Friday, April 28, 2006

Open Forum

Enfield's BOE now requires testing students for alcohol.

The artificial turf is making headlines again, but I think the BOE Planning Committee may have removed it from this year's Capital Budget just this past Wednesday night. If that's true, no one is requesting it. So the discussion would be done. (However, I wasn't at the meeting. So I'm not positive.)

Anyone have a quick recap on the difference between what the State is doing and what Cheshire's BOE recently did with soda in schools? (Channel 16 should be highlighting the schools' lunch program this week.)

$3 gas is all over the headlines. My hybrid should be coming in this week... finally! Definitely looking forward to the 45mpg.

And barite mines continue to be discussed. Based on this article, it sounds as though Diane V is going to put the mines on the agenda of the TC Planning Committee.

Titus Moss Walk Back in Time is set for a run thru this Sunday from 2-4pm on the Green.

What else is happening?

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Alan Schlesinger

The Cheshire Republican Town Committee met tonight. And as I mentioned in a previous post, Alan Schlesinger (Republican candidate for US Senate) attended and spoke. He talked both policy issues and campaign issues, such as being involved in either a two-way or three-way race. Overall, he seemed knowledgable. He was asked questions and he had answers. For more on him, check out Schlesinger 2006.

Or for more info on another US Senate candidate who is coming to town, check out Ned Lamont. As mentioned in a letter to the editor in today's Herald, he'll be coming to speak to the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee on May 2. (He was in Hamden earlier this week.)

I think it's fair to say that the junior Senator from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman, is feeling the heat this year.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Council Mtg 4/25

The Town Council met on Tuesday night. The main goal was to get an update from some of the Boards and Commissions in town. Those that came, and their points of discussion were:

WPCA seemed to have the busiest agenda (which didn't surprise me). The Chair, Tim Pelton, did a great job explaining their work, including:
1) Request for a permit change for our wastewater treatment plant, increasing our allowable volume beyond our current capacity of 3.5million gallons per day. The DEP has not yet formally acted, but seems to be viewing our request favorably.
2) Review of our "Inflow 'n' Infiltration" (INI) problem which leads directly to our request for an increase in capacity. Inflow relates to basement sump pumps that are being wrongly drained into the sewers. Infiltration relates to cracks in sewer pipes where water enters the pipes.
3) Work on the Plan of Conservation & Development. This plan has a direct impact on the density of land development.
4) The $6million Denitrification Project is up & running. Interestingly, one of the major cost factors with the operations of this addition is methanol. Methanol is some form of energy. So the operating costs on this are (surprise, surprise!) going up.
5) Review of the sewer use fee is being considered. There were several goals mentioned in doing this... three, I think. But the two I recall were to "make a new fee both fair and equitable" and to "cover the operating costs of the WPCD." (Those aren't exact quotes. I just thought it would make reading this easier.)

Planning & Zoning Chair, Patti Flynn Harris, is happy with the new Town Planner, Bill Voelker. And from my own limited experience, I think he's doing a really good job. P&Z is working on the Plan of Development.

Zoning Board of Appeals Chair, Vinnie Lentini, spoke. And afterward a couple people pointed out that he was being too modest in his own view of ZBA. That is, they play a very significant role in town. Similar to P&Z, they are a quasi-judicial body and can be challenged in court. And just recently, a court upheld the ZBA view on a decision. And that speaks volumes about the quality of the ZBA.

Inland Wetlands Chair, Bob DeJongh, spoke of the quality of the membership of his commission. And mentioned the diverse and well-qualified backgrounds of the members. He explained how that diversity and quality benefits the decisions that are made.

Environment Chair, Roland Roy, talked about their review of the Strathmore Woods dam and a few other things. He then asked for more work and direction. So David Schrumm and Elizabeth Esty both suggested that Environment get involved with increasing public awareness of the benefits of water conservation. I didn't mention it last night, but the Energy Commission is planning to give a presentation on clean energy to Environment in the near future. (Hard as though this may be to believe... during Council meetings, I oftentimes refrain from mentioning energy.)

Economic Development Chair, Dave Pelletier, spoke of their work in developing the interchange zone and work on W. Main Street. He also mentioned their desire to do a townwide survey of businesses.

