Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Open forum 7/31

The FBI and IRS are investigating Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK). I'm getting so tired of all of these investigations. Will our elected officials ever learn? Btw, Stevens is perhaps most famous for his $250,000,000 bridge-to-nowhere... made famous by one of my favorite Senators, Tom Coburn (R-OK)... a man who is quite comfortable speaking truth to power.

We'll be using new voting machines (NHR, Greg Hladky) in November.

According to the WRA, Nutmeggers will soon reach "Tax Freedom Day." That's the day on which we stop paying taxes and start earning money for everything else.

Ron Paul is still running for President!

What else is happening?

Tim White

Monday, July 30, 2007

Capital bgt (part 1)

There's a lot of info in the capital budget, but I'm going to try to give you a taste of what's in it.

Here you see the Town Manager's "description and justification" for adding $1,000,000 to the Town's Open Space account:

And here's why he feels we should add $500,000 to the West Main Street project:As I try to post more of these projects, I hope you find the information enlightening.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Energy Commission 7/30

The Energy Commission met tonight and discussed a number of issues.

The consultant's report for the "electric heating system" retrofit at CHS was commended, unlike the pool consultant's report which was a waste of $20,000.

Performance contracting was discussed. It's an issue that's been discussed before by the EC. And it could help the town avoid a cash outlay of millions of dollars by paying for energy equipment through future savings.

Energy benchmarking was discussed. Hopefully we've gotten a commitment from town staff at this point to make this happen. But since this seemed to be taking so long, I asked for details on what is involved in maintaining the benchmarking database. And the answer I got was that we have about two dozen buildings, many of which can use three energy sources (electric, heating fuel & natural gas... and the database also allows you to record water consumption) and some buildings which have more than one meter for energy sources. So that's probably anywhere from 50 - 150 different data fields that need to populated on a monthly basis after being taken from a few dozen utility bills. So it's not something that should really take much time to maintain, but will probably take some time to update from where we left off last fall or so. Anyway... the benefit of this is that we will then be able to use this data to better direct capital funds to places that stand to benefit the most. Boring, huh? Well... it's interesting to me... but then... I'm a bean counter. lol.

The 20% by 2010 clean energy campaign was discussed. We now have 226 households using clean energy. That's about 2.5% of households in town... and that's higher than most surrounding towns.

The south end fire house was discussed. Then the CL&P "Summer Saver Rewards Program" (conserve electricity in the summer and you may get a discount on your electric bill in November), the legislature's new "smart meters" and the Chamber's Fall Festival were also discussed.

Tim White
Town Council, liaison to the Energy Commission

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Elected officials blogging anonymously

Here's an interesting article on elected officials who blog anonymously (Stamford Advocate, by Brian Lockhart).

For what it's worth, I have no doubt that several of Cheshire's elected officials blog here... both under their real name... and anonymously.

Tim White

Memorial park

For full article, click on the title.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Chamber golf fundraiser

The Cheshire Chamber of Commerce will be holding its annual golf fundraiser on Monday, July 30. For more info, call 272-2345.

Tim White

Legislators visit Boston & Quebec

"Expect the Capitol to be largely empty starting on Monday, August 6 as 68 legislators and staffers will be in Boston at the National Conference of State Legislatures' annual meeting. When that conference is over, 41 legislators and staff will be headed out to the Council of State Governments' conference at the Hilton Hotel in Quebec City." (Courant, Capital Watch Blog)

The state is estimating the cost at $165,660 for the two days.

But rest assured, your tax dollars are not being spent frivolously:

"House Speaker James Amann says these are not junkets, and the legislators and staff will return with a boatload of information on how to solve issues from taxes to education."

Tim White

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Offer of free counseling

If you feel that you, or anyone you know, may benefit from free one on one counseling, please try the following options:

National Association of Social Workers – Connecticut Chapter
Desiree Floyd – 860-257-8066
Contact her Monday-Friday, 9-5pm

The Connecticut Psychological Association
Kathy Hucks – 860-586-7522
Contact her Monday-Friday, 9-5pm

Dr. Candice Weigle-Spier – 860-347-0718 (pager)
Page her between 5pm and 9am on weekdays and throughout the weekend.

Special thanks to Chris Murphy for setting this up.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

NHR on DeLuca

The NHR recently sounded off on state Senator Lou DeLuca and his shady activities:

Instead of serving his own corrupt interests, DeLuca should resign now. By resigning, he would, for once, be serving the public interest.
I agree.

Tim White

Special Council mtg 7/26

There will be a special Council meeting tomorrow night. Two items are on the agenda:

1) set public hearing for capital budget (to be 8/14)
2) Norton School boilers

I believe the meeting was scheduled on Mon or Tues and I cannot be there.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

God bless and thank you

Dear God, We ask for your mercy and compassion.
Holy spirit, our comforter we ask for your healing power and strength.

My deepest sympathies are with Dr. William Petit and his extended family.

And a special thank you to our police and firefighters with some details of their actions from the Courant:

As police were closing in on the Deaconwood neighborhood of half-million-dollar homes, the two men jumped in the family's Chrysler Pacifica SUV parked in the driveway. The fleeing suspects rammed a police cruiser that tried to cut them off in front of the house and continued west on Sorghum toward a police roadblock about a block away.

Sgt. Chris Cote and Officer Tom Wright, both members of the department's SWAT team, had left their cars at the roadblock and were headed toward the house armed with semiautomatic rifles. Officer Jeff Sutherland was positioned at the roadblock.

