The Naugatuck Fire Police are hosting a “Stuff-A-Cruiser” Food Drive this Saturday (11/23/2013) and Sunday (11/24/2013) at the Naugatuck Stop and Shop, 727 Rubber Avenue, Naugatuck, CT 06770. Fire Police will be present on both days (11/23/2013 & 11/24/2013) between 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM to collect non-perishable food donations to benefit the Naugatuck Ecumenical Food Bank. All support is welcomed and very much appreciated.
Results from tonight’s municipal elections in Naugatuck are as follows (* indicates election, subject to any recount):
- *Bob Mezzo 3068
- James O’Sullivan 1711
Burgesses (Top Nine Elected)
- *Tamath Rossi 2944 (Deputy Mayor)
- *Robert Neth 2507 (Second Deputy Mayor)
- *Michael Bronko 2326
- *Lori Taf Jackson 2279
- *Catherine Ernsky 2155
- *Rocky Vitale 2107
- *Robert Burns 1957
- *Patrick Scully 1930
- *Alex Olbrys 1843
- Edward Fennell 1821
- Henry Kuczenski 1761
- Jimmy Ayash 1576
- Dorothy Neth-Kunin 2663
- Diana Malone 2361
- Scott Slauson 2358
- James Scully 2229
- David Heller 2188
- James Jordan 2027
- Glenn Connan 1985
- Ethel Grant 1893
- Eleanor Destafano-Ruggles 1719
- James Goggin 2986
- Ray Fayad 1603
- Michelle Dowling 2989
- Lois Braziel 1469
Unofficial results from tonight’s municipal elections in Naugatuck are as follows:
- Bob Mezzo 3068
- James O’Sullivan 1695
Burgesses (Top Nine Elected)
- Tamath Rossi 2926 (*Deputy Mayor)
- Robert Neth 2693
- Michael Bronko 2303
- Lori Taf Jackson 2263
- Catherine Ernsky 2136
- Rocky Vitale 2097
- Robert Burns 1942
- Patrick Scully 1917
- Edward Fennell 1907
- Alex Olbrys 1827
- Henry Kuczenski 1753
- Jimmy Ayash 1562
- Dorothy Neth-Kunin 2646
- David Heller 2428
- Diana Malone 2343
- James Scully 2216
- Scott Slauson 2150
- James Jordan 2014
- Glenn Connan 1970
- Ethel Grant 1879
- Eleanor Destafano-Ruggles 1703
- James Goggin 2971
- Ray Fayad 1588
- Michelle Dowling 2972
- Lois Braziel 1456
Any information relating to the political campaign Mezzo 2013 is paid for by Mezzo 2013, Terri A. Carter Treasurer; and all content relating to Mezzo 2013 has been approved by Bob Mezzo.
The local campaign for mayor has experienced some interesting twists in the past couple weeks. At this point in the campaign, voters were supposed to have had at least one opportunity and likely multiple chances to listen to each candidates’ qualifications, vision and positions on the issues through debate. The biannual Chamber of Commerce debate originally scheduled October 10, 2013, was rescheduled for October 29, 2013; while a debate open to the public was being organized by the Naugatuck Patch. Unfortunately my opponent had been ultimately unwilling to commit to such forums, and none are currently scheduled.
Subsequently we received word that my opponent, James P. O’Sullivan, was suspending his campaign due to health reasons. The suspension does not include a withdrawal of his candidacy, but statements from partisan supporters indicated that at some point the campaign may resume. Since then, new signs have been placed and a newspaper advertisement published which indicates that the campaign is proceeding. We certainly understand the concerns associated with one’s health and respect that a person’s wellness and family are ultimately more important than politics. Unfortunately this situation is strange to say the least.
Whether or not the campaign has officially resumed or even ever stopped, it appears that there will not be an opportunity to debate. This deprives voters of the opportunity to hear Mr. O’Sullivan articulate his position on any issues and defend them when questioned. While a statement dismissing the role of debates because they “do not feature a lot of interaction between candidates in any case” was attributed to a leader of the Republican Town Committee (Waterbury Republican-American, October 22, 2013, Page 5B), I strongly disagree.
