Saturday, May 31, 2008

The blogosphere is evolving

Some of you may recall the case of Avery Doninger... a Burlington, CT high school senior who got in trouble at school for commenting on a blog while off school grounds.

Well, the case is working its way through the court system and it appears the courts are not sympathizing with Avery. To see a much more detailed analysis, see The Cool Justice Report by Andy Thibault.

I haven't read the court decision, but at this point see no way that we should be going down the road where a student is at home, makes some uncomplimentary public comments and ends up being disciplined beyond:

1) an apology and
2) getting in trouble with her own parents.

I hope she does take the case all the way to The Supremes.

Tim White

Friday, May 30, 2008

Energy & sustainability topics

With regard to the question on everyone's mind:

"What can be done in a household to save money on energy?"

and my idea for an "Energy & Sustainability Forum" to help elevate the public dialogue and assist people in answering that question...

I've started moving forward. And while there are many things that would need to happen, such as building support for it (I've already spoken with two Council members and two Energy Commission members) and dealing with the logistics of any event... I figure one of the most important aspects is setting an agenda that will ensure the credibility of the forum, while beginning to answer the question for people.

See... I have a feeling that many people may feel that something like a windmill would be a great idea. And while windmills are very site-specific, generally they do not perform well in CT. Rather, their efficiency in CT is quite poor... in relation to other alternative energies. So while wind turbines can be great in the wide, treeless expanses of a Nevadan valley... they tend to offer low returns in CT because of a variety of factors, such as the trees... and even our shoreline is basically "landlocked" because of Long Island.

Anyway... my point is that a forum may work best if it at least touches on most of the commonly used alternative energies, including ones that don't work well in CT households. Because if the forum doesn't touch on windmills... I'm wondering if people will scratch their head and say... "but they didn't even mention windmills... I wonder if they even know what they're talking about?"

For that reason, I think the best approach would be to have a forum that touches on as many alternative energies as possible (skipping nuclear though... I'm guessing most people wouldn't want a nuclear reactor in their basement anyway).

Here's my beginning list of topics, in no particular order:

1) Microturbine
2) Fuel cell
3) Photovoltaic (electricity using the sun)
4) Solar thermal (heating water using the sun)
5) Geothermal (tempering water with ground energy)
6) Wood/gas stoves
7) Windmill
8) Biomass
9) Compressed natural gas (CNG)
10) Ethanol
11) Biodiesel
12) Composting/gardening
13) Energy efficiency

Now I just need to find experts on each topic. And my goal is to identify "non-profit" or "independent" groups that can expertly speak on the topic... but not necessarily advocate for a particular company. IMO, that wouldn't be right.

But as I've already found out this week... for the energies that are viable in CT... many already have industry spokespeople. And for the industries that may not have industry spokespeople and are not really looking for much business in CT (such as wind)... there are companies around... but since they don't really sell their products here in CT... at least not to CT households (such as fuel cells)... I figure that independence is less of a concern.

Anyway, that's where I stand. More updates to come. But in the meantime... your thoughts?

Tim White

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Explaining my bubble concerns

The Bubble Study Committee met tonight. Anybody get to watch it on TV? If Henry Chase didn't give you a good shot of the audience, I'd estimate there were around 40 to 50 people there tonight... generally they were users who were supporting a year round facility... with most people seeming to want a permanent structure of some sort... though actual costs were not being discussed.

I think I may have surprised a few people tonight by not demanding a summer-only facility.

I explained that I have two main concerns... the financial costs and energy consumption. And we must try to address those things... along with the reality that the 1996 referendum question:
could lead perfectly reasonable people to conclude that that the pool would be self-sustaining.

Btw, I'm glad I took the time to go into the Town Clerk's office and find this referendum. I was getting tired of listening to people claim that no one ever said the pool would be self-sustaining.

And yes... I agree... by my reading of this referendum question... no one ever promised that the pool would be self-sustaining. But the intention was clear. I also find such claims to be interesting because it's a perfect example of how some people can, at times, be honest... yet tell something other than the truth, the whole truth and nothing, but the truth.

Tim White

Caligiuri on minimum wage

From Paul Hughes at the WRA:

Sen. Sam S.F. Caligiuri stands ready to hand his fellow Republican, Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a big election-year defeat on a bread-and-butter Democratic issue -- the minimum wage. The first-term Republican senator represents the single vote that Democrats need in the Senate to override Rell's veto of legislation raising the state's minimum wage....

"Politics isn't going to change my vote. Pressure is not going to change my vote," he said.

Tim White

Dick Lau named a trustee

Former BOE Chair Dick Lau was named a trustee of the Connecticut Community Foundation.

Excerpted from their website:

The Connecticut Community Foundation, the region’s center for philanthropy, engages the community to address its needs by connecting charitable resources to sustainable programs in human services, education, the environment, health care and the arts.

Congratulations! That sounds great.

Tim White

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Energy & sustainability forum

I've had a lot of residents asking me about energy costs lately. Basically, they want to know their options. And while it may not seem like something I can do much about... I was brainstorming today.

One resident asked me to organize a meeting with Yankee Gas. The goal of the meeting would be to determine the possibility of extending gas lines as an alternative to heating fuel. And as I was thinking over how to approach that... a lightbulb lit up!

I'm thinking of trying to organize a forum in which we invite experts to explain different alternative energies, such as compressed natural gas (CNG), wood stoves, photovoltaics, solar water heaters, geothermal and even alternative electric providers (such as competitively priced electric generators or clean electric producers).

Additionally, I was thinking of expanding it a bit past an energy forum and making it more of a sustainability forum. After all... why is food so expensive? Partly because of the cost of energy (such as the fuel) to truck food into CT from other parts of the country.

So in following up on that, I spoke with Elizabeth Esty at last night's meeting. And she gave me the names of a few of the Friends of Boulder Knoll... so we'll see how that goes... though I do think the focus of a forum of this nature would really need to stay fairly tight in answering one question:

"What options are available to save money on energy in Cheshire?"

What are your thoughts on doing something like this? Good idea? Bad idea? Any other issues that could help? Energy efficiency comes to mind.

Tim White

Congratulations to MLN!

With 400 blogs competing for the 50 open slots that are to receive full media credentials at the Democratic National Convention in Denver... My Left Nutmeg won and will be representing CT!As for the GOP side... no word yet on which blogs, if any, will receive full media credentials... but I applied before the May 15 deadline cuz I think it'd be a fun time.

Tim White

Most recent MPG for my Civic Hybrid

Over the past week, I've checked the MPG I'm getting with my Civic Hybrid: 49.0 MPG. But if you're considering buying a new car, here's a calculator to tell you about gas-savings.

From a financial perspective, it made sense to pay the premium for the hybrid:

Civic Hybrid = 49 mpg
Civic = 34 mpg (based on conversations with friends)
15,000 miles / year
$4.00 gas

= $500 annual savings

vs. a $3,000 premium (actually $6k - $2k fed tax credit - $1k sales tax exemption)

gives me a payback of five or six years. And I intend to keep it longer than that.

As for the environmental impact... I'm not sure. I bought it before I heard anything about the environmental drawbacks.

Tim White

"Phantom loads" cost money

In an effort to reduce my electric bill, I went around my house this weekend and unplugged many of my electrical appliances (TVs, DVD players, etc.) that I don't use often. In other words, I eliminated many "phantom loads.

