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Standing Up for Public Services

Local 1186 President Michael Thompson talks with Common Council Assistant Majority Leader Tonilynn Collins.
Darlene O'Neal and her sons urge the Common Council not to cut services.

Faced with a budget deficit and the prospect of more than 100 layoffs, New Britain city workers -- members of AFSCME Locals 818, 1186 and 1303-332 -- are standing up for their jobs and their community. And they're finding increased support from residents who understand the connection between quality public services and strong communities.

At a May 17 budget hearing, Darlene O'Neal, a single mother of triplets, talked about how much the staff and programs at the Parks and Recreation Department have meant to her family.

“I can honestly say they have helped me to raise my children. They are my village,” O’Neal told members of the New Britain Common Council. “Please leave this department intact and do not try to fix what is not broken.”

The village to which O'Neal referred is actually multiple villages of departments and agencies with city employees who are proud of their service to the public.

"I’m a New Britain resident. I’ve lived here my whole life. I have a passion for the city," said Sue Egan, a groundskeeper with the Parks Department. "When I turn around and a job’s accomplished, I feel good about it. It shows in the beauty of the parks and the city."

Amy Kirby also emphasized the importance of an urban village in asking Common Council members to protect public services. Kirby conceived the idea for the popular Timeless Tales of Fairview Cemetary program, and brought it to Parks and Recreation Director Bill DeMaio and got the support necessary to turn her idea into reality.

"Parks and recreation, in addition to education and libraries, are needed to make a great community," Kirby said at the budget hearing.

Chris Polkowski grew up in New Britain, attended public school here and graduated from Central Connecticut State University. He now works for the city as a civil engineer.

"I take great ownership and pride in working for the city because I like to improve my community. I have strong roots here. I’m all for doing anything I can do to contribute to the city and make it a better place to live," Polkowski said at the budget hearing.

Check out what Egan, Polkowski and other New Britain public service workers have to say in this video. And be sure to like the Facebook page New Britain United.


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