Monday, August 31, 2009
So I was reading this August 25 piece in CQ Politics about the reappointment of Ben Bernanke as Chairman of
America's legalized banking cartel The Federal Reserve. Unsurprisingly, the piece that caught my eye was quote from Senator Dodd.
“While I have had serious differences with the Federal Reserve over the past few years, I think reappointing Chairman Bernanke is probably the right choice,” said Dodd, D-Conn., who has been critical of the Fed’s inability to use its power to stop the housing crisis. (by Phil Mattingly)
At first I thought it was absurd that Senator Dodd would make such an assertion. But the second half of the paragraph made his statement plausible... until I recalled a February 9 article in Bloomberg News.
From Bloomberg's Mark Pittman and Bob Ivry:
The stimulus package the U.S. Congress is completing would raise the government’s commitment to solving the financial crisis to $9.7 trillion, enough to pay off more than 90 percent of the nation’s home mortgages.
So what is Senator Dodd claiming?
Either Dodd has no idea what he's saying... or he's intentionally misleading people. Based on history, my guess is that he simply doesn't grasp the situation and doesn't know what he's saying. After all, Ben Bernanke has made it clear to him that an Audit of the Fed would harm the US economy. And that's that! End of story, Mr. Dodd! You just go back to those mean, nasty reporters and tell them that they should be afraid of what will happen... if we have to start answering questions. Enough is enough!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The NHR has a special piece by Sara Peck. It's about SMARTboards:
Interactive whiteboards, which cost $1,500 to $4,500, have revolutionized classroom instruction and school districts that can afford them are buying them as quickly as they can.
“The more we can put in the hands of our teachers, the better,” said Guilford Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella...
According to SMART Technologies, 94 percent of Connecticut school districts have bought the product, with more sales flowing in each day. The company has sold more than 510,000 interactive whiteboards nationwide since 2003, with a 34 percent increase in Connecticut sales from 2008 to 2009. The districts with the greatest number of boards are Bridgeport, Norwich, Greenwich, Cheshire and Hartford.
SMARTboards are included in the capital budget vote set for Tuesday night. Also, I recall being told that the most current version of Cheshire's SMARTboards cost about $7,000 / unit.
With a hat tip to another CT blogger it's being reported that House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank is now supporting an audit of the Federal Reserve Cartel:
Rep. Frank eyes Fed audit, emergency lending curbs
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - by Tim Ahmann - Rep. Barney Frank, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, said he plans legislation to restrict the Federal Reserve's emergency lending powers and subject the central bank to a "complete audit."
At a recent town hall meeting, Frank said the House would pass a bill to use an audit to crack open the central bank's books more widely...
A bill sponsored by Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul that would allow the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency, to audit Fed interest-rate decisions has won the co-sponsorship of more than half of the House.
Ron Paul is on the verge of a amazing accomplishment. "Cracking open the books" of America's
Central Planners Central Bankers would be an accomplishment of gargantuan proportions.
Here's Barney in his own words:
Saturday, August 29, 2009
The Town Council's TV producer, Henry Chase, recently uploaded his video of the 40th anniversary of Norm the Barber. If you watch the video, you'll likely recognize at least one or two people:
I never really knew Norm. I've been going to Joe since my first haircut.
Friday, August 28, 2009
The NHRs Luther Turmelle reported that Action Sports (in the Richlin's / Staples plaza) is closing:
Action Sports has been in town since 1992, but the recession has forced owner Paul von Maffei to close the South Main Street store in order to keep his Branford and Old Saybrook locations open.
“We were not even breaking even there and it had been that way since last winter,” von Maffei said.
Luther also reports that the consignment shop is relocating to the same plaza - where CVS used to be.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Yesterday I got the following (unedited) email from Councilman Matt Altieri:
Hello Fellow Councilors
Yesterday Michael Milone, Rich Ogurick and I met to discuss the ESCO process. There was much progress made and it was an excellent meeting. There are still many issues that we need to research but the consensus was to bring in a consultant to present the process and have a discussion with commission members, council and public. Most likely in October as we need to schedule this. I would recommend Chris Halpin of Celtic Energy.
Is this ok with all? Wanted to make sure before going forward.
As I've mentioned before here, and explained in detail here... I do believe that Councilman Truth is the reason that there's been no serious discussion of PC. But I also believe that Councilman Altieri is quite sincere in doing this. So I thank Councilman Matt Altieri for his efforts.
