He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. (EarlyAmerica.com)
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
From the WRAs editorial board:
According to a state audit, by failing to follow the formula prescribed by state law when projecting enrollment, Portland, New Haven and West Hartford built or expanded schools and in the process stole a combined $6 million from state taxpayers.
Ordinarily, fraud and misappropriation of public funds are punishable by imprisonment, but in those communities and many others, elected and appointed officials routinely are absolved by acts of the legislature, edicts by the state education commissioner or the indifference of state bureaucrats. In the case of Portland and West Hartford, legislators passed laws specifically forgiving their theft of tax dollars because local taxpayers already were struggling to pay back construction loans and the additional burden of repaying the state would have caused them serious hardships. But it's OK, apparently, to spread that additional burden on unsuspecting state taxpayers whose only crime is their residency.
There's a reason why people call our state "Corrupticut."
Here are the contact details for some of CTs small business owners who are leading the way to an affordable, green future for America with a reduced dependence on foreign oil:
1 Torrington Office Plz
Torrington, CT 06790-3854
dhurwitt at optiwind.com
Ross Solar Group
14 Crestdale Road
Danbury, CT 06811
jack at rosssolargroup.com
Solar Generations – distributor for Apricus Inc.
8 East Bearhouse Hill Rd.
Guilford , Ct. ,06437
Toll Free: 1877 458 2634
mbyrne at solargenerations.net
150 School House Road,
Cheshire, CT 06410
Blazing Hot Stoves
43 Falls Ave.
Waterbury, CT 06708
The gentleman who helped me organize this forum:
Mike Trahan (co-organizer)
P.O. Box 515
Higganum, CT 06441
Solar Connecticut (non-profit)
mtrahan at solarconnecticut.org
And some additional useful resources can be found at CTCleanEnergy.com
Finally, here's the MRJs abbreviated writeup (by Jesse Buchanan) on last night's energy forum.
Speaking of the DPW and roads... did any of you catch the Council meeting where there was information provided on a "pavement management system?" I'm pretty sure I haven't uploaded it to google yet, but I intend to question the value in buying the software.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Both the NHRs Luther Turmelle and the MRJs Jesse Buchanan reported today on last night's capital budget meeting.
Generally, the debt is trending down... which is a good thing. But I think it's also worth noting that the Operating Budget (as compared to the Capital Budget) has a line item called "Capital non-recurring" (CNR). For all intents and purposes, the CNR budget is the same as the Capital Budget. And since the CNR is trending up (around $1.4million annually)... so while it's totally accurate to describe the overall debt burden as decreasing... that doesn't necessarily mean that spending is decreasing (or increasing)... it's just that some spending has been moved to a different budget. Regardless...
I think my favorite comments were from the MRJ:
Councilman Matt Altieri also found the town's position a good one, and compared the town to a household without car payments and credit cards. Surprise expenses could be dealt with, he said, without wrecking the town's financial stability.
Of course "surprise expenses" (like turf??) can be handled! That's the benefit of having a
slush fund balance policy that the Council majority acknowledges costs millions of dollars, but has yet to quantify the benefits.
And taking the cake was this OTT comment:
"The thing that concerns me the most is the waste water pollution control," Altieri said, referring to the agreement between the town and Cheshire prison.
Yeah. I'm sure that's his top priority. Certainly the turf isn't as high a concern. I guess that's why he got $525,000 in state slush funds for turf... but not for the sewers. Yeah. I guess I'm just missing something... which brings me to one more point...
I'll expand on this more in the near future, but for now I thought you might be interested to know that there's been a recent flurry of emails among Council members. The topic - decorum. Yes. Decorum.
So to kick off this upcoming series on "decorum," I have a suggestion for all those Council members who don't like to read the Bathroom Wall... abandon the intellectual dishonesty and show some respect to the voters.
I can't force anyone to respect me. But the least our elected officials could do is show some respect for the voters.
p.s. for my part to improve "decorum," I will be posting some new commenting rules... including my thought process in determining if comments get deleted. Hopefully I'll have some time for that this weekend.
Something to keep in mind when considering the one proposed item in the current year... with water mains, the "developable lot size" decreases because you can be less concerned about a septic system contaminating a well. In turn, that increases the amount of residential units that can be built on undeveloped land.
Just something of which to be aware.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Fulvio Cativo of the Courant's iTowns is again reporting on tomorrow's energy forum.
Tuesday night's forum will continue the discussion on clean energy, energy efficiency and alternative power sources available to Connecticut residents. The event starts at 7 p.m. in Cheshire's town hall, located at 84 S. Main St.
The five scheduled speakers will cover:
I don't have the contact details handy, but intend to bring them to the event tomorrow. Additionally, the event will be televised on The Henry Channel (Cox channel 14). A special thanks to Council Chairman Matt Hall for televising the event.
From the NHRs Elizabeth Benton:
NEW HAVEN - The school district has entered the artificial turf controversy, choosing polyethylene fiber for a lawn adjacent to the Worthington Hooker School playground where natural grass could not grow.
The state is currently preparing a study on the safety of the artificial fields....
Some districts recently have shied away from the turf. In March, the Amity regional schools decided against installing an $800,000 artificial field due to the cost and safety concerns. Last year, conservation officials blocked an artificial turf field at Fairfield Country Day School....
According to the state Department of Public Health, health risk from the fields "appears unlikely," but "additional investigation is warranted." The DPH found no reason for municipalities to halt installation of artificial turf.
