Thursday, January 31, 2008

Future of the trash disposal facility

The NHRs Luther Turmelle has this explanation the Town's situation with trash disposal and the options for the upcoming decision.

Officials in Cheshire, Hamden, North Haven, Wallingford and Meriden have until Dec. 31 to let the plant’s operator, New Jersey-based Covanta Energy, know whether the towns will purchase the facility on South Cherry Street in Wallingford. After that, the consortium’s right of first refusal, which is part of the contract between Covanta and the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, expires.

Purchasing the plant is one of several options facing the five towns as Covanta’s contract to operate the plant for CRRA nears its June 30, 2010, expiration date. But it is not clear how much of a priority that CRRA, which is handling negotiations for the consortium of communities, places on the plant purchase option.

Tim White

CT POTUS endorsements

Congressmen Chris Murphy and John Larson are planning to endorse Obama.

Rosa DeLauro and Joe Courtney are undecided.

Congressman Chris Shays, former Congressman turned "Business Advocate" Rob Simmons, Senator Joe Lieberman and Governor Rell are set to endorse Senator John McCain this Sunday at 1pm at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.

AG-for-life Dick Blumenthal has endorsed HRC.

No word yet on who Senator Dodd may be endorsing.

And if you, or anyone you know, is not registered with a party... you may still register, in person, at the office of the Registrar of Voters until noon on Monday. Then you can vote in either the R or D primary on Tuesday.

Tim White

National Taxpayers Union "spending study"

The National Taxpayers Union has completed a study of proposed spending plans (both increases and decreases) by all major Presidential candidates. Their findings:

The top-tier GOP candidates often portrayed as "conservative" (Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee) actually called for significantly larger spending hikes ($19.5 billion and $54.2 billion, respectively), than the so-called "moderate conservative" (John McCain, $6.9 billion).

Two of the eight candidates proposed sufficient spending cuts that more than offset their new spending plans: Rudy Giuliani (-$1.4 billion) and Ron Paul (-$150.1 billion).

The 2008 federal budget is approximately $2.9trillion. So a $150.1billion reduction is about a 5% reduction in spending (ignoring other factors, such as rising energy costs or staff payraises).

Tim White

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Will someone give me a rainy day fund?

The NHRs Luther Turmelle reported on the BOE budget sent to the Council:

The Board of Education has voted to cut $535,000 from the $59.78 million budget that Superintendent of Schools Greg Florio proposed for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, with more than half that amount pulled from maintenance funds... Republicans Alan Sobol and Gerry Brittingham cast the two votes against the spending plan...Of the amount that the board voted to cut, $300,000 is from an account that had been designated as a “rainy day fund,” designed to cover unexpected maintenance projects that arise during the school year.

A rainy day fund here.
A rainy day fund there.

Here a debt service reserve fund.
There a medical trust fund.
Everywhere a reserve or fund!

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to tax we go!

Apparently Cheshire's Advocates of Big Government will stop at nothing to drain our wallets. That's not to say our schools are in perfect shape. I'm saying... request funding for a specific project.

Speaking of the ABG though, I'm still looking forward to their hollow arguments against Gov. Rell's "Prop 3" proposal to cap property tax increases to 3% per year. I mean... voters can override the 3% limit anytime. So why not have the limit and require the ABG to explain their "needs" in relation to the taxpayers' shrinking wallets?

Tim White

Ruocco's "State of the Town"

The following is a guest post from Tom Ruocco. It's something that he initially sent to a few constituents in the 2nd District, but I asked him to share it with all of you. So here it is... unedited, except for deleting a few meeting dates that have already passed:

I hope that your holidays were enjoyable and that your New Year's resolutions are in order. I'm sending along this update to remind you of some critical dates, proposals and decisions.

Board of Education Budget
The requested budget is $59,788,292. That's a 7.29% increase from current year; an increase of $4,063,049.

Based on revenue projections for the proposed retail/residential development on the table before the P&Z, it would take 2-3 of these developments just to cover the proposed increase in the BOE budget for this year. That should give you an idea of how little new revenue can help when you have to accommodate spending of this magnitude. Residents are encouraged to attend the BOE meetings and speak up, if possible, about the proposed budget increases.

Fund Balance/Surplus policy
Recently, at the January 11th meeting, the Town Council adopted a new policy that requires the Town to maintain an un-designated fund balance equal to 8 - 9% of the previous year's expenditures. Ultimately, that means that for every dollar in spending, we will have to allocate an additional 8 cents to maintain the fund balance. Looking at the BOE budget alone, we would have to ensure that an additional $325,034 is set aside for undesignated reserves to meet the requirement of the adopted policy. And that's just for the BOE budget. Factor in other departments, and you can see how much we have to hit up the taxpayer to meet the 8% fund balance minimum.

This policy passed 5-4 along party lines. The Democrats voting in favor, the Republicans against. My objection was that the 8% minimum was too high. I proposed an amendment that defined the fund balance as 5-9% instead of the minimum of 8%. I felt it gave us more flexibility and would have actually accommodated the democrats desire for an 8% balance. I thought it was a good compromise, but it failed 5-4, again along party lines (democrats voting against).

The policy also described options for distributing funds which exceed the 8% minimum. Currently, we have about 1.4 million dollars in excess funds, which translates into a current fund balance of about 9.4%. I hope we can dedicate those funds to providing tax relief, but as of now there are no stated plans to do so. We will debate that during the budget deliberations.

Statement to Legislators to improve repeat offender laws
I'm happy to report that my amendment to the annual legislative package was adopted unanimously by the Council. The amendment calls for strengthening our repeat offender laws and defining home invasion as a violent crime. The full adopted text is as follows:

"In light of the deadly home invasion that claimed three Cheshire lives on July 23, 2007, and in the interest of preventing this kind of crime from ever happening again, the Cheshire Town Council urges our state delegation to work toward meaningful criminal justice reform including reforming Connecticut's persistent offender statute, reclassification of home invasion (burglary) as a violent crime, and revamping our current parole system. We urge the legislature to schedule a special session to deal with these important matters as soon as possible and to focus on changes which would have had a major impact on the felons who were responsible for the horrific crime they committed in Cheshire ."
Thank you once again for your attention. Please stay in touch. Be sure to watch the various board meetings on channel 14, and try to attend meetings. There are critical decisions on the table, and they will all affect your daily life in Cheshire

I hope this was of interest to you. My thought is that this is another small step in the right direction... open government. Hopefully over the coming months and years, more elected officials, such as Tom Ruocco, Tim Slocum and Diane Visconti (all guest posters), will take advantage of new media to interact with voters.

Tim White

Ron Paul's MESSAGE is winning

During tonight's debate, I heard:

John McCain say he agreed with Ron Paul's call to cut spending.

Mitt Romney speak strongly about the need for entitlement reform.

Mike Huckabee invoke the 10th amendment.

Obviously, I don't remember every word of every debate going back to last May. But I have been watching fairly closely. And I think tonight was the first time I heard each of the other candidates mention at least one of the reasons why I'll be voting for Ron Paul next Tuesday.

