Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Just for fun...

Tim White

h/t to LG!

Trash disposal finale?

Haven't even read it yet... here's the Luther Turmelle's piece on the Covanata / CRRA situation.

The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority and Covanta Energy, which operates the quasi-public agency’s trash-to-energy plant in Wallingford, struck an eleventh-hour deal Tuesday in which Covanta will take over ownership of the plant without any money changing hands.

The agreement, which the two sides reached late Tuesday afternoon, calls for CRRA to give up its right to purchase the plant in return for guaranteed access for the agency and its member communities to bring trash to the plant to be burned. In return, Covanta agrees to end litigation against CRRA regarding the plant acquisition process.

Tim White

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

RNC standing tall, Washington GOP collapsing

Finally! The Republican Party is taking an official stand in opposition to the bailouts. No... it's not the sellouts in Washington - it's the Republican National Committee members from across the country.

From The Washington Times by Ralph Z. Hallow:

Republican Party officials say they will try next month to pass a resolution accusing President Bush and congressional Republican leaders of embracing "socialism," underscoring deep dissension within the party at the end of Mr. Bush's administration.

Those pushing the resolution, which will come before the Republican National Committee at its January meeting, say elected leaders need to be reminded of core principles. They said the RNC must take the dramatic step of wading into policy debates, which traditionally have been left to lawmakers.

"need to be reminded of core principles"

Funny. While I absolutely agree that Bush's Billionaire Banker Bailout flies in the face of any sort of conservative value I ever espoused... I think the likes of Sen. Russ Feingold and Rep. Dennis Kucinich espouse liberal ideals. And they both opposed the bailout.

Maybe America should cast their votes in 2010 based entirely on whether or not someone supported the bailout. From my perspective, there's probably a fairly strong correlation between those who voted for the Billionaire Banker Bailouts and the Inside-the-Beltway Sellouts.

Tim White

h/t to Campaign for Liberty

Budget Chair appreciates "conservative leanings"

Budget Committee Chairman Mike Ecke supports the newly appointed Councilman, Sheldon Dill, because of how the budget will benefit from his "conservative leanings:"

If school funding is cut by $2,000,000 (5,000 kids x $400/kid)... will our "conservative" Budget Chair actually cut spending... or will he be looking to simply pass along a huge tax increase?

Regardless, I'm confident that Budget Committee member Tom Ruocco's fiscally conservative voice will be heard.

Tim White

Retailers to go bankrupt, malls to close?

From the APs Anne D'Innocenzio:

NEW YORK — The fallout from the horrific holiday season for retailers has begun, with the operator of an online toy seller filing for bankruptcy protection and more stores are expected to do the same — meaning more empty storefronts and fewer brands on store shelves.

A rash of store closings, which some experts predict will be the most in 35 years, is likely to come across areas from electronics to apparel, shrinking the industry and leading to fewer niche players and suppliers.

The most dramatic pullback in consumer spending in decades could transform the retail landscape, as thousands of stores and whole malls close down. And analysts expect prolonged woes in the industry as the dramatic changes in shopping behavior could linger for another two or three years amid worries about the deteriorating economy and rising layoffs.

"You are going to see a substantial retrenchment in the retail industry," said Rick Chesley, partner in the global bankruptcy and restructuring group at international law firm Paul Hastings. "The downturn has been catastrophic."

My understanding is that the Cheshire mall has a five year window in which to move forward (break ground, obtain a certificate of occupancy... I'm not sure.)

Does anyone know the if that's true? And if so, what's the measurement date(s)?

Tim White

Dec 31 deadline, but no decision from CRRA yet

It's about 11pm on December 30 and I just did a 24 hour search on google and found nothing on CRRA. Additionally, the CRRA 2008 press release webpage has nothing.

Supposedly though, December 31 is their deadline to decide if they're buying the plant. Maybe there will be a decision soon... or maybe not. This whole thing has seemed a bit ridiculous at times.

Tim White

Success for Cheshire World Languages

Cheshire's Lauren Villeco is finding success with her recently created not-for-profit foreign language program:

A non-profit Spanish language program in Cheshire finished its first semester last week and is increasing its offerings next week.

Lauren Villecco, creater of Cheshire World Languages, said she will offer a 12-week Chinese language course and a Latin course next year in addition to Spanish.

Tim White

Monday, December 29, 2008

Campaign for Liberty on Facebook

The outcrop of Ron Paul's Presidential bid, Campaign for Liberty, started a Facebook page. Please consider joining.

Tim White

Sup't may forgo a payraise

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

Faced with the prospect of starting the 2009-2010 school year with fewer teachers than the district has now, Superintendent of Schools Greg Florio said Friday he is not expecting a salary increase when his job comes up for review next summer.

Florio said that while he hasn’t spoken formally with the Board of Education about forgoing a raise next year, “in this climate it would be very difficult to justify.”

Tim White

WRA on CCMs wish list for Obama

The WRA offers some less-than-rave-reviews of the wish list given to Obama Claus by CCM:

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, too, has gone hog-wild. It has more than 1,300 projects worth $2.1 billion that 94 of its members have declared "shovel ready." Among them: $3.5 million for artificial turf and $350,000 for trolley buses in East Lyme; $225,000 for a skate park in Fairfield; $300,000 for two solar panels for Glastonbury; $200,000 for LCD projectors for New Fairfield schools; and $5 million for an indoor shooting range in New Haven.

Also, $225,000 for the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Art Center in Old Saybrook; and $80,000 for a bandstand in Plainville; $13 million for a pool and community center for Putnam; $1 million to fix docks in Sherman; $1.5 million for "streetscape and traffic calming" in Rocky Hill; $15 million for turf replacement, $4 million for a "fuel cell absorption chiller" and $48,000 for foreign-language lessons for police officers in Stamford; $5,000 for a fire hydrant in Vernon; $8,800 to repoint bricks at Washington's police station; $450,000 for softball and cricket fields and tennis courts in Waterbury; $800,000 for "beach nourishment" in West Haven; $200,000 for a "golf halfway house" in Westport; and $4.9 million to replace solar panels and pay "residual expenses" in Windham.

Tim White

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Commercial development coming to a halt

The WRA details some of the woes for commercial developers in the greater Waterbury region:

Commercial developers can't secure credit unless they've signed tenants, and retail tenants won't commit to buy or lease a property unless they see adequate demand for their goods or services. With weak sales forecast well into next year, retailers aren't in a rush to open stores.

"I don't represent any developer who would build on speculation and put up lease signs," Theroux said. "Developers don't make commitments without tenants, and tenants don't make commitments without lenders. It's a circle."

Even if credit were available, developers would likely have no reason to pursue new projects. The demand for retail expansion stems from consumer demand for goods and services.

"Shoppers need to return to stores; there has to be an increase in both the ability to purchase essential as well as non-essential goods," said Thomas S. Coe, professor of finance at Quinnipiac University. "Once consumer demand rebounds, there should be a subsequent rebound with retail employment."

In mid-November, the WSJ reported that the Waterbury mall was toying with bankruptcy.

Tim White

A recent history of the Council's action on town pension plans

During the campaign in the fall of 2005, one of my main goals was to move the town from offering "defined benefit pension plans" (DB) to "defined contribution pension plans" (DC). Having won reelection and not being as knowledgable (i.e. I was inexperienced) as I wish I had been at the time... no one gave me any guidance and I did not distinguish between union and non-union employees. So I took no action at the time and waited for the union contracts to move forward.

