Our city is in desperate shape and the incumbent’s plans will be a disaster for the future of New Haven. Let me explain:
We are losing 1,000 people every year, a decline of 40,000 since 1960.
The state subsidy of our operating budget is now over 70 percent. The “improvements” cited as accomplishments by the incumbent were 100 percent funded by the state.
The grand list has declined steadily for the past 10 years. Only 10 percent of the city’s children pass the state mastery tests in fourth grade, compared to 34.5 percent statewide.
In sixth grade, 9.6 percent in New Haven pass these tests, compared to 38.2 percent statewide. Eighth grade comes in at 11.9 percent here, 41.5 percent statewide.
The city is suffering under an ethical cloud, every day, every month, every year. Moral failings of the current administration not only include the day-to-day petty corruption that rewards DeStefano loyalists with jobs, sidewalks and contracts, but also encompasses major scandals such as the Livable City Initiative some years ago and now the Breen tax lien mess that is being exposed by a group of dedicated New Haven residents.
What are the incumbent’s plans?
Build our economy exclusively on nonprofit corporations. Put warehouses, instead of residential buildings, on our waterfront, specifically on River Street. Build more subsidized high-rise office buildings in our downtown.
The mayor also thinks that biotechnology is the answer, when in actuality this fledgling and insubstantial industry benefits only Yale and not New Haven — a fact pointed out by the Connecticut Center for a New Economy.
It was DeStefano who supported the Long Wharf Mall, a disaster avoided only because the developer withdrew. Through that project, our downtown was held hostage for five years.
Furthermore, DeStefano wants New Haven to construct factory-style schools, with 600 to 1,000 children crammed into each. More bricks are the answer he suggests with his $1 billion school building frenzy.
That plan makes no mention of teachers or principals and their role in improved education. These are plans from the 1950s. They failed then and they will fail again.
What are my plans?
I will get more people to live in New Haven. I will begin by building 15,000 new apartments in downtown, on the waterfront and on Long Wharf. I will be guided by Jane Jacobs, not Donald Trump.
More people will bring with them a larger tax base, more activity, more volunteerism, and more activism.
Second, I will fix the schools. Since mayors appoint members of the school board, I would be able to eliminate floors of administrators and create small neighborhood schools, with no more than 350 students in each one.
I will put decision-making authority over these smaller schools back into the hands of principals and teachers, and demand accountability and results.
Third, I will increase the role of the private sector in New Haven. Relying exclusively on government and the nonprofit sector for our future has never and will never work.
We need a balance — more companies, more private sector jobs, and more taxpayers.
We need a major cultural transplant, bringing in people who care about private business and who understand how to nurture feisty entrepreneurs, including the members of the Yale Entrepreneurial Society.
We have a clear choice: Do we want to continue to die a slow death with the incumbent’s policies or do we want to embrace the 21st century together?
Implementing the incumbent’s outdated approaches to city planning will not solve any of our current problems, and in fact will make them worse.
My solutions are innovative for New Haven, based on solid success throughout the United States, and have produced results in other cities.
We can work our way out of this mess. New Haven will be a great city again.
I can help make this happen. I need your help and your vote.
Joel Schiavone ’58 is the Republican party candidate in New Haven’s Nov. 6 mayoral election.