Monday, December 31, 2012
Monday, December 24, 2012
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Happy Thanksgiving - enjoy the day.
State of Connecticut
By His Excellency WILBUR L. CROSS, Governor: a
Given under my hand and seal of the State at the Capitol, in Hartford, this twelfth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and thirty six and of the independence of the United State the one hundred and sixty-first.Wilbur L. Cross
Friday, November 9, 2012
The City of Danbury and Union Savings Bank are proud to announce the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund For Greater Danbury. The fund will be used to help bring much needed relief to the families of the Greater Danbury area who have lost their homes or have suffered some type of loss during last week's Hurricane Sandy.
To start, the City of Danbury will donate $5000.00 and Union Savings Bank has agreed to donate $2500.
So how can you help? Starting Tuesday, you can walk into any Union Savings Bank branch in the Greater Danbury area and make a monetary donation. The donation will be recorded and you will be given a receipt. Any amount will be appreciated and the money (which is tax deductible) will be used to assist Greater Danbury residents who have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
Newtown, New Milford, Redding, and Bethel are also participating. I want to thank each of the First Selectmen and Mayor Murphy in agreeing to help spread the word.
Some communities - most notably Bethel and Newtown have agreed to make a donation - thank you.
The United Way has agreed to help deploy the money collected for the fund and they will be setting up an online donation system.
If you want to help your neighbor.. now is the time.
Just walk into any Union Savings Bank Branch and help a family from our community.
If you are a family in need, next week we will be announcing the application process for the grant money so hang in there, we got your back..
Monday, November 5, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
|This is the back of the house.|
|This is the front of the house.|
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Monday, October 29, 2012
There she is. Beginning her westward turn towards to the East Coast. Sandy was busy last night, strengthening with lower barometric pressure and with a higher sustained wind (85 mph) -thanks to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.
So far she is performing as expected. Her landfall will be early tomorrow morning somewhere around central New Jersey. Look at the jog the center takes .. I'm a little suspicious of that much of a left hand turn but the National Hurricane Center knows a lot more than me.
The phasing of the two winter storms will begin today, that will give our girl even more energy. Instead of weakening as she approaches land fall, she will strengthen.
For Danbury and the Greater Danbury area expect slowly deteriorating conditions for the rest of the day. The overnight will be windy and rainy.
A 51 mph gust was just clocked at JFK, that's about an hour away from us.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
This latest diagram from the 11 am update pretty much lays out the scenario. With this angle of landfall, our coastline will be slammed with wind driven water from Long Island Sound and will do catastrophic flood damage to places like Bridgeport, New Haven, and other areas that were hard hit by last year's Hurricane Irene. The storm surge could be larger than the '38 Hurricane that actually altered Connecticut's coastline.
For the Greater Danbury area, wind will be our problem along with several inches of rain. We are in the worst case scenario for wind, expect gusts to 60-70 mph, and a steady wind of 45 mph plus for hours.
You will be out of power for an extended period of time, It's a given.
Danbury Public Schools are closed Monday and Tuesday, Westconn will be closed as well.
Please take this seriously and please prepare now - electricity will be out for a very long time..
Friday, October 26, 2012
Here is the 8 am track for Hurricane Sandy from the National Weather Service. The landfall of Sandy will be on the east coast. We just don't know where. Sandy could hook in on the Washington DC metro area or head all the way up to Maine.
Some of my meteorologist friends don't think the scenario of the dramatic left hand turn that you see in this track will happen. They believe that a flatter trajectory - slightly to the east will place Sandy over Long Island on Monday night. We'll have to see..
Begin preparations now..
Thursday, October 25, 2012
There she is. Sandy has blown up in the Caribbean and she has become a monster. Still a lot to play out here, there are so many factors, but right now it doesn't look good. The 2 pm runs today will give us a better picture of her track, but this track shows landfall right around New York City, giving Greater Danbury a good shot of the eastern side of the storm (which is the most windy). We have begun preparations in Danbury and if the models hold with this afternoon runs, we will begin an outcall to residents to start preparations later today.. To be continued..
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
There she is. Hurricane Sandy has spun up in the Caribbean. We are still a long ways off from a solid forecast, but the probability of some kind of weather event in the Greater Danbury has increased. Keep an eye out here, and on the news, and I will keep you updated.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
We've seen three debates. Romney was the overwhelming winner of the first debate in Denver, the President won the last two.
But does winning the debate mean you're going to win the election? Depends.
The number one issue facing the country is the economy. Foreign policy isn't even on the radar for most people.
A victory in a foreign policy debate is a Pyrrhic victory for the President. It doesn't hurt, but it doesn't help him convince people that he can change the trajectory of the economy. When you focus the performances of the two candidates on just the economy, Romney has won all three of the debates - handily.
That's why the race is so close.
There's is something happening out there. Three of the undecided focus groups (CBS, MSNBC, FOX) gave Romney the edge last night - mainly due to his performance on the economy. All of the snap polls gave Obama the victory in the debate. That tells me that the voters are saying "yes, the President is smart, he won, but we don't care about that issue. On the issue that we care about - the economy, we are going with Romney." Fascinating.