Fast forward to October 2006 and the union contracts started coming to the Council for votes. Back then I wrote:

The vote fell along party lines, although everyone seemed to have different reasons for why they voted for/against. My reason for opposing the contracts was that I simply feel that we should be moving from "defined benefit" plans and to "defined contribution" plans for all new union employees. However, I was the only person who cast his/her vote for that reason.

For background, the issue really was cost. To reach agreement on that particular contract, defined contributions would need to have been higher than if the contract maintained a defined benefit plan. That is, it was going to cost more to move from a DB to a DC. And though I was reluctant to spend more money, I was willing to do so... to move the uncertainty from the taxpayer to the employee.

To the best of my memory, there were two basic camps on this vote:

1) some felt the "20 year payback" * was too long and

2) some felt further negotiation could reduce the cost to taxpayers.

I simply felt that we needed to move from a DB to a DC, even if it cost more in the short run. Regardless, the Council decided to stay with the DB plan.

Fast forward to the Council meeting of June 24 2008 and I had come to recognize the difference between union and non-union employees and the ability to handle the two groups differently in terms of pension plans. So I requested the Personnel Committee to expeditiously consider** the need for the Town to continue offering DB plans to future non-union employees.

Then in November 2008, we got an update about an October 21 2008 Personnel Committee meeting:

The update was that we shouldn't hold our breath. And that this will be considered in conjunction with the 09/10 Town budget deliberations in March '09... only nine months after I suggested we eliminate DBs as an option for future non-union employees.

And for some additional explanation on how the Town's pensions work... over the past few months, I've been trying to offer information about the troubles facing the Town's DB plans - including my comments at the November 2008 Council meeting:

The actions taken by the Council over the past few years do have consequences. But since this post is already lengthy, I'll discuss them in a later post.

Tim White

* The actuarially defined period over which the DC plan would begin costing the taxpayers less than the DB plan
** I felt I was being generous by requesting the issue be considered by the end of the summer.

Online social networking's impact on government

Probably for millenia, politics and government have operated behind closed doors. Sure, people will often give a reason why they support or oppose a particular issue. But I suspect that offering the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth has been the exception... not the rule.

Then came the internet.

Today's NHR (by Abbe Smith) offers some insight into online social networking (MySpace, Facebook, etc.) and how it's changing the world:

“I think our lives — of my generation — are going to be really documented,” said Thomas Cain, a 24-year-old student at Southern Connecticut State University...

Richard Hanley, director of Quinnipiac University’s graduate journalism program, acknowledged the trend and echoed Cain’s assessment of why young people post so many photos online...

Hanley said the phenomenon sheds light on a broader trend of weakening notions of privacy “This generation is the one that is recording a highlight reel of their lives in real time and making sure the world knows about it. It’s a completely different definition of privacy than previous generations,” Hanley said...

“I don’t think there is a notion of privacy, especially in my generation,” Cain suggested after contemplating the idea. “We grew up with reality TV, where there was no privacy. We grew up with the Internet. I know more about Britney Spears than I do about my cousins.”

The internet is changing the world. I hope it also changes government as we know it, forcing our elected officials to stop telling half-truths and start telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I doubt it'll happen today, but my guess is that it will happen with time as Gen Y and Gen Z begin running for office.

Tim White

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cheshire firing range accident

From the MRJ:

Police reported that a 55-year-old Bethany man seriously injured his hand when target shooting at a local fish and game club Saturday.

Tim White

Mixville Park in the 1950s

I was going through some family photo albums with my mom tonight and came across this picture of my dad:While my dad is probably not of great interest to most of you, I thought the background may be. It's a shot of Mixville Park in the 1950s. You can see that you used to find lots of people there, as well as the rafts that kids used to play on.

Tim White

Cheshire's Christmas wish list for Obama Claus

I wish President Bush and President-elect Obama did not believe that money grows on trees. Nonetheless, they're obviously both afflicted with Inside-the-Beltway Disease and are convinced that running Hank Paulson's printing press 24/7 is a net positive for America.

Recognizing that I can't beat back this tidal wave of "free money," at the December 9 Council meeting I voiced my desire for Cheshire to jump on the bandwagon and make some projects happen before America's currency is trading on par with Zimbabwe's currency.

If you watch this video, you'll see that the Town Manager and his staff were already thinking about this:

And now the followup - based on some staff recommendations, here's the January 2009 starting point for the Council. I understand these projects to be "shovel-ready:"

Applewood/Country Club Sanitary Sewers - $425,000 -This project has been approved by the Town of Cheshire Water Pollution Control Authority. The project will extend sanitary sewers to existing homes in areas which have septic failures and problems. The construction plans and specifications are ready for bid. This would create construction jobs and materials from local suppliers.

Water Pollution Control Plant Influent Pump Station - $800k – Pumps, generator, and associated equipment which send waste water through the Town Water Pollution Control Plant is original to the facility construction is the early 1970’s. It has been identified as a priority in the recent Facilities Plan submitted to DEP. The maximum capabilities need to be increased by nearly 50%. This current situation does not allow flow to go through the Town’s Plant, and creates a backup and causes a sanitary sewer overflow into a dike area, and a Town road and drainage system. This will create heavy construction jobs, and also those in the employee mechanical and electrical trades.

Sanitary Sewer Inflow & Infiltration Improvements - $600k – Improvements to the Town of Cheshire Sanitary Sewer mains and manholes have been approved by the Water Pollution Control Authority. Excess flow entering the system uses the capacity intended for residential, commercial, and industrial flow. This creates a strain on the Town’s wastewater treatment plant and causes sanitary sewer overflow. This will create construction jobs.

Lilac Drive Pump Station – $150k - The Town has approved $750k for the rehabilitation of this nearly 30 year old sanitary sewer pump station. However, due to unforeseen conditions encountered during construction, and additional $150k is necessary to allow the project to be completed. This will create mechanical and electrical jobs.

Marion Road Curves: Drainage and Reconstruction- $200k – A substandard roadway that has been identified as a safety concern and is stated for improvements. The project will create a reconstructed roadway with an acceptable horizontal geometry. This will create construction jobs.

West Johnson Road Bridge Scour Improvements – $150k - The undermining of the center bridge supports have been identified in Connecticut DOT inspection reports as being “scour critical”. This project will fortify the river bed around the supports, structurally reinforce the support columns, and install a warning detection system. This will create construction jobs, and some specialized structural work.

Country Club Road Bridge- $50k- Parapet, railing, impact attenuation system ; The existing bridge has a 1950’s substandard railing system which both constricts the roadway, and does not provide any fall protection to motorists or pedestrians. This project will remedy this situation. This will create construction jobs.

Notch Road Bridge- $50k - Parapet, railing, impact attenuation system; The existing bridge has a 1950’s substandard railing system which both constricts the roadway, and does not provide any fall protection to motorists or pedestrians. This project will remedy this situation. This will create construction jobs.

Peck Lane Drainage and Reconstruction - $250k- This will improve a half mile of a main Town arterial roadway which services residential and industrial traffic. This will create construction jobs and better serve the business in the north west section of Town.

Wiese Road Culverts - $40k- This project will replace two existing metal pipes which are rusting and in danger of structural failure. This will create construction jobs.

Mountain Road Milling and Asphalt overlay - $400k- This will repair sections of a major Town arterial road that received a 51 out of 100 rating in a recent survey of Town roads. This will create construction jobs and a better traveling roadway.

Town Hall Chiller/ Ventilation Improvements - $300 – This will replace the existing system at Town Hall which is over twenty years old and has out lived its serviceable life. This will provide energy saving and address reliability issues. This will create electrical, mechanical, and technical jobs.

Town Hall IT Center Mechanical/Electrical Improvements – This will provide the improvements necessary to provide for the ever increasing demand of the Town computer network. This server handles all Town buildings and employees, including schools and education buildings. This will increase the reliability of the Town network and provide energy improvements. This will create electrical, mechanical, and technical jobs.

Public Works Salt Shed Improvements - $50k – This project will correct structural and safety concerns with an existing building, and will enable the Town to store material for winter storms in an environmentally compliant manner. This will create construction jobs.

West Main Streetscape (Western most portion) - $200k – This project will enhance the West Main Village and serve as an incentive for future economic and commercial growth. This will create construction jobs.

Moss Farm Watermain Extension - $175k - This will extend potable public water watermain and service to an area that has been identified by the Department of Environmental Protection as having known ground water problems. This will also serve for firefighting purposes. This will create construction jobs.

Edgecomb Road/Waterbury Road Watermain Extension - $400k - This will extend potable public water watermain and service to an area that has been identified by the Department of Environmental Protection as having known ground water contamination. This will also serve for firefighting purposes. This will create construction jobs.

Marion Road (south loop) Watermain Extension -$300k - This will extend potable public water waterman and service to an area that has been identified as needing water for firefighting purposes. This will create construction jobs.

Dodd Middle School Cafeteria - $275k - This will rehabilitate the food preparation facilities and equipment for the Towns only middle school. This will create jobs for construction and equipment suppliers.

Norton School Windows - $580k – This will replace all windows in a 1950 era school. This will provide energy saving and create a better school environment. This will create construction jobs.

Hummiston Fire Code Compliance - $600 – This project will install fire protection sprinklers to and existing school and Education Department offices. It will also include accessibility issues such as door widths, means of egress, and places of refuge.

Not Shovel Ready – Needs permitting

Black Road Bridge over Honeypot Brook - $600 – This will replace a functionally obsolete bridge on a collector Town Road. This will create construction jobs.

Mount Sanford Road Culverts - $275 – The three existing culvers are located in an historic district and frequently overtop, requiring the road to be closed at least annually. This work will increase the capacity by upgrading a culvert, and performing some upstream modifications. This will create construction jobs.

Sindall Brook Stream Stabilization - $150k- Excess stream flow has washed out a private culvert and driveway, and has created erosion that has caused property damage. This has the potential to structurally affect at least one dwelling. This also causes erosion which carries into the Quinnipiac River. This project will mitigate the flow, and provide armor coating to protect the stream channel. This will create construction jobs.

I'm sure you can find many of the above projects here in last year's capital budget.

A few thoughts:

1) There's no turf in here yet. But then, this is an idea from Town Hall staff. And the turf is one of the few ideas to come from the current Council majority - not from Town Hall staff.

2) Not sure why Lilac Drive pump station is at $150k, since it's already been dropped to $100k. But this is a work-in-process.

3) Independent of my above comments, I spoke with the WPCA Chair a second time and reiterated my willingness to support funding for the sewer plant upgrade's design work... if we could fast track the project to the point where Obama would print an additional $10-20 million and give it to the town for the project.

4) Time is of the essence. Governor Rell has requested that towns provide their wish list to Obama Claus by December 31. So while I wish the Council would deliberate the above list and possibly make changes, I appreciate the Town Manager taking action... particularly since I'm confident the Council would unanimously support most of the above list anyway.

5) If it were up to me, I'd add a permanent structure for the pool to the list.

Tim White

Cheshire shoplifting on the rise; CPD stays busy

From the MRJs Jason Vallee:

"We started to see a spike in October, especially with kids, and it's continued with all ages through the holiday season," said Cheshire Lt. Kerry Deegan...

(Southington Sgt. Lowell) DePalma and Deegan both said similar shoplifting behavior has been reported in Southington and Cheshire...

"Stores have started to react to increases in certain thefts and we have worked with several businesses to help make adjustments," Deegan said.

And from Southington:

As the economy continues to struggle and companies look for alternative ways to prevent financial losses, DePalma said he expects local departments will continue to receive a steady number of complaints.

"Companies are doing anything they can to prevent losses and stay in business," he said. "Our job as police is to work with these companies and arrest those who are knowingly breaking the law."

Tim White

I agree with MoveOn - stop the bailouts!

Earlier today I notice Ironman trying to cross the political divide by creating an alliance with I agree 100%.

MoveOn is circulating a petition to stop Paulson's second $350 billion installment of the $700 billion bailout:

"Not another dime for Wall Street until we understand where the previous bailout money went--and why the bailout didn't work as expected."

My only exception to this is that:

1) where the previous bailout money went and

2) why the bailout didn't work as expected

are both of little consequence to me. Before the bailout votes, I was already convinced that the Bush Billionaire Banker Bailout would fail... and that Dodd's Dubious Safeguards would also fail... leaving us - the taxpayers - on the hook for a bunch of bad decisions.

I still say NO to the additional $350 billion bailout. And though Bush will soon be gone, I hope Bush's Bernanke & Paulson and Obama's Geithner - all central figures in the bailout and the runup to the bailout - get unceremoniously removed from The Halls of Power most expeditiously.

Of course, that's just a pipedream. But hey... if MoveOn figures out what their forefather, Andrew Jackson, saw... maybe Obama will also conclude that he needs to revamp his "economic team" and his monetary policy.

Please consider clicking thru here and signing the MoveOn petition. It's a step in the right direction.

Tim White

Friday, December 26, 2008

Defining the wealth disparity in Sino-American relations

The leadoff line in a fascinating NYTimes piece by Mark Landler:

“Usually it’s the rich country lending to the poor. This time, it’s the poor country lending to the rich.”

- Niall Ferguson

My question - while the article is about Sino-American relations, how does one define rich? Or how does one define poor?

If one defines rich as possessing vast amounts of material goods, then America is rich. But if one defines rich as possessing the deed to vast amounts of material good, then maybe China is rich.

As I mentioned on September 6, China has already begun flexing its muscles over US policy.

If America is the "rich" country, then why would Hank Paulson take marching orders from China?

Tim White

Post-Christmas shopping - boom or bust?

I drove by an Old Navy store today. They had a 60%-off-everything-sale. The place was packed.

I'm guessing someone will write a story tomorrow about booming retail sales today with all the markdowns... and how that'll be great for the economy.

But I'm wondering... were all the purchases made with savings or credit cards?

I'm guessing credit cards. So if I see reports of brisk post-Christmas sales, I'm guessing it'll cause some euphoria for the market for a few weeks... until more layoffs happen, and credit cards go unpaid... and we see more bankruptcies of financial institutions that many people in-the-know think possible.

Tim White

50 minutes of 12/10 PZC Strathmore Dam hearing video

A couple weeks ago I posted a short excerpt from a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting earlier this month - it was about Strathmore Dam. The video was of some comments made by PZC member Marty Cobern.

At the time, I was having some problems with my google video account, but that's now fixed. So I offer a still incomplete, but lengthier version of that meeting... with the previous excerpt coming around the 22 minute mark. This video runs about 50 minutes:

On a final note, Marty apologizes for his "outburst" around the 29:30 mark.

Tim White

To state Dems - please don't nominate Williams for Governor

On their editorial page, the WRA reminds us of the true nature of State Senate Majority Leader Don Williams and the "badge of honor" worn by Senator Joan Hartley for having refused to rollover at Williams' threats of retaliation for her desire for good government.

And over at CTLP, Genghis Conn mentions that Williams will be on CBS' Face the State this Sunday.

Tim White

Open forum 12/26

The Congregational Church is getting a new minister.

Steve Addazio is considering a return to the area.

CUREchief's founder, Sandy Centorino, is looking to make some high visibility placements in Hollywood for increased name recognition for CUREchief.

Everyone have a good Christmas? I did.

What else is happening?

Tim White

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bernanke / Geithner talk out both sides of their mouths

In two recent posts, I've been wondering:

Is The Fed part of the US Government or a private business?


Why are Bernanke / Paulson / Geithner opposed to transparency?

I know that administration officials often think more highly of themselves than is deserved, so their doubletalk comes as no surprise. But they still need to be held accountable. So I'm trying to decipher if The Fed actually believes itself to be part of the government or a private business?

Using the always useful, but imperfect Wikipedia - here are some thoughts:

1) I searched "Government in the Sunshine" (a.k.a Freedom of Information) and found: Freedom of information legislation, also described as open records or (especially in the United States) sunshine laws, are laws which set rules on access to information or records held by government bodies.

2) The Fed's own website acknowledges that the Government in the Sunshine act applies to them:

3) But further down on that same webpage, you find this "trade secrets exemption" clause:

4) I had been wondering about this "trade secrets" clause since Bernanke used it on December 8 to defend his opposition to transparency and love of counterfeiting printing money in smoke-filled rooms behind closed doors. I first saw this "trade secrets" nonsense begin playing itself out when Bloomberg's Mark Pittman reported that the Fed claimed: it’s allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about trade secrets and commercial information.

5) The next logical question is to define "trade secret," so I visited Wikipedia and found: A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers.

6) So while The Fed says that Government FOI laws apply to them, they also claim the business-related "trade secrets" clause applies to them.

7) Taking it one step further, I used Wikipedia to define a "business:" A business (also called a firm or an enterprise) is a legally recognized organization designed to provide goods and/or services to consumers, governments or other businesses.

Based on both:

a) my cursory investigation using Wikipedia, and

b) common sense / conventional wisdom

I conclude that a government and a business are two distinct entities that cannot be one and the same. Furthermore, I conclude that Bush's Bernanke and Obama's Geithner are trying to have it both ways - they oppose transparency because they benefit from talking out both sides of their mouths.

But is this any surprise? We all know that they've turned on the printing press and had printed more than $7 trillion as of a month ago.

Monetary policy matters. I hope President-elect Obama realizes this before the dollar is irreversibly damaged.

Tim White

Merry Christmas!

On the lighter side of Christmas, here's the clip of my favorite Christmas special ever:The mini-misers are one of the funniest things I've ever seen. And what I also enjoy is while Snow Miser and Heat Miser are completely full of themselves, as soon as Mother (Nature) calls... they turn into little kids again and finally start behaving themselves.

Tim White

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peace on earth, good will toward all

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed... And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men". (Luke 2: 1-14)

Bernanke does a 180' on automaker bailout

On December 12, Bloomberg's Scott Lanman reported:

(General Motors Corp. CEO Rick) Wagoner may have failed to persuade Bernanke to support a government rescue of automakers. Bernanke, in a letter released this week, signaled opposition to extending central bank loans to the companies, saying such a move would fall outside its traditional duties. He suggested other options, including reorganization under bankruptcy.

On December 19, President Bush ignored Congress and gave himself some sort of newly created extra-Constitutional authority.

Now on December 24, the APs Martin Crutsinger is reporting:

The Federal Reserve approved GMAC Financial Services' request to become a bank holding company, allowing it to apply for a portion of the $700 billion bailout fund and get emergency loans directly from the Fed.

So over the course of 12 days, Bernanke seems to have done a complete 180'.

Tim White

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

President Bush ignores the Constitution, bails out Detroit

From George Will via

A new Capitol Visitor Center recently opened, just in time for the transformation of the Capitol building into a tomb for the antiquated idea that the legislative branch matters. The center is supposed to enhance the experience of visitors to Congress, although why there are visitors is a mystery.

Congress' marginalization was brutally underscored when, after Congress did not authorize $14 billion for General Motors and Chrysler, the executive branch said, in effect: Congress' opinions are mildly interesting, so we will listen very nicely -- then go out and do precisely what we want.

I wonder - what would be the reaction from GOP Senators if Dennis Kucinich reintroduced his Articles of Impeachment?

But seriously, President Bush is out of control. Just because he's President, doesn't mean he can ignore the rule of Law, the Constitution and process - three things in which neither President Bush nor Vice President Cheney seemingly have any interest beyond mild amusement. But what can one expect after six years of a Republican Rubber Stamp Congress and two years of... well, I'm not sure what Nancy & Harry did in the past two years except repeatedly anger their own party and help Bush's money men destroy the economy.

I recommend the whole piece by Will. I thought it was a great read.

Tim White

Fed & Treasury both oppose transparency

While Bloomberg News is using FOI to chase Ben Bernanke for counterfeiting printing money and not letting anyone know the recipients of his counterfeit cash monopoly money... I now see that the Fox Business Network has come to a similar conclusion with Hank Paulson's Treasury Department... demanding answers under the Freedom of Information Act is the only way to get answers:

The initial request, filed on November 25, sought actual data on the use of the bailout funds for American International Group and the Bank of New York Mellon, and an additional request, filed on December 1, sought similar data on the bailout funds for Citigroup, Inc. FBN is asking for the Treasury Department to identify, among other issues, the troubled assets purchased, any collateral extended, and any restrictions placed on these financial institutions for their participation in this program.

Kevin Magee, Executive Vice President, FOX News commented, “The Treasury has repeatedly ignored our requests for information on how the government is allocating money to these troubled institutions. In a critical time like this amidst mounting corruptions and an economic crisis, we as a news organization feel it’s more important than ever to hold the government accountable.”

Bernanke / Paulson / Geithner all make me sick. They must believe that they are above the law. Of course, that's not the case. But their bosses - Bush & Obama - obviously haven't told them to step up to the plate and do the right thing. And that makes them equally culpable in my opinion.

Tim White

Cheshire's snowplowing costs last weekend

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

In Cheshire, for example, 22 snowplow drivers were paid at double their normal rate because they had to work on a Sunday, said Joseph Michelangelo, Cheshire’s director of public works and engineering. “We budget Dec. 1 through March 31, so we’re about 10 percent through the winter and we’ve already spent quite a bit more than 15 percent of our budget,” Michelangelo said. Cheshire budgets an average of about $175,000 per winter, he said.

I thought we had 14 routes with two drivers each - one in the classic dumptruck plow and one in the pickup truck plow. The big truck would do the lion's share of the roads, while the pickup cleans up the trickier areas, such as small cul-de-sacs. Anyone happen to know how many routes we normally have?

Tim White

Murphy wants healthcare reform

From the MRJs Amanda Falcone:

With a new president set to take office next month and a new committee assignment for himself, U.S. Rep. Christopher S. Murphy, D-5th, hopes that 2009 will be the year that Congress changes the country's healthcare system.

I'm pretty sure that Congressman Murphy wants universal healthcare or, probably single-payer... with the government being the single payer.

Regardless of what happens with UHC, I hope President-elect Obama doesn't drink much more of Krugman's Kool-aid and returns to his campaign platform of fiscally responsible balanced budgets. I really don't see how printing more money will benefit the economy in the long-run.

As Dr. Ron Paul likes to say... for The Fed to print more money to fix our problems is like giving a drug addict another injection to fix his problem. It doesn't work.

Tim White

Bloomberg News questions value of ratings agencies

If a poll was taken today asking Americans:

Is the Federal Reserve part of the government or is it private?

I suspect most people would say it's part of the government.

Yet I recently mentioned that Bloomberg News had to FOI* The Fed, demanding Bernanke reveal the people / banks who had recently received $2 trillion of his monopoly money** that he loves to print... to which Bernanke claimed some sort of "trade secret" embargo on revealing information. This guy is unbelievable.

And now Bloomberg News continues their hot pursuit of America's arrogant central planners central bankers - Bush's Bernanke and Obama's Geithner:

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is basing hundreds of billions in emergency lending on credit ratings from companies that gave AAA grades to toxic securities.

The Fed has purchased $308.5 billion in commercial paper and lent $631.8 billion under eight credit programs, most of which require appraisals of short-term debt and loan collateral by “major nationally recognized statistical ratings organizations.” That, in effect, means Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.

It is foolhardy to rely on the three New York-based companies, said Keith Allman, chief executive officer of Enstruct Corp., which trains investors in financial modeling and asset valuation. The major raters issued top marks to $3.2 trillion in subprime mortgage-backed securities at the root of the financial crisis.

“They’re outsourcing the credit assessment to a group of people whose recent performance has been unbelievably bad,” said Allman, the New York-based author of three books on structured finance and a former vice president in Citigroup Inc.’s securitized markets unit.

So people-in-the-know are describing the actions of Bernanke / Geithner as foolhardy. Personally, I think it may be more appropriate to drop the last two syllables and describe them, not their actions.

And since the ratings agencies have now been largely discredited, let's not forget that the Council majority pushed through their fund balance policy earlier this year. And it was based largely on the fallacy that the ratings agencies were important.

Since the ratings agencies were a major participant in this mess, I'll be surprised if they're not hauled in front of Congress in 2009 to explain why they were such failures.

Tim White

* Freedom of Information
** US Dollar

Obama's "stimulus package" for Cheshire

I'm sure we all know about President-elect Obama's "stimulus package" that he's planning. But CNN has begun offering some details on the package:

A report to Congress that requests $73.2 billion to pay for infrastructure projects around the country includes plans for a polar bear exhibit, an anti-prostitution program, a water park ride, zoos, museums and aquatic centers, CNN has found.

So I figure Cheshire ought to ask for funding too. We've got "bridges & dams" that just passed at referendum. We've got $1 million for roads that just passed... and we've got an extra $100,000 that just got flushed down the sewer over on Lilac Drive due to somebody's failure.

But why stop there? If Obama insists that the printing presses run 24/7, we may as well ask for a permanent structure for the pool, right? Oh wait! Obama is requiring that projects be "shovel-ready." And since our Council has mastered their dillydallying technique since I called for final action on the pool back in February... nope. There is no shovel-ready project for the pool. So I guess we can't get any funding for that project.

I "wonder" what the chances are for the turf being "shovel-ready" within a few months??

Tim White

Cheshire represented on Education Committee

Previously I mentioned that Cheshire's senior state Senator Tom Gaffey will continue Chairing the legislature's Education Committee. Now I see that Cheshire's junior state Senator Sam Caligiuri will become ranking member on the same committee.

Tim White

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Go bankrupt, but keep the jet

They're still flying their corporate jets, even after we learn banking executives were paid $1.6 billion in bonuses for ignoring risks and doubling down in 2007.

Paulson's $700 billion bailout, along with Bernanke's $7 trillion printing press option have been a collosal mistake.

Tim White

Underground Town Hall crash

It's 3:19pm. If you're trying to visit UTH, it has officially crashed. The ISP has not yet given word on a return ETA... or what's happened.

Tim White

CTs online news

Over at UTH, I noticed that the NHR is closing their hometown area weeklies, including the Hamden Chronicle, Wallingford Voice and North Haven Post... papers I've read infrequently. These closings were being reported by one of CTs online newspapers The New Haven Independent. Thankfully we've got these new online papers to do some low-cost, hard-hitting reporting. Without them, CT journalism would be in even more trouble.

But for more evidence that our online resources are for real, Christine Stuart at CTNewsJunkie got picked up by the NYTimes for her piece on CT Dems chastising Lieberman.

And even further evidence of the need for citizen journalism was explained in a Delaware court ruling on anonymous blogging:

In a decision hailed by free-speech advocates, the Delaware Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed a lower court decision requiring an Internet service provider to disclose the identity of an anonymous blogger who targeted a local elected official...

"Because the trial judge applied a standard insufficiently protective of Doe's First Amendment right to speak anonymously, we reverse that judgment," Chief Justice Myron Steele wrote.

Steele described the Internet as a "unique democratizing medium unlike anything that has come before," and said anonymous speech in blogs and chat rooms in some instances can become the modern equivalent of political pamphleteering.
(AP, by Randall Chase)

That's right. I think the Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice just equated you to Thomas Paine and your comments to Common Sense.

Times are tough. But that doesn't mean you should stop being vigilant.

Tim White

Heroin in CT suburbs

From the Courant's Grace E. Merritt:

Users are typically young and white and living in comfortable homes. Most, at least at first, don't even inject the drug.

"The more refined, suburban way of doing things is snorting it," Glastonbury Police Chief Thomas Sweeney said.

Cheshire's not mentioned, but:

In Southington, heroin claimed at least four young lives in the past two years

and some are trying to fight it:

Glastonbury and East Haddam recently held forums to warn parents that heroin has penetrated the sleepy suburbs.

I had heard that heroin had crept into CT suburbia, including Cheshire. But this is the first reporting I've seen of it.

Tim White

Teachers' Union Contract - 11/12/08

Since the teachers' union contract is still generating talk in town... and now that Google Video is working for me again... here is the hour or so of Council discussion that led to the vote:

Tim White

Bailout bungling and world unrest intensify

From Reuters:

Japan approved extra funding and Germany pledged new measures on Saturday to confront a financial crisis that has toppled banks, wrecked world growth and now played a part in the demise of Belgium's government.

So if you're keeping track, my personal friends have told me of the unrest in Vietnam. There's civil disobedience in Iceland, $300 million riots in Greece that Time suggests may extend to France and now it's reported that the economic crisis is directly related to the toppling of at least one government. But this should come as a surprise to no one... especially considering that even mega-companies, such as Citigroup, acknowledge that civil unrest is not unlikely. No wonder American risk operatives are considering the possibility of an "American Dollar Nightmare."*

I wonder if Ben Bernanke has the slightest inkling that his helicopter now appears to be hovering over a volcano that's spewing lava into the air... trying to douse it with his Helicopter Money.

Bernanke / Paulson / Geithner all need to go. We should make the move toward sound money to avoid the possibility of civil unrest coming to our shores.

Tim White

* It's worth noting that the "American Dollar Nightmare" would be a nightmare for the American Government, but not necessarily The People. If you hold commodities... there's not necessarily any nightmare. The only nightmare is for Bernanke / Bush / Obama when they realize no one wants their monopoly money anymore... and their House of Cards comes tumbling down.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sen. Williams fulfills promise of retaliation for Sen. Hartley's support of good government

In December 2007, the Courant's Kevin Rennie exposed one of Hartford's secret affairs. And no, I'm not talking directly about Sen. Gaffey's girlfriend / lobbyist who successfully lobbied him for $1 billion. Nope. I'm talking about Senate Minority Leader Don Williams and his threats of retaliation against Senator Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury) for demanding accountability in Tom Gaffey's $1 billion bonding package for the CT State University system.

Fast forward to December 2008 and the web is abuzz with word that Don Williams has fulfilled his threats and meted out consequences on Senator Hartley. Ironman and Genghis Conn are also discussing it.

For the good of the state, I hope Don Williams loses his next election. He's bad news. For her part, I like Joan Hartley. Back in September I called the US Senate Banking Committee to voice my opposition to the $700 billion bailout and got her son on the line. He was extremely helpful and candid with me... just another reason to like her... and see Williams for what he is... a bully who has been around too long.

Tim White

Congress rewards itself

The Hill reports that Congress is playing stupid and giving themselves a raise. And what exactly have they done to help the country in the past two years?

Tim White

The 21 - 35 demographic

I officially left the 21-35 demographic today. So I guess I'm now too old to blog.

Tim White

Foreclosure prevention programs are flopping

From Kathleen M. Howley at Bloomberg:

Foreclosure prevention programs supported by the Bush administration that rely on lenders to voluntarily modify mortgages are "flopping" by putting some borrowers further into debt, according to a new report.

Half of November's loan modifications increased monthly payments, and a similar amount added unpaid fees and interest to the loan principal, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys said this week.

The modifications boosted mortgage balances by an average of $10,800, and only one-third resulted in lower monthly payments, according to the Washington-based group.

Government and the security it promises cannot solve every problem. And not that an absolute free market can solve every problem in the least painful manner, but...

The $7.3 trillion Bush Bailout of 2008 has already proven itself to be an immediate flop. And since Bush decided to inflate the money supply, the next year or two don't bode well either. Do any clear-thinking people believe the $17.4 billion automaker bailout is in the best interest of the taxpayer?

It's getting near the end of President Bush's term. By now, I figured he'd be busy signing pardons for Scooter Libby and his pals.

Tim White

UPDATE: Last night, Cheshire's Ironman beat me to the punch on this with an interesting piece over here.

09/10 Town budget 12/16/08 - residents & Council speak

Following the Town Manager's presentation, residents spoke for about nine minutes:Then the Council opined for just over a half hour:

Tim White

Altieri makes appeal to CRRA to reconsider

Oftentimes I disagree with Councilman Altieri and his actions representing the Town. But yesterday he informed the Council of something which I think most of you will appreciate:

Hi Fellow Council Members

I wanted to let you know that I contacted Mr. Mike Pace of CRRA board to re-emphasize the need for them to re-consider their option as far as the purchase of the Wallingford Plant. I did listen to Mr. Pace's input from the boards point of view. He assured me that if CRRA did purchase the plant that we would not get a deal that would be less advantageous to us than the one we just signed with Convanta. He told me more than likely it would be a better deal. I told him that I would hope that would be the case.Just wanted to let you know about this conversation. This was a follow up to the letter sent by all the towns and the Wallingford Mayor communications with the board.

Matt Altieri

I applaud his efforts. And who knows... as unlikely as it seems, his efforts may have an impact. Perhaps CRRA will be so hardpressed to secure financing by December 31, that they'll simply concede and follow the wishes of the five towns - allowing us to contract with Covanta at a lower cost.

And on a related note, I also appreciate the fact that Councilman Altieri shares his thoughts with the Council - either at meetings or via email.

Tim White

Friday, December 19, 2008

Town Mgr on revaluation and 09/10 budget scenarios

Here is the Town Manager's December 16 presentation on the revaluation and a few possible scenarios for the 2009 / 2010 Town budget:

Tim White

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gov. Rell's Dec. 31 deadline for "shovel-ready" projects

I was given a copy of this letter signed by Governor Rell. She's requesting all "shovel-ready" projects be forwarded to her by December 31:Tim White

Ron Paul on Madoff financial scandal

Ron Paul is the ranking member on the House Financial Services Oversight subcommittee. So when it comes to the collapse of the $50 billion Madoff House of Cards, Congressman Paul is quite relevant. Here he is on Bloomy TV:

Tim White

Wallingford's Dickinson speaks to CRRA

The MRJs Dave Moran reports on Wallingford Mayor Bill Dickinson's request of CRRA that they cease and desist in their effort to purchase the trash-to-energy plant... and allow the five towns to move forward with CRRA:

Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr., of Wallingford, went to Hartford Thursday to petition the Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority not to exercise its option to purchase the trash-to-energy plant on South Cherry Street in the face of the five towns that the facility services already having entered into disposal contracts with another operator.

I doubt CRRA will listen, but hope they do.

Tim White

Some committee assignments and what they mean

From the MRJs Amanda Falcone:

Sen. Thomas P. Gaffey, D-Meriden, was assigned to four legislative committees by Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, Thursday.

Gaffey will remain as chairman of the Education Committee and will stay a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, but he will no longer serve on the Legislative Management Committee.

Does anyone happen to know if being removed from the Legislative Management Committee is a demotion of sorts? I seem to recall that's the Committee that decides everything, but I'm really not sure.

Separately, I understand that Rep. Nardello got a promotion from Vice-Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee to Chair. I congratulate Vickie. On the other hand, I understand Rep. Fritz was effectively demoted by losing something considered important by the Gang of 187. Maybe she lost her Deputy House Speaker title? Anybody know?

Neither of the changes surprise me on the House side. Outgoing Speaker Amann was known as a centrist Democrat, supporting Lieberman after the primary... opposing civil unions too I think. And Rep. Fritz followed in his footsteps.

But incoming Speaker Donovan is known to be from the more liberal wing of the party... along with Rep. Nardello. So it seems on the House side, these changes mirror the preferences of the two Speakers.

Tim White

Lilac Drive Pump Station discussion 12/16/08

Tuesday's discussion included an additional $100,000 in spending on the Lilac Drive Pump Station. Here is the 25 minute clip from the December 16 Council meeting:

I was a bit surprised to see how Councilman Ecke voted.

Tim White

Cheshire man sentenced for theft

From the Courant:

A Cheshire man who owned a real estate company was sentenced today to five months in prison for stealing from three clients, according to Nora R. Dannehy, acting U. S. Attorney for Connecticut.

Thomas Cimini, 51, of Mount Sanford Road, was sentenced by Senior United States District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven for stealing approximately $68,000 entrusted to him by three real estate investment clients.

Tim White

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Politico on America's doomsday scenarios

The Politico offers a fascinating piece on America's Chief Risk Officer - a man tasked with determining the doomsday scenarios that could lead to a collapse of the republic:

What’s the worst that could happen?

That’s a question that James Rickards spends a lot of time pondering these days, as he sifts through the national security implications of the financial crisis facing the United States.

He's concerned with:

1) Al-Qaida and economic terrorism - their own version of shock n awe on Wall Street,

2) China cashing out, collecting on their loans and sending the dollar into a tailspin,

3) the current recession deepening into depression and 15% unemployment, and

4) the "Alternate Dollar Nightmare" in which a global coalition creates a gold-backed alternative to the dollar.

Frankly, while I don't want any of the above things to happen, I don't find any of them to be entirely implausible at this point. But read the piece for yourself. I found it fascinating, if a bit pessimistic.

Tim White

h/t to Bethany's Bo ItsHaky, former CT-3 2008 GOP candidate

Governor Rell's second deficit mitigation plan

Excerpted from Governor Rell's press release:

Governor Rell Announces 2ND Deficit Mitigation Plan, Calls Special Session for January 2

Governor’s Plan Erases $356 Million Budget Gap with No New Taxes; Leaves Rainy Day Fund Intact

Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced her new plan to eliminate Connecticut ’s current budget shortfall by cutting spending, redirecting revenue from special accounts to the General Fund, bringing additional efficiencies to state government and collecting additional revenue owed Connecticut by the federal government. The plan requires no new taxes, no employee layoffs and leaves the state’s $1.4 billion budget reserve fund (Rainy Day Fund) intact.

Governor Rell is calling the General Assembly into special session on Friday, January 2, to enact the plan.

“The national recession is an ongoing challenge for Connecticut ’s government, just as it is for our families and businesses,” Governor Rell said. “Government spending must reflect economic reality, and that means the tough choices families are making can no longer be avoided by the Legislature. We must attack the spending side of this equation, because raising taxes in the middle of a recession is the worst decision we could make.

“Some will question why I am calling the Legislature into session five days before the next regular session is slated to begin,” the Governor said. “The answer is as simple as it is stark: We cannot put off reality. We cannot wait to take action. The Legislature – the sitting Legislature – needs to take action.

“Every day the economic news gets worse,” Governor Rell said. “One need only scan the news in recent days: Layoffs at the Stanley Works. One-day furloughs at Pratt & Whitney. Two community newspapers in trouble and the Tribune Co. in bankruptcy court. Every day we sit and wait makes the budget situation worse. Lawmakers MUST address the budget deficit now. We literally cannot afford to wait.”

I'm glad to see an elected official take action. Sure would be nice if Cheshire's Council would take action on the pool, the take home vehicles, the west coast employee training, etc. But even a symbolic gesture of fiscal conservatism could gore an ox. And our Council majority is loathe to gore an ox. Best to stick our head in the sand and do as we're directed!

Tim White

Inmate increase in Cheshire?

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

A legislative task force created to look into making Connecticut’s prisons safe wants the Department of Correction to use the maximum-security Northern Correctional Institution in Somers strictly for the worst-behaved inmates.

If that happens, the impact could be felt in Cheshire. That’s because the Cheshire Correctional Institution’s vacant North Block — which prison officials say is reserved to accommodate inmates from other prisons in the event of a fire or some other sort of emergency — has room for 500 inmates.

The use of the North Block wasn’t one of the four recommendations the task force released Tuesday. But the chairwoman of the task force, state Rep. Karen Jarma, D-Enfield, said in order to create space in the Northern Correctional Institution to handle inmates with behavior problems, other inmates at Somers will have to be shifted elsewhere.

Tim White

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Council meeting 12/16/08

Please welcome the 1st District's new (and old) Councilman - Sheldon Dill!

On the Lilac Drive Pump Station... based on Jimmy Sima's comments, did anyone else get the impression that there were screwups that weren't fully vetted last week? And in the interest of full disclosure, I think it was also Jimmy who tipped me off to ask the question "Since the WPCAs consulting engineer laid the blame for the pump station's flawed design work at the foot of the 1978 designer, who was the 1978 designer?" I couldn't believe that wasn't highlighted last week... shocking!

But on a serious note, the conversation did offer me an opportunity to explain something to the newest* member of the Council. I mentioned the extra:

1) $150,000 for the financial software,
2) $80,000 for the Norton boiler and now
3) $100,000 for the Lilac Drive pump station.

I asked the rhetorical question "and you wonder why I call this a Rubber Stamp Council?" There's absolutely no accountability. Whether the problems are internal or external, somebody ought to be held accountable. But not with this crew that discards accountability under the guise of civility. It's so frustrating.

Finally, we got to the budget item on the agenda which almost certainly was the draw for so many of the new faces in Town Hall tonight. Among Council members, it seemed unanimous that there would need to be spending cuts this year... though I simultaneously heard calls for all the spending "needs" in town.

I tried to skip the happy talk and share my thoughts:

1) current budget - hiring freeze - I'd rather pay some overtime to get the roads plowed in a slightly less timely fashion this winter... than tell some new guy next spring that he's out of a job on July 1.

2) next year's budget - staffing rollbacks - as bad as it may sound, I'd rather look at returning to former staffing levels that may reduce an ee's work from 30 to 20 hrs / wk... rather than laying off people. I'll cut, cut, cut before I want to discuss layoffs. I'll fight to maintain jobs, but I'm not about to sit around and let our Rubber Stamp Council ignore the realities of unnecessary spending on stuff like all these take home vehicles that leave town every night.

3) 2010 and beyond - inflation - by March 10 2009, the Council will be deliberating a budget that will extend to June 30, 2010. I fully expect bigtime inflation, if not hyperinflation, to kick in by then. So, hypothetically, if the Town gave no raises to anyone this year... it may sound great to the taxpayers right now... but what's the knock on effect, a year out? I'm not sure. The Bush / Obama printing presses will certainly create a great deal of turbulence and volatility that could have been put to bed by June 2010... too bad neither of them have the courage to deal with bad news. Finally, I mentioned that this inflation will be driven by Bernanke's ill-considered Helicopter Money as he inflates the money supply to the tune of $7 trillion by keeping the printing presses running 24/7.

Tim White

*and oldest?? ha! Sheldon's gonna kill me for that one!

Rules for commenting

In an effort to clarify what's appropriate vs. inappropriate commenting here, I've gotten permission from Genghis Conn over at CT Local Politics to cross post his commenting rules. I hope we can try to abide by these rules. I know some of you like to vent... and that's not necessarily bad, but perhaps I'll be looser with the rules... if you include your name.

1. No insulting or belittling other posters.

2. Please make every effort to be courteous, civil and understanding.

3. Criticism of groups, parties, causes or other people is fine–insulting, belittling or otherwise maliciously maligning them is not.

4. No posting entire articles. Credited passages along with a link are fine, but full articles are a copyright violation.

5. No going around starting fights for fun (trolling).

6. No libelous statements. Public figures can be attacked and criticized–but only up to a point. No personal stuff, folks. Keep it political.

7. No racist, homophobic or sexist remarks. Obviously.

I'm hoping this will discourage some of the more outrageous remarks, but we'll see how this goes.

Tim White

Jordan Caterers expanding to New Britain

The Courant's Bill Leukhardt offers a bit of good news on Cheshire businesses:

A Cheshire catering firm has been hired to run the restaurant at the Stanley Golf Course, ending concerns that the municipal course might not have food service come January.

