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Local 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..

JULY UPDATE


The Connecticut budget is a mess facing a projected $5.1 billion two-year budget deficit – a $2.3 billion gap in the next fiscal year and a $2.8 billion gap in 2018-19. As bad as things are here they could be worse. Illinois is grappling with a full-fledged financial crisis and not even the lottery is safe – with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner warning the state is entering "banana republic" territory. Facing almost $15 billion in unpaid bills and pension obligations, the state is hitting a cash crunch that is rare even by Illinois standards. A top financial official just warned 100 percent of the state's monthly revenue will be eaten up by court-ordered payments. Rauner is calling a special session of the Democrat-led General Assembly in a bid to pass what he hopes will be the first full budget package in almost three years.“We’re like a banana republic,” Rauner said earlier this month, after the General Assembly failed, yet again, to pass a budget package by the regular session deadline. “We can’t manage our money.”
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Back home in the land of steady habits the Legislature sputters and stumbles along waiting for the special session trying to craft a budget while interest groups of all shapes and sizes ensure the other guy's program is cut to save their own. One of the more vocal groups is the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), a lobbying group for many of the state's cities and towns.

In late June CCM sent out a 30 second commercial to network affil iates and cable News 12 in Fairfield County with two issues: that state officials both broaden the sales tax — canceling various exemptions — boost the rate to 7 percent and dedicate the $700 million it would generate annually to municipalities. New sales tax dollars dedicated to communities would be exempted from the arbitration review process. In other words, an arbiter could not weigh those grants when assessing a community’s ability to afford worker raises.
A second proposal would amend state rules regarding binding arbitration — a process cities and towns routinely go through each year to settle compensation for teachers, police officers, public works staff and other unionized employees. CCM’s plan also would revise collective bargaining laws to make it easier for neighboring towns to economize and provide services on a regional basis. It also would exempt new services provided regionally from collective bargaining.

While the sales tax increase makes sense because there simply is not enough cost cutting to sustain a new budget and needs new revenue to make any plan work. But the insistence that unions in general and collective bargaining in particular is the cause of the state economy failures is misguided at best to downright fraudulent lie at worst. This effort once again highlights the political axiom never let a good crisis go to waste.
As Connecticut contorts trying to find a new budget and the United States deals with increasing terror attacks around the globe, North Korea seeks nuclear weapons to strike our country, the middle east burns and Iran continues with Russia to seek world domination. Our very own progressive left's water boys for the Democratic Party Senators Blumenthal and Murphy carry on their non-stop fight to delegitimize President Trump's election victory.


Senator Richard Blumenthal when not doing a TV interview or attending a local ribbon cutting has spent most of his time with partisan attacks against President Trump. Issues of late were suing Trump to release his tax returns, demanding Trump disclose all foreign deals by his company and insisting that Attorney Jeff Sessions now testify before the Judiciary Committee of which Blumenthal is a member because Sessions was too tight lipped when testifying before the Intelligence Committee. This is the same Blumenthal who campaigned saying he " wanted to go to Washington to make sure that Washington listens to the people. Washington isn't listening because it suffers from too much acrimony and partisanship".
While Senator Murphy enjoys the title of most liberal senator in Washington he spends his time blaming the Manchester England terror attack on Trump. Note to Blumenthal and Murphy- the election is over - Hillary lost. Stop the resistance nonsense and get back to work serving the people of Connecticut by finding issues you can agree on.

July is upon us as our overworked, understaffed diligent police officers continue to make New London as safe as possible for all residents and visitors without a contract that expired on June 30. Local 724 continues to engage in negotiations with the City to bring back a fair contract for its members. The purpose of government is to ensure the safety of its residents. While other concerns such as economic growth are important, a government’s primary duty is to keep its people safe. We hope the City shares those same concerns and gives us a fair contract.

July also means Sailfest….Ugh! Our 200,000 precious City dollars party weekend from hell with too many people in too small a space, where all the cops work too many hours with too little rest. Where drunks and fights result in the most weekend arrests all year and many neighborhood thugs on Dan Malloy's early release from prison program settle their scores knowing most of the police pre-occupied with Sailfest.
The upside to this chaos - vacation time is replenished July 1st. When you're officially done with everyone else's crap. Where a change in latitude is a change in attitude and some of the best memories are made in flip flops, where drinkin' rum before 10 am makes you a pirate not an alcoholic and when we fiesta like there is no manana with our toes in the water, ass in the sand and a cold beer in our hand. That's 724's secret incentive to get us through to the Monday after.