Romney will have to tap into that sentiment harder, and the Republican ground game will have to work like it has never done before. Republicans hate grass roots politics, they just don't get how important the mechanics of a campaign are. Democrats love grass roots politics, and they are exceptionally good at it.
Romney will need more than just a tie in the polls on election day in places like Ohio and Virginia, he will need to be 3-4 percentage points ahead of the President Obama in each critical battleground state to make up for the Democrats GOTV effort - a tall order.
Conversely, if I'm in Chicago today at the Obama headquarters, I am very nervous, and I am working on turnout, turnout, turnout. I would be deeply concerned about the youth vote. Since Obama leads by such a huge margin in that demographic, he must get them to the polls on election day. The enthusiasm of 08' is not there yet. If they don't show up, he will lose.
Two weeks to go.. this is getting interesting.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Think about it. The Board of Regents (nobody can quite figure out their title - or what they do) increased the pay of Mike Meotti who is the, get this title - Executive Vice President for the Board of Regents of Higher Education - to... get this.. $232,244. The Board of
Don't we have a state budget crisis? Aren't we even concerned about the long term legacy costs of these employees?
And by the way, what does a $130,000 (with an undetermined raise) a year spokesperson for the Board of Regents of Higher Ed. do? - particularly when each university and college has its own spokesperson? Seriously? $130K to write press releases? Anyone? Anyone? Good grief.
In the worse economy since the Great Depression, the Department of Higher Ed - the organization that should be economizing and reducing inefficiencies at every turn to help our students - many of whom are struggling to retrain themselves and reenter the work force, many of whom are trying to stay in school under extraordinary financial pressure, many of whom come from challenged backgrounds and are in need of higher education more than ever, decided to feather bed themselves with cushy titles and unheard of benefits at the expense of the future of our students.
Shame on them.
UPDATE: It was a mistake!
The Connecticut Mirror has an update. Take a look at those salaries in the story. That's why our kids can't afford the tuition to our College and Universities.
Double shame on them..
Thursday, September 27, 2012
There are three presidential debates scheduled for October. October 3rd, 16th, and 22nd. These debates will be critical for the Romney campaign.
Really it won't even be the three debates. Historically viewership drops off after each debate, That means that Romney's fate will rest on the first debate. Let's amend that, Romney's fate will hinge on the first twenty minutes of the first debate - that's it, that's all Romney has to make his case.
Within the first twenty minutes viewers will decide if they like Romney, they will decide if they trust him, voters will look to see if he can stand toe to toe with the President on the issues and voters will look for something that tells them that things can get better under Romney's leadership.
It's an awful tall order for Romney. Given the state of the economy he should be in a much stronger position. But, unseating a sitting President is not easy. You're asking the public to fire him, and at the same time you must make the case for a better tomorrow. It's a difficult duel message and it has to be finally tuned. When Ronald Reagan ran against President Carter, in the 1980 debate Reagan repeated over and over again "Are you better off then you were four years ago?" it was simple and ingenious turn of words. The phrase evoked the ideal of a better day and at the same time called attention to the failings of the Carter administration.
The Romney campaign has not clearly defined it's message.
The first twenty minutes could make or break the campaign..
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
In an effort to promote transparency and help our citizens learn about city government, this year we have launched a new program called the Citizen's Government Academy.
The Citizens Government Academy will be accepting applications through Thursday September 6th at 4 pm.
For more information and an application for the Citizens Government Academy, click here.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
We had a late night last night.
The RNC has got to do a better job with the bus transportation.
We left the Tampa Bay Times Forum at 11:00 pm. We waited in a parking area outside the Forum for a shuttle bus for at least an hour if not longer. That bus was to take us to another bus at Raymond James Stadium that would take us back to the hotel. That was were the problem started. We waited 2.5 hours inside a hot bus to get on a humid hot bus that would take us back to the hotel - no one was allowed to get off the bus while we waited. We arrived at the hotel around 3 am. While our bus was relatively calm, there were reports of passengers who got pretty upset and I am sure they are lighting up the phones of the RNC this morning.
Mia Love is the current Mayor of Saratoga Springs Utah, she is running for Congress in the 4th Congressional District in Utah and, get this, is a Connecticut native (state wide press where are you?), a graduate of the University of Hartford. She told a moving story of her parents coming to the U.S. from Haiti and how her mother taught her all she needed to know.
A great personal story that inspired many of us at the convention - I hope the Connecticut press follows up on Mia and her story
Ann Romney was up to the task last night. She is phenomenal, a class act all the way and gave delegates insight into the kind of man Mitt Romney is - and the kind of President he will be.
It's not easy giving that kind of speech, and she carried it off flawlessly.
Heading back over to the Convention in a few minutes.
Praying for the residents of Louisiana.
Monday, August 27, 2012
After much concern and worry for the organizers of the Republican National Convention, Hurricane Isaac passed to our west and is now barreling up the Gulf of Mexico towards Louisiana.
