When I was a child, my cousins and I spent as much time as possible at my grandparent’s home and what kids in their right minds wouldn’t?
Everything a right-thinking kid could possibly want was there or near that house; lots of land, much of it wooded, buildings where my grandfather stored all sorts of interesting things he had discovered in buildings he had purchased, a bakery that my grandfather owned right next door, a little neighborhood store that sold ice cream and lots of penny candy that sat right on the back edge of my grandparent’s property and my grandparent’s house itself which included more rooms than any of us could count.
The only thing that caused us, the cousins, any concern at all was Johnny Bluebag, a fearsome character never actually seen but often used to keep us in line.
We thought it was best not to come home late, to beat each other’s brains out, to throw rocks at each other, cars, houses, etc., to take what didn’t belong to us and, in general, avoid “A proud look. A lying tongue. Hands that shed innocent blood. A heart that devises wicked plots. Feet that are swift to run into mischief. A deceitful witness that uttereth lies. Him that soweth discord among brethren.” 1
We didn’t do so good in meeting those standards but Lord knows we tried because almost the last thing we wanted was to run into Johnny Bluebag, that petrifying, horrifying, dreadful, alarming creature, never seen, but used by my grandparents in an attempt to keep us in line.
And while others are writing about issues such as fiscal responsibility and irresponsibility, who knew what and when did they know it, who is to blame for the financial situation the city is currently in, I find myself concerned about and offended by the Johnny Bluebag tactics used by Mayor Finizio and groups such as Unite New London, of which the mayor is a member, in their attempts to assure a Yes vote in Tuesday’s referendum.
Statements such as “…Finizio said the budget is "bare bones" and more cuts could mean every-other-week garbage collection, the closing of the senior center, layoffs in the mayor's office and public works, and reduced funding for youth affairs, the public library and contributions to nonprofits.”2 “If the September 18, 2012 referendum fails, the result will hurt all New London residents and the general public by cutting funding to or eliminating entirely our library, senior center, youth programs, parks and rec, public services like trash pick up, snow removal…”3 and “…Services we take for granted are also at stake. If voters reject the budget, likely cuts include reducing residential trash pickup to once every two weeks; closing the senior center; discontinuing youth and bilingual services, decimating Parks and Recreation; slashing funding for the library and deferring maintenance of our aging municipal vehicles…”4 are, at best, purposely misleading and, at worst, outright lies.
In preparation for this blog, I sent emails to Councilors Marie Friess-McSparren and Adam Sprecace which read in part, “I am particularly concerned about the intimidation tactics and misinformation being used by the mayor and groups such as Unite New London.
One example, which appears on Unite New London's Facebook page, is "If the September 18, 2012 referendum fails, the result will hurt all New London residents and the general public by cutting funding to or eliminating entirely our library, senior center, youth programs, parks and rec, public services like trash pick up, snow removal, events
...VOTE YES SEPTEMBER 18TH"
Would you care to respond to the highlighted portion above for publication?”
Councilor Mcsparren’s response is as follows; “I can only say that it is not up to Daryl but the council what will be cut. Both John and I feel that there is more fat that can be cut in salaries still. There may be some cuts in funding those but we don't feel that they will be cut entirely. For instance. Only about $272,000 is youth affairs salary and the rest of their money comes from grants that THEY apply for (not Kristin Clark!) so cutting their department isn't saving a lot of money. Trash pick up is regulated by ordinance which says:
Sec. 11-56. - Collection schedule.
All residential establishments in the city shall receive one (1) collection per week by dividing the entire city into five (5) sectors and collecting one (1) sector each day, Monday through Friday, as scheduled on the map entitled "Department of Public Works, Schedule of Collections of Refuse and Garbage", dated July 20, 1971, on file in the office of the department of public works and utilities.
All business and commercial establishments within commercial or industrial zones shall receive two (2) collections per week on Tuesdays and Fridays.
So unless Daryl is planning on TRYING to change to ordinance must collect garbage at least once a week! So this is just scare tactics that they are using trying to make the citizens believe that the city will be just a mess if this fails.
Hope this helps.”
Councilor Sprecace’s response; [The] Mayor doesn't have that power without Council oversight.
There is debate going in now about with whom the cuts begin if referendum successful. I happen to think it's the Council but Law Director and Mayor think it's the Mayor. I think that's just to try and add credibility to his threats.
Even if the cuts start with Mayor, results go to Council. If Mayor cuts more than Council wants (e.g., Library subsidy), Council can reinstate. Mayor can veto that, but Council can override w/ 6/7ths vote. Plus, Mayor veto of Council reinstating money to valuable program would appear vindictive.
Not only do the citizens of New London have a right to all of the information necessary to make an informed decision regarding the budget when they go to the polls on Tuesday but they also have a right to information that is correct and not to be deceived, intimidated or frightened by misrepresentations, half-truths and propaganda.
The mayor of this city, Daryl Finizio, has an obligation to provide that information and to avoid sinking to the level of using Johnny Bluebag tactics.