Mark Pittman of Bloomberg News continues reporting on
The Beast The Federal Reserve and their secretive ways:
Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve argued yesterday that identifying the financial institutions that benefited from its emergency loans would harm the companies and render the central bank’s planned appeal of a court ruling moot.
The Fed’s board of governors asked Manhattan Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska to delay enforcement of her Aug. 24 decision that the identities of borrowers in 11 lending programs must be made public by Aug. 31...
The Fed’s “ability to effectively manage the current, and any future, financial crisis” would be impaired, according to the motion. It said “significant harms” could befall the U.S. economy as well.
Definitely not a "mushroom cloud" moment, but Ben Bernanke is fearmongering. I thought this was supposed to be a time of Hope and Change!
Obviously not when it comes to monetary policy.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Reported by the NYTimes on April 27, 2009:
Last June, with a financial hurricane gathering force, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. convened the nation’s economic stewards for a brainstorming session. What emergency powers might the government want at its disposal to confront the crisis? he asked.
Timothy F. Geithner, who as president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank oversaw many of the nation’s most powerful financial institutions, stunned the group with the audacity of his answer.
So it’s almost as if one could conclude that Geithner was a major player in Bush’s economic team. And one may also conclude that newly reappointed Economist-in-chief Ben Bernanke was an important part of Bush’s economic team.
Back on September 27, 2008, the NYTimes reported that Obama said:
We also have to recognize that this is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policies promoted by George Bush...
Obama correctly noted that Bush's economic team was a collective failure, but Obama wants to keep them?
p.s. As for the Bush economic team's other key player, Hank Paulson… I’m sure Mr. Goldman is content for now. Sure, he’s not The Decider at the moment, but he’s still the gatekeeper.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Councilman Tom Ruocco offers some thoughts on the 09/10 capital budget as the vote approaches:
Needless to say, I won't be rubber stamping another request to continue the Policy of Patchwork that has been a hallmark of the current Council majority.
Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to spend we go!
From Bloomberg's Mark Pittman:
Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve must for the first time identify the companies in its emergency lending programs after losing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit...
“The Federal Reserve has to be accountable for the decisions that it makes,” said U.S. Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, after Preska’s ruling. “It’s one thing to say that the Federal Reserve is an independent institution. It’s another thing to say that it can keep us all in the dark.”
Good. Finally. It's about time.
Now... let's see who got the $2 trillion in Fed bailouts and the $8 trillion in the Fed's so-called "guarantees."
This'll be interesting... though I still have my doubts about Bernanke complying. After all, who is going to enforce it? President Transparency? Ha. He could've made this happen seven months ago, if he wanted it to happen.
From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:
Finance Director Patti-Lynn Ryan said that $1.87 million to $2.1 million could be trimmed from the $9.3 million that has been proposed for the first year of the town’s five-year capital budget.
How much gets cut will depend on negotiations between the Town Council’s Democratic majority and its Republican minority. The council’s budget committee met for about 90 minutes Monday night to discuss a variety of scenarios.
As of last week, the plan had been scheduled to go to a full council vote tonight. But Town Manager Michael Milone requested a week’s delay to allow him and his staff to run a variety of scenarios requested by the council.
That's awfully nice of the TM to take the hit for rescheduling the vote, but... ummm... he's not the reason for the delay. The reason for the delay is that the Budget Chairman didn't get his ducks in a row and get a budget to the TM in a timely manner.
Now the TM takes the hit for this. That's not right. The Budget Chairman should have been on the record saying "I dawdled and didn't prepare a budget in a timely manner."
Frankly, I would normally ignore something like this, but... ummm... this is the second consecutive year that no capital budget was adopted at the scheduled meeting time. I'm tired of this lack of planning.
Labels: good government
Here's an example of an email I got recently:
The meeting to discuss the Sylvania LED retrofit units for outdoor lighting this past Wednesday provided some interesting ideas. Bob Armstrong came as a representative for Jason Pelletier and gave a demonstration of the Sylvania unit in an acorn lamp assembly. Some points made were:
- The 40 watt unit replaces a 250 watt HID lamp, and has no ballast which represents additional energy savings (a 150 watt unit has a 38 watt ballast).
- The unit is 'dark sky' rated (needed for LEED).
- Warranty is 5 years, with an expected life of 12 years.
