Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Politifact: President Obama and his broken promise

Politifact concludes that President Transparency's call for transparency in healthcare negotiations is a broken promise. And ABCs Jake Tapper even gave Robert Gibbs one last chance to clarify... to no avail.

So I guess we'll never know who did what for which payoffs, such as the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback and the Dodd Disbursement. Oh... wait... I guess we do know what happened in those particular situations... but we still have no idea who is going to bat for the various healthcare players... with the exception that it was the President himself who represented Big Phrma in the negotiations.

Tim White

Charter revision in 2010?

I doubt it. And whether or not some things could / should be changed... with the pool, police and other issues facing the Council... I don't see a Charter revision happening anytime soon. And that's fine with me.

Tim White

Ordinance Review Committee

Chair Anne Giddings' ORC agenda...

7:30 P.M., TUESDAY, JANUARY 5, 2010


1. Roll Call.
2. Pledge of Allegiance.
3. Public Building Commission ordinance revision.
4. Parking tickets and alarms fines ordinance.
5. Patton Drive parking.
6. Massage parlor ordinance.
7. Noise ordinance.
8. Reconsideration of building permit fee ordinance.
9. Elderly tax freeze ordinance automatic repeal.
10. Elderly tax credits and qualifying income.
11. Historic District fees.
12. Adjournment.

There may also be another pool structure meeting next week.

Tim White

An idea for a New Year's resolution

The more things change... the more they stay the same.

Go Bernie Sanders!

In one sign of the times, I've had more people ask me about job leads in 2009 than I had in my previous five years on the Council. Thankfully though, most people still had something... they just aren't making enough.

Tim White

Cheshire Chamber Annual Meeting - Jan 14

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hamsher got Dodd's response to his May 5 promise

In this September 30 post, I offered a brief history of the Fed's opposition to transparency, including Senator Dodd's complicity in maintaining secrecy regarding who got the Fed's $12 trillion in bailouts. And though I don't have a "court action update" on Bloomberg's lawsuit, I do know that Jane Hamsher has provided an update.

On December 16, she authored Chris Dodd Embraces Secrecy and Bailouts, Redux. She starts her piece:

Back in May, Marcy Wheeler and I met with Chris Dodd, and I asked him if he knew, as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, which banks the Fed was lending to. He said he’d find out and get back to me. He finally did. He asks the Fed why he shouldn’t know these things, they told him, and he sent me their response. The letter is below the fold.

There’s an interesting historical note about why the Senate divides itself into committees. When the Senate first convened in 1785, the Senate found that it could not irritate and disappoint enough constituents fast enough on enough issues. So the Senate split iself up into committees and thus became able to vastly increase the number of people they aggravated with their self-serving bullshit.

Tim White

Cheshire World Languages is expanding

Lauren Villeco's Cheshire World Languages is expanding. The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports:

The nonprofit Cheshire World Languages program will start 2010 by expanding its offerings to a location in Meriden. Details about where the classes will be held are still being worked out, but Lauren Villecco, the group’s founder and president, said Latin will be offered to students enrolling in the Meriden classes. Last semester, the third in the program’s existence, 38 students were enrolled, about three times the number who had taken classes in the previous semester.

I studied in France (Paris & Cannes) for a semester in 1993. I also lived in Vietnam (Saigon) from July 1995 to July 1998. In both places I tried to learn the language and was relatively successful in Vietnam. Having learned Vietnamese and experienced their culture changed my life in many ways that I'm not going to explain here.

So based on my personal experience, I think learning a language is extremely helpful. It's not about the ability to speak a language so you can buy groceries or rent a car. For me, it's about understanding people.

Tim White

Wikipedia's version of the 1953 coup d'etat in Iran - part 4

With Iran being all over America's 2009 headlines for production of nuclear material... and current reports of significant civil unrest there... I offer the fourth of an ongoing piece on the 1953 Iranian coup d'etat that I found on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia clearly notes that this piece has both its neutrality and factual accuracy disputed. Nonetheless, this perspective on history may be useful in understanding US-Iran relations. And I'm doing this as much for my own edification, as for anyone else who may be interested. These posts are not intended to indicate my agreement or disagreement with anything written.

US support and funding continued after the coup, with the CIA training the Shah's secret police, SAVAK. Originally, the Eisenhower Administration considered Operation Ajax a "successful secret war", but, given its blowback, that assessment is no longer generally held, because of the coup's "haunting and terrible legacy".[16] The coup d’├ętat was "a critical event in post-war world history" that replaced Iran’s native, and secular parliamentary democracy with an authoritarian monarchy.[17] The coup is widely believed to have significantly contributed to the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which deposed the Shah and replaced the pro-Western monarchy with the anti-Western Islamic Republic of Iran.[18]

Tim White

RecManagement magazine on pool structures

With Cheshire's talk of possibly spending $5,000,000 on a pool enclosure, Energy Commission member Dave Gavin sent me this link about a nationwide trend toward enclosing pools with permanent structures.

RecManagement's Dawn Klingensmith discusses bubbles specifically:

Several types of enclosures are offered at a variety of price points. At the most affordable end of the spectrum are vinyl-coated polyester air-supported structures, commonly called domes or bubbles, which generally are put in service for winter only and stored during the warmer months....

In summary, air-supported structures should perhaps be thought of as affordable short-term solutions for pools simply aiming to stay open through the winter but may not be an ideal option for aquatics facilities looking to develop robust, year-round programming.

Tim White

Blue Spring State Park in Florida

I disappeared for the weekend. I have family in Florida and we decided to meet there this year. It was nice to see all my siblings, as well as nieces and nephews. And of course the non-Floridians did some sightseeing. I loved our Boxing Day sidetrip - Blue Spring State Park. Sure we got turned away at 1:30pm because the park was full. But we had to return when we saw the sign that read: Today's manatee count - 162.

Here's some of the beautiful scenery along the river:

A few of the big, blubbery guys are huddled here:And here's a short video that I took of one of them putting on "a performance" for the crowd:

And the following day I took a sidetrip to Cape Canaveral with some of the fam. My soon-to-be 8-yr-old niece was probably the main reason we took this particular trip.

She's working on a science project for school. Included in her science project will be an interview with an old friend of my dad. His name is Edgar Mitchell. If you don't recognize his name... he's one of a dozen or so people who have actually defied the old saying "no one gets out of here alive." On the contrary, he, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and a few others actually did manage to do just that.

And with regard to my cap... no, it's not my way of cheering for Ben Bernanke. It's the Bridgeport Bluefish!

Tim White

Former Rams football coach Steve Addazio's promotion

Sounds as though my old high school gym coach - and former Ram football coach - Steve Addazio may be on national TV next fall ... at least for a few games. Congratulations Coach!

Tim White

Wikipedia's version of the 1953 coup d'etat in Iran - part 3

With Iran being all over America's 2009 headlines for production of nuclear material... and current reports of significant civil unrest there... I offer the third of an ongoing piece on the 1953 Iranian coup d'etat that I found on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia clearly notes that this piece has both its neutrality and factual accuracy disputed. Nonetheless, this perspective on history may be useful in understanding US-Iran relations. And I'm doing this as much for my own edification, as for anyone else who may be interested. These posts are not intended to indicate my agreement or disagreement with anything written.

The economic and political crisis in Iran that began in early 1952 with the British-organized worldwide boycott of Iranian oil, ended with the signing of the Consortium Agreement of 1954. Pahlavi signed the agreement with the result that, for the first time, United States oil companies shared in the control of Iranian oil, with the U.S. and UK evenly splitting 80% and the remainder divided between French and Dutch interests. Iran was allocated 50% of the revenues, which was an increase from 16% in the original agreement.[12] However, from Iran's perspective, the Consortium Agreement of 1954 was far less favorable than conditions set forth several months earlier in the joint 'Winston Churchill-Dwight D. Eisenhower' proposal to Mosaddegh.[13][14][15] After the coup, the Consortium Agreement of 1954 ended the crisis, and stayed in effect until it was modified in 1957 and 1973 and then ended in 1979 when the Iranian Revolution deposed the monarch.