Here is the latest crazy example of our new world order of political correctness and progressive thinking taking over in Oakland California where ex-cons are encouraged to join the police oversight commission that will oversee everything from disciplining officers to the hiring and firing of the police chief. An application on the city's website for positions on the new nine member commission state "formerly incarcerated individuals encouraged to apply". One of the panelists who will decide the new members explained "we should welcome the viewpoint of all members of Oakland… and encourage people with criminal backgrounds since they have had frequent contact with the police". Members won't be subjected to background checks either because "it will discourage formerly incarcerated people from applying" The only group formally banned from applying are former police officers who need not apply.. This is a travesty and slap in the face to law enforcement.

On June 6 Representative Chris Soto made an impassioned plea for his colleagues to support HB-6663 An Act Concerning Police Misconduct. The bill sought any police use of force be immediately investigated by Chief State's Attorney within five business days and based on preponderance of information suspend the officer without pay until fully investigated. If convicted or plea of nolo contendere of any crime even minor misdemeanors that are not job related, police officers must be terminated. Representative Soto reasoned with his Coast Guard "law enforcement experience" that this was a good bill and everyone can be rest assured this is a good bill for accountability ensuring everyone will know what happened after a use of force event.

While the Bill failed to pass before the session ended be forewarned- it will surface again. We take exception to the Bill on many levels. First we applaud Mr. Soto serving his country protecting our freedom. But to that extent he implies he has walked in our shoes. Maybe then he can tell us about his biggest arrest he himself made while in the Coast Guard or the last time he had to use force to protect himself or another from imminent harm or effecting an arrest. Our money is he can't because he never has. Representative Soto has every right to support his Bill but he hasn't earned the right to say his military service somehow equates to our daily duties as working police officers.

Our concerns with the bill were it took away our due process and fair treatment under the law. The bill ignores a basic civil right of proportionality where a penalty must fit the crime. We stop people based on reasonable suspicion, arrest people on probable cause and convict them based on beyond a reasonable doubt standards. Yet the proposed bill in a five business day rush to judgment uses the absolute lesser standard preponderance of the evidence to make a preliminary decision to suspend without pay until a full investigation is concluded. Our system of jurisprudence gives everyone the right to due process. Where does it say police officers lose all their rights while protecting the rights of others?

Use of force is violence, it is compelling a non compliant person to submit through application of force as allowed by the law. Use of force is not pretty nor choreographed like a TV show. Each and every altercation involves at least one weapon and can be life threatening. Because if a cop looses in a fight they can be disarmed and killed or seriously injured by their own gun. We have the lawful right to use a greater force to overcome the resistance. Many people think any police use of force - even in self defense is excessive and when the law does not fit their perceptions it's unjust.

Lastly the suggestion that there is no accountability or good process in place without this bill is grossly misleading. There are many protocols and procedures in place both within police agencies and outside entities to ensure thorough and complete investigations. In fact, New London Police have the most encompassing use of force reporting in the entire state. If Representative Soto had asked us before sponsoring the bill we would have happy to enlighten him- but he didn't.

Cops are trained to work independently, but when they hear ‘officer needs assistance’ — individual cops come together quickly and with awe-inspiring force. That proved true with a recent incident that turned ugly involving our officers. The overwhelming response from area agencies illustrated the bond shared between men and women of law enforcement willing to risk life and limb for fellow officers to safely address the problem situation so that everyone goes home- safely- at the end of the shift. We humbly say thank you to Waterford, East Lyme, Groton Town, Groton City, Ledyard, Stonington, State Police and State's Attorney Inspectors for your rapid response when it was needed.

 

 

June Update

 


June approaches and the Legislature continues to point fingers rather than agree on anything as every budget proposal is worse than the previous offer. Could it be with identity politics is in full swing and upcoming statewide elections this year our esteemed electorate fearing to offend anyone and loose a vote can't do what they are elected to do and fix the problems.

