Here is a tentative schedule (Bristol Press, by Scott Whipple) for debates between Chris Murphy and David Cappiello:
Oct. 11 date at Central Connecticut State University, sponsored by the New Britain Area League of Women Voters
Oct. 16 or 28 sponsored by the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce - Cappiello will confirm the date
Oct. 20 sponsored by the Connecticut Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons, at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Meriden
Oct. 22 sponsored by the Litchfield County League of Women Voters at the Litchfield Community Center
Oct. 29 event at the Portuguese Cultural Center in Danbury, sponsored by the Brookfield League of Women Voters and the Danbury News-Times
No word on whether Green Harold Burbank will attend.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Here is a tentative schedule (Bristol Press, by Scott Whipple) for debates between Chris Murphy and David Cappiello:
From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:
The first day of school Thursday was a little different for Paul Calaluce Jr., the district’s assistant superintendent for administrative services.
That’s because Wednesday, at the school’s annual convocation of teachers and staff, Calaluce announced that he plans to retire next June after 17 years of service....
Republican Town Councilman James Sima, who served on the Board of Education before joining the council, called Calaluce “a major asset that the school district and the community are going to miss.”
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Reported by the NHRs Ann DeMatteo:
NORTH HAVEN - The sizeable mixed-use project promised for Washington Avenue is on hold for “the foreseeable future,” a victim of deteriorating market conditions, the project’s developer says.
Developer Mickey Rabina said the $500 million retail, commercial and residential plan proposed for the former Pratt & Whitney Aircraft plant site is “unachievable under the economic conditions that exist now and are likely to exist in the foreseeable future.”
But Rabina Properties of Scarsdale, N.Y., is not saying goodbye to North Haven; it’s just shifting gears.
Labels: northend development
Within the past few weeks, I read about the second (and worse) wave of mortgage failures about to come. The gist of the article was that the mortgage meltdown only gained widespread recognition is the summer of 2007 with The Billionaire Bankers beginning their writeoffs in the fall of 2007.
But the bad loans continued getting worse and worse through May of 2007... with the upcoming crop of not-yet-bellyup loans beginning to be issued in early 2006.
And homeowners are still able to make payments because those mortgages haven't begun multiplying yet... but those ballooning payments will begin to kick in this fall.
And related to all those mortgages, I read this in Wednesday's WSJ (By CARRICK MOLLENKAMP):
The crunch will begin next month, when some $95 billion in floating-rate notes mature. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. analyst Alex Roever estimates that financial institutions will have to pay off at least $787 billion in floating-rate notes and other medium-term obligations before the end of 2009.
Even The Billionaire Bankers may feel that... though I'm sure Bernanke / Paulson will do everything they can to protect their friends on Wall Street.
Some of you have already commented on the last minute exclusion of the CHS air conditioning installation and heating retrofit from the capital budget. You've commented on the
hypocrisy disparity between the rules enforcement on the votes of this years' capital and operating budgets.
More specifically, this past Tuesday the Council had agreed to two budgets - Ecke's budget and Ruocco's budget. Then on Thursday, without any notice whatsoever, while the Budget Chair was making his capital budget motion, I learned that there would be no vote on Tuesday's agreed budgets and the CHS air conditioning installation and heating retrofit had been excluded.
And this last minute budget change was perfectly acceptable to the majority.
But in April, Jimmy Sima was kept in the dark about the last-minute, under-the-radar removal of a police officer from the operating budget. And when he learned of these changes he offered an amendment. Unfortunately, he was told that his last minute amendment was "ridiculous" and entirely unacceptable.
I guess I can see how some people are concerned with this apparent disparity in rules enforcement.
But to me, it's nothing new. This isn't the first time I've seen the rules get bent to favor a particular political parties goals.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Tom Ruocco sent me the following:
"Following up to the Capital Budget - the final adoption is set for tomorrow at 7:30 at Town Hall. The proposed total for year one is $7,700,000. The original request from the Town Manager was $8,111,000. The reduction represents $411,000 or about 5%. Not nearly enough to have any serious impact on spending, and still a very large appropriation.
I have drafted and attached a list of projects where I have objections and thus will not be supporting the Capital Budget this year. It may not become a formal proposal tomorrow night, but at least you can see how I, and the Republican Caucus, are trying to save money and make better use of your tax dollars; especially in difficult times. Our proposal would reduce spending by 1.3 million dollars, including a $700,000 reduction simply by removing the plans to install Air Conditioning piping at the High School. This is a sticking point with me - there is no need for AC in the High School and I can't ask taxpayers to pay for it. And if this project moves forward in later years, it could lead to the installation of the final AC components; costing even more. More on this later, but thankfully you will have the chance to vote this down at referendum, and demand that a regular heating system be installed - never mind the AC.
There are good projects in the capital plan which I support, such as road work. However, I can't ask residents to support unnecessary spending. We can try to carve out some of the excess, but in the end the budget is likely to pass as omnibus package of 20 capital projects, a total one year cost of 7.7 million dollars and a 5 year cost of just over $41,000,000.
Please take a look at our suggested spending reductions, and of course feel free to share your thoughts.”
Here are the details of Tom's proposed amendment:You may see that the CHS air conditioning installation and heating retrofit is included. But Tom only learned of the exclusion of the project on Thursday... and I didn't learn of the project getting pulled until Ecke read the resolution.
I don't know much about her yet. But Wikipedia has this tidbit that probably couldn't be said since at least Teddy Roosevelt was around:
She and her father would sometimes wake at 3 a.m. to hunt moose before school
And several sources suggest she was elected Governor on a "good government" platform... running against the Alaskan GOP machine of Senator Ted Stevens and his ilk.
I like her so far.
