The New Haven Board of Aldermen quickly and unanimously approved all items on its agenda Monday night, including grants to reduce pollutants and offer social services to crime suspects.
The night featured nearly no discussion; the lengthiest item on the agenda was the initial pause for Divine Guidance that begins each meeting, in which Ward 19 Alderwoman Alfreda Edwards called for a moment of silence for soldiers fighting overseas before asking that board members come together in the coming months to work on issues of citywide — and not just ward-specific — importance.
For the most part, the bills passed by the board approved the application to and acceptance of various state and federal funding grants, but one ordinance adjusted fees at the Alling Memorial Golf Course. Among the grants was one from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to reduce household environmental triggers of asthma and another from the U.S. Department of Justice to implement an intervention program that aims to offer social services to criminal suspects in lieu of arrest and possible jail time.
At last month’s meeting of the joint finance and public safety committee, Carolyn Bove, the police department’s grant writer, told the committee that the intervention program would begin as a pilot program for between 20 and 40 individuals.
It aims to prevent violence among midlevel offenders, who police feel should be most able to complete the program successfully, she said. After gathering sufficient evidence for an arrest, suspects would be approached and offered admittance to the program as an alternative to arrest, Bove said.
In the only deviation from the night’s agenda, Ward 13 Alderman Alex Rhodeen, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, noted an increase in the size of the Justice Department grant and removed a line in the bill referencing the specific community group with which the city will work under the new program.
Without objection, Rhodeen amended the resolution passed by the joint finance and public safety committee so that the grant now totals $164,871 instead of the previous $149,883. He also asked that a passage referring to the Christian Community Commission be struck from the legislation. He said the city had not properly notified the board of its intention to work with the group ahead of time.
“The process they went through — the time frame didn’t follow procedure,” Rhodeen said. “It doesn’t preclude or imply anything with respect to [CCC].”
He said the change in the resolution had nothing to do with concerns that had been expressed at the committee meeting last month.
At the time, some aldermen had initially questioned whether the CCC was an appropriate partner agency. One board member had sought assurances that its religious affiliation would not lead to proselytizing, while another had asked about its official status with the Connecticut Secretary of State’s office.
But all the aldermen expressing concerns eventually voted to pass the bill out of committee.
During the meeting, Ward 26 Alderman Sergio Rodriguez, the vice chair of the Human Services Committee, described the human services bill as a means to prophylactically avoid asthma by eliminating its causes. He said the environmental triggers included things ranging from “cold” and “pollen” to “cockroaches and insect infestation” to “secondhand smoke.”
The aldermen also approved the appointments or reappointments of 22 members of the city’s councils and commissions, from the Affirmative Action Commission to the Food Policy Council.