Thursday, August 30, 2007

Taxpayer victory!

Alternative financing isn't just an "alternative" anymore—it's an essential tool for meeting our federal energy goals. - US Department of Energy website

Well... it was an interesting capital budget discussion tonight.

The crux of my concern with the capital budget was not on the projects included in the budget, but how those projects are (or could be) financed. I've been advocating for a while now (most recently at the Council meeting only two weeks ago... in the midst of the capital budget discussions) that the town take a comprehensive look at our building infrastructure and consider an alternative form of financing (specifically, performance contracting) for energy efficiency projects.


Well, for instance, in this budget alone the taxpayers may have been able to avoid a cash outlay of $630,000... if we had considered performance contracting, but we didn't.

Regardless, while the Council had ignored my calls for consideration of these projects... tonight I was finally given public support. That means going forward, the Town will consider this form of financing for upcoming projects, such as:

1) the $1,900,000 "electric retrofit" at CHS,
2) a $4,500,000 "maintenance project" at the sewer plant and
3) $3,000,000 for a new fire house in the north end.

So it's entirely possible that projects such as these will never require a cash outlay from the taxpayers. Rather, their costs could be covered through money saved on energy efficiencies.

Bottom line... this is a victory for the taxpayers and the town! And I'd like to thank Mike Ecke for his public support! (Privately, I also received support from Elizabeth Esty... so a thank you to her too!)

While it's unfortunate that the Council had not acted sooner, so as to possibly be able to avoid a $630,000 cash outlay for the current year capital budget... I think this is a perfect example of how the Council can work together to bring new ideas to the table.

And if you're interested in learning more about "energy savings performance contracts," click here.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Memorial service Sept 19

A Townwide memorial service is planned for Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. at the Cheshire High School football field (the service will be moved indoors to the high school gym in the event of inclement weather).

The Town of Cheshire continues to offer its support and deepest sympathies to the Petit family, friends and neighbors. Counseling sessions will continue to be offered to residents; please contact the Youth and Social Services Department for more information at (203) 271-6690. In addition, the Connecticut Association of Social Workers (860-257-8066) and the Connecticut Psychological Association (860-586-7522), have agreed to refer residents to local, qualified counselors for free grief counseling. (Taken from the town website)

NHR, by Luther Turmelle

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another corn maze

Check out the Cheshire Land Trust website to see a really fun aerial view of the corn maze at Ives Farm.

h/t to Tim Slocum!

Tim White

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Council agenda 8/30

Here's the agenda for Thursday's special Council meeting:Included here is more discussion on the Strathmore dam.

And of interest to me is a grant to buy a hybrid car... perhaps a Civic Hybrid! Well, I've only got good things to say about mine. Although the grant name "clean fuel" strikes me as odd... hybrids (Prius & Civic) use nothing but gasoline and electric. There's no "clean fuel" involved. Anyway... that's the agenda for Thursday's meeting.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Capital bgt 8/28

The Budget Committee met tonight to recommend a budget to the Council. There were a few items that got changed, including the removal (or delay?) of the:

sewer plant long range plan - $150,000 (incl last yr's money, this exceeds the $350,000 referendum threshold)

In it's place, the "sewer upgrade/maintenance" was increased from $350,000 to $500,000. This was a concern for me because $350,000 doesn't go to referendum, but $350,001 does go to referendum. And my preference is to send items to referendum. So due to my concern, as well as a variety of other concerns, this will likely be a referendum question this fall for $500,000... while the "sewer plant long range plan" will not be in the current year budget.

There also was discussion about the long-term planning of the town and schools. There seemed to be bipartisan support for this idea with comments coming from Elizabeth Esty, Matt Hall, Tom Ruocco and David Schrumm. I agree. We should have a better idea of our long-term plan for infrastructure (buildings, roads, sewers, etc.).

The Budget Committee voted to recommend both the current year and five-year capital plans to the Council. Both votes were 2-1 (White opposed). I have concerns with the budget, all of which I mentioned during the budget committee meetings. I'll draft up my thoughts and share them on Thursday night.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

A contrast in caucuses

US Senate Republicans

Larry Craig plead guilty to a misdemeanor and his caucus (Mitch McConnell) immediately referred the incident to the Senate's ethics committee.

CT Senate Republicans

Lou DeLuca plead guilty to a misdemeanor and his caucus sat silent for months... although at least Dave Cappiello spoke out.

As I've said before, comity reigns supreme under the gold dome.

Tim White

The value of a vote

For anyone who has ever been curious about the "inner workings" of the Council, we had a lively email exchange over the past week that I wanted to share.

It started last Monday Aug 20 with an email from Town Hall staff:

To all,

After consultation with Matt Hall and Michael Ecke, the Budget Committee and Special Council meeting dates have been revised as follows:

* Monday, August 27, 2007, 7:30 p.m. - Budget Committee (jointly with Council) for review of CEP
* Tuesday, August 28, 2007, 7:30 p.m. - Budget Committee (jointly with Council) for review of CEP, if needed
* Thursday, August 30, 2007, 7:30 p.m. - Special Council meeting, including adoption of CEP

We will get the agendas out to you all ASAP. Thank you.

That was followed up last Friday with another email from Town Hall staff:

To all, Here are the agendas for the August 27th and 28th Budget Committee meetings (both in the attached document) - thanks.

Then there was this email yesterday morning from (one Council member) and sent to the Council and staff:

Why is the scheduled Tuesday special meeting being moved to Thursday? The fact that a Tuesday budget/council meeting remains on the schedule "if needed" tells me the Council can have the special meeting to adopt cap budget on Tuesday as originally planned.

We block out 2nd and 4th Tuesdays for Council meetings and schedule the rest of our lives on other days of the week. I have a conflict with Thursday 30th so I doubt I'll be able to attend Council meeting.

Please advise. Thanks.

Then I sent out this email yesterday afternoon:

I think we should stay with the original plan and vote on the capital budget on Tuesday.

