Why I spoke up at the Board of Alderman meeting on 4/12/10….

Monday the 12th of April came and went, very much like any other day. Get up, let the dogs out, make the coffee, go to work, blah…blah…blah. But this day would not be ordinary. It would be very unique in comparison to my typical, scheduled life of working 60 or so hours a week, paying bills and trying to add in a shred of excitement from time to time into my otherwise dry as toast existence. The cause of this uniqueness was my plan to speak at the Waterbury Board of Alderman meeting later that evening.

Over the past few weeks I had been reading about the recommended new budget which includes a 2.8 mill tax increase. Having lived in Waterbury most of my life I had become desensitized to this type of news, but this particular increase had struck a nerve.

I can’t claim to admit why this nerve twitched upon learning of this increase, all I know is that it persisted and had no end. The agitator of this activity could have resulted from the fact that I have had a city of Waterbury employee tell me they would rather manage the lawsuits that resulted from falls caused by our poorly maintained sidewalks instead of fixing them. Or, maybe knowing that my neighbor had a city paid employee playing the role of a “Dowser” who tried to locate the source of their water woes with two sticks in hand. In this day and age; two sticks, really? These are just a couple of items that could have caused this reaction, but as I learned more and asked more questions my nerves reached a level of twitching that no human should have to endure.

I reached out to Mayor Jarjura’s office to discuss some of my concerns and was very appreciative to have been assisted by one of his aids, Steve Gambini. He not only listened to my concerns but he also emailed me a copy of the recommended budget for my review and suggested that I attend the Alderman’s meeting.

Time did not allow me to fully review each line of this 300 or so page document but the pages I did review only increased my questions and concerns around how our municipality functions.

Luckily, I was not alone in this journey. My neighbor (a.k.a. partner in crime) also wanted to attend the Alderman’s meeting to better understand what is going on; can anything be done, etc? This shared hunger for knowledge gave me the strength to speak up and ask the following questions of which I am anxiously awaiting response.
• Why does the cities refuse department pay their trash pick up employees for a full 8 hour day even though their route may only require 4 hours of effort? I personally could think of other things they could do to fill up the other time they are getting paid for.
• Help me to understand the Department of Education goals:
o Goal number one is focused on “improving student achievement, with emphasis on reading and math”. I applaud the desire to improve, but what is our current baseline? What percentage are we targeting to improve by? If the goal to improve is reached, how will we then compare to other public school systems in the surrounding areas?
o Goal number two. Maintain employee accountability. I can’t even comment about this specific goal in light of all the recent news related to the custodial issues at Kennedy.
o Goal number threes focus is to “provide a safe, clean healthy environment for all children”. I grew up within the Waterbury Public school system and my personal experience did not feel safe nor healthy. Additionally, the education I received was not worth the paper and ink used to create my diploma. I did, however, learn how to manage the multiple threats received from my fellow students throughout the day and the occasional fists that would accompany them.

I have not yet received a response to these questions, but I need to remain hopeful that that will change soon. I am also anxious to learn if my offer of up to five hours per week to assist in troubleshooting issues will be responded to.

So what’s next; not too sure? At the close of the Alderman meeting the recommendation was received by the group to request a 5% budget decrease from each of the cities departments. I have not yet received an update to this nor have seen any news articles regarding this in the Waterbury Republican so the next step will include follow up with the Mayor’s office and with the President of the Alderman.

At the end of the day, I cannot control how the city chooses to respond, but I can control how I react to it. I can speak up, offer my services and discuss these issues with others. At minimum, this can help others to be aware of what is going on within the city.


Cheryl Calsetta

One Response to “”

  1. abc1937 Says:

    I agree on the entire garbage thing. The refuse workers do a great job, but getting paid for 8 hours when in actuality they work less is paramount to theft from the taxpayers. What idiot in the City Offices signed off on this union contract??? The signee has some serious explaining to do!!! How about we save the taxpayers some dollars by getting rid of or rolling the blight team into refuse and while the refuse wokers are out collecting they can do blight at the same time and work the number of hours they actually get paid for.

    I work at St. Mary’s and I guarantee that I work very hard during my 12 hours of work and I only get paid for the hours I work. Saving lives vs. refuse??? I also work for the City of Waterbury and again I only get paid for the hours I work taking care of the taxpayers children in the school system.

    It may sound like I am picking on the refuse workers but who else in the city gets paid like this??? And yes working in the rain stinks but you picked the job. Try getting puked on, bled on and have to clean stool daily not just in bad weather but every day.

    And now on to our Mayor. Does he really use taxpayers dollars and take his car to the casinos??? Does he really shun technology and not have a computer on his desk??? This is the guy that is going to try and run at a shot to run the State!!! Please tell me there is a chance that we are going to have to go from Rell to Jarjura. Call the bankruptcy lawyers now. If he let a union contract like the refuse workers be signed imagine what will happen to the already FAT state workers contracts. One more point in Jarjura’s great leadership decisions is John Roland; enough said there.

    It is time for the people of Waterbury to crawl from out of there holes and support the grass root level uprising that is starting with concerned citizens like Cheryl Calsetta. If we had a few more taxpayers with a true live of their city like her this would become a great place to live. Look at what Norwalk did with South Norwalk or Bridgeport with their downtown. Step up to the plate and support the few and let your voice be heard. It is not going to be easy but we will win and we will make Waterbury a place to be proud of and a place where people will want to come to work and live.

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