Instead of slowing for the roadblock, the fleeing suspects gunned the SUV's engine and raced toward Sutherland. The SUV slammed into two police cruisers in the center of the roadblock. Their front ends mangled, the police cars spun apart from each other on impact. Sutherland escaped injury. The Pacifica, front end damaged and airbags deployed, rolled 30 feet before stopping against a neighbor's manicured lawn.

Officers, guns drawn, swarmed the vehicle and pulled the suspects out.

Our police and firefighters risk their lives everyday for our safety. Thank you.

Party caucuses

The Republican Caucus was held tonight. Nominations are as follows:

Council districts
1) Lou Murray
2) Tom Ruocco
3) Bruce Caldwell
4) Tim White

Steve Carroll
Bruce Klein
Jimmy Sima
Tim Slocum

Board of Education
Gerry Brittingham
Tod Dixon
Matt Jalowiec
Alan Sobol

Planning & Zoning
John Atwood
Tali Maidelis
Mickey McPhee
Leslie Marinaro (alternate)

Zoning Board of Appeals
Joe Bartoli
Ken Gilbert
Dave Veleber
Jackie Cianci (alternate)

Town Clerk
Carolyn Soltis

David Orsini and David Schrumm are out. I offer a thanks to both of them for their years of service. On the Dem side, I've heard rumors, but haven't heard anything definite yet.

UPDATE: Here's the WRAs report on the Dem caucus (by Gennady Sheyner) and on how the race is shaping up with issues. Diane Visconti is out (thanks for your years of service Diane), so it's an open seat in the 3rd district Council seat... along with two open at-large Council seats. And finally, I'm not sure yet, but I may not be blogging for a couple of days.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Monday, July 23, 2007

Open forum 7/23

The Dems had a Presidential debate tonight. I didn't watch the whole thing, but from the few minutes that I did see... it reinforced my previous feelings... Barack seems ok to me... and I give a big "no" for Hillary.

Hamden is continuing their linear trail (NHR, by Ann DeMatteo) from the Merritt down to the New Haven city line.

Caucuses will be held tomorrow night for Cheshire's two major political parties. Please consider getting involved by attending and letting your voice be heard.

Tim White

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Where do our tax dollars go?

I recently opposed the raise for the Town Manager. I offered some of my reasons, but did not offer complete explanations during the Council vote. My reason was simple: brevity... particularly in light of the fact that the motion was going to pass. Keep in mind... the Council had several meetings on this topic, so the TM and Council members all knew where I was coming from... as well... as you'll see here... some of my questions are financial questions that are, IMO, difficult to explain in words. So instead... I offer you a spreadsheet.

The basic idea is this... the town has a "Rainy Day Fund," also known as a "fund balance," "unreserved fund balance," "fund balance equity" and perhaps some other names. And the Rainy Day Fund has increased significantly over the past couple years. Anyway....

As you can see by the chart below, the Rainy Day Fund has increased approximately $2,000,000 in two years. Which leads to the first of my two requests... "Please provide a cost/benefit analysis for the $2,000,000 in tax dollars collected that went unspent." I mean... if we collected $2,000,000 and increased the existing Rainy Day Fund, then... don't we, the taxpayers get a benefit for it? If so, then what is the benefit?

Then I have a second request. That request relates to maintaining the Rainy Day Fund. See, we've been told about the benefits of improving our "debt rating." We're told that when we improved our debt rating last December, we had a one-time savings of $30,000 - $50,000. And that's great. But for that benefit... there is a cost (I estimate that cost to be annual cost of $90,000... see chart below). And part of that cost relates to our Rainy Day Fund balance increasing from 5% to 8%. For without that increase (an increase in the % of the Annual Operating Budget maintained as the Rainy Day Fund) in the Rainy Day Fund, we wouldn't have gotten that $30,000 - $50,000 one time savings. So this all leads to the second of my two requests... "Please provide a cost/benefit analysis for additional dollars being collected on an annual basis... as a result of the 8%, rather than the 5% fund balance target." (Keep in mind... only two years ago, it was considered sound public policy to maintain a 5% fund balance target... but two years later... 8% is considered sound public policy.)

Here's the spreadsheet representing our unspent tax dollars:And if my explanation above is confusing... then just focus on the numbers highlighted in yellow... first the $2,000,000 collected in taxes to increase the existing Rainy Day Fund. Then look at the estimated $90,000 that will be collected annually... just to maintain the 8% fund balance.

Don't get me wrong... at this point, I'm not decided on whether it is more appropriate to have a fund balance of 8%... 5%... or perhaps something else.

I do know one thing though... I think the taxpayers deserve a cost/benefit analysis explaining both the increase in the existing Rainy Day Fund and the increase in maintaining the Rainy Day Fund. Unfortunately, that cost/benefit analysis does not appear to be forthcoming.

Btw, on my request for a cost/benefit analysis on maintaining the Rainy Day Fund... back in April, both Ms. Esty and Mr. Schrumm agreed with me that it was a good idea.... so I have no idea why it has not yet been provided.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ron Paul in the NYTimes

Here is the article that will run in tomorrow's NYTimes Sunday Magazine about Presidential candidate Ron Paul. It's a long one (five webpages), but if you read only the first page... I think you'll get a good sense of him.