Then there was this email from town staff yesterday afternoon:

To all,

Chairman Hall asked me to advise you all that my email of August 20, 2007 regarding a change in meeting dates was prompted by the concern that the Budget Committee would not have a quorum on August 27 (tonight) and might not have a quorum on Tuesday, August 28, 2007, since (one Council member) is due to return from a family trip late in the day on that date. Any delay in (that Council member's) travel plans that are out of (that Council member's) control (weather-related cancelled flight, for example) could potentially create a delay in the action on the CEP. Therefore, he felt it best to set a "date certain" for the full Council to vote on the CEP on Thursday, August 30, 2007. This also provides ample time for council members to review, digest and prepare comment for the council's vote on adoption.

Mr. Hall also asked that, in the future, you please notify him directly and in a more timely manner if you have any availability issues.

Thank you.

Which got this response from me yesterday afternoon:

concern that the Budget Committee would not have a quorum on August 27 (tonight) and might not have a quorum on Tuesday, August 28, 2007
huh? As Chairman, Mike Ecke set the meeting. So if someone simply asked me if I would be at those two meetings, wouldn't it be self-evident that there would be a quorum?

felt it best to set a "date certain" for the full Council to vote on the CEP.
Huh? What is meant by “full council?” It seems as though neither Tuesday nor Thursday will have all nine Council members. So, what's the benefit of Thursday over Tuesday?

From the voters perspective, I’d suggest that Tuesday would make more sense.

Ok, ok... I can't say that I really expected a response. But I do wonder... are the votes of each Council member equal?

Btw, I intend on attending all Council meetings this week.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Monday, August 27, 2007

Capital bgt 8/27

We had another capital budget meeting tonight. The highlights:

The proposed referendum question:

1) open space - $1,000,000
2) fire truck - $455,000
3) sewer plant long range plan - $150,000 (incl last yr's money, this exceeds the $350,000 referendum threshold)
4) sewer expansion - $200,000 (incl last yr's money, this exceeds the $350,000 referendum threshold)
5) Humiston upgrade - $600,000 ($462,000 goes to referendum; I believe this is for updating fire alarms and fire suppression apparatus)

Not currently mentioned in this year's capital budget (either current year or five year plan):

1) no money for strathmore dam.
2) no money for barite mines.

On the topic of the barite mines, I mentioned a book that I had recently seen discussed on C-Span:

The Day the Earth Caved In

From the Amazon review:

a 12-year-old boy was sucked through the weakened ground in his backyard into a muddy, steaming cauldron, barely escaping alive. When investigation revealed the full extent of the danger, the town and its residents were launched on a long, frustrating odyssey that drew in federal and state governments, the national media, hordes of attorneys, and large corporations.... In her engrossing saga, government agencies at both the federal and state levels are shown as irresponsible and craven, and the greed of corporations is sickening. But the townspeople, striving for economic justice while clinging to the hope of saving their threatened community, wear the mantel of nobility.

I know one thing about Diane Visconti... whether you agree with her or not, she certainly does care. And she certainly is persistent.

Finally, unrelated to the capital budget, but after the meeting I had a chance to speak with the Town Manager. I asked him about what I believe is the #1 concern for people in town: personal safety.

I asked the TM if the police were going to be offering any sort of public safety classes. He reminded me that he had mentioned a few things in which the police are already engaging, such as reestablishing "neighborhood block watches." And while I think that's good, I also asked him if the police could reach out to the community to provide "how to" information on personal safety (classes, products, etc.). I think people in town would really appreciate that right now.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Zentek corn maze

If you're looking for something to do, don't forget about the front page story in last week's Herald... the corn maze at Zentek Farms on Higgins.

And if you're interested, I was talking with Paul Zentek this week at One Stop and while I believe the grand opening is next weekend... they may be doing a soft opening sooner.

Tim White

The North Block

Rep. Al Adinolfi wants to use the 400 empty beds of Cheshire's "North Block" prison (MRJ, by Leslie Hutchison).

Tim White

Rocking the boat

I hope a lot of people see this invaluable editorial in the WRA:

Connecticut needs more boat-rockers, in and out of government. It needs straight-talkers unafraid to call out the powers that be for their misfeasance and malfeasance. What it's likely to get when the politicians get around to replacing Messrs. Bycel and Papillo are hacks who go along to get along — "potted plants," as Mr. Papillo prefers to call them. Replacing these valuable men with two more potted plants might be enough to turn the Capitol into the state's official nursery.

Tim White

Friday, August 24, 2007

Council agenda 8/27 & 8/28

Next week's Council meetings (with the Budget Committee) meetings have had their long-awaited agendas announced:

Monday's meeting...


1. Roll Call.
2. Pledge of Allegiance.
3. Discussion and action re: proposed Fiscal Year 2007-2008 Five Year Capital Expenditure Plan and Annual Capital Expenditure Budget.
4. Adjournment.

and Tuesday's meeting...


1. Roll Call.
2. Pledge of Allegiance.
3. Discussion and action re: proposed Fiscal Year 2007-2008 Five Year Capital
Expenditure Plan and Annual Capital Expenditure Budget.
4. Adjournment.

Since we've got a full Council meeting scheduled on Tuesday, maybe we should also vote on the capital budget on Tuesday? That is how it was planned until a few days ago. It should be simple enough to add to the agenda.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Islander East goes south

According to The Day, Islander East may have gone the way of the dodo (by Ted Mann).

I believe Islander East had eyed the "southeast quadrant" of the interchange zone for its (every-25-miles) pumping station that would have moved the gas through the proposed NG pipeline.

Tim White

DeLuca panel named

Dean Pagani's "Media Attache" seems to have gotten the scoop on the Senate panel reviewing Lou DeLuca. The six Senators are:

Martin Looney (D)
Andrea Stillman (D)
Don DeFronzo (D)
Bill Nickerson (R)
Tony Guglielmo (R)
Andrew Roraback (R)

I have no idea on how this will turn out (no action, censure, expulsion, etc.). I still think that he ought to resign though.

Tim White

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Minimizing impervious surfaces

The Courant has an editorial that may be of interest to people concerned about the environmental impact on the proposed ND. And here is a link to a ten year study on rainwater runoff created by the construction of "impervious surfaces" (sidewalks, roads, roofs, etc.).