Ron Paul may not be the next President. Nonetheless, I do firmly believe that America needs to balance its budget (including funding the "off balance sheet" unfunded long term liabilities, such as Social Security and Medicare) and do everything we can (such as a transitioning back to the gold standard) to avert the likely continued massive wealth redistribution from America to the developing world... not that I want the developing world to stay (relatively) undeveloped... I just don't want America to pay the cost for others' benefit.

Tim White

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Grand list announced

Released from the Town Manager's office today:

Town Manager Michael A. Milone announced that the net Grand List for October 1, 2007 is $2,530,797,376, which is an increase of $22,812,152 or .91% over the October 1, 2006 Grand List. At the current mill rate of 27.60 and the current collection rate of 98.7%, this will generate an additional $621,430 in revenue. And some details by the numbers:Tim White

Rules for $225,000 for Bartlem Park

Regarding the four-year-old $225,000 state grant that was intended, in part, to build a 90' diamond at Bartlem Park... I understand that these are the permitted uses for the $225,000:(click on the image to enlarge it)

Maybe at the next Council meeting we can get a better understanding of the four year process required for building a 90' diamond. And after we finish the 90' diamond, we can take the balance of the $225,000 and apply it toward putting up a permanent structure over the pool.

But we would need to do it legally. So we'll need to roll up the bubble and leave it in what some may call "the pool building"... I, on the other hand, will call it "the pool bubble storage shed." Ha!

Heck, why not? If the state can claim it has a balanced budget, we ought to be able to claim it's a storage shed. Seriously though... this "state of paralysis" in which the Council apparently finds itself is unacceptable. That energy-wasting bubble is doing nothing to help America achieve energy independence. Action must be taken... more on that in the next few days.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

MRJ on PZC vote

The MRJs Stacy Graham-Hunt reports here on last night's PZC meeting.

And the MRJ is also sounding off on their blog:

I can see why any Cheshire resident might like the idea of improving the tax roles. I cannot understand why anyone there would vote in favor of suburban sprawl over 110 acres which might well remain unused. The way the process of approval is structured, there really is no opportunity for any official body to say, though, “this is not something the town needs.”

Tim White

POTUS primary update

No, Ron Paul didn't win Florida. But NBC is reporting that Rudy is dropping out and will endorse McCain tomorrow. And speaking of McCain, Capitol Watch is reporting that he'll be visiting Sacred Heart University in Fairfield on Sunday.

On the other side of the aisle... like her or not... and right or wrong... I bet HRC is going to be getting lots of positive press tomorrow morning. Even though Obama did keep his word about avoiding Florida. So he's the one who should get the headlines, but I doubt he will. Go Edwards!

Tim White

Monday, January 28, 2008

Turf may never happen

The turf always seems to evoke many comments. Some people think it's an absolute necessity. Some people think it's an absolute waste. So with the news that $525,000 has been tentatively approved by the State (NHR, by Luther Turmelle), I figured this would be a good time to remind everyone about the history of state grants received by the Town.

On April 30, 2004, the State Bond Commission approved $225,000 for a variety of things at Bartlem Park, including new ballfields. We were told that there'd be a new 90' diamond. And we were told that this would help alleviate problems for the folks in the Wiese Road neighborhood.

And it's been four years. Do we have a new 90' diamond yet? Or perhaps more important...

Is this a demonstration of leadership?
Yes, some things take time.
No, but we need more ink for the rubberstamp!
Who's in charge?
pollcode.com free polls
Tim White

PZC vote 7-2

The PZC voted 7-2 in favor of the proposal (Marinaro & Maye opposed).

As far as I'm concerned, this was a mistake. In either this phase or the prior phase (zone text change) there should have been more pro-environment requirements. But this Commission had little interest in such measures... too bad for the town... and too bad for the environment.

More troubling to me though is this pattern where town staff and Commission members answer questions that, IMO, are legal in nature. Of course, that same failure occurs on the Town Council where people, other than the Town Attorney, weigh in with "legal" advice. No doubt all the "legal" advice that is given to elected officials will eventually come back to haunt the town when getting sued for something or other. Perhaps at that point the town's legal counsel will be given the opportunity to speak.

As for the particular reasons given for/against the proposal... I didn't get to see the whole meeting (I had Energy Commission tonight)... but I heard at least one of the usual cheerleaders, as well as Leslie Marinaro speak. The comments I heard from Leslie were largely focused on traffic. And I was told that Andy Maye's comments were largely focused on sewers and the environment.

And as I've said before... I'm not opposed to this project. I'm just opposed to it as proposed. Too bad the PZC got weak in the knees and punted when it came time to play hardball.

As for real reporting on this... I saw the Town Hall press corps there. So it'll probably be in every daily tomorrow. And as for blogging on this topic and my request for Council opinions... no responses yet. I'll keep you posted. Until then...

Your thoughts?

Tim White

Update: NHR online
WRA online

Sunday, January 27, 2008

PZC vote Monday night

I understand the PZC will be voting on the proposed northend development on Monday night.

Regardless of how the PZC votes... I hope one thing happens... PZC members and town staff stop giving (what seems to be) legal advice. As a voter, I find it bothersome. Isn't that the reason we have an attorney?

And while I've consistently tried to share my views with all of you, with the exception of Diane Visconti and Tim Slocum... I don't remember any incumbent Council member ever offering their views on this proposal (outside of last year's vote)... at least not here at TWL. So in an effort to increase public awareness of how your Council members feel about the proposed ND... I just sent this email to the eight other Council members:

All…

Many people in town are concerned about the proposed north end development. So in an effort to increase public awareness of how their elected officials feel about this topic, I ask each of you to offer your ideas to the public via my blog (or any other method). I recognize that we’re all busy and that some of you may not be able to reply. Nonetheless, I wanted to offer you a platform… in your words and unedited… so nothing can be taken out of context.

Perhaps one specific topic to address would be your thoughts on tomorrow’s PZC vote.

I hope to hear from each of you.

thanks,
Tim


I'll keep you posted when (if!) people respond.

Btw, isn't this a great feature of the tubes? Unlike newspapers, we don't need to be concerned with "space constraints."

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

School budget IV: support

Here's the fourth major category (of major six categories) in the school budget:
Please... dig in and offer some ideas. In the meantime, I have a suggestion for the BOE... see the highlighted parts:
Looking at "a/c 530 Telephone / online services," you'll see that every year for the past six years... the budget has exceeded actual expenditures by more than $50,000. Perhaps someone from the BOE could fight for the taxpayers and cut that seemingly perpetually overbudgeted account by $50,000?

And if you look at "a/c 590 - storage services," while the number may be considered small in relation to a $60,000,000 budget... doesn't that strike you as being intellectually dishonest? It's budgeted every year... yet never gets spent?

Some have said the town is run by financial wizards. Well... there's definitely some magic behind these numbers.

Last year the BOE provided some oversight of staff. And I gave them credit. I hope they continue performing their oversight function... and don't follow the "leadership" of other elected officials who appear to follow the motto:

"These are not the droids you're looking for. Move along."

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

School busing budget details

Here are the (unaudited) details of Superintendent's proposed budgets for school busing (a/c 510):Additionally, it's my understanding that the schools typically use 100,000 gallons of fuel for the buses per year... though I'm not sure if that is just for "large buses," all transportation or some variation.

Tim White

Hamden burglary of State Rep.