Meanwhile, alternative studies, including one conducted by North Haven-based Environment and Human Health Inc., found chemicals and gases released by the crumb-rubber tires that could cause eye and lung irritation and allergic reactions, and could potentially be cancer-causing.
The group recommended a moratorium on new fields until additional research could be completed.
"At the end of my tenure on this committee, I want it to be said that the safety and soundness of our financial institutions was not weakened on my watch," Dodd said. (WaPo, By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum and Carrie Johnson) - Chris Dodd, February 15, 2007
Interestingly, the article paints two seemingly contradictory pictures of Dodd. While the authors offer insight on his calls to reform our failing banking system, they also write that he was "a reliable friend" of bankers.
Bottom line to me though... Bush, Pelosi, Dodd, Shelby et al. screwed up bigtime. And while Bush is done... I hope the members of Congress who presided over this hear from the people back home. I simply don't agree with the Billionaire Bankers' Bailout.
My solution... check out this FoxNews interview of Ron Paul on the best solution to the bailout.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I'm guessing that this brief exchange at the July 8 Council meeting went largely unnoticed. But I also feel that it absolutely merits further discussion.And since we all know the town's various software systems can easily cost in the tens of thousands of dollars (if not hundreds of thousands of dollars)... I can't help but wonder... how many of the town's software packages are currently unused... or significantly underused (in relation to their intended purpose)?
p.s. for those of you who pay close attention to this stuff, if you recall my comment thanking the Finance Director for coming forward and acknowledging problems with the financial software... ummm... yeeaahh... there was a reason why I thanked her for her candor. But as you could probably guess, these aren't the droids we're looking for. Move along.
Many of you know that I cancelled my cable TV a few months ago. As a result, I'm happy to say that I know little about the Presidential campaign. And as far as I'm concerned, I'll watch the debates, check the websites and choose the best option this fall. Until then, I won't be paying much attention to it. Besides, with hotWatergate, the pool, the turf and energy concerns here in Cheshire... I've got my plate full.
Nonetheless, I was curious to read a little about the politics of McCain/Obama... so I just visited Rasmussen Reports and couldn't help but Laugh Out Loud when I read this:
The majority of Florida voters (55%) think most reporters are trying to help Obama win the election. That is a bit higher than the national average. Just 7% think the media tries to help McCain, while 24% think reporters offer unbiased coverage of the election.
I'm not going to dissect that comment, but I do find it amusing on several levels.
The NHRs Luther Turmelle offers an opening to the capital budget:
Of the $42 million that is proposed to be spent over the fiveyear period, $8.1 million would be spent on 20 projects during this fiscal year.
"Michael (Milone) gives us a wish list and we pare it down to what we can afford," said Democratic Councilman Michael Ecke, the Budget Committee chairman.
I find that comment fascinating. It certainly suggests "fiscal responsibility" on the part of the majority. Though it does seem to leave out two critical issues:
1) the majority also adds to the wish list and "pares it up" - i.e. the turf
2) the majority also tries to ignore issues - i.e. the pool bubble
But I did get to counter one point on the capital budget that seems to be completely out of touch with reality:
$191,000 in this fiscal year to be spent on making improvements to the community pool, including fixing water damage in the locker rooms, roof repairs to the lobby and a resurfacing of the bottom of the pool.
Republican Councilman Tim White said the pool improvements don't make sense in light of the work of a council subcommittee looking at a long-term strategy for reducing subsidies for the facility.
"Let's take a comprehensive approach to this," White said. "We should fast-track coming up with a long-term solution."
And keep in mind that back in February when I proposed a resolution to address the bubble, the majority acknowledged that there was likely enough time to address the bubble in this capital budget.
And on a related note... here's the tentative schedule for the Capital Budget meetings:
Monday, July 28, 2008, 7:30 p.m. – Budget Committee meeting
Thursday, July 31, 2008, 5:30 p.m. – Bus Tour followed by Budget Committee meeting
Thursday, August 14, 2008, 6:00 p.m. – Budget Committee meeting
Thursday, August 14, 2008, 7:30 p.m. – Public Hearing
Monday, August 18, 2008, 6:00 p.m. – Budget Committee meeting
Thursday, August 21, 2008, 6:00 p.m. – Budget Committee meeting
Thursday, August 28, 2008, 6:00 p.m. – adoption at Special Meeting
For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies (EarlyAmerica.com)
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I've confirmed speakers for four topics at the Alternative Energy forum for this Tuesday at 7pm in Town Hall.
solar electric (photovoltaics)
solar thermal (heating water)
geothermal (heating water)
I intend to touch on wind. But for the most part, it's simply not relevant to CT. Obviously we have wind, but if you consider the business case for any of these alternatives... wind is typically far less cost-effective than the alternatives.
Q&A to follow.
I don't have any additional hotWatergate meeting minutes yet. But in the meantime, I thought I'd follow up on hWg 28 (the Council liaison's June report) and offer you the July PBC report.
Maybe it's just me, but I don't feel like the June and July reports have given as complete a picture of hotWatergate as the public deserves. Tim White
Friday, July 25, 2008
The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports on last week's forum on Alternative fuels & transportation:
The coordinator of a group that works with the U.S. Department of Energy and local governments and businesses to set up alternative fuel uses is criticizing state officials for not doing enough to promote the use of natural gas-powered vehicles.
