Mayor Finizio got stung by his own Executive Order

I had to feel a little sorry Monday for New London Mayor Daryl Finizio, even though his latest predicament was partly of his own making.

There was the mayor, dutifully attending a ceremony at Shiloh Baptist Church in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King, and what he heard from the pulpit was a sharp rebuke of one of his executive orders.

It was the application of Executive Order Number 6, the one that requires organizers of city parades or events to pay up front for city expenses, that triggered a scolding Monday by Bishop Benjamin K. Watts.

Watts and others who cherish the city's 27-year tradition of honoring King with a sort of casual march on downtown streets, from City Hall to the service at the church, rightly balked this year about the notion that those who sponsor the King tribute should pay the city an events fee.

Apparently foreseeing this complication, Finizio said he went to the bank on Friday and drained his personal savings of some $800 or more so that he could pay the events fee for the Martin Luther King march Monday.

I think this gesture should have at least earned the mayor an uneventful day Monday, free of recrimination and finger pointing.

He did get a personal thank you for paying the fee this year, though that did not seem enough, amid all the general complaints.

After all, it was a day to honor King.

And Finizio did empty his own pockets, to be sure the event could go off without a hitch. The mayor has also contributed generously to scholarships given in King's name.

Don't get me wrong.

I think those who want to honor King should not have to pay an events fee, ever.

Certainly there was a city policeman, already being paid and on duty, who could have helped escort a few dozen marchers through a couple of city intersections.

As some of the marchers said on the signs they carried Monday: It is not a parade. There were no vendors. No crowds of onlookers. No trash.

And really, was it necessary to have a couple of police officers, on a special events time clock, sitting in the Shiloh parking lot during the service for King?

Did anyone think that some sort of violence was going to erupt during a service for King?

I think the mayor got ripped off.

Neither he nor anyone else needed to pay that much money for the simple traditional tribute to King the city has hosted without incident for so many years.

The essence of Executive Order Number 6, as it pertains to billing organizations for city services required for their events, is not a bad idea, especially for a city that is so financially challenged.

Like anything else, though, these things have to be viewed in some perspective.

Alas, the mayor's executive orders have a troubled history. Remember the city-of-pot order?

There is no reason to think that the normal complement of city police on duty can't handle, without a lot of extra expense or bother, a small march - practically a stroll - and church service downtown.

Still, I think organizers of the Martin Luther King tribute might have served the community better had they focused on honoring the great man on Monday and picked up the phone Tuesday to call the mayor and complain about future fees.

This is the opinion of David Collins

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