Tim White

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Homelessness in CT & Cheshire

The CTPost's John Burgeson wrote this piece on homelessness in CT. It's probably a pretty rare moment when anyone discusses homelessness in Cheshire, but I've heard confirmed reports of homeless people living in Cheshire.

Tim White

Turmelle on the schools' new director

The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports on the schools' new Director of Management Services:

School officials say they’re not concerned that the district’s new director of management services background includes experience with a financial services company that went into bankruptcy 10 years ago...

“His references, his co-workers, were all very positive about him,” Florio said.

Brittingham said that after looking into Masciana’s background and talking with him, “my impression is that he brought order to chaos at his old company.”

Tim White

Wikipedia's version of the 1953 coup d'etat in Iran - part 2

With Iran being all over America's 2009 headlines for production of nuclear material... and current reports of significant civil unrest there... I offer the second of an ongoing piece on the 1953 Iranian coup d'etat that I found on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia clearly notes that this piece has both its neutrality and factual accuracy disputed. Nonetheless, this perspective on history may be useful in understanding US-Iran relations. And I'm doing this as much for my own edification, as for anyone else who may be interested. These posts are not intended to indicate my agreement or disagreement with anything written.

Two years earlier, in 1951, Mosaddeq, backed by his nationalist supporters in the Iranian parliament and throughout Iran, had angered Britain with his argument that Iran should begin profiting from its vast oil reserves instead of allowing profits to continue to flow to Britain. In 1951, Iran's Parliament, the Majlis, nationalized Iran's oil industry and then elected Mosaddeq as prime minster. Since 1913, the oil industry in Iran had been controlled exclusively by the British government-controlled Anglo-Iranian Oil Company,[6][7] the UK's single largest overseas investment.[8] The ejection of the British staff of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) from the nationalized refineries in Iran triggered a crisis at Abadan, the world's largest refinery, in what came to be called the Abadan Crisis.[9] Britain accused Mosaddeq of violating the legal rights of the AIOC and mobilized a worldwide boycott of Iran's oil that plunged Iran into financial crisis. "After Iran nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company May 2, 1951, Britain assembled an armada made up of its Navy, Air Force and army to seize the island of Abadan in order to reclaim control of the oil refinery but Prime Minister Clement Attlee declined to attack, choosing instead to enforce the economic boycott against Iran.[10] The British government, headed by Winston Churchill, tried to enlist the United States in planning a coup, but President Harry S. Truman refused. Under his successor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, however, the CIA embarked on its first covert operation to overthrow a foreign government.[11]

Tim White

Dog Park before the Council in January?

The Herald's John Rook reports that the proposed dog park will be on the Council agenda in January:

“The group has raised about $4,000 right now,” explained Ceccolini. “We estimate that it will take about $12,000 to $15,000 to set up.”

Much of that cost would be dedicated to installing a permanent fence that would prevent dogs from running out into traffic on Waterbury Road and other amenities that could be positioned around the park grounds.

Tim White

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wikipedia's version of the 1953 coup d'etat in Iran

With Iran being all over America's 2009 headlines for production of nuclear material... and current reports of significant civil unrest there... I offer the first of an ongoing piece on the 1953 Iranian coup d'etat that I found on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia clearly notes that this piece has both its neutrality and factual accuracy disputed. Nonetheless, this perspective on history may be useful in understanding US-Iran relations. And I'm doing this as much for my own edification, as for anyone else who may be interested. These posts are not intended to indicate my agreement or disagreement with anything written.

The 1953 Iranian coup d’├ętat deposed the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq.[1][2][3]

The United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) overthrew the government of the popular Prime Minister Mosaddeq at the request of, and with support from the British government. In what the CIA called Operation Ajax, the U.S. enabled Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to become an authoritarian monarch[4], who went on to rule Iran for 26 years until he was overthrown in 1979.[5]

Tim White

Click thru to the Wikipedia page to see the references.

The energy grant is part of the EECGB

The Herald's Josh Morgan offers some explanation on the energy grant for which Cheshire is competing... with successful applications to be announced in mid-March.

But if I understand correctly, this is part of the US Dept of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG). Having found the EECGB on the US Mayors website, it appears that this is related to the 2007 Bush Energy bill... not the Obama Stimulus.

Tim White

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Fannie / Freddie bailout is worse than expected

On December 24 I stumbled across an urgent call from Jane Hamsher and Grover Norquist. They called for the immediate resignation of President Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Their reason was the linking of corruption to the Administration with Rahm in the middle of it. Furthermore, they were concerned that the alleged corruption related directly to an anticipated doubling of the September 2008 bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to happen before December 31.

With the passing of 24 hours, I find that Hamsher & Norquist were wrong. The Treasury isn't doubling the Fannie / Freddie bailout. They've decided to give them no limit whatsoever!

The Treasury announced the heart their plans on their website on December 24:

At the time the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship in September 2008, Treasury established Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements (PSPAs) to ensure that each firm maintained a positive net worth. Treasury is now amending the PSPAs to allow the cap on Treasury's funding commitment under these agreements to increase as necessary to accommodate any cumulative reduction in net worth over the next three years.

Adding insult to injury, it appears that at exactly the same time Treasury announced a remake of the 1981 Steve Martin classic - with the 2009 version to be named Benjamins from Heaven - the US Housing regulator approved huge bonuses for the leaders of these failed companies.

Filed on Christmas Eve, just ten minutes before Santa landed... Reuters reported:

The U.S. housing regulator has approved pay packages for the chief executives of mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the range of $4 million to $6 million, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

It is clear that there is absolutely no shame in Washington. Needless to say, it's pretty obvious why these two decisions were announced on Christmas Eve.

Ironman is also discussing this.

Tim White

Thursday, December 24, 2009

For Unto Us A Child Is Born from Handel's Messiah

"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined...

"For thou hast broken the yoke of their burden, and the staff of their shoulder, the rod of their oppressor...

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9)

Merry Christmas!

(And expect light blogging this weekend.)

Jane Hamsher, Grover Norquist want Rahm's resignation

Similar to the Ron Paul / Bernie Sanders demands for transparency in Bailout Ben's Federal Reserve... liberal activist Jane Hamsher and conservative stalwart Grover Norquist continue the unusual matchups of 2009 as populist anger continues raging.

In an absolutely damning letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Jane and Grover have called for Rahm Emanuel's head on a platter. Jane goes so far as to say the healthcare debate is being used as a distraction from the real issue - hiding the corruption linked to President Transparency's Administration.

Dear Attorney General Holder:

We write to demand an immediate investigation into the activities of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. We believe there is an abundant public record which establishes that the actions of the White House have blocked any investigation into his activities while on the board of Freddie Mac from 2000-2001, and facilitated the cover up of potential malfeasance until the 10-year statute of limitations has run out.

The purpose of this letter is to connect the dots to establish both the conduct of Mr. Emanuel and those working with him to thwart inquiry, and to support your acting speedily so that the statute of limitations does not run out before the Justice Department is able to empanel a grand jury.

The New York Times reports that the administration is negotiating to double the commitments to Fannie and Freddie for a total of $800 billion by December 31, in order to avoid the congressional approval that would be needed after that date. But there currently is no Inspector General exercising independent oversight of these entities.

If you have a moment to click here and read the full letter, I recommend you do so.

So if we are going to do anything about this, time is of the essence. I hope you act. I only really thought about the bailouts. But now even Obama's left is linking his White House to corruption.