“The state gives it nothing more than lip service,” said Lee Grannis, coordinator for the Greater New Haven Clean Cities Coalition....
Grannis said the state needs to create an energy authority or department to oversee a broad variety of issues, from developing the infrastructure needed to support the widespread use of alternative fuel cars to reducing electric power costs.
“The state of Connecticut looks upon energy as being stuck in one place,” he said. “It stays away from transportation energy.”
And here's the second half of the video from last week's forum: Tim White
Here is the Colbert interview. As always, Steven Colbert offers some truly hard-hitting, investigative journalism. And Colbert also offers useful insight. After all, can't we all agree that it would be easier to skip this "innovation" stuff and just invade Iran?
When I originally posted the PBC minutes from June 4, I didn't include the last paragraph. Here's the full text:Tim White
I'm sure we've all heard of the multi-billion dollar bailouts currently being proposed and advocated by
The Inside-the-Beltway, Kool-aid drinking, Incumbent Party a strong bipartisan coalition in Washington. But I think the NYTimes had a useful description yesterday:
The purpose of the rescue proposal — which would allow the Treasury Department to use taxpayer dollars to buy obligations and securities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, if needed, to keep the companies afloat — is to restore confidence in the United States’ ability and commitment to contain the financial crisis.
Unfortunately, with $53,000,000,000,000 in unfunded long-term liabilities, I ain't buyin' what Secretary Paulson is selling. And keep in mind the NYTimes recent reporting (per the Bethel Beacon):
"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,"
Therein lies the problem.
If you want to improve confidence, you have to deal with the root problem - inflation. And printing more money will do little to restore long-term confidence in the dollar. Rather, it's going to exacerbate the problem.
The real answer is to return to a commodity-backed currency (gold or other metals could do the trick)... and leave our fiat currency on the trash heap of history.
Labels: federal government
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The WRA editorializes on a success of the past year:
Dr. Petit has trained a bright light on the dysfunctional system the entrenched legislature and bureaucracy have wrought, thereby establishing a strong impetus for reform.
The well-worn Edmund Burke quote, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing," typically is used to frame moments when evil triumphed. In the year since the Petit slayings, good men and women have done much, enough perhaps to reverse Burke's construction in a small, yet significant way.
I've watched and heard the cerebral tendencies of state Rep Mike Lawlor (D-East Haven). Lawlor is the co-Chair of the Judiciary Committee and has a huge impact on what happens (or doesn't happen) in Hartford. Lawlor is also one of several people who can rightly be blamed for shortcomings in CTs judicial system. And to have gotten him (and the rest of Hartford) to move on criminal justice reform is amazing.
Labels: public safety
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I was fortunate enough to stop by the (re)inauguration of St. Peter's bell on Sunday. The church put on a really nice event, attended by more than 100, perhaps in excess of 200, people. But the real treat of the event for me was when I bumped into the Human Services Comittee Chair, Meredith (Guilford) Sturges.
Her father, Bert Guilford, was a "Mayor" of Cheshire. But before that, he was the Chair of the Library Board. As such, he delivered comments at the annual town meeting.
Now here's the little treat that I was given at the bell ringing... the notes from the 1960 annual town meeting. Now I just need to give them to someone. I figured I'd pass them to the Historical Society, but now I'm thinking I may offer them to the Library.Tim White
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
As you can see, this budget schedule is actually labeled "finance & administration." But I think "public properties" is a better title.
Below is support for the items proposed by the TM for "year one" of the capital budget:
I just sent this press release to the Cheshire Herald:
Clean Energy Forum – your home
In a continuing series of forums on “clean energy and energy efficiency” options available to Connecticut residents, the discussion will continue on Tuesday July 29 at 7pm in Town Hall.
The forum will include speakers on a variety of “stationary” power sources. Power sources discussed will include wind, photovoltaics, solar thermal, geothermal and wood/gas stoves.
The presentation will focus on the costs, benefits and realities of onsite generation of clean energy for Connecticut households . There will be time for Q&A after the presentation. Questions related to your concerns as a resident are encouraged.
For more information, please contact Tim White at 439-4394.
Monday, July 21, 2008
There you go. Nothing in the first year budget of the F&A dept... though some may argue the Council had a few cost overruns on the financial software.
As for the rest of the capital budget (a.k.a. capital expenditure plan or "CEP"), I'll continue posting on it for the next month or so.
Labels: taxes n spending
As reported by the MRJs Jesse Buchanan:
Escaped Webster Correctional Institution inmate Robert Shepard had about 15 minutes of freedom.
Shepard, 31, of Stafford Springs, escaped from the minimum-security prison while on a work detail around 12:21 p.m. on Monday. A Cheshire resident called police after seeing Shepard jump a fence and go into the woods near Cheshire Park. Police arrested Shepard around 12:36 p.m. and a woman with him, Theresia O'Hara, 31, of Stafford Springs.
Great job done by Cheshire's finest!
Anyone care to look these two up and see their history and post the links here? I don't have the time right now.
Labels: public safety
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Here's the first forty minutes of last Wednesday's forum... a forum which included a presentation by Clean Cities... an arm of the US Dept or Energy Tim White
p.s. I thank Matt Hall for his support in televising this forum. I've already had several people comment to me that they found it interesting/useful.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
From the MRJs Leslie Hutchison:
SOUTHINGTON - The overpass on Route 10 at the intersection with Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike is scheduled to be demolished next year. The state Department of Transportation confirmed in June that plans are under way for the reconstruction of the roadway that will create a four-way ground-level intersection.
