Hey folks! I’m sitting in Crowell right now next to wieb$ preparing to liveblog the Middletown mayoral debate. So far, the scene isn’t too exciting; we’ve got a handful of people sitting in seats or milling about, a small child who runs down the steps every few minutes, and a television reporter standing behind me trying to figure out how to plug in his microphone, to no avail. We’ll be indicating which one of us is posting by timestamps and brackets. I would explain this further, but doing so seems unnecessary.
T-minus 7 minutes to start. Keep an eye on this post – updates below the jump.
7:55 [BZOD]: Noah Rush ’14 asks “you writing anything about me?” and then says that he’ll give me a comment. We’ll see if this prophecy is fulfilled.
8:00 [wieb$]: wieb$ here; photographs will be added to the site as events warrant. So far the candidates appeared briefly on stage, before departing. Appear to be chatting cordially.
8:03 [BZOD]: Lights dim. Announcement cordially requests us to not take photographs, and we equally cordially decide to not do so. Candidates get on stage. Zach Malter ’13, president of the WSA, introduces himself as Zachary. Plugs WSA and voting registration. Wearing a suit, looking very dapper.
8:06 [wieb$]: Some highlights from the candidates’ websites while we make our way through the introductions and thank yous. Tonight we are joined by Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, self-described as Middletown personified, “in every conceivable way,” and member of the “Middletown High School Locker Room Building Committee” Dan Drew (who also serves as a City Councilman).
8:07 [BZOD]: Peter Frank ’12 moderates and introduces. Dan thanks people, says he’s glad to be back debating with Seb, as he did in the Chapel a few years ago. He “is a husband” and has three children with “hopes for their future.” He likes transparency and once indicted a crooked politician. Nice! Good track record. Wants to continue to focus on tax relief, economic development (including green industries, air technology). Also education. Focus on public education. His tie is red, his hand gestures minimal.
8:10 [BZOD]: Seb announces himself. Gives us a little family history, pointing out that he went to school at the building that is now Green Street Arts Center. Relates anecdotes about sliding down Foss Hill – “you guys slide down on trays, right?” – and going to “the Cage” (the old field house, which was where Usdan is now) for Halloween. Emphasizes Wesleyan’s usefulness in Middletown, which is an “oasis in the state of Connecticut.” I like the hope.
8:13 [BZOD]: How do you envision the relationship between Wesleyan and Middletown? Dan chats a little about Green Street Arts Center and how useful music is, and mentions how useful students are for Middletown’s economy. He foresees growth in Middletown, especially north of Washington, and actually knows the name of that bridge that goes to Portland.
8:17 [wieb$]: Roth (in exchange with Seb): “What can Wesleyan do for Middletown?” The quintessential question is then posed by Seb, who asks where Wesleyan ends and Middletown begins? (Our answer? The beige area on Google Maps, duh.)
8:18 [BZOD]: Peter Frank starts to ask another question, apologizes profuse to Dan, gives him a minute rebuttal. Dan basically says “nah, that was a good answer.”
8:19 [wieb$]: Seb talks “stability.” Lots of technical, economic jargon. Whatever his policies are, at least they sounds smart.
8:20 [BZOD]: Seb draws a sine wave with his right pointer finger and says that’s bad for tax rates. Then, he moves his hand around in a plateau. This helps to solidify the intelligent image.
8:22 [wieb$]: Democrat (Dan) opposes tax increases, Republican (Seb) supports?! What is this city?
8:24 [wieb$]: And, smackdown! Seb comes out swinging, pension does not… and I’ve lost him. Something about Dan not understanding the budget and lots of talk of “fund balance.”
8:24 [BZOD]: Frank to Seb: “How do you intend to facilitate growth in the Middletown economy?” Seb: “This one’s for Dan; I just answered the last one first.” Oops!
8:26 [BZOD]: Dan wants to focus on industries with “good paying jobs” in the aerospace industry. Offers to get on a plane to go talk to a CEO and ask them to come to Middletown. The question stands: why is the CEO just chilling on the plane?
8:27 [wieb$]: Dan says we can’t change the national employment rate just through the local economy of Middletown. What a negative Nancy.
8:27 [BZOD]: Seb: “Connecticut’s business climate isn’t good,” and says that we’re “raiding other towns” and need to improve things at the state level. We’re all about the negativity right now. He does say Wesleyan is a draw, which is nice.
