Sunday, May 31, 2009

Turmelle on last week's linear trail vote

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

The Town Council has approved a resolution that, if approved by a state Superior Court judge, would put an end to a seven-year legal battle with a local business. Wednesday’s unanimous vote by the council for a settlement with Dalton Enterprises clears a major road block to efforts to expand the town’s Linear Trail.

If you read the article, you'll see that Councilman Altieri and I agree on this issue - there's no need to spend property tax dollars on the trail right now.

Tim White

Tiananmen Square - 1989 revisited - part 11

The eleventh part in a PBS piece published in 2001 by Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link:

May 15

Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in Beijing for the first Sino-Soviet summit since 1959, but the hunger strike forces the government to cancel plans to welcome him in Tiananmen Square. His escort is blocked by protestors on nearly every street in Beijing. "[F]or the Chinese government, [this was] a big loss of face, very scary," says
Jan Wong. "… They were aware of what was happening in the Soviet Union -- and so were the Chinese people -- that the Communist Party in the Soviet Union was more or less imploding. [The Party leaders] were very frightened in China."

June 5

Tim White

Murphy talks green jobs, ignores Auditing the Fed

Congressman Chris Murphy is talking green jobs. I appreciate that. But I still haven't heard back from him on his lack of support for H.R.1207 - Audit the Fed!

Last I heard, Ron Paul's bill surpassed 180 cosponsors. And in theory, 218 is enough to pass a vote. But I can only imagine the political hurdles that'll be thrown at the bill when it comes time for a vote.

Tim White

Foster Adoptive Mission

As a followup to yesterday's guest post by Deb Kelleher on foster care, here's a description of Deb's not-for-profit group:

FAM is a federally-funded Community Collaborative whose mission is to promote and enhance relationships between foster/adoptive families, DCF and other community providers and to increase the number of licensed foster and adoptive families available in the northwestern and central areas of the state for CT children in out-of-home care. Contact us for information on becoming a CT foster or adoptive parent.

For more information, contact Deb at:

Foster Adoptive Mission
P O Box 9117
Waterbury, CT 06724

Tim White

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tiananmen Square - 1989 revisited - part 10

The tenth part in a PBS piece published in 2001 by Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link:

May 13

Anticipating Soviet Party Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's visit, about 160 students begin a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square, citing the government's failure to respond to their requests for dialogue. One of the printed manifestos reads: "The nation is in crisis -- beset by rampant inflation, illegal dealing by profiteering officials, abuses of power, corrupt bureaucrats, the flight of good people to other countries and deterioration of law and order. Compatriots, fellow countrymen who cherish morality, please hear our voices!"

Their hunger strike draws broad public support; many important intellectuals pledge their help. "There's such a feeling in China about food because of the thousands of years of famines that they've had," explains Jan Wong. "… So when the students went on their hunger strike, it really moved people to tears."

Tim White

Cobern blasts "teabaggers"

And the Herald printed it.

I can only hope that neither the Herald nor Marty knew the meaning of "teabagging."

Here's a three-minute clip that explains both why I found Marty's letter in very poor taste and why I don't like David Schuster:*

Also worth mentioning since Marty decided to add such crude language to Cheshire's political lexicon... Marty's letter was in response to a letter from Tim Slocum. In Tim's original letter, he described Marty as "insufferable." The Herald deleted "insufferable" from the letter they ran.

And yes, I recognize there's worse language on this blog... so maybe I should just ignore this. But then this isn't exactly the MSM. I try to maintain some standards, but I believe there are different standards for volunteer blogs and professional journals.

Tim White

* I don't much care for any of the ideological reporters on Fox or MSNBC. I tend to prefer what I consider the more straight reporting of CNN.

A history of the pool RFP

The RFP for a pool enclosure has finally been issued and scheduled for an opening on June 24. If you read this Herald article (by Josh Morgan), you’ll see that no enclosure will be going to referendum this year. And the talking points are already being issued “I don’t think it’s realistic to come up with a solid number and a plan that everyone is comfortable with in time for this year.”

But before anyone starts drinking that kool-aid, please recall the sequence of events that led to this RFP:

October 2007 – I point out that the Council majority has refused to take action on the pool. And at a time when Congressman Murphy is voting on war & peace, Cheshire’s Council leadership claims it is paralyzed (see here and here) over a recreational facility.

November 2007 – The Council Chairman requests the Energy Commission to review the energy issues at the pool.

February 2008 – Energy Commission member Dave Gavin issues his report. During that discussion, I attempt to direct staff to issue a Request for Information for pool enclosure options, such as the ones discussed by the Energy Commission. The Council majority hems and haws over the meaning of a “Request for Information” and refuses to direct their boss staff to do anything.

March 2008 – I again advocate action on the pool enclosure and it’s wasteful energy consumption. Again, the Council majority explains that they are confused by the phrase “Request for Information.”

April 2008 – Due to public pressure, the Council majority acknowledges there are problems with the pool and decides to create an ad hoc Pool Committee. The Pool Committee is to issue an RFP for options for pool enclosures.

May 2009 – We hear the nonsense about time constraints.

June 1, 2009 – Capital budgets are due from Department Heads to the TM.

July 15, 2009 – The TMs capital budget is due to the Council.

September 5, 2009 – The Council must vote on a capital budget 60 days prior to a referendum question.

November 3, 2009 – Capital budget items greater than $350,000 go to referendum.

For years, we’ve known the bubble was an issue. To sit here in the summer of 2009 and say that we don’t have enough time to thoughtfully consider a pool enclosure is pure nonsense. If the Council would admit that it’s been ignoring the pool for years, then at least they’d be intellectually honest about the situation. But intellectual honesty and candor isn’t their forte.

Tim White

P.S. As for the politics about why it didn't happen in 2008... my guess is there was a Council member who was running for another office 2008 and didn't want it on the ballot at the same time. And as for the politics about why it won't happen this year... well this year there's a few more people running for office who don't want the pool and their names on the ballot at the same time.

Have you ever considered a foster child?

May is foster child month. Here's a guest post on the subject by a woman I admire - Deb Kelleher:

Every year thousands of children enter the child welfare system in Connecticut resulting in a foster care census of close to 6000 children in care at any given time. Statistically, it is likely that over 1300 of those children will not go back home for good. Where do they go? Who cares for them? What will their futures hold?

Foster homes will care for the majority of the children removed from their homes. Connecticut has approximately 3000 licensed foster homes in which to place these children. Not nearly enough to meet the needs of kids in crisis, kids who through no fault of their own cannot live with their moms and dads. Some of these children wait in safe homes (a short term home with professional staffing) for up to 60 days for an appropriate foster family. Sibling groups are the most challenging to place.

Foster care workers try very hard to keep brothers and sisters together and, largely, they are successful but finding a home that has space for 3 or 4 children arriving all at once can be a daunting task.