I hope such studies are seriously considered.

Tim White

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Meriden Square steps in

Westfield Meriden mall has apparently hired environmental experts to gather information for a possible legal action against a company seeking to build an upscale shopping center in Cheshire's north end. (MRJ, by Leslie Hutchison)

During a site walk of the property by the town's Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission on Saturday, two professional wetlands scientists working for REMA Environmental Services of Manchester said they had been hired by a Westfield attorney to provide environmental reports as part of a possible intervention, or lawsuit, by the international property group.

Tim White

Town business survey

The MRJ is reporting on the town's just completed business survey (by Leslie Hutchison).

Results from the town's first online survey of businesses show quality of life is a key reason that companies have chosen to locate (here).... One of the more unexpected responses concerns high-speed Internet connections, with 84 percent of survey-takers calling it important for their business.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Murphy vs. Cappiello

U.S. Rep. Christopher S. Murphy supports campaign finance reform, an issue he championed while in the state legislature, but that hasn't stopped him from raising a record amount of money since he was elected to Congress last November.In his first three months in office, Murphy, a Democrat who represents the 5th District, raised nearly $420,000, the most ever by a Connecticut congressman during the first quarter of an election cycle, according to the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. That's a pace of almost $140,000 per month, or a staggering $4,666 per day....

"Chris Murphy talked a big game on the campaign trail about taking on the special interests," said Ken Spain, an NRCC spokesman, "but now that he is in Congress, he has become an advocate of business as usual in Washington." Murphy's opponent, state Sen. David J. Cappiello, a Danbury Republican, also criticizes Murphy. "It's what he believed two years ago, and it's what we should do right now," Cappiello said. "I would be willing to forgo any special interest, lobbyist or PAC money if he would do the same." (MRJ, by Adam Wittenberg)

Dave Cappiello has the advantage here. But in fairness to Murphy, he could rightly say that Cappiello is not yet his opponent... and that it's entirely possible that another Republican challenger emerges... or even that an independent steps into the ring... and those possible opponents would not be willing to forego PAC money.

Tim White

Sima on schools' capital bgt

A $125,000 project to replace moldy carpet in more than a dozen Doolittle Elementary School classrooms has raised the possibility that the Board of Education might have to seek a special appropriation from the town if any major maintenance emergencies crop up through the remainder of the fiscal year June 30.

District officials had asked for money to be included in the current fiscal year of the town's five-year capital spending plan....

Board member James Sima was critical of the decision not to include the carpet replacement project in the capital spending request. "It's sort of strange... that it got removed." (NHR, by Luther Turmelle)

Tim White

Monday, August 20, 2007

Capital bgt vote delayed

I got the following email from Town Hall today:

To all,

After consultation with Matt Hall and Michael Ecke, the Budget Committee and Special Council meeting dates have been revised as follows:

* Monday, August 27, 2007, 7:30 p.m. - Budget Committee (jointly with Council) for review of CEP
* Tuesday, August 28, 2007, 7:30 p.m. - Budget Committee (jointly with Council) for review of CEP, if needed
* Thursday, August 30, 2007, 7:30 p.m. - Special Council meeting, including adoption of CEP

We will get the agendas out to you all ASAP. Thank you.

No word on why the delay. Frankly though, it seems odd to me. After all, we're still allowing for a meeting on Tuesday.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Referendum questions

As it stands, the proposed capital budget would include the following items (and their related amounts) going to referendum. Some items above the $350,000 (such as the CHS elevator) would not go to referendum as they include less than $350,000 in locally bonded property tax dollars (for example, CNR is not bonded)... although per the TM, the Council could aggregate items to a number in excess of $350,000 in order to send projects to referendum. And personally, I like the voter involvement... although other Council members clearly prefer to avoid sending projects to referendum.

1) Open space - $1,000,000
2) fire truck - $455,000
3) bridge/dam/culvert - $700,000 (some want to break this number down. the result would be the project gets done without going to referendum.)
4) Sewer facility plan - $150,000 (in addition to prior $350,000 appropriation)
5) Sewer expansion - $200,000 (in addition to prior $200,000 appropriation)
6) Sewer upgrade - $500,000
7) Humiston upgrade - $462,000 (in addition to prior $110,000 appropriation)

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Medal of Honor Plaza dedication

With "The Wall" coming to Cheshire this October, I thought I'd offer my dad's comments from the dedication ceremony for the town's Medal of Honor Plaza, delivered April 25, 1998:

The theme of this gathering is patriotism. When we initiated the Medal of Honor Plaza project in 1995, we wanted to elevate the public expression of patriotism in town so that the great sacrifice which so many people have made for the freedom we enjoy is remembered and understood.

This plaza and these trees of the Living Classroom are visible reminders of the fact that freedom is not free. In this world of tyrants and stealthy forces hostile to liberty, to be born free is a great privilege, but to die free is a great responsibility.

These seedlings come from historic trees: a Valley Forge river birch, a locust from the Gettysburg Battlefield when Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, our state's Charter Oak, a maple from George Washington's Delaware River crossing, a sycamore from Mt. Vernon and an oak from Nathan Hale's home here in Connecticut. They signify great events, great Americans and great battlefields.

Last weekend I went to the battlefields at Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill. It was a deeply moving experience to reflect on those patriots who were faithful to liberty, even unto death. On the 18th of April in 1775, Paul Revere rode from Boston through Lexington and on to Concord to warn his countrymen that the King's soldiers were coming to seize their arms and ammunition for daring to protest taxation without representation and other abuses by the crown. Hundreds of the best trained, best armed soldiers in the world were marching to put down a rebellion against tyranny by simple farmers and merchants.

Lexington is the birthplace of American liberty; that is where the first shots of our War for Independence were fired. Eight colonists died there in an unorganized skirmish against Britain's military might. The British troops then marched on to Concord. There the colonists' resistance became organized as hundreds of hastily assembled Minutemen militia gathered by the North bridge to engage the British. There they fired the shot heard round the world. Two months later, at Bunker Hill, in the first major battle of the war, the colonists showed such courage and determination that the British finally knew the rebellion would not stop.

