Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Voters by Age in Ward 25

Last Tuesday a couple ladies from the neighborhood stopped by to chat at Deja Brew during my "office hours." One of them asked if I had any demographic data for the ward, specifically a breakdown by age. Here's a look at Ward 25 by age ranges from voter registration data (2561 registered voters) as of 10/5/09.

Patricia Wallace, Director of the City's Dept. of Elderly Services, stopped by the last CMT meeting to ask what services are most needed by the 55+ community. Please contact her with your concerns and ideas.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Referendum question on ballot Tuesday, Nov. 3rd

The 2009 ballot for the regular election for the City of New Haven will contain one referendum question regarding the reenactment of the City and Town Development Act.

I recently had a meeting at the City's Economic Development office and got an explanation of why the Board of Alderman approved this and why the City would like to see it ratified by voters. Please call or email me if you would like more information. Also, I also have a 6 page explanation I can forward to those interested.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

NHPS News (updated 10/19)

The Teachers Union overwhelmingly approved the new contract. Administrators are next for contract negotiations according to the Mayor's office.

Two new appointments made to the Board of Ed. -- read the press release here. You can find bios for the Board of Ed mebers here, including Ward 25 resident, Michael Nast.

Again, here's the recently updated but still a bit "under construction" NHPS website:

And here's the School Reform Website for "official" updates on this initiative.

Community Management Team (CMT)

I was able to attend most of this month's Community Management Team meeting yesterday evening. The CMT meeting for our Police District 10 is held at the Valley St. police substation monthly. Please check the CMT's website for more info. This is truly a valuable resource and I recommend you attend a meeting or at least communicate with the CMT board members.
Minutes from these meetings will soon appear on the website.

This month's agenda featured a presentation by the "master recyclers" who are city residents working to help the city with information and pr for the city's new trash and recycling program that's coming soon!

Also, the director of the City's Elderly Services department, Patricia Wallace, came to ask what do residents 55+ need from the city? She reported that she is hearing a lot of requests for help making city streets more pedestrian friendly.

Also as always, Lt. Martin (Marty) Tchakirides, Westville-West Hills District Manager, gave his crime report and hot-spots. He reminds everyone to lock cars and garages! Please don't leave anything that looks valuable even in a locked car. He wants to hear from folks. (find his and other useful email links here) Please call stuff in!! He can only respond to things that are reported either to him, 911 or non-emergency: 946-6316.

Met with Christy Hass

Yesterday I met with Christy Hass. She is the head of maintenance for the City's department of Parks, Recreation & Trees and is also the City's Tree Warden. I now feel like I have a much better understanding of the "how, who, & why" regarding city trees. In fact, Christy's role as Tree Warden is defined by State statute! Thus, stewardship of trees comes from a policy usually putting a tree's best interest first. I also have a more clear understanding of current man-power, equipment, and how tree work is prioritized and scheduled. It is not "high tech" -- yet. Christy and her tree-crew foreman, Fernado Lage have a crew of 5 guys (3 certified to cut) - and 2 trucks with chippers, 1 old truck w/o chipper, and one stump grinder. There is no actual database or master to-do list. Tree work is tasked from mostly complaints or through observations by Fernando. No matter how the request is received, a work-order is generated/printed using the city's Web311 system. These are then prioritized (1, 2 or 3) by Christy and/or Fernando. In addition to the city crews and equipment, money is also allocated annually to supplement and augment the city's capabilities by hiring subcontractors like Asplundh. This year the city had $95,000 budgeted (which was put out to low bid) and indeed added to the city's ability to handle more tree jobs (however many hrs, at bid hourly rate, until money is used up).

As you can imagine, trees alone are a huge job for the Parks department and require a lot of resources and money. However, there is at least one important partner the city has to help with trees: Urban Resources Initiative has been the city's partner for planting and re-planting for the past few years. They are also currently helping convert (a city contracted, now defunct, company's database that was done for the city several years ago yet is unusable in a proprietary/never completely implemented system) and complete a thorough inventory/database of all the city's trees. Paper will hopefully give way to a computerized GIS system (Christy's applying for grant $ for some of the necessary equipment) in the near future to better manage all aspects of the stewardship of our city's trees...

