Ferguson police threaten to kill peaceful protestors and reporters.
In the video, a police officer appears to be heard yelling to a reporter, “Get the fuck out of here and get that light off, or you’re getting shot with this.” Later on, the reporter with KARG Argus radio quotes the police officer as having said to him, “Get the fuck out of here or I will shoot you with this.”
The second video shows a Missouri police who was caught on video raising his weapon and telling Ferguson protesters that he would kill them.
“I will fucking kill you!” Albers shouts on video, his weapon pointed at unarmed protesters. When asked his name, Albers can be heard telling the protester: “Go fuck yourself.”
Are police officers just too aggressive today? Is our nation becoming a police state?
Berlin’s local police do not need SWAT rifles. Judge for yourself.
Berlin Mayor Rachel Rochette’s argument for a new police station may be predicated on faulty facts
On Monday, August 25, 2014 in an interview with John Charlton of Fox Connecticut News, Berlin Mayor, Rachel Rochette, presented her case for a new police station by suggesting that the present Berlin police station is too small for the present number of Berlin police employees since “it was built in 1972, and it was built for a police force of fourteen officers and two support staff.”
But according to the Berlin Police Department’s own website, the main premise of her argument may rest on erroneous facts. According to the Police Department’s website, the current police station was not occupied by the Berlin Police Department in 1972. “May 15, 1975 saw the relocation of the police department from Murray Heights to the newly constructed Municipal Complex on Kensington Road.” Furthermore, if one adds up all the employees who were added to the police department, in that year there appears to be twenty-seven full-time police officers, and two clerks; not fourteen police officers and two clerks, as reported by Mayor Rachel Rochette.
Moreover, according to the information on the same website, in 1976 the department added four more full-time officers, bringing the grand total of police employees to thirty-three. It is not unreasonable to assume that these additions of police officers, or at the very least their need, were recognized, if not anticipated, in the immediately preceding year; consequently, it is not at all unlikely that the current police station was designed and constructed for an intended occupancy of at least thirty-three employees, and not merely for sixteen employees, as asserted by Mayor Rachel Rochette. That difference in design capacity represents a police station accommodating 100% more police employees than what Mayor Rachel Rochette stated on the televised evening news the other night.
Needless to say, that difference in original design capacity impacts the argument of whether Berlin’s Police Department has outgrown its present facility. If it were merely designed for sixteen employees, Mayor Rochette’s argument would be much more difficult to refute; however, if it were designed for at least thirty-three employees, if not more, then perhaps the Berlin Police Department has not outgrown the current police station but may have grown disproportionately and unnecessarily large in size as required by the growth of population of Berlin.
Consider the population growth in Berlin since 1976. It increased by ~35% since that time. If the size of the police staff now had remained in the same proportion to the population as it were in 1976, the police department would now have ~45 employees instead of the 55 officers and support staff currently employed in our police department. The fact that this number of police department employees is comparable to that in Farmington, Connecticut, even though Farmington’ population is ~20% larger than that of Berlin, lends some credence to the 45 staff size as the appropriately required number of employees in Berlin’s Police Department in relation to its population size.
If no more than 45 employee are absolutely necessary to operate Berlin’s Police Department, a more viable, less costly alternative to building a new police station in order to accommodate the lack of room at the current Police Department may be simply to lay off some police employees as well as to dispose of and/or to arrange for offsite storage of riot helmets, body armor, chemical equipment, SWAT rifles, etc. This might save many millions of dollars for Berlin’s taxpayers from not having to spend an additional $23 million plus on a new police station as well as from the significant reduction in police salaries and fringe benefits over many years resulting from the layoffs.
What may be disconcerting to some Berlin citizens is that Mayor Rachel Rochette may have predicated her argument for the need for a new police station on materially incorrect facts. And if indeed a mayor of a town does not have one’s specific facts straight, then how can the citizens of that town be expected to have confidence in the merit of that mayor’s position in support of a very expensive project, which may have significant financial ramifications for its taxpaying citizens?
It is customarily expected, especially for elected officials, to get one’s facts straight first in order to avoid misinforming and misleading those whom one governs, and, equally as important, in order to avoid making a decision leading to unnecessary costs for them.
Berlin’s Deputy Police Chief, John Klett, recently stated that the Berlin Connecticut Police Department has forty-two police officers and thirteen support-staff employees. Consequently there appear to be fifty-five employees working in the Berlin Police Department.
On the website of the nearby Town of Farmington, forty-one employees are listed as comprising its Police Department staff. One may wonder why, even though Farmington has a population 27.5% larger than that of Berlin, the number of employees in Berlin’s police department is 34% larger than that of Farmington’s Police Department.
