Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Milford Police Blotter | Sept. 25

Here are the latest arrests as reported by Milford police.

And, don't forget to check the UPDATED Milford Crime Map: Milford Crime Map

Name: Joshua Morales, 23, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 24, 10:15 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Sixth-degree larceny; conspiracy to commit sixth-degree larceny
Police say: Morales stole a lottery ticket from Howard's Variety store on Naugatuck Avenue on July 19. Police are accusing Morales of taking 100 $2 "Bonus Ball Bingo" scratch tickets. 

Name: John DeLauro, 74, Guilford
Arrest date: Sept. 24, 3:40 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Third-degree stalking
Police say: DeLauro was parked in front of a former companion's house on Lawrence Court and had been warned not to contact the victim. 

Name: Donald Judd, 55, Hamden
Arrest date: Sept. 23, 3:30 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Two counts of public indecency; second-degree breach of peace; risk of injury
Police say: On Sept. 19, two women observed a man masturbating while riding in his car down Darina Place near High Street. An investigation revealed that the driver was Judd. One of the female victims said she observed him engaged in a similar activity on June 4. 

Name: Robert McMillan, 22, West Haven
Arrest date: Sept. 23, 2:30 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Second-degree threatening
Police say: McMillan threatened to harm a companion during a phone conversation. 

Name: Robert McMillan, 22, West Haven
Arrest date: Sept. 24, 2:30 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Second-degree threatening
Police say: McMillan threatened to harm a companion during a phone conversation. 

Name: Juan Morales-Perez, 39, New Haven
Arrest date: Sept. 24, 4:15 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Second-degree failure to appear
Police say: Morales-Perez did not show up for a July 23 court date for a larceny offense he is alleged to have committed in Milford on June 12. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Milford Police Blotter | Sept. 20 - 23

Here are the latest arrests as reported by Milford police.

And, don't forget to check the UPDATED Milford Crime Map: Milford Crime Map

Name: Marshall Maxwell, 20, Easton
Arrest date: Sept. 19, 12 a.m..
Pending charge(s): Third-degree assault; second-degree strangulation; second-degree threatening; first-degree criminal trespass; disorderly conduct; possession of marijuana; possession of drug paraphernalia
Police say: On a call of a disturbance at an Elaine Road home, police discovered that Maxwell had entered his companion's home and started to choke her. Maxwell fled the home, but police located him nearby and found him in possession of marijuana. 

Name: David Weston Jr., 28, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 19, 12:30 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Third-degree assault on a pregnant person; second degree threatening; disorderly conduct
Police say: On a call of a disturbance at a Darina Place home, police discovered that Weston had pushed his pregnant companion to the ground, hit and kicked her, and threatened to harm her further. He also damaged the victim's cell phone. Police took the woman to a hospital for evaluation. 

Name: Donald Daluz, 41, Hamden
Arrest date: Sept. 19, 6:20 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Fourth-degree larceny; third-degree forgery
Police say: On June 12, a then-unknown person tried to cash a check at the People's Bank along the Boston Post Road. An investigation revealed Daluz as a suspect for trying to cash that check, which was in the amount of $1,910. 

Name: Kate Brunson, 35, unknown address
Arrest date: Sept. 21, 4:30 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Possession of narcotics; possession of drug paraphernalia
Police say: An officer observed a suspicious person in the parking lot of a motel, and during an investigation discovered Brunson in possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia.  

Name: Keith Kalish, 52, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 21, 5:30 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Interfering with an emergency call; disorderly conduct
Police say: Responding to a disturbance at a Woodruff Road home, police discovered that Kalish had interfered in his wife's calling 911, and that he damaged the phone she was using. 

Name: David Powell, 29, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 21, 10 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Two counts of third-degree assault; second-degree threatening; disorderly conduct; second-degree breach of peace; first-degree unlawful restraint
Police say: Responding to a disturbance at a motel, police discovered that Powell had struck his companion and locked her in her room. When an officer was attempting to arrest Powell, he threatened to harm the officer. 

Name: Matthew Kaluzynski, 27, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 22, 5:30 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Third-degree larceny
Police say: Responding to a complaint that a delivery vehicle had been taken from Milford Auto Supply, police, with the assistance of Orange Police, located the vehicle and arrested Kaluzynski. 

Name: Fatima Balik, 29, Milford; Kenan Cinar, 27, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 22, 5:30 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Disorderly conduct
Police say: Responding to a complaint of a disturbance at a Lenox Avenue home, police discovered that Cinar and Balik had engaged in a "physical altercation." 