And here's Jane in her own words:

Tim White

$35 million to upgrade the sewer plant

An update from Town Hall on the wastewater treatment plant:

Don Chelton of AECOM Consulting (formerly Metcalf and Eddy) reported at the December 16, 2009 WPCA meeting that the estimated cost for the Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrade will be approximately $35 million. This information had to be developed in order to be submitted to DEP for the grant/loan program. Mr. Chelton advised the Authority that the value of the project is still a work in progress but based on the information AECOM has available to date, he feels that the completed estimate will be in that range. He also advised the Authority that the draft facilities plan is just an initial step in developing the final project scope and cost. He said that he expected that one or more workshops would need to be conducted to review the scope of the proposed plant improvements and the financial impact the program would have on the community. Decisions will have to be made on whether to delete some items or possibly implement the program in phases. He also informed the Authority that phosphorous removal accounted for about 25% of the overall cost.

Using some pretty simple math... even if this was financed with 0% interest over twenty years... we'd be looking at a nearly $2,000,000 increase in the budget to finance this. I'm confident though that some of this relates to more energy-efficient equipment. In other words, some of that money could effectively be shifted from the "energy budget" to the "debt service budget." That's pretty much the performance contracting concept - paying capital costs through efficiency improvements.

Tim White

Understanding the damage at the pool

Last weekend, the snowstorm caused some damage at the pool. The Herald's Josh Morgan provides an explanation on what happened:

The talk of a new structure came on the heels of thousands of dollars worth of damage that occurred at the pool over the weekend. The snow on Saturday night and into early Sunday morning piled up on the bubble and collapsed the southwest corner, mangling an emergency exit door in the process.

Town Manager Michael Milone explained that, when snow is expected, the heat in the bubble is cranked up so the precipitation melts when landing on the bubble. However, the snow fell so quickly and was so heavy, it didn’t have a chance to melt the snow, Milone said. Instead, large chunks of snow and ice piled up and caved in the corner of the bubble.

Tim White

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

BOE / CEA contract negotiations

The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports on the BOE trying to renegotiate existing union contracts:

With the release of the town’s school budget just two weeks away, the Board of Education is talking with officials of the local teachers union about the possibility of concessions.

The Board of Education and the Cheshire Education Association agreed to a three-year deal on Oct. 2, 2008, that calls for an average raise of 4.4 percent per year. Three weeks after the agreement was announced, “the U.S. economy went in the tank,” Tod Dixon, the board’s vice chairman, said Tuesday.

I have a slightly different take on the timing of the vote. Last April I compiled a timeline of the US economy througout 2008, including the runup to the Council vote on the Teachers' Union contract.

The article concludes:

Republican Councilman David Schrumm warned Florio last week during a budget workshop that district officials need to act decisively this year to resolve the issue. “We need to know sooner rather than later if this is going to happen,” Schrumm said.

Tim White

McCain chides Obama on the lack of transparency in the healthcare debate

Though I'm not a big fan of John McCain - the Senator - the HuffPost's Sam Stein has highlighted an entirely necessary point being made by the GOPs former candidate for POTUS:

In a withering address on the Senate floor on Sunday, Sen. John McCain accused the president and Democratic leadership in the Senate of abandoning pledges of accountability and transparency during the reform process.

Pointing to the deals cut with the pharmaceutical industry, the American Medical Association and others, the Arizona Republican insisted that Democrats had "set up a tent out front and put Persian rugs out in front of it" - greeting special interests with specific gifts.

Recalling President Obama's campaign pledge to televise negotiations, McCain noted that "there has never been a C-SPAN camera" in the rooms where Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) crafted the final version of legislation. Drawing attention to some of the sweeteners that were put in the bill to win the support of conservative Democrats, McCain scoffed that there were now "new words in our lexicon," including the "Cornhusker Kickback", in reference to Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and the newly recoined term "The Louisiana Purchase" in reference to concessions to that state's Sen. Mary Landrieu.

And now we've got the Dodd Disbursement!

Senator McCain is right to call out President Obama:Furthermore, Presidential-candidate Obama had only one legislative claim to fame as he began running for the highest office in the land:

And President Transparency sits silently on the sidelines while Senator Bernie Sanders (Populist - VT) and Congressman Ron Paul (Populist - TX) fight for transparency by Auditing the Fed. It seems that President Obama's definition of bipartisanship is wedding Washington with Wall Street, rather than making over Main Street in Michigan.

And with regard to the healthcare deal, I'm very fortunate to have health insurance, fairly good health and no dependents. But I do use some prescriptions. And Obama's secret deal with Big Phrma is really annoying to me for a number of reason, including reality! For example, my co-pay on my asthma inhaler is $25. But I can go to many countries around the world and buy the same inhaler for $10 over-the-counter. Why?

Tim White

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Actuarial assumptions for the defined benefits pension plan

The following are the assumptions used by the actuaries to determine the liability of the Town's defined benefit (DB) pension plans:The Town will be recalculating the liability as of June 30, 2010. So I thought it'd be worthwhile to show you the assumptions used in the last valuation... and see if you have any comments on the next valuation? The primary assumption that jumps out at me is the 8.5% return. How many of us got 8.5% on our 401k this year?

I voted for Ron Paul. I'm not one of the fiat money guys, such as Greenspeak and Bailout Ben, who claim such returns are easily achievable... at least without a major correction.

Regardless, anyone have any comments? Breachway?

And from a budget perspective, if the new liability is much higher and the assets are much lower... the actuary may recommend large contributions to maintain a well-funded benefit plan. In turn, that would mean either service cuts or tax hikes to balance the budget... or in the case of DB plans, there are at least two other options:

1) Underfund the pension - a typical tactic used in Hartford

2) Juke the assumptions - for example, increase the "assumed" ROR to 10% or 12% and hope no one notices

I don't like those options. Either service cuts or tax hikes are better approaches in my opinion.

Tim White

NHR & MRJ on the pool... and the referendum timing

The NHRs Luther Turmelle and the MRJs Jesse Buchanan each ran articles on last night's pool meeting in today's papers.

Luther's article mentions that the OpenAire structure would take eight months to build. And I recall the KBE structure would take ten months to build.

These timeframes are critical to me in relation to when a referendum is held. As I said yesterday, there is a certain point after which I will not support holding a special referendum for the pool this year.

I figure that since it costs money to hold a special referendum, then it only makes sense to hold one if we're going to save money elsewhere... presumably by reducing the pool's 2010 / 2011 heating bill with a permanent structure. And if we're not going to save that money, then this should simply go to referendum in November during the general election.

Tim White

Peter Schiff on federal spending

At the December 17 grand opening of the Schiff for Senate headquarters, I asked US Senate candidate Peter Schiff what he felt needed to happen with federal spending:

I agree. Both the deficit and debt are huge and growing. And Bailout Ben's prescription to heal the illness - monetizing the debt - is IMO a prescription to hurt those most in need via the incideous inflation tax. Instead of healing the illness, his printing presses are more like another fix for an addict. Sure, things improve for a short time. But eventually the day of reckoning will arrive. And middle class America will see our standard of living continue to drop.

Tim White

Monday, December 21, 2009

Planning Committee pool meeting - December 21

The Planning Committee met tonight to discuss the pool. Several members of both the PBC and Energy Commission were there.

The end result was to further reduce down the possibilities of bubble alternatives. The former Council took it from six responses to four responses. And tonight the Planning Committee (Sima, Schrumm, Adinolfi) unanimously whittled the list down further to two - Open-Aire and KBE.

OpenAire builds the greenhouse-like structures.

KBE is much more of a conventional building. Based on the discussion, it seemed that it was favored as the second choice because it had the lowest price and was designed by the same architect of both the Dodd and CHS expansions.

I think that as the meeting began the idea was to select two structures and ask PBC and Energy to create an apples-to-apples life cycle cost for each. That is, just because the KBE structure has an initial proposed cost of $4.1 million... it may ultimately cost more than the initial proposed cost of $5.4 million for an Open-Aire building. PBC member Keith Goldberg explained some of the very likely costs of going with KBEs steel structure that may not exist with an Open-Aire aluminum structure.

Justin Adinolfi suggested taking this apples-to-apples approach one step further. So the Pool Working Group (Planning, PBC & Energy) will also try to compare the costs/benefits of the two structures with those of the bubble. I think that makes sense.

The Planning Committee's goal is to go to referendum with this by June. As for me, I don't see any point in spending money on a special referendum if the project can't be finished before the next heating season. In other words, there is a drop dead date after which this should just wait until the November election... that also makes a significant difference. Turnout is almost certain to be much higher in a general election, than in a special referendum.

Tim White

The WRA link to local news

I haven't been paying much attention to the WRA lately. I just don't find their website particularly user-friendly. But I did look at it this weekend and their "local" page seems chock full of Cheshire news today, including:

F&S Oil customers getting 30 cents on the dollar.

The schools' are looking for Teachers' Union concessions - I find this article particularly surprising. It was only last week that David Schrumm and I got an earful for suggesting shared pain among everyone.

Some discussion about the pool bubble and tonight's meeting.

I've changed the WRA link in the left column so that you are directed to the local news page, not the homepage.

Tim White

Senator Bunning on the Bernanke reappointment (14/14)

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) offered the following prepared comments during the December 3 reappointment hearing of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. This is the final part in a fourteen part series:

From monetary policy to regulation, consumer protection, transparency, and independence, your time as Fed Chairman has been a failure. You stated time and again during the housing bubble that there was no bubble. After the bubble burst, you repeatedly claimed the fallout would be small. And you clearly did not spot the systemic risks that you claim the Fed was supposed to be looking out for. Where I come from we punish failure, not reward it. That is certainly the way it was when I played baseball, and the way it is all across America. Judging by the current Treasury Secretary, some may think Washington does reward failure, but that should not be the case. I will do everything I can to stop your nomination and drag out the process as long as possible. We must put an end to your and the Fed’s failures, and there is no better time than now.

Go get'em Senator Bunning! Too bad Senator Dodd prefers to carry water for Wall Street.

Tim White

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Planning Committee - pool meeting

Probably the only Town Hall meeting this week:

7:30 P.M., MONDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2009

1. Roll Call.
2. Pledge of Allegiance.
3. Selection of finalists for the Community Pool Bubble Replacement RFQ.
4. Adjournment.

Since Election Night, Jimmy has been telling me that he intends to move on this. And there's no better time than the present for fairly obvious reasons. I also note that the Energy Commission and PBC members have been notified.

Tim White

Pool damaged by snowstorm

I just got this email about the pool:

At about 3:00 AM we had an incident at the Pool. Due to the weight of the snow coming off of the bubble,a large amount collected on the north-west corner of the facility and collapsed a corner of the bubble. The Parks crew along with help from the Fire dept. and possibly others were able to remove thw snow but some damage was done to the emergency door,necessitating a back hoe to hold it in place. The bubble is completly inflated and as far as I know at this time is not damaged. However, the damage to the door and impact on operations,in order to fix it, probably won't be ascertained until tomorrow.

Thankfully, it happened in the middle of the night and presumably no one was hurt.

And for those of you who are concerned about the pool budget, I notice that people were working on the pool who are not part of the pool budget. In other words, will those costs be allocated to the pool budget? Have such costs been allocated to the pool budget in the past?

Tim White

Historical Society holiday open house postponed

I just got a call from the Historical Society. Due to the snow, their holiday open house has been postponed until next week.

Tim White

Four inches taller...'s version of Senator Joe Lieberman's views on healthcare:

Tim White

Legislative Dems want $1B bonded for infrastructure

From the AP:

Legislative Democrats on Friday unveiled a plan to borrow $1 billion to pay for construction projects across Connecticut that they say will create more than 16,000 jobs.

The 12-month initiative calls for funding previously authorized transportation, housing, energy conservation, clean water and higher education capital improvement projects that can be started within 90 to 120 days.

The article continued by describing Governor Rell's office as "unenthusiastic."

Her office maintains that the governor will continue to use bonding as an economic development tool, but "will not do so irresponsibly and she will not do it for pork barrel projects."

This may prove interesting. Though my guess is that this, like so many other Hartford Headlines, will simply disappear without much more discussion.

Regardless, I thought the $787 billion stimulus plan was supposed to address infrastructure needs and create jobs? Why does the state need to do this?

Tim White

Local vs. state taxes for school funding

I know many of you know this chart well, but still thought it'd be worth showing. It's a 20 year trend of school funding obtained through local taxes (in white) and state taxes (in black):Tim White

Saturday, December 19, 2009

2009 voter turnout

I've seen some of the voter turnout numbers for November 3, but have yet to see a useful data set. In the meantime, I understand that while total turnout was around 37%... Dems turned out at a rate of 45%, while Rs turned out at a rate of 52%. As soon as I get my hands on a useful data set, I'll offer some detailed numbers by district / precinct / demographics, etc.

Tim White

HR 4248 - Free Competition in Currency Act

Campaign for Liberty's Dpy102 is reporting that Congressman Ron Paul has introduced HR 4248: - Free Competition in Currency Act. The act would do three things:

1. Eliminate the legal tender laws.

2. Eliminate laws that prohibit the operation of private mints.

3. Eliminate capital gains and sales taxes on gold and silver coins.

Sounds interesting. But then, anything that directly challenges the exclusive counterfeiting ability of Ben Bernanke's printing press sounds interesting to me. Keep in mind that while the Bush / Obama guy, Bailout Ben, prints more money... you are getting none of it. Therefore your money is worth less. It has been devalued because there is more money chasing after the same amount of goods and services.

Tim White

Friday, December 18, 2009

Senator Bunning on the Bernanke reappointment (13/14)

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) offered the following prepared comments during the December 3 reappointment hearing of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. This is part thirteen in a fourteen part series:

Even if all that were not true, the A.I.G. bailout alone is reason enough to send you back to Princeton. First you told us A.I.G. and its creditors had to be bailed out because they posed a systemic risk, largely because of the credit default swaps portfolio. Those credit default swaps, by the way, are over the counter derivatives that the Fed did not want regulated. Well, according to the TARP Inspector General, it turns out the Fed was not concerned about the financial condition of the credit default swaps partners when you decided to pay them off at par. In fact, the Inspector General makes it clear that no serious efforts were made to get the partners to take haircuts, and one bank’s offer to take a haircut was declined. I can only think of two possible reasons you would not make then-New York Fed President Geithner try to save the taxpayers some money by seriously negotiating or at least take up U.B.S. on their offer of a haircut. Sadly, those two reasons are incompetence or a desire to secretly funnel more money to a few select firms, most notably Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and a handful of large European banks. I also cannot understand why you did not seek European government contributions to this bailout of their banking system.

Tim White

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday donation request - Fuel bank & food drive

A repeat request... for information on some causes I believe to be worthwhile, you can visit Cheshire Cares.

And for two good causes in town, you can make checks payable to: "Cheshire Youth and Social Services Fuel Bank." And mail it to:

Cheshire Youth & Social Services
84 South Main ST.
Cheshire, CT 06410

Or make a check payable to: "Cheshire Food Drive."

PO Box 926
Cheshire, CT 06410

Tim White

Peter Schiff on S.604 - The Federal Reserve Sunshine Act

I stopped by the grand opening of the headquarters for the Peter Schiff for US Senate tonight. There was a pretty good crowd there, I knew a number of people there... including some surprises from Cheshire!