8:28 [BZOD]: Dan: “I don’t understand the contention that because we’re competing with other states that we shouldn’t go out to try and get business.” He says also that Connecticut IS a good place to do business and mentions that we have a “vibrant riverfront or potentially vibrant riverfront.” Which is it, Dan? Where’s the vibrancy?
8:30 [BZOD]: Seb is talking about a senior center. He’s a good speaker, but I missed the beginning. I did hear the name “Klattenberger,” which I found funny for some reason.
8:31 [wieb$]: Overall, Dan seems a bit more studious, carefully taking down Seb’s responses (and, presumably, formulating his rebuttals). Or maybe he’s just doodling.
8:32 [BZOD]: Dan asks for the question to be repeated. Peter repeats the previous question. Both candidates say that it was the previous question and the real one is “What civic construction projects are you into?” Well, something to that effect.
8:33 [wieb$]: Confusion reigns! Question bungled. Pick it up, Frank…
8:33 [BZOD]: Since I missed most of Seb’s response, I’m also going to miss most of Dan’s response. He is talking about the riverfront, and has not yet said “Klattenberger.”
8:35 [BZOD]: Seb begins a rebuttal against the riverfront construction project. So, that’s what Dan was talking about.
8:35 [BZOD]: Dan wants to do a statewide search for a new police chief and hire more police officers and firepeople. He reiterates that Main Street north of Washington needs to be improved and that it has potential. The number of police officers is apparently tied to this. We also need to work on accreditation for the department, which we apparently don’t have yet. I should think that’s a bit worrisome.
8:37 [BZOD]: Seb says that, when he hired the police chief, there were under 100 officers, and there should be at least 120. Seb talks about incrementally adding officers at… 2 a year? Really? He wants to convert some former army field with trace contaminants near three schools into a fire station. “You have to think of fire and you have to think of emergency management.” Think of fire. That’s the moral.
8:39 [wieb$]: It’s official, I’ve been relegated to wesguest… I suspect political sabotage.
8:40 [BZOD]: Dan says the fire department is understaffed, and the mayor didn’t put new firemen in the budget. We’re acting at a state-mandated minimum and added two firemen this year. I must say, judging by the fire trucks I hear, those firefolks are working pretty damn hard. Also, their equipment is at least 20 years old, and some of it is from the ’60s. What the hell? How is this a thing?
8:42 [wieb$]: We are now joined by esteemed blogger DMZ to aid in our liveblogging endeavors.
8:42 [BZOD]: Seb: “How many of you have bought something online?… Pretty good customer service online, right?” This goes onto a critique of the city’s IT department, but I’m still lost thinking about the internet. We’re also, apparently, moving from the 19th to the 20th century, which puts us at least 100 years behind. Worrisome.
8:43 [DMZ]: Seb talks about needing an upgrade… Everything in Town Hall is done by hand. “Most of the time, our information technology department is running around, putting out little fires.” Wants people to be content provider to intranet and internet.
8:44 [BZOD]: Dan: “I’m not saying that any one person is at fault for the breakdown of communication – but the mayor–” I can just see where this is going.
8:45 [wieb$]: Dan: “We need to start talking again!” (emphasis added) What happened to communication? …sometimes, Seb acts like he doesn’t even know me.
…ok, I’m paraphrasing
8:45 [BZOD]: It went toward saying that the mayor should facilitate communication, implying that Seb isn’t doing this. Seb says that communication requires at least two willing parties, and says that it’s “hard to have a dialogue when you’re the only one who’s willing to participate.” Dan is staring him down.
8:46 [BZOD]: Noah Rush ’14 has yet to fulfill his promise to make a comment at some point during the debate for publication. I’m waiting for you Noah. I see your laptop. I know that you have the potential to read this.
8:47 [DMZ]: Dan wants to increase all communication, but Seb seems to think that the council needs to be more collegial, points out partisanship stifling communication between majority and minority.
8:48 [wieb$]: DMZ bringing you the straight talk…
8:48 [BZOD]: Seb: “I think everyone’s an artist.” Then, a few sentences later, “I myself decorate a mean Christmas tree.”
8:49 [wieb$]: Now onto the pressing matter of recycling-bin decoration…
8:49 [wieb$]: According to Seb, utilitarian assets with an artistic twist are key to Middletown’s identity.
8:50 [DMZ]: Candidates agree that art is important and Wesleyan rocks at it.
8:54 [BZOD]: Noah Rush ’14 reads my previous comment, gives me something of a glare.
