724 Political News
Keep it right here for
you latest Team 724 news and events.
Political Director Chuck Flynn will posting vital info to the campaign
and Team 724's next move..
AFSCME Council 4 Convention held their convention in the heart of downtown
New Haven at the Omni Hotel. By accounts was a huge success attended by
over 225 union members. Executive Director Sal Luciano and his staff are
commended on a first class presentation.
The sour Connecticut economy and its effect on our union members was the
center point of concerns. With 96 bills heard in the Appropriations Committee,
77 of them directly stand to undermine health care, pension, and collective
bargaining rights of employees. Closer look at the bills show many are
copy cat bills by various legislators to show their constituents they
were hard on labor issues. Talks of potential layoffs, concessions and
doing more work with less staff for less money and benefits had everyone's
attention to resist the attacks and fight anti labor legislation.
SEBAC groups appear to be close with informal talks that will provide
$700 million in concessions for the state and in return give no layoff
protection to state workers. As for municipal workers participating in
CMERS appears to remain unchanged at this time.
Our members are reminded to attend our April 5 union meeting to hear first
hand from our AFSCME lobbyist on matters happening at the Capitol important
to all of us.
A sales tax and gas tax increase appears likely while tolls may be sidelined
this session. With an estimated $300-400 million in new sales tax revenue
it may offset the immediate need for municipalities to contribute to teacher
retirement contributions. Welcome news to local budgets but may only kick
the can down the street to buy more time.
Local 724 leadership had the chance to speak directly with Lt. Governor
Nancy Wyman, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz. Comptroller Kevin Lembo
and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. Once the budget is passed all eyes will
focus on the upcoming 2018 statewide elections where a growing field of
interesting challengers to Governor Malloy are emerging from both sides
of the aisle. One astute prediction suggested if Malloy chooses to run
again a near certain outcome would be a House and Senate filled with Republicans.
April 1 means New London Mayor Mike Passero's proposed
annual budget is released to the public. The foreplay has been provided
with recent news articles laying out the gloomy story line of yet another
year with no money. The City has made clear its refusal to raises taxes,
has offers no new ideas on finding new revenue sources with hopes to solve
the newest budget crisis by more deep cuts to city agencies leaving them
impotent while feeding more precious city dollars to the always hungry
724 members are grateful for many resolved grievances with the City and
are enjoying a new cooperative attitude in the building as the new police
administration transitions over but are quietly seething that our critical
agency needs appear to be met with a deaf ear and blind eye by City administration
as we limp along with dangerously low staffing.
Union officials have a seat at the table and have been rather blunt making
our concerns known. We remain hopeful the City earnestly works with us
to find a positive outcome. We have worked too hard to improve labor relations
to see it undermined.
is some good news to report - our police department janitorial staffer
has been making some progress cleaning up the building after some intervention
to actually have him do the job he's being paid to do.
DPW has been finalizing plans on some long needed updates scheduled for
the lunch room, report room, and men's locker room bathroom. While members
are excited about the sudden turn of events, they cast a jaundiced eye
at the project since DPW has not provided a hard start date or projected
finish date because they don’t like timelines and are easily distracted.
State labor unions have been busy with informal talks with the Malloy
administration looking for a way to help close the budget gap with potentially
$700 million in concessions. SEBAC previously gave concessions in 2009
and 2011. Union leaders have rightly complained they did not cause the
state fiscal mess and certainly shouldn't responsible to solve the problems
on the backs of state workers.
Anonymous sources have exchanged proposals during discussions that involve
a six year deal with minor raises in first two years, followed by two
years of zeros ending with a wage opener for last two years to include
concessions increasing employee medical cost share and pension contributions
with no assurances of future layoffs but medical plans would be protected
Hartford politicians seems to be warming to the idea of raising the state
sales tax to 6.85%, raise gas tax 6 cents to 35 cents a gallon while many
are split on bringing back highway tolls. Tolls could raise as much as
$18 billion by 2040 which could be used exclusively for the Special Transportation
Fund towards Governor Malloy's aggressive $100 billion proposal for infrastructure
improvements, but the legislators would never be able keep their hands
off any lock box revenue stream, especially one with some may potential
zeros attached suggesting tolls won't pass this year.