Labels: 2008 election
Many people agree that the MainStreamMedia have too much biased influence over the public discourse. Thankfully though, new media is helping fight the near stranglehold they have.
One up'n'comer I keep hearing from:
Here's their explanation on why they're dedicating their time and talent to Break the Matrix:
We're here because we're passionate about freedom.
We believe the message of freedom transcends political party, right vs. left, religion, race, and gender. We believe in America, and that Americans are desperate to hear a message of hope, optimism, and prosperity rather than the fear, negativity, and sensationalism that has taken over the mainstream media.
The New Britain Herald's Scott Whipple is reporting that the Cappiello / Murphy debates are being scheduled. The article doesn't mention if Green Harold Burbank will participate.
The one comment that really caught my attention was
"Given that a debate appearance has been scheduled in my hometown of Danbury," Cappiello wrote to Murphy, "I would be happy, in the interest of fairness, to participate in a debate hosted in your adopted hometown of Cheshire
That'd be great to have a debate here in Cheshire. As you could imagine, I would be there asking my question - America has $53,000,000,000,000 in unfunded long term liabilities. What will you do about it? Of course, I've already posed that question to both of them... but I think a lot of other people would be curious to hear their answers.
Or I could ask them about their view on a return to the gold standard as a way to ensure the long term value of the dollar. Hmmm... that could be fun!
Unfortunately, Chris already rejected a Cheshire debate. His spokesperson said a Meriden debate is close enough. Maybe I'll go to the Meriden debate.
I'm still not sure what's happening with this.
As of Tuesday 8/26, this item was supposed to be in the capital budget. And with questions being asked by Ruocco and Sima about the $1.9million price tag and the need for a/c... staff offered two more numbers that reduced the cost of the budget:
$1.2million and $770,000
Then for some reason the number was reduced to $1.5million. Don't ask me why... I have no idea where that number came from...
Then PBC met last night. And I understand they said there are "issues."
They may now want more than $3million.
Again, don't ask me why. I wasn't at the meeting. However, I have asked staff for a copy of the architect's contract.
I'm not sure where to start getting my hands around this, but that seems as good a place as any.
No doubt this project will be a doozy.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
You may have noticed the capital budget was not adopted tonight. If deadlocked with a 4-4 tie. Laura Decaprio wasn't there and no one could get a hold of her. I hope everything is alright.
Besides that, I think the meeting went well. I thought concerns were voiced and a vote was taken... though apparently a capital budget would need to be adopted by September 5. So I understand the Council will need to have a special meeting between now and next Friday. I'm hoping we can schedule it prior to our Solid Waste Committee / full Council meeting next Thursday, Sept. 4... a meeting where we'll be discussing the trash disposal facility.
Anyway... the meeting went well and Tom Ruocco offered a responsible, alternative budget. While I have no interest in spending any money on the pool until we have a comprehensive action plan, I compromised and supported his budget. And his budget did speak to another extremely pressing concern - putting in place a town wide comprehensive action plan for energy conservation.
Therein seemed to be the only point of contention. You may have noticed at the end of the capital budget discussion (when the Chairman speaks), Matt Hall echoed comments previously made by Matt Altieri and Elizabeth Esty. And with his comments, I felt the same way that I felt toward the comments of Mr. Altieri and Mrs. Esty.
But here's the great thing about The Tubes... we can really dissect these things. So I offer this question - what's happening with performance contracting? It's the same question I asked on June 1, 2008. And here are some thoughts...
While I have personally told the above Council members of towns that use PC... and have told the above Council members of ESCOs that engage in PC... the above Council members did not make the promise:
Therein lies the missing link. For all the intellectual dishonesty regarding performance contracting... the above Council members didn't make the promise. Yet in all the discussion I've heard on this topic during the 08/09 capital budget discussions... I've yet to hear the Promissor opine on the lack of consideration of performance contracting in this year's capital budget.
Anybody think there's a chance that a great deal of information has been emailed directly to the Budget Chair? And perhaps he unilaterally decided to break the promise? And now his fellow Dems are covering for his failure to consider performance contracting?
IMO, if the majority was fair and nonpartisan about this whole discussion they wouldn't be questioning me and making ridiculous comments that are tantamount to George Bush blaming Nancy Pelosi for shortcomings in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.
In the real world, this makes no sense. It reminds me of The Chewbacca Defense.
But here's a question that must be asked - will the majority question a member of their own party the way they question me?
And for Chairman Hall and his suggestion that he and I form our own Ad Hoc Committee on Performance Contracting I offer there's no need. Watch the above video. PC is already on the Budget Committee's agenda. Perhaps the request should be for the Budget Committee to take action?
And to wrap up, the MRJ's article on tonight's meeting is already online (by Jesse Buchanan).
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
This past weekend I posted about an article that appeared in the NHR. The article was about a "conversation" between me and some of my Council colleagues at last Thursday's budget committee meeting.
Luther Turmelle reported:
"It's incumbent upon you to bring forward some examples* of where this works," Altieri said to White. "What you're talking about is going to be a huge undertaking."
White responded with a thinly veiled accusation hurled at the Democratic majority on the council regarding what he has said is its unwillingness to address the performance contracting issue.
"Either we are serious about energy savings or we're not," White said.
And while I was visibly upset with the footdragging on last year's promise, I'm not exactly alone in questioning the reality of the situation.
After I found the article online, I emailed it to the Energy Commission Chairman. The following is the unedited response he sent to the Energy Commission, the Council and others:
Over the past couple of years I must have brought at least two dozen examples of performance contracting to the attention of various members of the Council and Mr. Milone.
It is time that the Council addresses the subject of performance contracting and makes an informed decision whether or not it makes sense for the Town of Cheshire. The federal government makes extensive use of performance contracting, as do numerous state and municipal governments thoughout the US and elsewhere in the world. There are dozens of certified contractors who do this kind of work, one of which made a presentation to the Council budget committee last December. There is a wealth of information available for consideration. The time is long overdue for the Council to devote time to study the facts and make a decision.
The Energy Commission has long advocated for performance contracting. It is a proven process that can be tailored to meet the Town's needs. Financing is not a necessary part of the concept, although many users find that this is a valuable component. The major advantage is the ability to get our arms around all of the potential large ticket energy cost savings projects at one time instead of piece-mealing them like we've been doing for many years. The use of a professional energy services company makes it an extremely effective and guaranteed way of achieving energy cost reduction goals.
I hope the pushback is nothing more than the result of a lack of understanding of the process, although this seems hard to believe given the amount of information that has been disseminated to the council over the past five years or so. If this is the case, the information can be presented again. This is something that cannot be ignored, especially during the current energy crisis.
Chairman, Cheshire Energy Commission
Rich gave me permission to post this here. But his voice is not alone. Among other Energy Commission members there seems to be two views:
1) The Council is wrong about this for partisan reasons
2) The Council is wrong about this because they don't understand it
Either way, most reasonable people agree that the Council is wrong.
Too bad for those of us who are concerned about energy conservation and possibly saving money.
* I'm also wondering why Mr. Altieri didn't just ask his own friend about performance contracting.
According to MSNBC... old, no-longer-used 40' shipping containers are now leaving ports and showing up in new housing developments around the country:
In a shaky real-estate market, this could be a solid investment – literally. The steel boxes are functional, durable and cheaper than traditional housing.
Or maybe we could use some containers to build a new pool structure! Click thru here for a sense of what's possible... then imagine stacking them two or three high on "the north side" of the pool and one container (no stacking) on the south side. Then we put a south-facing roof on the containers... put some solar thermal equipment up there to heat the water... put offices in the ground level containers and "viewing boxes" in the second and third level containers...
Ok, ok... I know it sounds crazy... but if we're going to have a virtually open-ended
RFI ... I mean... RFP... then why not include an option for an environmentally-friendly structure? Besides... a bunch of containers may not look any worse than The White Elephant.
I understand that Google keeps pretty tight lipped about their method of determining their rankings... and with good reason. If you knew the formula, you could game the system and get your own website to the top of any google list.
That being said, I must've done something right (per Google) when I posted Oil pipelines in South Ossetia? on August 10 because I'm now at the top of most google searches that include any variation of the words "oil pipeline South Ossetia." Use those words for google images and I come right to the top.
Anyway, for weeks now I've seen various UN agencies, different world governments (including the Brazilian Presidential office) and even American military offices (including the Department of Information Management which apparently helped my post go viral!) log onto to TWL.
But today's visitors really surprised me:Yup. Though I can't read what they're writing... even people from other countries are blogging about TWL! Blogging can be fun.
The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports:
A court-appointed receiver said Tuesday that a principal in Cheshire Investment Corp. has a $3.65 million agreement with the now-defunct Waterbury company F&S Oil, which collapsed in March.
As (rightfully) upsetting as this topic is to many, it's still worth mentioning one of the underlying goals here - reducing America's dependence on foreign oil. And hopefully the plant will be up and running soon!
Also, it seems to me that these F&S posts generate a lot of comments with which I'm highly uncomfortabe. So I played around with blogger and am hoping that you can comment, but only after you register.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The MRJs Jesse Buchanan already has his story about tonight's budget meeting online.
As for my thoughts on the budget, I have several concerns. But the central theme is taking a comprehensive approach to planning.
First, we're spending money on the pool. This makes no sense to me. We need to take a comprehensive approach. I'm tired of the footdragging.
Second, we're gonna shell out some big dollars related to energy efficiency improvements. And it's possible those improvements could be paid with a performance contract, not additional debt.
Furthermore, these energy efficiency projects are being done without rhyme or reason. Here's one example of something that should not be done for energy efficiency improvements:
I look at "envelope" issues in two lights: energy improvements & operational / functional issues. Breaking it down, when I look at envelope issues... improvements fall in one of three categories:
1) energy improvements
2) operational / functional improvements
3) energy improvements & operational / functional improvements
For instance, if a crank window doesn't crank... it must be replaced to function. And if it is stuck open, a new window would also reduce energy consumption. In different "envelope improvement" categories, we may need to replace asbestos tiles (and get no energy improvements) or decide to replace a functioning boiler for simply energy efficiency reasons (i.e. payback is worth it).
The good news for taxpayers is that I saw some headway being made tonight in this regard. Council members seemed to acknowledge that if we don't know the payback on this $500,000 window project... it may not be the best project to do. On the other hand, it was noted that some of Highland's windows don't operate properly.... so I think this "energy improvement" project has little to do with energy... and more to do with operations... but that was nothing, but a reframing of the case (for window replacements) that was made for the first time tonight.
And though I recognize the need for replacing some windows... we're nowhere close to having our hands around these big issues. Instead... we just throw money at problems which do exist... but they may also total far less (or far more) than $500,000. We don't know. So why are we sending this to referendum?
IMO, much of this capital budget (Mixville pump station, school windows, CHS retrofit, etc.) should be put on hold. Then we should fast track a comprehensive approach to potential energy efficiency improvements for our townwide infrastructure... and if it needs to go to referendum... heck... I'd consider doing a springtime referendum for work to begin on our schools next summer.
Unfortunately, that's not happening. Instead we have this piecemeal approach to energy issues. And we have no real idea about the benefit of these projects... I mean... what if the $500,000 on windows has a payback of 25 years (likely), but another $500,000 project has a payback of 5 years? Then why the heck are we spending money on "energy efficient windows?" Or perhaps we should be spending $1,000,000? Who knows?!