The reason is not because the Town of Berlin has a higher crime rate than that of Farmington, Connecticut. In 2012, the most recent year of municipal statistics available on theCity-Data.comwebsite, the published crime rate of Berlin was significantly much lower than that of Farmington. In 2012 Berlin had a “low” crime rate, with no murders or rapes. In fact, Berlin’s crime rate in 2012 was one-third of the average crime rate in the US. By comparison, Farmington’s crime rate was 46% higher than that of Berlin. So why do Berlin taxpayers need to finance 34% more police employees than those in Farmington, when its population is 27.5% larger and its crime rate is 46% higher? Are the Farmington Police officers just simply smarter and better at their jobs?
In spite of the Berlin Police Department’s low crime rate, it still finds it necessary to equip themselves with riot gear, body armor, bullet proof vests, chemical equipment, swat rifles, etc, creating a lack of storage space at its present location. Perhaps if the Berlin Police Department did not have all of this military equipment, it would not require a larger facility for storage. Do you recall the Berlin Police Department ever having need for riot helmets, body armor, swat rifles, and chemical equipment in Berlin? Was there ever a riot in Berlin? Was there ever a gang shootout in Berlin? What’s next? MRAPs, humvees, machine guns, grenade launchers, camouflage, helicopters, and planes?
But storage and size of staff are not the only reasons cited for a new Police station. The Berlin Police Department also wants a new station because it believes that it needs bullet-proof windows and bullet-proof walls in its building, fearing that someone will attempt to shoot the Police Chief in his office, employees through the walls in its central storage area, which already has bullet-proof glass protecting its occupants from Berlin citizens, and other areas of the building. That certainly says a lot about how the Police view the Berlin taxpayers who pay their salaries, doesn’t it?
If some crazy nut case really wanted to shoot Berlin’s Police Chief or other police employees, even if there were bullet-proof windows and walls in the station, couldn’t they just wait and shoot them walking to their cars, or at their homes, or on the street? Does the Town of Berlin require a police station in its quiet suburb community of peaceful, friendly, respectable, and respectful citizens, or a military garrison as found in Afghanistan? Do the Berlin police regard themselves as peace officers or soldiers? Do the Berlin police regard the Town of Berlin as a battleground or as a community of taxpaying citizens whom they have been entrusted to protect and serve? Do Berlin Police officers regard the citizens of Berlin as the enemy instead of as those whom they are bound to serve and protect and who are the ultimate source of funds for their salaries?
If there is a low crime rate and there have been no recent murders, why has the Berlin Police Department been purchasing swat rifles, riot helmets, bullet-proof vests, body armor, and chemical equipment? Do the citizens of Berlin really need a Fort Bragg in their bedroom community? Can the citizens of Berlin afford a “Taj Mahal”? Or does Berlin’s Police Department simply just need to exercise some common sense, some respect for its citizens, and some concern shown to the taxpayers of Berlin for the affordability of its department?
The Town of Berlin deserves a rigorous cost-benefit analysis of all municipal services. Rather than hire additional police officers every year in a community with a low crime rate, perhaps it would be wiser to hire an internal auditor who would report directly to the Town Council to undertake some much needed cost-benefit analyses as well as efficiency and operational audits of the various municipal departments in Berlin. Perhaps a “crime” to which Berlin citizens should give some consideration and which is not being addressed by the Town of Berlin is that resulting from there being “a fox in the hen house”.
It’s unfortunate for citizens that the gouging of taxpayers is not a crime. If it were, then maybe working-class citizens could afford to live in Berlin and other communities in Connecticut.
Are Berlin police officers transforming from peace keepers to soldiers? Should Berlin taxpayers consider scaling down and demilitarizing their Police Department? Perhaps Berlin taxpayers need to consider the pictures below of what has been transpiring in many cities across the country:
John Klett, Deputy Chief of the Berlin Connecticut Police Department, recently published a video tour of the current Berlin Police Station, which is forty years old. Mr. Klett catalogues an endless number of deficiencies in the current police station, including steel bars on the cells, unpleasant odors in the cells, inadequate number of female cells in relation to male cells, lack of private showers for female inmates, lack of bullet proof windows in the Police Chief’s office, lack of bullet proof walls in the data processing room, lack of storage for bullet proof vests, chemical gear, and riot armor, lead contamination in the firing range, etc.