Meanwhile at the General Assembly with support from entities like Connecticut
Conference of Municipalities (CCM) and Connecticut Business and Industry
Association (CBIA) have many anti labor bills pending set to attack and
smear municipal workers who have devoted their careers to the common good
and public interest. Funny how CBIA pushes an anti labor agenda while
their Chairman of the Board earns over $1.3 million a year in compensation
as President of Webster Financial in Stamford.
most harmful bills propose to eliminate wage hikes, remove pensions from
collective bargaining, reformulate pension calculations, reduce cost of
living benefits to pensioners, increase employee pension contributions,
eliminate defined pensions and replace with 401k type plans to name just
a few of the 96 bills aimed at labor. These attacks on public employees
who "Make America Happen", are also taxpayers, who are afraid
these bills only attack hard working families and create a race to the
bottom for all middle class workers.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders recently said, "Public employees don't
expect to get rich, but some basic respect for the important jobs they
do isn't too much to ask. Instead, in too many states and localities from
coast to coast -- and now more than ever at the federal level -- their
hard work is rewarded with pettiness and scorn. Not from their neighbors,
but from politicians with an agenda. When you attack public workers, entire
communities suffer -- their schools, hospitals, roads and more. To undermine
law enforcement, social workers and 911 dispatchers, and their counterparts
at every level of government, is to hurt the citizens who depend every
day on the services they provide." We at Local 724 couldn't say it
March approaches means winter is behind us as we look forward to St. Patrick's
Day, March Madness and probably another UCONN Women's Basketball Championship.
It also means the cold winter weather will turn into to heated discussions
with department heads, city administrators and citizens as New London
enters budget season for the next fiscal year.
London has suffered from perpetual budget crisis for at least the last
4 decades. A permanent casualty of an eroding tax base, generations of
bad city decisions resulting in too much deferred maintenance that has
now become crumbling infrastructure that may be beyond repair and in need
of e replacement. rather than repair. The city has too few dollars to
operate a municipal budget and become addicted to state and federal handouts
just to maintain a minimalist budget every year. The police department
has weathered these storms as best it could but the length and severity
of the money drought has severely cut into our ability to provide anything
more than essential services. Meanwhile the only growth industry appears
to be all the far-flung homeless and social services clients who now call
the Whaling City "home".
news is Neighborhood Scout no longer lists New London as one of the top
100 worst crime areas in the US for 2017. Bad news is the city crime numbers
really didn't improve, rather other cities just got worse. Their description
of crimes they provide about New London based on FBI statistics is troubling.
The crime rate in New London is considerably higher than the national
average across all communities in America from the largest to the smallest,
although at 29 crimes per one thousand residents, it is not among the
communities with the very highest crime rate. The chance of becoming a
victim of either violent or property crime in New London is 1 in 34. Based
on FBI crime data, New London is not one of the safest communities in
America. Relative to Connecticut, New London has a crime rate that is
higher than 95% of the state's cities and towns of all sizes.
Heritage Foundation produced a report several years ago entitled What
to do About the Cities explaining the rise and fall of inner cities from
1950 onward suggested cities must save themselves. "By placing the
primary focus on making cities an attractive place to live, cities begin
the process of establishing themselves as attractive places to do business
by following a script successfully used by suburbs over the past several
decades to attract residents and businesses from the central cities. Cities
that have held their populations or reversed the outflow are those that
emphasized improvements in the quality of life, a goal most readily achieved
by reducing crime…"
A fact we have repeated often is since June 2009 we lost over 40 police
officers, some due to retirements most left looking for better working
conditions or career opportunities. Instead of replacing these funded
police vacancies the city choose instead to use it as a windfall giving
those funds to other departments and/or offset budget losses to prevent
raising taxes. While some new officers have been hired we are still hovering
around 68 officers - 30 patrol officers (boots on the ground) short of
our strength in 2010. You may recall in 2013 then Councilor Mike Passero
not only proposed an ordinance to authorize a minimum staffing level of
80 police officers but successfully fought off a fierce veto attempt by
then Mayor Finizo. While those efforts were appreciated and headline grabbing,
neither he nor the subsequent city councils have produced any tangible
results to reach that staffing goal.