We need to take a comprehensive approach to our energy efficiency improvements (including the pool). It doesn't even need to be done with a performance contract (though I'm confident it would work well). We just need to know what gives us the most bang for our buck... set our priorities... then the Council can make a responsible decision about which projects to tackle.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Over the past few days, I've given my version of the events and words of last Thursday's capital budget meeting. But here's the take of the NHRs Luther Turmelle:
Democratic Councilman Matt Altieri and Republican Tim White got into a heated debate about whether the town should enter into performance contracting agreements with private-sector energy companies.
The article continued...
Performance contracting is a construction method that allows a business or municipality to complete energy-saving improvements by financing them with money saved through lower anticipated utility costs. White has long advocated Cheshire using it.
"It's incumbent upon you to bring forward some examples of where this works," Altieri said to White. "What you're talking about is going to be a huge undertaking."
White responded with a thinly veiled accusation hurled at the Democratic majority on the council regarding what he has said is its unwillingness to address the performancecontracting issue.
"Either we are serious about energy savings or we're not," White said.
That brought Elizabeth Esty, a Democratic member of the Budget Committee, into the fray.
"You've been talking about performance contracting for years," Esty said. "Bring us some names of contractors, some communities that have done this. It's misleading to the public to frame this as being the only way we're serious about saving energy."
Town Manager Michael Milone also weighed in, saying White was "oversimplifying" the performance-contracting process.
"John Knott (former town attorney) told us we would still have an obligation to go to referendum for any performance contract agreement that is above $350,000," Milone said, referring to the threshold that triggers a vote on capital projects.
"The idea of having savings pay down the debt (on a performance contract) has enormous potential, but it's still viewed as debt on the books."
White, visibly upset, stormed out of the meeting a few minutes before it was over.
So a year has passed since the promise was made at the August 30, 2007 Capital Budget meeting. And since I brought up performance contracting at last Thursday's meeting... I'm still wondering when exactly they were planning on "considering" performance contracting?
Suggesting that my lack of input on "where PC works" is absurd. Suggesting a failure on my part to provide names of towns and contractors that use PC is worse than misleading.
I (and others) have provided that information over and over. The least the majority could do is be honest about it and simply say they don't want to do it for the two legitimate concerns mentioned:
1) it's a big undertaking
2) possible debt impacts
But those are hurdles, not dealbreakers. And until we put pen to paper, we won't know if the "business case" makes sense.
Finally, I emailed the above link to the Energy Commission Chairman on Saturday. I'll post the Chair's response tomorrow (he already gave me permission).
I couldn't make this stuff up.
The Energy Commission met tonight. Unsurprisingly, much of the conversation was on...
Seriously though, Matt Altieri was there and I really appreciated that. He came to discuss the bubble. He listened to some very useful insights from the ECs newest member, Lew Cohen, and others. Matt then explained his perspective of trying to sell a "bubble alternative" to the public. And it was fair enough for him to do that. Though I disagree with his view that we cannot yet rule out another bubble. Seriously, the bubble is the problem... so why we can't rule it out makes no sense to me.
But forget about the bubble discussion. At one point I was actually shocked. Councilman Altieri started talking about his February trip to Vegas and his golf buddy. Essentially, Matt mentioned the idea of "performance contracting" and the pool to his buddy.
His buddy then indicated that a pool alone wouldn't be worth the time... that the town should look at everything... all infrastructure at once.
I was dumbfounded.
I wasn't sure if I should be ecstatic that he acknowledged performance contracting can work... or if I should be angry about the majority's truthiness on performance contracting.
Regardless... Council budget meeting tomorrow night. Should be interesting... especially after the entire Council got a diplomatic, but unmistakably frank, email from the Energy Commission Chairman on Sunday about Cheshire's consideration of performance contracting.
I'll probably post the email tomorrow (Rich gave me his permission), but want to continue telling this story in chronological order.
Anyway... the other point that I really appreciated tonight... the EC has officially endorsed the energy forums. That's great because CT-N wanted to televise the last forum, but couldn't as they require organizations (not individuals) to sponsor any CT-N televised forums.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I've mentioned him here before - perhaps my favorite Senator - Tom Coburn (R-OK). (Rasmussen Reports)
I first heard of him when he was running for an open Senate seat in 2004. He struck me as being too far to the right for my taste on a number of issues.
But then he got elected and showed his true colors... a man who cares about America and knows who sent him there - the voters... not porkmeisters Byrd and Stevens.
And now I see this gem on Rasmussen Reports:
Senator Tom Coburn is unknown to most Americans, but the strange workings of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics could end up making the Oklahoma Republican far more popular than he is today....
He is best known in Washington as "Dr. No" for battling his colleagues over wasteful government spending. However, when people learn about his battle with the Senate ethics committee, Coburn’s ratings skyrocket to levels that would make his colleagues jealous.
Coburn is a medical doctor who continues to deliver about 400 babies a year. When told that it would be a violation of Senate rules to earn such outside income, Coburn stopped collecting money. He actually loses money for delivering the babies since he pays for malpractice insurance out of his own pocket....
But, according to Politico.com that’s not good enough for the six senators on the ethics committee, three from each party. They have ordered Coburn to stop delivering babies for free even though he provides services for poor and uninsured women.
How screwed up can these people possibly be? They're supposed to be 100 people who represent America... but I can't imagine a group of 100 people who are more detached from reality. Dodd and Lieberman ought to tell the Senate Ethics Committee to get their act together, but I'm sure they won't... because they're as much a part of the problem as the rest of them.