After watching this video, I checked my address to see where I lived? Was I truly living in Mayberry (aka Berlin) or Detroit? Do the Berlin Police know where they are located? Have they checked the crime statistics for Berlin? Well, folks, here they are:
17.24 Crimes per 1,000 People
murder rate 0.00
rape rate 0.00
robbery rate 0.26
aggravated assaults 16
assault rate 0.83
burglary rate 2.86
larceny rate 12.76
auto thefts 10
auto theft rate 0.52
arson rate 0.10
density index 43.67
As you can see, our crime rate is very, very low, with no reported violent crimes!
Consequently, my question to the Berlin Police Department is the following: do you know where you are? 19,000 Berlin citizens are peaceful, respectable law-abiding citizens. Yes, it is true, Berlin has the occasional drunken driver, domestic quarrel, petty theft, pedaphile, and hooker, but truly, do we warrant a Police Station designed for the crime-ridden streets of Detroit? Do the Berlin Police think that Berlin residents are the Taliban since they require body armor, bullet proof vests, riot gear, chemical equipment, bullet proof walls and windows, swat rifles and handguns capable of blowing one’s head off, as well as firing ranges in preparation for D-Day? Isn’t that insulting to the Berlin residents and taxpayers, who pay their salaries and who will foot the $21 million bill for their Fort Bragg?
If the Berlin Police do not think that Berlin residents are the threat to their safety, then who do they think will drive by and riddle their building with bullets, mortars, and grenades? Have there ever been reports of any bullets fired into the office of the Police Chief or the data processing room? Who do they think would be crazy enough to drive by their heavily armed garrison and shoot at it? Michael Corleone?
When was the last time the Berlin Police needed to use riot helmets, body armor, chemical gear, and swat rifles? Has there ever been a riot in Berlin necessitating the use of such weaponry and equipment? If there had been, I sure missed it!
Maybe we don’t need a bigger, newer Police Station. Maybe we don’t need forty-two police officers, thirteen support staff, and both a police chief and a deputy police chief. Maybe we don’t need a police state in Berlin, Connecticut. Maybe we just need a friendly, neighborly, and practical Sheriff, like Andy Taylor, with Gomer and Goober as stand-ins. Do we really need a gang of Barney Fifes indulging in overkill (pun intended)?
After listening to the litany of deficiences of our current police station in this virtual tour, I was surprised that Deputy Chief Klett didn’t include the following deficiencies in the current police station facility:
An indoor swimming pool to keep police officers in tip-top shape
A Dunkin’ Donuts to reduce coffee runs
Machine gun turrets to protect the department from a citizen uprising
A tiger tank for a show of force
A nuclear fallout shelter in the event of an Iranian attack
Perhaps you can add a few of your own.
Good grief, Deputy Chief Klett: don’t you think your video tour was a bit of a stretch?
Four Berlin residents spoke about the Town’s annual budget at the Town Council meeting held on March 18th. It was the first opportunity provided to Berlin residents to voice their opinions about the 1.1% tax increase approved by the Town Council last week.
I raised questions about the annual budget and the democratic process in the Town of Berlin.
My wife, Carole Brighenti, a lifelong Berlin resident, expressed her concerns about never-ending tax increases in the face of a never-ending economic recession when so many middle class families are struggling to make ends meet.
Jim Kasulis, a small business owner and lifelong Berlin resident, requested that taxes be lowered and not raised, stating that property taxes of $600 per month already constituted one-third of his monthly mortgage payment. At 47 years of age, and thirty years remaining on his mortgage, he feared not being able to afford these taxes much longer. Jim also recommended using the internet to conduct the Town referendum in order to enhance participation in the democratic process.
Karen Salwocki, former Deputy Mayor and long-time Berlin resident, recognized the need for increases in property taxes but requested that they be reduced in size rather than at the percentages that have been occurring over the years.
We have good citizens serving on the Town Council, Board of Education, and Town commissions. We have qualified employees serving in the Town of Berlin. I have heard a number of complaints about taxes and the treatment of small businesses in our Town. If the citizens of Berlin do not participate in the democratic process afforded to them by the Town, and fail to participate in Town meetings or our association of property owners, then are these complaints worthy of serious attention?
In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve. All citizens have a responsibility to be informed about and to participate in the governance of their Town. Continued irresponsibility of citizenry may lead to inequity and abuses in government from well-organized, powerful, minority constituencies.
If the citizens of Berlin desire lower taxes or changes in the governance of their Town, then should they not have the courage to step forward and speak out? The Berlin Property Owners Association affords citizens the opportunity of doing so in a group with the support of their fellow citizens. Without participating in an association, citizens are left to speak out alone against injustice; however, many never do so because of fears of reprisals and retribution. That is one of the reasons for participating in a property owners association so that your voice and concerns are one of many.
