Last night the Board of Aldermen was scheduled to vote on the proposed health clinic move to Bank Street. The majority of Aldermen were ready to vote yes. Seventy-five downtown merchants had declared they were in favor of the move. Numerous people were planning to speak in favor of it at the Alderman meeting. At the last minute, Mayor Jarjura decided that the health department would withdraw its proposal, even though the new lease would save the city approximately $200,000 a year. As far anyone can tell, the only opposition came from a small number of people who want downtown to be expensive and exclusive. I absolutely can understand that there might soon be a good development plan put into action, but the situation was not handled at all well. There was a very clear message sent that poor people will no longer be welcome in downtown, and that all decisions will be made only by a select few. The downtown business owners were effectively told that their opinion doesn’t matter, and that they should continue to be patient (and watch their businesses go under!) while the city’s developers try to get something accomplished.
The deserved outrage accompanying the mayor’s actions in that matter has been completely overshadowed by Jarjura’s other executive decision of the day: to create a special new job for former-governor John Rowland as economic developer for the city. This is all anyone has talked about today.
So far, it’s not clear which organization Rowland will for. The articles I’ve read say that Jarjura originally wanted Rowland to take the top post at WDC (which explains, I suppose, why the job application deadline was extended a month). Rowland declined, not wanting to get stuck in an admin job. So now a special job will be creating, presumably letting Rowland work as he chooses, at either WDC or the Chamber of Commerce.
In one article, it was stated that the Chamber isn’t a public organization, but if they’re creating a position for him because the Mayor asked them to, doesn’t that make them a branch of city government?
Rowland’s supporters are blind to public opinion. The majority of people in the state of Connecticut do not like or trust Rowland. I’m a firm believer in letting everyone have a second chance, but this is hurting Waterbury. Remember when Lamont’s aide said that Waterbury was where the forces of slime meet the forces of evil? Waterbury has been called the most corrupt city in Connecticut many times today. Pretty soon this will be a national story. The entire country will once again be laughing at Waterbury. How is Rowland going to promote development in Waterbury if his role as economic developer tarnishes the city’s image?
Rowland might very well have all the right qualifications for the job, but so far he’s doing a lot more harm than good.