I did it because I understand that over the course of the year, such appliances could easily cost hundreds of dollars.

But that's a way to save on consumption. If you want to save on your rates (house and / or business), here's a quick tutorial in alternative electric providers available to you in CT.

Tim White

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

CT-5 goes Green

While Democrat Chris Murphy has been targeted by the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee... because of what the RCCC considers to be a strong GOP challenger in Dave Cappiello... Murphy's now getting outflanked on his left.

The "Green party has nominated human rights attorney Harold H. Burbank II" (MRJ, by Andrew Perlot). Burbank wants a "war crimes investigation" of President Bush. What's interesting to me about a third party candidacy is recalling the 1998 CT-5 election (granted, the district was composed of different towns) in which incumbent Dem Jim Maloney defeated state Senator Mark Nielson by fewer than 1500 votes... and Maloney won with a plurality... that is, he did not get a majority of the vote.

And in other CT-5 news... Dave Cappiello is the GOP nominee. His former opponent, Tony Nania, dropped out of the race prior to the CT-5 convention that was held earlier this month.

Finally, unrelated to the CT-5... I still haven't heard of any Dems opposing Sam Caligiuri for his seat. Though he is holding a fundraiser tomorrow night (Wednesday night 5/28) from 6:30 - 9:00 PM at Cugino's. Cost is $35 per person. You can show up at the door, though an RSVP to 203-757-7505 is appreciated. Sam for Governor!

Tim White

Cheshire resident in the Deniro flick

Nope. Not me. Oh well...

From the MRJs Stacy Graham Hunt:

A Cheshire man and business owner went to prison Friday... and says he had a great time.

Patrick Holland, 37, owner of Ciao Bella on Elm Street, was cast as an extra for the movie "Everybody's Fine," featuring Robert DeNiro and Drew Barrymore, scenes of which were shot at Cheshire Correctional Institution.

Holland e-mailed a photo of himself to Grant Wilfley Casting Agency last week, and the company selected him to play the role of a prisoner in the film.

"I was picked out of a lot of people," he said.

Even Town Councilor Tim White submitted a photo of himself to the casting company in the hope of landing a part as an extra, but didn't meet with Holland's success.

Somehow though I'll press forward and manage to deal with the rejection. Ha! Seriously though... I think it would've been fun... and something different.

Tim White

Robert Tagliaferi arrest list grows

Robert Tagliaferi of Patton Drive (Cheshire) has a list of home burglary arrests that continues to grow. He's up to 17 and counting...I think this case:


was the one where he was arrested at the house of state Rep. Brendan Sharkey... and he's pleading "not guilty." It should be interesting to see how that goes over in the courtroom.

Btw, does anyone know if Tagliaferi ever "did time" in the past?

Tim White

Monday, May 26, 2008

ND video

I stumbled across this 90 second YouTube clip on the proposed ND:

General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868

"Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic."

-- General John Logan, General Order No. 11, 5 May 1868

Why use a state marshall? (hWg 24)

Q: What were the events that led to CT Combustion's conclusion that documents (to be given to the Council) had to be delivered by a state marshall?

A: I still don't know.

But here's a couple of hotWatergate clips that, IMO, best address this question that remains unanswered:
followed by:

With the exception of CT Combustion specifically mentioning "Bid 1" (a July - October 2007 timeframe) and the August 2007 and October 2007 PBC meetings... is there any clear explanation on which PBC meetings are being discussed?

And who is the town secretary mentioned by CT Combustion?

Unfortunately, I don't expect to ever get any sort of satisfactory explanation for this because I'm sure "these aren't the droids we're looking for."

Tim White

UPDATE: In watching the video again, I noticed that PBC asserts that CT Combustion tried to provide information at a meeting... but PBC does not state which meeting. Nonetheless, CT Combustion agrees that they did try to hand deliver information at the August PBC meeting.

Regardless, CT Combustion further asserts that they tried to convey information to the PBC for the October meeting... (and if I still have this very convoluted situation right!) that point remains unaddressed by anyone.

So what happened in October?

Was information (delivered by CT Combustion to Town Hall, but) withheld from the PBC at their October meeting?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A perfect day for the parade

It was a perfect day for the Memorial Day Parade... and the crowd of spectators seemed to me to be as big as any nice parade day. There were a lot of people who made it happen, but in particular, I thank my dad, Ernie Dipietro and Bob Ceccollini. They did a great job.

But most important, remember the reason why Memorial Day exists.

Excerpted from

In 1915, inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields Moina Michael replied with her own poem:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day parade

As usual, the parade will begin at CPD HQ... this year, "stepoff" is at 1:30pm.

After his year-long hiatus from CT and his spirited campaign for the Presidency, Chris Dodd will be marching. I've heard that a few of our Constitutional officers (Blumenthal & Bysowiecz) will be marching as well. No word on whether you'll see Chris Murphy or his Republican opponent, Dave Cappiello.

Also... outside of veterans, there weren't too many people at this morning's wreath-laying ceremony, but it was nice to see a few elected officials (Al Adinolfi, Joe Bartoli and Elizabeth Esty) there, showing their respect.

Tim White

Tim Lenox (R) to face Tom Gaffey (D)

State Senator Tom Gaffey now knows his Republican opponent... Tim Lenox of Meriden.

Lenox said he wants to run for office because he has watched both Democrats and Republicans become more removed from the people they represent. Lenox believes in a representative government, he said.

"I am one of the Republicans who feel disappointed in their own party," Lenox said. "I'm in this because so many people feel like they've been forgotten, and I want to give them a voice again."...

Lenox's campaign will focus on the need for fiscal fairness and representative government. The three levels of government need to work together, he said.

I don't yet know if either Sam Caligiuri or Mary Fritz have opposition.

Tim White

Southington Council misinformed

The MRJs Leslie Hutchison reports that:

The (Southington) Town Council voted unanimously on May 12 to restore $25,000 in funding for the demolition of the town-owned "Goat Island" house.

However, according to several elected officials,
the vote to approve the funding was based on misinformation about public safety issues.

Misinformation... information withheld...

Join the club!

Tim White

GOP continues faltering

From McClatchey:

For years, conservative-minded home schooling mom Shana Kluck of Tuscaloosa, Ala., voted Republican. No longer.

Fed up with big government at home and military intervention overseas, she worked for Ron Paul in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination. Now that he's fallen short, she's switching parties, traveling to Denver this weekend to help former Republican Congressman Bob Barr win the Libertarian presidential nomination....

"The Republicans have betrayed us, abandoned the conservative cause,"
(Richard Viguerie) said in an interview. While he doesn't agree with the Libertarians across the board — he wants a federal role in social issues, for example — he does see them as closer to the true conservative cause than the Republicans.

This doesn't surprise me at all.

I keep getting emails from Republicans who are upset with The Beltway GOP crowd. Earlier today, someone emailed me this link to a Dick Morris piece on "The Coming GOP Senate Massacre."

Personally, I think McCain may win against Obama... but I don't expect Republicans to fare too well down ticket. If I lived in Kentucky, I doubt I'd vote for Mitch McConnell... and while I like John Boehner... he hasn't exactly articulated his conservative worldview very well... though much of that may be due to the reality that President Bush is the head of the party for eight more months.

