New London – Sometimes, as the great Arthur Branch said on an episode of “Law & Order”, the good you do doesn’t do you any good.
This is the case with New England Science and Sailing, whose ocean-based educational programs have a long and productive history with the children of New London, from teaching Bennie Dover students to sail for many years. to eclectic summer programs through Camp Rotary.
The NESS had launched more programs in conjunction with the New London Recreation Department, requesting a total of $ 1.98 million over four years thanks to the $ 13 million in federal funds the city received from the relief program of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
City council denied the money to NESS at a special meeting last week, transferring part of the $ 495,000 proposed for NESS to the city park’s green space improvement program.
“I want every kid in New London to have access to amazing programs like the NESS offers,” Councilor James Burke told The Day, “but I think we need to look more fairly at how the money is used and make sure that all of our non-profit organizations are funded in a way that allows us to provide the best services to the greatest number of children in our community. ”
Full Disclosure: I have no idea what this quote means.
I’m not sure why Mr. Burke would suggest that an untested municipal park program “seems fairer” and “best serves the most children in our city” when NESS has already provided outstanding services over the years for a number of children in our city.
And if anyone tries to deny such a claim, I would be happy to discuss it.
I emailed Mr. Burke on Friday morning asking for details on the green space improvement program and clarification on his quote. I haven’t received a response yet.
I am also confused by the city’s chief financial officer David McBride, who according to Greg Smith’s story in The Day said that although there is a budget created for all funds, which was approved Wednesday was more of a guide. proposed spending is subject to final agreements or contracts and will be reviewed by city council in the future. “
It strikes me as a euphemism for “we reserve the right to change our mind.”
And some city councilors wonder why do many of us in the city consider our work an amateur hour?
City Republican Committee Chair Kat Goulart makes a valid point, wondering why council decided to call a special meeting for final approval of the proposed budget instead of a regular meeting with more people in attendance . It doesn’t say much about transparency, but it says a lot about agenda-based secrecy.
What is most embarrassing, however, is the wave of contempt our elected officials – and those seeking election – have shown to the NESS, stereotyped as “$ 2 million for sailing lessons for an organization. Stonington-based nonprofit “.
We are supposed to feel better, apparently, that the proposed funds for NESS can be reviewed. As if the rest of us don’t realize that unless NESS gets on the agenda – “better providing services for the most children in our city” – the proposal will fall quietly. into oblivion.
I have seen the NESS programs personally. I saw them introduce city children to the water, many for the first time. I have seen the amazed looks on the children’s faces after a few forays into sailing – especially the confidence they exude after conquering the lessons of self-sufficiency that sailing teaches.
Perhaps best of all: NESS takes a business often categorized as an elite hobby and delivers it to the whole city. In a country where denial of opportunity has created marginalization that leads to racism, NESS tries to build bridges. The fact that our city leaders avoided the proposal – it’s called kicking the box – calls into question whether they really know what’s best for our children besides understanding what is rhetorically helpful to us. their programs.
Are you ready for the rhetoric? I am on.
Raise your hand if you’ve been disappointed with the people you’ve elected in New London. The wheels continue to spin furiously, but without traction. We’re going in circles, no end in sight. And yet, we continue to allow the masquerade.
That’s the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro