Monday, June 30, 2008

Fast track your energy improvements!

In an effort to encourage you to get moving on any energy projects that may be on your mind, I offer you two short stories:

1) As I've been making calls in relation to setting up an energy forum, I spoke with a representative from the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association ( While I was on the phone chatting, I asked how sales were doing with gas / wood stoves. She told me that she had just spoken with one of her members who had 30 customers in his store. So I asked how many customers would normally be in that store... she said that member would normally get 30 customers in a month.

2) Tonight, Dave Ljungquist of the
CT Clean Energy Fund explained to the Energy Commission that due to the impending expiration of federal tax credits, most photovoltaics (solar panels) have already been purchased in an attempt to capitalize on those federal tax credits (which I believe require installation of the PVs by December 31, 2008).

So when I look at both the gas stoves and PVs, I start to see a pattern in which there are two major bottlenecks forming that could delay your energy improvements:

a) installation/service shortage
b) product shortage

Whether it's a new product (stove, PV, etc.) or an efficiency product (insulation) that you're considering... with fuel prices apparently heading even higher... you probably ought to get started on those energy improvement projects ASAP, especially if you're considering hiring a contractor. Otherwise, if you wait until September, it may be too late to do anything until next spring.

And perhaps the easiest way to save money on energy is to begin buying competitively priced electricity. For more info on what's available, go to

Tim White

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pool, solar and hydro on Energy agenda

The Energy Commission's monthly meeting is tomorrow night. Here's the agenda:Probably the agenda item that would be of most interest to most people is the pool RFP. But the new business has my interest... not so much the Energy Forum that I have a pretty good sense of... but the next two items... a hydropower plant at Roaring Brook and Solar Connecticut.

I know Solar Connecticut a bit (as the agenda suggests, they're the main nonprofit for CT-based solar businesses... though if you want to install PVs and get grant money... you're best to start with the CT Clean Energy Fund's rebate guide)... but this is the first time I'd heard anything about building a hydropower plant in Cheshire. And off the top of my head... though other rivers are certainly bigger... you'd almost certainly have impacts both upstream and downstream that would cross the townline. Maybe that's some of the benefit?? I'll have to find out tomorrow... hope to see you there!

Tim White

Idea to decrease the cost of oil

If the NYTimes is correct and it's true that "pension funds, Wall Street banks and other large investors that have no intention on taking delivery of fuel have increasingly pumped money into contracts for oil and other commodities as a hedge against inflation when the dollar falls," then I have a suggestion for battling the cost of gas.

The idea comes right from Ron Paul's new book as he explains how the federal government is bigger than it needs to be:

A federal Department of Education, for example, is an insult to the American people, who are more than capable of running their own schools without being looted to support a national education bureaucracy. We would get by just fine without it, as indeed Americans did for most of the twentieth century, a period when -- by just a coincidence? -- the population was far better educated than it is now. In fact, given the Department of Education's sorry record, if I truly opposed learning and knowledge I would propose tripling its budget.

If we adopted a sensible policy like this, the very announcement would restore strength to the dollar. And the more we lived within our means, the less inflation we would have and the less the poor and middle class would suffer, since there would be less pressure on the Fed to monetize debt.

I firmly believe that our irresponsible fiscal policy is a big driver of inflation and agree with Ron Paul that until we get our fiscal house in order... it will continue to be a factor in money fleeing the US dollar.

Tim White

The 07/08 state budget deficit

One year ago the state Senate passed a budget by a vote of 33-1.

One of the best online newspapers, CT News Junkie*, reported on the budget on June 25, 2007:

After patting themselves on the back and talking about what they did and didn’t include in the budget, the Senate passed the two-year $36 billion spending plan with a 33 to 1 vote on Monday...

Sen. Sam Caligiuri, R-Waterbury, voted against the budget because while it “was the best budget under the current political realities,” it did not postpone the increase in the gross receipts tax on gasoline, which is scheduled to rise from 6.3 percent per gallon to 7 percent per gallon on July 1. He said it also includes large spending increases that will inevitably force the state to chose between large tax increases or large spending cuts in the not so distant future.

“We are going to pay the piper sooner rather than later,” Caligiuri said. He said his vote against the budget was the strongest way he could make that statement.

As this fiscal mess year comes to a close, I thought the foresight demonstrated by our Senator ought to be noted.

Tim White

* Bah, humbug to the Courant and their news staff cuts! Tell your friends that news is available for free online.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Caligiuri wants to return power to the people

As many of you know, our state Senator Sam Caligiuri (along with Rep. Al Adinolfi) spearheaded the "3 Strikes" legislation. Furthermore, many of you know... it went nowhere... because as many of you may not know... everything in Hartford is controlled by a few people... there's little "democracy" in Hartford. With people like Jim "the $525,000 lollipop" Amman and Senate Majority Leader Don Williams running the show... little happens without their approval.

But Sam is going to try to change all that. He wants to take some of the power away from the corrupted body politik and return that power to the people via the powers of referendum and initiative. Here's part of his reasoning:

The need to empower the people of Connecticut directly became crystal clear to me last year when more than 40,000 people signed an online petition demanding that the General Assembly convene a special session to pass a three strikes law in the aftermath of the horrendous Cheshire home invasion and murders.

These citizens – and I – discovered that it really does not matter what the people want if a few, powerful, legislators disagree. It took months of hard work on the part of many legislators and determined state citizens to convince legislative leadership to convene a special criminal justice session. The General Assembly accomplished a great deal of good during that special session and, more recently, during the regular legislative session. But, as I write this, the many admittedly excellent criminal justice reforms we passed this year does not include a true three strikes law. It is not right for a small handful of legislative leaders to decide whether a bill ever sees the light of day.

If Connecticut voters had the right of initiative and referendum, they could bring that issue directly to the people and let them decide, by ballot, whether or not Connecticut is to have a three strikes law that mandates life imprisonment of those convicted of three serious, violent, felonies.

I do have reservations about this. Frankly, I wish Hartford wasn't corrupt, but it is. I wish comity didn't reign supreme under the Gold Dome, but it does.

You want proof ?

Look no further than our nickname "Corrupticut." Or read this NYTimes editorial from June 24, 2007:

That is the root of why the State Legislature has proved so reluctant to pass laws that would deter corrupt behavior: Lawmakers are afraid that such proposals might hurt their friends — not just themselves. In addition, because state laws are so weak, Connecticut can’t effectively police itself; it is dependent on the competence and aggressiveness of federal authorities to expose corruption.

It is to the great credit of United States Attorney Kevin O’Connor’s office that so many government officials have been indicted in the state over the last several years. Yet the federal government cannot keep galloping in like the cavalry to save the day. Connecticut has to change its culture of corruption in much the same way, says Andy Sauer of Connecticut Common Cause, as the South had to change its racist attitudes 50 years ago to make repeated federal intervention unnecessary.

The system is corrupt. It is morally bankrupt. Something needs to change. And the powers of referendum and initiative may be the best way of reclaiming our government.

Go Sam!

Tim White

Oil costs hit New England hardest

I'm not an expert on this, but from all of my various conversations with "energy" experts... I have heard some interesting comments. For instance, it's really only the northeast US that relies on oil for heating homes in winter. I understand that most of the rest of the US is typically heated with either natural gas or electric.

Furthermore, the northeast consumes approximately eight billion gallons per year in heating oil. And of that, approximately one billion gallons is used for CT homes. (CT uses another 300 million gallons as transportation fuel.)

But what got me really thinking about this was articles, such as this one from the AP:

New Englanders struggling this summer to pay gas prices topping $4 a gallon should brace for more bad news - home heating oil costs next winter are expected to hit record highs. (by Andrew Miga)

One retail heating oil dealer says she expects a typical household delivery that cost $500 last winter will climb to at least $850 this winter.