According to zwire.com State Rep. Brendan Sharkey had his Hamden home burglarized by two Cheshire men. The two names listed in today's NHR are:

Robert Tagliaferi, 45, of 67 Patton Drive
Filipp Podpaly, 25, of 1461 Marion Road

Tim White

Saturday, January 26, 2008

HRC returns

Since she went to Yale, she's definitely been to The Nutmeg State. And on Monday, she's going to return (Courant, by Mark Pazniokas).

Tim White

Changes to another C&D Plan

Since zoning changes are of interest to many, here's an article about Haddam and how they are addressing changes in their Plan of Conservation and Development (Courant, by Penelope Overton).

Tim White

Friday, January 25, 2008

CT GOP straw poll

Here are the (unaudited) results from the CT GOP straw poll that was held tonight in Middletown:I note that the poll was conducted both "on location" and via the internet. John McCain won "on location," but Mitt Romney won "on line." Ron Paul got took third place overall and, of course, the most meaningful statistic... this poll is valued just slightly less than a hill of beans! Though the CT GOP did raise some money for charity tonight. So it was a worthwhile event.

Remember to vote on Tuesday Feb 5.

Tim White

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Solid Waste meeting 1/24

The Solid Waste meeting was useful. And I made sure to draw attention to the fact that CTs trash-hauling industry is in upheaval... and as we consider new contracts... we're going to have to keep a watchful eye on the entire environment... not just going out to bid. I mean... Cheshire is currently operating under contracts that were put out to bid... but what does/did a bid mean in CT?

Matt Altieri kicked off the meeting with a discussion of bulky waste. Specifically, bulky waste pickup will happen this fall... but that is the end of the five year (3 pickup) contract. So the question on the table was "what happens in 2009 and beyond?" I think the direction is to return to an annual bulky waste pickup. I suggested that we could open up the transfer station a couple times per year and allow people to drop off stuff... free of charge.

Then we discussed insourcing "composting." And while the idea has merit, it would also come with costs. For instance... we currently compost leaves in Wolcott. So while we would save on some driving manhours and gas... we would also increase manhours in the composting process when we "turn" the compost. Anyway, for me, the highlight of this discussion came after I had pressed for identification of all costs prior to creating a new program... it was when Matt acknowledged my concerns and agreed that staff should identify "costs," then offered a caveat that they should also identify "benefits." It sure sounded as though he supported a "cost/benefit analysis" and that sounded good to me. Thanks Matt! Finally on composting is a philosophical issue... I think the composter we use in Wolcott is a private business. So one consideration for me... should government perform functions that are provided by private business? Generally-speaking... I don't think so.

And the meeting was wrapped up with a discussion on regular trash disposal and our waste disposal plant. But I'm going to bed soon, so a very brief history... the Town not only collects the trash (via a private hauler), but we also are part of a consortium (North Haven, Wallingford, Hamden, Meriden & Cheshire) that governs (not owns) a facility where we turn our "waste to energy." But that "governing capacity" ends in June 2010 and the town will need to take action by the end of 2008.... There are several options, including some with large hurdles (we could build a new facility, but siting could easily take years... would you want a trash facility as a neighbor?) and some with relatively low hurdles (the governing consortium has access to $34,000,000 that could be used to buy and renovate the facility). Bottom line... if we're to continue having our trash removed... we'll need to take some sort of action in the not-so-distant future.

Tim White
Town Council, Solid Waste Committee

Kucinich is out

I'll miss him. He certainly made the debates more interesting.

I hope Edwards wins in SC and Rudy (or Ron??) wins in Florida. I'd love to see two brokered conventions this summer. At minimum, it would force the "discussion of ideas" to continue until then. And I think that would be good for the country.

Tim White

Canale awarded; MRJ is cookin'

Vickie Canale has been named the Parks & Recreation - Person of the Year. Also interesting to me was where I learned this fact... the MRJ.

You may wanna stop by the MRJ website. While the webpage upload time can still annoy me a bit... they're making big strides in the availability of content... and also offering it in real time... as compared to most CT websites (at least the ones I visit) that tend to update content once-a-day, at midnight... with the main exception being the Courant.

Anyway... kudos to the MRJ for offering the so much free online content. Additionally, while they're a business and need to generate revenue... I'm guessing that they're doing that by selling advertisements. It's pretty impressive.

Tim White

2 of 3 and still fighting

The following is a recent email (guest post) from Marilyn Bartoli:

Dear Friends,

I spoke with State Senator Sam Caligiuri, this evening. He had wonderful news regarding today's special session.

Home Invasion was passed by the State Senate as a violent offense, regardless whether it occurs in the daytime or the night time. If the home is occupied and the the person enters with a weapon, or does harm with a weapon of opportunity, this will now be considered a class A Felony in the State of Connecticut.

Although 3-Strike Legislation was not attached, Senator Caligiuri felt that we have been very successful in obtaining 2 out of the 3 things we requested at our 3-Strikes Rally last August.

We succeeded in obtaining the Special Session of the Judiciary Committee, (which took place today ), and Home Invasion in the State of Connecticut, will now be considered a violent offense.

Joe and I want to thank all of you whom supported us and this effort, so very much, and if you did not support this change in the law, my reverent hope is that you will feel much safer and sleep much more peacefully in your home this and every night,

To my dear friends in Southbury, please continue you good fight to keep your neighborhood safe. We are all in this together, striving to keep out homes safe for our children and for our families. May God bless you all.

Sincerely,


Marilyn Bartoli
3-Strikes

Sports happenings

Brian Leetch is having his number retired (NHR, by Dave Solomon).

Ed Aston is also being honored. (WRA, by Joe Palladino)

Tim White

BOE meeting attendance

As reported by the WRAs Lauresha Xhihani:

A public hearing on the proposed $60 million school budget attracted only two members of the public on Tuesday night and was over in 38 minutes. More than 80 chairs were set up for the public hearing....

On the school budget... I'm continuing with my compilation. But it's taking some time. Hopefully this weekend I'll be able to provide one or two more (of the six) major categories. About the "six," as I've mentioned before, I believe the six categories are the areas that are determined by the BOE by state statute. Any of the lesser categories may be reallocated without a BOE vote.

Tim White

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Open forum 1/23

Rep. Mary Fritz is supporting HRC. I believe Uncle Al told me he's supporting Rudy. Anyone know who our other legislators are supporting? How about Council for that matter? I'm uncertain, but I'm pretty sure Tim Slocum isn't supporting Ron Paul (said with a heavy touch of sarcasm).

There's a Solid Waste Committee meeting tomorrow. The agenda includes bulky waste, a composting facility and the Town's solid waste contract with CRRA. If I recall correctly, the contract expires in 2009.

The Chamber of Commerce is having its annual dinner tomorrow night.

From the Take Another Step website: Construction Has Begun !!! The Town of Cheshire begins playground site preparation and equipment has been ordered. As of January 2008 the Kids In Motion playground is an active work in progress! With it's highly anticipated opening in the June 2008 timeframe, the ~38,000 square foot playground will be one of the largest in Connecticut.

As previously mentioned, tomorrow there will be a Cheshire Republican Town Committee meeting and a GOP Presidential debate. I have no idea if Ron Paul will be included, though he and gazillionaire Mitt Romney seem to be the only two Republicans with money.