Some children are placed in other settings: hospitals, residential treatment facilities, group homes and other transitional settings designed to help young adults who “age out” without a place to call home. Children in placements such as these often will also require some kind of foster home in their journey through the child welfare system. Eventually, as the reasons that brought the children into more supportive living arrangements are addressed, social workers will look to place these children with foster families. Specialized foster families will be chosen who can care for children with more complex needs will take these young people into their homes and provide them with the support they need to progress and maintain their successes.

Foster families are a diverse group. They come in all ages, genders, cultural backgrounds, religions, and sexual orientations. Some are single, others are married or living with a partner. Some have biological children, others do not. Some are licensed to care for any child who needs a home. Others specialize in different areas of care. A foster home can focus on caring for babies or teens or girls or boys, for example. They can take classes to become a “medically complex” home that typically takes in kids with medical diagnoses and highly specialized medical needs.

Often family or other caring adults in a child’s life will come forward to care for a particular child or sibling group. Adults can become trained and licensed through private agencies that specialize in “therapeutic” care, “treatment” care, “professional” care, or even care of adjudicated youth. The private agencies that license these families provide special services and increased levels of support for their foster homes and the children living with these families. All successful foster families, though, have in common love for kids; an ability to laugh during tough times; patience; and an unwavering commitment to the children in their care in both good times and bad.

Children in foster care need more adults who can care for them. They need safe places to go while their families heal or until a permanent plan can be made for them if their families will never be able to care for them. Older children, in particular, need homes. Some of these children will eventually need adoptive homes. Many of these children will be adopted by their foster families. Some, though, will not and for those, an adoptive home will be sought. The AdoptUsKids website, available through our website ( photo-lists some of the children who need permanent homes in CT today, right now. Consider opening your home to a child or sibling group temporarily or permanently. You won’t be sorry. I promise. I’m not.

Deb Kelleher

Deb is a proud adoptive mom (through foster care) of 3 wonderful sons ages 21, 11, and 9 and biological mom of one 27 year old son. She lives in Cheshire. Or you can reach her as the Coordinator for:

Foster Adoptive Mission
P O Box 9117
Waterbury, CT 06724

Dean Baker: Waterboard the Fed!

While Ron Paul wants to dramatically reduce the size and scope of the federal government, economist Dean Baker felt Obama's stimulus package should have been bigger. Nonetheless, Baker finds agreement with Ron Paul when it comes to auditing the Fed:

Anyone happen to hear anything from Senator Chris Dodd yet on why he opposes auditing the Fed?

Why does Senator Dodd oppose transparency?

Why does Senator Dodd oppose good government?

Tim White

Tiananmen Square - 1989 revisited - part 9

The ninth part in a PBS piece published in 2001 by Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link:

May 5-12

Many students return to classes, and the movement is in flux and lacks clear leadership. Certain factions plan more demonstrations and a hunger strike. Meanwhile, tensions escalate within the Party as they prepare for Soviet Party Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's historic visit to Beijing.

Deng Xiaoping wants to settle things peacefully, but insists the students must be out of the square before Gorbachev arrives. Zhao, unable to convince the students to call off the demonstrations, begins to lose favor with the senior Party members.

Tim White

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Town Hall Talking Points Memo - trash hauling & Richmond Glen

A month ago I detailed the Town's $30,000 advertising budget, noting the obvious influence such a budget would give to Town Hall over the news media. Taking this into account, I offer thoughts on two recent Council votes - trash hauling and Richmond Glen.

Did you notice how the Herald had two consecutive editorials regarding the trash hauling contract? And there were no editorials on the Richmond Glen sweetheart deal $10 easement?

My thinking is that this indicates the level of concern shared by Town Hall and mimics staff's talking points memo given to the Town Hall press corps. In other words, staff sees value in pushing the trash hauling issue, but pain in discussing the Richmond Glen easement.

So when the press ask "what's happening?" You spend your time focused on one issue, but pay little heed to the other.

More specifically though... by continuing to discuss the trash hauling vote staff feels it will hurt Republicans... those same Republicans who ask all those pesky questions about things like the totally unnecessary Public Information Officer title, the take-home vehicles and the field at Bartlem Park that is not yet finished after five years!

Alternatively, staff see value in whitewashing the Richmond Glen deal. And herein lies the quid pro quo... if you rubber stamp all of staff's initiatives, then staff will work diligently to avoid public disclosure of any details of projects that benefit the majority's Rubber Stamp Leadership. We can even find a way to hide the details behind the guise of executive session.

The dirty little secret of how our town government works (you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours) is just wrong and needs to stop. It's time for a change. I wish we didn't need to wait five months.

Tim White

Trash hauling discussion had unusual truthfulness to it, unlike the usual routine with the building assessment consultant

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

The Town Council voted 8-0 Wednesday night to award a five-year, $5.53 million contract to Cheshire-based AJ Waste Systems to haul away the community’s trash and recyclables.

If you saw the meeting last night, you saw Councilmen Ecke and Altieri constantly repeat the point that this contract has an additional $80,000 in costs over the bid waiver option.

I appreciated hearing them say it. In other words, while I still believe this had to go to bid for obvious reasons... at least Ecke and Altieri were making a legitimate point as compared to their usual nonsense, such as their untruthfulness and misrepresentations when they discussed the building assessment consultant last night. Ecke sat there silently when I called him out on his failure to fulfill his August 2007 promise to seriously consider performance contracting:

And while Altieri spent August 2008 accusing me of failing to provide the information necessary for the Council to consider performance contracting... last night he said the Council had conducted its review of performance contracting in December 2007.

Huh? Which is it?

If the Council completed its review in December 2007, what more was needed in August 2008?

Oh... wait... I almost forgot this Council's motto:

Tim White

Tiananmen Square - 1989 revisited - part 8

The eighth part in a PBS piece published in 2001 by Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link:

May 4

Tens of thousands of students march into Tiananmen Square to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1919 "May Fourth Movement," which also took place in the square. They pledge to return to classes the next day but intend to keep pressing for reforms.

Zhao Ziyang, in a speech to foreign bankers, expresses support for the students' "patriotism" and essentially contradicts the government's April 26 editorial. This angers senior Party members.

June 5

Tim White

Peter Schiff on the economy - 5/26/09

Come 2011, I firmly believe that Sam Caligiuri will be a fantastic US Senator. But I still have a thing for Peter Schiff... I'd love to see him jump in the race and directly challenge the Banking Chairman (Chris Dodd) on America's failed bailed out banking system.

Schiff says default is the only option for America and our debt.

Tim White

Tiananmen Square - 1989 revisited - part 7

The sixth part in a PBS piece published in 2001 by Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link:

April 28 - May 3

Party leaders are aware of the growing foreign press coverage of the demonstrations, but remain split over how to stop the protests and get the students to return to classes. Zhao Ziyang's camp advocates negotiation and stresses the government should address legitimate complaints, such as the need for political reform. Li Peng and his allies argue that social stability must be restored before any reforms can be considered.