Ouch. I use heating oil. Next year is going to stink. I wish I had invested in gold a few years back... the article continues...

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who heads the Small Business panel, warned of an impending crisis in the Northeast, which is more reliant on oil heat than other regions. "It is reality not rhetoric that price spikes will force people to decide whether to feed their families or heat their homes," Kerry said at the hearing.

Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, the panel's ranking Republican member, said high oil prices are a matter of life and death. She said parts of Maine could literally "become uninhabitable" for many this winter. "When people can't afford the cost of home heating oil, they simply freeze," Snowe said. "Consumers and small businesses are being stretched to the limit and beyond, but nowhere is the ensuing calamity looming larger than in New England where just getting through this winter is fast-becoming our No. 1 priority."

This is unnerving.

Tim White

Friday, June 27, 2008

CT-5 candidates on oil prices

The Bethel Beacon ran an interesting article on the positions of the two major party candidates for the CT-5 (Chris Murphy - D & Dave Cappiello - R). The article is focused on the idea of increasing domestic oil production and says both candidates support the idea... though they do have differences.

As I've said before, I'd rather deal with environmental problems here in the US... than deal with the problems in the middle east.

Regardless, what I found most interesting about the article was buried deep... right at the end:

On a separate part of the issue, The New York Times has reported that some congressmen believe that "pension funds, Wall Street banks and other large investors that have no intention on taking delivery of fuel have increasingly pumped money into contracts for oil and other commodities as a hedge against inflation when the dollar falls." (by Scott Beacon)

Therein lies one of the biggest problems facing America today... our inflationary monetary policy.

But rather than address the root cause of inflation (poor monetary policy ruled by The Fed and the Treasury Dept), both candidates seem headed toward more regulation:

"I think there is reason to believe that rampant investor speculation is driving up the price by 20 to 30 percent," Mr. Murphy said. He said that U.S. House Democrats are considering legislation that would require higher margin requirements and stricter position limits.*

Adam Bauer, Mr. Cap­piello's communications director, said that the GOP candidate also wants Congress to review the investment speculation on oil "to see if it is being abused."

Sounds great and I don't fault either of them for this... heck, they may both have well-formulated philosophies on monetary policy and be able to clobber me in a debate with their views on the benefits of central banking. But I come from the "cause & effect" school of thought.

And if inflation causes speculation in the trading of oil futures... then what causes inflation? Isn't that the question that needs to be addressed by Congress?

The answer lies in Ron Paul's new book The Revolution - A Manifesto:

Ludwig von Mises used to say that governments will always try to get people to focus on prices when thinking about inflation. But rising prices are a result of inflation, not inflation itself. Inflation is the increase in the money supply. If we understood inflation that way, we would instantly know how to cure it: simply demand that the Federal Reserve cease increasing the money supply. By focusing our attention on prices instead, we are liable to misdiagnose the problem, and we are more apt to accept bogus government "solutions" like wage and price controls, as in the 1970s. (p. 144)

Whether or not your philosophy on monetary policy is similar to mine... I do subscribe to this part of Ron Paul's philosophy on monetary policy. And if the NYTimes is right about inflation being partly to blame for the runup in gas prices... I can only conclude that our #1 priority should be inflation... not speculators (even if they are a bunch of greedy jerks).

Let's return to a gold standard, end inflation and begin to address these ever-rising gas prices.

Tim White

p.s. I'm not sure where Green Party Harold Burbank stands on domestic oil production or US monetary policy.

* This comment is, IMO, profound. Since I'm not extremely well-versed in this arena... I don't necessarily disagree with the idea of "higher margin calls," but the comment about "stricter position limits" is troubling to me. It just sounds too much like "rationing" or, as Ron Paul reminds us... the wage and price controls of the 1970s.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

F&S Oil biofuel plant auction - tentative date

From the MRJs Mary-Ellen Godin:

The assets of a bio-diesel plant at 262 Sandbank Road will go to public auction on July 23, if the court, bank and state give their approval.

Carlton Helming, who is managing and liquidating the assets of F&S Oil Co. and Village Oil Inc., estimates the two companies invested about $4 million in the design, engineering, construction and equipment purchases and leases at the property.

Tim White

Some biofuel comments

In my efforts to help arrange a forum (or two) on "energy issues," I had a fascinating conversation today with Paul Hoar of Agrifuels today. He's a national leader on biodiesel knowledge... and he happens to live in Glastonbury! Anyway...

He gave me a quick explanation on some fuels, including some comparisons. And here's the gist of it:

One unit of gasoline = 115,000 BTUs
One unit of ethanol = 90,000 BTUs

One unit of diesel = 129,000 BTUs
One unit of biodiesel (B100) = 119,000 BTUs

(B100 = 100% biodiesel, B20 = 20% biodiesel & 80% diesel, etc.)

So a B20 blend has BTUs close to parity with regular petrodiesel.

Here's one more consideration though... when you look at the total energy required to get one gallon of biodiesel to Cheshire... compared to getting one gallon of petrodiesel to Cheshire... I understand that (on average for America) the actual energy value of biodiesel is 3 to 3.5 times the value of diesel. (This disparity arises because of the extra energy inputs, such as the fuel for the tanker to cross the Atlantic vs. the gasoline to plow the soy fields in Maryland... biodiesel can be made from soy, french fry grease, chicken fat, etc.)

As for ethanol... it's not there yet. It doesn't make sense. But I think when private VCs want to invest their money, that's great. Besides... to say that ethanol is a bad idea would be akin to returning to the 1960s and telling IBM that their mainframes would never work.... it's all about efficiencies... and you won't get there without the R&D. As for the agricultural component... it's just a part of a much broader discussion that America, and particularly CT, needs to have on our foolish land-use policy.

Tim White

Tim Lenox visits Republican Town Committee

Tonight, the Republican Town Committee had another candidate visit us:Tim Lenox is the Republican challenging Democrat Tom Gaffey.

Tim White

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No rubber stamping here

I'm finally getting around to uploading some video from the June 10 meeting and decided to start with this memorable moment:

To his credit, Councilman Mike Ecke made it very clear that he was not going to simply rubber stamp this request from Personnel.

I know some of you disagree with how this played out, but I do feel Mike deserves credit for having followed Nancy Reagan's advice on this. Mike "just said no."

Some political analysis here... while this particular dollar value ($4500/yr) being discussed is not huge (in terms of a $100million budget)... this particular budget item does demonstrate something of a divide within the Council's Democratic caucus... on spending issues, Personnel Committee Chairman Matt Altieri is clearly to the left of Ecke (or Ecke is to the right of Altieri)... either that... or spending is of little concern to Altieri, so he simply didn't ask any questions about costs when it went through his committee.

Tim White

The bleeding continues

From the MRJs Stacy Graham Hunt:

The Town Council approved an additional $20,000 to be appropriated to the Community Pool account.

"We have to have the appropriation to pay these bills," said

Ummm... no we don't. Who says? Oh wait...

Staff requested this money because it is illegal for the town to end the fiscal year, which ends July 1, with a deficit.

So I guess the Council had to appropriate the money. Right?

Wrong. We could've directed the TM to keep the Council abreast of pool happenings in a timely manner (such as the Sept '07 purchase not in the budget)... and knowing about the excessive spending may have led the Council to "defund" the pool... such that it would be shut down prior to June 30 and therefore could no longer incur expenses. But I almost forgot:

Sidenote here... while GWB gets consistently beat up... I give him enormous credit for at least one accomplishment in office. He convinced even the likes of Charlie Wrangel and Teddy Kennedy to acknowledge that Social Security has solvency issues. In that regard, I feel like GWB on the pool:

It felt like a collosal effort to get the Council majority to even acknowledge the pool has issues.