I think this excerpt paints a fair picture of him:

There is something homespun about Paul, reminiscent of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” He communicates with his constituents through birthday cards, August barbecues and the cookbooks his wife puts together every election season, which mix photos of grandchildren, Gospel passages and neighbors’ recipes for Velveeta cheese fudge and Cherry Coke salad. He is listed in the phone book, and his constituents call him at home. But there is also something cosmopolitan and radical about him; his speeches can bring to mind the World Social Forum or the French international-affairs periodical Le Monde Diplomatique. Paul is surely the only congressman who would cite the assertion of the left-leaning Chennai-based daily The Hindu that “the world is being asked today, in reality, to side with the U.S. as it seeks to strengthen its economic hegemony.” The word “empire” crops up a lot in his speeches.

This side of Paul has made him the candidate of many people, on both the right and the left, who hope that something more consequential than a mere change of party will come out of the 2008 elections.

Tim White

Open forum 7/21

Today's MRJ has two articles that may be of particular interest to Cheshire. W/S filed papers yesterday requesting a hotel for the ND. And there's an article comparing costs (to swimmers & taxpayers) of community pools in the area... the article seems to highlight Cheshire's pool.

As Barry Bonds closes in on Hank Aaron's record, I only get more upset about it. Thing is... I remember being in high school in 1990 and hearing that you're not supposed to use steroids... that's it's cheating. It seemed pretty easy to me to understand.

Remember to tell your friends about the party caucuses this Tuesday (GOP= town hall; dems = senior center). Rs start at 7pm. I'm guessing that the Ds will start at the same time. The NHR reported that Dave Orsini is not running. And there are rumors that at least one other incumbent may walk away. And frankly, I think it may be a good time to walk. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a few incumbents leave the Council this year... be it their decision... or the decision of the voters.

The post office is apparently back on track (NHR, by Luther Turmelle) due to the efforts of our senior Senator, Chris Dodd.

Tim White

CTP on internet polling

Cheshire resident Craig Houghton is sharing his concerns about the Cheshire Herald's polling methods over at the new Cheshire Town Post.

Tim White

Thursday, July 19, 2007

NYTimes on Ron Paul

This week's NYTimes Sunday Magazine will be running a feature on my favorite Presidential candidate: Ron Paul.

As I've said, I don't agree with everything he does or says, but he is the most principled person running for President.

Tim White

Inflow & Infiltration

I missed the bus tour tonight. It started at 5:30pm and I got out of work a bit late... and didn't make it to Boulder Knoll while the bus was still there. Then to complicate it, I only had cell #s for two people on the trip (Ecke, who was also stuck at work & Schrumm, who was on the bus). So as I tried to catch up to the bus, playing phone tag with David... I never quite caught up, unfortunately. However, since I made it to the Allen Avenue culvert, I was right near the sewer plant. And since the bus hadn't yet arrived at the waste water treatment plant, I got a personal tour from the WWTP Superintendent, Dennis Dievert (who is a real pro btw... really knows his stuff).

The most interesting part was not even part of the intended tour. I asked Dennis if I could peek inside the main building and noticed a computer monitor right inside the foyer. The following is a printscreen of the monitor: If you click on the image to enlarge it, you'll notice something I found interesting.

Keep in mind that the tour started at 5:30pm. And I got to the WWTP around 7pm. And in between, the skies opened and it was suddenly pouring! Then notice the times (across the bottom) and the "gallons per day" (to the left) spiking an average of about 700,000 gallons/day at around 6pm.

When I saw that, I immediately concluded that this was entirely related to an "inflow and infiltration" problem. And... I also noticed that the spike seemed nearly instantaneous... suggesting to me it's unrelated to sump pumps or anything that would require saturation of the ground. In other words... there's some open cracks in the pipes somewhere... somewhere where the rainwater leaks in directly without anything slowing its movement. Perhaps some storm drain piping is cracked and lying on top of some cracked sewer piping... effectively sending rainwater directly into the sewers?

Anyway, I think we're now "camera'ing" the sewers. Hopefully we'll soon find some ways to remediate this problem to some extent. (As for the ups and downs throughout the day, Dennis explained that as being due to the motors turning on and off... or something like that.)

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Political donors

Have you ever wondered who in Cheshire donates money to political campaigns?

Here's the link to the official FEC website. If you enter the "zipcode" and "date range," you can see that over $42,000 has already gone to federal elections from Cheshire residents in 2007. Most astonishing to me is the nearly $18,000 from Greg Melville... not that there's anything wrong with that. I wouldn't mind if I had more money to donate to Ron Paul... it's just that it surprised me. If you go back a few years though, you'll see Cheshire has an even bigger donor... Ed Tufte. He's given over $50,000 in the past decade.


However, the website is an incomplete list of all donors. I'm pretty sure that this website includes only people who have donated in excess of $250 (in aggregate). For example, I've donated $100 to Ron Paul. But my name doesn't appear... even though some people may be included with dollar amounts less than $100. I'm guessing that after you donate $250, then all of your donations appear.

As for who has the most Cheshire donors... Chris Murphy is leading the way. That's really not that surprising, considering he personally knows people here in Cheshire. Then Joe Courtney (who seems like a nice, soft spoken gentleman... I met him once) has the second most donors. Again, that's not particularly surprising... I think his brother lives in town. And finally come the Presidential candidates. If I counted right, their number of Cheshire donors is:

Chris Dodd: 3
Barack Obama: 2
John Edwards: 2
John McCain: 1
Hillary Clinton: 1
Bill Richardson: it appears that someone donated, then got their money back?

Tim White

An invitation

The Council extends to you, an invitation... so...

Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up and that's an invitation, roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up to make a reservation, roll up for the mystery tour.
The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away.
Waiting to take you away.