While there I had a chance to ask Mr. Schiff his opinion on S.604, the bill introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (Populist - VT) - The Federal Reserve Sunshine Act. Here is Peter's response:

In case the audio is too grainy for you, he said "Audit the hell out of it."

Chris Dodd (Political Class - CT) opposes auditing the Ben Bernanke's printing press.

Tim White

Understanding some energy & cost saving options

The MRJs Jesse Buchanan wrote a piece on Cheshire trying to get involved in an energy grant program. The program has many facets and I began explaining it here and here, but others would be better at explaining it I'm sure. So I've begun organizing another energy forum, hopefully to be televised.

If this happens, it won't happen until March (when the grant approvals are scheduled for approval or rejection). But I figured I should get started trying to organize it now.

One other possible topic for discussion would be the proposed natural gas pipeline from the LNG storage facility in Waterbury to the regulator in Wallingford.* I'm hoping that people along the line are given the option to attach. I figure anyone on heating oil could then use this as alternative to getting left out in the cold, if heating fuel skyrockets up from $3/gallon.

Anyway, just trying to provide ideas for reducing the cost of living in Cheshire.

Tim White

* My understanding is that the Wallingford regulator is part of the 36" transcontinental Tennessee pipeline. And obviously, the proposed 16" Waterbury / Wallingford pipeline is much smaller.

Senator Bunning on the Bernanke reappointment (12/14)

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) offered the following prepared comments during the December 3 reappointment hearing of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. This is part twelve in a fourteen part series:

Instead of taking that money and lending to consumers and cleaning up their balance sheets, the banks started to pocket record profits and pay out billions of dollars in bonuses. Because you bowed to pressure from the banks and refused to resolve them or force them to clean up their balance sheets and clean out the management, you have created zombie banks that are only enriching their traders and executives. You are repeating the mistakes of Japan in the 1990s on a much larger scale, while sowing the seeds for the next bubble. In the same letter where you refused to admit any responsibility for inflating the housing bubble, you also admitted that you do not have an exit strategy for all the money you have printed and securities you have bought. That sounds to me like you intend to keep propping up the banks for as long as they want.

And the Senate Banking Committee voted on the Bernanke confirmation today. HuffPost's Cate Long lists the votes of the 23 Senators. Unsurprisingly, the Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (Political Class - CT) led the charge to stay the course with Bailout Ben.

I really don't get Senator Dodd. He had the opportunity to derail the reappointment of a man who has been an absolute catastrophe for everyone who does not work on Wall Street. But instead, Dodd chooses Wall Street over Main Street.

Tim White

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dem suggests new legislative leaders needed

From the Courant's Rick Green reporting on the ongoing budget debacle in Hartford:

"It is depressing," said state Sen. Ed Meyer, a Democrat from Guilford. "We badly need a new governor. We probably need new legislative leaders."

While some legislators want to behave as adults, the legislative leaders (such as Senate President Don Williams) seem to prefer spending their time demanding compliance from all rank'n'file members on every-which-issue by threatening to eliminate their reserved parking space.

CTs legislature would be greatly improved if both Don Williams and his number three, Tom Gaffey, left Hartford next year.

Tim White

Tom Foley meets the Cheshire RTC

Running for the GOP nomination for Governor of Connecticut, Tom Foley introduced himself to the Cheshire Republican Town Committee tonight. Here's a brief clip I grabbed of him on his way out the door:

And on the topic of GOP candidates running for high office next year... following the December 3 Hamden RTC meeting where I met Peter Schiff (US Senate candidate), I tried to schedule Mr. Schiff to speak at tonight's Cheshire RTC meeting. Unfortunately, while his staff were highly receptive to the idea... I was informed that all CRTC agendas had already been set for the meetings through February. So Peter won't be coming to Cheshire until March. Regardless, he's having the grand opening of his headquarters tomorrow night if you're interested.

Tim White

Turmelle on last night's Council / BOE budget talk

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

Town Manager Michael Milone said the projected 2010-11 budget is about $98.6 million, about $4.1 million more than this fiscal year.

Milone made his projection during a special joint meeting of the Town Council and Board of Education Tuesday night. The school budget proposal will be presented next month, while Milone’s final proposal for municipal spending won’t be aired until March.

Tim White

Senator Bunning on the Bernanke reappointment (11/14)

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) offered the following prepared comments during the December 3 reappointment hearing of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. This is part eleven in a fourteen part series:

Now, if that statement was true and you had acted according to it, I might be supporting your nomination today. But since then, you have decided that just about every large bank, investment bank, insurance company, and even some industrial companies are too big to fail. Rather than making management, shareholders, and debt holders feel the consequences of their risk-taking, you bailed them out. In short, you are the definition of moral hazard.

Wow. Senator Bunning sure isn't pulling any punches. And despite Time naming him their Person-of-the-Year... I still say this guy needs to go. As Senator Bunning and Congressman Paul have clearly explained, Bernanke / Greenspan / Geithner are at the heart of the economic meltdown. They shouldn't be revered in anyway whatsoever.

Tim White

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ron Paul on CNBCs Squawk Box

Ron Paul did a one hour guest appearance on CNBCs Squawk Box today. Here's the opening segment. Congressman Paul gives a very concise explanation of his concerns and why he initially ran for Congress - poor monetary policy.

Tim White

How many teachers will we have?

In the past, some of you have asked me about how many teaching positions would be eliminated as a result of the current year budget. At tonight's Council / BOE meeting, we learned there are 15 fewer classroom teachers this year than last year.

Stepping back in time, the NHRs Luther Turmelle ran articles on the then-discussed reductions in classroom teachers on March 19, 2009 and May 8, 2009.

Tim White

Senator Bunning on the Bernanke reappointment (9,10/14)

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) offered the following prepared comments during the December 3 reappointment hearing of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. I felt these two paragraphs needed to be read together, so here are parts nine and ten in a fourteen part series:

Now, I want to read you a quote: “I believe that the tools available to the banking agencies, including the ability to require adequate capital and an effective bank receivership process are sufficient to allow the agencies to minimize the systemic risks associated with large banks. Moreover, the agencies have made clear that no bank is too-big-too-fail, so that bank management, shareholders, and un-insured debt holders understand that they will not escape the consequences of excessive risk-taking. In short, although vigilance is necessary, I believe the systemic risk inherent in the banking system is well-managed and well-controlled.”

That should sound familiar, since it was part of your response to a question I asked about the systemic risk of large financial institutions at your last confirmation hearing. I’m going to ask that the full question and answer be included in today’s hearing record.

Tim White

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Dec 10 Personnel meeting minutes - the CPD

Here are the not-yet-adopted minutes of last week's Council meeting on the CPD 'no confidence' vote. Most of my questions relate to the chronology of events that I requested from the TM on November 10 and posted here on December 10.


Town Council Chairman Timothy Slocum; Vice Chairman David Schrumm; Justin Adinolfi, Michael Ecke, Andy Falvey, Anne Giddings, Thomas Ruocco (Personnel Committee Chairman), Timothy White.
Absent: James Sima.
Staff: Michael A. Milone, Town Manager; Louis Zullo, Personnel Director; Police Chief Michael Cruess.
Others Present: Members of the Cheshire Police Department Union.

The clerk called the roll and a quorum was determined to be present.

The group Pledged Allegiance to the Flag.

Personnel Committee Chairman Ruocco thanked everyone for attending the meeting.

Mr. Ruocco stated that on October 2, 2009 he received a letter from the President of the Police Union, and he read an excerpt from the letter into the record which requests an immediate and impartial investigation to be conducted regarding the important concerns cited in the letter. Mr. Ruocco noted that these concerns were the reason behind the vote of no confidence. This is the reason why this meeting is being held – to address this matter. A few options have been looked at, all have been read, and the Council will undertake a fact finding effort as stated in the resolution for this meeting.