Tim White

CT-5 candidates in Cheshire

If you're interested in meeting either of the CT-5 major party candidates, they'll both be in Cheshire in the next few days.

On Saturday there will be a picnic honoring Republican Dave Cappiello. It'll be at the home of Sylvia Nichols and Bruce Klein on Barytes Drive. The suggested donation is $50/person and you can RSVP to Ali Amour at (203) 885-5417 or

Then on Monday, Democrat Chris Murphy will be the guest speaker at the Chamber of Commerce Breakfast at Elim Park on Monday, June 30th from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. (members $15 / non-members $20).

And of course, there's the Green Party candidate Harold Burbank... no word yet on if/when Mr. Burbank will be visiting Cheshire.

Tim White

Pensions: defined benefit vs defined contribution

At the Council meeting two weeks ago, there was a "small" item inside a motion to amend Personnel Rules and Regs. The small item read as follows:Yeah... changes to postretirement benefit plans are always NBD. Right?

Seriously though, I am glad this got on the agenda. Not because of the suggestion made by Matt Altieri about someone wanting to "pull the rug out" from underneath our existing ee's (presumably by closing the defined benefit plan and telling ee's that their only option is a defined contribution plan...), but because this discussion about "any employee hired prior to July 1, 2008" provided an opening for me to address pension plans for future ee's.

See, by offering ee's the option to move from a DB to a DC, I expect about zero employees to take the offer. Why? Who's kidding who? With the exception of a select few people (such as experienced investors or people with highly unusual personal circumstances), no one is going to trade the peace of mind offered by a DB... for a DC plan which offers the opportunity for greater return... but at a higher risk. (I doubt I would, unless I expected to jump ship before the first tranche vested at five years.) And the town shouldn't do as Matt Altieri touched upon... take away DBs for existing ee's. But at the same time, I think the voters would benefit by avoiding the possibility of unfunded long-term liabilities.

Anyway... I've been pushing this for years. And tonight I saw an opening to push the dialogue a little further. So after I asked about a policy change that would simply end DBs as an option for "new hires," and was told by staff that those weren't the droids I'm looking for the Council could discuss that next January... I specifically asked Matt Altieri to discuss the item this summer. And since he wasn't answering me (and clearly avoiding eye contact), I repeated my concern... to which Matt Hall referred my concern to the Personnel Committee... so I guess now it's finally on the agenda. Hopefully to be simultaneously addressed by the Budget Committee. (Btw, I thank Matt Hall for his support in considering my idea.)

Also this evening, it was mentioned that the police dispatchers union has moved from a DB to a DC... so I'm hoping now we can continue in that direction and move all non-union new hires to a DC... and really start to get our hands around these long-term liabilities (which at the town level are largely funded... depending how you measure them).

These long-term liabilities are a huge concern for me... and I'll try almost anything to address them in a fair and equitable manner.

Tim White

BP gas leak update

From the MRJs Stacy Graham Hunt:

The state Department of Environmental Protection is still investigating how much gasoline was released from the BP gas station on 901 W. Main St. on Friday, officials said....

It is estimated that nearly 10,000 gallons have been released. Fire Chief Jack Casner said the ground on the station's property has been contaminated with gasoline. The area of the gas station is still fenced in, and the Fire Department continues to tend to the area.

Tim White

Monday, June 23, 2008

Changes to non-union bene's

Tomorrow's agenda includes some changes to the personnel rules and regs for non-union ee's. Included among the changes are:While I'm glad that the majority withdrew these items at the last meeting, I'm still wondering where we're headed with this.

Of the above items, I have two thoughts...

1) (top item) We don't need to increase vacation days right now. But I am a firm believer in vacation time... because a lack of vacation time can definitely have a negative impact. So as an alternative, I suggest allowing ee's to "buy" vacation time. For instance, if someone makes $52,000/yr... let him/her "buy" one week's vacation for $1,000. Additionally, once and for all... we should end this practice where ee's can carryforward months and months of vacation time for years and years. If I recall correctly, this continues to occur and creates big unfunded liabilities for the town. For example, if an ee works 30 yrs and makes $100k/yr and has accumulated six months of vacation... in the ee's final year, spending increases $50k as a payout for the unused vacation.

2) (bottom item) This is a huge issue. All benefit plans are big issues... in fact, this reminds me of social security... just make all sorts of promises, but never discuss the costs associated with benefits... don't get me wrong, I strongly support moving from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan... but the costs (and the underlying assumptions) need to be understood. That's why I've asked to have this item broken into a four part grid... first of all I want two scenarios for DB costs vs. DC costs. Second, I want to know about ee's hired after July 1, 2008... as well as ee's hired before July 1, 2008.

To me, we should just end DB plans as an option for any future (non-union) ee's... and I'm open to hearing reasons for not doing that... but lacking this information, I find it hard to believe I can support any benefit plan changes. Again though... I agree with the direction... just not the details... which I still don't know.

Tim White

Cheshire enriches state marshals (hWg 25)

From the AP:

Connecticut's 217 state marshals are required to file annual income statements with the Office of State Ethics. A review of those filings by The Hartford Courant shows that 61 marshals grossed more than $100,000 in 2007. Another 53 grossed between $50,000 and $100,000.

Elsewhere in the story:

One marshal, John T. Fiorillo of Bristol, grossed more than $2 million last year by serving legal papers to people being sued and homeowners facing foreclosures, state records show....Six other marshals grossed more than $500,000 last year....

That's great for the state marshals. And while I was initially surprised to see people grossing in the millions, I then recalled that state marshals get used for almost anything... particularly when there are problems and you get the feeling that someone wants to pretend like those aren't the droids you're looking for:

I'm still wondering why the TM and Council Chairman withheld the corruption memo from me for at least ten days. As I suggested yesterday... maybe we can add that to the strategic plan priorities for tomorrow - whenever corruption is mentioned, inform all nine Council... not just the "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" majority.

Tim White

The town's strategery

We'll be voting on this list on Tuesday:
I think I find 2a most interesting.

Continue to enhance formal lines of communication

Perhaps we should add "particularly whenever anyone writes to staff and suggests that there's corruption in town hall."

Nearly five years on the Council now. And I can assure you... there are plenty of times when I've been kept in the dark.

Tim White

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gasoline leak near the Notch

There's a gasoline leak near the Notch (AP):

The Department of Environmental Protection is overseeing an investigation into the release of possibly thousands of gallons of gasoline from Cheshire station.The gas was released from an underground storage tank at the BP gas station on West Main Street. While it's still unknown how much gasoline may have been released, about 10,000 gallons are unaccounted for.

Tim White

The other guys

While I'm confident that either John McCain or Barack Obama will be the next POTUS... there are two other guys who are running and will probably each get at least a half percent of the overall popular vote.

Coming in from the Green left, Ralph Nader.

Approaching from the Libertarian right, Bob Barr.

I can't imagine they'll be in any of the nationally televised debates, but I hope they get some "airtime." When looking at the broad spectrum of issues that will be discussed by Obama and McCain... I'm sure there will be at least one or two issues where Barr and/or Nader will be more in touch with America than the two major party candidates.

Tim White

Freedom quiz

With Independence Day around the corner, my brother emailed me this 30 question quiz. I had fun with it, scoring 28/30.

Tim White

Volunteer opportunities in CT

If you're ever looking for some volunteer work, has 127 CT opportunities listed as of today. And for all my time on the web... I've definitely found this website to be one of the best for socially responsible opportunities.

Tim White

Courant smacks Dodd

Somebody put together this two minute clip on Sen. Dodd being a "Friend of Angelo."Obviously, the creator doesn't care for Dodd... but it does offer some relevant info on the VIP program that Dodd clearly should've understood better.