The Magical Mystery Tour will recommence Thursday, July 19 @ 5:30pm:

Departure from Town Hall Parking Lot
Site 1 – Boulder Knoll
Site 2 – Culvert Repair and Misc.
Site 3 – Allen Avenue Flooding
Site 4 – Riverside Drive Treatment Plant Backup
Site 5 – Treatment Plant Upgrade Project

I'm guessing the "culvert repair" is unrelated to ND.

Hope you can make it!

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Magical Mystery Bus Tour I

It was the summer of '07 and the Cheshire Town Council began its annual Magical Mystery Bus Tour. First stop was Church Drive, but I wasn't home from work yet so missed it.

Second stop was the south end fire house... which seems to be coming along well. I got there after much of the discussion, so I skipped the questions and will ask them later.

Third stop was CHS. I guess the main project there is a new ADA-required elevator. It was explained that if the schools are to be reaccredited next year, they'll need to update the (probably) original elevator in the science wing (the back of CHS). The estimated cost is to be $400,000... which would go to referendum ($350,000 cutoff). Due to space constraints where the original elevator exists, this project would likely be entirely new construction... inside the library courtyard. And if you don't recall/know... this courtyard is only "one story" near the library, but over near the science wing... the property drops down and creates a "two story" courtyard. So no excavation would probably be needed. We would however need to build a two story shaft to house the elevator. A brief mention of the window project was also given.

The final stop was Bartlem Park. The requests include $340,000 to tile the pool (the paint is chipping) and $60,000 for some sort of "ultraviolet system" to reduce bacteria in the pool water... or something like that. We got the explanation in the "motor room" which was cramped and a bit noisy and I didn't quite follow everything. I'll get the details during the meetings in Town Hall.

We also got to see these new "shade structures" that are located on the south lawn of the pool. At an estimated $15,000 for the two structures... I was caught offguard by the cost. And frankly I wouldn't have done it... I would have put in a more permanent structure... a structure where we could have installed photovoltaics on the roof. But hey... that's me. And the Council shouldn't be involved in every decision, but... I still am at a loss as to how exactly the funding worked for the $15,000. I was told that it came from $50,000 in state funding... funding that Rep. Al Adinolfi had suggested was intended for a shed to contain the bubble. But now the bubble is stored by DPW... so I guess we "found" $50,000?

Then we went over to the playground to hear about the Kids in Motion Boundless Playground. See details on the playground in these images (click to enlarge):
And click on this sheet to see both the TMs proposal for the "current year" and "5 yr" capital budgets for Parks & Rec: Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Monday, July 16, 2007

Capital bgt bus tour agenda 7/17

Tomorrow night (Tuesday) at 5:30pm, the Council will be departing on our annual "three hour tour"... basically to see some of the places that are covered in the TM's proposed capital budget. The proposed schedule for Tuesday's tour:

Departure from Town Hall Parking Lot
Site 1 – Church Drive Road and Sidewalk
Site 2 – South End Fire Station- Pumper Truck, Replacement Equipment, Firehouse Renovation, review of change order for floor
Site 3 – High School - New Elevator and Misc
Site 4 – Bartlem Park- Pool, Playscape and Ballfields (progress report)
Other sites for proposed capital projects if time permits.

There is another tour scheduled for Thursday night. And according to the agenda for both nights "The public is encouraged to participate in their own transportation."

I don't have the time to scan in the details of each of these projects, but here's an example of the details for Site 1 - Church Drive:Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Orsini not running

Here is a link to Luther Turmelle's NHR article from last Friday on how the local election is shaping up on the right side of the aisle.

Tim White

New web tool for Cheshire

As always, guest posts are appreciated....

Would you like to control the topic of discussion? The Cheshire Town Post is now available. Come by to plug a local event, raise awareness, self-promote, sound an alarm, praise the unnoticed, or spotlight your own hard-hitting investigative report. You control the content! Consider yourself invited to visit, and register for: The Cheshire Town Post.

Councilman Tim White’s blog has done a great job of bringing Cheshire together for discussion. In that tradition, I am hosting The Cheshire Town Post in order to provide a different (no better, just different) kind of forum where any member can set the topic. The CTP is your show.

My goal is to help build up the town's online community and encourage communication. The Cheshire Town Post is a completely non-partisan platform open to all points of view. If you find that the discussion on the CTP falls unfairly on one side of an issue, get posting!

If you're worried about the technical aspects of how to register and contribute, read this tutorial post, where I over-explain the process (it's fairly self-explanatory).

Craig Houghton
Levers and Pulleys

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Challenging "the Establishment"

The local elections are fast approaching. On Friday, the NHR reported that Republican David Orsini will be watching this election cycle from the sidelines, while Republican Steve Carroll will be on the ballot. Other mentions as possible Council candidates have been Patti Flynn Harris and Matt Bowman on the Democratic ticket. Any other candidate names being floated out there?

Regardless of who is expected to run, Cheshire's two major political parties will be undertaking their biennial caucuses on Tuesday July 24 (GOP @ Town Hall, Dems @ Senior Center... I think). And for those of you who are unaware, here's a recap of how the GOP creates its slate of candidates (and I presume the Dems follow a similar path):

1) Cheshire's Republican Party has an official committee called the Cheshire Republican Town Committee (RTC).

2) The RTC has several subcommittees, including the Nominating Committee.

3) The Nominating Committee gathers names of Cheshire residents (typically registered as Republicans).

4) Those names are brought to a "caucus," this year held on July 24.

5) The caucus is a meeting that is open to all Cheshire residents who are registered Republicans.