The theme of this gathering is patriotism. But what is patriotism? The easy answer is: Patriotism is love of country. But why should we love America? What did those Yankee rebels and their comrades in arms of later generations (such as Eri Woodbury, Harvey Barnum and the veterans whose names are on these bricks) do for us? What is our country, really, that we should love it?

America is the fortress of freedom and the land of opportunity for all. It was the first nation in history founded on spiritual principles. Those principles declare that all people are created equal and that we are endowed by God with the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Thanks to the wisdom, courage and sacrifice of the Signers of the Declaration and the Framers of the Constitution, America has contributed more to the betterment of ordinary people than any other political body in history.

Patriotism recognizes that and honors America in thought, word and deed. The War for Independence which founded our nation is over, but the American Revolution continues because it is a spiritual revolution of global dimensions. That revolution is the proclamation of liberty and unalienable rights for all, derived from God and ensured through government of the people, by the people and for the people.

America is an experiment in human living a magnificent experiment. But it is an unfinished experiment and will not be completed until the entire human race enjoys the blessings of liberty we Americans now have. As a nation, we can so shine our light into the darkness of oppression, poverty, ignorance and fear that freedom is proclaimed throughout the world and the blessings of liberty are extended to all people. And then we would truly have a world at peace, a world without need for armies. That is the age-old dream of humanity. It is also the promise of America. This plaza and Living Classroom honor the courage and sacrifice of those brave men and women who preserved our freedom; it also honors the essence of America because freedom is the future of the world.

Through the grace of God and our own renewed commitment to patriotism, all the world will someday know that truth, the truth which makes us free, and then that age-old dream will be realized.

John White

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Status of web video

In an effort to keep the ball rolling, I just sent this email to the Town Council and staff:


With regard to the goal of placing Town Council meetings on the internet, where does this stand (subcommittees, full Council, etc.)? And when can the voters expect to see discussion (and perhaps action) on this?

By the way, I believe a conversation between the town's IT staff and the Town Council's TV Production consultant, Henry Chase, would expedite this process.


Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Empty prison beds

The MRJ ran this article on empty prison beds in Cheshire (by Leslie Hutchison).

During a "three strikes" rally in Cheshire on Wednesday, Adinolfi called for filling the 300 empty beds at the Cheshire Correctional Institution.

"I couldn't believe it," said Rep. Mary G. Fritz, D-Yalesville, whose district includes the Cheshire prison. "I don't expect it's true. There is no way there are 300 empty cells in Cheshire."

What Adinolfi referred to, she believes, is the so-called North Block, a section of the oldest building at the prison that has not been modernized.

"There are big problems there; a lack of sight lines," Fritz said. "The Department of Correction doesn't consider it safe," she added.

"It's been rejuvenated," Adinolfi said. "They claim if there's an emergency," it can be used. He wants the department to use the Cheshire prison to house more inmates while the state is building a new prison or expanding the existing facility in Cheshire.
Tim White

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rep. Al Adinolfi's letter

Did anyone happen to notice the letter from Uncle Al in today's Herald? I certainly appreciated it. He said that he'll be calling hearings in Cheshire on the I-84 debacle. That's great news.

After all, Democratic state Senator Gary LeBeau's recently said that the MaGuire Group was the "nexus" of the debacle. So with these hearings, maybe people in Cheshire will be able to get an answer to the obvious followup question: In light of the fact that he wasn't (NICET) qualified, how did William Fritz get the job as Chief Inspector?

Tim White

No drugs involved

The two men charged in last month's triple slaying in Cheshire had no drugs or alcohol in their systems, a startling revelation that could damage their chances of escaping death sentences.Sources familiar with the investigation said toxicology tests on both Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes came back negative for drugs or alcohol. (Courant, by Altimari, Griffin and Poitras)

Tim White

Capital bgt 8/16

The Budget Committee met tonight. We discussed the budgets for:

Planning & Development - open space, economic development & energy commission
Public Safety - fire (no police)
Leisure Services - parks & recreation

See details by clicking on this image:I voiced my general concern that I'm uncertain about voter support for open space and recreation projects. And I don't care for spending $500,000 in property taxes on West Main Street... I think people would be more interested in a comprehensive approach to dealing with the pool, rather than starting new projects.

Anyway, the meeting started at 8pm and ended near 11pm. And it's late now and I'm tired... so goodnight!

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

p.s. There seems to be a sudden interest in my idea of putting Council meeting video on the web!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

3 Strikes rally

Though I left early to attend the 8pm capital budget meeting, I thought the rally went really well. Thanks to Marilyn and Joe Bartoli for making it happen. With Dr. Petit there, I think the legislators in attendance understand that violent crime needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness.

Thanks to the many state legislators who came in support of the "3 Strikes" rule, including 3 of Cheshire's 5 legislators (Al Adinolfi, Sam Caligiuri and Mary Fritz). All three spoke and shared their thoughts. And not directly related to the "3 Strikes" rule, but related to this horrific event, I want to thank Al Adinolfi and Mary Fritz both for having voted to keep capital punishment as an option in a March 30, 2005 vote of the state House. For me personally, I don't care for capital punishment, but I absolutely believe that it should be an option.

Additionally, I noticed Councilmen Altieri, Orsini and Ruocco in attendance tonight. So thanks to them for their visible, if unspoken, support for the cause.

Tim White

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Chris Murphy on Face the State

I have just two thoughts on this interview:

On Corruption: Chris has rightfully pointed fingers at both sides of the aisle, but I'd like to see him be more forceful with both Ds and Rs.

On Supporting Dodd: He was very diplomatic, but come on... he's supporting Dodd because of experience? He's supporting Dodd because he's "the hometown boy." Personally, I've liked several of things that I've heard Barack say. I don't recall agreeing with Dodd on anything I've heard him say.

Tim White

Council mtg 8/14

1) Bid waiver for two new police cruisers passed unanimously.