During the overnite it was windy and rainy (not to be too over dramatic, but I did get some water in my room and could feel the wind blowing through the windows. I can only imagine what a direct hit from a hurricane must do) and generally miserable.
Last night delegates and guests headed to Tropicana Field for the opening night reception. Tropicana Field is a domed stadium so rain and wind are not an issue. Typically there is entertainment (Cirque du Soliel, musical acts, etc) and food - all paid for by the Republican National Committee.
Protesters were in attendance, but, the state police had them in a segregated area with fences and physical barriers - apparently one protester showed up with a machete strapped to his leg.
Today the delegation is at the hotel waiting out the remnants of the storm to pass us by. The schedule has been announced - the RNC has crafted a truncated version of the convention that starts tomorrow at 2 pm.
The roll call for nomination of the office of President and Vice President will start in the early evening of Tuesday August 28th.
Other than that, I will be doing some work from the business center at the hotel and waiting for the sky to clear.
In the meantime, let's hope that New Orleans makes out ok.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
In case you were wondering, we are not in the midst of armegeddon here in Tampa. In fact, it's a beautiful morning with a nice breeze and plenty of sun.
The RNC decided to post pone Monday's session in the interest of safety. Given Isaac's storm track over night, probably wasn't necessary, but I understand the need for caution.
All the activities are on for tonight. Including the opening reception for the 6 - 7 thousand delegates, alternates and guests at Tropicana Field.
I will have an updated post after the opening reception with an updated convention schedule.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Friday, August 24, 2012
|The Tampa Bay Times Forum - Ready to go.|
Greetings from Tampa Florida! Over the next several days, I will posting from the Republican National Convention. My goal is to give you an inside view of a national political convention.
Yes, I am supporting Mitt Romney for President (I am not jumping on the band wagon, I supported Romney in 08'), but, I am not going to write heavily partisan commentary - you can get that anywhere. I am going to try to add texture and feel to the next several days. Answer basic questions, what goes on at a national convention? what happens on the floor? What does it cost to go to the convention? Who goes to the convention and why? Do conventions even matter anymore? So feel free to email in questions and I will try to answer them (email@example.com).
I arrived in Tampa yesterday, the Convention doesn't actually start until Monday, but Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson and I were asked to serve on one of the standing committees - the Committee on Credentials. That means I had to be in Tampa Thursday night for an organizational meeting and then Friday for an all-day meeting and possibly Saturday if we don't finish our work.
What does the Committee on Credentials do? We certify that the 2,286 delegates and the 2,125 alternate delegates attending the convention are lawfully appointed/elected to be there.
This is usually a mundane but critical task that should take a couple of hours to complete. However, this year for the first time in many years, we had several delegate challenges from factions in Maine ,Oregon, and Oklahoma, most of these challenges were from Ron Paul supporters who wanted to be delegates and felt that in some way they were not heard at their respective state conventions.
The Committee on Credentials listens to both sides and we act as a jury of sorts to determine who gets to attend the convention. We heard the three appeals today and all of the initial rulings made by the Republican National Committee were upheld.
Tomorrow we will be greeting the delegates and the alternates as they arrive from all over the country.
Right now, all eyes are on Tropical Storm Isaac.
Monday, August 20, 2012
I am asking that $44 million be programmed for renovations and additions to 4 schools: Stadley Rough, Park Ave, and Shelter Rock, and Mill Ridge Intermediate.
If approved, each of these buildings will be upgraded and expanded to accommodate the expected influx of students we will see over the next 10 years, and provide the space necessary to offer All-Day Kindergarten to all of Danbury's students.
Mill Ridge Intermediate will be converted into a building that will house middle school students and two academies, the STEM Academy currently housed at Rogers Park Middle School, and a new Academy modeled on our popular International Academy that is currently offered to grades K-5.
In addition, we are also holding Public Hearings on modest borrowings for our Sewer Plant and for our Water Plant as well as important infrastructure repairs (bridges, drainage, and library improvements).
I have asked that each repair/building program be broken into 4 questions for consideration by the voters.
Should the City Council opt to report these ballot questions out tonight, they will be placed on the November ballot for a final vote by the voters of Danbury.
So come on down to City Hall this evening and be heard.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
So, what's a hacker space?
Well the best way to describe one is a place where people can congregate, exchange ideas, and make use of the technology that is there to improve on their ideas. The ideas could range from computer programming to manufacturing, digital art and electronic art to assembly and design skills.
The Danbury Innovation Center could also have seminars and discussion groups on everything from the latest trends in social media to the most recent iteration of the Iphone.
The small business incubator will be used to coach and mentor budding entrepreneurs and business ideas. Access to technology and business skills will be provided in conjunction with the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce.
There are currently a little over 1,000 hacker spaces in the world and the City of Danbury joins only a few cities in Connecticut to host one.
Funding for the Danbury Innovation Center will come from fees charged to users and grants that are available.
The City will renovate the library space to accommodate the center (approximately 2500 square feet).
Look for a 2013 opening.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
In spite of reports from various media outlets, the meeting is not about "vagrants" or the increase in "vagrancy" it is about opening a dialogue with Main Street businesses and informing them of some changes that have been made to various regulations and ordinances that have been changed or will be changing.