Name: Kate Brunson, 35, uncertain address
Arrest date: Sept. 23, 4:30 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Third-degree burglary
Police say: Responding to a complaint of a residential burglary in progress at a Sentinel Hill Road home, police found Brunson inside. It was her relative's home, but did not have permission to be there. 

Name: Melissa Drinkwater, 30, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 21, 10:30 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Second-degree failure to appear
Police say: The tactical unit arrested Drinkwater for an outstanding warrant for her failing to appear in court. 

Why Milford Needs A Domestic Violence Shelter

I come across abysmally tragic items like this all the time in the police blotter - there's probably one or two "domestic" incidents in each day's blotter:
Who knows what happened here - and of course Weston is innocent until proven guilty. But the allegations are serious.Whenever I read something like this happening in Milford, I get a sick feeling thinking about how a group of people from Woodmont would use zoning laws to stop a domestic shelter from opening. Congrats, you have protected your property values and prevented the formation of whatever meaningless boogeymen you created to convince yourself that stopping a domestic violence shelter was a good thing. But you have also ensured that members of your city who are truly hurting will continue to hurt.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Milford Mayoral Debate Fact Check

Blake (l) and Spalthoff at a pre-debate dinner on Tuesday. 

Mayor Ben Blake and Republican challenger Peter Spalthoff debated last night – though, “answered questions from the audience” is a more accurate depiction.

Many news outlets like to use Pinocchio’s nose, or, in the case of the Seattle Times, the Space Needle, to measure how truthful the candidates’ statements were. I’d like to use a less pointy metaphor. So, I’m measuring the truthfulness (or accuracy) here in distance in Connecticut from Milford. So, if one of the candidates said, “Barack Obama doesn’t have a birth certificate” they would be rated “North Canaan” because that's as far from the truth (Milford) as you can get. Get it?

The candidate: Ben Blake
The claim: “I passed two lean, bipartisan budgets.”
The verdict: West Haven. True, but additional context is necessary. The way the budget process works is the mayor – with much help from the finance director and department heads – forms a budget toward the end of the calendar year, and reveals it to the public usually in January. The Finance Committee then scrutinizes that budget and votes on it. Then, usually by May, the Board of Aldermen approves or changes it. Blake’s claim that the budget was passed in a bipartisan manner is true because ultimately it passed through two boards comprised of Republicans and Democrats. But that doesn’t mean that these boards didn’t try to change Blake’s budget. There were a variety of measures brought up by the Republicans to change Blake’s two budgets, most of which were defeated in a partisan manner.

The candidate: Spalthoff
The claim: “The new firehouse, it’s nearly a year late; now we’re using an outside attorney to sue the contractor.”
The verdict: New Haven. The new East Side Fire Station was over a year late, but there’s no indication that the city has sued anyone. The city has hired outside counsel – attorney Jeffrey Donofrio – to protect the city’s legal interests as it deals with the contractor. There was a clause in the city’s contract with the contractor that it could recoup a certain amount of money for each day that the project was late. However, the contractor has tried to recoup money from the city, too. Donofrio has declined to comment on the matter, saying that he doesn’t want to reveal the city’s legal strategy.

The candidate: Spalthoff and Blake
The claim: “If our pension system is so well funded, why did we put in $2 million this year?” (Spalthoff); “The 2 million he's referring to is our contribution to the cost of living to uniformed officers" (Blake, in rebuttal).
The verdict: Seymour. Blake is wrong about that contribution (it was $2.2 million), though he is right that the money went to the police and fire pension fund. This year, the city had to contribute $2.2 million to the pension fund because of an actuarial practice called “asset smoothing,” which allows a contributor (the city) to pay for losses in a pension over a couple of years. It’s similar to financing a large purchase by paying for it in installments. Last year, the city contributed around $320,000 to that pension fund; it jumped up to $2.2 million this year because the investment losses sustained during the recession are just now affecting the pension fund; next year, the contribution is expected to be up around $2 million. But asset smoothing isn’t really a measure of how well funded a pension fund is, it’s a measure of how risky private investments are.

The candidate: Blake
The claim: “The fund reserve is part of the budgeting process. It’s the people's money. It’s something we use almost every budget.”
The verdict: Woodmont. Blake and other mayors (in Milford and across the country) have used reserve funds to balance or offset other losses during the budgeting process. Blake did not use reserve funds in his first budget, introduced in January 2012, but did use $5 million during this year’s budget process. Former mayor James Richetelli Jr. used a $1 million draw in revealing his budget in January 2011; Richetelli used a $2 million draw in 2010. Spalthoff had insinuated earlier that Blake had used the $5 million this year so that taxes would not go up too much given that it's an election year. Blake's response to that was, "If you want to keep taxes down, you have to look at all the tools you have in order to accomplish that."