Whatever happens... I hope someone marshalls support for entitlement reform. While I firmly believe a promise has been made... and seniors must receive the benefits promised... I also believe people my age (35) recognize there is a real problem that needs to be addressed.

Tim White

Friday, May 23, 2008

Council agenda 5/27

Hot off the presses... I just received the agenda for Tuesday's meeting:Tim White

Wreath laying ceremony

In relation to Memorial Day, my dad will be leading a wreath-laying ceremony tomorrow morning at 10am.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I thank Ruth Schrauf

Some of you may have noticed my LTTE in last week's Herald... the one where the headline read something like "White pontificates on budget." Well, I hope you also read Ruth Schrauf's letter in this week's Herald.

I very much appreciate her support of my letter (though not necessarily my ideas)... but more important is the point that she made.

"Yes, I do know what the word (pontificate) means: to be pompous or dogmatic....

A statement of (the Herald's) opinion of (a writer's) words is hardly an appropriate thing to do and might certainly be a deterrent to many who might like to write about something to do with our town."

Thanks Ruth.

Tim White

Sustainability efforts in Cheshire

While I have my doubts about Town Hall's commitment to a sustainable future for Cheshire, there are some people here who are clearly committed to doing their part.

While the Friends of Boulder Knoll deserve a lot of credit for their efforts... since $4 gas is here... when I bumped into Paul Zentek of Zentek Farms this morning at One-Stop, I asked him about the viability of crop farming here in Cheshire... and I'm glad to say that, as usual, he's got some interesting ideas brewing.

So while $4 gas has some serious drawbacks (I'm sure that those most in need... people who already live paycheck to paycheck can hardly cut back on too many frivolous expenses.), it does have some added benefits... such as helping to create a financially viable market for locally grown food crops.

Tim White

Pool closed another week

From the MRJs Stacy Graham Hunt:

Programs at the Community Pool won't resume for at least another week because of a delay in the bubble removal process.

The pool was only supposed to be closed until Saturday, but the rainy weather will prevent it from reopening on time, said Shelia Adams, the Community Pool coordinator.

Tim White

Some cities understand "sustainability issues"

Some cities actually think about "sustainability issues." Now I'm definitely not advocating the creation of such a position in Cheshire. But particularly when it comes to the proposed ND, it would be nice to have such thought here in town at the policy level...

The City of San Antonio is recruiting for an Environmental Policy Manager. San Antonio has recently committed to become a leader in demonstrating successful municipal strategy concerning environmental policy and sustainable development. The Environmental Policy Manager is responsible for performing administrative and supervisory work in planning, developing, and directing environmental and sustainability programming including issues such as air quality, green building, alternative energy sources, and energy conservation. This position will serve in a leadership and advisory capacity, and exercise direct supervision over professional and technical staff.

Tim White

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bisbort questions town staff

I nearly missed this opinion piece that recently ran in the MRJ. Penned by Cheshire's Alan Bisbort... whether you support or oppose the proposed ND... if you're interested in what's happening in the north end of town... you'll find this piece a must-read. It begins:

Recently, two things occurred in Cheshire that could have a profound impact on the town's future. And, yes, they both relate - directly and indirectly - to the shopping mall that has been proposed for the north end of town, the largest development in Cheshire's history.

First, the town lost Lisa Murphy as its Assistant Town Planner. Murphy had worked in the Planning Office for 17 years, during which time she lived in Cheshire and cared deeply about the wise use of land in her town. She was a model of responsive public service and she did not play politics or favorites. Indeed, many town residents were surprised and disappointed that she was not hired as Cheshire's Town Planner when Richard Pfurr retired after a long and distinguished career in 2005. One can't blame Murphy for looking elsewhere for a job more worthy of her skills, and, of course, she was hired as planner for the city of Keene, N.H., putting to rest any doubts about whether she was "qualified" to be Cheshire Town Planner. Cheshire's loss is Keene's gain.

And finishes up:

There are a lot of things that don't make sense in Cheshire, starting with this mall in the north end.

And for the entire piece, click here to learn more of Alan's view.

Alan Bisbort is 100% right. This development makes no sense as proposed. Perhaps with gas hitting $4/gallon (and rising!)... some Town officials will start to wise up and recognize that "sustainability issues" are for real... and we need to start addressing them by mandating onsite power generation and minimizing impervious surfaces, etc.?? (remember... we bent over backwards for these guys in the first place.)

Oh wait... silly me... maybe it's just that neither Alan nor I ever got the memo:

I bet Obi-Wan would've hated the blogosphere.

Tim White

hotWatergate 05/13 part 2 (hWg 23)

Here is most of the rest of the May 13 discussion on hotWatergate... though I'm still missing the actual vote (5-3, Ruocco, Sima, White opposed, Hall abstained) and a few minutes of discussion. I'll see what I can do to get the last bit. In the meantime:

Tim White

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bubble Study mtg 5/20

It's late, so this will be a quick post.

The Bubble Study met tonight. The guests were the YMCA swim team and the CHS swim teams.

Two bits of information piqued my interest:

1) swim team members (165-180 or so YMCA swimmers, throughout the year / 20-25 CHS boys swimmers / 45-50 CHS girls swimmers) are not included among the 45,000 annual day use passes; and

2) we still haven't locked in a natural gas rate... and that's not good. Actually, it's quite bad... but I'm not even getting into the significance of that tonight.

Anyway... I asked a few questions that revolved around a relatively uncomplicated idea...

If we take the bubble down and leave it down... could we take that $430,000/yr subsidy and just build a whole new pool, including an energy-efficient building, right next to the high school? Could we save energy and money at the same time?

Or perhaps even do something with the YMCA? (I got that idea from pool-champion Diane Visconti).

Don't get me wrong... I'm far from wanting to spend one penny on a new pool... I just know that I don't want to spend any more money on the White Elephant. That bubble is such a complete waste of money and energy... and I, whether I'm right or not, I do feel as though the Council majority is simply afraid to make even a peep about the pool. So if I don't say something... and continue the discussion that I began at the Feb 26 Council meeting... they're going to just sit back and wait for the worst... which is completely irresponsible on their part.

But hey... this situation is difficult for them because while the voters are directing the Council to act... we all know the Council doesn't take direction from the voters. They take direction from staff:

Tim White

F&S Oil biofuel plant depositions

The court-appointed receiver (Helming) handling the assets of F&S Oil of Waterbury will ask a Superior Court judge to compel a Cheshire company to take part in a deposition on what it knows about a biofuels plant that the home heating oil firm was trying to get off the ground before it went out of business. (NHR, by Luther Turmelle)

The biofuels plant was to have been put up for auction as part of an effort by Helming to maximize the value of F&S’s assets to pay creditors and reimburse more than 3,000 former F&S customers who had prepaid for heating oil valued at $3-and-$4 million.

But the complex arrangement under which the facility was set up — Cheshire Investment Corp. owns the land the building sits on, but does not own the building or any of the equipment inside — has complicated efforts to hold the auction, Helming has said.

Tim White

I'm getting married!

According to the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

Film crews will be in (Cheshire) Friday shooting scenes from the upcoming Robert De Niro movie, “Everybody’s Fine.”...

Jacey Taub, a publicist for the movie, declined to comment on whether De Niro or any of the other stars of the movie — whose cast includes Drew Barrymore and
Kate Beckinsale — would be present for the scenes that will be shot in Cheshire.