Mr.Ruocco said that the Council needs to hear from a mediator, and said he has not had direct contact with the Police Chief or the police officers in order to stay impartial. He noted that he has heard things from third parties, but wants to hear facts from a mediator. Vendors have been identified who can offer comprehensive services with good experience in dealing with police matters.

MOTION by Ms. Giddings; seconded by Mr. Ecke.

BE IT RESOLVED that the Town Council approves Resolution #121009-1.

RESOLUTION #121009-1

WHEREAS, the Town Council has considered options for reviewing management and labor relations issues within the Cheshire Police Department, and

WHEREAS, the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), through their Public Safety Services representative, Leonard A. Matarese, has provided an initial proposal that includes the following: IMCA police experts will perform an on-site visit and conduct a preliminary assessment of current department operations, and identification of specific areas for further detailed study, and will then prepare and deliver a report that will serve as a recapitulation of initial findings, as well as a detailed description of those areas that require further detailed study, and will include a description of study methods, pricing information, and a schedule/timeline for performance of the identified services. This initial report will be provided within an estimated time frame of 30-40 days from the time of initial engagement. It is expected that the fee for this initial assessment will not exceed $5,000.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town Council authorizes the Town Manager to engage the services of ICMA as per the terms above, with funds made available through the existing appropriation/encumbrance for the Strategic Plan.

Mr. White stated he wanted to understand the situation as addressed by the Town Manager. Mr. White received a time line from the Town Manager on the subject matter and asked Mr. Milone when was the first time he heard about the concerns voiced about Police Department.

Mr. Milone said he did not know.

Mr. White said he mentioned it before September 2008. He read from the chronology about the concerns about the Chief’s management style and asked if Mr. Milone had any concerns about this, and if there are operational issues based on what he knows today.

Stating he would defer to the experts on that, Mr. Milone said one important issue is the rules and regulations which need to be updated, after 25 years. They appear to be an integral part of any department operation, and this is a priority in terms of operation of the department. Beyond that, without having the knowledge of the consultant, Mr. Milone said he was not prepared to talk to that issue, especially given the circumstance here tonight and those present.

Mr. White said the time line shows a discussion started on September 28, 2008 and February 19, 2009, and asked Mr. Milone if he or his staff received feedback from the union on their concerns.

In response, Mr. Milone said he never had a formal meeting with the group but did talk to people individually as indicated by the sequence of events written out.

Mr. White read more from the time line memo, and asked about meetings every two weeks for about two months, end of February to end of April.

Mr. Milone said it was in that time range.

Chairman Ruocco stated he was not sure what Mr. White is asking is relevant to the resolution as it does not speak to the performance of the Town Manager.

In reply, Mr. White said he is doubtful he will support the resolution, but wants to conclude whether the Town Manager has done all in his power.

Mr. Ruocco also stated to Mr. White that he does not think the Town Manager is not subject to questioning by the mediator, and the scrutiny will be there.

Mr. White read further from the chronology and asked if the newsletter is ongoing.

Mr. Milone believes it is since it is a periodical newsletter.

Mr. White asked if the Town Manager has had positive feedback about the newsletter.

Mr. Milone has not spoken specifically to people about the newsletter and its impact on the department.

In the time line memo Mr. White pointed out that the Chief was directed to delegate much of the day to day operations to Deputy Chief Popovich, and asked what operations were to be delegated.

Mr. Milone said it was the regular administrative duties that go along with managing a department, they are still delegated and to a greater extent.

Mr. White asked about improvements made to the kitchen and training room.

Mr. Milone said he believes they have been implemented.

Mr. White asked about the establishment of scheduled regular union e-board meetings to include the command staff and if this has happened.

Mr. Milone said yes.

Mr. White asked about meetings between the police chief and union president.

Mr. Milone believes these have happened, but cannot state with certainty if they continue to happen, and has it helped…he cannot state conclusively. But, he noted that communication of any type is a step in the right direction, and is a positive initiative. The fact that there is an attempt to communicate is important.

Mr. White asked about the sergeant’s exam moving forward and if this process has been formalized and accepted by all parties.

Mr. Milone said the exam has been conducted and a sergeant was promoted about 3 weeks ago.

Regarding the May 21st letter and meeting with the e-board by Mr. Milone and Mr. Zullo, the question was asked by Mr. White about a document detailing issues previously discussed, and if it contained issues or concerns in which the Town Manager was personally involved.

Town Manager Milone asked for clarity on the question posed. After some clarification, he said no concerns raised included him. They talked about the chief. It was reiterated, in writing, the concerns raised over the course of the preceding months. It is an item discussed extensively with the Council at the July or August meeting in executive session.

Mr. White questioned the Town Manager whether the town’s labor attorney has discussed this document with the union’s attorney.

Mr. Milone stated that he has not shown that document to the labor attorney.

Mr. White commented on the union leadership being unwilling to participate in a meeting and asked about retaliation in the police department as a concern.

The concern was respected and Mr. Milone said he respected it.

In the time line memo Mr. White said Mr. Milone wanted to have a meeting with specific illustrations from those affected, and he asked if the May 21st document provided any illustrations.

Mr. Milone said “yes”, but in the absence of someone sitting across the table from someone else, and expressing their concerns, and allowing that person to hear the concerns and give their side of the issue and response, the simple statement of it does not have the impact that it has when two parties are together discussing what went down.

Mr. White stated he agreed. He also commented that some things in the report from the Town Manager are good and progress is being made. With regard to the July 23rd and September 28th meetings, he asked why it took two months to schedule the September meeting, and if this is typical of personnel best practices.

Given all that transpired at the July 23rd meeting, Mr. Milone said much work could be done behind the scene, and to schedule another meeting would not generate what he hoped would be a productive and positive outcome. Coming out of the meeting he did not get the sense of the level of urgency which the police union was feeling.

Mr. White said the concern for him is not getting clear information on the state of the department and employees, hearing things from people he knows and he feels people were trusting him and this did not exist with the Town Manager.

In response, Mr. Milone said he never felt the claims were frivolous, and he took them very seriously, and took whatever action he could given the circumstances. One thing he realized was that in order to have a resolution an intervention was needed. This meant having the parties across the table indicating the issues of concerns, with specific dates and times and allowing the chief to respond to those questions.

Mr. Milone said he also heard things, and every time he did, there would be a variation of something from someone else. The only way to ascertain the accuracy of what was being said was to get the complainant in the room with the chief. This was the only way to get to the heart of some of the issues, and that was virtually impossible to achieve. Mr. Milone said this does not mean he did not take this seriously, it just meant that the way it had to be resolved was to get the parties in the room and this was impossible.

Mr. Slocum said he appreciates the fact that some of the Councilors did not have the benefit of hearing the consultants speak, and there will be questions raised. He stated he will support the resolution because of the process that took place where two representatives came into the room. ICMA group was more specific to fact finding, problem finding, and coming up with identification of issues which could make some of the labor relations components go away with some organizational changes. This was a positive statement from the ICMA team. It also shed light and gave him a different perspective on the matter. He is supportive of the approach of bringing in the consultant and then the Council can decide if it wants to go further. More importantly, Mr. Slocum said he thinks that because of some of the questions raised to the Town Manager it is reasonable to conclude, in fairness to all parties, that there is a need for an independent fact finding effort to arrive at answers to these issues. His only concern in going forward is that the department is left whole, staff is left whole, the chief is left whole and public safety goes on and is improved. It will be a worthy investment.

Mr. Adinolfi has reviewed the Town Manager’s document. He asked whether all the parties involved (Chief, Town Manager, Union) agree this is the way to go. If they are not in agreement about bringing in a mediator, it will not work.

Stating he could not speak for other parties involved, Mr. Milone said he is supportive of the mediator and the report which would be forthcoming to the Council.