Regardless, I doubt the video will have as much impact as this Courant editorial:

The senator had an obligation to make sure his deal with Countrywide was in no way a perk of public office. The time to do that was when a loan officer informed him and his wife they were in the company's VIP program.

But Sen. Dodd didn't ask. He says he assumed it was because they'd had two mortgages with Countrywide since 1999 and were good customers. Nor did they ask what the designation meant.

But Sen. Dodd didn't ask.


I conclude there are two likely possibilities:

1) he lacks the critical faculties required to be the Chair of the Banking Committee


2) plausible deniability

I lean toward #2... the same sad story that got offered by LBJ and GWB as they moved toward war.

Now I don't mean to suggest that the result of Dodd's actions are the same as those of Johnson and Bush... but I'm sick and tired of seeing the "plausible deniability" card get played over and over again by politicians.

Furthermore, if you read the full Courant editorial, you'll see they also highlighted that his initial reaction was something quite typical of politicians. Basically, they said Dodd told the truth... but perhaps not the whole truth. (Something that seems to be happening here in Cheshire with increasing frequency.)

Anyway... an ethics investigation has begun. But of course, it's a Democratic Congress investigating a Democratic Senator. I hope as the investigation proceeds, Harry Reid proves he's a man of integrity and doesn't allow it to become one of the non-investigations that were undertaken by the GOP Congress of the Bush Administration.

The Senate needs to get to the bottom of this and mete out justice... which certainly could include Dodd being relieved of any leadership roles in which he currently serves.

Tim White

p.s. Maybe Lamont will run against Dodd in '10, instead of waiting for Lieberman in '12?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Council agenda 6/24

The agenda for Tuesday's Council meeting:

Interesting agenda.

Tim White

Planning Committee status update

Per staff, (not per the committee Chair, Laura DeCaprio) here's the current list of items on the plate of the Planning Committee:

Acceptance of Mountain Brook as public road
Traffic study
Casertano land management plan
Dog park request

Ongoing – status of Boulder Knoll Farm

Tim White

Friday, June 20, 2008

"No contest" for hockey fight charges

Reported by the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

The men charged in connection with a fight outside a youth hockey game at the Northford Ice Pavilion in January pleaded no contest Thursday to reduced charges in Superior Court.

Frank Ruocco, 41, of Cheshire, and Lawrence Smith, 41, of Greenfield Center, N.Y., were issued infractions and required to make $750 donations to youth hockey organizations.

Tim White

Update: as far as I know, there is no relation to my fellow Councilman.

What is an R-value?

From the Building Envelope Research, Oak Ridge National Laboratory:

Insulation is rated in terms of thermal resistance, called R-value, which indicates the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. The R-value of thermal insulation depends on the type of material, its thickness, and its density. In calculating the R-value of a multi-layered installation, the R-values of the individual layers are added.

The effectiveness of an insulated ceiling, wall or floor depends on how and where the insulation is installed.

Insulation which is compressed will not give you its full rated R-value. This can happen if you add denser insulation on top of lighter insulation in an attic. It also happens if you place batts rated for one thickness into a thinner cavity, such as placing R-19 insulation rated for 6 1/4 inches into a 5 1/2 inch wall cavity.

Insulation placed between joists, rafters, and studs does not retard heat flow through those joists or studs. This heat flow is called thermal bridging. So, the overall R-value of a wall or ceiling will be somewhat different from the R-value of the insulation itself. That is why it is important that attic insulation cover the tops of the joists and that is also why we often recommend the use of insulative sheathing on walls. The short-circuiting through metal framing is much greater than that through wood-framed walls; sometimes the insulated metal wall's overall R-value can be as low as half the insulation's R-value.

Tim White

Summit Road arrest

Reported by the MRJ staff:

A Cheshire man was arrested Wednesday after he hit his neighbor's house during a round of target practice in his yard, police said.

John Gervasoni of 1008 Summit Road was arrested at 4:47 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

Tim White

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What do the volunteers think?

Another question that concerns me about creating another paid position within the fire department:

What do the 100+ volunteers think of this?

Is it possible that some volunteers oppose it?

Those answers are additional reasons why I feel there should be a townwide dialogue on this... as compared to what happened last week... the second attempt to slip this through "under the cover of darkness."

Serious question... why is "open government" such a difficult concept for some people to understand and uphold?

Tim White

Dodd takes a beating

Sen. Chris Dodd took a beating in today's WRA... as has been happening all week.

At first I chose to avoid this topic because I wasn't sure if anything was wrong. But now I'm convinced that, at minimum, he showed very poor judgment... to the point of me doubting that his

two sweetheart refinanced mortgages — from Countrywide Financial

were really obtained in ignorance... but rather were obtained with the hope of using the old "plausible deniability" routine, if questions ever arose.

The WRA further explains:

Over the years, people have given him everything he's asked for, but technically never requested, not out of the goodness of their hearts, but because they knew he could make their lives more comfortable, or more difficult, anytime he damned well pleased. Because he's, well, Chris Dodd. This is how members of Congress peddle their influence and avoid indictment.

Personally, I think that's a bit strong. But I do tend to agree with the underlying point about "never requesting" anything... and I take issue with Dodd's lack of intellectual curiosity when he was told that he was a "VIP."

Regardless, the ethics investigation has already begun... which is good. I just hope they don't perform investigations like they do here in Cheshire... where it seems that the questions:

1) What did you know?


2) When did you know it?

get asked of only one party... while the other party can say or do anything without any questions ever being asked.

Tim White

"Safety citations" for kids

From the MRJs Stacy Graham Hunt:

Cheshire police issue "Safety Citations" to young people who wear safety equipment when riding in a car, on a bicycle, skateboarding or rollerblading.

The citations can be redeemed at participating local businesses.

For more information or to make a donation to the program, contact Lieutenant Jay Markella at (203) 271-5552 or email

Tim White

CHS Class of '08


Transition to a paid fire department

Some of you may have read my post from last week about the then-upcoming Council meeting and my concerns about a vote to begin a transition to a paid fire department. Well, despite the appearance of someone trying to sneak this past the voters by using the consent calendar it did get removed (to Tim Slocum's credit) and if I heard Matt Hall correctly... pushed back to next week's tentatively-scheduled June 24 meeting.

Anyway, aside from what appeared to be a complete abuse of the consent calendar (there's no discussion permitted on the consent calendar), I have other issues with this.

First and foremost is the basic premise that this vote would be the beginning of a transition to a paid fire department. And regardless of whether I think this is the most important issue facing the Council... and regardless of whether I think it is of the utmost urgency... I also firmly believe that in many ways, the volunteer fire department does not report to the Council. Rather, it reports directly to the voters... as it consists of voters... and the voters consistently support the FD enthusiastically. And for that reason, I firmly believe that before this transition to a paid department begins... this request is unlike others... and the case needs to be made to the public... not just to the Council. So I hope that before this ever comes for a vote, staff will have conducted some basic media outreach, gotten some article placements and generated a public dialogue. At that point, after I've gotten some feedback from voters... I'll feel much more comfortable voting on this.

But there are other issues of concern to me on this particular issue. For instance... this same request got onto the Council agenda's consent calendar about three years ago (Republican majority for those of you keeping track). I remember thinking the same thing then as I'm thinking now... "how the hell did a transition to a paid fire department get on the consent calendar?"

