Wednesday, February 28, 2007

ND proposal gaining support

The proposal for the northend is gaining support. Earlier today, two groups voted in favor of moving the process forward.

First the Economic Development Commission unanimously endorsed the idea of considering changes to the northend (6-0-1). EDC members voting in support were Dave Pelletier (Chairman, R), Bea Fiorino (R), Kathleen Gannon (D), Arthur Hostage (D), Brian Miller (D) and Bob Occialini (R). Lelah Campo (R) was absent.

Then the Government Relations Committee of the Chamber of Commerce voted (10-1) in favor of the considering changes to the northend. Jim Miele and Jon Lesky co-chaired the meeting and both voted in favor of the proposal.

I didn't go to either meeting, so can't add many details... including the exact wording of either motion. But perhaps one of you went? I'm curious to hear more about both meetings.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Letter opposing surge

I know I mentioned this letter before, but I just found a list of area legislators who signed the "troop surge" opposition letter... and as I was guessing, opposition to the surge fell largely along party lines.

Area Democrats signing the letter were Dono­van, Reps. Catherine F. Abercrombie, Joseph Aresimowicz, Bruce Zalaski, John Mazurek, Emil A. Altobello Jr., Mary M. Mushinsky, Mary G. Fritz and Vickie O. Nardello and Sen. Thomas P. Gaffey. Some Republicans were asked to sign the let­ter, Donovan said, but they declined. (MRJ)
As I've mentioned here before, I'm no fan of the surge. But I can't help but wonder... among these people "opposing the surge,"

1) Who believes we're in Iraq largely because of oil?
2) Who has taken real action at the state level to reduce our dependence on foreign oil?

Tim White

Top 100 music towns

Cheshire has been named one of America's "Best 100 Communities for Music Education" for 2007 (amc-music.org).

And while I took piano lessons with Mrs. Yaroah (over on Hawthorne Drive) when I went to Norton, I don't really consider myself a member of the music community in Cheshire. (lol!) So I'd just like to say congratulations to all of you who are involved in the music community in Cheshire.

Tim White

h/t to Emma's Dad!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Middletown turf rejected

Just today, liberal-leaning Middletown "rejected a $2.33 million plan for eight soccer fields off Country Club and Long Hill roads by a 1,477 to 934 tally" (Courant, by Josh Kovner).

I think the cost of living and taxes are having an effect on voters statewide. First seen in our rejection of the linear park, it's now being displayed elsewhere around the state in the rejection of "non-necessary" spending... including, IMO, recreation and probably open space too.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Green buildings

With residential development being considered for the northend, I hope W/S thinks green. (Although, as I've mentioned before, I tend to doubt the residential happens.)

Here's a Courant article on a Bethany household with a green design. The basic idea is that green households are not only going mainstream because of environmental concerns, but also because they are cost-effective. This article mentions that houses are being built for $130/ft2. And for a 2,000 ft2 house, that would be $260,000 + land... and that's in the ballpark for a typical Cheshire household, I think. AND you get to save money on your electric bill over the long run.... then if we can just convince the developer to build their own mini power plant (even if for only the retail part)... fuel cells, windmills... doesn't matter to me. hmmm... ok... I guess I don't want to get to far ahead of myself....

Tim White
Town Council, Energy Commission liaison

Middletown turf

Middletown is voting on a referendum question today (Courant).

Opponents and supporters of the measure agree that the Middletown Youth Soccer Association, where 1,200 kids play their organized ball, needs more fields. In fact, the soccer association began building the fields itself, but the project lagged when the money ran thin.

Now, with the city proposing to complete the project and take over control of the fields, the issue becomes one of cost....

The soccer league began developing what would have been eight grass fields on the city-owned land last year, but wavered after anticipated grants from state and federal soccer organizations fell through. The league had raised $200,000 and had use of $400,000 from a voter-approved open space fund, but couldn't afford to finish the complex on its own.
Assuming Cheshire continues down the path of working with CYB, perhaps CYB could establish some sort of mechanism to return donated funds. That way we would at least have that as an option, rather than being left with a similar situation... asking the voters to finish the project.

Don't get me wrong. I like the idea of private funding for fields (especially for turf!), but having options is always a good thing.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

I'm just a bill

Boy: Woof! You sure gotta climb a lot of steps to get to this Capitol Building here in Washington. But I wonder who that sad little scrap of paper is?

I'm just a bill.
Yes, I'm only a bill.
And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill.
Well, it's a long, long journey
To the capital city.
It's a long, long wait
While I'm sitting in committee,
But I know I'll be a law someday
At least I hope and pray that I will,
But today I am still just a bill.
Schoolhouserock.tv

So how does a bill become a law in CT?

Well this bill (5113, LCO 11) is an example (click the bold face to see the actual bill):

AN ACT AUTHORIZING BONDS OF THE STATE FOR CHESHIRE HIGH SCHOOL.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

That the State Bond Commission be empowered to authorize the issuance of bonds of the state in accordance with section 3-20 of the general statutes, in principal amounts not exceeding in the aggregate eight hundred fifty thousand dollars, the proceeds of which shall be used by the Department of Education for the purpose of providing a grant to the town of Cheshire for the renovation of the sports and band complex at Cheshire High School, including the installation of synthetic turf.


Just yesterday, this bill got referred from the Education Committee to the Finance Committee. And so this bill is not just "sitting in committee."

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Energy Commission 2/26

The Energy Commission met tonight. As usual, there was lots of stuff on the agenda. Some items of interest...

1) the pool report - I was rather annoyed to learn that the pool consultant has not yet met with the energy commission, nor even scheduled a meeting... despite my repeated requests. And they're set to report within a week or two.

2) fuel cells - CT Clean Energy Fund is currently reviewing proposals... look for an announcement during April, either on grant recipients or just proposals that make it to the next round... not sure which.

3) CCM aggregation of town/school energy purchases - the desire is simply to ensure we, the taxpayers, get the most bang for our buck. So we want to make sure the schools and town coordinate on this. For background, this concern/idea probably came to light most recently as a result of the Town entering into a long-term electricity purchasing agreement with CCM. (So, in other words, we're buying our "generation" from CCM... while the "transmission" is still provided by CL&P.) However, the schools are not included in this agreement. So I think the EC wants to make to sure that "the right hand talks to the left hand."

4) Public library window replacement - these windows were getting replaced for a number of reasons. But the EC is going to try to calculate the estimated cost savings for the windows, in turn determining a payback period.

5) Energy Star / benchmarking portfolio manager - work in process, but we need this data to do various cost analyses on projects to determine their value and to prioritize the projects. I think the holdup on this project is "institutionalizing the program." Thing is, it was a volunteer EC member who did this up until he resigned and moved out of town in October. Now we're trying to get this done by town staff... shouldn't be real time consuming. Maybe an hour or two per month... just entering kWh/building to a website... but the data could be immensely helpful in prioritizing energy efficiency projects.

6) 20% by 2010 - Cheshire has 171 households signed up for clean energy. There was a discussion on how to spend a recently received $5,000 grant for promotion of clean energy... I think we should spend it all on newspaper advertising! haha... just checking to see if the newspapers are paying attention!

7) biodiesel in town trucks - we've been using B5 for about a month now and have had no problems. We're hoping to switch to B20 by springtime. I also mentioned my desire to get our school buses using biodiesel, but mentioned that I began that discussion about a year ago... and have made no progress. However, if you think biodiesel in our school buses is a good (or bad) idea, maybe you should contact the schools yourself. And here's one person you could contact: Greg at gflorio@cheshirect.org

8) An Inconvenient Truth - There was discussion about getting the EC to air this again. I mentioned that Diane Visconti and I had discussed doing just such a thing. So I think this may happen... and before anyone jumps all over me about this... the idea is for discussion purposes. I haven't seen the whole movie, nor analyzed much to do with it. But similar to our discussion here on the northend, I think a discussion can often elevate the dialogue... and that alone could make this worthwhile.

