Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Redirecting the "discretionary funding" is possible

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.

Tim White

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.


Anonymous said...

As usual the 5 Dems on the town council voted in lockstep against the taxpayers of Cheshire in their blind support for another special interest item.

The guiding philosophy of the 5 Dems is to always to err on the side of special interests and against the health and well-being of the community. It is certainly foolish to turn down $500,000 when you can raise taxes to pay for the additional cost of this $1,000,000 or more non-essential and unhealthy turf. Not only is there the initial cost, but it gives the taxpayers the opportunity to pay for the additional annual cost of the maintenance and the replacement cost 8 years out.

Anonymous said...

Today's NHR has the CT Budget Chief saying that the states projected budget deficit of $150,000,000 could worsen.

Hey Dems the good time are here, keep spending on unneeded additonal won employees and Matt Altieri's turf. How much are you people going to raise our taxes, not that you really care.

Anonymous said...

These facts make it clear that Hall, Altieri, and Hall could get this $525K state grant applied to a permanent solution to the pool, but they refuse.

The three stooges are more concerned with their pet turf project than stopping the arterial blleding of the pool.

"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Anonymous said...

blah blah blah..........

Lou Murray said...

The voters need to set the new direction for this town. If they don't they will just get more of the same.
I hope they are tired of getting hosed,but it is up to us to inform them and them to decide.
Keep up the good work Tim.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Esty is a complete fraud. No one who truly cared about the environment would support buying astroturf.

Anonymous said...

I was more amazed at Ecke's remark. Thinking the Republicans were grandstanding.
Give me a break. Just because we have some council people who want to be fiscally responsible doesn't mean they are grandstanding.
Perhaps if some of the rubber stampers asked important questions this town would be in better shape.

I totally agree with Tim when he questioned why the ad hoc committee didn't come prepared with answers. They were given notice in January that they would be given this grant. Isn't that enough time to check with several companies on costs and figure out how they will raise the remainder of the money?
Why wait for the council to vote on accepting the grant?
I am sure the tag team of Altieri and Ecke have something up their sleeve. They better get it in the next year because they won't be around after that.

Anonymous said...

I agree. The ad-hoc committee was approved by the BOE in April but they've done nothing it seems (or nothing that they're telling us) to research costs, safety issues, etc.

Bob Behrer remarked, in so many words, that "yes there's studies both for and against, sighting health issues - it just depends on whose funding the study." If the ad-hoc committee is going to consist of all pro-turf people, isn't that saying the same. You know what the outcome of their study will be. They'll down play all the potential risks and convince the dem majority council to go ahead with the project.

Some one should set some rules about forming a well balanced, unbiased committee.

tim white said...

They'll down play all the potential risks and convince the dem majority council to go ahead with the project.

One of them still needs convincing?

tim white said...


Five words used by the five majority members to describe minority opposition to Tuesday's motion.

And the majority claims to have returned "civility" to the public discourse.

Now for some fun... can you match the word to the correct Council member?

Anonymous said...

Now this can be fun...
Ecke-is foolish
Altieri-is an embarassment
Esty-is a hypocrit
Hall-is preposterous
DeCaprio-is naive

Hows that?
They act like children who get mad when someone questions them.
We need answers and all they give us is hot air!