8:57 [wieb$]: Dan hits on an issue he seems to have been preparing for. Citing a press conference where Seb used such charged terms as “misappropriation,” “malfeasance,” and “criminal investigation” in the context of public education, after which the issue was never mentioned again, Dan pulls no punches. Doesn’t anyone care about the children?!
8:57 [BZOD]: Seb: “No one has accused the Board of Ed. of criminal activity. To say that is a mischaracterization of what happened.” He seems to be blaming it on the lawyer.
9:02 [wieb$]: Seb: “If Pat McMahon were to drop dead, we would probate his estate in Middletown.” Good to hear, Mr. Mayor, you sound like a real straight-shooter.
9:02 [BZOD]: WordPress is conspiring against us by fucking up our formatting. Bear with us, please. Also, Noah Rush ’14 says something quotable! “I don’t think that was the right use of hubris.”
9:04 [wieb$]: DMZ while still physically present, appears to have been exorcised from the wireless network. Curses, wesstudent!
9:05 [BZOD]: Dan: “Public education right now is not a priority for this administration.” “We need to return to a working collaborative environment in the schools. It’s the students and the taxpayers who suffer.”
9:07 [BZOD]: Again, Dan says that communication depends on the mayor “whoever that mayor may be,” and that if there’s no communication the mayor is failing at his job. We’re still on the Board of Education budget.
9:08 [BZOD]: Seb declares that the key to changing the Board of Education budget is to elect a new Board of Ed. Seems somewhat obvious, but okay, I can believe it. There are 5 seats opening on the board, and 11 candidates running for them. 2.2 candidates per seat.
9:09 [DMZ]: Yo sorry peeps. Internet cut me off. Next question: “Middletown’s hunger rate has increased 100% this past year (!!!!). How will you deal with this issue?”
9:09 [BZOD]: Seb says that he would like to do more of the things his government has been doing. “This is a problem that goes all year round” and clarifies that your efforts must continue year-round.
9:11 [wieb$]: Seb: “We’re all sort of conscious about people needing food [interminable pause] during Thanksgiving, Christmas.” Against all odds, goes on to make a point.
9:11 [BZOD]: Dan asks to have the question repeated – as Seb just did. Both candidates, after hearing the repetition, then had the following interaction:
- Frank reads question.
- Candidate: “Hunger?”
- Frank: “Yes, hunger.”
- Candidate: “Oh, okay. Hunger.”
9:14 [wieb$]: On to the issue of fostering relations with schools and community gardens… Dan professes he has little knowledge of agriculture himself, understands that food comes from the ground. Disses California fruit. I pour one out for my homies. Seb concedes people can (and do!) garden, disses own gardening skills. There you have it. Do not trust your garden to the hands of the Mayor. Perhaps a commentary on the expanding role of government?
9:16 [BZOD]: Seb: “My grandfather loved to garden. He could grow anything anywhere.” Whoa, what is he growing, and where?
9:16 [BZOD]: “What are your candidates best attributes or strengths?” Seb: “I think he’s… an avid reader.” “Someday, he might make a very good mayor of Middletown… but not this day.” Dan: “I think Seb is a wonderful family man.” Dan’s also met his wife and mother, and says Seb’s family says volumes about his characters. Also, Seb apparently has great taste in music. Dan also says Seb is well-read, and prefers history of antiquity, while he, Dan, prefers American history. Always the patriot.
9:17 [wieb$]: Seb on Dan: “a good motivator,” someday could be a good mayor of Middletown, but not this time. Burns, doesn’t it, Dan?
9:19 [BZOD]: Closing statements! Dan: “It’s time for a change.” He says that the policy of the past several years has not worked, and that we need a new face. “There’s a way of conducting city business outside of court.” He wants to make Middletown more friendly for the bourgeoisie (or middle class, for those of you who aren’t into that term).
9:20 [BZOD]: Makes a reference to not repeating the phrase “stay the course.” Seb says that Middletown has prospered, and is “not conceited enough to take credit for himself.” Seb clarifies that Democrats have run city for like 40 something years, and he’s been here for 6.
9:23 [BZOD]: Debate’s over! Candidates shake hands, walk off stage. Zach takes the mic and reminds everyone to vote on November 11. Crowd: “Eigthth!” Zach: “Eighth! I had that written down.” Zach then talks about voting registration, and it’s over!
9:27 [BZOD]: I mention to Noah Rush ’14 that I almost commented on his Snood game. He says I should have. I now have done so.
9:27 [wieb$]: That’s all, folks! Thanks for tuning in.