One the most vexing and difficult challenges from the city's perspective is the amount of litter and debris that accumulates on the weekend and during the week. All of us who use Main Street (including our residents and customers of businesses) must be vigilant in sending the right message that litter and littering will not be tolerated.
Each business will be required to sweep and maintain the area in front of the store everyday - we will be sharing that idea with our merchants at the meeting.
Are there panhandlers on Main Street? Of course. Is it a crisis? No. But, we need to all be on the same page to discourage panhandling, and other activities that disrupt the quality of life and the ability for our businesses to do business.
The meeting tomorrow will be the first in what we hope will be an ongoing dialogue with people who are working and living on Main Street.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Then a micro burst hit the southern part of Main Street and the areas around South Street and the bottom of Coal Pit Hill.
Scenes like that could be found all over the south side of the city. Currently there are 47 CL&P customers without power and we continue to work on clean up.
At Rogers Park Middle School an air handling unit on the roof was picked up and thrown back down on the penetrating the roof. Our engineers estimate a wind speed of over 100 mph would have had to occur for that to happen.
Thankfully no one was hurt.
Looking forward to a quiet weekend..
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
On Sunday July 8th, all of the political heavyweights were in Danbury to participate in the ground breaking ceremony of the new Army Reserve Center that will be located on Lee Farm. It was a great day for our city has the 90,000 square foot building will provide a home for approximately 200 soldiers every weekend.
If there was a hiccup, it was the name of the new center. On the renderings and the drawings it is named the "Newtown Reserve Center in Danbury". Obviously that is going to be a problem. For the next 75 years, soldiers looking for the Reserve Center would be driving around Newtown CT.
When the issue was raised with the Army on Sunday they assured us that the final name will not be the Newtown Reserve Center.
So what shall it be? Well in full disclosure, my good friend and a proud veteran Tim Winkler suggested to me that the new Army Reserve Center in Danbury ought to be called the Hartell - Hickok Reserve Center after the two medal of honor winners from Danbury.
So with all due respect to Mr. Hickok - a medal of honor winner from the Civil War, I would suggest that we place a plaque at the new center in his honor and that we name the new Army Reserve Center the "Lee Hartell Reserve Center".
Hartell was a Danbury resident who enlisted in the army and was deployed to the Korea during the Korean War.
Here is his Medal of Honor citation:
1st. Lt. Hartell, a member of Battery A, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an armed enemy of the United Nations. During the darkness of early morning, the enemy launched a ruthless attack against friendly positions on a rugged mountainous ridge. 1st Lt. Hartell, attached to Company B, 9th Infantry Regiment, as forward observer, quickly moved his radio to an exposed vantage on the ridge line to adjust defensive fires. Realizing the tactical advantage of illuminating the area of approach, he called for flares and then directed crippling fire into the onrushing assailants. At this juncture a large force of hostile troops swarmed up the slope in banzai charge and came within 10 yards of 1st Lt. Hartell's position. 1st Lt. Hartell sustained a severe hand wound in the ensuing encounter but grasped the microphone with his other hand and maintained his magnificent stand until the front and left flank of the company were protected by a close-in wall of withering fire, causing the fanatical foe to disperse and fall back momentarily. After the numerically superior enemy overran an outpost and was closing on his position, 1st Lt. Hartell, in a final radio call, urged the friendly elements to fire both batteries continuously. Although mortally wounded, 1st Lt. Hartell's intrepid actions contributed significantly to stemming the onslaught and enabled his company to maintain the strategic strongpoint. His consummate valor and unwavering devotion to duty reflect lasting glory on himself and uphold the noble traditions of the military service.Pretty courageous stuff.
Lee Hartell Reserve Center, I like the sound of that..
Monday, June 25, 2012
It's that time of year again, our annual reading challenge kicked off today at the Danbury Public Library.
Reading is critical to academic success and the Mayor's Reading Challenge is one way that we can encourage children to read during the long summer months.
The reading challenge requires children in grades 1-5 to read for at least 1 hour a week for 7 weeks, and those in grades 6-8 are required to read for at least 2 hours a week.
Each week challenge readers check in with our teen council members at the Library and record their time. At the conclusion of the 7 weeks the winners receive an invitation to attend a special awards ceremony.
Summer is a great time to read a book, so get busy Danbury readers!
Saturday, June 16, 2012
On Tuesday June 19th I will be participating in a fundraiser to help a terrific organization in Danbury. The Samaritan Health Clinic in Danbury is a 501c3 Pediatric Clinic that meets primary care needs of over 1,000 kids in the Greater Danbury Area.
I have agreed to help raise money to fund an additional care specialists for ongoing or chronic needs kids. The position will provide services above and beyond what the general practioner can provide.
So, here's where you can help. On Tuesday I will attempt to play 100 holes of golf. I am asking that you consider sponsoring me on a per hole basis to raise money for the clinic.
Once the event is over, I will email you a link and report to you how many holes I was able to play.