Now I just need to email a recent photo, my height and measurements to Craig's List, get a job as a prisoner and hope Kate is workin' on Friday!

Ha! In my dreams....

hotWatergate 5/13 part 1 (hWg 22)

Alright... google video finally seems to have done the trick for me this time... sorry for the weeklong delay. Anyway... here's the first installment (1hr 18mins): After I get the whole video posted, then I'll probably start dissecting it in smaller youtube clips.

Tim White

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bubble Study 5/20

The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports on tomorrow's meeting of the Bubble Study group:

An ad-hoc committee created by the Town Council to review options for reducing subsidies needed to operate the Community Pool will hold its second of three meetings Tuesday.

Committee members — Republican Councilman James Sima and Democratic Councilors Laura DeCaprio and Matt Altieri — will meet with representatitives from the Cheshire-Southington YMCA, the town’s Board of Education and Cheshire High School Athletic Director Steve Trifone. A third meeting will be held May 29 to get input from the public, Altieri said.

The article continued with some spot-on comments from Jimmy Sima:

"I think the public is completely frustrated with the way things are now," said Sima. "Some people want to spend whatever it takes to keep it running and some people want to shut it down or operate it as a seasonal facility. Hopefully, we can find a middle ground."

I'm planning on attending tomorrow's meeting. And I really should attend the meeting of the 29th. I probably should speak a bit, considering I obviously haven't been as clear in my opposition to the pool bubble (as compared to the pool) as I need to be:

(That's a flyer that's been floating around town.)

Tim White

No-no... sweet!

From the AP:

Jon Lester can now add pitching a no-hitter to his already amazing list of accomplishments.

The 24-year-old lefty, who survived cancer to pitch the clincher of Boston's 2007 World Series victory, shut down Kansas City 7-0 Monday night for the first no-hitter in the majors this season.


Tim White

Video failed

Sorry about any confusion... the hotWatergate video failed somewhere. I'm in the midst of making a second go of it.

Tim White

State Rep Conventions for Dems

Most conventions for Democratic candidates for state Rep will occur tomorrow. I'm assuming it'll be Nardello in the 89th, Fritz in the 90th and Esty in the 103rd. Does anyone happen to know anything to the contrary? And does anyone know if Mary Fritz has a GOP opponent? And what about Tom Gaffey or Sam Caligiuri? Do either of them even have opponents?

And if only two of five races are even modestly contested... what does that say about the impact of public finance?

Tim White

Norton boiler May 13 1/2 (hWg 21)

This first section of video is about 1 hr 50 mins:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

KIM grand opening

I stopped by the grand opening. It was a great event with hundreds of people (both big and small). The girls who spearheaded the effort did a great job on the project. And it was nice to see a number of the town's elected officials (Altieri, DeCaprio, Dill, Ecke, Esty, Gaffey) attend the event, and get to chat with friends, including a Norton School classmate from Whippersnappers, another friend from J.C. Karate and one of the town's hardworking Public Works guys who actually laid the foundation for the playground. Thanks Steve!

Tim White

Online commenting debate

The New London Day has two really interesting opinion pieces on online commenting (see here and here). If you get a chance to read them, please do. Given that this is a hobby for me, I'm wondering if there's any technology out there that could both maintain the realtime nature of blogging, but also block the anonymous comments that do little besides demean people.

Tim White

h/t to wtfdnucsailor over at CTLP.

State ethics office redemption?

The Courant's Jon Lender reports:

A mysterious, unsigned letter — which triggered the downfall of state ethics chief Alan S. Plofsky and helped to destroy the State Ethics Commission — was a forgery and a fraud, court documents show.

It's been nearly four years since local headlines were dominated by the melodrama of the good-government watchdog agency's public implosion — and, until now, there's been no evidence of the identity or motivation of the person who launched the missive that helped demolish the 24-year career of the ethics director.

I haven't finished the article yet, but it seems to be a fascinating read... with multiple points of interest for me. For instance, it discusses the value of information that's been offered "anonymously."

That's relevant to this blog as almost all of the comments are anonymous. Being made anonymously, I think they should be taken with a grain of salt... although some anonymous comments are quite useful because they include links that substantiate the points that people are trying to make.

And here's another point that interested me:

Duggan (an ethics staffer) dropped a bombshell of an admission concerning the letter during a Jan. 15 deposition:

"I drafted this," she admitted under oath.

"But you had intentionally disguised it so that it would appear that it wasn't written by you?" Plofsky's lawyer, Gregg Adler, asked later.

"That's true," said Duggan

So I guess putting someone under oath can have value. But more interesting to me was that a lawyer is allowed to question intentions.

That is fascinating. And I'm glad our legal system allows for it, though I'm not sure if this case is before a grand jury or just a regular courtroom.

Tim White

Using fuel-efficient vehicles

As reported by the APs Susan Haigh:

Connecticut provides state-owned vehicles to the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of the state, comptroller and treasurer. Everyone but Gov. M. Jodi Rell uses the Crown Victorias and typically someone drives the officials to and from home, and to various events.

Each said they try to fill up at state gas pumps, where the average for a gallon of unleaded regular this year has been about $2.46 per gallon. But they often have to buy fuel using credit cards at more expensive public gas stations.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy's web site,, a 2007 Crown Victoria gets an estimated 15 miles per gallon in the city, 23 miles per gallon on the highway. If the car is a flex fuel vehicle, like some state vehicles, and uses E85 — a mostly ethanol blend — the mileage is a little worse.

Cheshire Town Government has about 150 vehicles, including two hybrids. In terms of sustainability and protecting the environment, I understand that hybrids are no panacea. But they're better than SUVs. I hope the Town revisits its vehicle purchasing policy and looks for options other than SUVs that can still ensure public safety.

Tim White

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Drug dealers are always bad!

Or are they?

If some 14 yr old kid gets arrested for slingin’ crank… he’s bad, right?

But let’s take a walk in the shoes of this hypothetical youngster.

Meet "Dukie"

A 14 yr old kid, Dukie, grows up in inner city foster homes. He moves from home to home… never feeling loved by any adults... never even getting his clothes washed at home. In fact, some may argue that he was taken into various homes not because of any desire to care for a child… but rather someone wanted to collect a check from the state. So Dukie grows up feeling no love… but not necessarily with no sense of right and wrong… in fact, let’s say he fully understands the difference between right and wrong.

Now one day Dukie comes home from school to find his belongings on the street and an eviction notice on the padlocked front door. In his mind, it’s yet another foster home that’s deserted him. So he’s standing on the street and needs to figure out what to do?

To me, the two most likely choices would be:

1) to return to the Social Services Department (perhaps via his school) and to walk into a place that he feels has perpetually let him down, his whole life... and now he's 14 and growing up... so he's not completely naive. Or

2) he could go see his friends who are already on “the corner.”

But what if Dukie recognizes that dealing drugs is not the best route to take, while returning to social services feels like asking someone to punch him in the gut?

Being a creative, entrepreneurial young kid… he leaves his neighborhood… goes downtown and finds an athletic shop. In the store, he finds an old friend… another kid… a few years older than him… a kid who used to deal.

Dukie says “hi” to the older kid and asks what he’s doing in the store. The older kid says that he was sick of the violence, so he got a straight job. Then Dukie tells him he feels the same way… he doesn’t like the violence… and he asks for help getting a job at the store.