Tim White

The $150,000 building consultant failed

The $150,000 building assessment consultant failed - thankfully. As I stated, there's no need to spend this money now. Using town staff and performance contracts, we could get much (though I doubt all) of this work done in-house... and with guaranteed cost-savings.

Unsurprisingly, several members of Cheshire's Political Class insisted I was wrong about the capability of staff. Thing is... Cheshire's Political Class live in a world in which there is no accountability (or at least not if you promise absolute loyalty)... and therefore, the Town's organizational chart remains populated with the same individuals. In the real world, this wouldn't happen. People incapable of doing their job would be gone. Too bad we have to wait five months to see if we can find five votes to make those changes.

Anyone notice when Councilman Altieri said he intended to bring the consultant back for another vote? I certainly did. So after the meeting I suggested that he at least learn more about a less expensive building assessment consultant - BL Companies in Meriden. They were the second favorite company in the RFP.

BL Companies is local; they offered a proposal for (I think) $30,000 less; they could use the work... and the only drawback is they don't have the bells & whistles... as described by one person who was very close to the process. Anyone happen to know the taxpayer in town who wants to spend $30,000 for bells & whistles?

Regardless, Cheshire's Bureaucrats insist on only the best at any cost!

I'm so tired of their spending habits. Whether I run or not... whether I win or not... I certainly hope the next Council includes five people who are willing to hold staff accountable for their performance (or lack thereof)... and their never ending requests for more money... even in the midst of The Great Recession.

Probably more on this tomorrow. But I'm gonna hit the sack in a minute.

Tim White

Dr. Petit on the death penalty

From the MRJs Amanda Falcone:

Dr. William A. Petit Jr. believes that in certain situations the death penalty is the only real punishment.

That's why the General Assembly's recent votes to abolish capital punishment prompted him to write an impassioned letter criticizing the move and to back Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, who has promised to veto the measure.

Tim White

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Early retirement incentive: operating budget vs. pension fund

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

Eight members of the town’s municipal work force have qualified for an early retirement offer presented earlier this year.

The move will save the town $140,000, which Town Manager Michael Milone said will keep him from having to lay off any municipal employees.

“It may not seem like much, but it’s the equivalent of three positions,” Milone said...

Democratic Councilman Michael Ecke, who is head of the governing body’s budget committee, said the number of individuals selected for the buyout “strikes the right balance."

Ecke continued:

“The key now is not to replace any of these positions that are being vacated or fill them with people at a lower wage.”

I have a different take from Mr. Ecke on the "key" to making this early retirement package a wise decision. But first it must be understood that the annual operating budget is independent of the pension fund. And while you hear about "savings," in government spending, oftentimes the people in power will note a "savings" in the operating budget... while ignoring other long-term liabilities, such as a pension fund.

Anyway, another key for this early retirement incentive is for the Town to transfer part of the savings from the operating budget to the pension fund to offset the increased pension costs that would not have existed... if these early retirements did not occur.

Tim White

Tiananmen Square - 1989 revisited - part 6

The sixth part in a PBS piece published in 2001 by Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link:

April 27

The editorial sets off more demonstrations in other cities. In Tiananmen Square the ranks of protestors now include a cross-section of society. "In Beijing one in 10 of the population was joining in … all of the old people, all the little children, so it was massive," explains
Jan Wong, a foreign journalist in Beijing at the time. "You had doctors and nurses and scientists and army people demonstrating. The Chinese navy was demonstrating, and I thought, 'This is extraordinary because who's left? It's just the top leaders who aren't out there.'"

June 5

Tim White

Relay for Life is fast approaching

Relay For Life of Cheshire 2009

June 5th & 6th

Turtles heading home for the full moon

Turtle nesting season is upon us. And my favorite childhood pals are heading back to where the heart is...

Being slow puts turtles in a challenging predicament this time of year, but a Quinnipiac River Watershed Association program is trying to lend them a hand as it gets closer to nesting season.

The Turtle Crossing program is made up of local volunteers who place signs along roads turtles may cross to reach a nesting area.

See the rest of the MRJ story by Richie Rathsack here.

Tim White

Monday, May 25, 2009

Real wage losses coming to fruition

From Bloomberg News:

The biggest Wall Street crisis since the Great Depression isn’t just a setback for New York or bankers. The finance industry’s contraction may wipe out $185 billion in wages and profits, or $600 for every man, woman and child in the U.S., according to Thomas Philippon, a finance professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business. The trail of reduced income affects car mechanics, waiters, sports teams, hair stylists, jewelers, housecleaners and watch repair shops.

Sorry about the lack of a link... seems to be broken at the moment.

Regardless, this is a significant part of why I voted against the 4.4% x 3 yr teachers' union contract last November.

Tim White

Retirement incentives offered to teachers

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

The Board of Education has approved a plan that will let district teachers pick from one of three early retirement options that will reduce $200,000 to $250,000 in salary costs from the school system’s budget for fiscal year 2009-10.

“I’m glad we got it done at this point,” said Florio. “It’s a mixed blessing in that you’re losing some good veteran teachers and we’re still eliminating 20 positions, but it’s going to minimize the number of teachers we’re going to lay off. At this point, I’d say the number is only one or two.”

The options that the teachers will choose from are: Taking a $10,000 payment in each of the next three years; full medical benefits for the retiring teacher and their spouse for three years; full medical benefits only for the retiring teacher and $5,000 in cash in each of the next three years.

Tim White

Tiananmen Square - 1989 revisited - part 5

The fifth part in a PBS piece published in 2001 by Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link:

April 26

Editorial denounces students

"The Necessity for a Clear Stand Against Turmoil,"
(read the full translation) appears in the state-run newspaper, the People's Daily. This editorial closely follows the opinions expressed by Deng at the meeting the day before. "This is a well-planned plot … to confuse the people and throw the country into turmoil," it reads. "… Its real aim is to reject the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system at the most fundamental level."

June 5

Tim White

Richmond Glen public hearing rejected as a "sensitive issue"

Here's another worthwhile point in the Richmond Glen sweetheart deal $10 easement that was quietly pushed through in the middle of the night under the guise of executive session in early 2008. The following is the email chain that precipitated David Schrumm's reference to "a rather sensitive issue."

I got this email by simply emailing the address at the top of the letter. I figured under FOI, it would have to be released.If the lawsuit was so "sensitive," why grant the easement?

And as for the Council not opting for a public hearing... there was no vote. Therein lies a problem with executive session. You just get a "sense of the Council" and that's it. And frankly, to the best of my memory there was virtually no discussion... it was just offered to the Council as an issue upon which we need not act. Ha. That was some great guidance we got. Though as I've said before, from the perspective of the voter... that's no excuse.

Tim White

Returning the spirit to Memorial Day


Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service...

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country...

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "
National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."

The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.

But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

$150,000 to hire a building assessment consultant

In February this year the Council heard from a building assessment consultant. Here's the video of the meeting:

Now the Council is scheduled to vote to spend $150,000 on this consultant. Here's some of the information for the vote:Everyone I know is cutting back, but not this Council majority. I don't see the need to hire another consultant right now.

