the initiation of the charter review process (process approved July 2007; membership approved Sept 2007).
* Mayor Boughton WAS PRESENT at the ad-hoc committee to make his case for opening the charter for revision.
* Mayor Alves presents his pick for commission (via letter) BEFORE the council votes to initiate the charter revision process.
* No information was provided by the mayor's office regarding who was involved in the vetting or recruiting process.
* No effort was made by the Alves administration to seek members from the GOP town committee.
* Mayor Alves WAS NOT PRESENT at the ad-hoc committee to make his case for charter revision.
* The majority of Mayor Alves' recommended list of members were active supporters of his campaign and/or were former Democratic candidates for office.
Peter Buzaid: D - Council Prez. D candidate 2023, Alves supporter;
Ellen VanDyke Bell: D - candidate 2021, Alves supporter;
Brigid Guertin: D - candidate 2023, Alves supporter;
Wilson Hernandez: D - candidate 2021, Alves supporter;
Mini Santosh: D - candidate 2023, Alves supporter.
As a VERY active public participant in the last charter revision process, I have grave concerns over the Alves administration's attempt to re-open the city's constitution and the non-transparent and politically motivated tactics from elected officials and their supporters who favor the proposal.
Unlike my political commentary on state matters, when it comes to issues in Danbury, I try to avoid offering too much commentary on city issues, but this is different.
This move, complete with talks of four-year terms, eliminating the elected position of Town Clerk and Treasurer to appointed positions who serve at the pleasure of the mayor, and reducing the number of members on the City Council in one of the fasting growing municipalities in the state, is nothing short of a blatant attempt to change government operations in the city and reeks of a classic political power grab that the city council should reject.
During the last charter revision process, other like-minded public members and I promised to be a watchdog and to speak out on any attempts to re-open the charter if the matter was unwarranted; this attempt to re-examine the charter is not only unjustified but blatantly laced in a type of hyper-partisanship Democrats in the city once decried when Republicans enjoyed majority status in the city.
This heavy-handed crusade from an administration that's less than 100 days old is hazardous and reeks of the type of political power grab that EVERY SINGLE predominate member of the city rejected the last time the charter was examined in 2008.
Over the day, I will meticulously detail my case against this unneeded plan that neither the new mayor nor the Danbury Democratic hierarchy discussed with voters during the campaign season, which ended over 90 days ago.
For a primer of things to come, here's a video clip of City Councilman Benjamin Chianese highlighting one of MANY glaring problems with the proposal: the mayor's recommendation of the makeup of the commission, which reeks of the type of partisan politics and non-transparency that the mayor promised the public that he and his administration would avoid.
This latest and unnecessary attempt to forever alter governmental affairs in the city should be viewed with extreme skepticism.
I'll have MUCH more to say later...stay tuned.
04.25.22 (RADIO): WSHU Latino group call on Connecticut lawmakers to open a Danbury charter school
06.03.22 (OP-ED): KUSHNER: "Career Academy ‘a great deal for Danbury"
On September 26, 2007, ten plaintiffs filed suit in response to an arrest of aday laborers at a public park in Danbury, Connecticut. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on November 26, 2007.
The amended complaint states that plaintiffs sought to remedy the continued discriminatory and unauthorized enforcement of federal immigration laws against the Latino residents of the City of Danbury by Danbury's mayor and its police department.
Plaintiffs allege that the arrests violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the Connecticut Constitution because defendants conducted the arrests without valid warrants, in the absence of exigent circumstances, and without probable cause to believe that plaintiffs were engaged in unlawful activity. In addition, plaintiffs allege that defendants improperly stopped, detained, investigated, searched and arrested plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also allege that defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights when they intentionally targeted plaintiffs, and arrested and detained them on the basis of their race, ethnicity and perceived national origin. Plaintiffs raise First Amendment, Due Process and tort claims.
Plaintiffs request declaratory relief, damages and attorneys fees.