Overall, I thought the meeting was worthwhile. It'll probably be shown on Channel 14 next week, if you're interested. Or check out this article in the Herald.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Energy Commission 4/24

Emerging Energy Technologies & The Pool

The usual stuff was on the agenda, but the big topic of the evening was The Pool and its energy costs. The main concern is finding ways to reduce the energy bills. And there were many ways mentioned, including fundamental changes to the pool facility. However, the discussion focused on saving money without making any fundamental changes to the facility.

So what are the variety of options available to the town to reduce costs? Photovoltaic arrays (solar panels), microturbines, fuel cells... and the list could continue. But one way to describe all of these options would be as "emerging technologies."

So what's the difference between an emerging technology, such as a "fuel cell" or a "microturbine" and, old technology, such as a boiler? Well... I think this is one way to put it (but please correct me, if I'm wrong... I'm not an expert on this stuff... I just try to listen at the meetings and then give a recap here)...

- boilers generate excess heat and lose it to the air;
- microturbines generate excess heat, but capture it and could use that heat to warm the pool water; and
- fuel cells not only generate excess heat, but also generate electricity and can capture both... and use both.

So how can the Town move forward on such projects? Well, with the new technologies on the market and with grant funding available for some of these technologies, a discussion should happen... not only with the Energy Commission, but with the Council and the voters.

We could probably all stand to learn a bit more about these emerging technologies... the field is vast. Just today, I heard this story about "clean coal" on NPR. And I think NPR said it'll be having a story everyday for a few weeks on a new type of emerging technology in clean energy. (Again... that's only clean energy... not new technologies that make old, dirty energy more efficient.) So my point is simple... if you're concerned about $3 gas, there are people actively engaged in finding alternatives. And if you have the time, then you may want to research this stuff a bit. Tell a friend. Heck... I bet that at least a few people are going to make a LOT of money off these new technologies. I'm sure that alone could get some people interested enough to begin researching this stuff... Anyway... enough commentary from me.

Energy Star

The Energy Commission discussed and recommended that the Council participate in a nationwide program called "Energy Star." And if you've bought appliances lately, you probably know something of this program already. The idea is basically to get people conserving energy.

When all was said and done, the EC recommended the Town join this nationwide program which is intended to get the Town to be more energy-conscious and conserve when possible. However, before voting, I pointed out an article that was in a recent edition of SmartMoney magazine. The article highlighted significant flaws with the Energy Star rating program. Nonetheless, I do think this program is worthwhile and hope that the Council gets involved with it.

Here is the main webpage describing government involvement with Energy Star.

20% by 2010

Clean Energy signup form ... 'nuff said. Sign up! OR

perhaps you'd like to save some money on your electric bill by clicking here.

If you're curious about the cost differential... one way to look at this is by comparing each rate against the "TSO" rate that you'll find on your CL&P bill. The Levco rate should be below the TSO rate and the clean energy rate will be a premium ($0.011/kWh) on top of the TSO rate. Add up the difference, then multiply by the typical number of kWh that you use.

Tim White
Town Council, Energy Commission Liaison

Saturday, April 22, 2006

DC Politics

This CNN link and this other link certainly leave me with the feeling that the "culture of corruption" campaign may give way to a "question of credibility" campaign this fall. I simply don't understand why some of our elected officials do some of the things they do. Regardless, my thinking (as of today) is that this fall's congressional campaigns will be a vote on the congressional candidates, not on Jack Abramoff.

As for the race for the US Senate, Joe Lieberman may be facing real trouble within his own Democratic party. I found this link detailing his most recent "approval ratings" on Connecticut Local Politics. As well, if you're interested, you may want to attend the Cheshire Republican Town Committee meeting this month (Thurs April 27, 7:30pm @ Town Hall). I believe that one of the declared Republican candidates (Alan Schlesinger) will be giving a brief stump speech. And I imagine he'll be available for questions. Or you can check out his website.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Friday, April 21, 2006

Open Forum

Well… there’s several things that have been in the news this week. I think the legislature’s bill to curb underage drinking in private residences has received the most press. Not only is it mentioned in the Herald this week, but the town participated in a nationwide alcohol awareness forum last month. Here is the Herald's take on this story. (The NH Register has an article too, but I'm having difficulty adding that link here.)

April 22 is Earth Day. Here’s the Register’s take on (one of my favorite topics...) the juncture of energy and the environment. (And remember… being environmentally friendly does not necessarily cost money!) In Cheshire there are a number of events taking place. For information please contact Suzanne Simone, Cheshire Environmental Planner, at 271-6670 or

There’s a petition going around Cheshire advocating for Senior Tax Relief. Here's a story on it. The petition started several months ago after the Council voted on Senior Tax Relief.