Tim White

Tiananmen Square - 1989 revisited - part 4

The third part in a PBS piece published in 2001 by Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link:

April 25

With Zhao Ziyang on a state visit to North Korea, Li Peng calls a meeting of the Politburo, a meeting dominated by Party members antagonistic to the students. They convince Party elder Deng Xiaoping, the de facto head of state, that the students aim to overthrow him and the Communist Party. Deng decides the Party has thus far been "tolerant and restrained," but the time has come for action. "We must explain to the whole Party and nation that we are facing a most serious political struggle. … We've got to be explicit and clear in opposing this turmoil."

Tim White

75 years and counting!

From the MRJs Leslie Hutchison:

Chemistry that was apparent almost immediately has kept a local couple together for 75 years, a rare milestone that will be celebrated on June 3 at Elim Park.

Willis and Lucille Underwood were married in 1934 after having met at the University of Colorado. After about a year of courtship, Lucille said, her family moved to Texas and the couple had to make do with a long-distance romance. Willis was a junior at the university, and Lucille said he wanted to graduate and then work a year before they got married.

"It was the Depression. He wanted to work to see if he could make enough money to get married," Lucille said.

Tim White

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wreath laying ceremony - 10am on the Green

There will be a wreath-laying ceremony on the Green at 10am tomorrow morning (Saturday).

Tiananmen Square - 1989 revisited - part 3

The third part in a PBS piece published in 2001 by Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link:

April 22

More than 100,000 university students assemble outside the Great Hall of the People, where Hu's memorial service is being held. Three students carry a petition of demands up the steps of the Great Hall and insist on meeting Li Peng; he does not respond. Over the next days, the students boycott classes and organize into unofficial student unions -- an illegal act in China.

Tim White

Council agenda - Wed 05/27/09

The building assessment consultant is about $150,000 or so... though there will be all sorts of explanations that the money is coming from a variety of different accounts... "so it shouldn't be viewed as $150,000."

Tim White

Thursday, May 21, 2009

HR 1207 - Audit the Fed - 175 cosponsors, but no Nutmeggers

To my liberal, Democratic friends:

Please read this letter from the liberal Congressman from Orlando, Alan Grayson. Posted on the liberal website FireDogLake, Alan Grayson is a cosponsor of Ron Paul's bill HR 1207 - Audit the Fed! See him question the Fed's useless Inspector General:

HR 1207 was introduced on February 26 and already has 175 cosponsors - in less than 3 months. However, none of CTs delegation has cosponsored. None of the five Representatives. Neither of our two Senators. Why?

Why do they oppose transparency? Why do they oppose good government?

I have virtually no expectations of Dodd and Lieberman. But is there a chance that Murphy will do the right thing and support transparency? Might Murph support good government? I don't know.

I did write Congressman Murphy a few weeks ago about HR 1207. I await his response. In the meantime, please contact Congressman Murphy and ask him to do the right thing. Ask him to consponsor HR 1207 before this financial disaster worsens.

Tim White

Richmond Glen will likely be a tax drain

On April 15 I prepared a fiscal impact analysis of the Richmond Glen development. Since that time - and despite the Council leadership - I've been able to gather additional information. The most critical information is the likely sales price of the new units.

Using several sources, I now estimate that both the worst case scenario (Scenario 6) and the most likely case scenario (Scenario 5) will result in tax drains on the town. Even the best case scenario (Scenario 4) is not much better than a wash when you consider other issues, such as the additional impervious surfaces hurting the environment.

Assumptions are as follows:

A - range of estimates provided by the attorney to the Council
AA - see my estimated calculation here and explanation here, the tax estimate was based on a document (provided to the PZC in 2005) that established the likely sales price for the units and was updated using estimates based on the National Association of Realtors annual estimates
B - provided by the attorney
D - range of estimates provided by the attorney
F - my estimate using the old cliche 2.3 kids as the high estimate, then chose 1.0 kid as the low estimate and divided in half for the middle estimate
H - see
my estimate here, I used the schools' own numbers
J - see
my estimate here, I used the fiscal impact analysis for the residential component of the proposed north end development
L - the attorney mentioned $350,000 as a taxable number for age-restricted units, I chose a lower number that is likely more indicative of other age-restricted developments in town
M - this number is a guess based on some uninformed discussion last night
N - L x M
O - my guess that has no basis in fact
Q - 2009 / 10 mill rate

I think it's pretty obvious why the Council leadership strongly opposed performing a fiscal impact analysis. They didn't want anyone to see their sweetheart deal $10 easement for what it was.

Regardless, the Council leadership obviously still wants me to believe:

Tim White

Tiananmen Square - 1989 revisited - part 2

The second part in a PBS piece published in 2001 by Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link:

April 18 - 21

Demonstrations escalate in Beijing and spread to other cities and universities. Workers and officials join in with complaints about inflation, salaries and housing. Party leaders fear the demonstrations might lead to chaos and rebellion. One group, lead by Premier Li Peng, second-ranking in the Party hierarchy, suspects "black hands" of "bourgeois liberal elements" are working behind the scenes to undermine the government. A minority faction, led by Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, believes that "the student mainstream is good" and that their patriotism should be affirmed, "although any inappropriate methods of action should be pointed out to them."

Li argues that the protests should be "nipped in the bud;" however, Zhao convinces them to wait, stating, "Our main task right now is to be sure the memorial service for Comrade Yaobang goes off smoothly."

June 5, 1989

Tim White

Welch says housing starts must slow for price stability

If you're hoping that housing prices stabilize, you may be interested to hear the words of one of America's best-known business leaders, Jack Welch.

From Bloomberg's Tom Moroney:

Welch said he’s optimistic about an economic recovery and looking closely at the housing market for signs as to when it may begin.

“I want (new) housing starts to go down, down, down,” he said. “It’s the only way to get housing prices stabilized, and we need to stabilize housing prices.”

Housing starts slid 13 percent to an annual rate of 458,000, a lower level than forecast, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The drop was led by a 46 percent tumble in multifamily starts, a category that tends to be more volatile. Housing starts fell 10.8 percent to an annual rate of 510,000 in March.

“While the market didn’t like it -- housing starts going down again -- I like it,” Welch said.

That's the problem with a bubble. It first needs to deflate before it can stabilize. After that happens, things can improve. It's no different from having to pay down credit card before going out and spending more.

I still have no idea why the Council gave a sweetheart deal an easement to a developer for $10 that will provide another 24 units to Cheshire's housing stock... and likely be a tax drain on the town.
On the flip side though, the total 41 units will offer some employment to construction workers who are in need of work.

Tim White

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Richmond Glen tax revenue - how much will it be?

As I explained yesterday, based on documents presented to the Planning & Zoning Commission in 2005 and updating those numbers using CT Valley housing prices trends from the National Association of Realtors... it appears that the Richmond Glen units would sell today for about $330,000. Furthermore... based on the 2009/2010 mill rate, that sales price would generate about $6,000 in property tax dollars per household.