Anyway, after David Orsini explained to me that the consent calendar was normally reviewed by David Schrumm... and David Schrumm had been out of town at the time the agenda was drafted (though the consent calendar would still go through Mr. Schrumm's 7pm Tuesday night Budget Committee meeting that would be held before coming to the full Council at 7:30pm)... I understood why no elected officials had caught this particular item before it appeared on the consent calendar that, as usual, got dropped off by the police on a Friday night back in the summer of 2005. But by Tuesday I had read the "Council pack" and was somewhat concerned about the appearance of someone trying to "slip this by," particularly without discussion. So, feeling that it would be inappropriate for me to directly contact staff on what I felt was an issue that needed to be addressed by the full Council... I called Matt Hall and asked him to help me find the six votes that would be necessary to enter executive session to discuss "personnel issues." Needless to say, when the transition to a paid fire department first appeared on the consent calendar... we never went into executive session... the item was pulled without much discussion by the Council... which was fine with me at the time. But now that this has happened a second time, I'm very concerned about this.

Additionally, I just want to offer you some insight as to how I try to perform my role as a Councilman. Basically... if I see something get screwed up once or someone drop the ball once... I don't say a word to anyone, except perhaps to the person directly involved. But when I see a pattern of something... I'm going voice my concerns. And since I know some of you have wondered about some changes in my rhetoric over the past year... if this abuse of the consent calendar concerns you, as it does me, then please trust me... this is the tip of the iceberg.

Tim White

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Draft Ordinance Review status update

Per staff, (not per the committee Chair, Elizabeth Esty) here's the current list of items on the plate of the Ordinance Review Committee:

Review of procedures for maintaining Commissions List document
Review of responsibilities of the Public Safety Commission
Maintenance of Code of Ordinances & tracking of amendments
Building Use Policy – political fundraisers
Public Building Commission ordinance
Demolition delay ordinance
Video-streaming on website
Town and Police pension ordinance amendments
Historic District fees
Massage parlor ordinance
Review of senior property tax relief
Veterans’ waiver of fees
Blight ordinance
Library fines for replacement materialsParking fines review

Per staff, Ordinance Review has way more on their plate than any other committee. Maybe I'll post the other committees tomorrow.

Tim White

Geese-be-gone terriers arrive

The WRA reports on Mixville's newest "regulars":

At 28 pounds, a black Kerry blue terrier named Kelly is a real bully. The mere site of her and her owner's orange kayak makes the geese run for safety.

Kelly and Molly, another Kerry blue terrier, are the animal half of a team called No Geese Today. Their human partner is Alan Kendrix of North Haven. Town officials hope Kendrix and his dogs will chase away the geese, whose endless supply of droppings have made the park unappealing to humans.
(by Lauresha Xhihani)

Tim White

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pool subcommittee mtg 6/17

The Bubble Study group met tonight. I got to the meeting late, but was there for at least an hour of it.

My sense is that they're done listening to the concerns of users and are going to move onto the heart of the issue...

The White Elephant

itself. And I think Matt Altieri did a good job moving the meeting along, but here's where the problem really begins.

We're not even sure what structure would be best... or if a second pool would make more sense.

Thankfully, the Energy Commission's Dave Gavin gave the Council a roadmap to the types of structures that may work well for a pool.

I think the next stop on the bubble trail is a meeting with the Energy Commission's Rich Ogurick and the Public Building Commission's Dennis Rioux. We'll probably be placing a lot of reliance on the two of them to help us ask the right questions to include in an RFI... whoops, sorry... RFP. Then we'll see what we get as a result of the RFP and go from there.

Tim White

Church green update

This past weekend I commented on my beloved Strawberry Festival. (Not mine really, but I do love it!) I also mentioned that I heard the town installed the new paver sidewalk on the green. Anyway, that's what someone mentioned to me. But tonight I got an email telling me that the Congregational Church's womens' groups paid for the sidewalk... to which the women would deserve a thank you!

Does anyone know for sure?

Tim White

Some random energy comments

For motorcycle enthusiasts who are also concerned about oil, I understand Yale just purchased two all-electric motorcycles. They supposedly travel 35 - 50 miles per charge... not bad, even for a daily commute (in the nicer weather).

Honda's begun production of its fuel cell car. I think we've still got a problem though: fuel distribution. Unless the car runs on water, it'll need some sort of fuel (NG or hydrogen)... but the US doesn't have much infrastructure in place for that.

I spoke with the wood/gas/pellet stove non-profit organization today. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they've got a new generation of stoves available... and they said they're clean. I think it's great news, if we can use stoves and avoid all the soot from yesteryear. I also heard some not-so-good news. Their dealers are already getting swamped with new installations... which is great for them, but bad for you... if, come September, you decide to buy a new stove... though I suppose if you're looking for a job... you may want to become a stove installer. If fuel prices keep doing what they're doing, I'm sure lots more people will be looking at any and all alternatives.

If you saw yesterday's WRA, you may have seen that Oxford Schools are considering wind. I've said here before that, in relation to power sources, windmills don't normally have the best ROI in CT. But based on the WRA article, it seems as though Oxford may have one of those few places in CT where wind turbines make sense.

Tim White

Monday, June 16, 2008

Newspapers have come to naught

The Tribune is in trouble.

The Courant is collapsing.

Well... that's a bit of an overstatement. But the following is probably concerning to anyone who believes in a free (and healthy) press:

An effort by Tribune Co. to "right-size" the nine newspapers in its struggling publishing division will mean significant reductions in the number of pages of news published by The Hartford Courant, and also cuts in personnel, Courant Publisher Stephen D. Carver said Thursday. (Courant, staff)

The article continued:

"You can eliminate a fair number of people while not eliminating a lot of content," said Randy Michaels, the chief operating officer.

Ha! I guess Mr. Michaels thinks his readers are "'weak-minded' sentient beings" who will agree that real journalists aren't the droids we're looking for.

Further on:

Tribune became a private company in a leveraged buyout in December that left it with $13 billion in debt. Its newspapers include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.... "There's going to be staff reductions," Carver said. "That's going to be part of this. ... The business model needs to be redone."

Well that's a surprise! A newspaper laying off more reporters. Shocking.

Seriously though, I can't say how serious a blow this is to journalism... at least in the short term. I understand that for years now, the overall pool of journalists has shrunk... yet newsworthy stories haven't decreased. So what happens?

The hard-hitting, investigative journalism gets hurt. Look no further than the NHRs recent "staff count reduction" at the Capitol. They let go their long-time Capitol reporter, Greg Hladky. And who will fill that void?

Well the reporters at the Courant are pretty good, but they can only do so much.

And don't forget, we live in Corrupticut Connecticut... a state where William Fritz, son of Deputy House Speaker Mary Fritz, can lack the required NICET qualifications for the I-84 inspection job, yet still be hired as the "chief inspector." And what exactly happened with AG Blumenthal's investigation??

(It's just another example of why the NYTimes correctly ridiculed our state for lacking the will to tackle real problems... and relying entirely on the feds in ever holding anyone accountable. And you wonder why state's attorneys have no power of subpoena??)

The last thing CT needs is fewer reporters.

Alas... there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

While traditional media is facing serious upheaval... and there's talk of the NHR going bankrupt (I think it recently delisted because it's trading price was below $1/share)... new media offers some hope for "keeping the bums honest."

And no... I'm not talking about the writing on the bathroom wall that my esteemed Council colleague "no longer" reads. Nope... while the blogosphere can (and likely must) provide real journalists with some leads... real journalists must forge onward. And the field of new media journalists and online newspapers does exist.

For example, since Chris Dodd was still in the race at the time, one of CTs online-only newspapers - the New Haven Independent - headed to New Hampshire in early January to cover him. (I know that because they simultaneously covered my favorite small government conservative Presidential candidate, Ron Paul.) And of course there's my favorite online news journal - CT News Junkie.

If online newspapers like the Independent and CT News Junkie can work (and I have no idea if they're profitable), then online news can work. And it's probably the only way that a vibrant media will continue to exist.