That project should allow area roads to accommodate increased traffic that's expected from the construction of a lifestyle center on the Cheshire-Southington town line, according to traffic engineers.
The story continues:
The town has pushed for changes to the Route 10 overpass for some time. "It's been on the (state's) back burner for five or six years," Tranquillo said.
Meanwhile, while the Town is finally taking positive action on its portion of the Route 42 flooding problem... what exactly is happening with the state's portion of the intersection of Route 42 and King Road?? (A problem of which the state was aware more than five or six years ago.)
I wish I had a billion dollars to run a campaign... and not my own campaign... and not a campaign for Republicans or Democrats. But I'd love to run an anti-incumbent campaign... targeting the "power brokers" who feel they can do as they please, ignore real concerns and yet never be held accountable.
h/t to VF!
Reported by the WRAs Dave Krechevsky:
The receiver for failed F&S Oil Inc. has offered what he considers a reasonable solution to resolve disputes with the landlord of a biodiesel production facility in Cheshire, but as of Friday the offer has not been accepted....
Among the issues still unresolved are a half-dozen mechanics liens placed on the facility totaling more than $600,000, including one for $340,000 placed by FF Hitchcock, which like Cheshire Investment is based in Cheshire and operated by the Bowman family.
Cheshire Investment also claims F&S Oil is in default on its long-term lease for the facility and owes money in back rent. (The attorney representing CIC, Stuart) Margolis has said the landlord opposes selling the facility, and has told the judge that potential buyers should be negotiating directly with Cheshire Investment so it can set terms of a new lease.
The tentative auction date is August 12. And the tentative closing date for submitting Letters of Intent to Purchase is August 5... which begs the question... how can one bid, if these disputes remain unresolved?
p.s. And whoever keeps adding comments with the name "Steven," those comments will be deleted. Also consider that much of the law that governs new media is still unclear. But the FBI has already visited CT to investigate "comments" as new media proliferates. So I suggest you stop.
Reported by the NHRs Luther Turmelle:
The town is expanding its open space with the purchase of a Cook Hill Road property for $196,000.
The Town Council unanimously approved the purchase of 16.5 acres from Phillip Bowman at its Tuesday meeting. Town Manager Michael Milone said a good reason for acquiring the property was that it abuts another piece of town-owned land: the DeDominicis property.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
From today's Wall Street Journal (by Kris Hudson):
The hottest trend this decade in shopping-center development has gone cold.
Known as lifestyle centers, the open-air shopping venues offer small parks, fountains and cafés amid name-brand retailers selling fashion apparel, housewares and other discretionary fare....
But now, with the economy slumping and shoppers spending less, retailers that had flocked to the centers -- like Chico's FAS Inc., AnnTaylor Stores Corp. and Talbots Inc. -- have begun canceling expansion plans and even shutting stores...
The economic slowdown, of course, means many of the planned projects won't leave the drawing board. But many centers where constuction has begun will probably have difficulty leasing space when they open. That raises the specter that eventually they may not be able to pay their debt, adding to the strain on the already ravaged finance sector.
Oh man... the whole economy is tanking. No longer is the little-known "M3"* reported which, IMO, suggests they already turned on the presses and are printing the money.
We need a return to the gold standard asap. Or as Ron Paul said on Feb 15, 2006:
The economic law that honest exchange demands only things of real value as currency cannot be repealed. The chaos that one day will ensue from our 35-year experiment with worldwide fiat money will require a return to money of real value. We will know that day is approaching when oil-producing countries demand gold, or its equivalent, for their oil rather than dollars or Euros. The sooner the better.
* M3 is the broadest measure of money; it is used by economists to estimate the entire supply of money within an economy.
On Sunday July 20 (from 1pm to 3pm) at Town Hall, State Rep. Al Adinolfi will be collecting American flags that are no longer serviceable and need a proper retirement. The Governor's Horse Guard will be present. And if you didn't know, retirement includes burning the flags... but not desecrating the flags. Flag desecration is bad... flag burning is not necessarily bad.
And speaking of the Governor's Horse Guard... or actually her Foot Guard... it reminds of a 4th district resident who is the longest serving member of the Foot Guard... must be close to 60 years now! His story is amazing... served in the Battle of the Bulge... and I believe he was shot in the face even. Somehow he survived though and returned to CT, whereupon he joined the Governor's Foot Guard and has been serving since. Great story... and one reason why I enjoy this political stuff... just meeting people and hearing their stories.
The Town's Tree Warden, Joe Michelangelo, provided this info to the Council via the TM:
The tree trimming work scheduled for the remainder of the year is:
Wiese Rd - All
Wallingford Rd - Route 10 to Charles Dr
Far Horizon Dr - Wallingford Rd to Carriage Dr
Carriage Dr - Far Horizon to Academy Rd
Country Club Rd - Wolf Hill Rd to Buckland Dr
Ives Row - Mountain Rd to Foster Rd.
South Meriden Rd - Yalesville Rd to Courtland Rd (New poles and lines)
Yalesville Rd - South Meriden to Terrell Farm Rd (New poles and lines)
We have requested a list of work that has already been performed this year.