Then you just make your donation - it's as simple as that.
You could sponsor a hole at any level from 25 cents and beyond and of course your donation is 100% tax deductable.
So waddaya say? Can you find it in your heart to help some Danbury kids? Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know that your all in for Danbury's children.
Monday, June 11, 2012
At the last Main Street Partnership meeting, the City of Danbury presented the concept of an Entertainment License that would be implemented for the Central Business District (CBD) in Danbury.
"Entertainment" has been somewhat of a controversial issue in the downtown. In 2003, in response to activity that was impacting the ability of local restaurants to do business in the Dining and Entertainment District, the City Center Board asked that Danbury review it's regulations and amend them to curtail underage parties and 18 to party 21 to drink events and the related conduct (binge drinking, fights, etc) that was proliferating the district.
In response, the City adopted the "60-40" rule and a host of other initiatives that would limit the kind of activity that the City Center Board was concerned with.
Clubs in existence at the time of the adoption of the new regulations were grandfathered as a pre-existing and anyone who wished to open a new club would have to comply with the new regulations.
After trial and error, it has been determined that while the regulations cut down on the activity that was problematic, it also applied a one size fits all standard to prospective night club owners that stifled investment and business development in the Dining and Entertainment District.
With the adoption in our code of ordinances of the licensing procedure, city staff can make a determination of the efficacy of a business proposal, hold club owners accountable for their conduct, and eliminate cost prohibitive requirements like the "60 - 40" rule (a requirement that says any night club must have 60% of their floor space dedicated to food service, and only 40% can be dedicated to alcohol sales).
We modeled our proposed ordinance after cities and towns with vibrant night lives (San Francisco and Burlington VT respectfully) in an effort to provide both flexibility and control over activities.
- Underage events can be held, but patrons must be separated from alcohol by a physical barrier.
- 18 to party 21 to drink events are out.
- Music must be contained within the establishment - no more music blasting it into the street.
- Specific hours of operation must be followed - hours generally follow state statutes, but it is part of the entertainment license.
- Security must be provided outside the establishment to ensure patrons do not disrupt other businesses or the neighborhood once they leave the premises.
- Areas around the premises must be cleaned of litter on a daily basis.
Monday, May 28, 2012
I would also like to welcome Pat Waldron, our Director of Veterans Affairs, and offer a special thanks to the Danbury Council of Veterans for organizing another terrific parade.
Special thanks also is in order for our Public Works staff for working all week to prepare Main Street and the parade route.
Finally, I would like to thank and congratulate veteran Patricia Ann Terry, our honorary Parade Marshall.
While the parade that we march in is always important, this service, held each year at this hour, in the Rose Garden, dedicated to our veterans- both past and present, is the most important part of our ceremony.
In a few moments, my friends from the Danbury Council of Veterans, will read the names of those Danbury veterans who have passed on during the last year.
Last year in my remarks at our annual service, I mentioned to you how important that part of the ceremony was.
This morning that is still true.
It is easy to not pay attention to those names- it can be hot. we are all tired from our walk down Main Street.
Each year, I make an extra effort to pay attention to those Danburians whose names are called for the final roll call, for their the last formation – they are good names, old Danbury names. Their names bring back memories of a Danbury in a different time and place.
Each of the people who will be mentioned paid some important part in allowing us to come together for this moment, – the ability to celebrate our freedoms. They gave this nation the ability to do right, as God sees the right – their names speak of courage, of duty, and of passion for our United States.
The roll call of those departed are our city’s modern day Yankee Doodle Dandies, and as such we should respect them and honor them for their sacrifice.
Indeed, we honor them for the years that they gave up in exchange for the years that we have.
What a privilege to be here and listen to their names called one last time
I am deeply humbled by their service, their sacrifice, and their belief in our great nation.
This morning, I would be remiss if I did not mention a name that will be called out for his final roll call.
That is of my father, Army Specialist Donald W. Boughton, Military Policeman, Korean War Veteran, and proud Danburian.
Knowing someone who is on the list, helps us remember that each of these people was a father, mother, brother, sister, and a child. In this manner they become three dimensional, they become more than just a name on a list. They become real, younger, fit and ready to answer the call of duty.
This morning we read their names to pay honor to their sacrifice, their courage, and their commitment to our way of life. They served their country, while at the same time, many of us enjoyed the fruits of our great nation. For that gift we should always be grateful.
When the names are read, reflect on their collective honor, their spirit, and their dedication to our great nation.
They are the true meaning of Memorial Day
For me, I will be listening a little closer this year. There is a certain Army Specialist who lived on Mill Plain Rd in Danbury, who proudly enlisted in the Army on the 29th April 1953, and after service in Korea, Japan, and West Point was honorably discharged on the 26th of March 1959.
Like all the names on the list, he will be answering his final roll call, - it will be his last formation.
That is why we assemble here this morning. To honor the living and remember the dead.
It is our solemn duty to memorialize them.
So thank you for being here this morning – your presence means everything.
Thank you for caring about our veterans both past and present.
Thank you for honoring the fallen at this service.