Debates have long been a part of American democracy. While most have rules and formats, they provide voters not only with an opportunity to listen to candidates’ unfiltered positions on issues; but also allow citizens to gauge how a candidate articulates ideas, thinks critically and handles pressure. Certainly there are other ways to campaign, but dismissing the importance of debates weakens local government. If the format was the problem, we certainly would have been flexible enough to accommodate any style of debate.
Prior to the “suspension” of his campaign, Mr. O’Sullivan made generally reference to lowering taxes, bringing-in new business and improving education while examining every line item of the local budget. Unfortunately these are campaign platforms of almost every challenger candidate in any election. The real goal should be articulating, through one’s own words, how that would be done. Plans matter. Ideas matter. Details matters. We have had none of this.
Even worse, while his campaign was still “suspended”, Mr. O’Sullivan issued a platform consisting of five (5) headers and eight (8) bullet-points on his website. Unfortunately Mr. O’Sullivan’s platform is almost identical to the platform posted on New Canaan and Wilton State Representative Tom O’Dea’s website from his 2012 campaign. It is uncertain whether or not Mr. O’Sullivan believes that generic proposals lacking any detail proposed for New Canaan and Wilton will magically solve all the challenges we face in Naugatuck.
Shortly after midnight on Labor Day, our campaign released detailed positions on many issues on this blog. Each post contained an analysis of what we have done the past four-plus (4+) years and our vision of where we need to go. Each post was written personally by me from my own thoughts and words. I would not expect everyone to agree with me or all of my ideas how to move our Borough forward. I would expect, however, that I could have an honest and ongoing debate with my opponent about my ideas in conjunction with discussions about his own. Whether or not Mr. O’Sullivan’s campaign resumes, has resumed, or never stopped; it is likely this exchange will not occur.
Our community deserves better. Voters deserve more than vague statements from supporters such as “He never dropped out. He did temporarily suspend the campaign due to a health concern, but he is still in the election! Once that is over, he will start back up the campaign“; or “..he will be back soon” on social media. Being honest and transparent with voters is essential for any candidate, even when it is not always easy to do so.
One’s campaign gives voters a small preview of how a challenger will govern. Mr. O’Sullivan and his closest supporters have failed to give Naugatuck the campaign it deserves. This reflects poorly not only on his campaign team, but on the Borough as well. At a time we need honest debate, detailed plans and community engagement; we are left with vague sound-bytes and bizarre focus on whether or not there is actually a campaign.
There are a lot of good people with good ideas from both parties running for office this election season. I urge all Naugatuck citizens to investigate their choices for all offices on Election Day this coming Tuesday, November 5, 2013. Unfortunately the silence from the top of one of the tickets has been deafening.
There has been a lot of conversation locally the past few months about the future of the Naugatuck Visiting Nurses Association (“NVNA”). Unfortunately the difference between fact v. fiction and truth v. rumor can be significant. An honest discussion may serve to clarify what is actually happening.
While the following is meant to provide insight into local decision-making, the reality is that no decisions have yet been made. The NVNA is currently conducting business as it always has: providing professional, home health care services in a compassionate manner to Naugatuck residents. The department employs exceptional nurses and support staff who take great pride in caring for patients and their families. Maintaining that quality and protecting the employees of NVNA remain a priority.
The NVNA has been in existence for ninety four (94) years. Generations of nurses have served generations of Naugatuck patients and their families by providing high quality, home health care services. Many patients continue to ask for specific nurses by name given the positive experiences they have had throughout the years.
For many years visiting nurses associations operated in numerous Connecticut cities and towns as municipal departments. This meant that nurses and support staff were employees of the municipal government in which the association conducted its business. Over the years, the structure of many municipal visiting nurses associations has changed as the economics of health care transformed the industry. While some visiting nurses associations folded, many transitioned to not-for-profit and for-profit organizations in cooperation with other entities outside of municipal government. This often resulted in creating larger economies of scale and allowing visiting nurses associations to attract patients outside of municipal boundary areas.