CL&P has different standards for Enhanced and Maintenance Trimming, but basically they cut everything 8’ on both sides of the power lines, and 20’ above them. Ground growth is generally topped off at 14’ high, but it varies depending on the height of the lines. From my experience with utility work, the backbone lines are typically cleared on a 4-5 year cycle, and the lateral lines on a 6-7 year cycle. This requires them to do at least 15% of their lines in a given year. From the schedule above, they are way short. We can keep on CL&P to ensure we get our fair share of tree trimming work performed.
As a side note, since CL&P passes on the cost of this tree work to their rate payers, the amount of money they spend on tree work is tied to their DPUC rate approvals. In an effort to keep the rates lower, the DPUC generally reduces the amount of money that the power companies request.
Just thought this may interest some of you. And if I recall correctly, the position of "Tree Warden" is defined by Charter.
The Petit Family Foundation honors the memories of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, Hayley Elizabeth Petit, and Michaela Rose Petit by continuing the kindness, idealism and activism that defined their lives. The Foundation's funds are given to foster the education of young people, especially women in the sciences; to improve the lives of those affected by chronic illnesses, and to support efforts to protect and help those affected by violence.
Petit Road Race Sunday July 20
7:30 AM - 9:00 AM Registration
9:15 AM Kids' Fun Run (under 8 yrs. old)
9:30 AM 5K Race / Fitness Walk
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Posted by Fulvio Cativo to the Courant's new "iTown" blog on Cheshire:
Cheshire will host a forum on alternative fuels and transportation Thursday night. The U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities Coalition will make a presentation in town hall at 7 p.m....
Thursday's presentation will be led by the New Haven and Hartford coalitions and looks to show residents local opportunities to embrace alternative energy in Connecticut. A question and answer segment will follow.
There haven't been many posts to the Cheshire iTown yet, but I think this sort of thing has potential. Additionally, I added a link to it in the left column under the blogroll... go check it out!
Anyway, I'm a bit nervous about this forum. So I spoke with one of the two Clean Cities presenters today and confirmed his attendance. It's a go!
I'm guessing that some of my Council colleagues won't appreciate me posting these public documents here.
I'm also guessing that President Bush doesn't appreciate people discussing the Scooter Libby case.
Some people dislike transparency and full disclosure.
From the Town Manager's office yesterday:
Town Manager Michael Milone has announced the appointment of Rebecca Augur as Assistant Town Planner/Zoning and Inland Wetlands Enforcement Officer. Ms. Augur will start work on August 4, 2008 and replaces Lisa Murphy who left the Town this spring after nearly 18 years in the position to become a regional planner in Keene, New Hampshire.
Ms. Augur comes to Cheshire from the Capital Regional Council of Governments in Hartford where she currently holds the position of Senior Community Development Planner. She previously worked as a research assistant for the Environmental Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts and as a consultant and research assistant for the Community Development Office in Chicopee, Massachusetts while attending the University of Massachusetts where she earned a Master’s in Regional Planning. Prior to attending UMass, she spent over four years as a research analyst with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.
Ms. Augur was one of twenty-five candidates who applied for the position and one of nine finalists interviewed by an oral panel of three planning professionals.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
And how did I miss #13? I thought we were installing one boiler... for a total of two boilers? But now the PBC is installing two boilers for a total of three? And we're relocating the two year old boiler? Does that impact the warranty? Whatever... I'm sure if I ask any questions, I'll be told:
Just a reminder about Thursday's presentation on alternative fuels and transportation... 7pm in Council Chambers.
And for anyone who questions biofuels, please attend and ask questions. I realize biofuels have downsides. Personally though, I believe many decisions are made in a zero-sum context... and therefore, biofuels should not be dismissed without more vetting. Furthermore, I'd rather deal with problems inside US borders... rather than elsewhere.
Until about six to eight months ago, I had never really thought about monetary policy.
Frankly, I just kind of figured it was the same as fiscal policy and used the two interchangeably.
And though I've been following Ron Paul for, perhaps, a decade now... I never bothered thinking about the difference between monetary policy and fiscal policy. I always knew The Fed was important, but left it at that.
Thankfully though, Ron Paul ran for President... and changed the public dialogue. I now realize that monetary policy is just as important as fiscal policy.
But what exactly is monetary policy?
To me, I think a perfect example of the different schools of thought on monetary policy is shown here:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress that "numerous difficulties" are racking the U.S. economy, and warned that rising prices for energy and food are elevating the risks of inflation. - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on the faltering economy (Yahoo News, July 15 2008)
Now compare that with this:
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. - Congressman Ron Paul on inflation (The Revolution: A Manifesto, May 2008)
I'm sure you can guess the school of though to which I belong. But whether or not I'm correct, I hope the American MainStreamMedia begins to have a real discussion on monetary policy... rather than just spoonfeeding us garbage like "the good news is both parties agree that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need help."
And a little more food for thought... with both gold and oil increasing in cost... if the US were still on a gold standard... would "energy costs" be in the forefront of our minds?
I'd love to return to a gold standard... or at least return to the days of William Jennings Bryan and have a nice little debate on the merits of bimetallism.
Monday, July 14, 2008
I'm trying to do a post on hotWatergate, but can't upload images. Dunno why. I'll try again tomorrow.
It is interesting though to read the PBC meeting minutes and see project delay talk being approved this time. Does anyone happen to recall if Matt Altieri mentioned hotWatergate delays in his recent PBC liaison reports to the Council in June or July? Here's his June 10 report:
Maybe it's just me, but a 39 day delay (approved on June 4) seems significant... and something that Norton parents may find of interest as it crosses into the school year. But regardless of what he meant by "technical issues," I'm sure these aren't the droids we're looking for.