What of the names that will be read in a few minutes? They may be gone, but their love of country and their American spirit live on – in our hearts and in our community.
May God bless you, and may God bless the City of Danbury, and may God bless the United States of America.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
May 19th is your favorite day. It's the day that you can drop off that old couch sitting in the basement or the boxes of junk in your basement.
We also have volunteers (there's still time: 203-797-4511) throughout the city cleaning streets and sidewalks. The drop off schedule is:
Time: 9 am to 1 pm.
Drop Off Locations:
City Hall- 155 Deer Hill Ave.
Rogers Park- Near the tennis courts.
Mill Ridge Intermediate School
Public Works Complex
Please have your drivers license or tax bill handy as this event is for Danbury Taxpayers only.
Remember, no commercial vehicles allowed.
So let's get going on that spring cleaning! Special thanks to Winters Brothers and their staff for their donation of hauling and the use of their dumpsters.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
It is budget time again in our city, and like the rest of the municipalities in the State of Connecticut, Danbury is busy putting in place it's spending plan for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
This year the process has been particularly difficult for a variety of different reasons, revenue is way off, foreclosures are up, and city expenses continue to escalate.
All of these challenges are not unique to Danbury, you can find them in most cities and towns in Connecticut. In municipalities across the state the education budget is the largest portion of the overall budget and is the one area of local budgets that continues to grow even while in many places school enrollment shrinks.
The assumption when preparing a municipal budget is that the education budget always goes up.
In Danbury, our Board of Education has asked for an increase of a little more than 5 million dollars. That's 5 million more dollars next year then they received last year.
To put that in perspective, to generate an additional 5 million dollars for the school budget, you would need approximately $300,000,000 of new construction/grand list growth within the city. Consider that in our best year (2007) we only issued $187,000,000 in building permits, the chances of the city ever being able to meet that type of request from the Board of Education from an increase in economic activity is slim and none.
The only alternative then for the City Council to meet the request of the Board of Education, would be to raise the $5,000,000,000 through an increase in property taxes. An increase of that size would require a tax increase of almost 10%. The average home that pays $4500.00 in property taxes would have their taxes increased to almost $5000.00.
That's just for next year. On average the Board of Education requests a 5% increase to their operating budget every year.
Each year as the budget increases, even if the percentage of new money requested stays the same (5%) the amount of new money requested grows exponentially. For example, in 2005 the education budget in Danbury was $94,932,481. In that year, a 5% increase to the education budget would mean an additional $4,700,000. In 2011 the education budget is $114,895,291. A 5% increase to the education budget means $5,700,000 - an additional million dollars!
Then there is the explosive growth of the education budget. During the same time period (05' to 11') the education budget in Danbury has increased by $19,962,810.
So what drives the increase in expenditures? A variety of factors, enrollment, fixed costs, and increases in energy costs.
The largest expense in the budget is people, salaries and benefits continue to increase year over year. Finally, state and federal mandates require more and more programming that must be funded.
State education funding has not been increased in years and the City of Danbury lags far behind similar sized communities in terms of state education aid.
Regardless of how we got here, the reality is that Danbury and communities across the state have hit the wall. Taxpayers are losing their homes and can't afford large increases in their property taxes. The City of Danbury only has 44 square miles to develop - tough in a roaring economy, impossible in an anemic one.
For those reasons Danbury, and most communities in the State of Connecticut are on an unsustainable path when it comes to school funding.
Reform? Let's start with the school finance system in Connecticut first.
That's what needs reforming..
Monday, April 16, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Mr. President, Honorable Leaders and Members of the City Council, Madam Clerk. City Officials, Department Directors, Employees, and my fellow Danburians:
In accordance with my duties as Mayor and those prescribed by the Charter of the City of Danbury, I respectfully present the proposed budget, and the Comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan for the 2012-2013 fiscal year for the City of Danbury.
As always, I want to take a moment to thank the members of our legislative body of our city, the members of the City Council and its leadership. Our elected officials spend hours working on the City’s business in a voluntary capacity and it is much appreciated.
In the coming month, members of the City Council will be giving up their weekends and their evenings to deliberate over this body of work. For their dedication and commitment we should all be thankful.
Special thanks to our Director of Finance David St Hilaire, Assistant Director Dan Garrick, and our budget specialist Judy Baris. They have created an outstanding document that we all can be proud of.
Last year during my budget address I presented several challenges that stressed our city in terms of long term unfunded/underfunded employment benefits for our city employees Tonight, I am pleased to report that the contracts for our city employees that were adopted by you this spring will result in unprecedented savings for our taxpayers in the coming years and have made a tremendous impact on the long term financial stability of our city..
However, in the short term, our budget still remains under intense pressure for pension contributions as well as our retiree medical costs for our current employees and retirees.
Now that we have addressed the long term post employment costs that threatened our financial stability, we have spent much of the spring addressing the short term challenges to funding our government.
Our goal over the last year is to derive efficiencies out of every area of the organization.
