August 20, 2014

Brown says he won't cave to condescending mayor

Mayor Ken Cockayne and city Councilor Calvin Brown clashed at this week's Police Board meeting. See the story here.
Here's an open letter from Brown with his take on what it all means:

The Mayor recently attacked me at a public meeting for being someone who “does not pay property taxes.” His condescension has been directed at me and other colleagues many times. As we all know, after all, the Mayor’s favorite catch phrase is “Because I’m the Mayor and I said so!” With an ego that big – let’s face it – a little condescension every now and again is to be expected.
But since his comments were particularly personal in nature and irrelevant to the discussion at hand at the time he made them, I feel compelled to make a public disclosure:
Yes – I still live at home with my mother. No – I do not own my own home. While the Mayor seems to think this makes me less of a person, I think it makes me a prime example of the generation that will soon be taking the reins in society: in business, in government, in academia. Plus, the Mayor drastically underestimates the burden of my own personal circumstances. Like so many people of my generation, I come from a household with divorced parents. Since my parents’ divorce in 2009 (at the height of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, mind you), I have had to work to earn money to help make ends meet around the house. My mother and I shared the financial burden that comes along with trying to put food on the table, keep the lights on and the water flowing in the house, and planning for the future at a time when things seemed despairingly uncertain. On top of all this, we had to figure out what on earth we were going to do when it came time for me to go to college.
                Luckily for me, I was able to manage notable scholastic achievement, and when I graduated high school in 2011 I got accepted into the Honors program at Central Connecticut State University. In the program, any student that can complete the increased rigor of the coursework and still maintain an overall GPA of 3.5 or higher is privy to a full academic scholarship. I’m truly privileged to say I was able to do that, and I will graduate from college this upcoming December without any student loan-debt.
This privilege has enabled me to continue to work, and use all of the money I earn to support my family when it’s needed. Working with my mother and now my brother, we are able to all pool our resources together so that we can keep food on the table, and we can repair our cars, and we can keep the lights on in our home. No, Mayor, I don’t own a home or pay my own property taxes. But the only reason me and my family have been able to stay in our home is because we work with one another to make ends meet.
The Mayor seems to think I should be ashamed of that; that my voice and experience doesn’t matter. But I say to the Mayor and to everyone else – young or old – that’s ever found themselves in a situation like mine: I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do to help my family, and I do know what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet. My voice does matter. Our voice matters.
Yes, the Mayor thinks that people who don’t pay property taxes don’t matter. But I think to disregard the voices of thousands of young up-and-comers in our city simply because they do not yet pay property taxes is penny-wise and pound-foolish (… then again, that does seem to be the Mayor’s idea of ‘fiscal conservatism’). Young people should be encouraged to exercise their voice in government. They should be encouraged to be involved! And they do matter, whether they own homes yet or not.
I just want to say to the Mayor: you can be as disgusted as you want with what I have to say about the city’s public policy and the expenditure of taxpayer resources. You can insinuate all you want that my voice doesn’t matter because to you it appears as though I don’t yet pay property taxes. But Mayor, I don’t work for you. I work with you. And I will use my voice for my constituents whether it annoys you or not.

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