2) Change to the Program Supervisor position for the Youth & Social Services dept had some discussion. I saw pros and cons on both sides and felt they all were fairly equal in weight. There was no cost increase/decrease identified with this change. In the end the motion passed 6-2-1 (Ruocco, Schrumm opposed; Orsini abstained).

3) Year end budget transfers passed unanimously.

4) Acceptance of Honey Road was tabled and a PZC review was requested.

5) Lane Construction Corp was granted a tax abatement. Lane CC is the company that recently announced its move to Cheshire from Meriden.

6) Transparency and Accountability in Local Government... oh wait... this never quite got on the agenda... although we were certainly discussing it. I think what confused me most with this were all the "off camera" straw men that were thrown at this... "budgetary concerns, complexity, time requirements, legal concerns (with regard to meeting minutes)..." or even that by raising this motion, "I would embarrass myself!" But as you can see right here:

Adding Council meetings to the internet can be done. And if these meetings can be added to my blog, I'm sure Town Hall's IT staff could add this to the town website with haste. As for why there is institutional resistance to this measure... I can only speculate.

The Town Manager reported on the geese at Mixville. I tried to be candid in my concern... before we go killing geese... have we really done all that we can? Consider... according to the Park & Rec dept, there are no more geese today than there were 10-15 years ago... yet it's been said that the use of Mixville has decreased over that time. So are the geese leaving more droppings? Or are we just paying less attention to Mixville?

Alright... I'm going to bed. But just a reminder... Marilyn Bartoli's "3 Strikes" rally is tomorrow at Bartlem Park at 7pm. And so you know, tomorrow's capital budget meeting has been delayed until 8pm. Thanks to Mike Ecke for making that change happen.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Draft resolution on transparency

If the Council agrees to add my proposed agenda item "Transparency and accountability in local government," then this is the current draft of the resolution I would offer:

Whereas, transparency in government is necessary to hold officials accountable, and

Whereas, holding officials accountable is necessary for good government, and

Whereas, new media allows for greater transparency in government via easier and speedier access to government information for a larger number of people,

Therefore, be it resolved, that the Town Council directs the Town Manager and requests the Town Council’s TV production consultant, Henry Chase, to upload the video recording of this Council meeting to the internet and to provide the video on the Town website’s homepage, and

Be it further resolved that as new Council meetings and public hearings occur, they will also be uploaded to the internet with the most recent video being available on the Town website's homepage and a link being provided on the Town website’s homepage for all historical meetings; and

Be it further resolved that meeting videos will be accompanied by a table of contents that enables people to easily view the meeting by agenda item; and

Be it further resolved that a link to meeting minutes will be added to the Town website’s homepage and that all meeting minutes will be added starting from January 1, 2007.

And be it further resolved that the Town Manager will have the video of this meeting available on the Town website’s homepage by August 27, 2007.

And be it further resolved that the Town website’s homepage link to all meeting minutes for 2007 will exist by August 27, 2007.

What do you think? I'm amenable to changes. Perhaps work in Planning & Zoning in there somewhere? Feel free to offer any and all changes.

And if you have any doubt about the viability of getting Council meetings on the Town website's homepage, I offer you this (compliments of Craig Houghton at Cheshire Town Post)

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Monday, August 13, 2007

Capital bgt mtg 8/13

The Budget Committee kicked off the capital budget meetings tonight. We discussed the schools, DPW (incl sewers & public properties) and the Library. First up, the schools... several items were eliminated from the Town Manager's proposal due to budgetary pressures in the first year, including a reduction from $500k to $250k for this item:

$250,000 in year one for various school renovations:
Other reductions in the first year included Dodd kitchen renovations, energy efficient timers for exhaust fans, repaving and carpet replacements (required for air quality issues). I voiced my concern about eliminating energy efficiency measures and my desire to ensure the schools' indoor air quality is good (remember... I have asthma).

$200,000 in year one is still included for a new payroll system. I asked about synergies with the town payroll system, but there were no guarantees of anything... which is not a big deal to me. I just want to make sure there is at least a discussion.

For details on the following budget line items, please see prior posts.

I got a more complete explanation on Humiston. Basically, we have to spend $600,000 this year on fire safety issues. Then the $2,000,000 in year two is more of a hypothetical... basically, it depends on when/if Humiston is required to become ADA-compliant. That could be next year... or it could be never. Anyway, the $600k and $2m are somewhat independent of each other, although I asked if it would cost less to construct an entirely new building... the response to which was basically "I don't know," followed by a reasonable explanation that there are too many unknown variables right now.

The school roofing plan was discussed. I simply voiced my desire to search out some ESCOs (energy services company) and see if we could perform a comprehensive town wide energy services plan (addressing both "envelope" (walls, windows, roofs, etc.) and "equipment" (boilers, HVACs, etc.)) that would reduce our overall energy consumption, provide us with capital improvements and, perhaps, save us some money. Then the Town Manager reminded us that such a plan could impact our debt rating.

We followed up with Public Works. Points of interest to me were a "back of the napkin" calculation that if we were to maintain our roads in good shape in perpetuity, it would probably cost $1,000,000/yr. That number was based on: 150 miles of roads, $25/ft of road & a 20 yr life. I found that interesting... and expensive.... Also of interest to me is the Church Drive repaving for $120,000. And while people have mentioned Jefferson's "separation of church and state" to me, I tend to support this project... at a local level, and here in Cheshire... to me it makes sense... even during the meeting tonight, I mentioned the "Town Green" which it is not. Nonetheless, most Council members seemed to agree that the arrangement (ownership / easement / etc.) would need to change to some extent in order to garner support among Council members. As well, Elizabeth Esty and Diane Visconti both mentioned that they'll probably recuse themselves from any vote as they are both members of the Church.

Sewers came next. But there was just too much going on in that for me to explain it right now. One of my main concerns here though is to ensure we send stuff to referendum... if it should go to referendum. For instance, if we spend $200,000 on sewers for ABC Drive this year and $200,000 for sewers on XYZ Street next year, should those two items be considered the same project... in excess of the $350,000 referendum number... and therefore the voters should have an opportunity to vote? I think the voters should have the right to vote.