To help us achieve that goal, we are in the process of installing a new core system of software that will upgrade our business functions. The core system is being rolled out as we speak. By implementing this new system, we will be able to reduce duplication of services, eventually limit the amount of employees needed to run city operations and begin to align Board of Education functions and practices with the policies and procedures used in our Finance Department.
The initial 2012-2013 budget requests totaled $230.3 million dollars, which is an increase of $14.4 million dollars from our current budget. After careful review and many hours of work, we have reduced the overall proposed increase from $14.4 million to $4.1 million dollars or just 1.9%.
City department spending in this budget is flat.
Savings have been found by creating greater efficiencies and by cost avoidance.
For example, we will continue to defer filing 65 positions and 29 of those positions will remain unfunded in the 2012-13 budget.
Many positions that were once full-time have been reduced to part-time or completely eliminated.
The Department of Finance Budget Team continues to meet regularly with Department Heads to discuss targeted cost saving opportunities. For example, under the City’s “Go Green” initiative, 244 devices used for copiers, desktop printers, fax machines and scanners will be replaced with 60 digital multifunctional copiers. These new devices will enable us to implement a document management system that will allow us to go paperless for most operations. Other cost saving initiatives like an employee wellness program, a new vehicle use policy, and switching our phones over to a VoIP system are ongoing.
While I recognize that these cost savings measures are modest, the reality is that they are part of a culture change that we have brought to City Hall to encourage people to do more with less, to reevaluate every aspect of what they do and why they do it, and to reward and encourage proactive approaches to our budget challenges.
This year we have also used strategies to provide a more transparent and a more direct budget which reduces the use of “one-shot” sources of revenue to balance our spending plan.
In years past, we have programmed sales of various city properties to use as revenue in the budget. In the 2012-13 budget there are no land sales or “one-shot” sources of revenue to help balance budget.
In addition, this year as well as last, we have begun reducing our reliance on fund balance to help balance the budget. This year we proposing a use of approximately $2.3 million in fund balance, down from $2.4 million in the 2011-2012 budget.
Finally, we have moved much of the expenses to that have been traditionally paid for out of our borrowing into city departments and funding them as part of our general fund expenditures rather than borrowing.
As mentioned above new equipment and vehicles have been programmed into the individual department budgets.
Some of these are ongoing capital investments, for example, continue our AirPac replacement program and payments on new pumpers that were approved last year.
Other equipment is new. In the 2012-13 budget we have programmed new vehicles for the Police Department, and a new Ladder Truck for the Fire Department.
The cost for a Ladder truck is over $1 million, which reflects a significant investment by the city in public safety.
My administration continues to work with Chief Herald and Chief Baker to migrate to a civilianized centralized dispatch as a first step towards a regional dispatch center.
Education spending represents the largest part of our spending plan.
While we have reined in spending on the operational dollars on the City side of the budget, and while I am recommending the elimination 29 positions and have left 64 positions vacant, I am proposing an increase to the education budget of $900,000 in direct aid and a reprogramming of $600,000 of existing revenues to provide a $1.5 million increase to the education budget.
In addition, under the Governor’s proposed education reform package, the Board of Education will have available to them approximately $2.0 million of new money that must be dedicated to school improvement.
I have been meeting extensively with Dr. Pascarella, Dr. Glass and Board of Education to work on a plan on how best to deploy the new money. While there is still many questions about what the state will accept in terms of an improvement plan, I believe that after careful analysis of the new legislation that the money will allow us to address the growing achievement gap.
My recommendation to the Superintendent and the Board of Ed is to use the new money to expand our All-Day Kindergarten program over the next several years as space becomes available.
The first phase of All-Day Kindergarten could happen as early as next year. With the allocation of approximately $400,000 from the new money from the State of Connecticut, the Danbury Public Schools could offer more All-Day Kindergarten seats next year, and expand each successive year as space allows.
All-Day Kindergarten is probably the number one request that I have heard from parents and one the top priorities in the district because of its impact on academic success.
By phasing in All-Day Kindergarten over several years and by utilizing the new dollars available from the state, we will be able to minimize the impact to our taxpayers and take a tremendous leap at closing the achievement gap in Danbury.
It may seem counter-intuitive that I recommending an expansion of All-Day Kindergarten while at the same time the Board of Education will have to make some difficult decisions about programming. But, I believe that it is critical to provide the best educational experience that we can for our children from grades K-12.
All-Day Kindergarten is about more than custodial care, it’s about academic achievement and success.
With the new dollars available, and with a lot of hard work, All-Day Kindergarten will finally be a reality for all of Danbury’s parents - and we will take a giant leap at closing the achievement gap..
While I recognize that the money I am recommending does not meet all of the requests of the Board of Education, the proposed budget coupled with the school improvement money from the State of Connecticut represents approximately $3.5 million in new money.
Of course, we stand ready to help the Danbury Public School system navigate its way through the uncharted waters of the new education reform program and support them as they apply for the new dollars.
We also are providing a substantial amount of dollars for the schools that the public may not be aware of.
For example, this year we are required to add $1.8 million into the pension fund to cover Board of Education employees that participate in the General Employees Pension Fund. That’s $1.8 million that is not being used for textbooks, teachers, or equipment.
On the capital side we are continuing with the upgrades to Danbury High School by replacing the windows in the building after replacing the boilers last fall. Total investment in the infrastructure for the Danbury Public Schools over the last year totaled a little over $13 million.
Let us also not forget the new Head Start building that we are constructing on Foster Street. Danbury is one of the few cities in the State of Connecticut that has made such a tremendous commitment to the Head Start program.
We have also authorized the expenditure of money to begin the planning for expansion of our schools consistent with the recommendations of the 2020 Task Force.
All of these expenses are rarely considered when we think of education spending, yet they impact our bottom line and are an important contribution from our taxpayers.
SEWER AND WATER:
Over the last 2.5 years, we have not raised sewer and water rates. This year I am proposing a rate increase that is modest, yet will help us pay for and plan for future capital upgrades that will be required by state and federal law.
Creating a capital fund in both enterprise funds will help us should we have a failure in one of our sewer pumps or an issue with the infrastructure of our water system. Right now, there is no capital program and no ability to pay for emergency repairs or other required capital investments should they be needed
As you will be aware, the EPA, and DEEP, is requiring 30 cities and towns across the state to perform upgrades to reduce Phosphorus to an unprecedented level. The cost of the capital investment required to meet the DEEP and EPA requirements would be catastrophic to our city and to our ratepayers. Part of the capital fund will be used to plan and execute improvements that may be required in the future.
Needless to say the City of Danbury will be actively opposing the new standards and have been lobbying the General Assembly and our federal representatives to intervene on the city’s behalf.
Even after these modest increases, the City of Danbury will still have some of the lowest sewer rates in the state, and the lowest water rate in the State of Connecticut.
There are some key budget assumptions that I want to point out to you.
There are no “one shot” sources of revenue programmed in the budget.
All revenue assumptions are based on current economic conditions.
We are also assuming that the current proposed state budget and its municipal aid will make it through the legislative process. Should the Governor or the Legislature cut our municipal aid as part of the final state budget negotiations, we may have to revisit our spending plan-- this will mean reductions across the board that I am sure will result in layoffs and a reduction in services.
I do want to make it clear. Should we receive a cut in state aid beyond what the Governor has proposed, we will not look to our taxpayers to make up the difference.
Once, again I would like to point out to you that many communities of comparable size and demographics receive far more dollars for education from the State of Connecticut. For example:
While Danbury receives approximately $23 million in state aid for education, the City of New Britain receives almost $75 million, the City of Bristol receives $41 million in state aid for education.
It is incumbent on our state legislators to work as hard as they can to provide equity in the distribution of state education dollars.
To implement our budget, I am proposing an increase to our mill rate by .76 mills or 22.45.
General fund expenditures are increasing just 1.9% - a remarkable feat given the economic conditions, the increase in spending is mostly driven by the increase to the education budget, fixed costs, and pension contributions.
With exception of education spending, the philosophy of this spending plan is to cut first - revenue second.
Cut we did.. Every single department will feel the impact of our cuts. Many difficult choices and sacrifices have been made and will continue to be made by all City departments in order to present a balanced plan of operations designed to continue essential municipal services.
Make no mistake, our city departments will have a difficult time getting through the next fiscal year.
But, we believe to make even greater cuts would be irresponsible Possibly jeopardizing public safety.
It is only after we have completed this work can we then ask for a greater contribution from our residents.
As you may recall, last month we agreed to delay the phase in this year of the last round the state mandated reevaluation.
Finally, we will continue the tax freeze for our senior citizens.
In summary, the proposed spending plan for the 2012-2013 fiscal year will be challenging and difficult for our departments as well as for our residents.
With exception of recurring expenditures, departmental spending has remained flat.
I am proposing leaving vacant 29 positions and deferring hiring for 64 vacancies.
By not funding these positions, we are avoiding the possibility of layoffs for this year.
I am proposing a modest increase in sewer and water rates to begin developing a capital fund for ongoing repairs and planning for future mandated upgrades.
I am not proposing any new fees or surcharges.
I am proposing a number of long term cost avoidance measures that I believe are visionary and forward thinking.
A combined regional dispatch that will enhance safety and lower our expenses.
Energy efficiency projects for our schools and our public buildings that will save on heating and cooling costs.
Implementing structural changes to our system of employee benefits that have been successfully negotiated..
Tonight, I ask for the for Council’s cooperation as they deliberate over this plan. While today, our finances are on firm financial footing, we must have the political courage to make the necessary structural changes to avoid the problems that other cities of similar size have faced.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe in Danbury. I believe in our residents, our employees, our business community, and our faith based community.
We are blessed with so many assets. A world class Hospital, a tremendous University, a wonderful business community, a low unemployment rate, a low crime rate, a AAA bond rating, a vibrant arts community, and a quality of life that we can all be proud of.
The current economic crisis will eventually pass, and when it does, Danbury will emerge as a leaner, wiser, and stronger community.
Thank you for your attention and your passion in our great city.
God Bless America and God Bless the great City of Danbury.