For three years Mayor Dugatto and President DiCenso have spun the city in circles on issue after issue, wasting valuable time while failing to produce results for taxpayers. Political initiatives are announced with chest-thumping gusto, only to fall apart in the months and years that follow, leaving Derby right back off where it started.
Real leadership should not feel like a ride on the tilt-a-whirl!
Examples of Dugatto-DiCenso’s dizzying approach are plentiful:
• Business Development: Since taking office, the administration has trumpeted slogans like “Derby NOW” and “Discover Derby,” while spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on economic development “plans.” Even NFL Hall-of-Famer Terry Bradshaw had his name checked in the PR blitz. Yet three years later the only tangible economic development success is the Pershing Drive development, which was accomplished by former Mayor Staffieri.
Even now, Mayor Dugatto is again delaying downtown construction as Derby’s tax rate – a real impediment to business development – continues to rise, and the commercial grand list plunges. Did you know that Derby’s tax hike in 2016 was one of the highest in Connecticut? A whopping 10.2 percent increase!
• Downtown Parking Garage: Three years ago the Dugatto-DiCenso administration generated big headlines about the state of the municipal parking garage. At one point the phrase “imminent collapse” was used. Since then, thousands of dollars have been mismanaged, yet today no resolution is in sight. There is sheet metal still precariously anchored to the ceiling in various places just to ensure someone doesn’t get injured or their car isn’t damaged, and it’s hard not to see the garage as a lawsuit waiting to happen.
• O’Sullivan’s Island: The Dugatto-DiCenso team was quick to point the finger at the Staffieri administration for what they argued was a failure to properly remediate this popular recreation site. Yet now the park is slated to reopen without further remediation after three wasted years. How’s that for a rapid reversal?
• Sterling Opera House: Former Mayor Staffieri fought to secure a substantial grant from the federal government for renovation of the historic Sterling Opera House. Under Mayor Dugatto and President DiCenso, that money was spent without proper authority from the federal government. Now the city of Derby owes over $100,000 back to the federal government. Talk about spinning a positive into a negative!
Derby needs to get off the Dugatto-DiCenso ride before it suffers a case of permanent whiplash. Real leadership involves thoughtful planning coupled with decisive action. We need a mayor that can propel the city in the right direction, not around in circles.
The writer is the chairman of the Derby Republican Town Committee and serves on the Derby Board of Apportionment and Taxation.
Views expressed in guest columns (aka ‘letters to the editor’) and press releases do not reflect the views of ValleyIndy.org. The Valley Indy has a strict 550-word limit on guest columns.