The NVNA, however, remains a municipal department of the Borough of Naugatuck. Based on research over the past few months, we estimate that there are only about five (5) visiting nurses associations in Connecticut that retain this structure of municipal employment.
In recent years, local leaders have begun to question the Borough’s role in social services and health care. As a burgess from 1999 – 2003, I remember the conversations during the budget process that focused upon whether or not the municipal government should be funding various agencies such as the NVNA, Youth and Family Services (“NYFS”) and the Human Resources and Development Agency (“HRD” – which is a non-profit but receives funds from the Borough). Occasionally members of the Joint Boards of Finance and Mayor and Burgesses (“Joint Boards”) would threaten to vote against funding particular agencies on the basis that the Borough should no longer and/or could not afford to be involved in providing such services.
Those voicing opposition to funding the NVNA have grown in number the past few budget years. The question that could not be answered, however, has been: “What will happen to all those served by local agencies if they no longer exist?” There really has never been a good answer given to that question. While the Joint Boards could certainly choose not to fund the NVNA, there would clearly be disruption to patient and employees if such action was not accompanied by a plan.
Recently the Joint Boards approved funding for a strategic analysis of local government by an outside consultant. Such a process is common in private industry, but is a relatively new concept for local governments. While the planning process included all aspects of municipal and board of education operations, it was agreed that an outside perspective would also be helpful to provide guidance with regard to the NVNA and other social service agencies. Ultimately the respective firm of BlumShapiro was selected as the consultant, and the plan was recently completed this past July.
The BlumShapiro strategic planning report recommended that the Borough investigate if there are other ways to deliver home health care services outside of municipal government. Given that most visiting nurses associations have reduced wage and benefits costs by separating from local governments, it was suggested that Naugatuck seek partners in the non-profit and/or private sectors with regard to such services. At no time did the BlumShapiro report criticize the quality of the services provided by the NVNA. To the contrary, significant praise has been directed toward the NVNA and its staff by numerous individuals throughout our community and region.
For the past several weeks, our office has been meeting with various providers in the area to gauge interest and investigate possible partnerships. This process continues, and no decisions have yet been made.
FACT from FICTION
Rumors spread quickly in all walks of life and different people draw different conclusions based on conversations they have with others. While such a reality is magnified in the context of local government, it is important to separate what is not true before stating what is.
Quality of Care
As stated above, nothing about the current process involves the quality of care provided by NVNA nurses and home health aides. Patient satisfaction is very high and patients often specifically request the NVNA when provided with home health care options. NVNA nurses are paid less than many of their colleagues in the private sector, but perform exceptionally and compassionately on a daily basis. Despite the uncertainty of any possible changes, they continue to treat new and existing patients in this manner. Potential partners with whom we speak reinforce this reality with their consistent, high praise for the NVNA.
Business Administration of NVNA
In addition, the NVNA operates quite efficiently despite significant challenges and obstacles. The administrative team and clerical and billing operation conduct the business affairs of the NVNA professionally and effectively. Despite the inability to care for patients outside of Naugatuck’s boundaries and affiliations and referral networks available to competitors, NVNA usually operates within budget and will return a small surplus once the 2012 – 2013 budget is fully reconciled next month (exclusive of benefits). Significant obstacles from licensing authorities and increasing regulatory oversight makes such a task difficult, but both NVNA’s clinical and financial management remains outstanding. This is true despite the rapid changes to and uncertainty involved with our national health care system.
The NVNA Remains Fully Operational
The daily operations of the NVNA continue uninterrupted. Patients are seen as usual. Referrals are made as usual. The NVNA remains fully staffed. Contractual obligations with service providers are being honored and new vendors continue to be engaged in the usual manner. The NVNA is fully funded for the 2013 – 2014 fiscal year.