Another topic in the news again are the barite mines.

And finally... yes... the Sox lost to Tampa last night, but... has '04 Schilling returned? 4-0? Red Sox Nation has got to be pretty happy about that.

Anything else going on?

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Monday, April 17, 2006

Energy Crunch?

About a year ago I read a quote from a FERC (Federal Energy Regulation Commission) spokesman. He said that CT was headed toward the same energy crunch that California had faced the year before. Remember the stories of their rolling brownouts?

Well, I just read this NH Register article and wanted to mention it. Energy is a real serious issue and it's not just the price of gas at the pump. It's far greater than that. And not that I'm an expert, but I think this article does a pretty good job of shedding some light on this complex issue.

And since I do follow "energy" quite a bit, here are some of my thoughts on what you can do as a consumer to help avert a possible energy crunch:

1) Reduce your electric rate - not really averting anything, but here's a website where you can save money on your home electric bill (I used this company for a while and was perfectly happy with them, but then switched to clean energy). Perhaps you could use Levco (I don't recall if there are other suppliers available) as your supplier, then steer some of your savings to 3) below;

2) Buy clean energy - one way to view energy is in terms of "distribution and generation," and while this clean energy option doesn't directly address distribution, it does increase diversification of generation sources and also helps the environment... but this comes at a premium ($0.011/kWh)

3) Increase your home's energy-efficiency - Buy "Energy Star" products for your home... from refrigerators to light bulbs, there are all sorts of ways for you to save money in the long run. It costs a bit more upfront, but you'll probably save more than those upfront costs, over the life of an Energy Star product. Here's one website where you can buy some Energy Star products. But you can also find energy efficient light bulbs at almost any retailer that sells regular light bulbs.

4) Commuting rideshares - Another way to consider saving both money and energy is this commuter website. It puts people together to find rideshares. And with gas looking like it's headed north of $3/gallon by Memorial Day, I suspect many people are going to be looking for ways to reduce how much gas they use.

5) Improved gas mileage - If you're thinking about buying a new car... consider a Hybrid. I believe the April '06 edition of Consumer Reports has a review of current models... including a favorable view on the Civic hybrid that I should finally be picking up... within a week or so. I was told that (based on costs) Consumer Reports only recommended one other hybrid, the Toyota Prius. But I haven't seen the issue yet.

6) Home energy audit - By finding out where your house is leaking hot or cold air through an energy audit, you can fix the problem areas and save both energy and money. Here's a website that should be able to provide names of some companies that perform energy audits.

7) Invest in solar panels - no, not the water heating solar panels from the 70s, but the new photovoltaic arrays (PVs) of today. (PVs generate electricity.) Here's a program where your state tax dollars are at work... buy some PVs and get money back from the state. Or get your tax dollars back from the federal gov't. According to my calculation, a $15,000 investment for your house may receive back $9,500. And another nice thing is that, if you get a battery, you could have electricity, even during power outages. And here's one more website of possible interest.

Anyway... just some thoughts on what each of us can do as individuals to try to save money and avert a possible energy crunch.

Tim White
Town Council, Liaison to the Energy Commission

Friday, April 14, 2006

Campaign finances

March 31 was a campaign finance reporting deadline for, I believe, both state and federal campaigns. If you're curious to learn more about who gets money from whom, or how much money has been raised by the candidates, check out these websites:

state campaigns
federal campaigns (This is only federal for CT, but I feel it is a bit easier to navigate and this link starts at 06410.)

What I find curious are the 06410 donations seen flowing to Lieberman, but none to Lamont. I'm guessing that Lamont contributions may be below the $200 reporting minimum. As well, I didn't notice any contributions yet to Alan Schlessinger or Paul Streitz, the two declared Republican candidates for the US Senate. For more info on the US Senate race, check out this blog: Connecticut Local Politics

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Budget Adoption 4/11

The Council adopted the 06/07 operating budget tonight. There were several votes, but the crux of the vote was 6-3 (Altieri, Ecke, Esty, Hall, Visconti, White in favor; Orsini, Ruocco, Schrumm opposed). As I said during the meeting, in an effort to reduce costs, spending and taxes, I made a motion. My motion was the single biggest reduction to the spending, costs and taxes offered in any amendment this evening. It was no surprise to me (nor probably anyone else in town) when my motion failed, 8-1.