The candidate: Blake
The claim: He and other city leaders found a way to make hiring four school resource police officers “budget neutral.”
The verdict: Derby. It is true that the city created four new police officer positions this year so it could have a school resource officer program. It is also true that the police department and school district split the estimated $500,000 annual cost of the new officers by creating new revenue and shifting existing revenue. But it would be foolish to assert that those four positions will always be budget neutral. Generally, personnel costs drive the largest share of annual budget increases, so it’s very likely that the cost of these positions will increase in the future.

The candidate: Spalthoff and Blake
The claim: “From 1990 to 2018, our school population is going to be down 22 percent” (Spalthoff). “The school population is cyclical” (Blake).
The verdict: East Haven. The school population in 1990 was 7,883, and a task force studying enrollment projects it will be at 5,605 by the 2018-2019 school year. That's a 29 percent decline. Enrollment in Milford declined about 15 percent between 1990 and 2012, according to figures from the National Center for Educational Statistics. The state predicts that Milford’s overall population will only to increase by about 1,500 by 2040, making it unlikely that the school district population will rebound to its peak (7,569 in 2005-06). Right now, the school district is undergoing a massive study of its population and assets – the Long Range Planning Committee – to figure out how to deal with a declining school population. Demographic studies do predict that the district population loss will bottom out in about a decade at around 5,400. 

The candidate: Blake and Spalthoff
The claim: “In terms of city's overall population, we're growing. You saw that from the last Census. We’re growing. We have been growing” (Blake). “We're losing population” (Spalthoff).
The verdict: Bethany. Milford’s population is not declining, but it’s also not really growing. The 2000 Census put the population at 50,294, the 2010 Census put it at 51,227, and a 2012 projection put it at around 51,488. State studies say that Milford’s population will only reach around 54,300 by 2040. All data suggests that Milford’s population is stagnant, neither technically growing nor shrinking. A note: When making his statement, Spalthoff referenced a study by the United Way, not the Census.

The candidate: Spalthoff
The claim: “Taxes are going to go up; it's very tough to be living in a city like this and have the services we do and not have taxes go up.”
The verdict: Shelton. Spalthoff can’t really say that taxes are going to go up or down because that’s a function of how much it’s going to cost to run the city over how large the tax base is, figures that are largely the domain of the city Finance Department. Historically, the tax rate has gone up and down in Milford. The rate was 28.23 in fiscal year 2009; 27.50 in 2010; 26.40 in 2011; 28.89 in 2012; 25.60 in 2013; and 26.28 in 2014(the current tax rate adopted by the Board of Aldermen in May).  Taxes have gone up and down, and likely will continue to fluctuate in the future. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Milford Hall of Fame Induction 2013

  A grave marker for Milford's first doctor, Jasper Gunn. 

Hey - do you like local history and/or halls of fame? The Milford Hall of Fame is holding its 2013 induction ceremony on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Parsons Center. A committee made up of all the ex-living mayors (Richetelli, Jepson, Jagoe, Baldwin, Kozlowski) selects the inductees (who are all, unfortunately, deceased). 

Would you like to know who they're adding to the HoF?

-Fannie Elizabeth Beach: Born in May, 1866; was a school teacher in Milford.
-Capt. Jehiel Bryan: Born in 1728 in Stamford, he served as a captain in the revolutionary war. He died in Milford in 1853. 
-Herbert Israel Mathewson: Former schools superintendent and namesake of Mathewson Elementary. 
-Edward R. Lambert: An author who wrote the book "History of the colony of New Haven before and after the union with Connecticut," which included writings on Milford. 
-Jasper Gunn: Milford's first doctor, he lived between 1606 and 1671. 

Milford Police Blotter | Sept. 17

Here are the latest arrests as reported by Milford police.

And, don't forget to check the UPDATED Milford Crime Map: Milford Crime Map

Name: Sara Pressler, 21, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 16, 5 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Disorderly conduct; second-degree reckless endangerment
Name: Shauna Dymarcik, 29, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 16, 5 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Second-degree disorderly conduct
Police say: Pressler and Dymarcik are roommates and were involved in a disturbance with each other, which led to their arrests. 