However, if you watch this 90 second YouTube clip you'll hear the suggestion that these units would each generate about $9,000 to $10,000 in property taxes annually.

Now look at this brief analysis of the two aforementioned scenarios:Which is it? Are these units going to sell for $500,000 or $330,000? My guess is that's something PZC may find of interest because it would change the character of the approved neighborhood. For instance, imagine if those sales prices dropped from $330,000 to $160,000. I bet questions would be getting asked.

And how much tax revenue will be generated? Unlike the PZC though, that's something that we know the Budget Committee Chairman opposes knowing.

Maybe I'll compile an updated fiscal impact analysis soon... definitely not tonight though. I'm going to bed.

Tim White

Tiananmen Square - 1989 revisited

I'm going to back away from my continuing post on Thomas Paine's Common Sense for a couple weeks. Instead, as we approach the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre... I decided to take a look at America's bankers. It seems relevant to me to understand the people with whom Bush and Obama have chosen to make their bed.

PBS published a piece in 2001 by Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link. It begins here:

April 17, 1989

Tens of thousands of university students begin gathering spontaneously in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, the nation's symbolic central space. They come to mourn the death of Hu Yoabang, former General Secretary of the Communist Party. Hu had been a symbol to them of anti-corruption and political reform. In his name, the students call for press freedom and other reforms.

June 5, 1989

And these are the people with whom HRC and Obama suggest human rights are NBD? Unreal.

Don't get me wrong though. I lived in Vietnam for three years. And I saw people get kicked and clubbed by police for no apparent reason. Nonetheless, I'd love to visit China... even live there and meet the people, learn the language, etc. But I consider that to be a far cry from US policymakers kowtowing to China's Political Class.

Tim White

BOE and Teachers' Union agree to concessions!

But that happened in Guilford. Anyone care to take a bet that Cheshire's "leadership" doesn't give a hoot?

The really sad thing is that while the four remaining no-questions-asked, Rubber Stampers show so much concern for the union across the street... they continue refusing to acknowledge the very serious morale problems that exist under their own noses... issues of which they've been aware for more than a year... and continue to ignore. But when you know how this Council works, why be surprised?

Tim White

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

If your house was worth $400,000 in 2005, then it's worth $330,000 today

Last Thursday, I offered this post on CT Valley housing prices from 2006 to 2009. But now I've found the equivalent numbers for 2005:You can see that using the National Association of Realtors numbers, I'm estimating that Cheshire housing prices have fallen over 17% since 2005.

Now look at this March 14, 2005 document provided to the Planning & Zoning Commission in support of the Richmond Glen development - the same development that led to the Council leadership's pushing through this sweetheart deal $10 easement using the secrecy of executive session:Using the NARs estimates, those $400,000 households (circa 2005) will now be selling for $330,000 in 2009.*

Anyone care to calculate the taxes on those property values? I intend to post on that tomorrow.

Tim White

* $330,000 = $400,000 x (1.00 - 0.1733%)

Common Sense by Thomas Paine (16/53)

As I've previously discussed here, anonymity on the web and on this blog is appropriate. After all, our Founding Fathers hid behind pseudonyms routinely. In this ongoing piece, I'm highlighting one of the more famous anonymous writings from a Founding Father - Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

Besides, what have we to do with setting the world at defiance? Our plan is commerce, and that, well attended to, will secure us the peace and friendship of all Europe; because it is the interest of all Europe to have America a free port. Her trade will always be a protection, and her barrenness of gold and silver secure her from invaders.

Tim White

I like Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC)

I hope Governor Mark Sanford runs for the GOP nomination in 2012. Rather than making decisions based on politics, he takes a highly philosophical view on the basic issue:

Security vs. Liberty

or insert your own words - safety vs. freedom, community vs. personal, etc.

I like him.

Tim White

Wind pattern maps for CT and elsewhere

Yesterday, I mentioned Mary Fritz' idea for wind turbines at a state prison. I mentioned the poor wind patterns in CT that make wind turbines relatively inefficient here.

Now a friend emailed me with the official National Renewable Energy Laboratory maps for Connecticut and Massachusetts. If you glance at the maps, you'll see that CT just doesn't work well for wind power.

Generally-speaking, we'll get more bang for our buck with solar electric (photovoltaics)... and especially solar thermal or geothermal... if we want to spend money on renewable energy.

It was great headline material though.

Tim White

Monday, May 18, 2009

April 14 Council meeting now online

The April 14 Town Council meeting video is now online. I thank Sheldon Dill for making the service happen.

Tim White

Cheshire Energy Commission - 5/18

At tonight's Energy Commission meeting there was discussion of the Town getting another photovoltaic (PV or solar electric) panel. People were wondering where it should go.

One of the regular non-member attendees (Walt Gayeski) suggested using it to light the sign that stands at the entrance to CHS, but nearer the Youth Center. I think it's a great idea because it'd be an extremely high visibility location. And it could be independently-powered... off the grid.

Also the EC has about $4500 in grant money that must be used to increase public awareness of clean energy. If you (or anyone you know) have any bright ideas for increasing public awareness of clean energy, please contact Carol Wilson. She's the clean energy Chair.

And the last thing to note is that it was requested of the schools' facilities manager that he prepare a list of energy-efficiency projects. See, the $787 billion stimulus package included $108,000 for energy-efficiency projects in Cheshire. And since we don't have a current energy audit of the entire town, I'm guessing that some of the easiest energy-efficiency projects to tackle would be replacing some of the 30 or 40 year old equipment in the school kitchens. But it gets a bit tricky because the capital budget for the kitchens is owned by the school cafeteria program... while the operating budget (the utility bills) for the kitchens is owned by the school maintenance department. Anyway, I'm guessing a few new stoves and/or refrigerators would be one of the easiest ways to make the Town more energy-efficient... yet not require a bunch of meetings... such as likely would be required for building envelope improvements (i.e. - windows, walls, insulation, etc.).

Tim White

Common Sense by Thomas Paine (15/53)

As I've previously discussed here, anonymity on the web and on this blog is appropriate. After all, our Founding Fathers hid behind pseudonyms routinely. In this ongoing piece, I'm highlighting one of the more famous anonymous writings from a Founding Father - Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

Much hath been said of the united strength of Britain and the Colonies, that in conjunction they might bid defiance to the world. But this is mere presumption; the fate of war is uncertain, neither do the expressions mean anything; for this continent would never suffer itself to be drained of inhabitants, to support the British arms in either Asia, Africa, or Europe.

Tim White

The NYTimes on the politics of the death penalty vote

As I mentioned last Thursday, the state House voted (90-56) to repeal the death penalty. Our members votes are here (Esty - repeal, Fritz - retain, Nardello - repeal). But the NYTimes expanded on the MRJs limited blog explanation.