By considering a $400,000 reduction in the pool subsidy and a $200,000 reduction in the education budget, I feel I was the only person who had a serious interest in further reducing spending. Although, when we voted on the pool budget, that motion passed 7-2 (White, Ruocco opposed). So I want to give credit to Tom Ruocco for having voted for what I consider to be a common sense cost reduction... the $416,400 pool subsidy is simply too high.

The spending increase in this budget: 4.37%
The tax increase in this budget: 1.88%
The mill rate increase in this budget: 0.50 mills (26.65 to 27.15)

I certainly wish that I could have found some more support for, what I consider to be, my very reasonable requests for tax & spending reductions. But with the exception of Tom Ruocco agreeing with me on the pool budget vote, I didn't feel much love tonight (or last night when I made other suggestions) for serious, thoughtful tax & spending reductions. (Although, again, in fairness to Elizabeth Esty, she was supportive on at least one significant budget change that I suggested last night. And it could have a long-term positive effect for the taxpayers.)

Budget articles online: the Herald and the Record-Journal. (I can't find the Wtby paper or Register articles online.)

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Monday, April 10, 2006

Final Budget mtg 4/10

We had the final meeting tonight for the 06/07 operating budget. As usual, the big question was the education budget. But there were other items discussed, such as reinstating Mixville lifeguards. And we adjusted some other items in the budget. The one thing that left me a bit perplexed was the seeming lack of support for reducing costs. Other people may have a different take on this, but it seemed as though David Schrumm and I were the only people talking about specific budget reductions (unrelated to education). Actually, as I think about this, Elizabeth Esty also talked about some specific budget reductions.

There was one suggestion for a general reduction, but no specific line items were suggested. I understand this approach with the school budget, but does anyone feel this is appropriate for the Town budget?

Finally, if the numbers stand as currently proposed, the Council will adopt a budget which increases spending by, I believe, around 4.3%. And, due to a lot of good fortune on the revenue side, a tax increase of, I believe, 1.9% or so. Nonetheless, I still think we could trim spending further. And as I've been saying, I think the Pool is the perfect place to start. I'll have to see if I can garner any support tomorrow for reductions in spending on the Pool.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lieberman (D) or (I) ?

Apparently, our junior US Senator is considering running with or without the Democratic nomination this fall. Check out this Fox61 report. Such a run would certainly put an interesting twist on the November elections. As well, I heard Jodi Rell's most recent approval rating increased from 81% to 84%.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Friday, April 07, 2006

Weekend Open Forum

Although I was unable to attend, it seems as though the Alcohol Awareness Forum ( was beneficial. I'm a believer that discussion is good.... the town's operating budget will likely be adopted next Tuesday, along with the sewer budget and the pool budget. My guess is that the sewer budget will be the only budget to pass without much of any comment from the Council.

Anything else happening?

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Thursday, April 06, 2006

News Crews Everywhere

I work in Bridgeport and saw the Presidential motorcade go by today: 22 cars/SUVs and a half dozen motorcycles or so. I-95 was shutdown completely. I didn't watch The President's whole event on TV, but saw some and thought he made one very good point about healthcare. He felt a good example of how competition can benefit American healthcare was "Lasik eye surgery." His point was that over the past several years, Lasik has proliferated and simultaneously, services have improved and costs have dropped. Would this hold true for other aspects of healthcare? I'm not sure. But the premise makes sense to me. Any counterpoints on this? (articles from some of the local papers:,

Then as I was driving home from the budget meeting tonight, I saw a TV news truck in front of CHS. They were there for ongoing investigations of threats of violence. Scary stuff. (check this out:; and scroll down to "video headlines.")

And, finally, while there weren't any news crews around for this one last bit, I did sell my car today. So I continue to move ahead on that front. Hopefully I'll have my brand-spankin new Civic Hybrid in less than two weeks. ( Love to plug the hybrids!

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Budget mtg 4/5

We had another budget meeting tonight. The two main topics of discussion were healthcare benefits and budget adjustments. And although I could follow the discussion on bene's, I'm not even going to begin explaining it here. I'd do it no justice. I think the main thing here was that there seemed to be consensus among both staff and council members present that another $408,000 could be removed from this line item. (I believe this number is currently about $10,000,000 or so of the $87,000,000 proposed budget.)

