Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dispute in Southington over Crusher's slush fund

From the MRJs Leslie Hutchison:

SOUTHINGTON - A dispute between the Town Council and Board of Park Commissioners over who controls a $200,000 state grant has turned testy.

The park board supports the construction of a 5,250-square-foot pavilion at the old Southington Drive-in property while the council wants to explore more options and insists it controls the grant money....

Barry said repeatedly Monday that the state money received last September was not from the park board's grant request but directly from funds controlled by former Speaker of the House James A. Amann. "The $200,000 had nothing to do with the pavilion," Barry said.

When asked who was correct in the dispute, Amann replied "Who cares? It's just like Cheshire's $525,000 grant for Councilman Turf. It came directly from my slush fund. You can do whatever you want with it. It's all free money. Remember, money grows on trees. And don't forget to vote for Jim 'Crusher' Amann for Governor!"

Whoops! Sorry about that typo. Glad I caught it and crossed it out before publishing!

Seriously though... the article does raise some real questions about the rhetoric we've been hearing for the past year.

Tim White

h/t to SZ


Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, Tim, but the $525,000 grant that Cheshire accepted from Amann's slush fund read in part - "for improvements to the CHS athletic complex including artificial turf." I'm sure I don't have it worded exactly as it was written, but I recall it used the words "improvements to the complex."
That being said, one could argue that the entire CHS building and grounds (since athletes use both areas in and outside of the school) could be considered "the complex."
Considering the poor economic situation we're facing and the fact that councilors have already admitted that when considering accepting grants it would be best to only accept those that cover the entire cost of a project, couldn't the town council direct these funds to areas like the locker room that needs improvement or the concession stand/lavatories by the fields that also need improvement. Once the money is used up in those areas, then that's it - no more taxpayer funds would be spent.

tim white said...

I can't speak to the legalities. But here's my take:

Amann / Rell / Williams each get an annual $12 million slush fund ($2 million in operating, $10 million in capital)

Each of them individually and unilaterally decide who gets the slush. But the slush must first be rubber stamped by the State Bonding Commission.

It's all a game. Everyone pretends as though things are difficult, but they're really not. If Amann were still Speaker, Councilman Turf and our esteemed State Rep (who never showed any concern about the presumably-still-under-investigation debacle known as I-84) could go to Crusher and simply request the money get redirected.

But they wouldn't do it.

It's all just bad government.