Government ethics and corruption consistently rank near the top of voter concerns about Election 2008.
I agree. As concerned as I am about the fiscal irresponsibility of Washington and Hartford... as long as our government is so heavily influenced by all these creeps who are either headed to jail or are currently under indictment... how could we ever expect to have a fiscally responsible government?
On August 30, 2007, in relation to the possibilities of conserving energy and saving money, the Council majority promised to consider performance contracts:Now one year later (August 12, 2008) in relation to the Council majority's promise to consider performance contracting, we were told:
So when I addressed the intellectual dishonesty of the majority at Thursday's capital budget meeting (in post's on Thursday and yesterday), I was quite serious.
And to understand the significance of performance contracts... keep in mind the dollar value of our upcoming energy-related capital projects. Between only the schools and sewer plant, our five year capital budget probably has between $10,000,000 and $20,000,000 proposed for energy-efficiency improvements. Furthermore, if we could avoid a cash outlay for these projects and get them done today (so we begin conserving energy today), wouldn't that be best?
Saturday, August 23, 2008
From Engineered Systems - March 2001:
Community expectations for academic excellence run high at Glenbrook High School District 225, which consistently ranks among the top public schools in Illinois and among the nation's highest-rated districts for academic achievement. Established in 1953, Glenbrook High School District 225 has earned high marks on the national academic achievement scale.
Two campuses, Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South, serve a total student population of over 4,000 students with over 430 faculty, staff members, and administrators. School officials decided in 1999 to redraft their facilities master plan to expand and update their two campuses serving the 36 square miles of Glenview and Northbrook villages. This time, however, the operative words were "creative financing." The reason: the district had aggressive plans to pour at least $60 million worth of improvements into the system's facilities over the next two years.
Dr. Craig Shilling, Glenbrook's assistant superintendent for business affairs, explains that one of the keys to implementing such an enormous amount of work was a performance contract for between $6 million to $8 million in energy-related improvement measures. Initially, he reasoned, this type of work could be used to "jump-start" the master plan initiatives by providing the financial impetus for the initial phases.
Following a competitive bidding process that involved five different suppliers, Siemens Building Technologies (Buffalo Grove, IL) was awarded the contract. Beginning with a thorough site analysis of both Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South campuses, Siemens developed a comprehensive, fast-track program designed to meet the district's specific needs.
The Siemens solution was a two-phase, 10-year, $8.6 million performance contract that involved energy conservation and facility improvement measures to improve indoor comfort, air quality, and lighting levels in over 1 million sq ft of school facilities.
Then in 2003, the Glenbrook BOE expanded their performance contract with Siemens... but performance contracts don't work in Cheshire!
Seriously though, I still can't believe the diversionary and obstructionist tactics that were being hurled at me on Thursday. Maybe Republicans should have used this same tactic in 2006 - "Don't blame us for our
inaction. It was incumbent on Nancy Pelosi to explain to us how to end the Culture of Corruption!"
I just got an email from a resident offering these comments and photos:
I'm sending you these two pictures of the CHS field again so that maybe you can get them posted to your blog. I took them just about two weeks after school ended...just after the last of a years worth of sporting events, and after the CHS graduation (with the entire senior class and their parents, relatives, etc trampling the field on a day that had light showers pass through during the ceremony). As anyone can see, the field is not beat up.
Truthiness?? A picture is worth a thousand words.
Yesterday I offered a Canadian MP's definition of truthiness:
something that is spoken as if true that one wants others to believe is true, that said often enough with enough voices orchestrated in behind it, might even sound true, but is not true.
And yesterday's MRJ reported on the desire for greater use of athletic fields:
The Cheshire Town Council assigned an ad hoc Board of Education committee, including Trifone, to investigate a possible solution: artificial turf.
Of course, I've already explained the fact that there was no need for the turf to be on the agenda. And the only official thing that happened with this unnecessary vote was an acceptance of the turf money because when it comes to the turf, the Council has no authority over the BOE.
But for the entire majority to spend time addressing the facts with vigor would conflict with the turf truthiness of certain members of the majority.
I love this AP quote:
Biden, 65, has twice sought the White House, and is a Catholic with blue-collar roots, a generally liberal voting record and a reputation as a long-winded orator. (By LIZ SIDOTI and NEDRA PICKLER)
Long-winded orator! It reminds me of when I hear about how Council meetings take too much time. I mean, Biden is the veep candidate and his reputation at Senate committee hearings is this:
He talks for his alotted time, then asks the question: don't you agree?
Seriously... that is his reputation among Senate-watchers. So now I have to wonder if my Council colleagues will be voting against Obama / Biden... since at least one Council member recently suggested that he's grown tired of the length of Council meetings and apparently no longer wants to serve the public because Council members talk too long.
IMO though, I like Biden. Yes, I remember the plagiarizing moment. But I still like him. Whenever I've seen him on TV, he's always seemed to be a knowledgable straightshooter... though I think he also has benefited from a wise choice of committees - foreign policy committees will naturally have less partisanship than domestic policy committees... but hey... Biden's a smart guy and picked the committees that worked well for him over the years.
What I like most about Biden though... he's not above a bit of self-deprecating humor.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Excerpted from Wikipedia:
Truthiness is a word that U.S. television comedian Stephen Colbert popularized in 2005 as a satirical term to describe things that a person claims to know intuitively or "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts. Colbert invented this definition of the word during the pilot episode (October 17, 2005) of his satirical television program The Colbert Report, as the subject of a segment called "The Wørd". It was named Word of the Year for 2005 by the American Dialect Society and for 2006 by Merriam-Webster.
The Canadian Parliament further refined the definition of "truthiness."