Public properties included $280,000 for town buildings ($150,000 for envelope - windows, roofs, siding & $130,000 for fire safety - both alarms and suppression).

The Library finished things off. I simply asked that if we bought the equipment next year, would there be any efficiencies found.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Transparency and accountability

I sent the following email to the Council members tonight:


At Tuesday's meeting, I intend to make a motion to request an item be placed on the agenda.

Discussion and action re: Transparency and accountability in local government.

I hope that I can have unanimous support in adding this item to the agenda... and for the motion that I will hopefully be able to make if this item is added to the agenda... although I haven't drafted it yet.

thanks for your consideration,

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

3 Strikes rally update

Here's a WTNH clip of Marilyn Bartoli talking about the upcoming "3 Strikes" rally that she's been organizing. Attendance is expected to number in the 1,000s. (To see the video, click on the icon of a videocamera... it's right below the headline.)

The rally is scheduled to begin at 7pm on Wednesday at Bartlem Park. As well, there's a capital budget meeting scheduled to begin at 7:15pm in Town Hall.

In deference to people in town who are interested in both, on Thursday I requested that the capital budget meeting be delayed until 7:30pm, or even 8pm. No word yet on whether this will happen.

As previously mentioned by Redtown, here is the March 30, 2005 state House roll call vote on capital punishment. A yes vote was in favor of abolishing capital punishment. A no vote was in favor of keeping it available as an option.

Tim White

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Council agenda 8/11

Here is the "new business" part of the agenda for Tuesday's Council meeting. This meeting will follow the capital budget public hearing(s). (Click on the images to enlarge them.) And here's a synopsis of the proposed Capital Budget:

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Cheshire Town Post

Craig Houghton of Cheshire Town Post deserves a BIG thank you for posting town meetings to the web. You can now see the 2007 meetings from January 23, June 12 and June 26 on the web!!! Of special interest to many in town may be the "Shenanigate" meetings of June 12 & June 26. The June 26 portion of Shenanigate starts on this video at 46:15 (just click and drag the scroll bar... the whole action is nearly instantaneous if you have cable hookup... and you don't need to wait 46 minutes to watch!). Also of interest to me on this particular video segment is the Q&A on the town's fund balance. You can see my questions at 16:10. You really should watch it.

And something that's been on my mind... a real pet peeve of mine is when someone doesn't want to listen to me, so they just talk right over me. Does anyone else find that annoying?

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

p.s. Make sure you stop by Cheshire Town Post, leave a comment and say thanks to Craig Houghton for getting this up. And remember that you can do a front page post over there.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cap bgt (schools - compliance & roofs)

Here are the Board of Education's "descriptions and justifications" for the proposed code compliance and roof replacement plans for the schools...

$600,000 in year one and
$2,000,000 in year two for Humiston code compliance:

$400,000 in year one for a new elevator at CHS:$100,000 in year two for a review of the school roofs:And here's some idea of the age of various portions of the roofs on the schools:

And someone asked on a previous post about the $2,600,000 price tag for Humiston, suggesting it would be cheaper to tear down and construct a new building... so... the story as I understand it:

Humiston was donated to the Town contingent on the building being used as a school... as soon as the building ceases to exist, it reverts to the Humiston estate... I think. As well, it is an historic building... or... at least... it's an old building in the historic district. I'm not sure if it's on the National Register... nonetheless, I think most people would agree that it's an historic building... however you define "historic." Anyway... that's part of the thought process to answer one poster's question.

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Ned Bowman to lead CTInnovations

A former Cheshire Town Council member and businessman has been selected by Gov. M. Jodi Rell as chairman of Connecticut Innovations, the state's technology investment arm.

("Ned") Bowman Jr., 48, of Southbury, replaces Elaine Pullen, who resigned from the unpaid position last week after a little more than two years on the job, without explanation.
(NHR, by Luther Turmelle)

I think it's pretty cool that Ned got the job. And as a reminder, Ned's spearheading the biodiesel factory in the north end. When it opens, it's expected to be the largest of its kind in, I think, New England.

Tim White

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Capital bgt (Schools I)

School capital budget here... I didn't include the normal details because I don't have the time to upload all of it right now. So I just figured I'd offer you this... basically, whereas the town departments each have two levels of details... the schools have three levels of details. So if you look at the top image... you'll see that the three bottom images are simply giving a greater level of detail than the top image... blah, blah, blah.... anyway...

The schools overall five year capital budget as proposed by the Town Manager:Here is the schools' code compliance budget:Here is the schools' roof replacement budget:Here is the schools' renovation budget:Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Council on the web!

Despite resistance from Town Hall, and little advocacy from the Town Council, Cheshire's blogosphere has demonstrated that we've entered a new world with new media.

Hats off to the Cheshire Town Post's Craig Houghton!

While Town Hall has been dragging its feet on the addition of video to the town website (I first requested it in May, perhaps April)... ostensibly because of the difficulty of making it happen... Craig Houghton has begun posting Council meetings to Google Video (similar to YouTube). Go check it out. He started with the June 26 meeting. (You may recall that was the "Shenanigate" meeting.)

Furthermore, the meeting (near the end) included the discussion on the Council's newly created Public Information Officer position. Do I even need to point out the irony of this?

Again... props to Craig Houghton at Cheshire Town Post! (Btw, if you're interested, you can do your own front page posts over there from your own computer... unlike here, where only I post to the front page.)

On a related note, I'm hoping to get the Council's Pool Consultant discussion (Nov 28, 2006) up on the web soon. I watched it last night... I'm sure you too will appreciate the stroll down Memory Lane as much as I did.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Capital bgt (Parks & Rec)

I got word tonight that next week's capital budget meetings have each been rescheduled to begin a bit later than previously announced. Both meetings will still be held next Monday/Wednesday though... public hearing on the cap bgt is still scheduled for Tuesday.