Some have suggested that the Borough is simply trying to privatize the NVNA. Such a perception requires some context. No local government is required to offer home health care services to its citizens. If no partnership is made with another visiting nurses organization, there are basically two (2) possible results during the next budget process for the 2014 – 2015 fiscal year: (i) the Joint Boards continues to fund all or portions of the NVNA and business occurs as usual; or (ii) the Joint Boards chooses not to fund the NVNA. The latter is a very possible outcome given recent deliberations between members of the Joint Boards. Under such a scenario, the Borough simply stops providing home health care services to its residents and employing the staff of the NVNA. As long as the Borough does not engage another entity to provide the service, no privatization occurs. The Borough simply stops offering the service and closes the agency. It is by far the path of least resistance, but creates the most disruption to patients and employees.
WHAT REALLY IS HAPPENING
Given that some change, which has been talked about for over a decade, is likely to occur in the near future; we have begun to explore options. We have met with potential partners over the past few weeks and continue to gather information about various agencies in the area. Both the executive director and the clinical supervisor have participated in discussions. Information is available to representatives of each bargaining unit involved as well as an open invitation to discuss concerns.
Throughout this process we maintain three (3) objectives with regard to any potential partnerships:
1. To preserve the quality of home health care services available to Borough residents;
2. To protect the amazing employees of the NVNA to the best degree possible; and
3. To maintain the identity and/or branding of the high quality home health care services associated with the Naugatuck Visiting Nurses Association.
Achieving all three (3) objectives will require a significant amount of time, diligence and skillful negotiation, but none are achievable if we simply allow the NVNA to be eliminated by a budget cut. While reducing the costs associated with local government is always a priority, doing so in a fiscally and morally responsible manner is critical.
When a viable proposal is ready for presentation, we will seek public comment. Ultimately only the Board of Mayor and Burgesses can bind the Borough to a valid agreement involving finances with a third party. All provisions of our collective bargaining agreements are subject to state and/or federal labor laws.
As with any change, there will be a certain level of anxiety by all involved. Open communication is important to separate the truth from reality, and make the best choices for our community moving forward. Please feel free to contact me by phone (office: 203-720-7009 / cell: 203-217-0876) or email (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org ) with any questions and/or comments.
The Naugatuck Greyhounds Boys Soccer team soundly defeated the Crosby Bulldogs 6 – 0 Thursday (9/18/2013) night on the first contest played on the new, synthetic turf at Veterans Field. The undefeated, untied Greyhounds improved their record to 3 – 0, and remain tied with Torrington on top of the Naugatuck Valley League Cooper Division. The next game for the Naugatuck Boys will be Friday (9/20/2013), 4:00 PM, at Derby.
The Lady Greyhounds soccer team will play their first home game at the renovated Veterans Field on Friday at 3:30 PM, against Derby. The game will be followed by the home opener for the Naugatuck Greyhounds Football team against Wolcott, beginning at 7:00 PM. A brief pre-game ceremony will precede the football game.
Naugatuck’s 4 – 1 Volleyball team will play Wilby in the Edward Mariano gym at 5:00 PM, also on Friday (9/20/2013).
The weekend will be capped when the Naugatuck Marching Band hosts its annual Thunder in the Valley invitational at Veterans Field (see Nancy Sasso Janis blog on the Naugatuck Patch for details) beginning at 6:00 PM, on Saturday (9/21/2013) evening.
Those attending any events at Naugatuck High School this Fall should expect limited parking given the on-going renovations. Attendees can access Veterans Field through the upper lot along Millville Avenue, or by limited parking spaces near the gym. Veterans Field is accessed from the gym parking lot by walking along the path around the tennis courts. The concession stand and restrooms are open and concessions will operate according to the schedules coordinated by the various support groups.
The Naugatuck Toddler Program is currently accepting registrations for the Fall and Spring sessions. The Fall session begins in October, 2013; and the Spring session starts in February, 2014. Please see the flyer with pertinent information included. As stated therein, children must be three (3) years of age to be enrolled, or turn three (3) during the session. The program, which is for the children of Naugatuck residents, is hosted by the Child Care Center located at Naugatuck High School (543 Rubber Avenue, Naugatuck, CT 06770). Please contact Barbara Foehl at 203-720-5292 or email@example.com for more information.
