Daniel M. Salerno
Alderman at Large/Majority Leader
To the Editor:
On Saturday, Jan. 28, the. 21st Coffee for Open Government to be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Paradise Pizza Restaurant, 10 East St., New Britain.
This is the first of my periodic “office hours” Coffee for the New Year. It is being held two days after the first meeting of the Board of Finance and Taxation, scheduled for Jan. 26 in City Hall. The BF and T will meet about 14 times between now and April 2017. The city of New Britain budget season has begun! The Board of Education has released its first proposed budget, and I was impressed with its practicality in these difficult times.
The ongoing budget process and meeting schedules can be found on the city’s website www.newbritainct.gov .
I want to encourage citizens to observe the budget process. Few people will be able to attend every meeting throughout, but there will be public hearings as well, and many opportunities to watch how the budget develops.
These coffee sessions are not only a regular opportunity for New Britain citizens to meet with me as alderman, but more important a chance to meet other elected and appointed officials and other citizens invested in New Britain’s present and future. So as I always do, it is an open invitation to my fellow Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voting residents to meet with each other. Let me be clear, this session is not strictly about the budget process. People are invited to ask questions about anything they like. The purpose of these “get togethers” is to be accessible, continue transparency and promote citizen involvement in their community and their government.
Since the very first coffee event in January 2013, some 330 people have attended. And every time there are new faces I had never met before. These coffee events are a great opportunity to meet New Britain citizens of all backgrounds casually. The conversation is always interesting, and a wide range of topics are discussed.
Coffee is free and the breakfast menu at the Paradise Restaurant is extensive from waffles, pancakes and all types of hardy regular breakfast fare. There are no speeches or format. Attendees may stay for 15 minutes, a half hour or the entire time. Paradise Pizza is a longstanding Eastside tradition and is another example of local successful businesses getting involved in the workings of government.
During the next month I will be reviewing the Coffee for Open Government format and may hold similar events during the week days as well and considering expanding to other business venues. I want to always emphasize our businesses and economic development focus and seek other interested nonpartisan locations to sponsor these public sessions. Without the healthy growth of our commercial community we cannot grow that Grand List and sustain every other aspect of our community.
I encourage all residents to contact me with problems or issues on my Facebook page, Daniel Salerno for New Britain Common Council at Large, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-977-5311.