In 2006, Liberal Party of Canada leadership contender Ken Dryden used truthiness as an extensive theme in a speech in the House of Commons. The speech dealt critically with the current government's Universal Child Care Plan. Dryden defined truthiness as "something that is spoken as if true that one wants others to believe is true, that said often enough with enough voices orchestrated in behind it, might even sound true, but is not true."
The transcript of all debates in the House is made available in both official languages; the translators into French chose to render "truthiness" as fausse vérité ("false truth").
Recently, an anonymous commenter questioned if I was "cherrypicking" the vehicles that I've been posting here. No, I have not. I'm posting all of the information that was provided by the TM as directed by the Council (using a resolution I drafted).
And another commenter asked about the Town's alcohol and drug policy in relation to the take home vehicles. I think that's a great question, particularly since so many vehicles are used for emergency purposes. Unfortunately, after years of asking about these take home vehicles and always getting the same answer, I'm convinced we'll be told yet again "these aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along."
As tonight's capital budget meeting was ending, I left and drove to Branford to see I.O.U.S.A. The Movie. It was worth it. Of particular interest to me was the live Q&A afterward with gazillionaires Warren Buffett and Pete Peterson, our modern day Paul Revere - Dave Walker, Cato's Bill Niskannen and AARPs Bill Novelli.
Cato and AARP definitely have different views on the remedy. But there's also some obvious room for agreement that indicated some movement is possible... if there's anyone in Washington who will provide some leadership.
Thankfully, David Walker is putting out an APB for a leader this fall.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I circled some of the numbers in the first column. Those are items that would go to referendum.
For those of you who are interested in energy conservation, I asked about performance contracting tonight. You'd have been amazed at the number of strawmen and diversionary tactics that were raised as to how the lack of consideration of performance contracting is my fault. Ha! That's like George Bush telling Nancy Pelosi she personally screwed up the 2005 Energy Policy Act.
In particular, I enjoyed the old "but no one does them for pools" excuse. Goodness... how many times have I heard that one? But for those of you who read The Bathroom Wall... click thru to this post from September 2007. Yup... that's right... they love the old "blame others for Council inaction!" Unfortunately, new media makes revisionist history difficult.I'd describe the conversation as unbelievable. But few Council (in)actions surprise me anymore. I'll probably do more on PC this weekend.
But back to Tom Ruocco... a hat tip to Tom for drafting an alternative budget intended to reduce/delay spending and expedite energy conservation measures.
Here's an I.O.U.S.A. clip of Alan Greenspan:
It premieres tonight (Thurs Aug 21) at 8pm across the country, including in Manchester and Branford. Tonight's 8pm showing will be followed by a live conversation with Dave Walker, Warren Buffett and others. I hope I see you there!
On the video though... I disagree with Greenspan and agree with Ron Paul.
Greenspan asserts "if fiscal policy is lax or savings are exceptionally low, there is nothing monetary policy are any central bank can do about that."
I disagree. For instance, look at the banking bailout brought on by the mortgage meltdown.
Secretary Paulson got Congress to agree to allow the Treasury to "loan" Fannie/Freddie billions of dollars. But where do those billions of dollars come from?
As I understand it... the central bank (and its monetary policy) acts as an enabler in this case. That is, without a complicit central bank (with supposedly disinterested bipartisan appointees), none of those loans would be possible. Or in other words... if the central bankers (Bernanke, Greenspan, Volker, etc.) has the will to tell the politicians (Bush, Pelosi, Clinton, Gingrich, etc.) "NO!" then the irresponsible fiscal policy of The Federal Government would have to end.
The MRJs Jesse Buchanan reports:
Police and fire department officials requested Monday night that $270,000 for a new computer dispatch and records system be included in the capital expenditure plan...
"I think it's something we truly need to do," said councilor Tim Ruocco.
I absolutely agree with Tom. I've heard about the inefficiencies of the current software from several officers.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I got this at the Retirement Board meeting two weeks ago:This report shows that the town pension has about $60million dollars in assets (as of June 30, 2008).
I asked about the total liability, but it wasn't handy. Regardless, for the five years I've been on the Council I've been told consistently that the pension assets exceed the pension liabilities.
As for a breakdown of the various pension plans... I haven't gotten my hands fully around that yet.
Labels: town government
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Councilwoman Laura DeCaprio has organized an open meeting to discuss Mixville. If you're interested in the future of Mixville, I encourage you to be at Town Hall tomorrow night at 7pm. I'm planning on being there.
One thing's for sure though... the TM and Parks Director deserve credit for getting the Geese-Be-Gone Terriers over there. I've visited a few times this summer and the beach is no longer overpoopulated... come to think of it, I should've mentioned that last week during the vote.
I appreciate that the DPW included the actual resolution in the memo. It helps to understand if the Council resolution is actually being addressed.
As a reminder, this resolution was unanimously passed at the June 10 Council meeting (for a July 8 deadline). No word yet on when the Budget and Personnel Committees will be meeting. I know the Budget Committee has lots of meetings already because of the Capital Budget. I'm uncertain of the issues facing the Personnel Committee. Though they must be busy because on June 24 I requested a summertime review of pension plans (defined benefit vs. defined contribution) for non-union ee's. But at the Aug 12 Council meeting, I was told that staff will aim for an October compilation of relevant data.
During the days leading up to the vote on the Pavement Management System, I was thinking about more than just streets. I also concluded that the public deserves to know:
1) the town's list of project priorities and
2) the criteria used in creating that list
I briefly touched on this idea here in relation to a number of issues - roads, sidewalks, curbs, tree trimming, etc.
But that's at a town level.
Wouldn't it be great if Congress or even the legislature directed their respective administrations to publicly disclose the criteria used in prioritizing projects? And of course, they'd disclose the order in which projects would be done and provide clear cut explanations when projects "skip to the front of the line" by some sort of magic.