Tim White

3 strikes legislation

From the Courant's Capitol Watch:

After one of the longest debates in recent years, the state Senate voted 36 to 0 Tuesday night for a comprehensive package of criminal justice reforms that were prompted by the triple slayings last summer in Cheshire.

As part of a 3 1/2 hour debate, Senators also rejected a Republican-sponsored "three strikes'' amendment that was designed to mandate an automatic sentence of life in prison for any criminal convicted of three violent felonies. The Republican amendment was favored by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and captured the support of three moderate Democrats - Senators Thomas Gaffey of Meriden, Joan Hartley of Waterbury and Paul Doyle of Wethersfield. In the House of Representatives, a "three strikes'' amendment was rejected, 91 to 48, shortly after 11 p.m. as eight Democrats broke with their party to vote with the Republicans...

The average sentence of eight years "is all the evidence you need that the judges don't get it,'' said McKinney, who graduated from the University of Connecticut Law School.

But Democrats ripped the amendment that was backed chiefly by Republican senators John Kissel of Enfield and Sam Caligiuri of Waterbury.

Politics this week

The Cheshire Republican Town Committee is meeting this Thursday, Jan 24 at 7:30pm in Town Hall. All registered Republicans are invited.

Also on the 24th will be a GOP debate. I don't know yet if Ron Paul will be included... though I'm sure Fred Thompson won't be. Earlier today he joined a growing list of GOP hopefuls -- Tommy Thompson, Jim Gilmore, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, Sam Brownback -- who have had their hopes dashed.

This Friday at 6pm in Middletown will be a CTGOP straw poll... acting as a precursor to the Feb 5 primaries.

This Saturday should be interesting in SC. I hope John Edwards does well... I'd like to see him stay in the race.

Tim White

Senior tax freeze renewal

A senior tax freeze --- once a controversial idea in this town --- has been making its way to the Town Council and hardly piquing the interest of anyone in town.That's in sharp contrast to what happened more than a year ago when a group made up mostly of seniors collected more than 3,000 signatures trying to force a referendum on a plan to freeze taxes on senior citizens. When they were not allowed to put their question on the ballot, more than 100 angry seniors showed up at Town Council meetings asking for a freeze. (WRA)

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

CTP comments on proposed ND

Regarding the proposed ND, there's an interesting exchange on PZC "process" over at the Cheshire Town Post. Basically it appears to be an exchange between Craig Houghton and Marty Coburn (though I haven't telephoned either to confirm... and it could very easily be anyone posting the comments... so take the comments with a grain of salt).

Tim White

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tonight's Dem debate

Wow! Anyone see it tonight? I just saw some highlights. Again... wow. Though it just happened, there is one clip up on YouTube (by Veracifer).

Tim White

School budget III: operations & maintenance

And now as I begin to analyze the third "major" category (of the school's six major categories), the numbers start to get more interesting.

First, notice the number highlighted in blue:Then agree that to the "line item explanation":but then agree the line item explanation to the detail:huh?

Anyway, here's the detail for the third major category: operations and maintenance. Interesting to me is the detail for the "non-contract cleaning." See the green here:I'd be interested to know why the non-contract cleaning jumped from $150 to $90,067... yet the BOE budgets haven't changed?

By the way, the "non-contract cleaning" has been of interest to me for a while. Here's an excerpt from a post (and similar letter I wrote to the Herald) in Feb '06:

The Board of Education abdicated its responsibility to the taxpayers when it voted to support the school budget without any substantive changes. It did nothing more than move one item from the operating budget to the capital budget and reduced a few numbers that are based on estimates.

The taxpayers deserve more from the Board, but never seem to get it. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a Republican or Democratic majority. No one ever seems to review the budget. If they had reviewed the budget, they would know that they could eliminate wasteful spending in a number of ways, such as...

REMOVING THE FLUFF - Line items could be removed from the budget. Some budget line items are never used, such as:
A/c 330 (Research & Development)
A/c 430 (non-contract cleaning)
A/c 590 (storage services / microfiche services)
A/c 610 (K-12 computers)


Tim White

100 years later

- uploaded by Superjsuh

Sunday, January 20, 2008

School budget II: non-certified staff

Here's some additional detailing of the school budget history. Today's installment is the second "major" category (of 6) - non-certified staff. First is the info from this year's budget:And below is the historical budget data. Since there's a lot of info here, in order to get your bearings, you may want to focus on the totals circled in red... then dig into the details:Nothing in particular jumps out at me.

Tim White

Next PZC mtg on proposed ND

Tuesday – January 22, 2008 – 7:30 p.m. – Town Hall – Council Chambers

And about the Jan 16 meeting... I just watched it on Channel 14. What confounds me is when I hear PZC members voicing concerns that appear legal in nature, but it's not the town attorney addressing the concerns... additionally, there had been a Council meeting scheduled for Jan 22, but it's been cancelled. So hopefully this PZC meeting will be televised.

Tim White

Caligiuri on need for special session

I just came across this YouTube clip on the web... it's Sam Caligiuri calling for a special session on criminal justice reform.I'm glad Sam has been pushing this issue.

Hunter is out

I've heard that Duncan Hunter has officially dropped out of the campaign... so I guess the GOP is now down to five "serious" candidates and one "unserious" Taft/Goldwater conservative... Dr. Ron Paul... interesting how an unserious candidate gets second place in Nevada.

On the other side of the aisle, I'm kinda wondering what Mike Gravel is doing. Though he does have some memorable made-for-internet ads:I'm also feeling kinda bad for John Edwards. It looked like he didn't do well in Nevada. But my understanding is that's due to the caucus rules that worked against him and for HRC... and are not representative of how the actual people voting felt.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Turf returns

In yesterday's NHR (not online), Luther Turmelle reported on the BOE turf discussions:

Superintendent of Schools Greg Florio told the Board of Education Thursday night that he had been contacted by a staffer from the office of House Speaker James A. Amann and told that $525,000 for a new field had been put on the agenda for an upcoming Bond Commission meeting...

Board Chairman Stephen Mrowka said he was in favor of accepting the state money for the field. "If we don't take it, it will go to somebody else," Mrowka said.

Board member Gerry Brittingham said that while he's not against the idea of improving the football field, he does have some concerns.

"The state is going out to bond $7 billion to adequately fund the teachers' pension fund, and then they want to spend money on things like this," Brittingham said. "That's how these problems occur in the first place."

Gerry also mentioned the health concerns that have been raised by many, including AG Dick Blumenthal.

Tim White

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sustainable is traditional for some

I was looking thru a box of photos and came across this photo I took in Denmark:As I was looking at it... recalling that this was a traditional-style house... I started thinking about the mall.

Seriously... why not? I know a lot of you are laughing right now or just scratching your head, but... my point is simple... America is gonna have to come to grips with all of our development at some point. And considering that the Town is bending over backwards... why shouldn't the developer bend over backwards too?

According to google, an acre = 43,560 sq ft. So a footprint of 500,000 sq ft would be about 11 or 12 acres. And (ignoring residential) that probably includes, say, 15 acres of parking. So how about making the retail two stories high (higher than that would defeat the "main street" concept) and making the parking three stories high?

25 acres of development becomes 10 acres of development. Then cover the third floor parking with a roof... and cover the roof with grass... as demonstrated above. Then put PVs (solar panels) on the grass. I bet some birds would absolutely love to nest there. And do the same on the retail... or hey... put the parking on top of the retail and reduce the impervious surfaces to 5 acres... this would also help ensure that the PZC is fulfilling its mandate that states the "Separation of vehicular and pedestrian traffic is maintained to the greatest extent possible" because people would walk across no more than 3 or 4 acres of parking lot... rather than 10 or 15 acres of parking.

But then, I'm not positive that's the PZCs mandate. Although it is what Cindy is reporting over at Underground Town Hall.

Assuming this project continues moving forward, I hope thoughtful people like Lou Todisco and Andy Maye exert their influence on the process and have their voices heard.

Tim White

Our Nutmeg primaries

Connecticut's primaries will be here soon - Feb 5. So I've added a link to the website of most of the candidates of which I'm aware (see the column to the left). And if you want to see the candidates in action, wikipedia offers the following list of debates between now and Feb 5:

Democrats
January 21, 2008 - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
January 27, 2008 - Boca Raton, Florida
January 31, 2008 – Hollywood, California

Republicans
January 24, 2008 - Boca Raton, Florida
January 30, 2008 - Simi Valley, California

Be informed. Register with a party. And vote!

Tim White

Cal Thomas on Ron Paul

"The only one behaving like a real Republican is Ron Paul, who actually wants to cut spending and get government out of our lives. He won't win the nomination because too many Republican are into handouts and redistribution... maybe a miracle will happen and Republicans will start behaving like Republicans again"

- Cal Thomas on Ron Paul and the rest of the Republican field

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The terrible 2s!

Cheshire bloggers, happy birthday! It's our second anniversary. Thanks for making this possible. I'm thoroughly convinced that even right here in Cheshire... the tubes are changing the town... offering more transparency and opening up government like never before (h/t to Cindy Kleist and Craig Houghton, in particular!).

I recognize that I've made mistakes with this blog... but for the most part, I think our ongoing dialogue has been a net benefit. And I'm sure that I'll make more mistakes, but will certainly try to avoid them. Please bear with me.

Don't forget... guest posts are always welcome. Frankly, I'd love to have another regular front page poster or two. I think it'd make the blog more interesting. Alternatively, you can always head over to Cheshire Town Post and publish whatever you want... probably anonymously. But make sure to come back here! Your comments are what make this blog so useful... they generally help push forward the dialogue in a positive manner that allows everyone to speak freely without fear of consequence.

A final thought... blogs tend to be relatively small communities and will likely stay that way for a while. So in the meantime, if you really wanna have your voice heard... send letters to the editors of the local papers... and you can find those email addresses right here... at the top of the column on the left side of this page.

Tim White

p.s. A special thank you to Sheldon Dill and Charley Polizzano. Charley was the person who first got me onto the idea of blogging back in May '05 with this feeble attempt. Unfortunately, I really wasn't prepared to begin blogging. But in January '06, Sheldon Dill convinced me a blog would be worthwhile and motivated me to make it happen with this post on Elderly Tax Relief. So again... a special thanks to both Sheldon and Charley. Cheshire's blogging community would probably be a whole lot less lively, if it weren't for the two of you.

Hitchcock Phillips House tour


I love the internet!

A few days ago I got an email from Diane Calabro with a followup from Mary Ellen Kania. The Historical Society (more precisely, Mary Ellen Kania, Josiah Rowe, Richard Smith and my favorite hometown comedian, Ron Gagliardi) put together this video, but it hadn't yet been uploaded to the web. So they asked me to do it... easy enough. Anyway... here's their video about the House. It includes a nice little history of the House and of Cheshire. I hope you enjoy it.

On a somewhat related note... the Titus Moss walk may happen again this year. Stay tuned.

Tim White

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bending over backwards

I attended part of the PZC meeting on the proposed ND. The comments I heard were disappointing. While PZC Alternate Andy Maye was talking quite broadly about the project, others seemed to be focused on the height of signs and amount of lighting.

Don't get me wrong... signage and lighting are important discussion points about PZC projects. However, those should be addressed only after bigger issues have been addressed... issues that were being raised by Mr. Maye.

In the short time I was there, Maye asked about sewer capacity issues. And he drove home the point that on any particular day, though not every day... the sewers already exceed capacity... (remember... last year, Riverside Drive became a river of raw sewage because the treatment plant exceeded capacity and backed up...) too bad that on this issue, Mr. Maye's voice seems to be ignored... just like the voices of others... it was Sept '05 when I suggested (in the Herald) that the PZC sit down with the WPCA and have a real discussion about the north end. Of course, that discussion hasn't happened... or perhaps it just hasn't gotten anywhere... I mean, where are we now... compared to where we were 2 1/2 years ago?

As Dick Mangino explained during last month's Council meeting... the town did an INI study 15-20 years ago... the study included a videotaping of the pipes... now where is the video? Does anyone know? Who's supposed to know? Who's in charge?

As I've said... I'm not opposed to this project... I'm opposed to it as proposed. This project is not self-sustaining in terms of energy consumption (the primary reason we're in the middle east) and it's unnecessary sprawl.

Later, Mr. Maye made another good point. While he was asking about some of the zoning reg's, he was told something to the effect that his concern did not face "construction problems." To which Mr. Maye replied something along the lines of "but there could be environmental problems."

And what were the other comments about... lighting and signage.

Lighting and signage?

Ok, ok... as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I wasn't there for the full meeting. But the bit that I did see was really disappointing. I mean, when I voted in favor of this project a year ago, I thought the idea had the potential to move beyond CTs poor land use policy of yesteryear. Unfortunately, based on the comments I heard tonight... it looks like we are going to continue to make the same poor decisions that have governed CT land-use policy for years.

I was left with the feeling that some PZC members have little interest in representing the public and are willing to simply approve whatever the developer requests. By that, I don't mean a vote in favor of this project = a lack of representing the public. Quite the contrary... some people in town love the proposed ND. No... I just mean that there should be some critical analysis here... ask some good questions as Mr. Maye was doing.

As for my personal view, I could live with it if the developer's profit margins are reduced by $30,000 per housing unit because the parking was stacked... and I'm not too concerned if the developer needs to float an additional $20,000 for photovoltaics for each residential unit... the PVs will pay for themselves over the next 20 years... and I'm not too concerned if the developer makes less money than they want to make.

As I said at the Nov 27 PZC meeting... the town has already bent over backwards for the developer. Now it's time for the developer to bend over backwards for the town.

Tim White

Sen. Tom Coburn endorses...

No. He didn't endorse my guy... physician-politician, Ron Paul.

But Sen. Tom Coburn did endorse McCain. And though DC-based political endorsements rarely mean anything to me... along with Reps. Flake and Shadegg, Sen. Coburn is one of the few people who I feel really is working to stop the spending binge in Washington. After all, as a freshman GOP Senator... Coburn was the only Senator willing to take Sen. Ted "porkmeister" Stevens and his $250 million dollar bridge to nowhere to the floor of the Senate and... call him out on it... publicly.

Sure, Coburn didn't make many friends that day in Washington. But I think he made friends all across the country... everywhere except inside the beltway.

Anyway, since Coburn is making a concerted effort at fighting Washington's wasteful, deficit spending... his endorsement actually does mean something to me.

Tim White

Stop n shop

Going shopping in Cheshire can be fun... never know who you might see. I didn't see Congressman Chris Murphy there tonight, but I did see his wife. I was tempted to say hi and ask her to ask Chris to tell the Kongressional Kids in the District of Corruption to balance the budget, but... I decided against saying anything. I'm sure she had more important things to do... if it were Chris on the other hand... balance the budget!

Tim White

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

School budget I: certified staff

This post has two goals:

First, it's an explanation of an analysis that I've done of the BOE budget for the past few years.

Second, it's my analysis of the first of the six "major" categories within the BOE budget.

But first the explanation...

A few days ago, I posted this about the BOE budget... explaining the difference between the (six) "major" budget line items and (all) the "minor" budget line items.

Anyway, here is the previously posted summary... intended to detail the first (and second) of the six major categories:

As you can see, "a/c 110 - Administration" above, agrees to the detail in "a/c 110 - Administration" below (note the color coding):

And continue to follow the color coding below:

Then if you're reading the image directly above (just click on it to enlarge it), you should be able to see what I've done... while the BOE budget books normally include a "history" of budgetary line items... I've created a "history of the histories." That is... while the BOE Budget books normally include:

1) actual expenditures,
2) adopted BOE budgets, and
3) proposed Superintendent's budgets

even the historic numbers have changed over time... remember how no one knew how many teachers we had? Well, this is where that inconsistency in history "fell out."

Anyway, since I'll be trying to provide this analysis for each of the six "major" categories (as well as the minor categories) over the next few weeks... I encourage you to take a look at my analysis and ask me questions to clarify anything that is unclear.

Finally, I don't see much of interest here in the major category of "certified staff." Generally though, of most interest to me is seeing how actual expenditures align with both the BOE adopted budgets and the Superintendent's proposed budgets... particularly over time.

Tim White

Transparency needed at the Fed

Here's a comment from Ron Paul's website. It's a topic on which I agree with him wholeheartedly. And while I'm not sure if I support or oppose the existence of a central bank because I'm not versed well enough on the merits... I absolutely believe we should have greater

Transparency at the Fed

Excerpts from Dr. Paul's comments...

Fed bankers quite literally determine the value of our money, by controlling the supply of dollars and establishing interest rates. Their actions can make you richer or poorer overnight, in terms of the value of your savings and the buying power of your paycheck. So I urge all Americans to educate themselves about monetary policy, and better understand how a small group of unelected individuals at the Federal Reserve and Treasury department wield tremendous power over our lives...

Transparency in monetary policy is a goal we should all support...

There are no true audits, and Congress knows nothing of the conversations, plans, and actions taken in concert with other central banks...


All paper currencies are vulnerable to collapse, and history is replete with examples of great suffering caused by such collapses, especially to a nation's poor and middle class...

In 2006 dollars, the minimum wage was $9.50 before the 1971 breakdown of Bretton Woods. Today that dollar is worth $5.15. Congress congratulates itself for raising the minimum wage by mandate, but in reality it has lowered the minimum wage by allowing the Fed to devalue the dollar. We must consider how the growing inequalities created by our monetary system will lead to social discord.


How can a policy of steadily debasing our currency be defended morally, knowing what harm it causes to those who still believe in saving money and assuming responsibility for themselves in their retirement years? Is it any wonder we are a nation of debtors rather than savers?

We need more transparency in how the Federal Reserve carries out monetary policy, and we need it soon.


I hope the other Presidential candidates start talking more about monetary policy.

Tim White

Monday, January 14, 2008

Upcoming ND vote

The ND proposal will again be on the PZC agenda... this time at a special meeting scheduled for this Wednesday at 7:30pm. I'm not sure if there'll be a vote though. I believe PZC is not yet pushing up against their deadline... so they could wait until later this month.

In an unusual occurence, Republican Sean Strollo will be Chairing the meeting... though it will be a Democratic majority (D - Patti Flynn Harris, Lou Todisco, Marty Coburn, Andy Maye, John Kardaris; R - Sean Strollo, EJ Kurtz, Woody Dawson, Leslie Marinaro).

As I've said before... it should be rejected as currently proposed. Based on my understanding there are too many problems with it... it's not self-sustainable and it's unnecessary sprawl. These shortcomings are too great and can be overcome... though at a cost to the developer (remember my previous post where I said "stacked" parking costs $30,000 per parking space).

Additionally, the fiscal impact analysis is incomplete. And I don't fault W/S for that. They're upfront about this... they're a business and they want to make money. So they tell the best case scenario. That's what I expect of them. But it's not what I expect of my elected officials.

My representatives should also consider the secondary impacts of this project, particularly in relation to the schools. After all, like everyone else in town, the PZC is concerned about traffic. (MRJ, by Stacy Graham Hunt) And traffic is arguably a secondary impact... so the PZC should be consistent and either be concerned with all (obvious) secondary impacts... or be concerned with none... and they're not about to ignore traffic... which means they should consider the secondary impact on schools... along with the secondary impact on our already-stressed electric grid, etc.

Anyway, I'm hitting the sack now. In the meantime, any closing thoughts on the ND before they vote?

Tim White

CPD defense tactics class

A portion of a $15,000 state grant will enable the Police Department to offer self-defense training classes for women this year. (NHR, by Luther Turmelle)

Among the uses will be:

Block watch programs.

Home security audits done by officers.

The department’s Citizens Police Academy, in which residents who are enrolled gain an in-depth understanding of how police officers do their jobs.


Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Sunday, January 13, 2008

High level schools budget

Here's a high level detailing of the Superintendent's proposed school budget for '08/'09. Traditionally, the school budget is broken down into six major categories. Then the six major categories are further broken down.

My understanding is that reason for the six major categories is a legal one. That is, by law only the BOE may reclassify budgetary items among the six major accounts... while the Superintendent may reclassify budget items among any of the "minor" categories... as long as the money stays within that "major" category. But I'm not a lawyer... that's just what I've picked up over the past few years.

I'll try to provide more detail and analysis over the coming weeks and months.

Tim White

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Paul beat Fred!

Here's the CNN clip of the Ron Paul post-primary party in NH:I'm not going to get into it now, but simply put... last weekend was a phenomenal experience being up in New Hampshire and helping with the campaign. The level of energy and enthusiasm was amazing. Even the locals (reporters, police, security guards, etc.) told me that they had never seen so much excitement and passion for any candidate.

Tim White

Open forum 1/12

I'm not sure what to write about right now. So here are some odds'n'ends.

As many of you know, my dad does some freelance work as a literary agent. Here's a book he recently started working on... written by someone known to many of you... Pat Depaolo. I don't know him myself, but I do know some of his kids from CHS.

Here's the business card from a recently opened Cheshire business. It's located in the Watch Factory. It's a coffee shop and I give it a thumb's up.


Luther Turmelle of the NHR reported on what will happen with the $165,000 being given to the CPD from Elim Park.

There's a new scholarship being established in town for CHS grads. Details are here:I think the Chamber of Commerce is having its annual awards dinner on January 24.