Franklin Roosevelt’s admonition‒—”The only thing to fear is fear itself”‒—has as much applicability today as it did following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Those words have relevance to our citizens here in Berlin as well.
Mayor Rachel Rochette invited all of us to come back and speak at the public hearing to be held on April 8th, 7:00 PM, at McGee School. To Mayor Rochette’s credit, she makes herself available to meet with citizens weekly even though she has a job and family responsibilities. When I spoke to the Town Council on March 18th, she gave me the courtesy of listening to what I was saying. I liked that.
The Town Councilors are good citizens, giving selflessly of their time for you. You, as a citizen, have a responsibility to participate in our Town government. If you object to higher taxes or have other concerns about our Town’s governance, join us at the next meeting of the Berlin Property Owners Association on March 26th, 6:00 PM, in the hall above Joel’s Hair Salon located at 883 Farmington Avenue, Kensington. All are welcome. Our association is nonpartisan.
Let’s begin a constructive dialogue together with our good citizens in governance and support our democratic process.
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal in his Greenwich residence valued at $3,142,164 by Zillow
According to the National Journal, Senator Richard Blumenthal may be the third richest member in the United States Senate. According to an article published in the Connecticut Post on August 17, 2012, the Blumenthals have an average net worth of $112 million.
Our United States Senator resides in a Greenwich residence valued at $3,142,164 by Zillow, consisting of thirteen rooms (not including bathrooms) and 5,698 square feet of living space on 2.11 acres of land. It’s good to be King; and it’s not too shabby being a US Senator either.
Despite all of his wealth, Senator Richard Blumenthal has no qualms about double dipping into taxpayers’ pockets. Not only does he reap the Senator’s salary of $174,000 annually, but he also receives a $47,000 annual state pension from having served as Connecticut’s Attorney General.
When confronted by the National Journal about him accepting the $47,000 annual state pension even though he is employed as a member in the United States Senate at an annual salary of $174,000, his response was that of a very slick attorney and politician:
The benefits I’m receiving from the state were earned over more than two decades of public service, and they’re two separate entities, two separate governments, and … they’re being paid according to law. I’m not going to comment as to any aspect of my financial disclosure. I would just say, I seek to give back through public service[my emphasis] and other ways such as the charitable contributions that my wife and I make.
What some might find offensive in his remark is his assertion that he is giving back through pubic service. Giving back? Since when does giving back include getting compensated $221,000 per year for public service? Most individuals would consider that a compensation package to die for, not an act of charity on Blumenthal’s part. Isn’t that remark an insult to the intelligence of the taxpayers of Connecticut?
There is an elitism in Congress and the Administration that is offensive to many middle class families, looking for work, struggling to hold onto their jobs, trying to pay their mortgages and property taxes and grocery bills. It is time to rid all politics and politicians of political contributions, lobbyists, PACs, Super PACs, etc. According to ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, lobbying is legalized bribery.
Unfortunately, since these wealthy politicians legislate the laws of the land, what chance do our citizens have of ridding politicians and politics of all money?
Yes, no one would deny that the Depot Crossing is an eyesore to the Town of Berlin; however, why should the Town of Berlin pay $850,000 for the Depot Crossing since that is the amount listed in Berlin’s property records as the sales price paid by the New England Capital Group, LLC on August 27, 2012?
Given an assessed value of $1,321,000, and given the projected mill rate of 29, that means annual property taxes of approximately $38,000. Are the owners of the property current with all of the taxes on the property?
Also since the property is blighted property, are not the owners liable for significant fines and penalties if the property is not improved in timely fashion to an acceptable condition? If the building is not corrected and fines and property taxes remain unpaid, the Town of Berlin ultimately could acquire the property by seizing it, right? Wouldn’t that be a lot cheaper than spending $850,000? What am I missing here?
So where is the logic of paying New England Capital Group, LLC the full sales price of $850,000 listed on the town’s records? If the property was worth $850,000 in its present condition, wouldn’t market forces have acted, resulting in its sale to interested developers? But the property has not sold. Doesn’t that imply much about its market value?
The citizens of the Town of Berlin should not be bailing out finance companies. Haven’t we learned anything from the recent bank bailouts? The building department and tax collectors should be taking appropriate measures and exerting sufficient economic pressure on the current owners of Depot Crossing to improve the property to an acceptable condition or sell it to an interested developer at its present market value rather than permit an indefinite holding in its present condition.
