Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Another response received….

April 28, 2010

More than a week ago, a free offer of assistance was extended to the Board of Alderman for up to five hours per week to help troubleshoot issues. Two responses regarding this offer and outstanding questions have been received thus far. I very much appreciate Alderman Cicero B Booker Jr. and Alderman Anne Phelan for responding to my email requests, but I must admit that I continue to have questions.

For example, one question I had was related to pay increases; what was the percentage of employees that received pay increases that are performing below expectations vs. those employees that have performed at or above expectations.

I was shocked to be told that our collective bargaining agreements did not consider performance whatsoever as a decision factor related to pay increase. In short, this means an employees performance can be sub par yet still receive the same increase as City employees that are performing at or above expectations.

Upon learning this information, I was compelled to review these documents for myself. Although there are several different contracts, I reviewed two different agreements wage related information. The two agreements reviewed were:
• Waterbury City Employees Local 353 (Blue Collar)
• Waterbury City Employees Association ( WCEA / White Collar)

Both, guaranteed an employees increase year over year, regardless of performance. Both contracts were quite different in structure, but from what I can understand these increases ranged from 1.5 to 3.5%. For a full view of these, as well as the other contracts, please go to http://waterburyct.org/content/458/591/603/default.aspx

This type of guaranteed increase concerns me, especially in an environment when most private employers have stopped increases due to the strained financial environment we are all struggling with today.

Let me be VERY clear…
My main concern is focused on providing increases to any employee if/when they are not performing within or above acceptable expectations as outlined in their job descriptions.

Admittedly, I also struggle with why any increases are guaranteed in this type of economic environment. My understanding is that a greater part of the Waterbury citizens have either experienced “pay freezes” via their private employers or have faced unemployment. Is it logical to obligate these same citizens to contribute towards pay increases?

With that, I strongly encourage anyone who has similar concerns to post their comments to this blog. If you do not feel comfortable posting, please feel free to email your concerns to anneporter2010@hotmail.com. At your request, your comments will be posted confidentially.

A response received…

April 27, 2010

At the public hearing for the budget one city resident told the aldermen that she would be available to go through the budget line by line at a clip of 5 hours per week in an effort to decrease it.  While several attempts were made to contact the aldermen, emails published for them were of little use as most came back “undeliverable”.  New email addresses mysteriously appeared on the city website and to date only one aldermen has sent a response.  It is reprinted below:

It was a pleasure to hear your comments concerning the budget tax increase.  We the Independent Party Aldermen will go everything possible to not have a tax increase in this point in time.  You know as well as I that the people cannot afford to pay more taxes.  We need the visible support of the people in the City of Waterbury, then and only then I believe their voices will be heard and understood by the all the  Aldermen seated.  Please feel free to contact me.   e-mail cbbookerjr@snet.net

Cicero B Booker Jr, Alderman 

Minority Leader

Where do we stand now?

April 27, 2010

The aldermen by district proposal has been voted down and the budget is due in several weeks.  Where do we stand now?  Days have passed since the aldermen asked the department heads to find a 5% decrease in their spending, yet the watchdogs could not find anything in the paper or online stating what has happened.  Last week the aldermen asked for city employees to decrease or forego raises, but that was not a demand,  just a request.   That was over a week ago.  What happened?  What was the response?  Besides residents frustration growing little action seems to have taken place since the public hearing.  Lets hope the aldermen will not sit on their hands and wait for the deadline to approach.  If you have heard any news please post it on the blog.  Stay tuned.

April 27, 2010

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.

Interested?

Cheryl Calsetta