Joel imageBy Joel Schiavone

Enjoy your summer. This is the lull before the storm. Campaigning begins in earnest for state and local elections which will culminate in November. What will happen after that will be extraordinary. Both New Haven and the

State of Connecticut have passed budgets that everybody knows are millions of dollars out of balance. The City of New Haven passed a budgetwhich does not reflect any changes, any reductions in costs, salaries, or employee lay-offs. Sometime in January all these plus increased taxes will be impacted significantly. The full enormity of these actions will be clarified when we finally learn how large the reductions in the State financial support will be.

OPINION: By Mitchell Young


Webster Bank Chairman and former CEO James Smith said on April 6 he wants to be Connecticut’s next Governor, but he still hasn’t announced.

This is nothing new.

Smith has mused about a run for Governor for years. Smith conservative by nature, has let his smarter angels win and he has steered himself away from what would most likely be capping his successful business career with a potentially humiliating political loss.

Webster insiders had told us that Smith’s move last fall to executive Chairman made that choice more likely. When we questioned if Smith had the raw ego for a governor’s run, we were assured he did. He has however, let many months go by without declaring in what was clearly an exceptionally open Republican race, with a wide lane for a powerful well known and well-thought of businessman, like Smith.

Joel image
Joel Schiavone in New Haven magazine's first profile in 2007, on the Chaple Street that he layed the foundation for.

Perhaps more than any single person Joel Schiavone has been in the forefront of understanding New Haven, its assets and challenges. The original emprassario of New Haven’s revised Chapel Street, the advocate for its neighborhoods, a thought leader on environmental action, a sports entrepreneur , a mayoral candidate and more. We you invite you to join with Joel in in discussing the future of New Haven. Let us hear from you on his comments and your thoughts on New Haven. Send your comments toThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Joel Schiavone

2018 is turning out to be a lot like 1979. For anyone younger than 60 downtown New Haven was closed. The Taft, the Shubert, the College Music hall, virtually every restaurant except for Claire’s and Louis’s lunch were gone, retail stores except for J press a floundering Yale coop and a couple of odds and ends on Broadway were shuttered. Yale closed off access to its cm[us with locks, gates, large black metal panels on all its fences and left New Haven to die.

What’s this got to do with the busy exciting place still referred to as downtown? Nothing on the surface but lurking under the surface - lots of problems. The state of Connecticut is bankrupt, not legally but the walking dead. Fundamentally not working except to generate huge deficits every year. Structurally unsound and waiting for the undertaker. New Haven the city is not far behind with fewer and fewer employees, less and less money, an overwhelming failed financial structure and most importantly no sense from anyone that there is any problem.

The Mayor’s annual address talked about improving infrastructure, better schools and other impossible dreams without any suggestion about how to do any of this. Its Citizen neighborhoods such as Chapel West and The Downtown are cleaning streets, fighting crime, and encouraging neighborhood activities paid for with increased tax receipts for their special districts - a recognition that the city has no money and ability to do most anything for its citizens and their neighborhoods and they’ll have to do it themselves

Yale is embarked on its absurd quest to bring shopping back to New Haven subsidizing many of its retailers and restaurants to hide the reality that retail in the United States, never mind a tiny town such as New Haven is disappearing as fast as you can say Amazon. In several years when the Yale Corporation finally wakes up it will realize that the policies of Bruce Alexander the head of Yale’s New Haven and State Affairs and Campus Development office are as misguided as those of former Mayor Richard lee. Repurposing downtown malls has proven to so far to be impossible.

Now what?

Like the 1970s we are now completely adrift. Forgetting the growing political and budgetary Washington malaise, 40% of our operating budget in New Haven comes from the state of Connecticut. The state will do its best to push the financial pension mess back to the towns and municipalities meaning all of the outrageous pensions will go back to the cities in a desperate attempt to protect the pensions of the state employees. Cities which don’t have enough money to replace street lights will have to go bankrupt. A familiar process in the private sector and well understood: an unfamiliar process for government.

However it happens, through negotiation or bankruptcy, eventually all the excesses of the past 30 years will be wiped out and life will start over again. The era of the unsupportable government pensions, salaries and perquisites will be over. Police retirees will be selling their boats and vacation homes and learning to live like everyone else.

Ok argue about the details but it is certain that for the next 20-30 years this whole scenario will play out and completely change most of our lives. The bad news-without the presence of any effective government it will be virtually impossible to get anything done. The good news is the recognition that the private sector is the only group that can get anything done. Aside from enriching themselves it is hard to identify anything government accomplished for the past 30 years and lots of things they have negatively impacted.

Progress in a time and place a long time ago came from cooperation between the private sector, with the assistance of an effective Mayor such as Ben DeLieto and a devoted development team, all guided by a shared vision, albeit without a formal plan. Recreate a vibrant downtown – again a shared vision and obviously one that worked.

After the Delieto years Government and the private sector evaporated. In the vacuum Yale exercised its fierce self-interest and took over as much of the downtown as possible, Retail and apartments were now one of their overarching objectives as they purchased multiple buildings in downtown. But the vision sustained and is still continuing as new apartments and restaurants are appearing every month.

mathewshomeThe estate of former New Haven Developer Bob Mathews, now under federal indictment. The home was priced for auction at $26.5 million, but has been listed on for $44 million.


By Mitchell Young

NEW HAVEN: A flash from the past as 90’s era real estate developer Bob Mathews has been indicted, with the Federal government alleging he ‘scammed foreign investors.”

Mathews had developed what is now the city’s premier bio-science building 300 George Street, after buying it for $500,000 from SNET. It was mostly vacant when Winstanley Enterprise purchased it for $$27 million in 2000, Winstanley spent more than $25 million to develop the building for bioscience use.

mathewsMathews was a close friend and involved in several transactions with former Governor John Rowland, including purchasing his Washington apartment at what was seen as an inflated price. Mathews was fined $2000 for ethics violations relative to a transaction with Rowland but was not charged with any crimes.

ampitheater1024x1024BRIDGEPORT: Torpedoes or lawsuits be dammed that is the plan of Bridgeport’s Mayor Joe Ganim, and concert amphitheater developers Howard Saffan and Live Nation.

The group revealed plans for the $15 million concert Harbor Yard Amphitheater, a conversion of The Ballpark at Harbor Yard [Bridgeport Bluefish ballpark] in the face of a dispute over the right to hold the concerts.

Ganim in reference to the disagreement with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Hockey team which assert their management contract with the city gives them an exclusive right to manage concerts at the Webster Bank Arena and precludes another promoter to run concerts next door at the amphitheater. The New York Islanders, owners of the Sound Tigers have threatened to remove the team from the city if an agreement between the parties isn’t reached over issues between the team and the city.

sports betting legalizationBy: Keith M. Phaneuf and Clarice Silber

HARTFORD: House Democratic leaders are preparing to enact legislation this spring to launch Connecticut’s own legal sports betting industry. Their plan, though, is conditional upon an anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision, which would have to green-light such activity.

But House Democratic leaders said it is important that Connecticut be ready to regulate and tax an industry that already exists — legally in a handful of other states and underground across Connecticut and the rest of the nation.

“If the court opens up this extremely popular market to the states,” Connecticut should be ready to go from both a regulatory and an operational standpoint,” Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said during a late morning press conference in the Legislative Office Building.