Reichard has requested a budget to increase police staffing to 76 officers.
But history appears destined to repeat itself here in New London. Recall
this Day editorial from 12/17/14 "The administration must do a better
job of boosting police staffing, the mayor and council having jointly
settled on a goal of 80 officers. Instead, the department remains stuck
in the mid-60s, arrivals only keeping up with retirements". Seems
the only real change around here is the date on the calendar.
the police department's unsustainable budget suffers daily: filth from
little or no janitorial maintenance of a 24/7/365 facility while rodent
and pest infestation grows exponentially. Roof leaks that have plagued
the building since it was built, suffers ongoing residual mold problems.
Many computer hard drives are obsolete and unable to operate on most new
software, IT servers are maxed out and most repairs are jury rigged due
to lack of parts due to old age or lack of money to replace. The cell
block area has many officer safety/risk management inadequacies that have
been talked about for years but still remain ignored leaving the city
ripe for more unnecessary litigation it can't afford. Much of the police
fleet is 7-10 years old with the oldest vehicle 16 years old. Many need
significant repairs that DPW refuses to perform deemed as too expensive
for such old equipment, so they are operated with known defects. Offices
often lack basic stationary supplies while using used or broken furniture
handed down from other departments and most in-service training has been
reduced to state mandated minimum requirements. Despite these increasing
daily challenges our members quietly soldier on doing the best they can
often times with meritorious results.
Passero, CAO Fields, Risk Manager Paul Gills and Chief Reichard are acutely
aware of these plus many other issues and have promised to help. But promises
only become fulfilled when the coupled with execution of a plan. That’s
where the disconnect occurs and finger pointing begins. When funds are
denied or not obtained it becomes pin the tail on the donkey on who to
blame. Insert answer here: the Chief pulled the request, Mayor delayed
the request until next year, Finance Director refused funding for now
but maybe add to Capitol line item later in the year, Finance Committee
reworked the numbers and made bulk program cut , Council needs more time
because it has more questions and wants to restudy the sub-committee report
so it only approved a lower budget number after some line item cuts and
wants to table it hoping other city crisis will pop up and allow people
to forget about the issue entirely.
If history is any barometer the new city budget will not raise the mill
rate more than .60 mills (currently at 39.40) which means another year
without a sustainable police budget where 95% is personnel costs. The
City may have high hopes of Governor Malloy's Robin Hood proposal to take
money from rich towns and give more money to poor cities will be a windfall
of $8-10 million new city dollars. Well don't hold your breath, while
Malloy is against raising any new taxes the Legislature is seriously considering
a sales tax increase from the current 6.35% to possibly 6.85%. By adding
50 cents to $100 purchases could realize $300 million in new revenues.
Such an increase would overwhelmingly pass if most aid to towns can remain
Malloy's plan to infuse new money to poor cities comes with big strings
attached -- state fiscal oversight-- of the recipient cities. Malloy's
plan would create four tiers of oversight for cities and towns, with most
qualifying for the first three tiers that would involve only "low
to moderate levels of accountability." Those communities with serious
fiscal problems or rely on more than 30% of budget on state aid (New London)
could request to be placed in the fourth tier, or those cities and towns
could be designated for special accountability by a two-thirds vote of
the state oversight board.
The new oversight board would review annual audits for all cities and
towns, and also look at budget fund balances, tax rates, local bond ratings,
and the amount of state aid a municipality was receiving. Such oversight
can be very painful -just ask Waterbury how their oversight experience
The Union is an unapologetic advocate for our members on safe working
conditions. We are fortunate to have a member sitting on the Council.
If he truly believes in truth to power will confirm with firsthand knowledge
the problems we are describing as accurate. Yes-- there are other needs
city wide. But to hear the education budget is once again first in line
with cries for more money for its insatiable appetite at the expense of
general government budget is tiresome.
London BOE has a $64 million budget (one of the highest per pupil cost
in the state) while asking for another 5.7% increase next year. They enjoy
new or newly renovated school buildings while an entire city infrastructure
crumbles making due on $43 million. Simply put the equation is out of
balance and we desperately need some assistance. To borrow a line from
our March 2014 update: "New London has many problems and we need
effective leadership to solve them- now more than ever. President Theodore
Roosevelt once said, In any moment of decision the best thing you can
do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the
worst thing you can do is nothing."
