Sunday, April 05, 2009

Legislature's Energy Chair should vote on criteria used in allocating energy-related stimulus funding

CT will be getting money related to the stimulus package. So I wanted to see if it would be possible for Cheshire to secure any of that money for some of our numerous projects that offer energy-efficiency opportunities, such as the Mixville pump station, the pool, HVACs, roofs, windows, etc.

In order to get the ball rolling I emailed our state delegation which got a response from state Rep. Esty. That response prompted me to email Cheshire's State Rep. Vickie Nardello (also Chair of the Energy Committee). My email got this response:


Currently the Governor and OPM will make the decisions however we are working on legislation that will provide review by the general assembly.


I appreciated Vickie's quick response. But it also struck me as a vague and inadequate answer. And it reminded me of:

1) the origin of the turf funding and
2) the WRAs July 2008 opinion on the reckless use of slush funds by Hartford's power brokers:

The issue is whether three of the state's highest-ranked elected officials have the right to confiscate, through their own collusion, $36 million a year from the most overtaxed people in America for the purpose of raising their own poll numbers, buying votes and soliciting campaign donations.

So I replied:

Hi Vickie,

Thanks for replying so quickly. But I have a followup about your statement

Currently the Governor and OPM will make the decisions

Can you explain "decisions?" Are they "decisions" about where the money is spent? Or are they "decisions" about establishing the criteria used to allocate the money? Will the Assembly review include recorded votes? Or is this going to be allocated similar to the "discretionary funding" - such as the funding for the turf?

If this is going to be allocated by a process similar to the turf, then I think this is a real opportunity to demand positive reform of the system.


No response yet. But it's only been the weekend. So I'm hoping I'll hear back this week. And in fact I was going to hold off on this post until I got a response. But then I read today's Courant and remembered why I was so hot-to-trot on nailing down the allocation process for the stimulus funding.

Deep into an article by Josh Kovner about the use of stimulus funding:

Fears Of Cronyism

This is the point in the process — where the distance between source and recipient is at its widest — that good-government types get concerned."

As the money gets deeper in the weeds, there's less transparency," said Michael Surrusco, deputy director of research for Common Cause in Washington.

It's this reality of CT that concerns me. I hope that - as the Energy Chair - Rep. Nardello will be demanding that the legislature vote on the criteria used in allocating energy-related stimulus funding. If she doesn't, then I expect that you can demand all the disclosures you want... but you'll still end up seeing legislators bragging about the pork they brought home... while we'll never see the backroom deals that are being cut on other issues.

CT needs to stop the backroom dealing. Rep. Nardello has a perfect opportunity to use the bully pulpit to demand both accountability and transparency. I hope she takes advantage of it.

Tim White

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