6) Typically, the Nominating Committee will recommend a slate of candidates to the RTC.

7) The RTC will then create its own slate of candidates... often the same as the Nominating Committee's recommendation.

8) The Republican caucus will then create its own slate of candidates... often the same as the RTC's recommendation.

9) The Republican caucus' recommendation will typically be the slate of candidate upon which you vote in November.

I'm guessing that the Democratic party follows a similar script.

Now here's my idea for activists who are dissatisfied with their respective parties...

While this is "typically" how people end up on the ballot... remember... as long as you are registered with one of the parties... you should be able to go to your party caucus and nominate names from the floor. That is, after the Town Committee makes a recommendation, but before the caucus votes... you probably could put a name into nomination. But putting your name into nomination would not necessarily get you on the ballot. Rather... you'd probably need to get the votes within the caucus to put your name on the ballot.

So how do you get the votes necessary? Well...

It's been my experience that the Republican caucus is typically between 60-70 people. And much of that is from the 46 member RTC and their spouses. (I believe the DTC is only 36 people. So that may translate into 50 or so people at the Dem caucus.) So the bottom line is this...

IF you can either convince half of those people to support you


IF you can get your own supporters (registered with your party) to attend and vote for you

THEN you probably can get on the ballot.

And wouldn't it be fun to create a little Lamont fever in Cheshire? Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if there are some Dems who are already considering this. And of course the same thing would apply to the Republican side... although the issues may be different. Heck... even if you're just toying with the idea, go to the websites for the two Town Committees and start cold calling members. See if you can garner some support and get on the ballot! (Also consider that the Council districts may require far fewer votes... 15 votes... just 15 votes... may very well lockup a district nomination.)

For my part... I did basically the same thing last summer by challenging the party's choice for the GOP nod in the 89th. And I'm glad I did it. If you are concerned about an issue, then challenging your leaders is always a good thing... even if you don't win... you may very well be able to change the debate... and I do think that (whether you like him or not) Ned Lamont had a significant impact on the national dialogue last year.

So if you're feeling some unease within your party... I strongly encourage you to attend your July 24 caucus and let your voice be heard.

As for running as an unaffiliated candidate or possibly primarying the endorsed slate of candidates of your party... I really have no idea how that would work... I just know that if you convince 50 people to turn out in support of you (no easy feat) at your party's caucus... you may very well be on the ballot in November.

Tim White

Defronzo's meeting

Right now, CT-N is running the Transportation Committee's July 11 hearing on the Fritz Fiasco/Maguire Mess/Defelice Disaster. I haven't watched the whole thing, but have seen a bit during my breaks from yardwork. Anyway, I caught the comments from Democratic state Senator Gary LeBeau... and they were priceless. Among his comments were:

The I-84 construction project was a "debacle."

And Maguire's inspection failures were the "nexus" of the debacle.

Unfortunately, he didn't ask what I felt was the next critical question:

Despite his lack of NICET qualifications, why did William Fritz get the job as the project's Chief Inspector?

Tim White

Capital budget 7/15

By Charter, the Town Manager's proposed capital budget is due to the Council by July 15. Here are the highlights of the proposal (click on image to enlarge it):

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Gilmore is out

For the GOP Presidential primary diehards... I just got an email that former VA Gov. Jim Gilmore has dropped out of the race.

Go Ron Paul!

Tim White

Friday, July 13, 2007

Biodiesel saves money

If you recall, the town DPW began using biodiesel back in January. Among the reasons I advocated for that change were that it would help us:

1) reduce our dependence on foreign oil,
2) protect the environment (drop emissions),
3) improve our health (via fewer emissions),
4) curb sprawl (somewhere in the US, if not in CT), and
5) create jobs

But with rising fuel costs, the switch is now paying off with real $aving$.

Here's the explanation:

Earlier this week, I called the people in charge of fuel at the Conn DOT. They told me that they were still buying/transferring/selling biodiesel to municipal governments at the same contractual price that they used back in January: $2.04/gallon. And while the DPW was paying about a $0.05/gallon premium back in January (because petrodiesel would have cost $1.99/gallon), most other municipalities are now (as of July 5) paying $2.36/gallon. So Cheshire is now saving $0.32/gallon!

Of course, we need to keep in mind that the price of fuel fluctuates. And with the DPW buying off the state contract... it's similar to buying your home heating fuel in the summer... if prices spike, you can make out like a bandit. But if prices drop... you can lose out. Although... since we're just piggybacking on the state contract... I'm pretty sure that towns only gets the upside to this without any downside risk. It's the state that could be in a pickle if things go awry... but who's expecting the price of oil to drop? Heck... if the US pulls out of Iraq... I imagine that the related uncertainty will only work to increase the price of oil.

Anyway... just wanted to let you know about this.

Tim White
Town Council, Energy Commission liaison

Rte 42 drainage

The local aspect of the Rte 42 drainage project is finally moving forward. While the Council approved funding for this in last summer's capital budget, no work has been done yet. But thankfully, yesterday the TM and Director of PW made a site visit to the neighborhood.

A tentative agreement was reached... the town will install the drainage and the residents will provide minimal easements.

Now we need to keep up the pressure on the jokers at the Conn DOT.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

I-84 mess; Defronzo bats cleanup

Probably since last fall I've been publicly wondering why the Legislature's Transportation Committee hadn't been performing oversight of the DOT and the Fritz Fiasco/Maguire Mess/Defelice Debacle. Anyway... state Senator Don Defronzo (D-New Britain) has finally begun hearings (WRA, by Michael Puffer). And while they're long overdue... I'm glad they're happening... they should be worthwhile... because people still need to be held to account.