Name: Christopher Goings, 35, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 17, 1:45 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Possession of narcotics
Police say: After arresting Goings for an outstanding warrant out of West Haven, police found Goings in possession of cocaine. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Milford Police Blotter | Sept. 13 - 16

Here are the latest arrests as reported by Milford police.

And, don't forget to check the UPDATED Milford Crime Map: Milford Crime Map

Name: Shakara Ingram, 19, New Haven 
Arrest date: Sept. 13, 6 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Breach of peace, assault on police, interfering with police
Name: Matthew Sheffield, 20, Hamden
Arrest date: Sept. 13, 6 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Breach of peace, violation of a protective order
Police say: There was a disturbance at the Westfield Connecticut Post Mall, and during the investigation, Ingram punched a police officer in the face. Sheffield and Ingram were arrested for being involved in a fight, which violated a protective order against Sheffield. 

Name: Filipe Coelho, 23, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 14 2:25 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Driving while intoxicated, failure to drive right
Police say: They stopped Coelho for a motor vehicle violation and discovered he was intoxicated. A test revealed he had an elevated blood-alcohol content. 

Name: Antwuan Everson, 32, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 14, 4:45 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Possession of narcotics
Police say: After a stop for a motor vehicle violation, police found 3 grams of crack cocaine in Everson's car. 

Name: Kevin Dodson, 48, Stratford
Arrest date: Sept. 16, 5 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Possession of narcotics
Police say: After a stop for a motor vehicle violation, police found 5 grams of crack cocaine in Dodon's car. 

Name: Rickson Selis, 25, Bridgeport
Arrest date: Sept. 15, 8:50 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Possession of a firearm while under the influence; failure to obey traffic signal; driving while intoxicated; failure to drive right
Police say: After a stop for a motor vehicle violation, police found Selis to be intoxicated. They found a 9 mm handgun on him, which he had a permit for, but isn't allowed to carry under the influence of alcohol. Police seized the weapon and the gun permit and sent them to the firearms licensing board. 

Name: Eduardo Figuero, 28, West Haven
Arrest date: Sept. 13, 7:30 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Carrying a dangerous weapon; sixth-degree larceny
Police say: Figueroa took $238 in merchandise from Wal-Mart without paying. After his arrest, police found a butterfly style knife on him.

Mayoral Debate: What's the Biggest Issue Facing Milford?

Are you going to the first Milford mayoral debate on Tuesday night?

Mayoral candidates Ben Blake (the incumbent Democrat) and Peter Spalthoff (Republican) will debate Tuesday night at the First United Church of Christ on West River Street. I'm told that this debate typically draws ~50 people - 20 Republicans, 20 Democrats, and 10 genuinely interested citizens.

The format of the debate basically just lets people walk in off the street and ask these candidates questions (the moderator does screen questions, just to ensure no on launches personal attacks, etc.). So, what do you want to ask these candidates? What's the biggest issue facing Milford?

No, seriously - I want to know. Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

As a reporter who covers Milford, my biggest concern for the future of the city is ensuring that its stays relevant. That is, it finds a way to be affordable; that it fosters cultural activities that don't just involve alcohol and oysters; that embraces things like bike lanes mixed-use development; and, the most important point, that it attracts new businesses so Milford has workforce and can attract people here.

Some of these things are being done, but places like New Haven are doing it more aggressively. Since 2000, New Haven has added more than 10,000 residents, according to the Census, and Milford has added around 500. Milford doesn't have to be New Haven, but it does to need to attract new blood - it needs to attract the next generation of Milfordites.

Whoever becomes mayor in November will be responsible for shaping the future of this city for the next generation of residents - be it millennials or immigrants - and will be in charge of keeping The Small City With a Big Heart relevant.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Milford Police Blotter | Sept. 12

Here are the latest arrests as reported by Milford police.

And, don't forget to check the UPDATED Milford Crime Map: Milford Crime Map

Name: Willie Brooks, 49, New Haven 
Arrest date: Sept. 12, 2:30 a.m.
Pending charge(s): DUI; weapons in a motor vehicle; disobeying an officer's signal
Police say: Brooks was not driving in the established lane. During a traffic stop, police suspected Brooks of operating under the influence of alcohol, and found two swords and a machete in the vehicle. Brooks refused a breathalyzer. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

ZBA Strikes Domestic Violence Shelter Zoning Letter

There was a very important and very well attended Zoning Board of Appeals meeting in Milford last night. The major issue on the agenda was in regards to the domestic violence shelter that a nonprofit planned to open in Woodmont.