9) ESCOs for townwide energy project - ESCO = Energy Services Company... my hope is that the town issues an RFP for ESCOs to propose a townwide energy plan.

Tim White
Town Council, Energy Commission liaison

Monday, February 26, 2007

WRA on northend

This WRA article does a good job explaining much of the debate on northend development. And while the views of Councilman David Schrumm and the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce and former Councilman, Sheldon Dill, may not be new to any readers of this blog... Mike Puffer adds views from some CT-based economists to the debate, including an economist opposing new retail in CT:

Fred Carstensen, director of the Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut, believes the state has spawned as much retail as it can absorb. The jobs and property taxes created by new shopping centers will cannibalize the jobs and property value lost at the stores that succumb to competition or move into the new plazas, he said. "I defy anybody who promotes retail development to show me how this can possibly create new jobs," Carstensen said. "Are people going to borrow on their houses to buy more food? Are people going to start wearing more clothes?"
And here's an economist supporting new retail in CT:
Steven Lanza, another UConn economics professor, isn't so certain the state is overwhelmed with retail. With the decline of manufacturing, hanging onto industrial zones established decades ago may be a "pipe dream," he said. "I don't think that means we will become a state of shopkeepers," he said. "It means we are going to be seeing jobs in lots of other sectors of the economy."
Today's WRA also has this article about some Watertown P&Z Commission members who are recusing themselves from the vote on their proposed retail development because of the appearance of potential conflicts.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Busting the spending cap

This WRA editorial is a must-read for anyone who believes the proposed state budget is a good one. It's a nice reminder of what has happened in CT over the past 15 years since the spending cap was supported by 81% of Nutmeggers. Some excerpts from the editorial:

The Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at UConn came into existence in 1992, coincidentally the year taxpayers got fed up with runaway bust-and-boom budget cycles and overwhelmingly approved a constitutional spending cap.

This coincidence is noteworthy because Fred Carstensen, the center's director, is hot for blowing up the cap to accommodate billions in new spending proposed by his boss, "Republican" Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Writing recently for a Connecticut newspaper without acknowledging his dog in the fight, he said he believes the cap is too tight and was never intended to stay in place this long, the expressed wishes of voters notwithstanding. More stunning than those assertions was his claim that "Connecticut has been enormously disciplined in its spending for the past 15 years."


If the goal was to break the bank, tax to the max and thwart the will of voters, then the state has been enormously disciplined in achieving those goals. What state does Mr. Carstensen live in? Euphoria?

The editorial is scathing... and rightfully so. With $36billion in underfunded postretirement benefits (among other ills), how can anyone in their right mind make such an assertion?

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Sunday, February 25, 2007

This afternoon

Just got this email from the Town Manager:

Council Members, The Police are currently on the scene of a domestic incident that occurred at a house on Norton Lane(off of Cheshire St near Meriden Rd.) Around noon today about shots were fired in the house and then there was silence. Two teenagers, who were relatives of the shooter, witnessed the incident and escaped unharmed. It appears a man shot two of his relatives ,both women, and then might have also shot himself.There is likely one, and maybe addtional fatalities.The Police Special Response Team is gaining access to the house at this time and is being provided with some special camera equipment from the State Police.When I have more information I will transmit it.-Michael A. Milone

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Passions run high

This past week, the following memo was emailed to me:

TO: Town Council Members
Planning & Zoning Commission Members

FROM: Michael A. Milone, Town Manager

SUBJECT: Town Planner Bill Voelker - professional membership


Recently a local newspaper reporter confronted me with information that was given to this reporter from an anonymous source, indicating that Town Planner William Voelker is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and that S. R. Weiner and Associates, Inc. are also members of this organization.

Given the implication of conflict that was made by the individual who provided this information to the reporter, I asked Bill to explain the ICSC organization and the role played by its numerous and varied public sector members. I have attached Bill’s letter of explanation since I feel it is important to share this information with you to dispel any rumors, misunderstandings or misrepresentation of the facts.

In addition, you should know that Bill disclosed his participation in this and other professional organizations during his application process for his position as Town Planner.

I do not believe Bill’s membership in ICSC represents a conflict, nor does it compromise the Town’s Planning and Zoning process. In fact, Bill’s involvement in this organization provides a benefit to the Town.


And here is the text of the letter from Bill Voelker to Michael Milone:

Dear Michael:

The International Council of Shopping Centers is a non-profit professional trade association with more that 65,000 members worldwide. Of these, approximately 4,000 members are from the public sector including planners, economic development officials, city managers, mayors, and members of local boards and commissions.

ICSC has relationships with several local government related organizations and associations including the International City/County Management Association, the International Economic Development Council, the International Downtown Association, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The ICSC Alliance Program was established in 1997 to explore ways to encourage public officials to become familiar with the intricacies of the shopping center industry and to initiate dialogue and develop working relationships between developers, retailers, brokers, lenders, and local government officials. The Alliance Program achieves this through educational and networking opportunities at regional Alliance meetings.

I have been a member of ICSC for approximately ten years. I have co-chaired and have been a moderator at many Connecticut Alliance Program events. In 2006, I was named the Eastern Division Alliance Co-Chair. There are four such divisions, each with co-chairs from both public and private sectors. All of us are volunteers.

The panels that I have moderated included a variety of topics. A few of these are: “Economic Development Strategies for Smaller Communities – Back to the Basics”, September 2003, “Guess Who’s Coming to Your Town- A discussion of market analyses, small business assessment, and niche identification”, November, 2005, and “It’s Not Easy Being Green….Or Is It? – A discussion of the myths and misconceptions of building green and why it is and can be of benefit to developers, retailers, and municipalities.”, November 2006.

The ICSC membership has been very beneficial to my professional development and has given me a body of knowledge and expertise that could not be obtained anywhere else. A substantial portion of the economic base of this community is made of commercial enterprises that pay taxes and provide employment. Those businesses and the Planning and Zoning Commission that regulates them will continue to have the full benefit of that knowledge and expertise.

Very truly yours,

William S. Voelker, AICP
Town Planner


This whole episode is disturbing to me. It seems as though passions are running so high on "northend development" that some people in opposition to this proposed project are beginning to act irrationally and illogically.

Why do I say that?

I say that because the suggestion that "membership in an organization represents a conflict of interest" is absurd.

For instance, if the SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission) or the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) considered making new rules that would have an impact on CPA/accounting firms, then should SEC/FASB employees (who are CPAs) be allowed to provide advice to the SEC/FASB decision makers?

Of course they should be allowed to provide advice. If they are barred from advising on new rules, you're removing a lot of the knowledge and insight from the process.

I'm not certain who called which reporter and tried to "push" this story, but the individual is clearly passionate about stopping this northend development... passionate to the point of being irrational and illogical.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

p.s. With regard to the aformentioned "anonymous" source, I want to remind people that if you feel an "anonymous" post here is inappropriate, please tell me and I will consider deleting it. However, I'm not a journalist and do not purport to be one. So I don't feel that every comment here needs to be credited to someone.

Rather, I'm just trying to provide this blog as something of a community service... sometimes to provide information... sometimes to ask for advice... and also to simply hear your thoughts on various topics, in turn elevating the dialogue... all the while though, keep in mind that many of the anonymous posters should be taken with a grain of salt... at least that's how I treat them.

Longer school day

Some schools around the US are considering extending the school day.

On average, U.S. students go to school 6.5 hours a day, 180 days a year, fewer than in many other industrialized countries, according to a report by the Education Sector, a Washington-based think tank.
The AP reports (By NANCY ZUCKERBROD and MELISSA TRUJILLO)
While Massachusetts is leading in putting in place the longer-day model, lawmakers in Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and Washington, D.C., also have debated whether to lengthen the school day or year.
Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Risks in Iraq

With increased talk of withdrawing our troops from Iraq (see this WRA article, by George Krimsky, on ideas offered by Chris Murphy last night in Washington, CT), I've grown a bit frustrated with... what appears to me to be... the usual partisan rhetoric coming out of Washington.