The older kid says “sorry youngin’. Come back when you’re 16. Until then, you gotta go back to the corner.

Real life or just a story?

For what it’s worth, this is a storyline that played out in one of my favorite TV shows, The Wire. And yes, it is a TV show. I recognize that. But I also don’t find it that hard of a story line to believe. Without having researched it, I suspect this storyline was based on reality (much of The Wire is based on reality.) And for a more detailed storyline, see Duquan's Wikipedia page here... and for a dose of reality, it even brings in No Child Left Behind... and how some schools will do things to "juke the stats."

Anyway... for reasons such as this, I do feel that our current system of “crime and punishment” (along with social services) probably should be revisited… and some crimes may get stiffer penalties, while others may get reduced penalties.

But I still believe that if you repeatedly commit violent crimes… then from my perspective, it’s not even a matter of punishing someone. I simply don’t want repeat violent offenders on the streets. And to me, “3 strikes” is enough opportunities for anyone.

Tim White

Sam Caligiuri fundraiser

Kids in Motion grand opening

The Kids in Motion grand opening is tomorrow from 12:30pm to 3pm.

Tim White

West Haven's turf problem

The Courant has another front page story on turf-related health risks (By REGINE LABOSSIERE And PAUL DOYLE). I want to note though that the existing turf concerns in West Haven relate to Astroturf, not the Artificial Turf that has been proposed by Matt Altieri.

Tim White

Friday, May 16, 2008

Open forum 5/16

The annual Cheshire Jaycees Carnival (MRJ, by Stacy Graham Hunt) is open at Bartlem Recreation Area until Saturday, May 17.

The Picture Framer's Artshack Gallery is proud to present the artwork of Cheshire resident, Fran Bolton. The exhibit will run through the month of May. An artist reception will be on the show's closing date, Saturday, May 31, from 3p.m. to 5p.m.

Tradition Energy said that power customers should expect big rate hikes in the price of retail electricity in the coming months. "Natural gas and coal account for over two-thirds of the fuel used for power generation in the United States, and a number of factors in the wholesale energy market are driving the prices for these generation fuels higher and higher," said Addison Armstrong, Director of Market Research and CNBC contributor. "An expected decrease in imports of liquefied natural gas, coal shortages in Europe and China, the potential for a very warm summer, and low levels of natural gas in storage in both the U.S. and Canada are all putting upward pressure on prices." (Dallas Morning News, by Elizabeth Souder)

Tim White

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Legal question on hotWatergate (hWg 20)

A legal question... if hotWatergate ends up in court... and people get called to testify... are the lawyers allowed to question the integrity of individuals? Are they allowed to question whether people make public statements that tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing, but the truth?... not so much in relation to hotWatergate, but just in general... if it is determined that people make public statements that are something other than the truth, the whole truth and nothing, but the truth... does that get considered in the trial?

What if it's demonstrated that someone makes public statements that are simply false? Again... this is not in relation to hotWatergate... I'm just wondering if an individual's integrity gets questioned in a trial.

If so, I imagine the proceedings could end up being quite interesting.

"The diffusion of information and the arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason, I deem [one of] the essential principles of our government, and consequently [one of] those which ought to shape its administration." - Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural Address, 1801

Tim White

Marty Atkins in the 89th

The GOP state Rep conventions were held tonight. The convention for the 89th district was held at Bethany Town Hall. Prospect's Marty Atkins was endorsed to run against my former opponent, Vickie Nardello. If you'd like to speak with Marty about his candidacy, you can call him at 203.729.7911 (Naugatuck) or email him at allmarty at aol. It should be an interesting race... particularly when Vickie starts explaining how she was against 3-strikes, before she was for it.

I presume that Al Adinolfi was endorsed in the 103rd. And I have no idea if anyone was endorsed in the 90th... currently represented by I-84 Chief Inspector William Fritz' mom, state Rep. Mary Fritz.

Tim White

$4 gas

I noticed the south end Mobil today... $4.14 9/10! Even the south end Citgo was basically $4 with a $3.99 9/10 price tag for regular.

I'm so glad I bought my Civic Hybrid. Last time I checked I was getting 46.3 mpg (combined). And just yesterday I heard that while SUV trade-ins are taking a huge hit... while hybrids are actually in that rare category in which Suburbans found themselves a decade ago... a value higher after being driven off the lot, than what it was on the lot.

Tim White

School budget recommendation

According to the MRJs Stacy Graham Hunt... The finance committee of the board will present it's recommended changes to the education budget for the 2008-09 school year tonight.

Tim White

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fmr federal prosecutor Meyer on Corrupticut

Have you ever noticed that corruption cases in Connecticut always seem to involve the FBI and the US Attorney? Ever wonder why?

Here's an excerpt of an October 1, 2006 NY Times opinion piece on "Corrupticut" by Jeffrey A. Meyer, a former federal prosecutor in Connecticut and an associate professor at Quinnipiac University School of Law:

It’s no wonder the state has received a new nickname: Corrupticut. And it’s a label that will stick as long as the General Assembly refuses to give state prosecutors the investigative subpoena authority they need to pursue complicated cases of public corruption. Indeed, the major corruption cases in the state of recent years have all been led by a small group of federal prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office in Connecticut while state prosecutors have stood on the sidelines.

Most of the time, corruption cases are devilishly difficult to develop. A politician on the take can be very good at covering his tracks. Political payoffs are channeled through shell companies and go-betweens who are selected for their loyalty and who depend on the good will and prominent position of their political patrons.

Federal prosecutors succeed because of the subpoena powers of a federal grand jury. Many corruption cases start because of a tip, sometimes anonymous, about illicit activity. A federal prosecutor then uses grand jury subpoenas to compel sworn testimony from witnesses and disclosure of telltale documents, like telephone billing records and bank deposit and withdrawal receipts.

I've been trying to voice my concerns about this to the Council. In fact, at the December Council meeting I asked to discuss it, but was told to discuss it at the January meeting. Then I tried to discuss it at the January meeting, but it was requested that I send an email to the entire Council to explain my intent. So in February I sent an email to the entire Council. And you know the response I got?


Anyone else notice that the Council Dems:

1) opposed 3-strikes
2) opposed an additional police officer
3) opposed discussing subpoena power for state prosecutors

Interesting pattern.

I want to give credit to Matt Altieri though. He did attend the "3 strikes" rally last summer. And I appreciated the show of support... something that I feel is important... particularly in light of those who "were against it, before they were for it." And now we've got this new Robert Tagliaferi case.

Tim White

h/t to Mike Rocci

MRJ on hotWatergate finale (hWg 19)

The MRJs Stacy Graham Hunt offers this take on last night's vote on hotWatergate:

"The whole process was garbage, and we need to go back and do something different," said Councilman James Sima, who voted against the proposal along with Tim White and Tom Ruocco.

Jimmy was absolutely right.

On the flipside though:

Councilwomen Laura DeCaprio and Elizabeth Esty attributed the long process to unintentional mistakes made in Town Hall.

With a closing:

Now that the project has been awarded, Town Manager Michael Milone, has identified the weaknesses in this process and hopes the new financial software system that the town is expected to receive, will prevent any more processes like this one.

And for anyone who missed it, here's my condensed version of the above:

Town Hall screws up the project. The Rubber Stampers say "tsk, tsk. There must be consequences for this... a-ha! We'll raise taxes!"

