I liked Mayor Passero's State Pier comments before he signed a gag order
I am sorry to say that not only did New London Mayor Michael Passero sell out the other victims of Gov. Ned Lamont's $200 million remake of State Pier — from road salt contractors and longshoremen to local fishermen — when he signed a deal with the rich utilities that will profit from the project.
But he settled cheaply.
The host community agreement Passero signed in February provides new money for the city only if the planned project is completely executed at "full scope" and some cheaper, more modest plan is not approved instead.
With cost overruns clocking in at increments of tens of millions of dollars and a public hearing set to begin soon on the enormous environmental permits required to remove a hillside and fill in 7 acres of the harbor, the prospects of the city getting any new money from this new host deal are still dubious.
The most shocking thing, though, about the mayor's new deal with the rich utilities is the gag order he signed as part of it, agreeing not only to not criticize the project but to actively promote it in the news media whenever asked to.
I have never seen anything like it.
We all know that Eversource has legions of Connecticut politicians in its back pocket. But how many of those have actually signed agreements agreeing to grovel on demand for the rich utility, even at the expense of the best interests of constituents?
Indeed, the grovel clause binding the mayor is labeled number 1 in the new host community agreement. That was probably the utility's ranking in priorities in making the agreement.
"When requested by the Project, the host community shall, acting through the mayor or his designee, issue or advance or join with the Project in issuing or advancing, press statements, other communications and initiatives in support of the Project..."
It goes on to say that, whenever asked, the mayor will promote not just this project and any permit requests made for it but also support other solicitations the utilities might make for other offshore wind contracts.
The mayor has agreed to not only support but to actively promote whatever unknown offshore deals the utilities might try to secure in the future, here or anywhere else.
Passero has also committed to promoting this State Pier project even as investigations into the agency that created it continue by the state attorney general and very likely by the Connecticut Office of State Ethics.
I assume the utilities have prepared a T-shirt for Mayor Passero, with a big "E" for Eversource on the front and an "O" for Orsted on the back, and he might be expected to wear it whenever they call a news conference, jerk on his leash and demand a performance, as they are enabled to do by the host community agreement.
What's especially sad to me was the way the mayor used the other victims of the Lamont/Eversource/Orsted deal, before he decided to abandon them and sign on with their tormentors as a cheerleader.
"A heretofore thriving regional salt supplier, DRVN Enterprises, is being dismissively put out of business with the loss of its local supply chain and numerous jobs," Passero wrote in opposition to the port deal in an op-ed in January, when he could still claim some integrity, standing up for the little guy.
"A thriving break bulk cargo trade, conducted by the previous port operator, Logistec, has completely shut down, with the loss of that local supply chain and approximately 70 full-time and part-time longshoreman jobs."
"Even two small family-run commercial fishing businesses have been callously threatened with eviction and extinction."
That was back when the mayor was still able to express his outrage over a deal made, he said, for filling "the corporate pockets of two huge corporations, one which pays its CEO an obscene $20 million a year."
That was before he let those corporations slip their leash around his neck.
No more standing up for the little guys being pushed out by the utilities. It appears now they were only props for the mayor to use to get his own bad deal.
I feel sorry for the mayor because he was only trying to rescue some remuneration from a deal Lamont made with the utilities without cutting in the city at all.
Lamont told the mayor to make his own deal and then locked him in the cage with the utility wolves and gave him nothing to defend himself or his constituents.
Look soon for a performance of the Lamont/Eversource/Orsted dance by a leashed Mayor Passero in a news conference possibly coming to your town.
This is the opinion of David Collins.