By that I mean, on one side, I hear people say that America "can't referee a civil war." While on the other side, I hear people say that "we must kill the terrorists who are trying to kill us."

I tend to agree with both sides. But my main concern is the terrorists. (Btw, I've heard reports that approx. 5-6% of the people in Iraq are either terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.) So I'm trying to figure out... what has the intelligence community's assessment been (not on sectarian violence but) on terrorist activities if the US withdraws?

Googling the internet, I think the best (recent) answer I could find is from the Feb 15, 2007 Washington Post (by Walter Pincus) article discussing the Feb 2 "National Intelligence Estimate."

The estimate judged that rapid withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq would "almost certainly" increase sectarian violence, intensify Sunni resistance, possibly cause the Iraqi Security Forces to dissolve and allow al-Qaeda to seek a sanctuary to plan attacks inside and outside the country....

On Feb. 2, the day the estimate was released, President Bush's national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, told reporters that the document showed that "an American withdrawal or stepping back now would be a prescription for fast failure and a chaos that would envelop not only Iraq, but also the region, and could potentially, by giving al-Qaeda a safe haven in Iraq, result in risk and threats to the United States."

So I'm wondering, since terrorists are known to plan and execute their operations on both British and US soil, what is the difference between the US and an Iraqi "sanctuary" or "safe haven?"

Tim White

Friday, February 23, 2007

Advertising on town property

The city of Norwalk is getting paid to allow advertising on its trash cans.

Creative Outdoor Advertising will provide, maintain, empty and, if needed, cut grass around the 6-foot-long containers for free.In exchange, the firm will sell advertising space on the containers and give the city about $10 a month for each (Norwalk Advocate, by Matt Breslow).
Several times over the past few years, I've suggested the town sell advertising space on town property... in an effort to offset costs and taxes. For instance, why not rent advertising space at the pool or at ballfields? (Although I don't think it would be appropriate to place advertisements on our police cars.)

What do you think about selling advertising space on town property?

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Watertown development

I haven't had the time to read this entire story (WRA, by Jonathan Shugarts) yet, but thought it may be of interest. However, I did notice something about the proposed Watertown developer (Konover) offering to pay for sports fields. (boy... I wonder if that starts a conversation?)

And here's this week's Herald article (by Leslie Hutchison) on our own proposed development.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

RTC & Caligiuri

The Cheshire Republican Town Committee met tonight. The discussion was lively, including both the northend and the Governor's proposed budget. As you could guess, there was no clear consensus within the RTC on the northend... look no further than the Council vote a few weeks ago. However, there was a pretty clear consensus on the proposed state budget. Needless to say, rank'n'file Republicans, including me, are none too pleased. I personally encouraged Steve Carroll to publicly speak, as RTC Chairman, in opposition to the proposal.

I was expecting all of that though. What I didn't expect was to hear Sam Caligiuri say that the proposed budget was "fundamentally wrong for our economy," then expand on what he meant. Wow.

That may not seem like much to you, but as a sitting State Senator, I'm sure it means something to the "powers that be" in Hartford. As well, he's just a damn good speaker... articulate and succinct... he knows how to make a point diplomatically and avoid infuriating others. I appreciate that. I feel it helps to avert a lot of unnecessary partisan bickering between parties.

Anyway, my pleasant surprise this evening was a reminder of why I wanted Sam Caligiuri to win last November... regardless of his views... he cares, he's thoughtful and he presents himself extremely well.

Tim White

p.s. I gather the CRTC currently has no website up and running... I had been asking about that and got an answer tonight. Anyway, that's why there's no link to the left.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Murphy on oil

I imagine most of us in Cheshire got this flyer this week:

Aside from the always upsetting "this mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense" disclaimer, I did find the letter interesting. It mentioned that he'll be holding some "town hall meetings" around the district. That's a good thing.

But my concern is what I highlighted in blue and circled. The very first question reads "How important do you believe it is for Congress to focus on ending America's dependence on foreign oil by investing in alternative energy?"

That's a bit of a misleading question. Thing is, I've seen several different, expert sources assert that, based on current technology, America could not offset more than 10% of our oil consumption with homegrown biocrops.

Of course, the key words are "current technology." However, if we can achieve the improvements in technology and make our use of biocrops more efficient, then Congressman Murphy's question might be fair. But until science achieves those efficiencies, that question is a bit misleading... although, I'm sure it was unintended.

Nonetheless, I think most of our elected officials (myself included) could probably use a good full day crash course in transportation energy. At that point, officials would recognize that questions like this are, at best, predicated on hypothetical technological advances.

However, we live in the real world, not a hypothetical world.

And what is the "real world?" Well, a good place to start in understanding my view is the Energy Security Leadership Council's recommendations to America on reducing consumption of foreign oil. In their fairly extensive report, they give real guidance on what America could do today and over the next 25 years. And while their recommendations include an increased use of biofuels, it also includes increased domestic drilling/production... and it still estimates that 30-50% of our oil consumption will be from foreign sources!

In the meantime, I hope all of our elected officials will begin to acknowledge that alternative fuels are not a "cure all" by any means. Rather, they ought to be considered a component of a comprehensive energy plan... a plan which will probably not come to fruition without the American people on board... and to get the American people on board, we need to have an educated, frank discussion... a discussion which can include (fully disclosed) hypotheticals," but not be predicated on (undisclosed) hypotheticals.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Bisbort on northend

I received this letter today in the mail from Cheshire resident, Alan Bisbort. And since he took the time to write it, I felt it deserved a front page post. And for background... I do recall someone posting a comment with his name. But I believe I deleted it as soon as I saw it... that was a judgement call on my part. I just felt it was out of bounds as it was personal. Anyway... the following is Alan Bisbort's response to a recent anonymous posting...

"Dear Anonymous,

You find the fact that I exercise my freedom of speech and voice my opinions "distasteful"? That's really strange and, dare I say it, un-American, because it is one of the underpinnings of our Constitution. Yes, I oppose the "lifestyle center" in the north end. Yes, I am a citizen of Cheshire. Yes, I have just as much a right to voice my opinion as you do, and vice versa. No, I do not have some unfair advantage just because I write for a living. You have just as much as shot at the letters to the editors section or "guest editorial" section of the Cheshire or Meriden papers as I do, and vice versa. Instead of whining about the fact that I take advantage of these things, why don't you do the same? And, by the way, I lose pay every time I come to a meeting on this mall, because I have night job. Can you say the same?

To reiterate: This lifestyle center is going to be a disaster. I don't want it in Cheshire. If you have a problem with my expressing this opinion, I suggest you stop hiding behind the "anonymity" and put your name on what you believe. I do.

You will be seeing much more on this issue, under my name, in the future. That's a guarantee.

Thank you.

Alan Bisbort

I've gotten several comments lately about the "anonymous" comments being over the top. I hope everyone can try to keep the discourse civil. Otherwise, as specific comments come to my attention, I will delete them, as I have been doing.

Gold dome leadership

Ever wonder just how many "leaders" we have "under the gold dome?" Here are the numbers:

45 of 107 House Democrats are "leaders," including my personal favorite Pat "DWI" Dillon. (House Democratic leaders should be ashamed of themselves for not removing her title.)

22 of 44 House Republicans are "leaders."

ALL 36 Senators are "leaders."

In total, 103 of 187 legislators (55.1%!!) are "leaders."

So, my question is... can anyone tell me where to find the "roles and responsibilities" for each of these positions? I'm curious to know the difference between a "deputy majority whip" and a "deputy majority whip at large." And what are the pay differentials?... since each "leadership title" comes with a few thousand dollar stipend.