Near the end of the NYTimes piece by Mark Pazniokas you can see how our elected officials think and work:

Democratic leaders in the House began polling their members on Tuesday, asking if the bill should come up for a vote, given a likely veto. Mr. Holder-Winfield said he was aware that some colleagues would prefer to avoid the issue until the state has a governor who opposes capital punishment.

The House majority leader, Denise Merrill, Democrat of Mansfield, said leaders had to consider exposing someone like Ms. Esty to a difficult vote.

I understand that no one offered an amendment to make this bill retroactive. That's surprising to me. It seems that if the death penalty should be repealed, then a truly principled stand would make the bill retroactive... not just prospective.

Tim White

Wind mills at "the reformatory"

The NHRs Luther Turmelle is reporting that state Rep. Mary Fritz wants to "require the department to apply for a grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund and launch a pilot program to erect wind power turbines at one of the state’s prisons.

I haven't read the bill yet, but am concerned about it. Thing is, I think it's useful to look at the state land and determine if a windmill makes sense. But if it doesn't make sense, then no windmill should be required... just because it sounds nice. In other words... just because the leaves are blowing in the wind... that doesn't mean a wind mill makes sense.

A wind mill is expensive and it needs a certain amount of wind to make it efficient. If a strong, steady wind doesn't exist... you may very well get more bang for your buck using solar power (either electric or thermal).

Considering wind turbines for state property is a good idea. But mandating the installation of one is not necessarily a good use of tax dollars.

Tim White

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ron Paul on the need to Audit the Fed

Congressman Ron Paul wrote a great piece on the Federal Reserve and the need for an audit of America's Central Planning Committee. It's published in Forbes magazine.

The Federal Reserve's recent and unprecedented actions in the realm of monetary policy have provoked a backlash among the American people. Trillions of dollars worth of loans and guarantees have been provided to Wall Street firms, while Main Street Americans suffocate under harsh taxation, the prospect of higher debt levels and increasing inflation. These events have awakened many Americans to problems with the Fed's loose monetary policy, the bubbles it has created in the past and the potential hyperinflation it might cause in the future.

I'm still wondering why Senator Chris Dodd opposes auditing the Fed. His only explanation of his opposition is "the Fed must remain independent." In other words... "Pay no attention to that Fed behind the curtain!"

Tim White

Turmelle on the mall & condo one-year extension

The NHRs Luther Turmelle reported on the one-year mall delay.

W/S Development had originally been faced with a July deadline to bring its proposal for the Shoppes at Cheshire before the Planning and Zoning Commission for the third and final round of approvals needed for the project. But the company requested a one-year extension of that deadline, which the PZC granted late last month...

Tim White

Council avoids "stepping on toes of PZC," rejects option to accept Strathmore Dam

Last Wednesday I laid bare the stark reality of the Council leadership's hypocrisy on "land use" issues. That is, while they asked for money for the AT&T easement in March 2008, they gave away the Richmond Glen easement for $10... and had the audacity to accuse me of extortion when I requested the Town get fair market value for the easement.

I think it's also worth noting the concern voiced by Councilman Ecke and others. They felt my questions about the sweetheart deal they advocated for the Richmond Glen easement were an infringement on the role of the PZC. They said I was "stepping on the toes of the Planning and Zoning Commission."

Now maybe I'm missing something, but this video seems to show Mr. Ecke saying that the PZC is not omniscient and a Council review of their work can be appropriate:

But that was Strathmore Dam that no one foresaw. And that was a public safety issue that no one foresaw. And that was the job of the PZC, not the Council.

And the Council, including Mr. Ecke (as well as Altieri, Hall, Ruocco & White), "never" voted on Strathmore Dam. Because that is a Planning and Zoning issue.

The double talk astounds me.

But on a serious note and in fairness to some Council members, it was probably easier to contradict themselves than offer the real reasons for pushing through this easement under the guise and darkness of midnight executive session secrecy.

Tim White

Common Sense by Thomas Paine (14/53)

As I've previously discussed here, anonymity on the web and on this blog is appropriate. After all, our Founding Fathers hid behind pseudonyms routinely. In this ongoing piece, I'm highlighting one of the more famous anonymous writings from a Founding Father - Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

But, admitting that we were all of English descent, what does it amount to? Nothing. Britain, being now an open enemy, extinguishes every other name and title: and to say that reconciliation is our duty, is truly farcical. The first king of England, of the present line (William the Conqueror) was a Frenchman, and half the peers of England are descendants from the same country; wherefore, by the same method of reasoning, England ought to be governed by France.

Tim White

Dodd has a Dem primary on his hands

Over at My Left Nutmeg, CT Bob noticed that Senator Chris Dodd has a Democratic primary challenger.

Merrick Alpert believes change is needed in Washington. I couldn't agree more.

No word yet on whether Herb will be making an appearance on his behalf.

Tim White

Hartford's Political Class shows their lack of integrity

On Tuesday May 12, The state House of Representatives voted to switch from using the Presidential electoral college system to a national popular vote. Initially, the vote and actual tally were in favor of maintaining the electoral college system. Then something happened.

As The Day's Ted Mann explains:

But a funny thing happened on the way to the tally: A mysterious pause, followed by the sudden request of Rep. Peter Tercyak, D-New Britain, for recognition by the chair.

Before Tercyak could even speak, the boos began. They knew what was coming.

Tercyak, tongue firmly planted in cheek, explained that he had benefited from a brief but fruitful discussion in the seconds after the vote was closed (thought not, presumably, in the 2 hours and 15 minutes of debate that preceded it) and now wished to have his vote registered in the affirmative.

...Tercyak remarked that he wished others could have heard the enlightening pep talk he had heard in the moments after House Speaker Christopher Donovan and the Democratic leadership realized their side was going to lose. That is, the tongue-lashing he took from his party leadership instructing him to take one for the team, change his vote and prevent the powerful Democratic majority from losing a battle – even on a bill that obviously has tepid support among Democrats and is unlikely to pass in the Senate.

It's just another reason why America's Political Class needs to be shown the door. And FWIW, I think The Founding Fathers were pretty smart. Acknowledging the results of Gore v. Bush, I have yet to hear a compelling argument to change their original plan.

Tim White

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The value of a "right-of-way" in Cheshire

In response to the Herald piece on the Council granting an easement for Richmond Glen (by Josh Morgan), I just got a call from a resident. He read the comment:

"Republican Councilor Tim White had hoped a fiscal impact analysis would have been done on the proposal and wanted to know the fair market value of the piece of land. White said the value of the land should be known before giving it up for $10."

The resident couldn't help himself from calling me. He had to share his personal story with me.

He said back in the late '60s that he sold a piece of property. However, when he sold the property the lawyer forgot to include a right-of-way (ROW) in the contract. So the buyer later returned to him to buy a ROW. Though it surprised the seller that a ROW was distinct from owning the land, he ultimately got paid for the ROW in a separate transaction.

The payment for the ROW in the late '60s?


Yup. I'm sure the value of the Richmond Glen right-of-way - a ROW that increased the sales value of the property by $12,000,000* - was properly placed at a grand whopping $10.