Tim White

p.s. I can't help but wonder if the Courant will lay off a bunch of reporters at the same time? I think it could be a great opportunity for them. If they banded together to immediately begin their own online-only newspaper, I'd certainly try to help them in their startup venture.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Energy & sustainability forum: a series?

I've been thinking about helping to organize an energy & sustainability forum. However, I've been wondering how best to approach it.

Given the volume of information available on "energy issues," there needs to be some sort of starting point... just to begin imparting useful information. Simultaneously though... it needs to be presented in a digestable format. And while some people could certainly stand up and offer three or four hours of extemporaneous comments on compressed natural gas or fuel cells... it wouldn't necessarily help most people understand how to begin saving money on energy.

So following a conversation today with someone who is deeply involved in renewables in Connecticut... I'm beginning to think that one forum that touches on 12-15 topics... each for three or four minutes... may not even be worthwhile for people who are trying to save money on energy. And it definitely would be a deterrent to finding people willing to present their case.

So now I'm thinking along the lines of breaking the forum down into three topics on three nights. Perhaps each forum could have 4 or 5 presenters, each speaking for ten to 15 minutes. The three topics would be:

1) clean energy power sources for homes (wind, solar thermal, geothermal, photovoltaics and wood stoves)

2) transportation (including fuels, conservation and alternatives, such as buses, carpooling & telecommuting) and

3) energy efficiency for homes

What do you think?


1) based on discussions, both the Energy Commission and Council seem to support the idea of this forum (Esty, Hall, Ruocco, Sima & Slocum have all voiced support to varying degrees... with Elizabeth being a very strong supporter) and...

2) assuming the Energy Commission wants to sponsor these forums, I tentatively reserved Council Chambers for Tuesday July 29 and...

3) Henry Chase has said he is available to televise the forum on July 29 and...

4) I've briefly discussed contacting "energy services companies" with the Chamber President to see if they'd be interested in booths at the fall festival.

Tim White

Ron Paul shifts gears

Excerpted from the homepage of Ron Paul's new website - Campaign for Liberty:

“In the final analysis,” I wrote in my new book The Revolution: A Manifesto, “the last line of defense in support of freedom and the Constitution consists of the people themselves. If the people want to be free, if they want to lift themselves out from underneath a state apparatus that threatens their liberties, squanders their resources on needless wars, destroys the value of their dollar, and spews forth endless propaganda about how indispensable it is and how lost we would all be without it, there is no force that can stop them.”

The time has come to act on these words. May future generations look back on our work and say that these were men and women who, in a moment of great crisis, stood up to the politicians, the opinion-molders, and the establishment, and saved their country.

Join us, and be a part of it.

For liberty,

Ron Paul

As for whether you agree with him or not... I believe that, at minimum, there are serious "solvency issues" with Social Security and Medicare. And IMO, if our "leaders" in Washington continue to fail America... and leave these "solvency issues" unaddressed for another decade or two... and if the steady devaluation of the dollar continues (one of several factors in the runup of gas prices)... then at a certain point the "elastic band" will snap... and someone holding somewhat radical views, not unlike those of Ron Paul... may very well become President.

Alternatively, we could address our fiscal and monetary policies in an intellectually honest fashion.

And for the next five months, I hope we'll get to see lots of "town halls," "debates" and / or other formats where we can hear Obama and McCain in very clear terms on these two issues... and what the heck... maybe they'll even do one or two "debates" that include Ralph Nader (Green) and Bob Barr (Libertarian). They'd certainly broaden the discussion!

Tim White

F&S Oil biodiesel plant sale may be July 29

A biofuel facility created in Cheshire by failed F&S Oil Inc. would be auctioned on July 29 if a judge approves, the company's receiver said Friday. (WRA, by David Krechevsky)

As for one reason why it's taking so long to make happen...

"Between getting the judge's order, writing up the bidding rules, and hiring an auction consultant, plus there's such a high level of interest in it — some parties are flying in experts from around the country to look at it — we just can't do it in two weeks," court-appointed receiver Carlton E.Helming said.

Tim White

Students charged with alcohol possession

The MRJs Stacy Graham Hunt is reporting that "Police arrested four juveniles yesterday for alcohol possession charges at Cheshire High School."

Tim White

F&S Oil: biodiesel plant gets messier with more facts

Reported by the WRAs David Krechevsky:

The court-appointed receiver for failed F&S Oil Inc. agreed Wednesday to increase monthly payments to the landlord of its Cheshire biofuel facility in return for delaying eviction proceedings for 60 days. However, the attorney representing the landlord, Cheshire Investment Corp., told the judge that F&S Oil's biofuel facility violates the lease for the Sandbank Road site — without acknowledging that the principals in the corporation helped develop the facility....

While the agreement temporarily settles some financial issues, it leaves the main dispute over the lease unresolved, which could affect the receiver's ability to auction off assets from the biofuel facility that are potentially worth millions of dollars.

Questions about ownership of the biofuel facility's assets, however, could hold up a third auction. For example, Cheshire Investment Corp. received approval from the Cheshire Planning and Zoning Commission to install outdoor storage tanks, a standby generator and a cooling tower at the Sandbank Road biofuel facility on March 10 — three days after F&S Oil and its subsidiaries shut down....

Brendan Flynn, an assistant attorney general representing Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's office, told the judge that allowing Cheshire Investment to go ahead with eviction proceedings could create havoc.

This whole mess only seems to get more confusing as more details come to light.

Tim White

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Strawberry Festival

Every year I enjoy it. How could I not enjoy the strawberry festival?... just get a little bit of extra strawberry juice poured over the biscuit and... it doesn't get much better. Plus the weather was perfect while I was there with my mom and sister... my mom especially loved it when she saw a young mom pushing a stroller... my mom said she was probably doing the same exact thing with me, in the same exact place... 35 years ago.

I was pleasantly surprised by the new walkway across the green. I recall it was just asphalt that was slowly breaking down. But now there's a brand new paver sidewalk, that I heard the town installed. I'm guessing it related to the repaving of Church Drive.

Even more surprising though was that I saw almost no pols there. With the exception of Al Adinolfi (who attends the Congregational Church) and Dave Cappiello, I didn't see any. Regardless, as usual... the festival was great and the little kids certainly seemed to be having a great time!

Tim White

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert was an American hero

Russert, of Buffalo, N.Y., took the helm of the Sunday news show in December 1991 and turned it into the nation's most widely watched program of its type. His signature trait there was an unrelenting style of questioning that made some politicians reluctant to appear, yet confident that they could claim extra credibility if they survived his grilling intact. (AP, by David Espo and Laurie Kellman)

As far as I'm concerned, Russert was the best. He was always polite, yet demanded... and often got... answers. He's a huge loss for journalism. I was actually fortunate to meet him once. He was speaking at Quinnipiac about ten years ago and I caught up with him as he was walking to his car. It was only passing encounter, but he was very friendly and listened to my concerns... he's a loss as both a genuinely nice person and as a pillar of journalism.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My first AT&T U-verse bill

I just got my first bill for a regular month of service from AT&T U-verse. My total bill for telephone and internet is $60.73. I'm happy.

Tim White

School lunch price increase

As reported by the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

Prices will increase by 25 cents at the town’s elementary school and at Dodd Middle School next fall after the town’s Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the increase recommended by Madeleine Diker, the district’s food service director.

School lunches at Cheshire High School will increase by 35 cents, Diker said Friday.

“What everybody is seeing when they go to their local grocery store, we’re seeing a larger scale,” she said. “We’re not able to get as much food for our dollars as we used to.”