And, if you were wondering... here's the roll call for our "leaders"...

2007-2008 House Democratic Caucus Leaders (45 of 107)

Speaker of the House
James A. Amann
Majority Leader
Christopher Donovan
Deputy Speakers
Emil "Buddy" Altobello, Mary Fritz, Robert Godfrey, Marie Lopez Kirkley-Bey
Assistant Deputy Speaker
Brendan Sharkey
Deputy Majority Leaders
Michael Christ, Demetrios Giannaros, Linda Orange, Walter Pawelkiewicz, Felipe Reinoso, Toni Walker
Majority Caucus Chair
John Geragosian
Deputy Majority Caucus Chair
Robert T. Keeley, Jr.
Majority Whip at Large
Louis P. Esposito
Deputy Majority Whip at Large
Minnie Gonzalez
Deputy Majority Whip
Betty Boukus, Jack Malone, Vickie Orsino Nardello
Assistant Majority Whips
Terry Backer, John “Corky” Mazurek, David McCluskey, Steve Mikutel, Melissa Olson, James O’Rourke, Patricia Widlitz
Assistant Majority Leaders
Juan Candelaria, Don Clemons, Patricia Dillon!!!, William Dyson, Gail Hamm, Joan Lewis, Robert Megna, Ted Moukawsher, Mary Mushinsky, Sandy Nafis, Tim O’Brien, Jamie Spallone, Kathy Tallarita, Peter Tercyak, John W. (Jack) Thompson, Christel H. Truglia, George Wilber, Bruce “Zeke” Zalaski

House Republican Leadership 2007-2009 (22 of 44)

Republican Leader
Lawrence F. Cafero, Jr.
Deputy Republican Leaders
William Hamzy, Themis Klarides
Deputy Republican Leader-At-Large
Richard O. Belden, Claudia “Dolly” Powers
Republican Caucus Chairman
John Harkins
Republican Whips
Ruth C. Fahrbach, John Frey, John E. Piscopo, Pamela Z. Sawyer
Assistant Republican Leaders
Antonietta "Toni" Boucher, Michael A. Caron, Mary Ann Carson, Tony D'Amelio, Richard Ferrari, Livvy Floren, Lile Gibbons, David Labriola, Selim Noujaim, John Ryan, John Stripp, David Scribner

And, again, ALL 36 Senators are "leaders."

Tim White

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Nicaragua update

I've had a few people ask me about my recent travels, so I'll try to put "pen to paper," so to speak... maybe this weekend.

Tim White

Cheshire Republican Town Committee

The Cheshire Republican Town Committee will be meeting tomorrow night (as we always do on the fourth Thursday of each month) in Town Hall at 7:30pm. No doubt the Governor's recently proposed budget will be a topic of conversation.

I'm not sure when the DTC meets, although I think it's usually in the Senior Center.

I believe the rules for both parties is that all party (not just committee) members who live in town are invited. So if you live in Cheshire and are a registered Republican, please attend, if you have the time.

Tim White

Turf in Seymour II

The NH Register ran an article today on Seymour’s proposed turf. Their Board of Selectmen just opened the three bids they received. “The proposals came from Field Turf USA, based in Montreal, which bid $765,641; Sportexe Proposals, of Ontario, which bid $797,000; and Sports Construction Group, based in Ohio, which bid $875,000.” (by Jean Falbo-Sosnovich)

I guess the $850k number being used in Cheshire may be on target. Although, with our luck, the construction company will need to dig several inches to install the turf & drainage system. And in doing so, they’ll hit ledge… which, in turn, will undoubtedly set back the project years and cost untold millions in addition to the initial $850k.

But if you’re interested in doing your own research (costs & benefits) on turf, the article mentions some other towns (besides Southbury and Wolcott) that have turf: Shelton, Trumbull, West Haven and East Haven.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Visiting Canton

This afternoon, I happened to be in Avon for work. And Avon is right next door to Canton. So I asked a few people about their thoughts on The Shoppes at Farmington Valley.

Of the three responses:

Man #1: "You can't say no to the developers because you'll get in trouble for that. But you can make them do it your way. So you need to make sure you get what you want. And the traffic has gotten worse."

Woman #1: "It's ok, but I wish they had different shops and more shops. And this is much closer than West Farms."

Woman #2: "I love it, especially around Christmas."

And one followup point... I asked woman #1 "how far is West Farms?" She giggled and somewhat red-faced said "well, it's not that far."

Then I drove the five minutes to Canton and visited the Shoppes. My overall impression was that it was nicely done.

Again though, one key ingredient in me supporting the retail component... our Town Planner, Bill Voelker, assured us that courts do not recognize precedent in land use law. That's important to me because I don't want to see the whole northend suddenly get covered with big box stores.

One other comment I heard was quite interesting. It was about wages... with all the additional retail space, this project may drive up some wages... something good for workers, but not so good for businesses... just another aspect to add to the dialogue.

And one last point of clarification to my prior post on this... the aerial view that I posted was different from the one that was given to the Council a few weeks ago. To the best of my memory, the retail was the same. But the residential was entirely different... both the Cheshire & Southington sides.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Turf in CT

The Rep-Am ran this story (by Jodie Mozdzer) on turf in CT. It mentions two area towns with turf: Wolcott and Southbury.

The most interesting comment to me was "the field ends up saving towns money in maintenance, Monroe and Woodall both said. Maintaining a grass field can cost about $30,000 to $40,000 a year, Woodall said. The turf can cost about $5,000 a year to maintain." Does anyone remember what was said about this publicly in Cheshire? I seem to recall hearing that our current annual maintenance costs were lower than that and the cost to maintain a turf field was higher. This is interesting to me because, if accurate, it begins to answer the question of "lifecycle costs," rather than just the "first cost."

Regardless, I agree with a recent comment made by Breachway about his Dodd-aged daughter getting involved in sports. "She met a new group of kids and expanded her developing social life. This is what youth sports is all about. Giving a kid a chance, thru GAMES, to increase their self esteem, make new friends, work as a team, etc." That was the main reason that I was involved in sports and other extracurriculars at the high school. Although, I also recognize that I'm probably less competitive than many people.

Tim White

Monday, February 19, 2007

Calling guest bloggers!

I've mentioned it before, but want to mention it again. If anyone is interested in writing a guest post, feel free. I'd be happy to have you... regardless of your stripes. I think the blog could really use it because I simply can't spend as much time on here as I have been spending recently.

And in an effort to make something happen, I have begun extending personal invitations to people... first the Presidential candidates (haven't heard back yet from any, except an auto-reply from Tommy Thompson), then Dave Schrumm (I thought he might want to blog on the hottest blog topic... the northend... although he's not yet sure if he's interested.), and next... I'm not sure. But if you're interested, feel free to email me. I'd be happy to have guest posts here.

Tim White

Rte 42 III

As I mentioned here, the state DOT is not exactly forthcoming with answers to my questions... particularly my question "What criteria are used in prioritizing state road projects?"

Then today the NH Register reported (by Luther Turmelle) that

Milone said someone in DOT’s engineering department has told town officials that the work won’t be done next summer because the design work for the project remains undone and the money allocated for the $2 million project was reallocated. Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo is scheduled to meet with DOT engineers within a few weeks to answer some questions that officials from the state agency have about the area, Milone said. DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick confirmed the meeting between DOT officials and representatives of the town, but was unable to provide any other information Friday about the latest delay associated with the project.
Huh? Unable to provide any other information? My letter was dated December 21 AND I've been asking the DOT about this project for two years now... yet they're unable to provide information on the latest delay?

Anyway, as I've mentioned here, at our December Council meeting I asked our state legislators to help us get answers, if necessary. And Michael Milone has been following up with them. So I'm confident we'll be getting answers shortly on how exactly the DOT prioritizes their projects. Then perhaps we can work with the DOT to avoid projects such as these where they simply throw taxpayer dollars down the toilet.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

p.s. In case I haven't mentioned it before, between the Rte 42 and the I-84 debacle, I do think people should be held accountable, including firing some people. Just today I heard the screwup on I-84 will cost $27million... can anyone confirm that? I'm not sure. But if true, IMHO, that's a sackable offense.

