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Raslan: Team Cassetti Choosing Lawyers Over Libraries

by Tarek Raslan | GUEST COLUMN | Oct 16, 2017 9:59 am

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Posted to: Ansonia, Ansonia Election 2017, Letters To The Editor

Is Team Cassetti choosing lawyers over libraries?

Economic growth under Cassetti is 1/10 of what it was in the previous 13 years before he took office. Here’s a video on Ansonia’s growth history.

Weak economic growth is shortchanging our community, causing a $3.2 million budget deficit, selling millions of dollars of city assets, borrowing millions, spending millions from our savings…But it’s also demonstrated Mr. Cassetti’s priorities. Cassetti proposed cutting the library budget by 75%, he cut funding for the Boys & Girls Club, cut the police budget, and underfunded education by $1.6 million leading to teacher layoffs.

In this context, I was shocked to discover Team Cassetti’s exorbitant legal bills averaging more than $320,000 per year, and estimated $1.3 million from the time Cassetti took office! The City’s attorney is John Marini, a former Alderman and Cassetti’s campaign manager who is employed by Berchem, Moses & Devlin. They bill the city by the hour at $150 per hour. In Ansonia’s past, and in most other towns, the attorney is only on hand for specific cases or projects, because legal time is notoriously expensive. Cassetti has chosen to expand the scope of responsibilities carried out by lawyers in City Hall, including a whole host of administrative and Human Resources responsibilities. Marini and company are billing 40+ hours a week and operating as a very expensive de facto City Manager. Instead of paying lower cost salaried city employees for these activities, we’re paying $150 per hour for replying to emails and conducting meetings! A copy of the billings and a Memo from Cassetti expanding Marini’s responsibility can be seen at our website here.

Team Cassetti’s combative and hasty approach to leadership has opened the door to lawsuits and lots of legal billings. Their over-aggressive blight policy that perpetually treats the symptoms of our neighborhoods, rather than going after the cause of blight, provides lots of billable hours. Cassetti’s termination of our Winters Brothers contract in June 2016 resulted in a $500K lawsuit lasting over 18 months to date, and lots of billable hours. Cassetti’s failed attempt at buying 65 Main St. for our police station, and a proposed approach to seize the building by eminent domain…more billable hours. This is a very expensive, inefficient, and litigious approach to government.

In my debate with David Cassetti he said that he has the smartest people in the state working for him. It’s good that Cassetti knows his limits, but we can’t afford to outsource City Hall’s entire operation to attorney John Marini charging $150 per hour. A few weeks ago I told taxpayers I would bring $500K in savings to City Hall on Day 1. My day 1 savings to taxpayers just doubled, because the frivolous legal spending stops the moment I take office. While Team Cassetti seems to prioritize lawyers over libraries, I’ll be focused on cultivating innovation and preparing the next generation of Ansonians to succeed in the future economy. I’m a dealmaker, I bring people together, I create value…that’s the leadership Ansonia needs.

The author, a Democrat, is running for mayor in the City of Ansonia.

Views expressed in guest columns (aka ‘letters to the editor’) and press releases do not necessarily reflect the views of ValleyIndy.org. The Valley Indy has a 550-word limit on guest columns.

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