Mr. Ruocco said there has been indication from a third party that this is a favorable approach.

It was pointed out by Mr. Milone that 10 firms could be brought in, but he does not know there would be unanimity among everyone on any one of these firms.

Mr. Adinolfi stated that without all parties in favor nothing will work. There seems to be such unwillingness to meet together and talk, he questions whether they will talk to the fact finder. If they are agreeable it is sometimes difficult to work with difficult parties so there is good flow of information. He asked why ICMA was chosen over the other firm.

Ms. Giddings was at the meeting for the presentations and was impressed with ICMA and the fact that they had a large amount of experience with police organizations which are not the same as other organizations. She noted that the ICMA people are former police officers and she feels more confident in their abilities. These people will come in with a background and an understanding of how the police department is run, organized, and the proper procedures.

Mr. Adinolfi asked about the procedures about the operation and procedures being out of date by decades, and if there is a concern there.

Mr. Milone explained that the department has wanted to embark on updating the rules and regulations. The consultant said this is a good place to start in resolution of a situation of this kind. The issue is not simply personalities, it is organization, and this organization has operational things which could be inherent in creating issues which would otherwise not be present. The chief had suggested updating the rules and regulations, and when it was mentioned to the fact finder he said this was a strong and positive way to start this process.

Regardless of what happens, Mr. Milone said there will be a revision of the rules and regulations of the police department.

Ms. Giddings asked if it was true that the police department is going through an accreditation process. She said such a process can be helpful and having the fact finder can make recommendations for changes which will help the accreditation process.

Mr. Slocum stated that one of the reasons he supports this resolution is that to do nothing is creating a problem because the union has made it clear they are unhappy. Because of that we don’t know the measures to make them happy, and Mr. Milone and the chief cannot speak to that, and the Council is not going to the officers to find out. The Council cannot expect the Town Manager to be in the police department one day a week because this is unreasonable. If the result is facts we do not like then this Council will have to take stronger measures.

Stating here agreement with Mr. Slocum, Ms. Giddings said this has been ongoing since September 2008, this is not the time to try more of the same without satisfactory results.

Mr. Schrumm stated he was not interested in the past, but what is going on now and in the future. He is interested in getting the facts and this is why getting the fact finder is the only path to take. He is not interested in opinions, hearsay, rumors, blog postings, and interested only in the facts. If there is one department that has responsibility, from the chief to the newest member, it is the police department which should be able to come up with the facts. When two parties cannot get into a room together, this bothers him, and Mr. Schrumm said especially with the department which should be driven by facts. He commented on arrests not being made on opinions, personal agendas, union membership, etc. but arrests are made on facts. When this fact finder comes in, and there are issues, he hopes that both sides sit down and talk about facts and be fair to everyone. Sooner or later a judgment will have to be made, and it cannot be made without solid facts. With a neutral third party, Mr. Schrumm hopes all the facts can be known, deal with the issues, and get to the bottom of it. He noted that people want to work in a place where everyone gets along and people do a professional job. This is the only way to go and ICMA is a good organization.

Mr. Falvey said he would support the resolution because it makes sense. There have been ongoing issues and we have not gotten to the bottom of it. The very nature of a police department has something to do with that due to a chain of command. He is unsure of the term “para-military” is correct, but in that realm you have ranks. Having a true independent outside person or firm talking to all parties gives each party an opportunity to express thoughts and opinions and their version of the facts, which people may not be willing to disclose in the chain of command. Mr. Falvey believes it is not a matter of a break down, but a matter of having an outside, independent, does not care person gathering those facts. Then the Council can decide the true nature of the issues and make a decision on what to do. Having sat in on the presentation meeting, Mr. Falvey said he is comfortable with ICMA, and will support the resolution.

Once this report is given to the Council, Mr. Slocum said it goes to Mr. Milone and it becomes something the Council discusses in open session, or executive session.

Mr. Milone advised that it depends on the nature of the report how this plays out. Most, or all of it, will have to be in open session unless there is something which ICMA presents which is sensitive and should not be discussed openly. Mr. Milone said he hopes that, if that is the case, he will ask ICMA to separate sensitive portions from the report so the Council does not have to redact it, but simply have a reference to information that is sensitive and subject to FOI to be submitted as an appendix only for certain individuals.

Mr. Slocum stated that town management is part of the fact finding endeavor and Councilors are not part of the day to day operation of the town. ICMA stated it is a report to the Council, and this is the way, from a public point of view, that this is the way it is done.

According to Mr. Milone this is not dissimilar to an audit report. The Council appoints the auditor; the auditor reports to the Council; and staff acts as the facilitators to provide information for them to perform their various functions.

Mr. Adinolfi asked whether there is a formal proposal, what CMA will do, and what is the scope of their fact finding.

Stating he does not intend to support this, Mr. White said there is value in it. We need to get the facts on the table as this has gone on for more than a year. He said the town has a well paid Personnel Director and mediation and addressing employee relations is part of his job description. He suggested giving the Town Manager another three months to mediate the conflict, and if staffing changes need to be made they happen.

Kerry Deegan, Police Department Union, stated that the union is in support of ICMA which is the firm the Council has chosen. He attended the meeting, heard the presentations, and was impressed with what the firm has to offer.

Chief Creuss stated that staff and administrators of the Police Department were also in support of this from the start to determine any changes which will benefit the department.

There were no other public comments.

Councilor Ecke stated that this is a serious situation and he has heard much about this in the last few months. He is impressed with ICMA. Mr. Ecke questioned whether the Planning Committee has looked at this resolution because it is taking money from the Strategic Plan update which was budgeted for last year. By taking this money this Plan may not be updated.

Mr. Schrumm said there was a sense that the Council would not be going forward with updating the Strategic Plan and this is a good way to spend the money. This is a serious amount of funding and it is unlikely that the Strategic Plan update will take place, and if it does take place, funds could come from the contingency or another place to fund it. Mr. Schrumm stated that this is a Strategic Plan for the Police Department.

A group is being hired and Mr. Ecke cited an excerpt from the minutes of the meeting in which ICMA stated that “if the department does not have an articulate strategic plan that it should be the end result of the final analysis.” It also stated that in order to steer the ship you need not just to put the right people in the wrong place but try to insure there is a well delineated process and what the goal is. Clearly, the goal is that the group being hired believes the Police Department should have a Strategic Plan in place. He commented on the Council not doing strategic planning when, in fact, that plan may have helped this situation in the Police Department.

Mr. Schrumm stated that if we have to go forward with a more in-depth Strategic Plan for the Police Department, then more of the money could be used for this purpose. He asked how long it has been since the Town’s Plan has been updated.

Mr. Milone responded that it is about 7 years.

Mr. Ecke said he has heard for the last four years that there are qualified people in Town offering to do things for free, and this should be used as an avenue to save the Town money. He is not saying the person who offered is qualified to do this or would do a good job, but knows the person casually and of his professional reputation. Mr. Ecke does not think there was a meeting with the individual who offered to do this service, and it would have been worth taking 5 or 10 minutes to talk to this person and determine if he could have done the fact finding for free and save $5,000.

It was stated by Mr. Ecke that the engagement letter from the consultant is an invitation to spend more money in the future once the report is produced with items to go forward. He asked whether putting out this $5,000 is not addressing the full potential costs involved. There is potential for $125 per hour and this could be very expensive in the long run. Once the Town spends the $5,000 the Council will need to allocate the resources which may be necessary to make the problem better and do what needs to be done. Mr. Ecke has concerns that this is a short band-aid rather than sitting down with the process being the end in mind.