Spitzer on CT

OK... Elliot "Ness" Spitzer isn't talking about CT, but he is talking about NY in ways that sound all too familiar (NY Times, by Danny Hakim) to CT.

"I had supported George for the Assembly because I thought he supported reform, and I’m terribly disappointed to see both what he did, how he voted and what he has said," Mr. Spitzer said....“We’ll see what happens down the road," the governor added of Mr. Latimer. “I’m sure there are candidates out there who do support reform.
Then the article explained Spitzer's concerns...

The governor, a Democrat, has likened the behavior of lawmakers to that of the wayward financial executives he pursued as attorney general, descriptions greeted with dismay in Albany....Mr. Spitzer said on Monday that he was “trying to explain to the public what the dynamic is up in Albany.” He said it took him years to get the public to pay attention to his pursuit of Wall Street corruption, but eventually people “understood there was a fundamental unfairness to the way they as investors or employees were being taken advantage of while C.E.O.’s were being paid exorbitant salaries.” "It’s the same thing in Albany, in the sense that what you have there is a status quo mentality designed to entrench elected officials,” he added. He cited the gerrymandering of districts that has allowed incumbents to easily win re-election and discretionary spending practices that have allowed lawmakers to dole out money to their districts.

And here's a reason why I really like the NY Guv.... the NY State House Speaker, Sheldon Silver

has been trying to move past the (comptroller) issue, but the governor gave no indication on Monday that he was ready to let the matter drop. “I’ve seen his comments,” the governor said of Mr. Silver. “Let me say this: There’s some who want to say, ‘Oh, well, last week was last week. We should ignore it.’ Let me be really clear. I won’t ignore it.”
Spitzer just won't let up. He's a true believer.

And is this (inability to achieve true reform) really that different from (our legislature here) in CT?

Tim White

Music Hall of Fame

You've got to love this bill. Speaker Amann wants to create CTs own Music Hall of Fame.

I certainly agree. I mean, why focus efforts on things like fully funding the state's $35billion in underfunded postretirement benefits, when one can spend time creating a Music Hall of Fame?

I look forward to seeing who votes in favor of this bill.

Tim White

Kids in action

Here's a great example of some kids who are turning the tables on adults...

This spring, a group of civic-minded teens at Haddam-Killingworth High School is turning the tables on the adults.The Youth In Action group is creating a 30-second television ad that urges parents to stop allowing children to hold drinking parties in their homes. The "Where do you draw the line?" ad will run on the local cable-access channel this spring. (Courant, by Penelope Overton)
For more Cheshire related info on the topic of underage drinking, please visit CheshireCares.org.

Tim White
Town Council, Human Services Committee liaison

Sunday, February 18, 2007

George Washington II

Following my recent post on America's greatest president, George Washington, Councilman Matt Altieri wrote me to suggest that I mention "one of the best books on Washington and the early years of the republic Founding Brothers by Ellis." I checked the Amazon review. It states

In retrospect, it seems as if the American Revolution was inevitable. But was it? In Founding Brothers, Joseph J. Ellis reveals that many of those truths we hold to be self-evident were actually fiercely contested in the early days of the republic.

Ellis focuses on six crucial moments in the life of the new nation, including a secret dinner at which the seat of the nation's capital was determined--in exchange for support of Hamilton's financial plan; Washington's precedent-setting Farewell Address; and the Hamilton and Burr duel. Most interesting, perhaps, is the debate (still dividing scholars today) over the meaning of the Revolution. In a fascinating chapter on the renewed friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson at the end of their lives, Ellis points out the fundamental differences between the Republicans, who saw the Revolution as a liberating act and hold the Declaration of Independence most sacred, and the Federalists, who saw the revolution as a step in the building of American nationhood and hold the Constitution most dear. Throughout the text, Ellis explains the personal, face-to-face nature of early American politics--and notes that the members of the revolutionary generation were conscious of the fact that they were establishing precedents on which future generations would rely.

I haven't read the book, but this review makes it sound interesting. And here's the NHRs editorial on Washington. It quotes some of his 1797 farewell address to the Union, noting how it still rings true today. (I can't help but feel we are currently "entangled" with Saudi Arabia.)

And since it's Presidents' Day, here's one point of interest about John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, America's 2nd and 3rd presidents, respectively. Did you know they both died on July 4, 1826? The fiftieth anniversary of... oh... what was it?

Tim White

UPDATE: Dear old dad just informed me that on Feb 22, there will be a new book published, George Washington's Leadership Lessons. The authors are James Rees, executive director of Mount Vernon, and Steve Spignesi. And as you may have guessed, my dad agented the book. (As for Mount Vernon, if you've never visited, I'd highly recommend it. Although Monticello and UVA in Charlottesville were more interesting to me, architecturally at least.) And from the Amazon review "In addition to the fifteen leadership lessons, Rees includes the Rules of Civility that helped Washington initially develop the qualities of a great leader and a comprehensive look at one of the lesser-known sides of George Washington: the entrepreneur." Civility. Interesting. I may have to blog on that.

Troop surge opposition

117 of the 187 General Assembly members have signed onto a letter to oppose the deployment of more troops to Iraq (by Brian Lockhart). And for years, no one... at least not the leadership... in Hartford has taken serious action to help us reduce our consumption of foreign oil.

So this letter made me wonder... of the 187 legislators, who feels that America's consumption of oil is related to our problems in the middle east?

I don't yet know who of the 187 legislators signed this letter. But for anyone (excluding freshmen) who have signed this letter, yet never taken serious action to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, I find their hypocrisy stunning.

Tim White

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Turf Wars

That's the name of a feature piece on the cover of the CT section of tomorrow's Sunday NY Times. The stage is set:

Many communities that have not invested in artificially surfaced fields are now feeling pressure to follow suit. But not everyone is embracing synthetic turf, citing the considerable expense. For a multisport synthetic surface the size of a football field, the cost ranges from $600,000 to $1,000,000 for installation, and up to $5,000 a year for maintenance, according to industry sources. In several communities, the debate over installing turf has pitted suburban parents and sports boosters against residents wary of higher taxes.
The article continues:
Some taxpayers, particularly in NJ, are saying enough is enough. Two weeks ago, voters in Glen Ridge, soundly rejected a $6.9million bond issue that would have included $2million to replace two existing fields with synthetic turf.
I found that interesting. For a while now, I've had the feeling that any referendum questions for "open space" or "recreation" will be rejected by the voters. Also of interest was a mention that there are an estimated 30 turf fields in CT... although I'm not sure which neighboring towns have them, besides Wolcott.

But the fields are getting built. Greenwich and Westport are each installing multiple turf fields, although funding is beginning with significant private donations before asking taxpayers to get involved. And another town, Basking Ridge,
was able to put in turf by raising half the money privately, and the other half with a loan secured by contracts with local youth athletic leagues who pay $5,000 to $10,000 a year to have access.
If the turf issue is of interest to you, you may want to pick up a copy of tomorrow's NY Times or check it out at the library.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Friday, February 16, 2007

Pat's law

The legislature is considering some new drunk driving laws (Norwich Bulletin, by Ray Hackett). I wonder how many legislators will be supporting this, while ignoring State Rep. Pat Dillon's behavior?

Tim White

ETR 2/16

Although it wasn't on the agenda last week for the full Council meeting, the Ordinance Review and Budget Committees met to discuss Elderly Tax Relief.

At this point, it seems as though the Council will do two things:

1) enhance the existing program - I agree with this to the extent that it helps seniors most in need.

2) enact the tax freeze for seniors making up to certain limits ($27k single, $33k married).