Anyone see the GOP debate on Thursday night? In discussing Iran, Presidential candidate Ron Paul mentioned the false information that led to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution... which led to war with Vietnam. I know I've mentioned it before, but the lies that led to the Vietnam War were largely exposed as a result of a letter to the editor from my dad to the New Haven Register. My point? Despite the fact that America was led to war in Vietnam under false pretenses... letters to the editor can make a difference. And they shouldn't take you more than 15-20 minutes to write. So speak up and be heard!

Someone at CTLP reported that Tony Nania has filed his paperwork for a primary contest with Dave Cappiello... for the chance to run against Chris Murphy.

What else is happening?

Tim White

Friday, January 11, 2008

Isn't it strange...

Here's a guest post from Cheshire resident, Ira Kushner:

For the past 3 weeks I have noticed a full page color ad in the Cheshire Herald. The heading of this ad is: DON’T “MALL” CHEHSIRE! Now I know what you are thinking…another letter for/against the North End Development. Well I am not going to state my view because I feel that there is a bigger issue here than my view on the matter. That issue is what the people of Cheshire are allowed to know…who is trying to sway public opinion. Sure the ad has the names of elected officials, it even suggests a website to go to for more information. But what does the ad not have, what information is missing. That’s right…who is paying for the ad, who is trying to sway the decision making process. I spoke with folks at the Herald, I spoke with some of the elected officials listed in the ad and I spoke with some members of the Town council. Guess what, either they did not know, were not willing to share or in the case of the Herald were asked not to share the name of the person (or persons) responsible for the ad. Now I don’t think the intent of this ad is questionable, it is clearly taking a side on this issue…

Here we have a very expensive ad, yes even a somewhat informative ad but also an ad whose purpose is to influence the folks of Cheshire yet we don’t even know who is paying for the ad, who is standing behind the ad…I find that strange. I feel given the impact of the North End Development decision, given how involved the people of Cheshire are in this decision and yes just to add some sort of credibility to the ad, the people of Cheshire should know the source of the ad.

Ira A. Kushner
Cheshire

p.s. As always, guest posts are welcome and appreciated.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Caligiuri may have opponent

Sam Caligiuri may have an opponent. The MRJ (by Jason Vallee) is reporting that Southington Councilman John Barry is considering a run against Sam.

Also in 2008 news, I haven't heard anything recently about the reported Steve Nania challenge to Dave Cappiello for the GOP nod to run against Congressman Chris Murphy. Anyone know what's happening with that?

Tim White

Turning point for DC GOP?

For those of you who are interested in (what I see as the fight for) the heart and soul of the Republican Party, you may be interested to know that Sen. Trent Lott's resignation led to a Mississippi member of the House Appropriations Committee being appointed to fill his seat. In turn, there's an open seat on the Committee.

Now GOP Minority Leader John Boehner has to fill the seat. And according to Townhall.com, Boehner is likely to choose RSCC Chairman Rep. Tom Cole (R.-Okla.) to fill the position. “Cole argues the appropriations seat would help him raise money for the cash-strapped NRCC.” But fiscal conservatives are pushing for an alternative, Jeff Flake of Arizona.

I don't know much about Flake, but similar to Shadegg and Boehner... he's one of the few members of Congress who doesn't request earmarks. Flake not only says he's a fiscal conservative, he also votes that way.

For the sake of the GOP, I hope Boehner gives the seat to Flake.

Tim White

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Fund balance policy vote

About eight or nine months ago I raised a point during a budget committee meeting: before legislating a fund balance policy, the Council should determine if the benefits of the Town's ever-growing fund balance were worth the costs. (I’ve described my concerns in great detail, see a few of the links here and here.)

In other words, while a rainy day fund is important… is it worthwhile to have a rainy day fund of $8,000,000 (8% of a $100,000,000 operating budget) instead of a rainy day of $5,000,000 (5%)? What is the benefit of the additional $3,000,000 taken from the taxpayers? And what is the benefit of maintaining that additional 3% at a cost of $90,000/yr?

Unfortunately, the Council did as I expected. That is, when I initially suggested a cost/benefit analysis, the Town Manager immediately rejected the idea. And though I’ve been advocating this idea since then… including doing my own cost/benefit analysis based on the information provided by the Town Manager… the Council did as I expected they would. Though they listened to hours and hours of testimony, they never documented the costs and benefits and never offered the information to the voters in a digestable form. This is a lack of oversight.

The fund balance is an accounting function. And accounting requires that you put pen to paper. So to not put pen to paper and document the rationale for the “8%” was a failure of leadership.

To his credit though, Matt Hall was very candid. He said the Democrats won the election. Herego, the voters disagreed with my call for a cost/benefit analysis. Of course, I could’ve argued that my reelection was a voter mandate for a cost benefit analysis, but the writing was on the wall a long time ago. If the Town Manager says something… don’t expect this Council to overrule him. (Anyone recall our recently created Public Information Officer position??)

Anyway, the conversation started off unsurprisingly. The same old story was being spun about how it’s impossible to measure the value of the rainy day fund. I pretty much figured that was how it would go, so I had pretty much already resolved myself to a “no” vote on this measure.

Instead I decided to simply use my expertise as a CPA to add some value to the conversation. And while Matt Hall protested that I was not the only CPA on the Council, I'm quite confident that I am the only Council member who is a CPA. I’m confident that any claims to the contrary are false. Furthermore, I’m pretty sure that I’m the only person sitting behind the dais who has any financial qualification. And for that reason, I felt the need to clarify the debate. After all, we’re talking about millions of taxpayer dollars. The least I can do is try to make sure this new policy makes sense from an accounting perspective because it is an accounting function.

And since there was no one behind the dais who was qualified to discuss the terminology of the “fund balance policy,” I asked the Town’s Finance Director, Patti Lynn Ryan, to work through the terminology with me. Although she didn’t have all the answers, she did do a good job and recognized the importance of the terminology being used, including:

terms often used by the town are “reserve” and “fund balance.” Terms used by others (GASB and GFOA) are “reserved fund balance” and “unreserved fund balance,” along with “designated unreserved fund balance” and “undesignated unreserved fund balance.”

And since it’s possible that the town’s “reserve” is someone else’s “designated unreserved fund balance,” it’s possible that we may need to reclassify all of the Town’s “reserves” and include them in the town’s newly adopted “fund balance” policy.

In layman’s terms, that means the reserves currently set aside by the town would all be returned to taxpayers… perhaps in the form of a mill rate reduction this year? I’m not sure.

Nonetheless, the majority’s poor judgment in passing the legislation and rejecting my suggestion to table the motion and review the policy may prove to be a windfall for the taxpayers. To enforce the 8%-9% policy may soon require all those additional reserves to be returned to the taxpayers in some form.

Bottom line though… I knew I didn’t have the votes to reject this policy as written (I'd be happy if it were 5%, not 8%). I just wish that I could have found at least one member of the Council majority who felt that the additional $3,000,000 tax burden already levied and the additional $90,000/yr in ongoing tax burdens that will be levied needed to be justified in real dollar terms and documented for public consumption. Unfortunately, since it didn’t happen, I conclude that the benefit is not there… hence, the Council majority is comfortable with excessive taxation.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Republican caucus tonight

The Cheshire GOP will be holding its biennial caucus tonight to elect members of the Republican Town Committee. All registered Republicans are invited. The meeting will take place at 7:30pm in Town Hall.