Recently, there were reports that the 2008-09 state budget had a projected $150million deficit. And now the WRA opines further:
However, budget director Robert Genuario now says the 6 percent increase in income-tax receipts that Gov. Rell and the Democrats were counting on isn't going to materialize. That's a $400 million loss. Corporation-tax revenues also are off sharply, too, which adds at least $50 million to the deficit. Other taxes also are underperforming, and its difficult to imagine the sales tax will produce anything close to the extra $150 million Gov. Rell and the Democrats expected. Even after subtracting her $125 million in rescissions, the deficit easily will exceed a half-billion dollars.
And considering he's a member of the Rell-Democrat cabal, Mr. Genuario probably was being optimistic when he told a legislative committee last week: "The deficit could become significantly worse."
Spending, meanwhile, goes on as if the economy was firing on all cylinders.
Don't worry though. While I won't be surprised to see the state cut local education funding immediately after this fall's election, I'm sure Jim Amann's
slush discretionary fund will remain intact. And the Council majority will rejoice!
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands. (EarlyAmerica.com)
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Further developments on the impending Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac bailout... fresh from Yahoo News (By JEANNINE AVERSA):
Sunday's announcements are likely to raise anew criticism that the government should have moved sooner to rein in the two companies, especially since investors widely assumed they would be bailed out if they got into trouble.
When exactly would have been "sooner?" Maybe two years prior when they were discussing the foreshadowing of the mortgage meltdown?
And where is the Congressional "leadership" on this?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said "Senate Democrats stand ready to
rubber stamp work with the administration to quickly and effectively address the situation currently facing these institution."
House GOP leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Republican Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said they "stand ready to
rubber stamp work with Secretary Paulson and congressional Democrats to take appropriate steps to ensure the soundness of our mortgage markets."
Washington insiders admitted to knowing about this mess two years ago. And they did nothing. They should all be fired.
Labels: federal government
The US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities coalition will be making a presentation on Thursday, July 17 in Town Hall at 7pm.
Clean Cities strives to advance the nation's economic, environmental, and energy security by supporting local decisions to adopt practices that contribute to the reduction of petroleum consumption. Clean Cities has a network of approximately 90 volunteer coalitions, which develop public/private partnerships to promote alternative fuels and advanced vehicles, fuel blends, fuel economy, hybrid vehicles, and idle reduction.
The presentation will be made by their New Haven and Hartford coalitions. It will focus on our opportunities in Connecticut.
That was the press release. And now here's my two cents:
Please tell your friends because we have some very knowledgable people availing themselves to us. And since I suspect there are many questions you or your friends have... I encourage you to attend because these two gentlemen (Lee Grannis - New Haven; Craig Peters - Hartford) may make it look easy in providing answers to many questions that are out there.
By Charter, the TMs proposal for the town's "capital expenditure plan" (capital budget) must be completed and delivered to the Council by July 15. This year, the TM finished it several days early. Here's his high-level proposal for the next five years:I haven't read it yet, but will. And will provide you with more info over the next month or so.
Labels: taxes n spending
On Monday, the Cheshire resident (Dan Esty) will appear on "The Colbert Report," likely to be harangued by the confrontational faux news anchor Stephen Colbert.
As head of Yale's Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the school's Center for Business and the Environment, Esty has focused on sustainability as the function of business and government. In his 2006 book, "Green to Gold," Esty and co-author Andrew S. Winston state that businesses can spend less and earn more by taking advantage of the "green wave." Esty's ideas are now trickling into the presidential debate as Esty advises the Barack Obama campaign with a group of 500 environmental experts. (MRJ, by George Moore)
Should be fun! Colbert's the best of the best. Though I'm not quite sure what they mean "faux news." Everyone knows that Colbert only does hard-hitting, investigative reporting.
The Bush administration yesterday increased the pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to curtail their growth, announcing Cabinet-level studies of the companies' holdings and whether they can be reined in using existing law and regulatory powers.
Legislation to slow the companies' growth and narrow their activities began moving through Congress last year in response to multibillion-dollar accounting scandals, but it is stalled in the Senate.
Multibillion dollar accounting scandals at Fannie/Freddie? No! It can't be true!
The story continues:
Yesterday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson said his agency would study whether billions of dollars in assets and liabilities are being held by the two companies in violation of their government charters.
And the date of this story:
June 14, 2006
Washington Post, by Annys Shin
And one last interesting comment in the article:
The Treasury and HUD actions come as legislation to tighten oversight of the two companies remains bogged down in the Senate. Lawmakers have not been able to agree on whether to force the companies to shrink their investment portfolios, which played a major role in the accounting problems.
"Remains bogged down in the Senate." Interesting. I'm pretty sure that's codeword for one or more Senators were actively blocking increased oversight. Anyone have any idea who it was? I have no idea.
Anyway, I'm not an economist. And I don't have deep knowledge of this whole banking debacle. But I can read. And this article makes it clear that people knew of this Fannie/Freddie mess more than two years ago.
And today we hear reports of another massive bailout... this one for Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac.
Is anyone going to be held responsible? Doubt it.
Noting though that a Fannie/Freddie scandal started more than two years ago... we're now at the point that inadequate oversight cannot be pinned on the former Republican Rubber Stamp Congress. Rather, Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Reid take the blame for this... along with the President and his administration.