Also, liens (for future collection against the tax freeze) are under consideration.

One point reiterated by Elizabeth Esty was that "elderly tax relief" is undergoing much debate in Hartford. So most any action taken may include a one year sunset provision.

Public hearing is scheduled for, I believe, March 6 in Town Hall.

Any comments?

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Aerial view of proposal

Breaking news... I think I got this before just about anybody else... these are not the drawings that were presented at the January 30 Council meeting. These are, I believe, the "official" proposal. Here's the view from afar (click on the images to enlarge them):


And here's a more detailed view... apologies for the color quality... having some computer difficulties... the handwritten legend and notes are mine... wasn't sure if the actual document would be legible on the blog... not that my handwriting is much better!
My initial reaction...

Quality of life


The developer certainly seems to be trying to do something for the community with the riverwalk and adjacent parking. Btw, do you see where the railbed lies? Probably within a few hundred feet of the riverwalk. As well, a Southington source told me that the Town of Southington is in fact coming south to the Cheshire line with their current $400,000 trail extension. I wonder if anyone is going to push to extend the rail trail into Cheshire and down to this development?

As well, they're including an amphitheater. Presumably, this and the riverwalk would be for use by anyone? If so, those are pluses in my book.

Residential

I'm not sure though that I buy the "mixed use" description. This certainly looks to me as though the residential and retail are divided. As I've mentioned, housing above retail is my thinking... and in my mind, that would solidly be described as "mixed use." This seems fairly segregated to me. Although one could argue that the riverwalk and amphitheater are a mixed use in relation to the housing... and those would clearly be selling points for garnering community support.

Retail

The cinemas might work... if the rumor I heard is true... that the Southington theaters were bought and closed... not because they were financially unsustainable, but because Walmart simply wanted the building.

I also notice what appears to be the single biggest retail outlet in the center... and it's labeled "organic grocer." Putting two and two together... when Whole Foods put their distribution center in the northend of town, there was talk of them adding a grocery store. I wonder if they might be a retailer who would want more than 50,000 sq ft? If they're as crunchy as their reputation suggests (they have a huge photovoltaic system on their roof in Cheshire and they are committed to clean energy nationally), I'm not immediately opposed to them breaking the 50k ft rule... of course, that's keeping in mind the Town Planner's comments that courts do not acknowledge "precedent" in "land use law."

Traffic

They're including traffic lights. And not that two lights would fully alleviate increased congestion, but at $150,000 - 250,000 each... they are at least serious about dealing with traffic.

Kids

I'm not sure what these "units" are supposed to be... they look like condos to me... which is an improvement from the previous map. That just looked like a bunch of 3 or 4 bedroom colonials.

Nonetheless, before PZC approves anything, they should get an impact study from the developer. I believe that study will include an analysis comparing their proposed housing to similar housing in Cheshire (number of bedrooms, square feet type-of-thing). That impact study should give a fair idea on how many kids we could expect if the proposal is approved.

Conclusion

Retail center - I think it could work.
50,000 sq ft rule - Depends on who gets this exception. Considering their history and reputation, Whole Foods would probably be worth a "one-time" exception.
Residential - I'm not sold on this. As I said during the Council meetings, my idea of "mixed use" is residential above retail. (And I was also thinking in terms of stopping the brain drain and getting our young adults a place where they can live on their own. Not sure what the costs of these units would be.) Furthermore, residential is not critical to the viability of the retail center and the developer said that during the Jan 23 meeting.

One thing's for sure though... if this project does continue moving forward, I'm going to strongly encourage the developer to have onsite, renewable power generation. Maybe I'll even suggest they sit down with our Energy Commission. Believe me... as crazy as this may sound... I've watched CT-N hearings on energy... and, generally speaking, our seven members are more qualified than the people working on committees in Hartford. Our group really is an amazing bunch... knowledgable, articulate and succinct. They make "energy" easy.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

p.s. I'm virtually certain that nobody else has these aerials. So you may want forward this link to your friends & neighbors. I really would like to get some feedback on this. Finally, P&Z has rescheduled their public hearing from Feb 26 to Mar 12.

Presidential blogging

The Wall Street Journal ran an article on the impact of blog advertising on the Presidential race (by Amy Schatz).

Nearly a year before the first caucuses and primaries take place, the 2008 presidential campaign advertising war is under way online. Candidates of both parties are already buying space on search engines, blogs and other Internet sites popular with political junkies and potential donors... This early in the primary season, presidential contenders historically just compete for campaign staff and money. This year, they competing for online support as well.
Then the article got into the nitty gritty of the meaning of "support."
In Nevada, which hosts an early primary in 2008, some local bloggers groused that the Clinton campaign focused its advertising dollars with Las Vegas-based blogs and ignored the rest of the state. "Where's my ad?" huffed one Nevada blogger, Taylor Marsh, who wrote on her site on Jan 22 that she found it "a little annoying that Clinton's team thinks that people like me don't merit advertisement, simply because our numbers don't reach the one-hundred thousand mark." Mrs. Clinton's camp tried to smooth over the Nevada mess by promising to buy ads on different blogs during future rounds of online ads.
Frankly, I don't care about making money off this thing. I blog because I enjoy it (even when I'm getting tattooed) and think it's useful, so want to continue. But the article did get me thinking... why not contact all the Presidential candidates (excluding myself, of course) and ask them if they'd like to post a guest blog? I mean, I doubt they would do anything specific to Cheshire or even our electorally-irrelevant Great State of CT! But they may start sending out some canned blogs? So why not try?

Then I began my investigation. I tried to find the websites of the 19 or so un/official candidates. As well, I looked for email addresses. This is what I found:

Republicans
Tommy Thompson (Gov, WI)
info@tommy2008.com
http://www.tommy2008.com/Contact.aspx
Jim Gilmore (Gov, VA)
http://jimgilmore08.com/
info@gilmoreforpresident.com
Sam Brownback (Sen, KS)
http://www.t-worx.com/Default.aspx?alias=www.t-worx.com/brownback
Mike Huckabee (Gov, AR)
http://www.explorehuckabee.com/site/PageServer
information@explorehuckabee.com
Mitt Romney (Gov, MA)
http://www.mittromney.com/
info@mittromney.com
Rudy Giuliani (Mayor, NYC)
http://www.joinrudy2008.com/
contributions@joinrudy2008.com
John McCain (Sen, AZ)
http://www.exploremccain.com/
(This was the most attractive website by far.)

Ron Paul (Rep, TX)
http://www.ronpaulexplore.com/
mail@ronpaulexplore.com
Duncan Hunter (Rep, CA)
http://www.gohunter08.com/
Tom Tancredo (Rep, CO)
http://www.teamtancredo.com/
Tim White (Council, CT)
http://TimWhiteFellOffHisRocker.blogspot.com
TimWhite98@yahoo.com
Newt Gingrich (Spkr, GA)
http://www.draftnewt.org/
DraftNewt@DraftNewt.org

Democrats
Bill Richardson (Gov, NM)
http://richardsonforpresident.com/
Tom Vilsack (Gov, IA)
http://www.tomvilsack08.com/
Barack Obama (Sen, IL)
http://www.barackobama.com/
media@barackobama.com
John Edwards (Sen, NC)
http://johnedwards.com/splash/
Chris Dodd (Sen, CT)
http://www.chrisdodd.com/home
Joe Biden (Sen, DE)
http://www.joebiden.com/
Hillary Clinton (Sen, NY)
http://www.hillaryclinton.com/
info@hillaryclinton.com
Dennis Kucinich (Rep, OH)
http://www.denniskucinich.us/

The results disappointed me. Fewer than half of the candidates have contact email addresses available on their website. And while I found an email for Rudy, it appears as though he only wants to hear from you, if you're giving money!

OK... in fairness to all the candidates, I think they all had those annoying "fill-out-the-form-and-we'll-contact-you" web pages. But that wasn't what I was looking for. I just wanted an email address. And by them not offering that, I got annoyed. So...