Basically, the ZBA struck down a letter written by assistant city planner Emmeline Harrigan in 2012 allowing the nonprofit BH Care to open a domestic violence shelter without any further zoning approvals - that is, BH Care would not have to go in front of a public board and ask to be allowed to operate in a single-family zone.

That's an important point - discussing a domestic violence shelter in public undermines its existence. The addresses of these shelters are supposed to be anonymous so abuser don't inflict further harm on their victims. So, if you go putting the address on a public agenda and all the other due diligence that goes with operating a public meeting, you're undermining that anonymity.

I haven't talked to City Attorney Jon Berchem about what the ZBA's ruling means, but I'm working on a story that will explore that angle. Does this mean that a domestic violence shelter can't operate in Milford without going before a public meeting?

Residents Silvia and Clifford Davis, Diane Stango, and a company called Real Link Holdings LLC (general manger Elvira Kovshov of Westport) brought the zoning appeal and were represented by Bridgeport attorney Charles Willinger (Willinger happens to be a Milford resident who lives along the shoreline just outside of Woodmont).

Willinger was the main speaker, going on for more than an hour with multiple points about why the shelter shouldn't be allowed in Woodmont - the main point being, though the shelter's mission is noble, we don't want it near us. Throughout his speech, Willinger kept referring to a quote from BH Care CEO Roberta Cook from one of my stories where she said the shelter "could house up to" 15 women and children. Willinger ignored that Cooke's "15"was hypothetical and conditional. He used that figure to support his arguments against the shelter throughout the night.

Willinger seemed to dally on the point that a bunch of domestic violence victims and their kids couldn't possibly have the skills or desire to add value to the neighborhood.

"[The shelter residents have] no cohesion, no commitment to the community when you're there for two weeks. You probably don't learn the names of the 14 people [in the shelter]," he said.

In the end, Willinger's characterizations of the shelter and its hypothetical number of residents went unchallenged. The ZBA voted unanimously to strike Harrigan's letter. I asked ZBA Chair Joseph Tuozzola this morning for an explanation of why the board sided with Willinger et. al. He said:

"The board listened to both sides. I'm not going to get into any details on it."

When I pressed him:

"I'm done talking to you about it."

12% Turnout at Milford BOE Primary

Here are the post-election calculations for voter turnout at Tuesday's board of education primary. The turnout was ... low.

203 voters + 9 absentee voters = 212 total voters.

As of Thursday there were 1,726 registered voters in Milford's fightin' second district.

212 voters/1,726 registered = 0.1228, or 12%.

The last primary held in Milford was in 2010 and was for big-name races - governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, secretary of state, etc. - 22% of Democrats turned out and 24% of Republicans.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Milford Police Blotter | Sept. 10

Here are the latest arrests as reported by Milford police.

And, don't forget to check the UPDATED Milford Crime Map: Milford Crime Map

Name: Robert Larsen, 44, Monroe
Arrest date: Sept. 9, 11:55 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Third-degree larceny
Police say: On May 31, they got a complaint that an electrical contractor had promised to do work, but failed to actually do it. The victim, an Elizabeth Street resident, says she hired Larsen to install an electrical generator and gave him a $6,400 deposit for the job, but he never did it. 

Name: Latasha Reed, 27, New Haven; Kia Williams, 31, New Haven
Arrest date: Sept. 9, 7:21 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Fifth-degree larceny; two counts of conspiracy to commit fifth-degree larceny; risk of injury
Police say: Responding to the Sears at the Connecticut Post Mall on a larceny complaint, an investigation revealed that Williams and Reed tried to take $686.92 worth of merchandise without paying for it, hiding some of it inside a child's stroller. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Milford Police Blotter | Sept. 9

Here are the latest arrests as reported by Milford police.

And, don't forget to check the UPDATED Milford Crime Map: Milford Crime Map

Name: Kevin Lee, 20, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 6, 5 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Assault on emergency personnel; second-degree threatening; second-degree breach of peace
Police say: Stemming from an incident at Milford Hospital on Aug. 2, police arrested Lee on a warrant for spitting on and threatening hospital staff. 

Name: Cody Chizmadia, 18, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 7, 12:50 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Using a vehicle without the owner's permission
Police say: Chizmadia took a relative's car without asking from 64 Hazelwood Ave. 

Name: Andrew Dion, 23, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 8, 2:30 a.m.
Pending charge(s): DUI; operating a vehicle without a license; driving the wrong way on a one-way street
Police say: An officer saw a car driving the wrong way on West River Street. When he stopped the vehicle, he suspected the driver, Dion, was under the influence of alcohol. Dion refused a breathalyzer. 