- Unit provides white light with two optional temperatures, 4900 and 5700 degrees Kelvin (different amount of blue component).
- Two light 'footprints" are available, one for sidewalks (rectangular) and one for parking lots (circular).
- Cost per unit is $550 with quantity discounts available (maybe grant money from the Utility Co. too).
- Central Connecticut State seem to be planning a major use (500 units?).
- The 40 watt unit requires a space about 12 inches square in the light assembly and is simply attached with wire nuts to the supply.
- A 55 watt unit designed to replace a 400 watt HID will be available shortly.
- A unit with a smaller 6.5 inch space requirement will be available shortly.
The addition of a smaller unit and an increased wattage will likely substantially increase the number of Town outdoor applications for this technology. There is the potential for a significant energy savings program. Since Sylvania does not have all the elements to market yet a good way to get started might be to instal four units in the Town Hall parking area. This would allow for a direct comparison with existing lighting, provide the Town electricians with first hand experience of any installtion issues and be a very visible reference point for future discussions.
The email may bore some people, but I find it really educational. And these types of discussion may not only lead the town to saving money... it may also be an appropriate project to be incorporated into a townwide performance contract.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Councilman Ecke presented his proposed changes to the TMs 09/10 Capital Budget:The changes were discussed tonight by Altieri, Dill, Ecke, Hall, Ruocco, Sima, Slocum and White. As well, there were a few residents in attendance - Joe Bartoli, Andy Falvey, Anne Giddings, Sylvia Nichols and Ray "Henny Youngman" Squire.
Tom Ruocco and Mike Ecke discussed a number of different projects and found agreement on most. The glaring exception seemed to be the pool. While Tom (and I) voiced concerns about continued spending on this Policy of Patchwork, Councilman Altieri wanted more spending on the pool.
He wanted more money for his Policy of Patchwork.
Haven't we all had enough of that? I know I have.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Council candidate and former BOE member, Andy Falvey (R-3), asks questions about the 09/10 Capital Budget:
After Andy spoke, I asked Councilman Ecke to clarify how the Capital non-recurring fund is spent / used. Basically, it's a fund that typically gets $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 on an annual basis (via the nearly $100,000,000 operating budget). Then projects are covered with the fund. However, in a case like this year when assumed town revenues may be low... staff may hold back on various projects... essentially maintaining a balanced budget by offsetting lower-than-anticipated revenues with lower-than-anticipated expenses.
The NHR has article about a fellow named Jerry Ellison. My dad mentioned the article to me tonight.
I just thought I'd post it here since it brought back fond childhood memories. When I was little, my dad would bring me to see Jerry on Saturday mornings. They'd chat for a little while... then my dad would bring me across the street to the emporium... where he'd buy me some penny candy. Ha! Imagine getting anything for a penny today?! And thirty years later, I frequent the same area... about 50 yards to the west....
And though I wasn't thinking about it when I started writing this post about 60 seconds ago... I can't help but think... ah... yes... Mr. Bernanke, your Federal Reserve truly has protected the value of the dollar. We're so lucky to have your printing presses!
The Courant online has a front-page, above-the-fold piece on a likely GOP Senate candidate, Peter Schiff.
In writing the article, Daniela Altimari spoke with Cheshire resident and national political commentator, Gary Rose. He was asked about some of the pluses to Schiff's candidacy, such as his apolitical background and RonPaulesque fundraising abilities:
Gary Rose, who chairs the department of government and politics at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, doubts that's enough to propel this insurgent into the exclusive club that is the U.S. Senate.
"Schiff has some excellent points, and he can certainly articulate those points very clearly," Rose says. But securing the Republican nomination in a state such as Connecticut will be a challenge for such a Libertarian. "He's really on the margins of the Republican Party and, at this point, he's without a doubt, a real long shot. ... I'm not so sure the voters are ready for his message."
I completely agree. I'd love to see Schiff get in the race, but I still don't see his path to the GOP nomination. Frankly, despite the blogosphere ignoring him... I still think Sam Caligiuri has the inside track to the nomination.
With five people now presumably in the race, 33% may win the nomination. And Sam is the only known pro-life candidate. So I'm still thinking that Sam get the nod next August and follows that with a victory in November.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Have you seen Tuesday's Council meeting? In particular, I find the vote on the linear trail grant to be puzzling. Best I recall, there were four people supporting the idea of the linear trail being extended from the Southington line into Cheshire. And there were four people supporting the idea of the linear trail being extended north from Cornwall Ave.