Any information relating to the political campaign Mezzo 2013 is paid for by Mezzo 2013, Terri A. Carter Treasurer; and all content relating to Mezzo 2013 has been approved by Bob Mezzo.
The 2013 municipal election season in Naugatuck began with the nomination of candidates for each party earlier this July. This coming fall will mark the first time Naugatuck voters have elected municipal candidates in November elections. I am humbled and honored to have been nominated for a third (3rd) term by the Naugatuck Democratic Town Committee, and wish all candidates from every party good luck and good health during the campaign season. People choose to run or not to run for very different and personal reasons. I know how difficult making such a decision is, and truly respect all those who put their name forward for election.
As I have demonstrated in previous campaigns, I strongly believe that the citizens of Naugatuck deserve to know my positions on the issues. I have written several blog posts on the most pressing matters that we face as a Borough, and will continue to add various topics until the election. These blogs can be found on my personal blog, www.bobmezzo.com, under the “Issues in Detail” link at the top of the main page. Such posts are not for those simply looking for sound bites, as many are lengthy and contain much information on positions and proposals as what as what we have already accomplished over the past four-plus years. A summary of these blogs will be posted shortly under a “Issues Summary” header. My biography, written by my wife Eileen, has also been updated and can be viewed by linking the “Biography” tab.
Please feel free to comment on any of the blog posts or email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org. All comments (which are not spam) are posted without editing except for those containing profanity or any other inappropriate comment. There may be a slight delay in posting after comments are submitted, but I try to check several times a day time permitting. I sincerely enjoy discussing issues and opposing perspectives with concerned residents.
The Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation (“NEDC”) announced the selection of Ronald J. Pugliese as its next President and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) at a special meeting held tonight (8/7/2013). Mr. Pugliese will succeed David Prendergast in that capacity, who is retiring later this summer after ten (10) years running the NEDC from its inception in 2003.
Mr. Pugliese brings a wealth of experience to the position, formally serving as President and CEO of the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association and Senior Vice President of Household International / HSBC for many years. Recently, Mr. Pugliese served as the Director of Economic Development for the City of Waterbury, and the President and CEO of the East Hartford Chamber of Commerce.
Born in Waterbury, CT, Mr. Pugliese spent many years as a resident in Naugatuck, and has developed many relationships in the Borough by volunteering his time in service to local government and non-profit organizations. Mr. Pugliese was a Burgess in Naugatuck from 1983 to 1989, and served as campaign chair and chairperson for the United Way of Naugatuck and Beacon Falls. His extensive experience combined with local roots separated Mr. Pugliese from the numerous candidates who applied for the position. Mr. Pugliese currently resides in Southbury, CT with his wife Janice, and serves on the Southbury Board of Selection. They are the proud parents of three sons; Jay (a Naugatuck Police Officer), Gregg and Jeffrey; and grandparents of five.
The NEDC is a public-private partnership that is charged with administering all aspects of economic development policy and project implementation for the Borough of Naugatuck. Its board of directors is comprised of representatives from the private and non-profit sectors, as well as elected and appointed officials of Borough government from both parties. Since its creation in 2003, David Prendergast has been the only President and CEO in the organization’s history, working with four different mayoral administrations. Prior to Mr. Prendergast’s retirement, he will work with Mr. Pugliese to ensure a smooth transition in the organization. We enthusiastically welcome Mr. Pugliese to our team, and look forward to progress and prosperity as our community analyzes various proposals recently received for downtown development.
The executive summary of the BlumShapiro strategic planning report on local government was presented to members of the Tri-Boards (Board of Education, Board of Finance and Board of Mayor and Burgesses) this evening (7/29/2013) at City Hill Middle School. The executive summary can be viewed here. A final draft report was also provided to members at the meeting, which will be the subject of additional discussions in the coming weeks.