Here's the Town Manager's proposed 5-yr capital budget for Parks & Rec:

$170,000 in year one for the playground ($410,000 total, including $140,000 from private fundraising and $100,000):$340,000 in year one to tile the pool and
$60,000 in year one for an ultraviolet contraption to clean the water:
$350,000 in year two to extend the linear trail:
$110,000 in year two to dredge Mixville pond:
Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Transparency in earmarks

The federal earmarking practice stinks. But what makes this process even worse is the lack of required transparency... thus there's a certain inability on the part of voters to hold their elected officials accountable. Anyway...

While I don't like the earmark process, I wanted to give Chris Murphy credit for having disclosed his earmarks. Take a gander at his requested earmarks here.

Frankly though... at this point I'm really disappointed with this whole earmark process. I just learned that even Ron Paul requests earmarks (that he fully disclosed). To his credit though... the House Minority Leader, John Boehner (pronounced: bay-ner) did not request any earmarks this year. And as I understand it, he has never requested an earmark. So, he's got that going for him in my book.

Tim White

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ron Paul in Iowa debate - Aug 5, 2007

Ron Paul excerpts from Sunday's debate. (eight minutes)

Tim White

Medal of Honor recipients

A guest post from my dad, John White:

Cheshire is probably unique among small towns of America in this respect: We have had two residents who received the nation's highest military award, the Congressional Medal of Honor. They are ERI DAVIDSON WOODBURY and HARVEY CURTISS BARNUM, Jr.

The medal is awarded for military heroism. It is the highest symbol of the courage and sacrifice by those who have served and still serve in America's armed forces. It was authorized by Congress in 1862 and, as stated in the citation to the left, is conferred by the President/Commander-in-Chief for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. It has been awarded to only 3,419 people of the millions who have served in the military since the medal was instituted. Nearly 70 percent of those awards were conferred posthumously. Currently, there are fewer than 170 living Medal of Honor recipients.

The first Cheshire resident to receive the medal was ERI DAVIDSON WOODBURY (1837-1928), a Vermont native and a sergeant in the Vermont Cavalry during the Civil War. After the war he settled in Cheshire as a teacher at Cheshire Academy, where he later became headmaster. He is buried in the cemetery behind St. Peter's Episcopal Church.

The second Cheshire resident to receive the medal was HARVEY CURTISS BARNUM, Jr. Barney was born on July 21, 1940 and grew up in Cheshire. He attended Humiston School, Park Street School and Cheshire High School (Class of 1958). He then went to St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, where he received a B.A. degree in Economics and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps upon graduation in 1962.

On December 18, 1965, at Ky Phu in Quang Tin Province, Vietnam, he fought in a battle which led to his award. Details of the battle are provided in his presidential citation.

The Medal of Honor is worn around the neck on formal occasions, whether the recipient is in uniform or civilian clothes. The service ribbon is worn above the left breast pocket when otherwise in uniform. The rosette is worn in the lapel of a civilian jacket.

Monday, August 06, 2007

3 Strikes Rally

The 3 Strikes Rally has been set for Wed Aug 15 at 7pm. As it stands, we have a capital budget meeting scheduled for that night at 6pm.

Tim White

Capital bgt (Library)

We're up to section 7 of 9 sections in the capital budget. The last two sections are Parks & Rec and the schools.

As you can see, there's nothing in year one:

$200,000 in year two for outfitting 120,000 items with a radio frequency ID:

Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Sunday, August 05, 2007

State bonding

Today's Courant has an editorial worth reading:

Connecticut ranks near the top of the list of all 50 states when it comes to the burden of per-capita bonded indebtedness. Why? One major reason is the hunger for overspending by the Democratic majority in the legislature.

This year, for example, agreement on a two-year bond package has been delayed because legislative Democrats want to set aside a lot more money - about $200 million a year - for local pork barrel spending than does Gov. M. Jodi Rell....

The state must get its borrowing under control. Ten years ago, Connecticut had $8.9 billion in bonded debt. Now, the total is $13.9 billion. Debt service has gone from 7.9 percent of the total budget in 1997 to 9.2 percent now. The state shells out well more than $1 billion a year from the general fund for borrowing costs. That's money that could be used for better purposes.
Tim White

Capital bgt (sewers)

Here are the highlights of years one and two of the Town Manager's proposed capital budget for the sewers:$150,000 in year one for "Phase II" of a two phase project to first study the wastewater collection system, then study the needs of the WWTP:$100,000 in year one (and another $100,000 in year two) for
1) engineering investigation of flow and
2) implement program to reduce I&I.
$300,000 in year one (and $200,000 in year two) for construction and remediation to reduce sources of I&I$150,000 in year one and $1,000,000 in year two for Mixville pump station$200,000 in year one (and another $200,000 in year two) for sanitary sewer expansion projects$500,000 in year one to upgrade WWTPTim White

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Ron Paul on Stephanopolous again

Actually... all the GOP candidates will be on Stephanopolous tomorrow. I understand that George will be moderating a debate of sorts... tomorrow... for 90 minutes... presumably at the same time his morning talk show normally happens? (ABC didn't provide the time on their webpage.)

Go Ron Paul!

Tim White

Power lines at Old Lane and Old Farms

From the Middletown Press, by Luther Turmelle:

After nearly a year of construction associated with the Middletown-to-Norwalk power line upgrade project in the southeast corner of Cheshire, things should soon start to get back to normal on Old Lane and Old Farms roads neighborhood.

Contractors working for Connecticut Light & Power will start final paving of the two roads Monday morning, weather permitting, said Frank Poirot, a spokesman for the utility

Paving the two roads will take place 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day and is expected to be completed by the end of next week, Poirot said....

Arnett Talbot, executive assistant to Town Manager Michael Milone, said town officials have been assured CL&P's paving contractors will return to the neighborhood next summer to inspect the paving job and make sure it is holding up.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Friday, August 03, 2007

Video service on the web

Here's a new comment from an old post. I thought it would be worth promotion to a front page post. It's from the representative of the web video service provider with whom I recently spoke.

Sal Baglio wrote:

I read with great interest the blog discussions about Google Video/YouTube vs the Granicus Integrated Public Record. I'll let these 2 links speak to the benefit of our solution. Btw, I'm the guy who talked to Councilman White.