Other budget adjustments discussed included:
1) $200,000 use of the general fund;
2) $25,000 in estimated conveyance tax "revenue." (As a taxpayer, I hate using that word... but it is used fairly commonly... so I accept it.);
3) $10,000 in Park & Rec fees;
4) $7,000 in police fees (false alarm fees and such, not speeding tickets... all that money goes directly to The State.)
5) $125,000 in investment income; and
6) $235,000 in state PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Tax) money (this is money received from the taxpayers VIA the State Government for non-profit / non-taxable properties, such as the prison and Legionnairies).

So adding these to the bene's adjustment and the proposed budget increase is reduced $1,010,000. And for anyone who's counting, that adjustment moves the proposed 3.75% tax increase down 0.40 mills to 2.25%. And that's a start, but I still think we need to cut spending.

So where do we cut? Well, I think the pool is a perfect place to start. That's why town staff is working on some different cost-saving scenarios for me. Again, I doubt my idea will go anywhere with the Council (based on my own straw poll of the Council), but I still think it ought to happen.

As for cutting the school budget, I'm not sure what will happen with that. I hope there are some cuts. As I pointed out in one of my earliest posts on this blog, the BOE budget has fluff.

So it seems as though we, the taxpayers, may get a bit of a breather this year for a number of reasons and get a tax hike below 2% (let's keep our fingers crossed). But my sentiments are the same as they have been in the past. Each of the past two years I've stated that I'd like spending to be lower and taxes to be lower. But if you can't find five votes for something, it won't happen.

Anyway, considering the services (town side) that are being offered, I think a tax increase below 2% would be a decent attempt at the proverbial balancing act.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

GOP Primary Aug 8?

Could there be a Republican Primary in the offing in the 89th General Assembly district? Here's some voter demographics on the 89th:

Bethany: 1100 R; 800 D; 1800 Unaffiliated (~3750 reg'd voters)
Cheshire: 1263 R; 1257 D; 2923 U (~5450 registered voters)
Prospect: 1751 R; 1144 D; 2911 U (~5800 registered voters)

These numbers of registered voters vary both in source and in date, but I believe they are fairly accurate. So the percentage of the 89th district that is represented by each of the towns (Bethany, Cheshire & Prospect) is approximately 25%, 36% & 38%, respectively.

So why am I throwing my hat in the ring? Well, with the cost of living and taxes in CT going out of control, I felt the need to get more involved. But for more information on how this race may be shaping up, check out the Meriden paper (, by Caroline Porter) or see (, by Kristen Malinowski) in the Cheshire Herald.

I certainly think August 8th (CT primary day) could be an interesting day. I'm not sure if the DeStefano/Malloy battle is headed all the way to Aug 8, but I'm pretty sure the Lamont/Lieberman rumble is headed there. And with our incumbent Senator concerned about getting his party's nomination, I imagine even the most apolitical Nutmeggers are going to be aware that some sort of election is going on that day. I can only imagine the amount of radio and TV ads that are going to be purchased and aired leading up to that day.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District (and State Rep. Candidate)

Public Hearing 4/4

So we had the public hearing tonight. It went fairly smoothly. Many of my friends who like to keep an eye on spending spoke in favor of reducing spending. And while education took a bit of a tongue-lashing (is Jewelry & Enameling really worth the cost??), there were several other items repeatedly criticized without getting much of any public support:

1) Barn... boy are people upset about this. Frankly though, I can't see the Council spending money on this.
2) Turf... not mentioned much, but I also have serious doubts about this thing coming to fruition... at least this year.
3) Pool... mentioned frequently and with ire. I'm not sure what will happen with this. Although I have asked the Town Manager to provide me with different cost saving scenarios. The proposed $416,000 subsidy is still too high. I wonder if four members of the Council will agree with me on this? I tend to doubt it.

My main concern though continues to be the lack of transparency provided by the Board of Education. And if you're interested in my concerns, you may want to either attend the next Council meeting or watch it on TV (April 11, 7:30pm). I have a feeling that I'm going to be very, very frank in offering my opinion of our Board of Ed. As I said in an earlier post... the BOE is doing a disservice to our kids, to the taxpayers and to the Superintendent.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Open Forum Apr 04, 06

Trying a new concept here... the public hearing on the budget is tonight (Town Hall, 7pm)... the Energy Commission is getting involved with a group (see called "Clean Cities." It's an org dedicated to moving vehicles to clean(er) fuels and more efficient vehicles. Anything else going on?
Tim White, Town Council, 4th District,