And one Council member didn't say much.
But now he's spoken to the MRJs Jesse Buchanan:
Town Council Budget Committee Chairman Michael Ecke said additional funding for the trail was included in the five-year capital budget, up for a vote next week. He was unsure if trail funding would pass, though.
"I don't know if we'll be able to," he said. "There are other needs right now."
Plans for the trail had been mostly suspended in past years, since the trail was held up at Cornwall Avenue on the Dalton Enterprise property. Now the town will have to decide what is the best direction for the trail, Ecke said.
"I always thought starting in the north made sense," he said.
So I guess the idea is to not send the linear trail to referendum this year. But maybe he's thinking about sending it out next year? Sure, that'll happen... at the same time several Council members have been suggesting they'll be sending the pool to referendum? Yeah, that's believable. The linear trail and the pool will be sent to referendum at the same time. Sure.
Or maybe the idea is to send the Cornwall to West Main section to referendum in two years? Yeah, during a local election. I'm sure they'll do that... by that time the ever-speedy DOT will have addressed all the concerns that were voiced about the safety and cost of the West Main to Jarvis leg.
Or maybe the idea is to send the Cornwall to West Main section to referendum in three years? Oh wait... the grant expires in three years.
This is a bunch of nonsense. There's a lack of honest planning here, though the likely future seems pretty easy to see when you have politicians who are afraid of "big, bold decisions."
I just wish we could have an actual dialogue during a Council meeting. Voicing these concerns after the vote strikes me as double talk intended to allow one to say both:
1) I support
my boss staff and my caucus!
2) I'm still concerned about the safety of crossing West Main.
Just depends with whom you're speaking.
Anyone else see the meeting and have a different take on this? It really is puzzling to me. I'm willing to eat these words, if someone explains to me how we had five Council members wanting one thing... yet the opposite thing happened.
In some respects, government truly has lost any sense of reality. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on SFs "chronic inebriants." C.W. Nevius reports on one such SF resident:
Walters, who was decked out in a red, long-sleeve Spider-Man shirt, isn't homeless or broke. The 41-year-old happily shared his story with me. He sat up, pushed his blond bangs off his face, and blinked his striking blue eyes until his surroundings came into focus.
"I do get caught for drinking out here every day," he said affably. "I wish I had another beer right now."
He said he gets $953 a month in Supplemental Security Income for disabled and aged citizens and pays $650 a month for a hotel room in the Tenderloin under the city's Care Not Cash program.
With free meals available from local charities, that leaves $300 a month for booze. Walters says he doesn't do hard drugs, just pot. He just drinks, usually "40 ouncers," big, cheap bottles of beer.
I can't believe it's come to this.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Anne is well-spoken and comes prepared. You can't see it well on the video, but Anne's sign had two comments. One comment read "pool spending." This was on the top half, when the sign was partly "in the red." And I forget what the bottom half read... though she describes it in the video. Regardless, she made a great presentation. I'm expecting the same valuable thoughts and comments to continue when she joins the Council in December.
Also, if you watch the five minute video you'll hear her mention her bicycle. That reminded me of a comment made to me by my mom recently. My mom said that when she first met Anne, thirty years ago, Anne used to ride her bike from her home (next to Boulder Knoll) to Mixville everyday to act as a camp councilor. My point? She doesn't just talk about protecting the environment and living healthy and all these other good causes... her life has been a model for them.
And on a somewhat related note... Anne's brother-in-law, John Ashcroft, will be the honored guest at an evening event in Cheshire on September 17. If you'd like more details, please contact RTC Chair Marilyn Bartoli.
Rand Paul is running for the US Senate. He'll be in a GOP primary for the soon-to-be-open US Senate seat in Kentucky. It's currently held by Jim Bunning.
Here's a quote from Rand Paul's website about bailouts:
Federal bailouts reward inefficient and corrupt management, rob taxpayers, hurt smaller and more responsible private firms, exacerbate our budget problems, explode national debt, and destroy our US Dollar. Even more importantly, any bailout of private industry is in direct violation of the constitution. It is a transfer of wealth from those who have earned to those who have squandered. The federal government has overstepped its enumerated powers as stipulated in the supreme law of the land.
That's largely why I'll probably be donating a few dollars to him.
MLN's TParty has a good piece discussing the recent firing of the Courant's consumer-advocate columnist, George Gombossy. Here's a link to George's new website.