FWIW, this is something that's been in the back of my mind for some time... but I never put pen to paper and forced myself to fully consider how to make this happen.
Anyway, I finally thought this through and recently brought the idea to State Rep. Al Adinolfi. He was receptive to the idea and is considering it.
I doubt the slush-fund-lovers in Hartford (Amann/Rell/Williams) would ever consider this. But if the idea gets some exposure... who knows? As far as I can tell, CTs Prop 3% started here on TWL. And while that's fizzled... I'm convinced that new media can move mountains.
Labels: state government
IOUSA The Movie opens on Thursday at 8pm in Branford, Manchester and West Springfield. Then after the movie:
a live discussion with America’s most notable financial leaders and policy experts, including Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway; William Niskanen, chairman of the Cato Institute; Bill Novelli, CEO of AARP; Pete Peterson, senior chairman of The Blackstone Group and chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation; and Dave Walker, president & CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and former U.S. Comptroller General, promises riveting dialogue and keen insight into the crisis we currently face. The panel will be moderated by Becky Quick, co-anchor of CNBC’s morning news show Squawk Box.
Warren Buffett is great. You can read his most recent annual report to see his leadership qualities. He is:
Our competitive position in these businesses remains strong, and we have firstclassCEOs who run them right, in good times or bad.
My behavior resembled that of a politician Molly Ivins oncedescribed: “If his I.Q. was any lower, you would have to water him twice a day.”
As house prices fall, a huge amount of financial folly is being exposed. You only learn who has been swimming naked when the tide goes out – and what we are witnessing at some of our largest financial institutions is an ugly sight.
And for Warren Buffet's take on I.O.U.S.A. The Movie, see this brief clip:
Labels: federal government
Here's the 43 minutes of discussion that led to a 7-2 vote (Sima, White opposed) of the Council in favor of spending $46,000 on a new Pavement Management System. I'm still not sure how this software will properly compact roads before paving.
Nonetheless, I absolutely believe that this new system would offer a benefit... but it's an incremental benefit... and not worth the cost.
Monday, August 18, 2008
There was another capital budget meeting tonight. It started at 6pm and I got there a few minutes late. It was basically public safety tonight.
First up was Lt. Markella of the CPD. It was pretty straightforward. He made a succinct and compelling case for the PDs proposed new software. Basically, they currently use up to eight systems that, while effective, are not as efficient as they could be. And based on my own experience (when I'm on the web and a screen locks up), even an extra few seconds of processing time can be frustrating... and I'm not in law enforcement. To me, this makes a lot of sense.
Next up was Chief Casner for the CFD. He's asking for lots of stuff in the five year capital expenditure plan, but has only one item in the current year budget - $300k for water mains. I'm uncertain about this, but did ask for a map showing where he proposes water mains. As I've mentioned before, water mains allow for greater density development. And development is fine with me... if you own the land, you can build on it. But at the same time... more development will require more services... and taxes will further increase. So I want to know where the water lines are proposed. Jack also assured me that he's working with the DPW to avoid multiple road cuts that can be so annoying.
In my efforts to organize a third energy forum (Energy & Sustainability), I spoke with CRRA.
While speaking, I referred to their facility as a biomass facility.
I was wrong. They don't have a biomass facility.
Apparently, there's a difference between a biomass facility and a "waste to energy" facility (W2E). A biomass facility converts only biodegradable material to energy. On the other hand, our plant converts any / all trash to electricity.
That was news to me.
And about a forum on "Energy & Sustainability," I've gotten a tentative date of Thursday September 11 and am hoping to have speakers on three topics:
1) CRRA - trash to energy and recycling of waste (using gasoline to transport waste to a facility)
2) composting (not using gasoline to transport waste to a facility) & gardening
3) 1,000 Friends of CT - smart growth (reducing gasoline use for many, many common errands)
I have a group in mind for composting / gardening (and you could probably guess who), but I want to confirm with them first. And I also thank Elizabeth Esty for suggesting 1,000 Friends.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
This is the third of three parts on the schools capital budget for renovations. See the first part here and the second part here.Smartboards:
Dodd kitchen renovations:
CHS track resurfacing:
I understand the Dodd kitchen renovations to include structural changes, such as moving a fridge upstairs (from the basement to the kitchen). As for why any new equipment related to the Dodd kitchen renovations are not being incorporated into a townwide performance contract... got me. More on that later when I have some time.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
About a month ago, I briefly mentioned the July 8 Council visit by CRRA. But if you'd like greater detail, here is the 44 minutes of the CRRA discussion:
IMO, it's a pretty big issue for the town. So if you don't know much about it, you may be interested... even if it sounds pretty boring.
The NHRs Luther Turmelle has reported on a number of stories in the past few days:
One story is about Thursday's public hearing on the capital budget. Reading the article reminds me of my comments about the the Pavement Management System and that the town should publicly state the priorities for various DPW projects, such as road, sidewalk, tree trimming, etc.
A story on Boulder Knoll.
And a story on CHS football getting televised.
The Knoxville Sentinel is reporting that the "(Tennessee Valley Authority) has approved a water-access deal for a development group whose investors include U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., who sits on a committee that exercises oversight of the federal utility." Heath Shuler was one of Speaker Pelosi's 2006 "majority makers*." What's interesting to me is that I figured it was only old-timers who gained from their positions of power. I may have been wrong... I wish we could elect honest people to office. Obviously, I love Ron Paul in the House. But in the Senate, we've got some honest straight shooters, such as the GOPs Tom Cobern and the left's Russ Feingold. Sure, they bring very different views to Washington. But at least they're honest.