So what can you do? Contact Mayor Passero:
email@example.com or City Council via their administrative
assistant Jen Starts email:
firstname.lastname@example.org telling your elected officials to insist
on a safer community, stand with the police and properly fund the police
department budget to increase staffing and improve facilities.
A hearty congratulations to Josh Bergeson on his recent promotion to Detective
on February 17th. A tenacious investigator while a patrol officer we are
sure his well deserved promotion will be a shot in the arm to the Detective
warm thank you to the Buscetto family for their generous $3,000 donation
towards the purchase of two new patrol dogs. The City has agreed to bring
on two dogs in the 17-18 fiscal year and a second pair of dogs in FY18-19
to honor the city ordnance of four police K9's. Mike and Mike have always
been strong and vocal supporters of the police department and their members.
Always quick with kind words and first in line when the call to action
goes out. They are true New London Whalers who have unselfishly always
had the best interests of New London at heart. Thank You!
know spring is here and another baseball season soon approaches when President
Lynch starts his well deserved working winter vacation with the Red Sox
Nation spring training camp at Jet Blue Park in Florida. Never known to
shy away from anyone he has become friends on a first name basis with
the entire team in the dugout . Only a matter of time before he is found
in the NESN broadcast booth on the air at NESN with Hall of Famers, trading
inside baseball stories with NESN field reporter Guerin Austin or his
photo makes its way into the team program guide.
One Step Forward Two Steps Back
council President Erica Richardson owes the public an explanation as to
why she threw common sense out the window and allowed the nomination and
subsequent confirmation vote appointing Ms. Habibah Abdul-Akeem as the
newest member to the PCRC (Police Community Relations Committee) .
With Abdul-Akeem's history of complaints and litigation against her former
employer as a state judicial employee and pending complaints against the
police department currently pending in the PCRC certainly questions just
what council was thinking approving her for this position.
A simple Google search found several events that provide more than enough
reason to have tabled her nomination:
• January 2008 a US District Court ruled in favor of Smurfil-Stone
after claims by plaintiff Abdul-Akeem sued claiming she was subjected
to sexual harassment and hostile work environment. The court found no
merits of her claims.
• In May 2011 the near-drowning of a 2-year-old boy in a hotel
pool at Foxwoods Resort Casino last year that catapulted a pool attendant
to hero status that led to criminal charges against the child’s
baby sitter. Habibah Abdul-Akeem was charged with second-degree reckless
endangerment and risk of injury to a minor after leaving a 2-year-old
child unattended at a pool at the Great Cedar Hotel an area without a
lifeguard who slipped off a set of stairs leading into the pool.
• January 2012 US District Court ruled in favor of the state when
Abdul-Akeem sued judicial department supervisors who took action against
her for a series of problems claiming "she was subjected to treatment
that Caucasian employees similarly situated to the plaintiff were not".
Court found no evidence from plaintiff to support any claims made.
• March 2015 Abdul-Akeem provided written testimony in support
of House Bill 1035 requiring that the Department of Administrative Services
report the number of complaints of bullying or abusive conduct to the
General Assembly and to create a Workplace Bullying Advisory Board. In
her letter she stated she has "developed extreme agoraphobia, depression,
PTSD and even suicidal ideations due to her termination from the judicial
branch in 2011".
This is the second questionable appointment in less than two months when
the prior council approved Ms. Tara Bernoudy to a PCRC seat. Bernoudy
has a lawsuit pending against the city after her 6-year-old grandson drowned
at a city beach in 2013.
The progressive play book is to seek change by creating or exaggerating
problems within the current system to implement their ideological solutions.
Outspoken and controversial PCRC chairman Kris Wraight has surrounded
herself with many like minded activist members who have a bias against
police or the city itself. Such a stacked deck questions the objectivity
of this body with issues brought before them for fair and balanced consideration.
Saul Alinsky was a Jewish American community organizer and writer. He
is generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing.
He is often noted for his book Rules
for Radicals . Rule 10 states "If you push negative hard enough,
it will push through and become a positive". Rule 11 states "the
price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative".