Furthermore, while he sits on the House Financial Services Committee, I don't think it's really fair to point the finger (exclusively) at Congressman Chris Murphy. But at this point... (particularly after I heard Obama flip-flopped on warrantless wiretaps), I say throw the bums out.
Yeah... at this point I'd be happier to see an entirely new Congress. Throw them out. Throw them all out... well, except of course for the one guy who at least recognizes the root of so many of our problems (flawed monetary and fiscal policies and a flagrant disregard for the Constitution). By the way, that's not to say that Ron Paul is correct about everything... far from it. But at least he recognizes we've got problems and is willing to offer ideas for improvements.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. (EarlyAmerica.com)
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
The CT Post ran and interesting article on CTs stagnant population (by MARIAN GAIL BROWN) and the economy today:
Connecticut's population grew by less than two-tenths of one percent last year — an anemic uptick that demographers at the Connecticut State Data Center say means there is a "significant likelihood" that the Constitution State will lose one of its five congressional seats by 2020.
Connecticut picked up an additional 6,556 residents, the equivalent of 39 more people per town if the population were divided equally amongst the state's 169 cities and towns, bringing its projected 2010 population to 3.4 million.
The article doesn't mentions the change in Cheshire's population, but I am curious. Just this Tuesday, I heard another comment about how "Cheshire is growing." And I have to admit... I'm wondering if that refers to Cheshire's population or Cheshire's government?
The article continues on job growth:
By the end of last year, Connecticut had regained 60,000 jobs it had lost during the last recession, putting employment in the state back to the level it was in 1989.
"The shocker is those 60,000 workers are earning $150 million less than the 60,000 jobs that disappeared during the recession," Carstensen said. "We've replaced all the accountants, lawyers, engineers and skilled manufacturing people mostly with retail clerks."
The structure of Cheshire's trash disposal services are not exactly common knowledge. And while I've got a pretty good idea of the basics (from the several times the TM has offered his usual succinct and useful version of our trash services)... a couple months ago, I began explaining Cheshire's trash services here. But you can see Luther Turmelle's take on last night's meeting here... a meeting in which the Council was visited by one of the central players in our trash disposal services: CT Resource Recovery Authority (CRRA).
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only (USHistory.org)
During last night's discussion on the turf, there was one critical issue left unaddressed by the majority:
Redirecting the $525,000 of "discretionary funds" from the turf to the pool.
But I'm not going to address the majority's laughable diversionary tactics right now. Rather, I want to explain my understanding of the corrupt system and how we could very simply redirect this money anywhere, including to the pool.
Let's begin here in Cheshire... in late January 2008, the Herald ran an article explaining the source of the turf funds:
The money, $525,000, comes as a result of efforts by State Rep. Mary Fritz (D–Cheshire/Wallingford). Fritz said she approached Speaker of the House James Amman about receiving money for field improvements through discretionary funds.
Then backtrack to December 16, 2007 and read this AP article that was published in the Boston Globe:
A statewide watchdog group is raising questions about millions of dollars in discretionary funds controlled by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and leaders of the state Senate and House of Representatives.
The Federation of Connecticut Taxpayer Organizations asked state Auditor Robert Jaekle this month to review the accounts in which Rell, state House Speaker James Amann and state Senate President Donald Williams Jr. each control $2 million.
Those discretionary accounts, which are in the state budget through 2009, contain money that each leader can disperse as they see fit without a public hearing.
So there you have it. The $525,000 of turf funding is money that can be "dispersed as (Amman) sees fit." Therefore the argument that "if this money was rejected, then it would go to another town" is bogus. Completely bogus.
This money is coming from discretionary funds over which Speaker of the House Jim Amman has sole control. Furthermore, this money could be redirected at any time by the Speaker. And frankly, I believe that without too much difficulty, Jim Amman would redirect this money to the pool. From his point of view, this is "discretionary funding" delivered to Cheshire... why would he be concerned about the recreation facility that benefits? I don't think he would. In fact, he could actually benefit by redirecting this money to the pool and offer a demonstration of his recognition that energy is a concern.
But that's not happening.
Because Mary Fritz and Altieri / Ecke / Hall love turf. And those Council members offer nothing but lip service to the pool.
IMO, it would be quite simple to redirect these funds. It would simply require Mary Fritz to request Jim Amman to redirect his discretionary funds. And no doubt that would require some encouragement, but it could be done. But Rep. Fritz doesn't want to redirect these funds from the turf to the pool. Though I'm sure she could be convinced to do it... if three particular Council members recommended that she do it.
But will they do it?
No. Not without some real serious encouragement from the voters in town.
So while you come here to blog and share your concerns... I assure you... your words here do not carry nearly as much value as they would if you shared them in the local newspapers... the traditional media.
New media is great, but it has not yet replaced traditional media.
And FWIW... I bet that if there was a lot of public pressure... the Council and Amman could still redirect this money.
p.s. In defense of Jim Amman, I follow state politics... and I really enjoy the Speaker. And in defense of Matt Hall... I really did appreciate his closing comments last night. His comments were kind and generous.
From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:
Carlton Helming, who is overseeing the liquidation of F&S Oil’s assets, said Tuesday that he will ask Superior Court Judge Grant Miller to reschedule the bidding deadline from July 23 to Aug. 5.
“There has been so many people calling, I think it’s safe to say that there is world-wide interest,” Helming said.