And the hits just keep on coming as another Wall Street credit rating agency, S&P Global Ratings, recently downgraded Connecticut’s bond rating from AA- to A+ — the state’s third in a stretch of four business days. These reduced ratings potentially raise borrowing costs in the future. The announcement by S&P came just two days after a similar downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service. Fitch Ratings Inc. had lowered its bond rating for Connecticut.

Connecticut’s unemployment rate rose from 4.8 to 4.9 percent in April as the state lost 1,500 non-farm jobs, the Department of Labor reported in mid May. The jobless rate nonetheless is 0.5 percentage points lower than it was one year ago and the state has added 5,500 jobs over the past 12 months.
New London still wishing for the pot of gold budget proposal from Governor Malloy where the city could see a net $5 million gain in state funding at the expense of richer communities. The catch is cities and towns absorbing $400 million in teacher pension contribution costs. While poor communities gain right away under the governor’s plan, their pension bill costs would grow much faster than any extra state funds, steadily reducing the net benefit of the governor’s plan over time.

New London historically has been short sighted on almost every endeavor it undertakes will undoubtedly jump at the chance for the immediate windfall and pay the current $2.1 million teacher pension costs for FY 17-18 only to push future costs to the next administration. But anticipated future teacher pension costs over the next 15 years are estimated to increase 526% to a whopping $11.4 million per year for New London.
Recent news the state has reached a concession deal with state labor unions saving $1.5 billion over next two years. The cuts are dramatic for state employees. Most state union contracts expired June 2016, no retroactive wage increases and two year wage freeze then 3.5% wage increase in 2020 and 2021.
The deal adds two percentage points to pension contributions, caps overtime contribution at 60% to pension calculations, defer COLA adjustments for 18 months plus new employees must join an hybrid 401 retirement plan. Higher medical contributions and co-pays for employees and all current retirees switch to Medicare Advantage plans. In return for these concessions no layoffs and state would extend worker benefits from 2022 to 2027.

At the same time the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) the lobbyist firm for municipalities and nemesis of public unions has a last minute full court press with legislators pushing for its agenda before the session ends which includes: exempting binding arbitration from collective bargaining, encouraging regionalization of public services that would be exempt from collective bargaining and amend the Municipal Employee Retirement System (MERS) so new hires have lesser pension plans with higher costs.
On the revenue side expect any and all ideas that promise new revenue to be used in some form or another: higher sales tax, highway tolls, expanded casino gambling, increase on permits and license fees as well as higher cigarette and liquor tax to name just a few.

Here in the whaling city like every other municipality, budgets are likes slices of pie described as what you need, what you want and what you wish for. Our needs for more staffing and infrastructure far outweigh our wants and wishes.
Unfortunately the Mayor, City Council and taxpayers have spoken and police operations are just not important to them. We have reached a point where there is nothing left to cut except personnel and we have already lost 35 percent of the force since 2009. They refuse to acknowledge our police department is already running a bare bones service budget and cannot close that gap without doing enormous damage to the city’s ability to be a successful city in the long run.
City Hall recent claims the city is on the cusp of resurgence with renewed interest. How many times has that tired old story been passed around for the last 30 years? Despite these rosy news releases more and more businesses close resulting in almost empty boarded up downtown with too many homeless substance abusers more reminiscent of skid row. What is true is New London cannot cut its way to budget sustainability.

Flashback to our May 2015 update: "On April 15th Democratic mayoral challenger Mike Passero laid out his campaign platform to build a foundation for prosperity, growth and well being for the city pledging end the status quo of mediocrity, inefficiency and disappointment…. eliminate the reputation of a blighted, dirty, unsafe city… His goal is to rebuild the staffing and commitment necessary to implement the “true principles of community policing".
While one council member with an ambitious sparkle in their eye to become the next mayor restored $1 million to wet the insatiable BOE appetite "for the children", then offered insightful suggestions to offset the largess with suggestions for potential city government savings by turning off lights-most of which operate on motion detectors- eliminating the police chief position- city charter be damned and offering police captains arbitrary $10,000 raises if the Deputy Chief position can be unfunded despite the fact captains are union members - such an act is an illegal municipal prohibited practice for direct dealing with individual union members.

Which brings up another kerfuffle. Why can one city councilor who works as school teacher routinely discusses and votes on all BOE matters but another city councilor who is a police officer refuses to talk about police issues with anyone and recuses himself from any vote on police matters? So which one is conflicted?
Back at BOE, Central Office is scrambling to hire more high salary administrators with their new found council monies, while over at the police dept the daily dirge plays on with critical staffing issues, infrastructure deficiencies and an aging police fleet that is shrinking.