Interestingly The Day Editorial from April 9, 2015 headline read "
London needs to replace weak, dysfunctional police committee"
highlighting many internal committee issues and growing animosity with
the police union. Coincidence or intentional dysfunctionality for the
The Day also defended Ms. Wraight to have a "voice on strong even
controversial opinions" even if disparaging to the police . Using
the same logic, Union leadership has just as much a right to express our
concerns on the seemingly biased positions of some current seated PCRC
The PCRC was created by city council in 1976 "to foster better understanding
between citizens and police officers". What has evolved in the last
four years is a committee whose members are deeply divided as to how they
see the PCRC's role.
Chairman Kris Wraight unilaterally declared "PCRC was created as
a watchdog" in testimony before city council in February 2015. The
committee has continued to bring on more activists insisting the board
has more scope and authority than outlined in its creation, resulting
in a division it was supposed to address only getting wider.
In 2005 in southern Oregon a 15-year-old was raped on bike path along
Bear Creek by several homeless men. In the aftermath of the event community
activists made the bike path safer by cutting down blackberry bushes and
other shrubbery and police rousted the homeless out the area.
Wraight then a resident of Ashland Oregon, upset over removal of the
thickets and her belief of disparaging treatment towards the homeless
who frequented the area wrote a letter to the Portland Tribune stating
" Rape doesn’t exist because bushes and blackberry brambles
offer hiding places or because there aren’t enough cops patrolling
dark pathways. Rape is a struggle for power by people who have been denied
access to their own humanity… It’s sickening that the Greenway
"cleanup" has no interest in eradicating homelessness and seeks
only to incriminate a people continuously oppressed by this classist,
All good government has public safety at the top of its priorities, common
sense would be taking such action to prevent or minimize the chance of
another rape in that area. But activists only concerns are the causes
they fight, tragically common sense seems in short supply these days.
This is what unbiased objectivity looks like for
newest PCRC member.
Screen shot from Abdul-Hakeem
Why Political Action
THE DECISIONS that a legislative body makes, whether it is a school board,
city council, county board, state legislature, or the U.S. Congress, affect
AFSCME members and their families in dramatic ways.
Elected officials vote on budgets that affect employee wages, benefits,
working conditions and pensions. They vote on issues of particular concern
to AFSCME members, like privatization, and they vote on broader issues
of concern to all working families, such as health care reform and workers'
compensation. That's why working people need to have allies among elected
officials. And that's why working people need to work to elect these allies.
The Local 724 executive board has the collective responsibility to provide
vision and direction for the local. It is up to the leadership team to
look ahead, set goals and develop a plan to make strategic planning a
critical element to having a strong union which can only come about when
membership is informed, educated and active.
Unions can never hope to match the hundreds of millions of dollars big
business pours into every election. But working people have superior numbers,
so they can get out in the streets and work for candidates. And if members
pool their cash, unions can help make sure that their endorsed candidates
have enough funds to compete against business-backed opponents in the
ever-more important media ad wars.
Through the political process we can be involved in setting important
public policy. Through the political process public employees can elect
representatives who are sensitive to maintaining vital public services
and committed to dealing with workers fairly.
Local 724 accomplishes this through political action in conjunction with
the exercise of collective bargaining process, growth and community involvement
to produce a just and rewarding workplace.
724 gets recognized on the national level!
On January 28, 2011 at
the Council 4 Campaign for the Middle Class Seminar in Meriden The American
Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO
thanked the New London Police Union- Local 724 for their efforts in the
Labor 2010 campaign.
Lee Saunders, International Secretary-Treasurer and AFSCME Council 4's
Sal Luciano who is also an International Vice President honored Local
724 with a certificate "In recognition of their tireless work and
commitment during the 2010 State of Connecticut general elections".
To this day labor leaders throughout the state continue to praise our
Malloy/Wyman Pre-Debate Rally as a new benchmark of what local labor can
achieve when committed to a goal.
Chuck Flynn was honored to accept the award on behalf of our entire membership
which will hang proudly in the 724 "Hall of Justice". I want
to personally thank everyone that participated in some way no matter how
big or small. Our election success was due to the collective efforts of
our TEAM-Together Everyone Accomplishes More.
724 helps East Lyme fight the cause