Name: Travis Quick, 25, Orange
Arrest date: Sept. 8, 5 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Weapon in a motor vehicle; carrying a pistol without a permit; sale of a firearm to a person under 21
Police say: Got a tip that an illegal sale of a gun had happened on July 8 in a parking lot at 1365 Boston Post Road. Police allege Quick met a juvenile through a website and sold him an unregistered gun for $600. Police did recover the gun. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Police blotter 9/4

Here are the latest arrests as reported by Milford police.

And, don't forget to check the UPDATED Milford Crime Map: Milford Crime Map

Name: Nancy Peters, 38, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 3, 7:35 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Three counts of disorderly conduct
Police say: Responding to a complaint of a disturbance at a Meadows End Road home, a police investigation revealed that Peters got into a physical fight with three relatives. 

Name: Breanna Paquette-Crisant, 21, Oxford
Arrest date: Sept. 3, 9:15 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Failure to respond to an infraction
Police say: Police arrested Paquette-Crisant on a warrant because she failed to respond to an infraction issued on March 14 for possession of marijuana. 

Name: Jesus Rivera, 40, West Haven
Arrest date: Sept. 4, 2:30 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Possession of narcotics
Police say: After stopping car near Exit 40 off of Interstate 95, police say they found Rivera, the passenger, in possession of heroin.

Milford Watch

Milford watch, Parson's Center, 3:43 p.m., 9/5/2013.

Prevention Council Teaches How To Avoid Alcohol-related Idiocy

A person (who shall remain anonymous) once showed me an outrageous cell phone video of some very drunk men relieving their bladders all over a business in downtown Milford. I suspect this sort of behavior - and worse - probably happens all the time in the vicinity of bars in Milford (and in the vicinity of most every bar in the world).  

In an effort curb this kind of stuff, the Milford Prevention Council is offering a program called TIPS that teaches bartenders and waitstaff how to respectfully "prevent their customers from becoming intoxicated [and urinating on things]." (That bracketed part is my add.)

The Prevention Council touts that TIPS training can reduce property damage, limit liability, aid in bars complying with state laws, and, on a serious note, preventing drunk driving incidents. 

Interested? Contact the Prevention Council at (203) 786-6676. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bad & Good Storm Sandy Aid Info

I'm working on a larger story about this, but I wanted to put it out there that the city is holding a workshop on Sept. 9 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at City Hall to disseminate information about the various funds available for Sandy victims.

It'll be Mayor Ben Blake, state Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein, and DOH program manager Hermia Delaire. They will apparently discuss a variety of aid programs for Sandy victims, especially the (they couldn't come up with a shorter name) "Department of Housing's owner-occupied Rehabilitation and Rebuilding Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program."

But, the larger story is about what Milford residents describe as a nightmare pit of bureaucracy is applying for and getting aid. They tell me that they don't understand how to apply for aid, they never know how much aid they will get, and that when they do get around to applying, the process is byzantine, confusing, and like an endoscopy.

As one Milford resident told me: "I've never seen such bureaucracy and stupidity in my life."

An example of how bad the information is: on Friday, Gov. Dannel Malloy's office sent out a press release with the screaming headline "HOMEOWNERS CAN APPLY ONLINE FOR STORM SANDY RELIEF FUNDS."

It's absolutely untrue that residents can apply online for Sandy relief.
The state Sandy relief website. You can download, but not apply. 

You an download an application and print it out, but you definitely can't apply online like you can for, say, a credit card. I asked the governor's office about it, and they told me "That is the wrong wording." \

And on Tuesday Mayor Ben Blake's office doubled-down on that bad information by repeating it in a press release advertising the Sept. 9 forum.

Want to share your experience - good or bad - with trying to get Sandy aid? Contact me (Neal McNamara) at 203-789-5695 or at

Police Blotter 9/1 and 9/2

Here are the latest arrests as reported by Milford police.

And, don't forget to check the UPDATED Milford Crime Map: Milford Crime Map

Name: Mark Blum, 35, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 2, 6:35 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Second-degree threatening; criminal attempt at second-degree assault; second-degree breach of peace
Police say: Blum had asked the victim for a ride, and after the victim refused, Blum began hitting him with a hammer and screaming. The incident took place in the parking lot at 1391 New Haven Ave. 