And taxes will go up because we:

1) wasted $70,000 between the lowest 1st bid and the lowest 3rd bid;

2) will have unnecessary attorneys' fees ($??)

3) will buy new contracting software that we had not planned on buying ($3,000 for software + training + an opportunity cost of efficiencies missed by not buying the originally planned software)
But for some additional explanation on how to define Rubber Stamping, please read Nancy Pelosi's September 29, 2006 blog post that was published on The Hill. Cheshire's own Democratic Rubber Stamp Council would make the Republican Rubber Stamp Congress proud! Just look at some of their achievements:

1) From the unsubstantiated "fund balance policy" that costs millions of dollars over the past few years and an additional $90,000 each year (going forward)... to wasting $14,000 on another strategic plan...

2) from the $34,000 to be spent on travel & entertainment conferences & seminars... to the $153,000 on "cratered" financial software...

3) from the $430,000 annual subsidy for the pool... to the inaction on performance contracting...

4) from their new found love of the linear park... to the continuing unfair and unequal treatment of non-major party political candidates...
make no mistake... the administration says "jump" and the Democratic Rubber Stamp Council says "how high?!" And this won't change with the present Council composition. Going back more than a year, I tried to explain my concerns to the Council "leadership." But as was explained on April 3, 2008:

Tim White

hotWatergate vote (hWg 18)

I didn't get home from the meeting last night until well after midnight, so I just went to bed without posting. But just a quick note... the hotWatergate vote was 5-3 (Ruocco, Sima & White opposed; Hall abstained).

Tim White
Town Council

Monday, May 12, 2008

hotWatergate conclusion (hWg 17)

I'm too tired to write anything on hotWatergate tonight... sorry, just too busy. Please do make sure you tune in though tomorrow night... or even better... attend the meeting and ask questions. As I've been saying, while some Councilors felt the need to create a study committee to workaround the intellectually-challenging exercise of understanding the phrase "request for information," I fully expect little-to-no intellectual curiosity tomorrow night.

So if you're going to want answers to your questions, feel free to post them here. But I strongly encourage you to attend tomorrow's whitewashing meeting.

Finally, I haven't heard back from the COTC yet. Maybe we'll be able to speak at tomorrow's meeting.

Tim White

School news

The BOE was set to meet tonight at Humiston for continued budget discussions (MRJ, by Stacy Graham Hunt). "As the discussion continues, board member Alan Sobol said he hopes to make budgetary adjustments that do not negatively affect students."

The Norton PTA met tonight and the Boy Scouts Troop 90 had a chance to participate. I got to the meeting late, but was told that everyone has agreed to get the insurers together to better understand the liability concerns. I'm thankful for that. I'm a former member of Uncle Barney's (and now Bob Thatcher's) Troop 90... the Scouts were a very positive force in my life and I'll certainly try to support them however I can.

Tim White

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Question on 3rd bid spec's (hotWatergate 16)

As I'm trying to sort my way through this mess, I continue to have two goals:

1) get to the bottom of hotWatergate; and
2) get a new boiler into Norton.

If for a moment, we ignore the Charter requirement for bids to be revoked by the Council and simply focus on the 3rd bid... we encounter a potentially critical issue in our effort to get a new boiler into my alma mater, Norton School.

Bids are supposed to be awarded to the lowest, qualified bidder. But one bidder questioned... are all bidders qualified?

So in an effort to help you understand, here's my explanation:

One of the key issues questioned by a bidder relates to some technical stuff... specifically, does the specified "add-on" (Fireye E-110) work with the specified boiler (Riello RLS-50).

The apparent low bidder contends that the "add-on" (Fireye E-110) is incompatible with the boiler (Riello RLS-50) and provided documentary evidence from the manufacturer on Riello letterhead:

Additionally, the same bidder provided documentary evidence from the distributor on Torrington Supply letterhead:

But then today... since I firmly believe that information has been intentionally withheld from me, I decided to continue my own "discovery" and called the consulting engineer*. He told me of this webpage** that apparently contradicts the assertions set forth in the two above documents. And FWIW, here's a split screen image:
of what appears to be the Riello website indicating that the town's specs do make sense and do work. That is... the spec'd "add-on" (Fireye E-110) does work with the spec'ed boiler (Riello RLS-50).


I was... until I started parsing the first two letters. IMO, they are very different letters. The first is apparently from the manufacturer. The second is apparently from the distributor. To me, the distributor cannot be expected to know all the details of a particular product. So I'm ignoring that one and focusing on the Riello letter.

I'm not going to get into the details, but if you parse the apparent manufacturer's letter as I have (and as one bidder has), you'll probably agree that there really is nothing in the letter that necessarily contradicts the information on the website... although at first glance, it appeared that way to me. And that's concerning. Inadvertent or not, I feel like it was written by Karl Rove or James Carville... a work of art... in a political sense... 100% factually correct, but not exactly forthright.

Of course, I don't know all the facts here. In fact, I can't attest to whether these letters and website are all speaking of the same "Riello RLS-50" burner. As I've been saying, I'm simply looking for information wherever I can... because information has been withheld from me and this matter is very serious. So I'm not going to simply walk into this meeting on Tuesday and be told "these aren't the droids you're looking for." No. That's not going to happen. And someone needs to get to the bottom of this.

For the sake of the town, I hope those who are so interested in understanding the phrase Request for Information, give this debacle even 1/10 the scrutiny.

Tim White

* I'm glad I called the consulting engineer. Unsurprisingly, staff had invited him to neither the May 13 nor April 22 meeting. So I did invite him... to which he said he was already planning on attending... same as he attended the April 22 meeting... Witness yet another example of astoundingly poor judgment by staff. I mean... how can we deliberate, if we can't get expert opinion?

** He said that he had provided this webpage to the town... though as far as I can tell... no one in Town Hall mentioned this webpage to me. Shocker.

We the People 2.0

I know many people both like and dislike various parts of Ron Paul's message... but I love his message... a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution (such as the need to declare war). And obviously his message continues to motivate the netroots.

Between the powerful score and a title I love! (not mine)... I really enjoyed this two minute video:Tim White

Rell watching gas use

Governor Jodi Rell is trying to save money by placing new restrictions on gas use (Courant, by Tracy Gordon Fox):

People buying gas in Connecticut may see something new at the pumps: state troopers filling up their police cruisers.Because of the swelling price of fuel, Gov. M. Jodi Rell has ordered agencies to find ways to save money and cut back on gasoline. For the state police, which has the largest fleet of vehicles, that means troopers will no longer be allowed to fill up their cruisers with department gas while off-duty.

Too bad for Cheshire's taxpayers that the members of the Council majority are not interested in any additional questions on the Town's gas use policy. IMO, there are more questions to be asked... but with the Council's obvious lack of intellectual curiosity (as demonstrated when being told that it is bad form to ask questions "out of the blue")
the writing is on the wall...

"these aren't the droids you're looking for. move along."

Tim White

Recusal request retracted (hotWatergate 15)

As I mentioned in my May 8 hotWatergate post, it was suggested to me that I may need to recuse myself from Tuesday's vote because I spoke with one of the bidders. And while I'm always open-minded and willing to listen, I did find the simple suggestion somewhat troubling. Nonetheless, I now understand that the suggestion for a recusal will likely be directed toward the entire Council... not just me. And in that case, we're really in a pickle. So I'm guessing that I won't be recusing myself.