What else is happening?
* Freshman Chris Murphy is also one of the House "majority makers."
Friday, August 15, 2008
"We need Presidents who are so devoted to doing the right thing with and for the American people that they're prepared to lose for their values and to hang their values out in public for everyone to see them."
- Paul O'Neill, former US Treasury Secretary (fired for opposing deficit spending)
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The Human Services Committee met tonight. I had to leave early to attend the public hearing for the capital budget. But while I was there, I did hear some info that may be of interest to you...
1) the Town's food vouchers (for those in need) ran out for two consecutive months for the first time... new participants include a new demographic - "young people"
2) the privately-funded fuel bank may actively fundraise for the first time
3) October is Domestic Violence month
4) say goodbye to the Town's wonderfully helpful social services worker, Aljean Morrico.
This is the second post on the schools' renovation capital budget. The first post is here.The topics covered in this post are Energy Savings Improvements:Indoor Air Quality Issues:District-wide Window Replacement:
The Council met tonight with Superintendent Florio, BOE member Dixon, BOE member Massey and Asst. Superintendent Paul Calaluce.
I asked how much of their operating budget gets allocated to capital projects on an annual basis. (More specifically, I wanted to know which of those projects offered energy efficiency improvements.) I didn't write down any particular projects, but the Supt. acknowledged that portions of the operating budget do get shifted to capital projects at times.
But why does that matter?
Simple... if you add up all the energy efficiency numbers in Year One of the capital budget, you get between $2.5 and $3.0 million. And if you add the following four years, you get in excess of an additional $2 million. So that's $4,000,000,000 to $5,000,000 in energy-related improvements that could be made to the schools today. And we've got another $10,000,000 in energy-related improvements proposed for the sewers... among other energy-related projects. And I suspect that much of these projects could be financed using performance contracts.
But despite assurances from a year ago, nothing has happened in relation to seriously considering performance contracting.
to be continued...
According to the NHRs Luther Turmelle:
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the circumstances surrounding the abrupt closing in March of F&S Oil of Waterbury, sources told the New Haven Register.
DOJ representatives have been meeting for much of the summer with Carl Helming, a Wallingford accountant who was appointed by Hartford Superior Court Judge Grant Miller to act as the receiver to oversee the liquidation of the company, sources said.
The article also notes:
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has filed a civil suit against Christopher Carr, F&S’s former president, and his wife, Hilary, alleging the former F&S executive illegally sold prepaid contracts and fraudulently transferred the title of his home to his wife to prevent it from being taken from the couple if he were sued.
Obviously, this situation is pretty bad. And particularly with the heating season fast approaching, I think the liquidation of F&S Oil's assets should be completed expeditiously... so The Little Guy can get repaid for his 07/08 prepayments. But I also want to point out that the owners of F&S were in the midst of doing something extremely worthwhile... attempting to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil.
Last Sunday, it appeared as though the explosive Georgia / Russia conflict was largely confined to South Ossetia. I say that based on both this map by the International Crisis Group:and MSM reporting this past weekend. Furthermore, it appeared as though the nearest gas and oil pipelines serving western Europe were still 10 - 15 miles from the conflict zone... with the nearest pipeline located in the central Georgian city of Gori.
However, as the week progressed, so did Putin's Russia - farther south into Georgia. Within days Russia was occupying Gori - the nearest location of the smaller of two oil pipelines* that cross Georgia.
But the larger of the two pipelines** doesn't travel north to Gori. This Dept of Energy map shows the pipeline turning southwest at Tblisi.
And for the past few days, where has the MSM reported Georgian concern for further Russian encroachment? The capitol city of Tblisi.
But the US has been engaged in a diplomatic effort. And to what avail?
Today the AP's Christopher Torchia is reporting: Russia's foreign minister declared Thursday that the world "can forget about" Georgia's territorial integrity, and officials said Russia targeted military infrastructure and equipment - including radars and patrol boats at a Black Sea naval base and oil hub.
Georgia is a sovereign nation that has (as I understand it) held free and fair elections. So Russia's siege on Gori and Tblisi is 100% wrong. But I'm also convinced that Russia has felt antagonized and disrespected by American foreign policy for several years now.
Ron Paul was right. America should mind it's own business... if for no other reason than the reality that America is already insolvent:
One last note on the pipelines... they're big business. Wikipedia claims that BP is a 30% owner of the $3.9 billion pipeline.
* Gori's pipeline is called the Baku - Supsa or "Western Early" pipeline. It handles 100,000 - 200,000 BPD.
** the Baku - Tblisi - Ceyhan pipeline has a ten times larger capacity - 1,000,000+ BPD - than the Baku - Supsa pipeline
The Council has received the information on town take-home-vehicles. There's quite a few cars and a lot of information. So I'll post it by department, starting with this introductory memo that includes the Building Department:Other departments include Parks & Rec, Police, Fire and Public Works... for a total of five departments.
I believe both the TM and Superintendent are given a gasoline stipend of about $5,000 to $6,000 per year.
My goal is to save your tax dollars, while still providing you (the taxpayers) with basically the same level of service. So I'd really appreciate any ideas you can offer.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
WARNING: this video includes explicit language.Anyone else find some similarities between "The Chewbacca Defense" and some of our Council meetings? Does turf come to mind?
Ladies and Gentlemen of this supposed
Chewbacca is a wookie from the planet Kashyyyk.
But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor.
Now think about it. That does not make sense.
Why would a wookie... an eight foot tall Wookie... want to live on Endor with a bunch of two foot tall ewoks?
That does not make sense.
But more important... you have to ask yourself... what does this have to do with this
It does not make sense...
Ladies and Gentlemen of this supposed
If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must
acquit vote yes.