November can't come soon enough.

Tim White

* $12,000,000 = $500,000 x 24
24 = 41 units less 17 units
41 units is the number of units that can now be built with the easement
17 units is the number of units that could be built without the easement

Common Sense by Thomas Paine (13/53)

As I've previously discussed here, anonymity on the web and on this blog is appropriate. After all, our Founding Fathers hid behind pseudonyms routinely. In this ongoing piece, I'm highlighting one of the more famous anonymous writings from a Founding Father - Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

It is pleasant to observe by what regular gradations we surmount the force of local prejudices, as we enlarge our acquaintance with the World. A man born in any town in England divided into parishes, will naturally associate most with his fellow parishioners (because their interests in many cases will be common) and distinguish him by the name of NEIGHBOR; if he meet him but a few miles from home, he drops the narrow idea of a street, and salutes him by the name of TOWNSMAN; if he travel out of the county and meet him in any other, he forgets the minor divisions of street and town, and calls him COUNTRYMAN, i.e. COUNTYMAN; but if in their foreign excursions they should associate in France, or any other part of EUROPE, their local remembrance would be enlarged into that of ENGLISHMEN. And by a just parity of reasoning, all Europeans meeting in America, or any other quarter of the globe, are COUNTRYMEN; for England, Holland, Germany, or Sweden, when compared with the whole, stand in the same places on the larger scale, which the divisions of street, town, and county do on the smaller ones; Distinctions too limited for Continental minds. Not one third of the inhabitants, even of this province, [Pennsylvania], are of English descent. Wherefore, I reprobate the phrase of Parent or Mother Country applied to England only, as being false, selfish, narrow and ungenerous.

Interesting. The great debate on immigration continues today.

Tim White

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ron Paul getting respect on Morning Joe

In the runup to the 2008 New Hampshire primary I spent quite a few days there volunteering my time for Ron Paul. At one point I was speaking with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. I recall saying something to Joe that he should be nice to my guy because Joe knew RP was a true fiscal conservative.

Anyway, when Joe heard me and recognized that he had recently said something not-so-nice about Dr. Paul... and when he got back to home to his former Pensacola Congressional district... he got an earful. Joe's own supporters made it clear to him that even if he disagreed with RP... he should be respectful of him. And Scarborough assured me that going forward, he'd be respectful of Congressman Paul. And that was good enough for me.

Anyway, fast forward 16 months and we see this fantastic eight minute clip of Joe & Mika interviewing the man I wish was President:

Joe lauds Dr. Paul for this quote:

"...the special privileges granted to Fannie and Freddie have distorted the housing market by allowing them to attract capital they could not attract under pure market conditions… like all artificially-created bubbles, the boom in housing prices cannot last forever. When housing prices fall, homeowners will experience difficulty as their equity is wiped out. Furthermore, the holders of the mortgage debt will also have a loss. These losses will be greater than they would have otherwise been had government policy not actively encouraged over-investment in housing."

- Rep. Ron Paul, address to the House Financial Services Committee, September 10, 2003

I also liked Congressman Paul's candid comments about how our local government federal government operates: crony capitalism, corporatism, big government.

Tim White

The fair at Bartlem Park, 4.4% & tomorrow's protest

I stopped by the fair tonight... fun as usual. Ran into quite a few people.

The most interesting comment came from a friend who couldn't help from mentioning Mr. Leake. My friend said that if there's no recession in Cheshire, Mr. Leake should talk to the 37 people he just laid off from his company.

In speaking with someone else, the topic of tomorrow's Dodd protest was mentioned. I understand Channels 30 and 8 will be there tomorrow. I'd love to be there to publicly ask Mr. Dodd:

"Senator Dodd, on May 6 you told Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake that you would ask for the names of the banks that received the $10 trillion Fed bailout. Have you done so yet? If so, what was Mr. Bernanke's response? If not, will you be using the power of subpoena to determine what happened to our tax dollars?"

Tim White

The public demanded good government and likely will save $60,000

Agree with me or not, I am of the view that the trash hauling contract needed to be bid. Recognizing that, I want to thank those of you who worked to build "bipartisan support" for adding the three-year and five-year options into the bid specs. As you can see here:Your efforts appear to have saved the town $60,000 next year.

Ensuring good government requires effort. But public outcry does make a difference. Even Bush's bailout got rejected by the House the first time it came to a vote last fall.

Tim White

Energy Commission agenda 5/18/09


A. Energy Management Projects

1. Community Pool – RFP for an energy efficient building; operating efficiencies
2. New boiler for Hitchcock-Phillips house – status
3. Cheshire Public Library – PO for energy efficient upgrades
4. Highland School energy model – computer time management software; Installation of TV monitor controls in other schools
5. HVAC units at Highland School – status of rebid
6. Vending Miser/Snack Miser vending machine controls – Dan Marseglia
7. Power Purchase Agreement – extension thru 12/1/14 @ $9.485/kWh

B. Benchmarking
1. Energy Star Portfolio Manager – data entry; demographics; demonstration

C. Street Lights & Traffic Lights

D. Publicity/Education/Outreach
1. CEC web page ( – content; hits
2. News articles and letters to the editor

E. Clean Energy
1. 20% by 2010 campaign – status; marketing strategies
2. 5 kW solar system at library – performance
3. 1 kW solar system – need host
4. Sustainable Energy Analytics, LLC - speaker

F. PBC Projects
1. CHS elevator – status
2. Dodd food service upgrades

G. Grants, Rebates, & Utility Programs

H. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA 2009) – preliminary guidelines released; UI Forum - Getting the Most Out of the ARRA (Stimulus) – 6/1/09; resident inquiry about tax credit

I. CL&P Energy Reliability Program

Green school bill - modernize, renovate, and repair public school facilities

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Common Sense by Thomas Paine (12/53)

As I've previously discussed here, anonymity on the web and on this blog is appropriate. After all, our Founding Fathers hid behind pseudonyms routinely. In this ongoing piece, I'm highlighting one of the more famous anonymous writings from a Founding Father - Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

In this extensive quarter of the globe, we forget the narrow limits of three hundred and sixty miles (the extent of England) and carry our friendship on a larger scale; we claim brotherhood with every European Christian, and triumph in the generosity of the sentiment.

Murphy should disobey Pelosi and "be a Flake"

Politico is reporting that the US House of Representatives' Democratic Leadership will not tolerate good government... at least not in relation to an initiative brought forward by one of my favorite Congress-critters, Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

& report:

As the House prepared to vote this week on Republican Rep. Jeff Flake’s push for an ethics investigation involving Rep. John Murtha and other senior appropriators, Democratic leaders sent an unmistakable message to their members:

Don’t be a Flake.” ...

In another pre-vote e-mail, the office of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) warned Democrats that they would suffer in 2010 if Republicans succeeded in forcing an ethics investigation into the relationships Murtha and other veteran Democratic lawmakers had with the PMA Group.

I first noticed the NYTimes reporting on the Murtha / PMA scandal in October. So it's been out there for a while.