Arrest date: Aug. 31, 2013
Pending charge(s): Second-degree assault
Police say: Police found a bleeding man walking along Melba Street, and after an investigation discovered that he bleeding man had been in an altercation inside a home along Atwater Street. Police found that  had lunged at the bleeding man during an argument; the victim put his hand up to block the attack, and sustained a hand injury. 

Name: Debbie Markley, 49, Milford
Arrest date: Aug. 31, 2013, 5:55 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Disorderly conduct; assault on a victim over 60
Police say: Markely shoved her mother into a wall during a dispute. 

Name: Unnamed Juvenile, 16, Milford
Arrest date: Sept. 1, 2013, 1:15 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Interfering with police; sixth-degree larceny; two counts of conspiracy to commit third-degree burglary
Police say: Responding to a complaint of a larceny from a motor vehicle near the intersection of Orange Avenue and Terrell Drive, police saw suspects fleeing from the area. Using K-9 Diesel, they were able to located one of the suspects. Police say the arrest of a second juvenile is pending. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Police Blotter 8/30

Here are the latest arrests as reported by Milford police.

And, don't forget to check the UPDATED Milford Crime Map: Milford Crime Map

Name: Gary Yackel, 61, Milford
Arrest date: Aug. 29, 9:30 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Violation of a protective order
Police say: Yackel contacted his wife by phone, who had a court-issued protective order barring him from doing so. 

Name: James Marino, 21, Stratford
Arrest date: Aug. 29, 11:29 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Sixth-degree larceny
Police say: Marino tried to take 17 cases of Red Bull from the Stop and Shop along East Towne Road. 

Name: Scott Morgan, 24 Milford
Arrest date: Aug. 29, 10:30 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Second-degree failure to appear
Police say: Morgan failed to appear in court on Aug. 5 to face a charge of having improper insurance coverage (and incident that occurred on Feb. 17).  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Police Blotter 8/29

Here are the latest arrests as reported by Milford police.

And, don't forget to check the UPDATED Milford Crime Map: Milford Crime Map

Name: James Page, 67, Milford
Arrest date: Aug. 28, 11 a.m.
Pending charge(s): Evading responsibility; failure to drive right
Police say: Page left the scene of an accident that occurred on Roses Mill Road. 

Name: Albert Cicarelli, 55, Milford
Arrest date: Aug. 28, 12:50 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Illegally obtaining prescription drugs
Police say: Cicarelli tried to use a fake prescription at the Walgreen's along Bridgeport Avenue. 

Name: Frank Palumbo, 28, Milford
Arrest date: Aug. 28, 5 p.m.
Pending charge(s): Disorderly conduct
Police say: Palumbo threatened to damage the personal property of a relative who lives along Wheeler's Farms Road. 

Why Does Woodmont Exist?

Woodmont Borough Hall
I've written a couple of Woodmont-centric stories recently, and it got me wondering: why does Woodmont even exist?

Woodmont is a borough inside the city of Milford located (roughly) along between Long Island Sound and New Haven Avenue east of Abigail Street. The state recognizes it as an independent municipality, but look on any Woodmont resident’s license and it says they live in Milford.

The borough has a board of burgesses, which doesn’t have any real statutory authority – they can’t change zoning or pass laws or anything like that. Every Woodmont resident is a subject of both Milford city government – the mayor, the police, the board of aldermen, the school district, etc - and the borough.

That means: double government (quadruple if you count state/federal).

Woodmont residents pay a separate (small) tax that pays for a part-time police officer (actually a Milford cop working on overtime), a library, parks and recreation, and general operational expenses.

So what’s the point of having TWO GOVERNMENTS? Why would anyone find it desirable to live in a place where you have to pay an extra tax, which appears to fund a governmental pretend-party for a group of borough stalwarts? Do you really need more services if the city of Milford already provides you with police, parks and rec, public works, a library, and schools?

Well, I asked burgess Chuck Rockwell this question yesterday. I met him in the old borough hall along Clinton Street (a fairly charming old relic apparently erected as a temporary school during WWII). Woodmont is trying to build a new borough hall – doubling down on its existence – and is angling to get an abandoned fire station from Milford for $1. Meanwhile, another vacant fire station is being sold for over $500,000.

After a bit of back and forth with Rockwell, we got to the heart of the issue. Woodmont exists because:

“If [Woodmont] goes away, then we’ve failed to sustain our community,” is what he told me.

That’s not a direct quote, but it’s what Rockwell meant: Woodmont exists so that people in the neighborhood have something to rally around.