I know there are many tree issues city wide. My advice for now is to either call in your issues to the Tree Line @ 203-946-6971 or use Web 311. (I know you have to register for Web311; but it really helps as work orders are generated from this system so it saves Parks some time. is great too, but not YET intertwined with any of the city's IT systems... stay tuned)

I also chatted and got more background on athletic fields -- soccer fields specifically. A new "master plan" is currently in development. Also I found out that Parks does all the athletic field maintenance for the Board of Ed!

Please email me or call with more questions and issues. It was great that Christy took the time to meet with me! Our conversation will help me dispel many rumors and understand more about "what, how & why" which will provide much needed background for the inevitable $ component that Alders deal with.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

School Reform Meeting at Edgewood

It was indeed nice to see 75+ neighbors (those with and w/o school age kids) at tonight's meeting. The Mayor, Dr. Mayo and Asst. Sup. for reform, Garth Harries spoke and answered questions for 2 hours. More than a few questioned what look to be truly ambitious objectives. Harries accepted that observation and stated that these reform objectives are "possible" [to attain] and they are "aggressive." He and the Mayor also backed that up by both saying that they "believe this can be done."

A new (Oct 2009) hand-out listing these Reform Objectives, an outline of "Why New Haven?" (they state they have "A Strong Foundation to Build On"), and a chart, "Focus and Coherence in the Management of Schools," of what Harries described as some of the how the main goal of "Raising Student Performance" will be accomplished. It shows four "planks," each with a "vision," having several "potential components." Here's the link to these documents & here's the official reform website.

While the "achievement gap" appears to be the measurement, school reform as the Mayor, Mayo & Harries propose does seem to tackle much, much more. Harries specifically mentioned that reform goals include "push[ing] high performers" as well as achieving "double jumps" in performance at the lower-end of the performance continuum. "Resources will be allocated" to attain upward improvements from all performance levels they assured. They did admit that money and resources will not be allocated uniformly or equally to each of the 47 schools (as they are now), but allocated so as to achieve these new goals district wide - measured on "upward movement/progress;" not just hitting a targeted average - and "not just in pockets." The Board of Ed will hopefully define "performance" criteria to include state tests, post-secondary readiness, student engagement, etc. by spring 2010. They'd also like NHPS to be measured overall (not solely on "achievement gap") and thus reach their stated ultimate goal, "[to] be recognized as the best urban district in the country."

There seemed to be a lot more listening than questioning. (I too only listened tonight.) About 10 people did most of the questioning. Alderwoman Silverman started off the questioning with the tough one, "How will this be paid for?" The Mayor's blunt answer was that taxes could indeed go up. It does seem to the Mayor that education is central to just about everything and thus can justify its costs. Obviously money is a component. However, I know as important as these reform initiatives are, fiscal responsibility will be vital. Oversight, transparency, measurable return on investment, and accountability will all be very important. Parents, teachers, administrators, city residents, the Board of Alderman should all be collaborators in this huge undertaking of school reform. Additional venues and forums for further discussion seem necessary. More specifics addressing many cost issues will come to light next week as the Teachers Union votes on a new contract.

Please contact me with your thoughts, questions, ideas, etc., so as many of us as possible can play a role in taking advantage of what the Mayor sees as a "window" in economic & political times for "aggressive" public education reform here in New Haven. I will most certainly be engaged, with vested interest (child at Edgewood), in this process as a parent and neighborhood representative.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Election Day A Month Away - Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Hello neighbors. Election Day is one month from today.

I would hope that everyone heads to the polls to demonstrate your support for me and for whomever you cast your vote. This neighborhood, Ward 25, has traditionally demonstrated, in large numbers with impressive voter turn out, its support for the candidates its residents hope will work hard and faithfully represent them. I will indeed represent your voice and will work hard on behalf of all of our neighbors in Ward 25.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to head to Edgewood Magnet School to vote, Tuesday, November 3rd. Also, please plan to stop by the Edgewood PTO bake sale after you vote!