Tim White

Friday, January 04, 2008

The primaries

And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones to start
To mould a new reality
Closer to the heart

-- Geddy Lee, Rush

I love that song. Anyway...

While the primaries are just beginning, the debates started last May. And to me, the words spoken in the debates have been immensely important. Anyone remember "this smackdown?" Now with the votes starting to roll in... we're just beginning to be able to declare a winner.

But back to today... the number one "issue" for why I support Ron Paul is that he's not simply discussing taxes... he's discussing spending... in particular social security and healthcare (he is the only M.D. running). And to his credit, Fred Thompson is also discussing social security. But I'm not sure if any other Presidential candidates are even talking about reducing spending.

So a big thank you to both of them for at least acknowledging that America has some major issues with it's long-term liabilities... because if the men who hold high places don't... who will?

Tim White

Council agenda 1/8

Here's the agenda for Tuesday's meeting:I haven't read the agenda, so can't comment... though I did see the "fund balance policy" on the agenda as an action item... should be an interesting conversation.

Also... I'm not sure if I'll be able to do much posting for the next few days... maybe one of you would like to do a guest post?

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Paul beats Guiliani!

Ha! How's that for spin? Ok, ok... I'm not thrilled with the Iowa caucus results, but I'm fine... I still intend to work to get Ron Paul as many delegates for when the GOP convenes in Minneapolis this summer. My real goal is to reinstate the Constitution, not to elect any particular candidate... and I think Ron Paul's voice is the best way to do that. Go Ron Paul! Go US Constitution!

But back to the caucuses... Congratulations to Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama! While Ron Paul is my favorite candidate on the GOP side, I'd say that Obama is probably my favorite candidate on the Dem side... though I really don't know much of anything about his federal voting record... other than his noteworthy sponsorship of the "Transparency in Federal Spending" bill. Also interesting to me about Obama... the reports are that a most unusual thing happened... while CW says you should never count on the youth vote... it seems that they may not have left him standing at the altar and actually turned out to vote for him.

Most interesting to me though from the reporting I saw tonight... statewide, Iowa Democratic turnout went from 126,000 to 212,000... that's a massive increase in turnout... and I'm wondering if that's a harbinger of things to come in November... I'm sensing that the Democratic landslide in 2006 hasn't yet subsided... and it'll probably continue right through to November 2008... speaking as a Republican... yikes!

Lastly, I guess Chris Dodd has decided to drop out and move home to Connecticut.

Tim White

Wetlands vote explanation

For anyone who missed it, the NHRs Luther Turmelle reported today why only five of the seven IWWC members voted: Matt Bowman recused himself due to his family's financial interests and Tod Dixon had resigned in relation to becoming a BOE member.

Furthermore, the 5-0 vote was a reflection of the rules... not necessarily the wishes of the entire Commission. Long-time member Charles Dimmick said "Although I personally don't want to see a mall there, I can find no technical reason to deny the application."

Anyone know when the PZC will be voting? Their meeting is normally the second Monday of the month... but I think that's MLK day. Are the even ready to vote yet?

Tim White

Wetland approval given

According to Lauresha Xhihani (WRA), Inland Wetlands approve the proposed ND last night with a 5-0 vote.

As for me, I hope the PZC sees this project for what it is... unnecessary sprawl... and rejects the proposed project until a higher density proposal... with more serious consideration given to it's sustainability... is brought to the table.

Tim White

Analyzing the rainy day fund

As many of you know, I've been advocating a cost/benefit analysis to understand the Town's "rainy day fund." Unfortunately, I haven't made much progress... though the recent budget committee meeting minutes have shed some light on the difficulties I'm encountering...

Budget Committee Chairman Mike Ecke said "(I am) not sure how this would be approached."

And "Mr. Milone pointed out that this fund balance does not lend itself to a cost benefit analysis, because the start is a false premise that there is a cost involved. There is no cost; there is a revenue investment that sits there that is being debated as to its use."

Now understanding why it's been impossible to perform a cost/benefit analysis, I realized that the only way to move this discussion forward would be to do it myself... a rather time-consuming, but worthwhile effort I think.

So here's my first attempt at an "investment/benefit analysis" of the rainy day fund:
And just a bit of explanation for this... as noted in the minutes, the TM said there were 15 reasons for the fund balance policy (or the related 8% funding level??)... and if you read the minutes... the conversation was likely fluid and while I'm sure the minutes are an accurate representation of the discussion... the discussion itself is not entirely clear. And the 15 reasons are not listed anywhere... so I'll email the Town Manager for the list of 15 reasons. In the meantime, I thought you all may be able to offer some analysis of your own.

Oh... and one benefit I forgot to include... with the additional $3.3million in taxes that have already been collected and the additional $90,000 in taxes that will be collected annually... we'll be saving about $20,000/yr. (I base that number on last year's estimated savings of $30,000 - 50,000 for the biennial bond issuance... I averaged it to $40,000 and divided by two.) Of course, if we went from a AA bond-rated town to a A bond-rated town, we (or the underwriters) could just buy bond insurance for $5,500... and we could return to the 5% level (that was perfectly acceptable only four years ago) and return $3,000,000 to the taxpayers! But of course... it's not that simple... so bloggers... I hope you can do your stuff and provide some critical analysis on my investment/benefit analysis.

By the way... that $550,000 that gets incorporated into the budget... that seems to get incorporated every year... that's normally fallout from the seemingly annual surplus of $2,000,000. So it's not as if that is necessarily a "drawdown" of the rainy day fund.

Anyway... is the cost to maintain the 8% rainy day fund worth the benefit?

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

p.s. For the record... generally speaking, during his tenure, the Town Manager has done a good job with the town's finances. But going forward, I don't want to see my favorite Democratic Council become Cheshire's version of the Republican "no oversight is needed" Congress. :)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

BOE budget meeting

It's that time of year again... Luther Turmelle (NHR) reported today that the Superintendent will be announcing his budget at Thursday's BOE meeting.

And on a separate topic... someone mentioned the Inland Wetlands voted tonight (5-0) to approve the ND proposal. Can anyone else confirm? And who skipped the vote? I know Matt Bowman was sitting out, but there are seven members. I think it makes sense for Inland Wetlands to approve it... but if I were on PZC, as I've already explained... I'd be voting against the current ND proposal.

Tim White
Town Council, 4th District

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Cheshire Cares

Cheshire Cares (the Human Services Committee website) wants you to know that January is:

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and
National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Click through here for more details.

Tim White
Town Council, Human Services Committee liaison

The meaning of a word

“…man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.” -- Ronald Reagan

George Orwell wrote about “meaningless words” that are endlessly repeated in the political arena*. Words like “freedom,” “democracy,” and “justice,” Orwell explained, have been abused so long that their original meanings have been eviscerated. In Orwell’s view, political words were “Often used in a consciously dishonest way.” Without precise meanings behind words, politicians and elites can obscure reality and condition people to reflexively associate certain words with positive or negative perceptions. In other words, unpleasant facts can be hidden behind purposely meaningless language.

Excerpted from the website of Ron Paul

*Politics and the English Language, 1946.