This reminds me of a few years ago when I spoke at Dodd in relation to Liberty Day. In an effort to keep the kids involved (rather than them just listening to me bore them), I asked them for their concerns... their no. 1 concern? Lunch prices. They were really upset about the price of their lunches increasing. Unfortunately... this is a reality that the cafeteria services can't avoid.

Tim White

Cheshire Investment Corp to evict F&S Oil?

Reported by the MRJs Mary Ellen Godin:

A Hartford Superior Court judge may rule today on whether Cheshire Investment Corp. can continue its push to evict the F&S Oil Co.'s receivership from a bio-diesel plant on Sandbank Road.

The receivership is trying to block the eviction until ownership of the plant is established.

The receiver was appointed to identify and liquidate the assets of the defunt oil company.

Tim White

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Save money on electricity in Connecticut


While this ridiculous thing they called "deregulation" passed in 1996... for some reason, you'd have been hard pressed to find anything that could've passed as "competition" for at least five years or more. And even when the first "competitor" offered competitively-priced electricity... I suspect most people were still unaware of it.

Personally, I knew of it in '03/04... but only because I follow this energy stuff so much.

The sole competitor (to CL&P) that I knew was called Levco... though it had at least one other name, Dominion. I switched to them about four years ago.

Then about two years ago I left Levco... not that I really wanted to leave them. They were cheaper than CL&P and their bill (for generation services) was simply a part of my CL&P bill (for transmission services). But due to a shortcoming in the CL&P billing system, the regulators decided that if I wanted to switch to clean electricity, I had to return to CL&P for their more expensive generation services. Anyway...

The end to this unnecessarily expensive situation is finally in sight. I've been informed that as of October of this year... CL&P is supposed to have their new billing system in place. Therefore, it will then be possible to both participate in the clean electricity program and purchase competitively-priced electricity generation services. To me, that's great news. Because in my effort to increase the use of clean electricity, I've been paying an unnecessarily high rate to CL&P for generation.

And now that I see the end in sight, I've decided to switch back to competitively-priced electricity... and I'll sign back up for clean electricity as soon as it's available... but in the meantime, I need to start saving some money.

But where can I find a helpful list of electricity generation providers?

I'd suggest starting here to find the cheapest rate. Then click the button that applies... and for most of you, I imagine that'll be the CL&P residential button. Then make sure you see the embedded scroll down window. It's at the bottom of that embedded window (as of today) where you will find the cheapest price of residential electricity in Cheshire.

The company is Public Power & Utility, Inc. And I'll probably switch to them within the next few days.

But so you know... this is not an endorsement. I have no idea if they're good or not. I'm just looking at this in strict commodity terms... like buying gas.

Furthermore, based on my understanding of this whole electric deregulation... similar to gasoline prices... the possibility of price volatility now exists. That is... suppliers may now increase and decrease prices... and I'm not sure how much (if any) notice they must give you, the customer... so that does make this a bit of a gamble from the perspective of the consumer. Nonetheless, for the time being... I'm going to take advantage of it and save a few bucks every month... I need to do everything I can at this point.

Hope that's helpful!

Tim White

Cheshire black bear sightings

Reported by the MRJs Jason Vallee:

Black bear sightings have increased in central and southern Connecticut during the past year, and places like Wallingford have been no exception, according to Wildlife Biologist Paul Rego of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Rego said there has been a pattern in recent years showing a migration of American black bears in the state, with sightings spreading from concentrated areas to towns statewide. And the sightings have increased, he said, leading the department to believe there has been population growth.

Local police departments said sightings have been infrequent over the years, with 11 reports out of Southington and only
5 in Cheshire and 4 in Wallingford since June 1, 2007.

Tim White

Mike Ecke shined tonight

I know I can be critical of elected and appointed officials at times, but I also like to commend those same people at times. And tonight certainly was a shining moment for Councilman Mike Ecke.

Basically, as the Council was discussing the agenda item "7H - personnel rules and regulations," staff seemed taken aback by the Council asking questions. Tom Ruocco kicked off the questions and, to the good fortune of the taxpayers, Mike Ecke continued the questions. And when the Personnel Director / Assistant Town Manager started getting testy, Ecke became visibly upset.

Now... some of you may find that unbecoming, but... considering that this is the "Assistant Town Manager," I think it's not only fair, but appropriate for a higher level of expectations to be placed on this particular staff member. And since I've seen this same defiant attitude with this particular staff member before... I was glad to see Mike remind him that he shouldn't be copping an attitude with Council members... so as I said... Mike shined tonight. I appreciated his no nonsense approach.

But enough with the kudos... in the interest of improving staff performance and assisting staff with their professional development... I offer a suggestion to the Personnel Committee... perhaps this staff member was not well-prepared for the Council meeting? So maybe the Council could create a win-win situation that would benefit both staff and the taxpayers?

Perhaps the workload of being the Personnel Director and Assistant Town Manager is simply to heavy for one person to carry. As an alternative, the Council could eliminate the responsibilities of being the "Assistant Town Manager." This would enable him to focus his efforts on being the Personnel Director... and he may be better prepared for Council meetings.

Additionally, the role of Assistant Town Manager comes with a $4,000/yr stipend. So if the role is eliminated... the taxpayers would also win.

I hope Mike Ecke and the Personnel Committee are committed to ensuring town employees have a work environment in which they can develop professionally. I also hope they remain committed to reducing spending. I hope the Council considers this idea.

As for the rest of the Council meeting play-by-play and color analysis... maybe tomorrow... I'm pooped. I gotta go to bed. And maybe I'll do the video this weekend.

Tim White

Filipp Podpalyy: Robert Tagliaferi's friend

Who could forget the friend of Cheshire's alleged burglar, Robert Tagliaferi... Cheshire's other alleged burglar, Filipp Podpalyy. Here's a reminder of where Podpalyy stands with his alleged B&E at the home of state Rep. Brendan Sharkey:

Does anybody know what is meant by "rearrest ordered?" Did he post bail and flee? I hope not.

Tim White

Monday, June 09, 2008

Council agenda 06/10

Later than usual I know, but here's the agenda for tomorrow night:For any Star Wars fans out there, I assure you... Council Chair Matt Hall's agenda has no droids we're looking for. And while I'm tired and about to hit the sack... here's just a taste of what may be discussed tomorrow...

Start with the consent calendar, particularly item 4F - Acceptance and appropriation of a $20 memorial donation to the library gift account.

IMO, a consent calendar is appropriate for that item. But then look at Council Chairman Matt Hall's consent calendar again and see item 4G - authorization to apply for the FY 2008 Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program from the Department of Homeland Security. This represents the creation of at least one paid fireman.

A paid fireman? Don't worry... buried deep in the "council pack" you find the description supporting the addition of item 4G to Council Chairman Matt Hall's consent calendar:And since no discussion is permitted on the consent calendar, I presume the Council Chairman believes the transition from a volunteer fire department to a paid fire department doesn't warrant discussion. So as all good Stormtroopers say... "these aren't the droids we're looking for. Move along." (hat tip to Tim Slocum for catching this... and btw, this isn't the first time that the consent calendar has been abused in this manner)

Also notice the end of the agenda... item 11 - approval of minutes - March 25. If you happen to recall the March 25 meeting (not televised)... it was the meeting where the TM told the Council (and the Council clearly agreed) that the additional police officer would be in the budget. But then between April1 (the last budget meeting) and April 3 (the budget vote)... the Council majority eliminated that position from the budget... and never mentioned that to me or Jimmy Sima... I'm not sure why they chose to not tell us about that budget cut. But perhaps it falls in the same category with the coverup of the corruption memo?

Tim White

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Review of the gas use policy

A few minutes ago, I sent the following to the Council Chair Matt Hall (and cc'ed the rest of the Council & TM). My email included a request to add this to the agenda for Tuesday's meeting.

discussion & action re: Saving money, conserving energy and protecting the environment through a review of the town’s gas use policy.