Very true. I even got a call about the plant sale last week... someone from TX found me on the web.
The article continues explaining some of the complexities in extending the deadline:
Miller must still approve the rescheduling of the bidding process. Helming said the judge will rule on that request on Monday.
In addition to getting the judge’s approval, Helming must also clear the auction with Citizens Bank and the state Department of Economic Development.
The bank placed a $10 million lien on all F&S assets after the oil company closed, and DECD has a lien on equipment in the bio-fuels building because of a $200,000 low-interest loan it gave the now-defunct company last December to develop the facility.
I'm not going to post much on this right now... it's late... but I do want to set the record straight on something....
If you saw the meeting, you may recall my amendment to save money, conserve energy, improve our general health and protect the environment by requesting the slush money (AP) be redirected to the construction of a permanent structure for the pool. Of course, the majority rejected my common sense goal on the notion that "we don't know if there will be a permanent structure for the pool." Or some such malarkey.
Yet they've already rejected the idea of a summer-only facility. And I don't believe they could be foolish enough to buy another bubble... so where does that leave us?
It leaves us here (the email I mentioned tonight):
"We will be focused on the RFP for the next 'cover.'"
Read that statement again.
It's pretty clear to me that there will be another "cover." So why am I wrong in concluding that this decision has already been made... as usual... behind closed doors?
Monday, July 07, 2008
If you're interested in tomorrow's turf discussion, you may want to pick up a copy of Tuesday's MRJ. I understand they'll likely be running an article on how the turf talk is taking shape.
As for me, I'm still wondering what criteria were used in determining the appropriateness of this grant. For example, what process was used to vet and prioritize this project by the funding agency, the Department of Environmental Protection?
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. (USHistory.org)
The state's $1.2 billion, née $300 million, rail-maintenance center in New Haven is on schedule. No, not the construction schedule; the taxpayer-fleecing schedule. Like so many public-works projects, this one began with the low-ball estimate to ensure its approval; after all, who in his right mind would spend $1.2 billion ($1.9 billion over 20 years when borrowing costs are included) on a garage? Then came the you've-got-to-be-kidding stage in which curious add-ons, "design changes" and "inflation" that no one possibly could have anticipated are revealed, and officials admit their initial estimate was, well, a tad low.
Ahhh... Corrupticut. Sweet, sweet Corrupticut.
kinda makes me think of a
and so many other projects.
Labels: state government
Sunday, July 06, 2008
About an hour ago, I sent this email to Council Chairman Matt Hall and cc'ed the rest of the Council:
I noticed that a grant for artificial turf is on the agenda. However, having read the supporting documentation that has been provided to me… I’m still not totally clear on how this grant came to fruition. In fact, the whole process seems somewhat murky.
My limited knowledge is that this is “discretionary” funding. Perhaps this is a way of saying it is not being sourced through a typical competitive application process? Regardless, I’m sure we all want transparency in government. So will you invite the relevant state officials to the July 8 meeting to provide us with a detailed explanation of the criteria required in obtaining this grant?
If the appropriate state officials are unavailable, could you please ensure someone at the meeting can provide us with that detailed explanation? Additionally, if the relevant state officials are unavailable, could you provide me with their names/contact details as soon as possible. Perhaps I could speak with them directly to get a detailed explanation of the criteria used in obtaining this grant... and of course, this would have the added benefit of expediting Tuesday's meeting... a request you so often make of Council members.
Anyway, I’m confident the voters will appreciate a better understanding of the process. After all, they may want to request funds for other projects, such as a permanent structure for the pool.
p.s. Could you also invite someone to speak about the environmental and health concerns? Perhaps Environment & Human Health, Inc. in North Haven would have someone available?
I stopped by the library on Thursday to get some movies for the long weekend. And that's all I was going to get. But on the way out, I noticed Hannibal Rising (the book) for sale by the Friends of the Library. And since the $2 donation was for a good cause, I grabbed it and it's a gread read so far. (And definitely a much better read than the propaganda I was given on the Altieri/Fritz/Amman turf this weekend).
It appears the movie (Hannibal Rising) came out last year. I'm sure I'll see it at some point. I hope though that the movie is more in line with Silence of the Lambs, than with Hannibal. I thought Silence of the Lambs was fantastic both in text and in film. But while I loved Hannibal the book, the movie was a complete letdown.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
“If you will recall it was not an agenda item on April 8th and as a result of that there was no information submitted to the Council because it was not up for consideration.”
- Town Manager, Council meeting on April 22, 2008 – addressing my concerns about why the corruption memo was withheld from me.
“We received a letter from DEP informing us of the Bond Commission’s approval of funds for turf at Cheshire High School. A copy of the letter will be in your envelopes with the agenda packet for the June 24th meeting. Matt Hall has indicated that this item will be on the Council agenda for the July 8, 2008 meeting, and Superintendent Greg Florio and a representative from the Board of Education will be attending that meeting.”
- Town Manager, an email dated June 20, 2008 – offering information on the turf… even though “it was not up for consideration.” at the June 24th meeting.
So I guess there are times when it is appropriate to include information even though it was not up for consideration.
And to recap... the Town Manager did have knowledge of The Corruption Memo prior to the April 8 Council meeting… as did Chairman Hall:
And that information was withheld from me for more than ten days. And when the information was provided to me, it was buried in a stack of papers under this memo:
What’s happening in Town Hall? Will anyone question these people?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. (US History.org)