And since this is a serious public safety issue for Cheshire residents... I wonder if Cheshire will be having public hearings and asking people to explain themselves? Couldn't hurt. I certainly would be interested to hear from William Fritz, son of Cheshire's state Rep. Mary Fritz, about why he felt it was OK to act as the lead inspector on the job... even though he didn't have his NICET qualification.

Tim White

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Council on the web

Following my recent comments about adding our Council meetings to the internet, I got a suggestion from a resident about a company that offers web-based live videostreaming. So I called them. The jist of their 60-second pitch was that they offer a variety of options, including:

1) live webcast (simultaneous to the TV feed)
2) meetings stored on the internet for later access
3) webcasts broken down by agenda item.

The related costs for a town with a population of 27,000:

1) $15,000 startup
2) $1,000/month recurring fee (assuming the meetings are already taped, which they are).

I think that may be money well spent.

Alternatively, other towns may get their meetings on TV for a lower fee... but they may not be offered by agenda item... which I think would be extremely beneficial... allowing people easier access to the items of concern to them.

Regardless, I would very much like to move forward with exploring the possibility of videostreaming (I don't care how or who makes it happen) as expeditiously as possible.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

WRA on TM annual review

Lauresha Xhihani wrote this article on the Town Manager's annual review/payraise/contract extension.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Political fundraisers

The Ordinance Review Committee discussed this topic tonight... and no... as far as I know, this was not "pursuant to section 3-11..." of the Town Charter... this was an informal Q&A with the Town Manager. And as I raised several questions during the June 26 Council meeting, here's a repeat of those questions:

Q: Did you or anyone in your administration have contact with any party officials about changing the rules regarding the prohibition of political fundraisers on town property?

A: Yes.

Q: Who was the party official?

A: The Democratic Town Committee Chairman.

Anyway, those were the two main things I was wondering about.

Beyond that, I voiced my concern about the TMs proposed remedy to this situation. That is, the TM thought an acceptable remedy would be to extend the offer of a political fundraiser on town property to the Republican Party. And by their silence, it seemed to me as though many Council members also considered this an acceptable remedy. But this remedy doesn't work for me.

See, IMO, that remedy strikes me as disenfranchising over half the voters in town... the voters who are not affiliated with either of the two major political parties. And I don't accept that as fair. And why any elected official would sit silent on the issue of fairness is puzzling to me. Yet that is what most have done since I first raised this issue during the June 12 Council meeting.

Regardless, the item was for discussion only and I got the answers to the two questions I asked at the June 26 Council meeting. So I left when the discussion was over, noting that I saw no reason why this prohibition was created in the first place and that, IMO, political fundraisers should be allowed on town property... for a fee, like anyone else.

Finally, I should note that I voted on the current building use policy in Jan 04, along with... most other current Council members. But that gets into another discussion... regarding "interpretations" of wording and such... perhaps I'll upload that tomorrow so that you can judge for yourself whether the Council voted to prohibit political fundraisers on town property.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Civic Hybrid gets 50mpg

Well... not quite. I'm actually getting just over 49.5mpg in my 2006 Civic Hybrid. I'm ok with that. lol.

Tim White

Council mtg 7/10

Ramblings from a tired blogger...

4) Consent calendar - David Schrumm voiced his opposition to including a request for a grant for the fire department's ladder truck.

6A) Post Office - the perpetual standstill continues.

6B) Culvert collapse funding - I opposed this because I feel the property owners should be required to pay for part of the funding of the $530,000 project... with rights (to develop) come responsibilities (to maintain). I asked about the maintenance records of the culvert/tunnel for the past few years, but no one at the meeting could speak to my question. This motion passed 7-2 (Schrumm, White opposed).

7A) Update of Veterans Memorial Plaza - thanks to my dad and Ernie Dipietro for having gotten this motion passed. They've both worked hard for many years to ensure the men and women who fight for us are shown proper respect.

7C) Bid waiver for tasers - At my request, the Town Manager provided details on the total number of contracts (and dollar values) that have had bids waived during the past year. (If you exclude the $530,000 culvert costs) I think... the town has had four of 27 bids waived. And they were for a total value of $80,000 for $2,700,000 in contracts. Furthermore, those four contracts all related to "sole source" purchases. Anyway... I know people have raised concerns about the town overusing bid waivers, but IMO, we don't. Aside from the bid waivers though... we got quite the taser show. I hope the full effect is caught on The Henry Channel.

7D) Town Manager's contract - I said my piece during the meeting. I could add more here, but the list is long... and detailed and nuanced... so I'm not planning on doing it. I will point out though that... for all the points I raised tonight and elsewhere, I've had both Council members and numerous residents agree with me that my concerns/disappointments/frustrations are completely valid. And frankly, the only disagreement I've found has been with various Council members. Regardless, I registered my concerns with my vote. The motion passed 8-1 (White opposed).

7E) Town Manager's Goals & Objectives - my only comment is that I was glad to have gotten one additional point into this document... "explore the possibility of adding videotaped meetings to the town website." As I said... this gets to the heart of transparency and accountability. Not that information is unavailable, but with today's technology... information should be much more easily available than it already is. Anyway, my goal is good government and I feel this could only help.

12A) Committee reports - I mentioned that the town is saving money by using biodiesel (B20?) and that the Bowmans should be opening their biodiesel factory in Cheshire this month... which is great news on a number of different levels... more on the town savings in a different post... probably later this week.

signing off...

