Fasano, Looney tussle over Green
NEW HAVEN — As emergency personnel continued to respond Friday to more than 100 overdoses in New Haven, a two-day public spat unfolded between Mayor Toni Harp and the state Senate’s top leaders, Len Fasano and Martin Looney.
The quarrel was kicked off Thursday morning when Fasano, a North Haven Republican, issued a public statement criticizing city officials for knowingly allowing the New Haven Green to “deteriorate” to “a place of despair,” the site frequent drug use.
“It is my hope that yesterday will be a wakeup call to the mayor’s administration about a problem they can no longer turn a blind eye to,” the Senate minority leader wrote after a spate of overdoses broke out Wednesday morning on the Green. “Harp’s administration needs to act swiftly and decisively to take control over the problems that have festered on the New Haven Green and surrounding areas to prevent the Elm City from becoming a ghost town.”
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Harp said she had been working on improving the Green for four years.
“We are the only city in Connecticut that got a $9.4 million hit from the state legislature,” she said. “I am really appalled that someone who contributed to our city’s lack of resources would say that is our fault.”
A few hours later, Looney, a New Haven Democrat, came to Harp’s defense, calling Fasano “out of touch.”
“What disturbs me most about Senator Fasano’s characterization of the recent drug overdoses in New Haven is that he implies that drug abuse is somehow an exclusively inner-city problem, brought about by government indifference,” Looney, the state Senate president pro tempore, wrote. “While Senator Fasano was quick to assign blame, Mayor Harp and her administration were busy working with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Department of Public Health, and state, local, and federal law enforcement.”
Fasano came back with a new statement Friday saying that New Haven was not cut $9.4 million in state aid, as Harp claimed.
“Even Senator Martin Looney, the Democrat leader of the Senate, has pointed out repeatedly that New Haven has fared better than other cities in the state, seeing dramatic increases in funding over the last 7 years, with total municipal aid rising from $194 million in 2011 to $226 million in 2018,” Fasano wrote. “Mayor Harp’s knee jerk defense in response to my comments about the need for action in New Haven is disappointing.”
Brian Zahn contributed reporting.