I'm only going to contact the candidates who had email addresses readily available. Then I'll tell you who responds and maybe we'll even get something that can be posted. I'd love to think that they'll respond.

Tim White
(unofficial) Presidential candidate

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

George Washington

With Presidents' Day fast approaching, I wanted to share my thoughts on why I believe George Washington is not only America's greatest President, but also one of the greatest people to have ever lived. The following excerpt, from PresidentialExpert.com, says it all:

As president, Washington served the nation, kept the peace, saved lives and preserved the Union. Washington's greatest gift was passing the torch of leadership. Washington was greater than the nation when he became the first president under the Constitution we have today. He refused to become king or serve for life but insisted upon passing leadership to John Adams as president and retiring from public life. The nation had become greater than him and could survive without him. Like his hero Cincinnatus, Washington returned to his farm.

Washington decided to leave when he was at the top of his form. Washington always knew when to quit before he reached the Peter Principle. He quit as dictator of America in 1776, resigned as the general of the Continental Army in 1783 and retired as president in 1797. Like his hero Cincinnatus, he returned to his farm each time.

In conclusion, Washington's leadership never goes out of style. He offers standards and examples that are worthwhile imitating. Washington was in the public eye for over thirty years. If Washington's time tested principles worked for him and our country, they can work for us. Colonel Henry "Light Horse Harry Lee," said upon George Washington's death that he had been "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." These words remain true today and his principles of leadership remain timeless.

Also coming to mind is Lord Acton's comment that "power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." George Washington never wanted power, especially "absolute power." He only wanted to serve his country.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Primary debates for POTUS

I think both were announced just today... the Dems will have their first primary debate on April 26. My GOP will have the first debate on May 3.

And to recap, here's a list of the legitimate Presidential candidates:

Elephants (May 3)
Tommy Thompson (Gov, WI)
Jim Gilmore (Gov, VA)
Sam Brownback (Sen, KS)
Mike Huckabee (Gov, AR)
Mitt Romney (Gov, MA)
Rudy Giuliani (Mayor, NYC)
John McCain (Sen, AZ)
Ron Paul (Rep, TX)
Duncan Hunter (Rep, CA)
Tom Tancredo (Rep, CO)
Tim White (Council, CT)

Donkeys (Apr 26)
Bill Richardson (Gov, NM)
Tom Vilsack (Gov, IA)
Barack Obama (Sen, IL)
John Edwards (Sen, NC)
Chris Dodd (Sen, CT)
Joe Biden (Sen, DE)
Hillary Clinton (Sen, NY)
Dennis Kucinich (Rep, OH)

Did I get the field right? If all these candidates are invited, these debates are going to need to be at least two hours each.

Tim White

W/S reaches out

W/S Development is making its case to the public. According to this WRA article (by Mike Puffer), they gave a presentation to Chamber of Commerce members yesterday. And they sold at least one more person on the project:

Kathleen Borrelli woke up Tuesday morning with fears that her hair salon on Sandbank Road might not stand up to competition from a mall being proposed at the corner of Interstate 691 and Route 10. A few hours later, Borrelli attended a Cheshire Chamber of Commerce meeting at which executives from W/S Development explained their project. And she left much reassured.

But I also spoke with one person who went to the presentation as a big supporter and left as less of a supporter, while having many more unanswered questions… which is basically where I still stand… wanting more information.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Rte 42 II

As mentioned here, I have several questions about the Rte 42 project. I got an unofficial update tonight... for a letter dated Dec. 21, 2006.

While the DOT has responded, they didn't exactly answer my questions. Thankfully though, back in December our legislators came to a Council meeting. At that meeting, I mentioned my request for info and asked them to provide assistance if getting answers became difficult. Hopefully, with their assistance, we'll get answers shortly.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Council mtg 2/13

There didn't seem to be much debate of anything tonight. However, in my prior post about the meeting, I did miss one point which I discussed at the meeting. It was an item on the consent calendar... the consent calendar which I've said usually gets largely ignored during Council deliberations.

Anyway, the consent calendar item related to the beginning of the process we would follow in applying for a grant. And while I normally raise my hand without much deliberation in applying for grants... this wasn't a "fully-funded" grant, it was a "matching" grant. That is to say, the town would pay 20% of the cost of the project (for the Dime Savings property). And with the total cost being $60,000 and the town spending $12,000, I had to stop to think about it. I mean, protecting the environment is important. But we can't lose sight of the fact that this project would still cost money.

Having read the packet though, I realized that the Town had recently lost access to the only parking available for the Dime Savings property. It was water company property (I had parked there before when I went to check out the property about two years ago) so they could take away access at any time. And it makes sense to me that if we have a property, we should have parking available... even just a basic gravel lot.

So when I read that the $60k proposal included $10k for a gravel lot, I concluded that we should definitely move forward with this grant request. And who is to say that we end up requesting $60k? If groups, such as Scouts, provide some labor (which I bet some scouts would like to use this as an Eagle Scout project), then the $60k cost could come down. And the town's 20% share could also come down. But we'd still get $8k toward the cost of the gravel lot... assuming the grant is approved.

Of course, there are other good reasons to request this money. But the need to build a gravel lot made the decision easy for me.

Anything else of interest come up during the meeting?

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ballfields proposal

Rich Kaplan gave the Council another presentation on the proposal from the newly formed CYB.

Here is Milone & McBroom's rendition of the proposal for the ballfields at the corner of Jarvis & Highland.... Highland/Rte 10 runs along the lower edge of the drawing.



Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Prison population

I don't recall anyone asking about this, but I thought you may find these statistics of interest:

Cheshire Correctional Institute: 1402
Manson Youth: 654
Webster Correctional Institute: 588
Total # of inmates: 2644

Furthermore, I believe there are about 400 empty beds.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Governor's budget II

In my previous post I mentioned that I had only skimmed over the Governor's comments. As well, I suggested that she did not mention the $36billion (or so) in underfunded postretirement benefits. Well, I read the speech again and she mentioned the $36billion. So I wanted to give her credit on that. Aside from reducing our dependence on foreign oil, I'd say (off the top of my head) this is probably the single most important issue that can be addressed by our state government.

But while that is important, I did find the following a bit peculiar:

I am also establishing a high level advisory group -- to prioritize projects that link transportation, housing, and job creation. They will be charged with developing a $20 million Responsible Growth Incentive Fund.

No plan for the future can be complete without a plan for dealing with energy issues.
Thing is, how do you address "energy issues" without linking them to transportation and housing? 97% of America's transportation equipment runs on oil. And housing consumes huge amounts of electricity. Heck, NYC is a leader in conserving electricity because they've done things such as replace all old refrigerators in city-owned housing with new energy-efficient refrigerators... you just need to look at the lifecycle cost to see if it makes financial sense. Anyway, I was a bit disappointed to see "energy" didn't get "a seat at the table," per se.

All'n'all though, the biggest thing for me is the hike in the state income tax. Which, btw, doesn't appear to be a winner for Cheshire. As Dave Schrumm mentioned during tonight's meeting, Cheshire is only expected to get an increase of $69,000 in the state budget. Click to see details here:


Then compare that $69,000 with this estimate of Cheshire's tax increase for a 0.25% income tax hike for next year (then another 1/4% the following year):

households: 9,000
median household income: 80,000
total Cheshire income: 720,000,000
% income tax increase: 1/4%
$ income tax increase: 1,800,000
$ state funding increase: 69,000


If I have my facts and figures right (which they may very well be off, so please correct me), Cheshire loses.

Curious twist on the budget though... I wonder if Governor Rell has a political motive here... say... go to the left of the Dems, raise taxes and... in two years... when she's not running for election, give the Republicans a fighting chance of picking up some seats in the legislature?? Haha... I doubt it. But who knows? I'm guessing there must be some reason for this budget proposal.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Governor's budget

Although they did have the local New York City CBS station, my hotel in Granada, Nicaragua didn't cover Governor Rell's budget address. But I did get a chance to breeze through her address here.