Btw, for those of you who are interested in good government, I strongly encourage you to attend Tuesday's meeting and ask questions. Based on nothing more than the April 22 Council meeting, I expect the majority to avoid real discussion on this topic... instead they'll hide behind the threat of litigation and repeatedly defer to the Town Attorney for cover... never attempting to explain to their boss (you, the voters) all of the issues that have created hotWatergate.

Tim White

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Don't forget...

to thank all the mom's in your life today.

Happy Mother's Day!

Council agenda 5/13

Here's the agenda for Tuesday's meeting:I'm guessing that the hotWatergate vote will have some interesting discussion... but it'll be strictly GOP questions. I doubt there will be any overt whitewashing of the mess by the majority. Rather I expect their tremendously powerful lack-of-curiosity to permeate the air.

Look no further than the lack of questions at the April 22 meeting. And while you're watching from home... make sure you consider the rigor with which some Council members questioned the use of the phrase Request for Information or RFI... then compare that with the level of questions offered on this mess.

Finally, in relation to this post, I have not yet heard from the Clerk of the Council... though I eagerly await a response.

Tim White

These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along. - Obi-Wan Kenobi

F&S Oil biofuel plant update

According to the WRAs Dave Krechevsky:

A hearing on a dispute over F&S Oil Co.'s lease for a biofuel facility in Cheshire has been postponed for a month so the court-appointed receiver can question the landlords under oath.

Too bad the Council can't put people under oath when we ask questions.

The article continued:

Rescheduling the hearing will delay the auction of equipment from the biofuel facility, which cannot be scheduled until the dispute with the landlords is resolved, Helming said.

Tim White

Friday, May 09, 2008

COTC oversight (hotWatergate 14)

You may recall my May 5 hotWatergate post on the lack of information related to the Norton boiler in the "Council packet" for the February 13 meeting.

In that post I included video from the April 22 Council meeting:. If you watch the video, I believe you'll see my concern: why did the Council not receive information about the Norton boiler in February? Then in the text of the May 5 post, I raised the same concern.

And now the Clerk of the Council (COTC) has addressed my concern. In a letter dated May 7, the COTC takes responsibility for the exclusion. So there it is.

The failure to include the Norton boiler information in the February 13 Council packets was nothing nefarious. It was a simple oversight. Back in February (and until April 22), that's what I assumed it was. So I'm glad to have gotten that confirmation and thank the COTC for it.

As to why I'm hearing this explanation in a letter dated May 7... instead of the COTC simply addressing my concerns during the April 22 meeting (or sometime thereafter, but before I published my May 5 post)... I have no idea. It seems to me that the simplest and best way to address my April 22 comments would have been to say something right then and there. But that's what I would do. (Btw, I have called the COTC to get my hands around this, but haven't heard back yet.)

Anyway, I'm fine with the COTCs explanation and no longer consider it part of hotWatergate. However, this does raise other questions:

Who is responsible for preparation and distribution of the "Council packs?" Is it the COTC or the Town Manager's PIO? The PIOs job description (see #3) is very clear to me:

So how could this be the responsibility of the COTC?

Don't get me wrong. I understand the reality of the situation... things have to get done and someone needs to do them. And since the goal is to prepare and distribute the packets... what difference does it make who does them?

But because it's the COTC, that's a very serious question.

For whom does the COTC work?

IMO, there is a reason why the COTC reports directly to the Council (we have the authority to hire & fire... it is not within the authority of the TM). This is the same reason the Town Attorney is hired/fired by the Council... so that the individuals who fill those roles know they work for the Council... not the TM. And in certain critical situations, this distinction could make a difference.

My suggestion for remedying this situation:

1) either the COTC should stop performing this task


2) this task should be deleted from the responsibilities of the Town Manager's PIO.

Either way, I'm glad that this has nothing to do with hotWatergate.

Tim White

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A recusal request (hotWatergate 13)

Last night I mentioned (here on the blog) that I had spoken with CT Combustion. Then today I got a call suggesting I recuse myself from hotWatergate. I'm not sure who prompted the call, but obviously someone is interested in what I do... and with whom I speak. FWIW, I tried to find out who was so interested in my actions, but I couldn't get a name. Too bad. Regardless, that's just a side note. The real point of this post is to explain my perspective* on last night's call.

As I also mentioned in last night's post, I was uncomfortable taking the call... but took it anyway. I took it because I feel very strongly that there has a been a deliberate and systematic withholding of information from me throughout the history of hotWatergate (for an explanation, see here, here and here). And that being the case, I have to wonder... what's the point of the Council directing the Town Attorney to investigate this mess? If information was withheld from me, why would I believe that all relevant information will be given to the Town Attorney?

Heck... even CT Combustion seemed to "weigh in" on the withholding of information:

"It's our feeling that some of the things we've sent in... hasn't gotten to ya folks."

- Dean Pietrorazio, CT Combustion, April 22, 2008; speaking on hotWatergate

See the one-minute video here:

The unfortunate reality is that I have little comfort with this whole situation. And as a result, I feel that I have to do my own research... which has basically been a documentation of things, here on the blog... but if someone wants to speak with me, I'm perfectly happy to chat.

I certainly don't want to put the town in a difficult situation, but I also intend to get to the bottom of this... and am not about to count on staff or other town officials for giving me the relevant information. Too many people have already demonstrated their incompetence, astoundingly poor judgment or basic lack of curiosity quite well in this mess... so I figure I should minimize my reliance on them for understanding hotWatergate.

Anyway, I'm just offering this up because I'm uncertain if I'll recuse myself from the hotWatergate vote.

This whole thing disgusts me.

Tim White

* explain my perspective to the voters, not to the insiders who seem to enjoy this blog so much.

Ethics reform bill may return

State Rep. Chris Caruso has a reputation for being a crusader. And while he can come across too strongly at times, I tend to agree with him on the ethics bill that failed to go anywhere in the 2008 Legislature.

I don't know the details of the ethics bill, but it seemed to be a question of House Dems vs. Senate Dems... with the Senate Dems refusing to revoke state pensions for employees (including elected officials) who commit crimes in the course of their state jobs... and House Dems (particularly Caruso) wanting the pensions revoked.

For my part... I recognize the concern about ex post facto laws, but think that the goal of revoking state pensions for criminals is worth sending AG-for-life Blumenthal to bat... defending the law and seeing if it sticks. And if you can't get legislators to agree to that... then you ought to at least be able to find a compromise in which all pensions are revoked going forward.

Regardless, thankfully there's a chance that the legislature will hold a special session for ethics reform.

Tim White

Meriden gets turf

Here's some idea on how Meriden's turf is getting constructed (MRJ, by Amanda Falcone):

MERIDEN - Workers from Pittsburgh's ProGrass LLC began rolling out and stitching turf at Falcon Field on Monday.Stitching the 26 center panels and 12 to 15 side panels will take about a week, said Brian O'Neal, senior project manager for ProGrass. Once the panels are sewn, the inlay process will begin, which includes creating the logo and numbers on the field. Before the field is complete, ProGrass will also have to put down rubber infilling.

And here's some idea on the initial cost of a complex (turf, bleachers, etc.):

Meriden has set aside $2 million for the Falcon Field project; the state is giving the city $2 million. The project's contingency fund is $300,000.