The common council approved a bid by Jordan Caterers, one of four bidders seeking to replace Zabbara's Bar and Restaurant, which did not submit a bid after 23 years at the course...

Jordan representatives have said they plan to spend $190,000 to improve the kitchen, restaurant space and restrooms.

Tim White

Hayes has a costly, constant suicide watch

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

The co-chairman of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee said Monday he believes the state has spent $200,000 to $500,000 providing a one-on-one, around-the-clock suicide watch for one of the two men accused in the July 2007 murders of a Cheshire woman and her two daughters.

“Systemwide, it costs about $45,000 per inmate per year,” Lawlor said. “This is a lot of money at a time when we’re in a budget situation where we have to make a lot of significant cuts. The question here is whether this is warranted.”

The cost of taking care of some inmates in the system who have psychiatric problems is higher than the systemwide average, Lawlor said.

“There are some inmates at the Northern Correctional Institution who cost above $100,000 per year to take care of,” he said.

Wish we could have a speedy trial and finish this.

Tim White

Lilac Drive Pump Station discussion 12/09/08

Here's the 50 minute video of the December 9 Council discussion on the Lilac Drive Pump Station:

Tim White

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tom Ruocco on the Dec 16 budget meeting

A guest post from Tom Ruocco:

There will be a joint meeting of the Council and Budget Committee, and special Council and Board of Education meeting, on December 16th, at 7:30 pm. It has been requested that this meeting be televised, so it will likely be held in Council Chambers.

The idea of a mid-year review was raised during the budget meetings earlier this year, and I asked for a meeting back in October. Obviously, economic conditions have become much worse since then. We must make the effort to prepare for the possibility of state cutbacks, not only in the current year, but also in the next 2-3 years. The State is projecting a deficit of 300 million dollars this year, and as much as 6 BILLION dollars through 2012.

I hope that citizens will make the effort to attend. For the past couple of meetings, citizens have approached the Council with concerns about spending and higher taxes. I think the assessments we received really shook people up. Residents are baffled at how their property values increased, and have been expressing a lot of concern over how this will effect their tax bill. I have specifically mentioned, at the last two budget meetings, that I would like to see taxes held steady for the next budget year. I will work toward this goal on behalf of taxpayers.

Let me say this; taxes are not tied to property values as much as they are tied to spending. The real issue spending, and the willingness to address it. For example, at a time when we are confronting so many fiscal challenges, is it really necessary to hold meetings about artificial turf? I think there have been at least 4-5 turf meetings, and so far only one scheduled meeting of the budget committee. Someone needs to get their priorities straight.

Please attend the meeting on December 16th. This is your Council and your money. If we do not address the trends in spending, taxes will continue to rise dis-proportionately to income. In a time of recession, companies cut back, people tighten their budgets and we learn to live within their means. Elected officials must follow suit. Your input will be invaluable in conveying how important it is to address spending in Cheshire.

During last year's budget cycle, I proposed an alternative budget that was about $500,000 less than the Democrat's proposal. It failed. During the Capital budget process, I proposed an alternative that was about $600,000 less than the Democrat's proposal. It also failed. I am convinced that my proposals would have made it easier to deal with the situation we are in now. It's one thing to live during the good harvest, but it's another to prepare for the bad harvest. We all saw this coming back in April - it's time to take action.

We'll see what happens at the meeting. I hope to see you there.

Tom Ruocco

(For a bit more clarity on Tom's mention of meetings... it was October 2 that I posted an email sent by Ruocco to Ecke / Esty requesting a mid year budget review. Since then, the budget was "discussed" once... and forget public input... even Council discussion was prohibited. But I'm pretty sure there have been several turf meetings over the past few months. Has anyone been keeping track? I agree with Tom... some members of Cheshire's majority party ought to be regauging their priorities. - Tim White)

CT Dems heart-ing Lieberman? Not Cheshire.

The Courant's Mark Pazniokas on the CT Democratic party's relationship with their estranged uncle and the call to censure him:

Words like "censure" are certain to disappear. So is any suggestion that Lieberman end his affiliation as a registered Democratic voter in Connecticut.


"An expression of disappointment, an expression of disapproval," Blondin said. "And let it go at that."

In September, the state party invited Democratic town committees to say if Lieberman should be rebuked. Only about a dozen of 169 have replied.

By Blondin's count, Lieberman resolutions have passed in Beacon Falls, Bethel, Cheshire, Danbury, East Haven, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Kent, Milford, New Britain, Shelton, Wallingford and Windsor.

Interesting to see Cheshire make the list. I always figured Cheshire was home to one of the more activist Nutmeg DTCs. I think this censure (or whatever it was called) is indicative of their level of activism.

Btw, did this "censure" ever make any of the local press? I don't recall seeing anything.

Tim White

A call for a noise ordinance

From the MRJs Jesse Buchanan is reporting that some town residents want a noise ordinance:

Paul and Lisa Marasco have lived in their St. Joseph Street home for about three years, but they said the nightly noise from Napoli Foods trucks down their road has been an irritation since the food distributor opened in February...

While state officials explain the nuance of the rules:

According to DEP spokeswoman Cyndy Chanaca, movable sources of noise are exempt from the department's noise pollution regulations...

And some residents are ok with the existing situation:

Bob Pelegano lives the closest to the Napoli property but is not in favor of a sound wall, saying it would block air and sunlight and would be unsightly. Pelegano doesn't enjoy the noise generated by the trucks, but said Napoli has made several changes to their property in response to his requests.

Tim White

Turmelle on Florio's "to do" list

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

Superintendent Greg Florio will be a busy man this holiday season, looking to fill three top-level administrative positions in addition to preparing the district’s 2009-2010 budget.

Florio said he hopes to have a potential successor to Cheshire High School Principal Judith Gallagher to recommend to the Board of Education by mid-March. He also has to find two people to fill the two positions — director of pupil personnel and assistant superintendent for administrative services — currently held by Paul Calaluce Jr.

Tim White

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Council agenda 12/16/08

Tim White

Bernanke & the central banks dislike transparency

Though Bernanke's November 18 comments didn't seem to get a whole lot of press when he seemingly smirked while claiming the world's central planners central banks are selling their gold, obviously someone is buying it. But who?

Though the reporting is unsurprisingly murky, it seems Iran and China are among the central banks buying gold. And there are other reports that global gold demand is rising. But why the disconnect?

My guess is Helicopter Ben is spewing Happy Talk that's largely disconnected from reality. He doesn't want anyone to associate an increase in gold demand with a loss in confidence in the dollar.

Of course if there is a loss in dollar confidence, one may associate that with Bush's determination to run the printing presses 24/7. And I now see that I'm far from alone in wondering what the the Fed is doing behind its closed doors.

It seems Bloomberg asked for a few details on some of the Fed's newly minted money:

Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve refused a request by Bloomberg News to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from U.S. taxpayers and the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

Bloomberg filed suit Nov. 7 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act requesting details about the terms of 11 Fed lending programs, most created during the deepest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The Fed responded Dec. 8, saying it’s allowed to withhold internal memos as well as information about trade secrets and commercial information. The institution confirmed that a records search found 231 pages of documents pertaining to some of the requests.
(by Mark Pittman)

I'm so glad Congress added those safeguards!

Perhaps we should simply pull an Andrew Jackson and End the Fed. Bernanke and Obama's new money guy, Geithner, are unbelievably arrogant. They both need to go.

Tim White