Hmmm... what can I say? A higher state income tax? No thank you. I'm not a fan. I know the idea of spending more money on education sounds good, but CT is already $36 BILLION in debt with our underfunded postretirement benefits. I really wish somebody would address that. Unfortunately, there's not a big constituency clamoring for it. And since no one is screaming about it, everyone in Hartford seems to forget about it. And of course, there's the millions of dollars being wasted over at the DOT. I-84 and Rte 42 are in Cheshire. I wonder how many other places around the state are having money flushed down the toilet by that agency? Have any DOT staff been given the heave-ho yet?

Back to education though... don't get me wrong, it is important. But I think it's a local issue. So instead of raising state taxes, I'd much prefer that the state simply untie the hands of municipalities and let us address education at the local level... as it's been done for centuries in CT.

My one other sticking point with her address was that while she mentioned the manufacturing aspect of alternative fuels, and while we are already capable of consuming alt fuels, I didn't see her mention distributing alt fuels. And with no distribution network in place, we can't really use alt fuels in a significant way... at least not in the cars we drive from home to work and back everyday.

As I skimmed through, I did catch at least one interesting idea... increased funding for college tuition. I'm not sure if the idea is for grants or loans. But I don't see much of a downside to the increasing available funding for loans.

Bottom line though, I don't see Governor Rell having much of an impact on this budget. Jim Amann and Don Williams both have supermajorities. In my opinion, the responsibility for a fiscally responsible budget lies on their shoulders.

Any comments? I'm guessing most people are not happy about the income tax hike.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Running for office

Boy, oh boy... the emails, the blog comments and the letters to the local papers on the proposed northend development have really surprised me. I've had people tell me that I described the proposed development as "unique." And that I want "overcrowded schools" and "higher taxes."

Not sure when I made those comments. I even read my blog again and still couldn't find any of them.

Oh well. That's politics. So I guess I'm asking for it. lol.

One thing though for readers to consider... if you're ever thinking about running for office... even just local office... be prepared to have people misrepresent you and your words.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Council agenda 2/13

Here's the complete agenda. I won't do this again, but this is what is included in a "full" agenda... not my condensed versions, which normally only provide you with the "new business"...

1. Roll call

2. Pledge of allegiance

3. Public communications
a. Presentation of Cheshire Performing & Fina Arts Committee's annual CPFA Arts Award.
b. Presentation by Cheshire Youth Baseball
c. Status report by Kids in Motion

4. Consent calendar
a. Acceptance of $2,000 for Cheshire Fuel Bank from 1st Congregational Church
b. Acceptance of $1,000 from Pfeiffers to assist needy Cheshire residents
c. Acceptance of $50 from Leonore McParland to assist needy Cheshire residents
d. Acceptance of $200 from 1st Congregational Church to assist needy Cheshire residents
e. Acceptance of $1,400 from faculty & staff at Quinnipiac University from a memorial bench for Mary Segall
f. Authorization to apply for CT DEP grant for Dime Savings Property
g. Acceptance of $5,000 clean energy grant
h. Acceptance of $649 in asset forfeiture funds
i. Appropriation of $700 from the Open Space gift account for the purchase of materials to restore trailhead kiosks at the Dedominicus and Boulder Knoll properties. (I may have a problem with this because I'm wondering if we had grant money available for this same thing a couple years ago... but dropped the ball and didn't apply/obtain the grant money.)

5. Items removed from the consent calendar

6. Old business

7. New business

a. Acceptance of FY 05/06 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)

b. Presentation on Town's financial status

c. Set public hearing on Operating Budget, Sewer Budget & Pool budget

d. Set public hearing on elderly tax relief

e. Amendment to fees for transfer station to comply with state rules

f. Waiver of bid for police mobile computer capital project (I don't like bid waivers, but this one seems to make sense... the police chief has already informally contacted three vendors and found that only one provides all of the necessary equipment. And for anyone who has followed the pool fiasco and all the ensuing finger-pointing, I think one-stop shopping can make a lot of sense. Still want to hear a bit more though.)

8. Town Manager report & communications
a. Monthly status report
b. Departmental status reports

9. Town Attorney report & communications

10. Reports of Committees of the Council
a. Chairman's report
b. Committee's report
c. miscellaneous

11. Approval of minutes

12. Miscellaneous and appointments
a. liaison reports
b. appointments to boards and commissions

13. Council communications
a. letters to Council
b. miscellaneous

14. Executive session
a. economic incentives
b. land acquisition
c. pending litigation

15. Adjournment

And there you have it... a fairly complete agenda. And now I hope you understand why I skip over most everything, except for new business. New business is usually the debated stuff on the agenda. Although about a year and a half ago, the consent calendar did include a paid fire department. Boy did my eyes light up when I saw that one....

I'm not expecting this to be a particularly long meeting.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Instate tuition for illegal aliens

The General Assembly is again considering offering "instate" tuition rates to illegal aliens (NHR, by Mary O'Leary). As with most any topic, there are at least two sides to this debate.

My main concern though arises from my three years residing in Vietnam. I made good friends there, including some who would've gladly given up everything to live in America. They played by the rules and "got in line." Yet while they queued up, others broke the rules and "cut to the front of the line"... and now the idea is to reward them financially?

To me, that just seems to be a slap in the face of my friends and all the other people around the world who play by the rules.

And the article has another reason to oppose this proposal:

For state Rep. Robert Godfrey, D-Danbury, the proposal is flawed.He said it is a conflict with the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which prohibits states from providing a postsecondary education benefit to an alien not lawfully present unless any citizen is also eligible for the benefit.Godfrey’s interpretation is that the state would have to charge the in-state rate for all students, if it was offered to illegal residents.
Hmmm... on second thought, maybe we should let the state ignore federal laws? Then the town can start to ignore state laws, such as binding arbitration.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Brain drain II

State House Republicans seem to have both business and media support for their plan to end the "brain drain." (MRJ, by Steve Scarpa)

The exodus of young people from the ages of 20 to 34 from the state is a legitimate concern. For example, there were 15,991 people in that age bracket in Meriden in 1990, according to the U.S. census that year. According to the most recent census in 2000, that number had decreased to 11,706 even though the overall population in the city rose. That pattern is reflected throughout the state. "This is a big concern for members of the business community," said Bonnie Stewart, vice president of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.
As the article points out, the decision to leave or stay in CT has many motivators. Finding a place to live at a cost that one can afford is certainly a major factor though.

Tim White

Fuel cell trains

The state DOT is investigating the use of powering Metro North trains with fuel cells (Stamford Advocate, by Mark Ginocchio).

The DOT wants to determine whether a fuel-cell power station could replace some of the electric substations now used, taking the strain off Fairfield County's power grid...The state spent about $50 million to power the New Haven Line in 2004, according to the most recent numbers provided by the DOT. The rail system is one of Connecticut Light & Power's biggest customers, officials have said.
If they consider the lifecycle costs (not just the improved environmental protections), this idea may prove to be a real winner.

Tim White
Town Council, Energy Commission liaison

Merits of tourism funds

Gov. Rell is calling for reform of the process by which "state tourism dollars" are allocated.

Rell's budget advisers say the governor is seeking to reform the state's strategy on tourism funding by eliminating a guarantee of money for some organizations at the expense of competitors."Basically, we've got these 14 or 15 organizations named specifically in the budget that get these earmarks every year, without any process determining whether they deserve them or not," said Michael Cicchetti, deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, the governor's budget office. (AP)
Jodi Rell gets a thumbs up on this proposal. I don't care if the earmarks are from DC or Hartford, the least we (as taxpayers) can expect is an explanation about the merits of a particular program.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District