Whereas the Town Council understands the concerns of residents regarding the cost of gasoline and

Whereas, the Town Council recognizes the benefits of conserving energy and

Whereas, the Town Council believes a reduction in gas consumption will benefit the environment

Therefore, be it resolved, the Town Council directs the Town Manager to create a list of all Town-owned take home vehicles,

Furthermore, be it resolved, this list will include:

- the staff position to which each vehicle is ascribed and

- the particular job functions which require a particular take home vehicle, such as an SUV, including the emergency situations which may drive the need for these vehicles and

- the number of situations, including emergencies, in which each vehicle has been involved during the past year which have necessitated the existence of take home vehicles and

- an analysis of the seasons, such as winter snowplowing, that explains why each particular vehicle must be taken home throughout the year.

Furthermore, be it resolved, the Town Council directs the Town Manager to complete this list and provide it to the full Council by June 24, 2008.

I'm not sure what will happen. But I suspect that most people in town would appreciate the Council taking this action to ensure everything is being done to reduce spending, conserve energy and protect the environment.

Tim White

Was that a tornado?

I just lost two trees and a big limb... one with a diameter that looks close to 12". Does anyone know if a tornado came through south Cheshire? I'm not sure, but we had winds that were incredibly strong for just a few minutes while the nickel-sized hail was coming down.

Tim White

Travel with free money!

From the Stamford Advocate's Brian Lockhart:

High fuel prices and airline fares have many residents curtailing their summer vacations, but some part-time state lawmakers are still making plans for taxpayer-funded travels. According to the state Office of Legislative Management, nearly two-dozen legislators and their staffs have signed up to attend professional development conferences in New Orleans; Napa, Calif.; and other out-of-state locations.

Annoyed? I am. But what annoys me more was when I voiced my concerns about the town budget... (the same town budget that includes professional development conferences in Seattle, Virginia and Lake George...) and all I heard were crickets.* So...

Question: Who does the Democratic Council majority represent?


Tim White

* That's their usual ploy when they know they're simply rubber stamping their "boss'" initiatives... they sit silently and allow staff to speak over others who challenge staff's "needs."

Saturday, June 07, 2008

2006 Honda Civic Hybrid mileage

If any of you are thinking about buying a new car and want to perform a payback analysis... I know I recently mentioned that I was getting 49mpg. But since gas hit $4... I've been driving a bit more conservatively... and doing things, such as slowing to 50mph on the inclines on the Merritt, etc. And with my most recent tank, I got 51.6mpg.

Tim White

Town Manager & the CPD

With regard to Thursday's special meeting of the full Council (you know... the one for which I got one day's notice)... I will have a question for the Town Manager and/or Council:

Since the "goals & objectives" currently include:

Objective: Continue aggressive employee recruitment effort to ensure high degree of staff professionalism.

Perhaps we should expand that to...

Objective: Strive for 100% turnover of CPD staff.

I mean... we already managed to lose three officers last year. (And yes, I'm pretty sure it was four officers who actually left. But since one had been planning his retirement for years... knowing that he would hit the 25-yr pension tranche and be done... my concern is focused on the other three officers.)

I guess I just have to wonder if all the stories I keep hearing about the "rank'n'file" being disgusted with the top brass... could they be true?

Or maybe we just shouldn't discuss this? Maybe this discussion is better held where all the other important discussions are held... behind closed doors? Maybe we should use the approach employed for the coverup of The Corruption Memo? (You know... the one where it was appropriate for the Town Manager and Council Chairman to both have knowledge of The Corruption Memo... yet withhold that information from me.)

Oh wait... I forgot. Cheshire believes in "open government." Yes... our Democratic Council believes in little "d" democracy. They do, don't they? I mean, they would never mislead anyone or speak untruths, right?


So I'm sure the Council and Town Manager are just itchin' to have a discussion on CPD staff turnover. I'm sure they're looking forward to a frank and open discussion on that.

Tim White

"These aren't the droids you're looking for. You can go about your business. Move along."

Grand opening for new Elim Park facilities

Elim Park had a wonderful opening ceremony today for their new facilities: Nelson Hall and The Wellness Center.

Nelson Hall is an auditorium with some beautiful stained glass windows that represent Elim Park's namesake.

The Wellness Center consists of a some workout equipment and a separately enclosed pool. (And yes... it's a beautiful pool... done by people who know how to build an indoor pool.) Interesting to me (if I got this right), they're using cogeneration... or a 75kW microturbine. The payback on the microturbine should be about 1.5 years.

Tim White

Consolidate Industries update

From the NHR:

Police have identified a man who died after being found unconscious along with a co-worker at a Mixville Road manufacturing facility on Wednesday night.

The dead man was identified as Caleb Torres of Meriden, police said Friday. Torres’ age, address and what kind of job he did for Consolidated Industries, a steel fabricating plant at 677 Mixville Road, was not released.

Tim White

Friday, June 06, 2008

Southington weighs in on ND

The MRJs Leslie Hutchison has this article about an exchange of letters between the Town Managers of Southington and Cheshire. The topic was the proposed ND... with the MRJ reporting comments from staff as:

the shopping center is not a municipal project. "We're not proposing it."

And I'm still waiting for the analysis of "secondary impacts" on the town. But I'm sure those secondary impacts wouldn't have any sort of impact on public opinion.

So I guess those aren't the droids I'm looking for... I think I need to just move along.

Tim White

Unexplained death at Consolidated Industries

The NHRs Luther Turmelle on this unexplained death:

One of two workers found unconscious at a Cheshire manufacturing facility has died. The man, who police have not identified, was pronounced dead after being taken to Waterbury Hospital, said Lt. Jay Markella, a department spokesman. The dead man and a co-worker were found unconscious at Consolidated Industries at 677 Mixville Road at about 9:35 p.m. Wednesday after police were called to the company for what is being described as a medical emergency, Markella said.

Tim White

Thursday, June 05, 2008

CHS: Rs vs. Ds

I had the pleasure of attending a debate today. The two sides were the young Dems and young Republicans of CHS. I understand it was their first debate.

I had assumed that everyone participating was a senior, but that wasn't the case. And that made it all the more impressive as I saw freshmen/sophomores directly challenging the assertions of juniors/seniors in such a public setting. All the students had a lot of impressive facts at their fingertips.

But I voted for Ron Paul in the GOP primary. And anyone who knows me, knows that I strongly prefer the The Great Philosophical Debate over the fact-based approach to winning an argument... at least when it comes to the US Constitution. (I'm still wishing I could've seen Ron Paul vs. HRC in a debate over the meaning of the Constitution. I really think it would've been fantastic to see.)

Anyway, I did get a taste of that debate when two family names I know well (Esty for the Dems and Tomlinson for the GOP) offered Constitutional arguments for their respective sides. I think it came up on the issue of universal healthcare. And it was a classic debating point from the left arguing that the "life" clause (as in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness clause) is of paramount concern. While the Republican side offered the classic argument... if it's not in Article I, Section 8... Congress has no business being involved.

I loved it! And I really was impressed by all the students. I couldn't imagine myself in high school and having been able to do half as well as any of these debaters did.

Thanks to the young Republicans advisor, Bill Eaton, for inviting me. I had a great time. And btw, I think it's going to be televised. So you may catch it on the school channel.

Tim White

Town Manager annual review

The annual review (a.k.a. Goals & Objectives) of the Town Manager began tonight. Unfortunately, I learned of this special Council meeting only yesterday. And I already had a commitment, so was unable to attend.

As for updating you on these meetings, they tend to be in executive session. So all I can offer is my own opinion... which I will do, but not tonight.

Tim White