Here is an example of a town that archives council meetings and other content, including, believe it or not, local dodgeball games..

Then click on any meeting to see the agenda, links to the video, and attached documents.

Granicus works with local governments to archive public meetings on the internet - with the benefit of having the meeting indexed to the agenda. We also provide meeting management software to assist clerks and secretaries in meeting management and minutes annotation. We are proud to say that we are the largest provider of local government meetings on the internet

The Granicus Media Manager does the automatic update to the website and also provides the technology baseline for MinutesMaker, our minutes preparation tool that clerks use to have 80% of the minutes done by the time they leave the dais. Other benefits available are closed captioning, audio/video podcasting, update subscriptions, and the ability to place other non-meeting content such as public service announcements and town events.

So you have to ask yourself “is a simple video really the best way to display a government meeting and its content?"

If you are interested in some of our other 250 clients across 28 states, please go to

Again, my goal is to increase voter awareness of what Council members do and say. In order to do that, we need a good service and a good price. I'd really like to get some feedback from you on this. Btw, Cindy Kleist has been making good use of homemade video over on her website,
Underground Town Hall.

And to Sal... thanks for stopping by and giving us a primer in your service! I think it's helpful.

Tim White

Cappiello calls for DeLuca resignation

Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy knows his probable Republican challenger, state Senator Dave Cappiello.

I don't know much at all about Cappiello, but at least he recently called for the resignation of state Senator Lou DeLuca. Regardless of what other elected officials think, the Senate is planning to discuss the DeLuca case. Frankly though, I'm not sure what they need to discuss.

Cappiello is right. DeLuca should resign.

Tim White

Thursday, August 02, 2007

3 strikes rally

I received this email from a friend:

Dear Friends,

I am organizing a rally in support of the 3 strike legislation for the State of Connecticut. I am requesting your support to send a message, not only to Hartford, but to our nation. We will do all in our power to prevent the horrific and senseless acts that occurred here in Cheshire last week.

Please forward this email to all your friends. We need to get the word out quickly. I will be sending out the details of the date and location over the next few days. Please lend your presence to this rally for a most worthy cause.

Thank you in advance for your support, and please pray for the Petit Family.

Marilyn Bartoli

(I'll post more information when it becomes available.)

Pool consultant questions

Excerpted from today's Herald (by Josh Morgan):

"We would like to see the public help subsidize programs... but not the pool operations."

"I would like to get a bigger part of the population using the pool year round, not just seasonally."

- John McIlhargy, USA Swimming Pool Consultant

$20,000 for that?

"The Commission asked if (the pool consultant) could look at the costs of (energy-efficient) structures, and report back to the commission. Meus (an architect with the consultant) said he would do that for their next meeting."

Huh? I thought that's why we had a deadline for the pool report? Wasn't this report supposed to be completed in time for the operating budget? Or was it supposed to be completed in time for the capital budget? No... I'm positive it was supposed to be the operating budget. Maybe it was supposed to be completed for next year's operating budget?

Perhaps we should have used the report that was provided to the town by the Energy Commission (largely by Bill Kunde), at no cost.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Cap bgt (Public Works)

In an effort to make this information more useful, I'm including the sheet detailing the Town Manager's entire proposed DPW budget... along with the first and second year details and justifications of the budget. Click on the images to enlarge them, if you'd like to read the details.

The five year DPW plan:
$700,000 for culvert/bridge/dam repairs in year one:
$150,000 for repairs to Sindall Brook in year one:
$150,000 for a new dump truck in year one:

$120,000 to repave Church Drive in year one:
$1,000,000 for new roads in year two:
$200,000 for sidewalks in year two: Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cap bgt (Fire and Energy)

Here's the Fire Department's request for $455,000 to replace a pumper engine this year:
Here's another FD request ($115,000) for replacement of old equipment, such as gear and breathing apparatus. This request is made every two years, maintaining a steady rotation of gear, etc.:

Here's an Energy Commission request ($125,000) for energy-efficiency improvements at the pool:
Tim White
Town Council, Budget Committee

Council mtgs on the web

Thanks go out to Craig Houghton. Over on his newly created Cheshire Town Post (btw, is that a blog or a wiki? I don't know all the proper terminology.), he's done what so many of us here in Cheshire do, he volunteered his time to assist Town Hall.

So what did he do to assist Town Hall?

Well... you may recall that I've been pushing for (and the Council unanimously supported) investigating the possibility of putting town meetings on the interweb. But as with most things, they come at a cost. And the only professional place I'd found so far was fairly costly... nonetheless, I wanted to try to jumpstart a dialogue. And now Craig offers up his idea for town meetings on the internet over at the CTP. I really like the idea. And it comes at a much lower cost than what I had found.

According to Craig's numbers, there are probably two key dollar amounts -- $20 to divide up two hours of video by agenda item and (I think) $15 to upload two hours of video. But Council meetings usually last between two and four hours, so...

If you multiply those numbers by two, you get $40 + $30 = $70 meeting. And with... let's just say... 2 meetings per month for 24 meetings per year... you get an annual cost of $1680. That's a dollar amount that may not even need a Council vote for funding... though... we may need a Council vote to make it happen.

Again... thanks to Craig Houghton over at CTP for researching this. As for me, if the service is decent, this would definitely be worth the cost. Because I do believe we would have a whole lot more people watching the meetings and having a better sense of the policy views of the town's elected officials.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Interview on Ron Paul

I just did a 30 minute radio interview in support of Ron Paul. Wow. That was a lot easier than I had thought. I was actually pretty nervous before it, but it went surprisingly smoothly.

The interview was with Dowd Muska (of the Yankee Institute). He was filling in for Dan Lovallo who is out this week.

About Dowd... "D. Dowd Muska studies Connecticut's unsustainable fiscal polices, and recommends policy reforms that will lead to lower taxes and better government at the state and local levels."

And about Yankee... The Yankee Institute for Public Policy, Inc. is a nonpartisan educational and research organization founded more than two decades ago. Today, the Yankee Institute’s mission is to “promote economic opportunity through lower taxes and new ideas for better government in Connecticut.”

Tim White