If the current owners prove unresponsive, fines, penalties, and seizure-of-property measures should force a more favorable resolution to the taxpayers of the Town of Berlin than a grant from a governmental agency, which is ultimately picked up by all taxpayers. Surely there are alternatives available other than paying the full sales price paid by the current owners.
Let’s make those who undertake these risks pick up their own tab for their losses. After all, isn’t this a free market? I don’t get any governmental bailouts. Do you?
I, for one, am sick and tired of bailing out banks and finance companies. It’s time for those who finance these investments to pick up their own tab.
Blue Dog Democrats Make the Perfect Corporate Pets!
Another regressive tax is about to be passed by our beloved Connecticut legislators, even though our Governor is a Democrat and the House and Senate are controlled by Democrats. If you didn’t know by now, there has been a new breed of Democrats spawned over the last twenty-five years; extinct is the FDR species that gave us the middle class. What we have now is a Democratic Party who gave us NAFTA, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the Commerce Act permitting derivative trading, bailouts of banksters, the National Defense Authorization Act, and a host of other corporate goodies….
Yes, we have a new breed of Democrats, and they have a name: blue-dog Democrats. These Democrats are largely indistinguishable from Republicans regarding corporate policies. Recall that last year and this year Obama proposed cutting the corporate tax rate, as well as agreeing to cuts in Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are blue-dog Democrats; they are not of the FDR generation or tradition.
So is it any wonder then that our Democratic Governor, Dan Malloy, is also a blue-dog Democrat, as well as many of our Democratic State Senators, and State Representatives? And is it any surprise that they will propose and support another regressive tax aimed at working and middle class families, sparring their super wealthy and corporate campaign contributors from progressive taxes?
This new found regressive tax to which I make reference is Raised Bill No. 6650, which proposes a 3.5 cent tax on every gallon of heating oil. It is a regressive tax because it robs more disposable income on a percentage basis from the working classes than it does from that of those multi-billionaire hedge fund managers living in Fairfield County.
Isn’t it bad enough that $2 or $3 billion-dollar-per-year hedge fund managers living in Fairfield County only pay a 15% carried interest tax rate on their earnings to the federal government while middle class families pay on average 35% of taxes in total on their earnings? Do all tax increases now–even those at the state level–also have to be regressive in nature?
Blue Dog Democrats Make the Perfect Corporate Pets
Sure, I know the Republican mantra: don’t increase taxes on billionaire hedge fund managers because if we do, then they will not create jobs for us. (Just look at all the jobs they created over the past fifteen years. See all those help wanted ads in the Courant?) But I never expected Democrats to buy into that mantra, too.
Yeah, we have the best tax code money can buy, thanks to our blue-dog Democrats.
Another regressive tax on the middle class?! Will Abercrombie, Aresimowicz, and Gerratana of Berlin, Connecticut vote for yet another regressive tax on working families?
A bill has been raised in the General Assembly calling for a 3.5 cent tax per gallon on heating oil: Raised Bill No. 6650. It’s not bad enough that Berlin residents are paying nearly $4.00 per gallon for heating oil during an endless and a deep recession, but now another regressive tax is being considered again on working families of Connecticut. Are not Dan Malloy, Catherine Abercrombie, Joe Aresimowicz, and Theresa Gerratana Democrats? Are not Democrats suppose to oppose regressive taxes? Have you heard any of these four Democrats come out stridently against this yet another regressive tax on working families?
This is at least the third regressive tax we have witnessed in recent years with Democrats at the helm. The sales tax was increased from 6% to 6.35%. The state income tax rate increased anywhere from 10% to 30% on middle class Connecticut families, but only 3% on the super wealthy. Are not Democrats suppose to represent working, middle class families? Then why did our Democratic Governor, Malloy, and our Democratic State Senator, Gerratana, and our Democratic State Representatives, Abercrombie and Aresimowicz, vote for passage of a state income tax sparring the super wealthy from its equitable share of Connecticut’s tax burden? Isn’t it bad enough that the billionaire hedge-fund executives pay only a 15% federal income tax rate on their earnings while middle class families average 35%? Where are the voices crying out for the middle class?
Working families feel the brunt of regressive taxes while a wealthy executive and owner of a Connecticut business is rewarded with $14.8 million in Connecticut tax credits for her company, and then is permitted to sell these credits. Why are not the Democratic leaders speaking up and opposing this inequity in our state’s tax laws? Do you hear their strident voices in opposition?
It’s time to make taxes progressive. It’s time for blue-dog Democrats to be replaced by progressive Democrats who advocate for working and middle class families.
Connecticut has the best tax system that money can buy. Remember this when you go to the polls again and vote for Governor, State Senator, and State Representative.
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