NL government isn't pretty, but it's working

Everybody loves to grumble about the government, but New Londoners have made such complaining an art form - often with good reason, considering the city's long history of partisan politics, legal battles, lax oversight and other general dysfunction.

In 2010, voters decided to ditch the old city manager form of government that had bedeviled them for 90 years, and last year installed a strong mayor they thought would be more accountable because he would be voted on directly by the people. Under the old system, the mayor was largely a ceremonial figurehead chosen by the majority of city councilors.

Almost immediately after the November election, the new mayor, Daryl Justin Finizio, raised eyebrows and a few hackles because of the high-handed - critics would say underhanded - way he rejected the proposed sale of a Riverside Park parcel to the Coast Guard Academy.

In what his harshest foes ascribe to a post-election, Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation Mayor Finizio also has developed a style that at times has been both thin skinned and tone deaf.

This growing sense of buyers' remorse has come to a head during ongoing budget discussions, particularly in the mayor's move to lay off 25 city firefighters and 10 police officers. Now Mayor Finizio faces insurrection even from his fellow Democrats, particularly City Council President Michael Passero, and the complainers have struck up a familiar chant about changing New London's flawed government.

Monday night, members of the City Council's Administration Committee went so far as to recommend the creation of a charter revision commission - presumably to rein in, or maybe even do in, the mayor.

Five of the seven councilors would have had to support the measure, but only four were in favor, with one member, Donald Macrino, absent.

Conceivably, the issue could come up again and gain traction with Mr. Macrino's backing.

This newspaper believes such a move would be a mistake.

Mr. Finizio has only been in office for six months. His approach to governance has been far from perfect, but the bottom line is that the check-and-balance system voters were hoping for has worked.

Just as neither the president of the United States nor the U.S. Congress can totally control the federal government, neither the mayor nor the council can completely run New London.

Given time Mr. Finizio and the council will resolve their differences and learn to get along - or they won't, and voters will throw somebody, or everybody, out.

Nobody said running the city would be easy, and nobody expected things would run smoothly the moment Mr. Finizio was sworn in. After all, this is New London.

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