LETTER: Don’t defend the soakers

I appreciated Alderman Mike Jones’ prompt response to my column, which criticized the Board of Aldermen’s efforts to unilaterally renegotiate a 20-year existing agreement between New Haven and Yale that closed Wall and High streets to car traffic (“Soaking Yale,” Aug. 31). Unfortunately, Mr. Jones’ remarks display troubling misconceptions, both about the facts of the agreement and the needs of his constituents.

Mr. Jones calls the 1990 agreement “poorly drafted,” a difficult conclusion to reach. As I originally wrote, the deal between the city and the University is exceptionally clear and well worded, far from poor drafting: It allows for change in a “mutually acceptable manner which is fair to both parties.” As the mayor, New Haven’s legal council and every reasonable observer agree, a unilateral decision by the Board of Aldermen is neither “mutually acceptable” nor “fair.” The aldermen cannot change the agreement without Yale’s consent.

John Adams put it best: Facts, Mr. Jones, are stubborn things.

Mr. Jones would like to claim that his colleagues’ goal is supporting “pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly infrastructure downtown.” To achieve that goal, they argue that they need to reintroduce vehicles to these two streets, the most amenable to pedestrians and cyclists in New Haven. This logic boggles the mind. To make more walkways, they want to destroy the only existing ones in the area.

The aldermen and unions are out to extort Yale. They have publicly said so. No amount of denying will change the truth.

Mr. Jones ended his response on a rhetorical note: He says he does not represent Yale, but her students. He seems to have forgotten that the well-being of his constituents rests on the health of their home, the University.

Mr. Jones has twice abandoned his constituents in the past: Once when he hung us to dry after the Elevate Raid and once more when he gallivanted around city hall hiking up wage costs. Now he is socking us a third time.

Nathaniel Zelinsky

The writer is a lifelong New Havenite and a junior in Davenport College.

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