The Politico piece mentions several young Dem lawmakers who support Flake and believe in good government. I'm perfectly happy having those members of Congress remain in Washington. For me, issues of good government are non-partisan. The trouble is, you usually have the party in power opposing good government and therefore those so-called leaders must go. At the moment, it's Nancy Pelosi and Jack Murtha. If they insist on "protecting their own," then they both need to go.

I haven't looked yet, but hope Congressman Chris Murphy supports good government and opposes Nancy Pelosi's bad government obstructionist tactics. I don't have high hopes for him though at this moment. He's still sitting on the sidelines with regard to Congressman Ron Paul's HR 1207 - Audit the Fed bill.

Tim White

CT Valley housing prices since 2006

Earlier this week, the National Association of Realtors released their most recent data on housing prices across the US. You can see it here, but here is the data that seems most relevant to Cheshire:I offer this for a followup on the unsubstantiated assertions made by the Council majority about this net tax benefit to the Town.

And I offer you this come November - if I run and am reelected, I'll continue demanding open government. I won't accept sweeping issues under the rug and shuffling big issues through... late at night... and under the guise of executive session.

Tim White

Cheshire legislators split on repealing the death penalty

The state House of Representatives voted 90-56 to repeal the death penalty. Cheshire's Reps split their votes:

Nardello - voted to repeal the death penalty
Fritz - voted to keep the death penalty
Esty - voted to repeal the death penalty

Personally, I don't care for it. But I feel it ought to available for very limited circumstances, including for what happened here. I'm guessing that the sentiments shared by Mary Fritz and me are also shared by most, though certainly not all, people in town.

Tim White

Solid Waste mtg 5/14

The low bidder, Coastal Sanitation, has already gotten into some hot water. Per:

1) discussion with the Town Manager; and

2) a letter from Travelers

Coastal Sanitation's "bid bond" is invalid... and in a pretty bad way. I don't want to get into details, but Travelers' Internal Investigation Unit has already been informed. I'm going to leave it at that for now.

The three Solid Waste Committee members (Altieri, Decaprio & me) forwarded a recommendation to the Council for a five-year contract with AJ. And of course, Matt and Laura offered their not-so-subtle "I told you so" comments. IMO though, we had to go out to bid.

Tim White

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Extortionist exposed

At the Tuesday May 12 Council meeting, the Richmond Glen developer requested an easement on town-owned land that would enable him to build an additional 24 units* with a suggested sales price of $500,000 each. Several Republican Council members (particularly yours truly!) suggested that if the town grants the easement, the town should receive fair market value for it.

In response to my suggestion, Councilman Ecke said I was "extorting" the developer:

When Mr. Ecke made this outrageous statement, Councilman Ruocco reminded me about another easement granted by this Council.

You may recall the March 11, 2008 meeting at which I also suggested the Council receive value in exchange for an easement - an easement that led to absolutely no changes on that particular parcel of land:

So at least one Council member is being consistent. Though I can't say that for all Council members. But hey, at least we can see where some Council members get their bread buttered!

Happen to see any inconsistencies between last night's comments and the comments made regarding the AT&T easement:

So it's OK to "extort" money from AT&T, as long as you don't dare suggest asking a developer for compensation?

From my perspective, I'm being consistent and trying to represent the voters of Cheshire in both cases. On the flip side... in one case I see two Council members representing the Town and the taxpayers by being very clear that a telecomm company needs to offer "consideration." But if it's a developer, then it's a different story.

I wonder why?

Cui bono?

November can't come soon enough for Cheshire's newest "good ol' boy network."

Tim White

* With the easement, the development will have 41 units. Without the easement, the development would have 17 units.

Common Sense by Thomas Paine (11/53)

As I've previously discussed here, anonymity on the web and on this blog is appropriate. After all, our Founding Fathers hid behind pseudonyms routinely. In this ongoing piece, I'm highlighting one of the more famous anonymous writings from a Founding Father - Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families. Wherefore, the assertion, if true, turns to her reproach; but it happens not to be true, or only partly so, and the phrase PARENT OR MOTHER COUNTRY hath been jesuitically adopted by the King and his parasites, with a low papistical design of gaining an unfair bias on the credulous weakness of our minds. Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new World hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from EVERY PART of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.

Wow! I've never read Common Sense. And now I'm only reading it one paragraph each day. But damn... this thing is startin' to get good! This paragraph has several words I'd never heard. And the last sentence is incredibly powerful. I can understand why people were so moved.

Tim White

Obama's plan to regulate OTCs will not do the job

From 2000 to 2004, I worked in the "over-the-counter" equities derivatives market as a bean counter. The primary reason I left the job was the commute, but I also concluded that the business itself was too complicated for me to control properly. I tried to understand the stuff... and could, but not instantly and that's what the traders wanted. And after a few years I felt most people were faking it in an effort to get that seven-figure job on the trading floor.

Fast forward five years and Reuters is reporting:

The Obama administration moved on Wednesday to exert more control over the shadowy over-the-counter derivatives market, now closely linked to the global credit crisis.

Unfortunately, this won't work. It's another Political Class feel-good measure to appease people who are not particularly knowledgable about OTCs.

See... OTCs are generally classified in two categories:

1) vanilla - consider this a conestoga wagon
2) exotic - consider this a space shuttle

Sure, they're both "transportation vehicles." But one is slightly more complex than the other. And regulating the OTC market is like taking a car mechanic and telling him to do maintenance on a conestoga wagon or a Honda Accord. He's going to be able to do it.

But where's the money?

The money will always be given to the guy who works on the "sexy" stuff - the space shuttle. People will always gravitate there. And NO regulator will ever be able to stay abreast of new developments. If the regulator is that good, s/he's going to jump ship for private industry and go build the next generation of space shuttle.

Or consider this:

Q: Where does Intel make its money?
A: The next generation.

Q: Where does Microsoft make its money?
A: The next generation.

This stuff cannot be properly regulated in the manner Obama and his best-known-liar, Tim Geithner, want. But that's not to say we should sit back idly and do nothing because as Reuters' Charles Abbott and Kevin Drawbaugh continue:

Trading of OTC derivatives, instruments that derive their value from other assets, exploded in size in recent years, with many large firms -- such as mega-insurer American International Group (AIG.N) -- charging into the burgeoning market.

The global market is pegged at about $450 trillion.

When the U.S. real estate bubble burst, firms such as AIG were left with mountains of complex, hard-to-sell financial instruments on their books.

Now I'm not an expert on the underlying issues that enabled this bubble to grow. But my guess is that this could be addressed by a simple law that would prohibit fractional reserve banking. So that's my alternative to another Geithner / Bernanke smoke'n'mirrors show.

But this stuff goes above the head of Taxman Tim and Helicopter Ben.

Once again, President Obama is proving that he has no idea about banking and monetary policy. And frankly, he's in over his head. It's too bad his top two banking legislators - Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank - also fail to understand this stuff.

Tim White