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Articles on PZC vote

I didn't have time this morning, but here are the links to the two papers that had their articles online...

WRA, by Lauresha Xhihani

MRJ, by Leslie Hutchison

I could not find the NHR online, but did see the writeup by Luther Turmelle.

In a related issue, during tonight's Council meeting I asked about the lack of an attorney at the PZC meetings. Rather than give my version... just check out the meeting on TV. I asked the question after the Town Manager gave his report. There were a few points made, but the bottom line seemed to be that the PZC would need to request the presence of an attorney.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Monday, July 09, 2007

Council agenda 7/10

Sorry I didn't a get chance to post this sooner... it's the old and new business for tomorrow's Council agenda:Some thoughts...

6B) Rights (to develop) come with responsibilities (to maintain). I don't see any reason why government should pay for 100% of this project.

7A) This began with... you may have guessed it... dear ole dad! Anyway, this is a small recognition that we absolutely should give to those who have risked their lives for our country. And this update is long overdue.

7D) The Town Manager has done his job this year, but... he hasn't done it the way I think it should be done. So I do have differences with the TM, but... it's also my opinion. And other Council members can legitimately have a different sense of the job that should be performed. As such, I also have differences with those Council members on this. I'll provide more details tomorrow... still sorting out my thoughts.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

PZC vote on C&D Plan

In an unusual (and good) move, tonight's PZC meeting is being televised. I just watched the deliberations on W/S' proposed changes to our Plan of Conservation and Development.

It was interesting. The dialogue included an exchange over apparent contradictions within the Plan and amendments followed. That part of the discussion was led largely by Rich Levy and Paul Ranando with (I believe) the amendments all failing.

In the end, the PZC voted 7-2 (Ranando, Slocum opposed) to amend the Plan of Conservation & Development with both residential and retail now available as options.

The proposed zone text change passed (7-2) with the same votes of commissioners in support and opposition.

Tim White

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ron Paul gaining traction

Ron Paul was on the ABC Stephanopolous show this morning. As has happened in the past, I can't seem to post the youtube video... so here is the interview link.

Aside from the national exposure he got... anyone who is interested in returning America to a foreign policy of non-interventionism and a domestic policy of balanced budgets should be glad to hear that Ron Paul, M.D. has passed Sen. John McCain in fundraising in the Q2 GOP race (or at least that's what I thought I heard on the radio on the way back from the lovely Jersey shore this afternoon). And while the good doctor was outraised by Mitt and Rudy... just give Ron Paul some time. I think he may surprise people.

Ron Paul for President!

ND vote on Monday

The WRA has a recap on tomorrow's PZC vote (by Lauresha Xhihani).

Of interest to me is this particular quote "Commissioners have not been allowed to speak on the subject outside of meetings." Does anyone know the story behind this prohibition?

If you're interested in attending, I believe the PZC meeting is scheduled for 7:30pm at Town Hall on Monday night. I'm going to try to make it and videotape it for upload to youtube or dailymotion... stay tuned for that. I'm not sure if I'll even be able to figure out the videocamera by tomorrow night... btw, the lack of televising these meetings, as well as posting minutes to the website has really disappointed me lately.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Introducing Dave Cappiello

I guess it's official... Chris Murphy has an opponent, state Senator Dave Cappiello.

Don't ask me about him though. I really don't know much of anything about him. And it doesn't seem as though his website has anything either.

With regard to another Republican who may be on the ticket in '08... thus far I've only heard of two lawn sign in the entire state... one in Litchfield and one in Westport. Can you guess who?... Ron Paul! For all of the hoopla around Hillary and Barack... I've only heard that the good doctor has lawn signs!

And on a completely unrelated note... I may very well not be logging on this weekend... so, please be nice and try to avoid the inflammatory comments. k?

Tim White

Testing video

I'm just playing around with video... unfortunately, it seems as though there are a whole host of issues I need to work through in order to start having some real fun with video.

Anyway, this is a test for one step... recording off the TV, then uploading to youtube. But I really wanna learn to cut the video down to snippets... I thought Movie Maker on Windows XP might work... but it the file type on my DVD seems incompatible with MM. So... I'll just have to keep playing around with it.

Tim White


With the flurry of letters in today's Herald, Shenanigate seems unfinished. But rather than comment on the letters (which speak for themselves), I have a different point to make.

People keep raising concerns about the customary nature of the Town Clerk's office... and how the controls are insufficient. But here's my concern... for all the questions about the Town Clerk over the customary nature in which her office maintains "The List," I didn't here a peep from anyone on the Council when I mentioned that the only reason anyone relied on the list was because... it had become a custom. A custom of the Council... not of the Town Clerk.

So... to recap... if we (the Council) are going to get upset with the Town Clerk about the office's customs, then shouldn't we (the Council) really begin by blaming ourselves for having created our own custom?

And a general, nonpartisan question to all bloggers...

Are you tired of incumbents?
throw the bums out!
things are good.
what's an incumbent?
pollcode.com free polls

Tim White

Going nowhere

Or at least it seems as though that's where we're headed with our pool consultant report (Herald, by Josh Morgan)... btw, have I mentioned... I'm glad I didn't vote for this thing.

Seriously though, we have two main alternatives: summer facility or building.

And one thought to keep in mind... the pool is heated with natural gas... a fossil fuel... a fuel that is, in many ways, interchangeable with petroleum... so when we consume natural gas... we're indirectly increasing our consumption of oil.