It’s not exactly about having that extra police car in the neighborhood (it’s an extremely safe place) or having a board of burgesses; it’s about preserving that old school, small town New England sense of democracy.

My next question: how long will Woodmont survive? Will the borough continue as all the older residents leave (die or otherwise)?  Will younger residents feel it's worth it paying a couple hundred extra on their tax bills to sustain a governmental mascot for the sake of community? 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

More on Milford School Enrollment Decline

Some have said that the article I wrote today about declining enrollment in Milford schools is unclear. I apologize if you feel that way because I always try to state things as plainly as possible. So, here’s the raw data on the enrollment situation in Milford.

According to state figures, here’s a decade of Milford enrollment:

2013-14…………………………………………………………6,364 (projected)

As you can see, the downward trend began in the 2006-07. If you do the arithmetic, here are the total gains/losses:

2013-14…………………………………………………………-196 (projected)

The average loss/gain per year since declines began in 06/07: 150.6

Net loss since 2001-02 school years: 1,004

Some – including me – have asked the question why school budgets continue to increase if student enrollment is declining. The answer is not as simple as fewer students = smaller budget.

Rising personnel costs drive increases in most municipal budgets these days. I think it would be pretty reductive to say, “Hey, there are fewer students, so we should just fire all the excess teachers.”

Consider that class sizes in Milford have increased over the decade. Milford began 2002 with an average high school class size (the state keeps data for other selected grades, but I’ll use HS here as an example) of 18.7, below the state average of around 20. While that state average has decreased since then, Milford’s high school class size has risen, and has been above the state average since 2004-05.

Anecdotally, parents and teachers like smaller classes, because there’s the appearance that students can get more individualized attention. And some scientific studies (Project STAR) have found that smaller classes produce better achieving students.

So, maybe you don’t want to eliminate teachers until those average class sizes come below state average. One important point: the state hasn’t provided data for the last two school years, so class sizes might’ve fallen. However, Milford is projecting that class sizes will increase at five of the eight elementary schools (JFK, Orange Avenue, Calf Pen, Meadowside, and Orchard Hills) this school year.

Now, let’s take a look at actual budget increases. Here they are for the last few years according to the district:

2010-11…………………………………………………………$83,228,305 (expended)
2011-12…………………………………………………………$85,459,591 (expended)
2012-13…………………………………………………………$86,882,363 (adopted)
2013-14…………………………………………………………$88,843,283 (proposed)

Total increase between 2010-11 and 2013-14: $5,614,978

Here’s a budget summary so you can see where the increases occurred:

Total salaries
                2010-11: $60,181,302
                2013-14: $64,433,420
                                Total increase: $4,252,118

Total benefits
                2010-11: $4,354,916
                2013-14: $4,870,224
                                Total increase: $515,308

Total contracted services
                2010-11: $1,974,849
                2013-14: $1,817,363
                                Total increase: -$157,486

Total facilities
                2010-11: $4,962,730
                2013-14: $4,346,734
                                Total increase: -$615,996

Total transportation
                2010-11: $4,256,106
                2013-14: $4,647,467
                                Total increase: $391,361

Total other support
                2010-11: $1,141,435
                2013-14: $1,094,989
                                Total increase: -$46,446

Total tuition
                2010-11: $2,772,361
                2013-14: $3,313,462
                                Total increase: $541,101

Total educational supplies and equipment
                2010-11: $3,066,522
                2013-14: $3,416,222
                                Total increase: $349,700

Total other educational support
                2010-11: $518,084
                2013-14: $286,289
                                Total increase: -$231,795

So, salaries have obviously driven the increases, 75 percent to be exact. But, if you read the district’s budget summary for this year, administrators say that the major drivers of this year’s budget increases are 1) adoption of Common Core Standards, 2) school safety improvements, and 3) new state-mandated teacher and administrator evaluations

What can you conclude from all these these numbers? That the district is overstaffed for its size? That they pay too well? Well, Milford does pay above the state average, but the average salary is less than neighboring Stratford and Wallingford – and Stratford’s CAPT test scores are lower than Milford’s.

I think it’s really hard to conclude much except that the district is shrinking and personnel costs rise. Teachers still need yearly raises (really they do, just like any worker does). I am definitely looking forward to what suggestions the Long Range Planning Committee comes up deal with these issues – it could be anything, I suppose, from eliminating teacher positions to closing buildings. Who knows?

I would strongly advise anyone who’s interested in the future of the Milford School District to attend these committee meetings. Meeting minutes, agendas, and dates are right here.