Most of the fleet are high mileage Crown Victoria's as old as 2008 which Ford stopped producing in 2011. While regular upgrades to the fleet were ignored year after year fleet mileage and mechanical problems escalate daily. Recently two cruisers required repairs that DPW deemed expensive due to vehicle age and decided to scrap them to save money which didn’t solve a problem just complicated it, leaving us with not enough cruisers when the President recently visited the city.

FY 17-18 we face a new fiscal year with less money than last year. The 16-17 budget left us in the red since it was not enough to fund the agency after cuts from the 15-16 budget which wasn't enough then either Anyone see a pattern here? Love to see an explanation on how our wizards of smart think we can continue to operate with compounded draconian cuts.

No money means not only new normal on staff, cars and building improvements but also kicks the can on the numerous police dispatch radio failures of the "new system" because the city assumed regionalization with Waterford dispatch would take 2 years so we never complied with required system upgrades resulting in system failures. Now 5 years later and no closer to regionalization than the day the idea was hatched, our dispatchers have to rely on portable radios to communicate with police and fire field units when the system crashes. The only replies heard from city officials over these problems are "we have no money, we are a poor city". At least Hartford's Mayor Luke Bronin facing significant fiscal crisis has the cojones finding ways to try and fix his problems.
With those decisions come reactions. When you lose police officers there is going to be an impact. We've all heard do more with less. But unlike a company that can decide to drop a slow-moving product line, local police departments couldn't just decide to answer fewer 911 calls. Budgets may have shrunk, but taxpayers' expectations haven't.

You call the police for an abandoned car— they'll take care of it, you call the police for a loose dog, or noise complaint they'll take care of it, you call the police for a highway light that's out and they coordinate the repair. Law enforcement are very service oriented people that work in a paramilitary environment and take orders. They actually do come in with the attitude that, well alright, if I'm told to do this, I'm going to find a way to do it.
Most of our cops wonder out loud as the fire department prepares to hire three more new recruits to reach an almost full department roster plus a new ambulance and fire truck that if the fire department had lost 35% of its staffing would our Mayor Mike continue to do nothing or is that reserved only for the police department.
You may recall in January 2014 when then Councilor Passero championed a minimum police officer staffing ordinance said "Public safety is the number one matter residents look to their government to provide… and while the city is doing a good job with the resources it has the current staffing level is not sustainable". We have less cops now than in 2014 when that statement was made. Appears to us he pandered for votes and didn't stand behind his words.

Insanity is described as doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome. These sustained budget cuts have only one outcome. We can assure you there will be slower response times for police services. Likewise expect a new exodus of not only our seasoned officers retiring, but also our crop of youngest officers busy making plans to leave for better opportunities far away from New London. In the last 45 days one young officer quit while another is in the active selection process for another agency while even more are plotting their exit strategy. One consistent answer heard from the previous 30 officers who left NLPD reported: enjoy their new agencies, they should have left sooner, have no regrets leaving and never looked back working in better agencies both for personal and professional reasons.

New London became the center of the universe for a few hours when President Donald J. Trump paid a visit. NLPD with the tremendous mutual aid help from a variety of agencies made the visit safe and memorable for everyone. We want to personally thank our brother and sister officers from: East Lyme, Montville, Norwich, Stonington, State Police and UCONN PD for their help. Special shout out to Waterford PD gave us every agency member they had except for their regular day shift. We owe all of you and promise to honor our debt of gratitude providing NLPD officers for away games in your respective communities.

Congratulations to Officer Rick Stringer and Detective Josh Bergeson on recent recipients of Mothers Against Drunk Driving awards. Likewise congratulations to our Vice Unit after a recent seizure of 1.5 kilograms of fentanyl laced heroin. This seizure prevented untold opioid overdoses in our area. Lastly a shout out to the afternoon patrol shift for their tireless efforts of late managing the huge call volume resulting in many on site arrests due to their grit and determination.


 

 

CONVENTION UPDATE


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.

 

 


 




   


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.

   

Local 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.

 


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Why Political Action


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Political Director C Flynn

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