Think of it as an "opportunity cost." Since the NG was consumed at the pool... oil had to be consumed elsewhere.

And for the record... I'm not happy about America's foreign policy. And I do believe that we're in the middle east largely because of our dependence on their oil. So if we can reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, IMO, it's worthwhile.

Tim White
Town Council, Energy Commission liaison

Proposed ND residential

With the impending PZC vote, I've had people asking me about my current feelings on the residential component, so here goes...

My hope was that the proposed residential would do something to help stem The Brain Drain being experienced in CT. But from my point of view, the current proposal for 2,000 sq. ft., 2-BR units will do nothing to address The Brain Drain... which is disappointing. So I don't see the point in the residential. Furthermore, from speaking with people around town... and from knocking on doors in the 4th over the past month... I certainly don't feel as though there is any outcry supporting residential in the proposal.

And on a related note, someone asked in another post about the ability of the people to oppose the residential component. So here's probably the key part of the Charter... the powers of initiative and referendum:

It might be an interesting legal question... could an ordinance prohibiting residential (or retail) prohibit the project from moving forward? I'm not a lawyer and I'm not sure... although I imagine state land use law would govern.

Tim White

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor

Probably the most powerful words I've ever read:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor (USHistory.org).

Although I think the opening is more well known:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

But again... for me, it's the closing words that say it all:

we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Wishing everyone a safe, enjoyable holiday... hoping we all keep these words in mind.
Tim White

Monday, July 02, 2007

Personnel committee 7/2

The Personnel Committee met tonight with basically two items on the agenda, Town Manager annual review/goals & objectives and Town Clerk's salary. The TM review was basically in executive session, so I won't talk about that. But I did find the discussion on the Town Clerk's salary interesting. Besides the Town Clerk getting a 3.5% raise for each of the next two years (Altieri, Ecke, Orsini, Ruocco, White in favor; all others absent), there was one comment tonight that I found absurd... bordering on unbelievable... when the topic of merit-based compensation came up... one councilor said (and I'm paraphrasing) "I haven't heard anything good or bad about the Town Clerk this year." Oh my goodness... the comment was really priceless.

Regardless, since it's an elected position... I'd rather stay away from merit-based pay because it could easily end up looking political. So I'd rather just determine a salary for the position.

Tim White

I-84 moves ahead, but accountability is needed

Empire Paving may begin reconstructing the botched I-84 job within a month, according to the Courant (by Edmund Mahony).

I assume the FBI is still investigating any possible criminal wrongdoing. And I heard the Legislature's Transportation Committee will begin oversight hearings this month.

So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that not only will the Fritz Fiasco - Maguire Mess - Defelice Debacle be fixed relatively soon, but people will also... eventually... be held to account.

Tim White

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Chris Murphy at Cheshire Stop n Shop

I have to say... Murphy's press machine is getting pretty good.

I just got an unsolicited email from his office. It mentions his efforts to reach out to the voters of CT-5 and that he will be shaking hands at:

Stop n Shop
Tuesday, July 3
1pm – 3pm

Frankly, I'm impressed that he's doing it. I mean... I think he should do it. But I can't believe that's the norm for sitting congressmen. As well, I'm impressed that his PR people got my email address. Not that it's that hard. But I've got to assume they found it here on the blog. Other than that... I doubt they'd be emailing me. Although... who knows. Regardless... they sought out my email and appear to be giving constituents the full court press in availing him to us. Good on him.

Anyway, thought you might be interested. As for me, if I saw him (which I won't b/c I'll be at work), I'd just remind him to hold his own party accountable... by that I mean the likes of Jack Murtha et al. He campaigned on change. But if the change we get is strictly in majority party, and not in reform of the system... then IMO, there isn't really much change... and we need the swamps of DC cleaned up.

Tim White

American Conservative on Ron Paul

Here's a brief description of a man who I could genuinely want to help elect President:

At first glance, he looks like every other congressman in the Canon Building. His suit is dark. His tie is striped. He is convivial with his colleagues, who genuinely like him. But there is something different about Ron Paul. (American Conservative Magazine, by Michael Brendan Dougherty)

You can hear congressmen when they walk down the hall, strutting their own importance. After all, there are regulations to be implemented, special interests to serve, a teetering American Empire that would collapse without their management. They wear black or cordovan leather shoes—captoes, wingtips, and brogues—clacking down the hall, their bellies full of medium-rare steak from Capital Grille. They are surrounded by ambitious interns and legislative aides. They fiddle with their BlackBerries. You can’t miss them tromping out of the elevators.

Ron Paul is easy to overlook. He takes the stairs; he does not have an entourage. You can’t hear him coming because he’s wearing plain black tennis shoes. In a bag he carries a can of soup that he will heat for himself in the microwave in his office. Beneath pictures of Austrian economists Frederick Von Hayek and Ludwig Von Mises, he will eat his lunch alone and in peace.

What is the purpose of Ron Paul’s candidacy for the presidency of the United States? Some longshots run because their egos demand it. Others want to raise their lecture fees. Some run because they have plenty of money and nothing better to do. Following a flood of viewer requests, the Texas congressman recently appeared on Fox News to explain himself. His answer was buoyant though laconic: “I want to be president because I have this dream. I’d like to reinstate the Constitution and restore the Republic.” His answer was also revolutionary.
In other words, I feel he's in this business for the right reasons... to make the world a better place... not for personal gratification.

Btw, he'll be in New Hampshire next weekend for some sort of straw poll? Would anyone be interested in heading up there with me?

Tim White