And the article concludes with a mention of the operating costs:

A Friends of Falcon Field Committee will be formed to deal with donation requests and future fundraising, Salafia said. For example, someone could sponsor the field house and the committee could decide to offer advertising on the digital message part of the scoreboard, he said. Generating money will be important in upcoming years because Meriden will have to maintain the quality of the facility, Salafia said. Money could also be used to buy additional amenities.

Tim White

Robert Tagliaferi arrested again

As one anonymous blogger commented yesterday, Robert Tagliaferi was arrested again... also yesterday. Here's the NHRs take:

An alleged serial burglar from Cheshire, accused of using creative ways to gain entry to area homes through second-story windows, has been charged in connection with six more residential burglaries in Bethany, Guilford and Madison.

The arrests made Wednesday by Guilford and Madison police, and Tuesday by state police in Bethany, bring to 16 the number of area burglaries with which Robert Tagliaferi, 45, of 67 Patton Drive, has been charged.

He was previously arrested in connection with burglaries in Woodbridge, Hamden, Cheshire, Monroe and Fairfield.
(by James Tinsley)

And while I understand the concern of those who want to offer Tagliaferi a fair trial... it is worth noting that he was initially arrested* upon being discovered by the wife of state Rep. Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) in Sharkey's home.

Tim White

* "initially arrested" is used in terms of this current string of burglary arrests. He also has some charges on the state judicial website from last fall. And as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I have no knowledge of his history.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Who is "the Commission?" (hotWatergate 12)

I got a call from CT Combustion tonight. It made me feel a bit uncomfortable, considering there is potential litigation out there. Nonetheless, it was an interesting conversation... a necessary conversation.

Seeing as how someone has deliberately and systematically withhheld information (see here, here and here) from GOP Council members about hotWatergate... and seeing that I'll need to gather information to come to any intelligent conclusion about hotWatergate, I welcomed the call.

Besides... in an extraordinary move by staff today... they actually informed the Council of additional documents related to this debacle... and I didn't even have to ask for it! (It was information from another of the bidders.)

Regardless, it's late and I'm going to make this a quick post. But I thought it might be worthwhile to pose a question to you... first read the section of the Sept '07 PBC meeting minutes* on hotWatergate:And ask yourself...

If "the Commission denied that request," then why would Mr. McKenney need to inform the Commission of the action it took? Or is this a situation in which the term "the Commission" is being used incorrectly? If so, who or what is "the Commission" in this context? And is there authority being bestowed on someone or something that is, in fact, not "the Commission?"

Tim White

* These minutes were provided to me (and all nine Council members) by CT Combustion as "exhibit F" in the rather bulky "book" that they compiled in an effort to actually get information to the Council... information that, for all they knew, may have never made it to the Council.

BOE budget adjustments

The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports on the BOEs budget adjustment discussions:

while Florio and Peter Massey predicted layoffs and program cuts if the council made any additional reductions from the $58.8 million that Town Manager Michael Milone recommended for 2008-09, Florio’s recommendation on how to achieve the council’s financial mandate didn’t explicitly call for any layoffs. Some of the reduction in money for teachers’ salaries will be achieved through retirements, Florio told the school board as he presented his recommendations last week.

FWIW, during the budget discussion of '04/'05 (the zero budget + $234,000), the predictions were for 20-25 teacher layoffs. But in the end* there were eight positions that went unfilled through attrition. There were no layoffs. And, IMO, there's a big difference between layoffs and attrition.

The article continued with some common sense words from one BOE member:

“If we had a dramatic increase in enrollment, we could justify adding staff,” said Alan Sobol, a Republican board member. “But enrollments are down and these are tough times.”

Tim White

* "The end" was after I finally got a solid answer to my question "How many teachers do we have?"... which took about three months, if I recall correctly.

Robert Tagliaferi court records

Here's the list of ongoing court appearances (click & fill in the details) for Robert Tagliaferi, 45, of 67 Patton Drive:And here's the details of one of those records:Furthermore, I make no claim that this is a complete list... even only for Connecticut. And who knows what's happened in other places or what's unavailable because it happened before he was a student.

Tim White

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Grievances discussed

Reported by the Cheshire Herald's Josh Morgan:

Last week, members of the Town Council’s Personnel Committee discussed the grievances to gain a better understanding of the type of complaints filed against the town. Last year, eight grievances were filed by Public Works, two by the police department, one from Town Hall and four from the library.

“The numerical value of the grievances doesn’t mean anything,”
explained staff.

So there ya have it... "these aren't the droids we're looking for." Why did I even bother asking? I mean this data is meaningless.

I wonder though... is it possible that this data is meaningless? I mean... hypothetically-speaking... could it be skewed by staff avoiding grievance filings because they feel that staff will always lose a decision to management? And could they feel that if they push the issue, they'll hear Council members dismissively say "Council does not need to know" ? Could town staff feel somehow left out in the cold? To the point where they feel it's better to just keep their mouths shut and do as their told?

Or perhaps staff feel so terrible about their work situations, they just start quitting? Could that happen? Could say... hypothetically-speaking... a police officer hate the job so much that s/he doesn't file a grievance... instead s/he just quits?

How would you know? Perhaps the exit interview could shed some light?. Oh wait... we don't do exit interviews... so how could we know the reason someone quit?

But of course, I'm asking these questions on the basis that a Council member would want to know... and that's already been explained to me... "Council does not need to know." So I guess I should just stop speculating and keep my mouth shut.

Oh wait... I forgot... I didn't ask for the number of grievances from the past year. I asked for a trend analysis showing the number of grievances over the past five years by department.

I guess Personnel Committee Chairman Matt Altieri will have that for me at next week's May 8 Council meeting. After all, I asked for it at the March 11 Council meeting. The report should be interesting.

I'm just hoping I'm not told...Tim White

Bubble Study 5/06

The Bubble Study Committee met tonight for the first time. I'm not going to recount the details, but was pleasantly surprised by how productive the meeting was. And the Chairman, Matt Altieri, deserves credit for that. I sensed that he's concluded that we do need to consider alternatives to the bubble... be it a summer-only facility or a permanent structure or something else... the bubble has a lifespan and alternatives must be considered.

Anyway, I just want to give a special mention to the three people who I felt offered a lot tonight. Dave Gavin (Energy Commission), Dennis Rioux (Public Buildings Commission) and P&R Director Bob Ceccollini. Listening to those three did offer some hope that we can move past the bubble.

Dennis Rioux in particular seemed to send us in the right direction. He suggested the discussion should be focused first on deciding the questions to be asked... especially questions that can be quantified, such as "how much must humidity be reduced?" Which leads to the question of "how much must natural gas consumption be reduced?" Remembering of course, that powering a dehumidifier would require energy... and in that sense, these two questions conflict. To which the Town Manager suggested we determine "ranges" for answers to the questions... in the hopes that if we ever do anything... the flexibility in answers to such questions would lead to more responses from potential vendors.

Anyway, I felt it was a productive meeting. And if a few of the people who sit behind the dais got a bit annoyed with me for pushing this issue... so be it. I think most people in town are tired of the bubble and want to get rid of it as soon as possible. But having a discussion (without any expensive and useless consultants) is where it all has to start.

Tim White
Town Council, Energy Commission liaison