Aldermen divided over Iraq resolution

The New Haven Board of Aldermen failed to pass a resolution Monday night that would have opposed U.S. military action against Iraq.

The vote came minutes before President George W. Bush spoke on national television to gather support for a U.S.-led military coalition against the country.

The resolution, drafted by Ward 9 Alderman John Halle, was sent to committee when two members of the 30-person board objected to passing it unanimously.

“The intent of the resolution is to make the strongest statement possible that the city of New Haven is against military action being taken against Iraq,” Halle said before the meeting.

Though the resolution did not garner unanimous approval, the majority of aldermen in attendance were in support of the motion. Among those in support of the resolution was Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04.

“I was very supportive of the resolution, and I was sorry to see it be delayed,” Healey said after the meeting. “I think we have to have a discussion now so we can let our national leaders know what we think.

“At every level, there hasn’t been the sort of conversation that needs to happen before an action of this sort should happen,” Healey added. “The conversation should take place on the streets, in the dinning halls, and in the classroom, and we should tell our elected officials how we feel about it by whatever means possible.”

Some, including Ward 26 Alderwoman Lindy Lee Gold, questioned whether the Board of Aldermen should deal with issues of national security.

“I really believe it’s inappropriate for the board to act on that type of resolution,” Gold said. “I’m certainly concerned about national security and about the world living in concert, but in terms of national threats, I don’t believe I am equipped with enough information to dictate to our national delegation what we should do.”

Ward 18 Alderwoman Arlene DePino joined Gold in opposing the resolution.

“I thought it was a little premature and I wanted to first hear what President Bush had to say in his speech [on Monday],” she said.

Supporters of the resolution pointed to the economic impact a war on Iraq might have on New Haven as a motivating factor for unanimous passage.

“The money we spend on a war on Iraq comes out of money that could be spent on building projects, AIDS, and homeless services, as well as a number of other things the city of New Haven needs,” Halle said.

“It’s fitting for the Board of Aldermen who swore to protect the good and welfare of New Haven citizens to take a position on a most horrific act — war itself,” said Alfred Marder, chairman of the New Haven Peace Council. “I think [the possible attack on Iraq] has already affected New Haven because of the growing military budget. New Haven is in a very weak economic position — It’s not in the abstract; it’s what is actually happening in New Haven and in all cities.”

Also present at Monday night’s meeting were a number of New Haven residents who came to voice their support of the resolution.

“I think people are feeling a real discontent in New Haven,” said Stephen Kobesn, a New Haven resident. “It’s still important the question of Iraq be raised and I’m grateful to [Halle] for taking the initiative.”

Halle said he and his supporters were not discouraged.

“I was expecting it to go down tonight, but I think there’s a very good chance it could pass,” Halle said after the meeting. He said he will attempt to bypass the committee stage, which a resolution must usually go through after it fails to pass unanimously. It would then go directly on the agenda for discussion at the next meeting Oct. 21.

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