The New Haven Advocate is apparently sick of John DeStefano. The alternative weekly went after the New Haven mayor on the issues of eminent domain and campaign contributions in their latest issue, which can be seen here.
The Advocate suggests that a significant portion of DeStefano's war chest comes from those who either directly or indirectly owe him part or all of their livelihoods:
All the while, John DeStefano continues raking in campaign contributions from people who owe him their livelihoods. People who work at or get contracts from City Hall, over which he presides as New Haven's mayor. People who work for the school system whose board he appoints. People who want public favors--including public money--for their downtown real estate projects.
And people who would love to have a good relationship with the man DeStefano hopes to be: the governor of Connecticut. (Bass)
Unfortunately, there is nothing illegal in that. No, it isn't particularly nice, and a lot of it certainly can be construed as suspect (which is what the Advocate does), but it's above board. If, say, there was evidence that campaign contributions were being exchanged for political favors, that would be something else. However:
[DeStefano] says he makes it clear that donating has nothing to do with whether contributors do business with the city. (Bass)
The point of the article seems to be that DeStefano isn't as "clean" as he says. Is that legitimate? Here's the question the Advocate doesn't quite get around to asking:
Can a candidate be an aggressive, bare-knuckled fundraiser and a strong proponent of public financing of campaigns? If a candidate tries to be both, is it hyprocrisy or simply realism?
Realistically, DeStefano needs an enormous amount of money to have a shot at going to Hartford in 2007 and pushing public financing through. But his unwillingness to give up the money he's raised should public financing occur for next year, coupled with lurid reports like this about the untidy side of his finances, may not win him enough credibility with voters to get him there. It's a very fine line to walk.
This article, much like the last one, blurs the line between news and opinion while once again trying to call DeStefano on his supposed hypocrisy. There's a lot of innuendo and name-calling in this article, but here's the key piece:
DeStefano's eminent domain record in New Haven is awash in complexity and defies easy labels. Much of this ambiguity derives from the fact that, unlike the New London government, DeStefano has employed eminent domain for unambiguously "public" projects, not to turn land over to private developers for their profit. (Abadi)
Actually, that makes things less complex than, say, New London. Most of what DeStefano's administration used eminent domain for was, of all things, schools. Most of the rest of the article deals with accusations of an opaque process and outraged businesspeople and residents from the neighborhoods where the projects were slated to go, but that seems to be par for the course where eminent domain is involved. No one wants to leave his/her home or business, even when the project is a good one and has a clear public use.
The kernel of truth hidden in the article seems to be that DeStefano has shifted his position on eminent domain ever so slightly. Ho hum.
On the Attack
Both articles are clearly designed to be attack pieces, which the full title of the second article should make clear: "The Bulldozer Stops Here: John DeStefano supports eminent domain and dont (sic) let him tell you otherwise".
They don't like DeStefano at the Advocate. Who knows why? It might have to do with the fact that he doesn't agree with them on every issue, or just that he's been in power for a long time in New Haven.
The credibilty problem doesn't lie with DeStefano, here, but with the Advocate. Mixing personal opinion into articles clearly classified as "news" torpedoes any legitimacy the paper may have had, and the amatuerish writing doesn't help.
Now, I like alternative newspapers: they often report on the seedy little doings of government that get unnoticed by bigger and more respectable outfits. These two articles, however, make the Advocate look more like a bunch of hacks rather than an actual newspaper.
And for crying out loud, could they at least spell-check? Sheesh.
Bass, Carole. "You Say You Want a Contribution...." New Haven Advocate 4 August 2005.
Abadi, Cameron. "The Bulldozer Stops Here." New Haven Advocate 4 August 2005.