Perhaps it will be but a temporary respite, but there are welcome signs that New London and its new form of government are moving past the frequent crises and council-mayoral disputes that dominated the first few months of this experiment.
We attribute much of the past controversy to missteps by Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio and some to the City Council adjusting to the reality it no longer had the authority to order around the executive, as it did with the city manager, but instead had to deal with a co-equal branch of government in the mayor.
While the scale and frequency of the disputes and disagreements were more than we, and we suspect the citizens, had bargained for, it was also inevitable that there would be some conflict as the city moved from the city manager-council system it had employed for nearly a century to a mayoral executive.
Now there are indications the council and mayor are adjusting to their roles. A deadlock that had blocked council approval of revisions in the contract with city firefighters was resolved as one would expect in the council-mayor system. The contract revisions backed by Mayor Finizio were adjusted to meet the concerns and pick up the one vote necessary for council ratification, the vote coming from the lone council Republican, Adam Sprecace.
Now Mayor Finizio proposes an ordinance, which the council appears to be positively receiving, which would clarify the council's and mayor's respective roles when it comes to negotiating severance agreements with city employees. Recall that Mayor Finizio in one of his first acts, and as part of his plan to revamp the police department, negotiated severance deals with the deputy chief and captains. As chief executive in charge of personnel, the mayor concluded he had the authority. Problems arose when the council refused to ratify the deals, arguing the administration was giving too much away, leaving the city in a legal sticky wicket, resolved only months later when lawsuits threatened.
The new ordinance clarifies that before the mayor or employee can sign a severance deal providing benefits that go beyond those normally available, the mayor must first gain council approval for any extra money or benefits. It's a necessary ordinance to prevent future confusion.
While more council-mayor clashes will certainly come, it is good to see some semblance of normality emerging, creating the necessary environment to tackle the biggest challenges facing New London.