COVID 19 hit and I honestly was very much engrossed in work at my hospital. As a leader, I worked 6 days a week for about 14 hours a day to ensure my respiratory therapists had what they needed to care for the patients we had. At one point, we had 65 ventilators running and that's about 50-55 more vents than we usually have at that time of year each day. I continued to do my work and answer constituent calls during this period, but keeping the website up to date was not a priority. Therefore, there will be a large gap in issues and votes here. - Frank
February 4, 2020 - City Council Meeting
This meeting ended up being another long evening and there were some items on the agenda that I was very interested in. To this point, I've attended workshops, a Board of Ed sites and facilities meeting, the public hearing and the committee of the whole (see below) on agenda item 7 - The SNAPP 2020 Bond. I also attended two separate ad-hoc committees that were held for agenda items 5 and 6.
Agenda Item 5 - Richter Park Authority Loan - $150,000. I've looked at the financials for the course and I was shocked to see that the net revenues have been steadily declining for the past 5 years. I realize this loan is being asked for due to unforeseen issues with weather shortening the season, but I'm questioning if there isn't something larger to look at. Initially, my inclination was to vote no on this but after talking to the Director of Finance and hearing the authority members talk, I decided to vote for it and Councilman Duane Perkins summed up what I was going to ask for that we get more information on how the authority plans to turn things around.
Agenda Item 7 - SNAPP 2020 Bond Referendum. I honestly thought through conversations that there was the ability to get more information and that we had some time before the bond issue was passed onto the voters. That didn't materialize. After hearing the answers to questions, I still was concerned that we didn't have enough information for you the voters to know exactly what you were voting for. It was also decided that the bond would be split into two questions on April 28th, which I ended up voting for because the Republicans through Council President Cavo's remarks decided to change their position from a meeting the previous week where they all voted against splitting the question. When the time came to vote, I really didn't know which way I was going to go. I couldn't vote no because to me it sounded like the Board of Education was speaking in favor if this and my concern was the lack of details in that part of the bond. I also felt that yes would be the wrong vote because even when I asked the question about the "green initiatives", there was a list of projects that were to be included given by Antonio Iadarola the Public Works Director/Acting City Engineer. Why could they list these out when we asked but they couldn't be put into a section below the bond initiative to show examples of what the planned projects under that line would be? I realize things change and we can't hold the city to the letter of what's written, but wouldn't that information make it easier on the voters when they go to the ballot box on April 28th. So as my name was being called, I really didn't know which way I was going to vote and the word "ABSTAIN" came out of my mouth. Not my shining moment and I'm pretty sure if I had a "do over" I probably wouldn't do that again. I'm human, and humans make mistakes. On this one, I'm going to live the line - "to err is human, to learn is divine".
January 27, 2020 - Bond Ordinance Public Hearing and Committee of the Whole
Monday, January 27, 2020 ended up being a very long night for the city council. We heard about ten Danbury residents speak mainly on the Downtown Streetscape Project (City Infrastructure Project 2) and the Classroom Space Initiatives (Schools Facility Project 1). All who spoke did so very eloquently and passionately for the two projects. After the public hearing, the city council went into the committee of the whole.
During this meeting we were allowed to ask our questions to the various department heads and the Mayor. Right off the bat, I will tell you that I believe all of these projects that make up the $62 million dollar bond ordinance package are much needed within our city. The problem I have is that I take my fiduciary responsibility to you the voters very seriously. Below the title of each project, there is very little detail contained that allows me to understand how the money will be used. In the end, my only vote is really to send this bond package to you the voters. I can close my eyes and just vote to do that, but when you come to me and ask "what is this project for....", how can I answer you? I'm not asking for an itemized list with expected costs, just some basic information to help guide myself and eventually the voters to understand what they're going to vote for on April 28th. At this meeting, I along with the entire Democratic Caucus voted not to send it back to the February Council Meeting with the recommendation to pass it. The bond is not dead, I feel I need more information and clearly the rest of the caucus did as well.
January 14, 2020 - Bond Ordinance Workshop
I attended the bond ordinance workshop and received some answers to the questions that I and you, my constituents, have. Unfortunately, although there was an hour and a half presentation, there are still details that aren't there. In the end, as of this writing, I can tell you that I can go either way on the upcoming vote in February. Clearly, everything that is presented in this bond ordinance is necessary. I know that because I campaigned on the issues this bond seems to address. But in the end, I and all my fellow Councilpersons have to be sure that our yes vote to send this to you the voters is the right one. We need to be able to answer your questions to help you decide on how you will vote. I also must be honest with you in the fact that one question still nags me, "Does this bond go far enough?” I will have more on this subject as I digest the information we learned last evening. Watch here for more information soon.
January 14, 2020 - Board of Education (BOE) Finance Committee - Sites and Facilities Meeting
I sat in on the above meeting to see if I can learn more details from the BOE to be able to garner more information that might help me understand the schools part of the bond ordinance. I understand better that one option for the proposed renovation of the Osborne St. facility is to possibly move early childhood classrooms from two elementary schools into that facility to open up classrooms in those schools. So the rationale for the Osborne St. facility renovation makes sense to me, especially because there is a probability that after these short term solutions are not needed, this area could be used for the Ellsworth Elementary School. In the end, our vote on the bond ordinance and the schools part is just for the funding. The Board of Education is the subject matter experts here and will make the decisions on how the renovated facility is used, so please note that although I mention one option, that by no means is "the option". Watch for more information.