Ms. Giddings reported that she did not learn until yesterday about the person in Town. However, in any situation it is essential to find out the facts. For more than a year facts have not been determined by qualified staff who work in Town Hall. Without the facts the Council cannot make any type of presumption or accurate plan of what might be needed, what could be needed, what could be done by staff or others. Ms. Giddings is concerned that facts could not be determined within a period of time, and she would like to know what the situation is. In order to do that, given the comments and background from the Town Manager, it is clear to her that this cannot be done except by someone who is perceived by both parties to be completely independent, an outsider, who could come in and gain the confidence of both parties. It is true we have many qualified people in Town, but Ms. Giddings said that even with her past experience she would not touch this situation. We need an independent person, someone experienced with a police department, and someone who is not in this Town.

It was made clear by Mr. Ecke that something needs to be done, and the facts are needed and the issue must be addressed. He thinks there were other avenues which could have been considered.

Ms. Giddings stated this has gone on for more than a year, and she wants someone who can give her the professional guarantee. She is extremely reluctant to spend Town money, but this must be done, and we owe it to the Police Department and the Town to get the facts. We need to have an independent person, who has the confidence of both parties. Ms. Giddings said we must get this done.

Mr. Adinolfi commented on it being time for an independent third party, and asked about the total cost involved, and if this was defined by each firm.

Mr. Ruocco stated it is his understanding that these costs will be laid out in the report, and will be determined based on the fact finding.

Mr. Adinolfi said he would expect some range of costs from this firm based on their experience.

Ms. Giddings stated that both groups stated they were unable to give an estimate until all the facts are there.

This is an important issue for the Police Department and the Town, and Mr. Adinolfi said he wished there was some time given to Mr. Grimshaw to come in and give a presentation to the Town.

Stating he knows Mr. Grimshaw and his work, Mr. Schrumm said in this case the Town needs a totally independent third party, from out of town, with vast experience in municipal type of issues. In phase #2 the ultimate costs will be known after the facts are known. Going to a totally independent outside party disconnected from the Town and with experience can take us to the next phase. This is the most logical path to take.

Mr. Ecke stated he would support the resolution as it is the right way to go. But, he is disappointed that we have reached the point that, with professional staff, we have to bring in someone from the outside to mediate a problem. It never should have gotten to this point, and there should have been ways for professional staff to deal with this and not cost the taxpayers $5,000.

Agreeing with Mr. Ecke’s statement, Mr. Slocum said he believes there has been a breakdown between the Police Department, Police Department Management and Town Hall management. Town staff understands that, and that makes this issue even more important to determine and go forward.

Mr. Adinolif expressed his disappointment at where we are at in this matter, and is more concerned about the lack of willingness to sit down at the table. This could be the stumbling block for ICMA. This is the issue of more concern to him. Without two parties coming together and talking, the parties cannot work things out.

It was noted by Mr. Ruocco that this problem did not happen within the last two weeks, but has been going on for a while. Town staff has tried to address the situation and it got worse. He can only charge accountability to the Town Manager for putting forth the best possible effort to make this work.

Mr. Ruocco asked all parties involved to cooperate to the best of their professional ability. He does not like spending the $5,000, but it is the right thing to do, and ICMA is the best qualified to deal with police matters.

VOTE In favor – 7; Adinolfi, Giddings, Ruocco, Ecke, Slocum,
Falvey and Schrumm.
Opposed -1; White.
Absent -1 Sima
The motion passed 7-1-0.

I know this is a lot to digest, but I hope you take the time to read it and offer your thoughts. Oftentimes, I break down these longer pieces into smaller parts. But I think this needs to be taken in its entirety.

Tim White

A Town Hall update on the energy grant

With regard to the energy grant that I began discussing here and here, I offer this excerpt from an email I received today from Town Hall:

In short the Town is being asked to participate in this Connecticut Clean Energy Program, and in order for us to participate they want a letter of support from the Chief Executive Officer, and in order for me to sign this commitment letter I would need the Town Council’s approval.

The Town’s role in this program is to support/coordinate/promote the programs associated with the clean energy fund ,which are a number of energy efficiency initiatives, and to get participation among our residents, businesses, civic organizations etc. The energy efficiency programs offered are varied and if the Cheshire community demonstrates a specified reduction in energy consumption over a fixed period of time, the Town government could qualify for credits, which allowed us to get the solar panels at the Library, and/or incentives such as LED street lights for a parking lot.

With regard to "if the Cheshire community demonstrates a specified reduction in energy consumption over a fixed period of time," this is something the Energy Commission has been partly working on for several years. The basic idea is that if the Town is to have a townwide energy conservation plan, two things must happen:

1) Energy consumption must be benchmarked,* then

2) We begin to reduce our energy consumption.

So in relation to town government, the EC has already acted. However, I understand that this grant would also require a benchmarking for household consumption. So this program is more comprehensive than the actions taken by the EC to-date. And to do this I understand CL&P will be involved.

Here is a sense of the number of households that may be included in the program in both Cheshire and statewide:Anyway, this program appears to be a fairly large undertaking. But considering that much of our energy comes from the middle east, I think the effort is not only worthwhile... it's necessary.

Tim White

* This benchmarking requires that all energy consumption (i.e. electricity, natural gas & heating oil) be documented in a database for a number of years. And to that end, on Friday I sat down with the Town's Public Properties owner and the Energy Chair, Rich Ogurick, and discussed the progress on this initiative. As it turns out, all electricity and NG for the past few years are in the database... and the lion's share of heating oil consumption for the town (a small part going back to fall of 2007) should be entered in the database by December 31. At that point, we'll know our consumption. And I thank George Noewatne for his efforts in this. I know he's spent quite a bit of time on this over the past few years.

Falvey / White Mixville meeting & the turf

Andy Falvey and I held a meeting tonight regarding Mixville park. We discussed a number of topics, such as the dredging, dam and security concerns. The TM & P&R Director both attended. I thank them for their presence tonight.

But for many of you, I think the most interesting comment tonight was entirely unrelated to Mixville. I understand the fundraising for the turf got a boost tonight from the Gridiron Club... to the tune of $25,000.

Tim White

Senator Bunning on the Bernanke reappointment (8/14)

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) offered the following prepared comments during the December 3 reappointment hearing of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. This is part eight in a fourteen part series:

And Chairman Greenspan sold the Fed’s independence to Wall Street through the so-called “Greenspan Put”. Whenever Wall Street needed a boost, Alan was there. But you went far beyond that when you bowed to the political pressures of the Bush and Obama administrations and turned the Fed into an arm of the Treasury. Under your watch, the Bernanke Put became a bailout for all large financial institutions, including many foreign banks. And you put the printing presses into overdrive to fund the government’s spending and hand out cheap money to your masters on Wall Street, which they use to rake in record profits while ordinary Americans and small businesses can’t even get loans for their everyday needs.

Tim White

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The "clustering" and deadlines for the energy grant

At last Tuesday's Council meeting we learned of possible grant money related to energy projects in town. I elaborated on this a bit in this post yesterday.

Having read a grant-related document, I now understand the idea to be that Cheshire and Bethany are considered "energy leaders" in CT. Thus, Cheshire and Bethany have been selected as two of the fourteen towns for which this grant money is targeted. An additional consideration was that towns are to be "clustered." Here are some details on the current clustering and proposed program rollout:Maybe somebody noticed the Bethany / Cheshire clean energy competition a few years ago?

And here are the "next steps" detailed in the grant document:

1) Letters due back to us* – December 9, 2009

2) Grant application submitted – December 14, 2009

3) Awards announced – March 15, 2010

4) Stakeholder meetings, MOU’s, and data requests from the utilities – April-May of 2010

5) Awards made – May 15, 2010 (time to create the national model for community-based clean energy and energy efficiency programming!!!)

Tim White

* With regard to "us," I can't quite tell what group is organizing this. But it seems to be a consortium of groups, including the CT Clean Energy Fund and CT Energy Efficiency Fund.