Imagine something like this happening - someone has an advertising budget and they have undue influence over the editorial page?! Thankfully something like that could never happen in Cheshire!
I wish Mr. Gombossy the best of luck.
Here are the capital budget dollar figures that went to public hearing on Tuesday:Generally-speaking, the items that would go to referendum (if put forward by the Council) are the items with bonded dollar values above $350,000.
What would you spike from the budget?
You can find many of the details here or you can scour the blog if you need more information to make an informed decision.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The MRJs Jesse Buchanan reports on last night's vote to spend more money on the pool:
Tom Marino Carpentry will replace mold-infested sheetrock which had been removed from the pool locker room walls with water-resistant wallboard. The project, which does not include replacing insulation which was removed, will cost $58,736.
This money should not be getting spent another ad hoc fix. We should be taking a comprehensive approach. To that end...
In February 2008 I tried to take action on the pool in a comprehensive manner. Knowing it was right after the election, I thought there was a possibility that something would happen. I was wrong. After Council foot dragging for 18 months, we're only now going to be sitting down with some possible vendors to discuss alternatives to the bubble. Too little, too late.
The Council majority has had four years to act, but they haven't. Instead, we heard this in October 2007:
But hey... at least they can be intellectually honest sometimes!
Anyway, about the $60,000 that got spent last night... my view is that there should be absolutely no more spending on these ad hoc fixes. And if people try to paint a picture in which "the Council must act," then I simply say "no." This Council created this situation by it's all-too-typical inaction - videostreaming, eliminating DB pension plans, take-home vehicles, considering performance contracting. Several members of the majority simply refuse to do the right thing. Instead, they prefer to wait until the sky is falling. Then they act... with our tax dollars!
And when they do act, it's too little, too late.
Last night's pool vote reminds me of Ron Paul's saying about last fall's $700 billion bailout:
Spending more money on this pool is like giving a drug addict a fix. Sure, it'll make the drug addict feel great for a little while. But the problem is still there. And when it again rears its ugly head, the problem is going to be worse than before.
November can't come soon enough.
Here's the complete list of capital projects proposed under the schools' renovation budget:Dodd kitchen renovations:CHS track resurfacing:I hadn't noticed this earlier, but this one interests me. It says the track needs to be resurfaced every 5 to 7 years. So I'm wondering about the resurfacing history. See, I graduated from CHS in 1990 and am virtually certain it was still a gravel track. But it was "rubberized" before I graduated from Bryant College in 1994. Maybe it was rubberized in 1992, then resurfaced in 1997 and 2002? Anyone happen to know?
Councilman Tim Slocum offers some thoughts on tonight's Council meeting, including the votes on both the linear trail and another $22,000 wasted on another ad hoc measure to "fix" the pool. I'd say the vote was a joke. Unfortunately, we all know the joke is being played on the taxpayers. Enough is enough.
Also worth mentioning... of the 9 challenging Council candidates, 3 attended tonight...
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
At the suggestion of Councilman Slocum, I present tonight's pool resolution:Did anyone see the discussion tonight?
This is a fiasco. And what perplexed me was when someone suggested to me that my vote was irresponsible.
No. My vote was not irresponsible. My vote was quite responsible.
What's irresponsible is the foot dragging we've seen for years.
Here's a brief history about the pool RFP and the related footdragging. I wrote it in May of this year.
Here's the complete list of capital projects proposed under the schools' renovation budget:Indoor air quality issues / carpet replacement / tile restoration:District-wide window replacement:Smartboards:Do we need smartboards this year? As well, do we need windows this year without a district-wide plan that details where we'll get the most value - in energy savings, improved air quality or repair of malfunctioning windows?
Monday, August 17, 2009
Councilman Tom Ruocco offers some of his initial thoughts on the 09/10 capital budget. Along with offering alternative operating budgets this year and last... Tom offered an alternative capital budget last year. Each of his alternatives were approximately $500,000 less than the adopted budgets. That's a total of $1,500,000 that probably would not have been spent, if Tom were the Budget Committee Chairman.
You can expect Tom to again work with the current Budget Committee Chairman, Mike Ecke, to find ways to reduce the size of this year's $9,000,000 proposal. If Tom finds common ground and can build the consensus needed in this recession, Tom may not offer an alternative capital budget this year.
Public hearing is tomorrow in Town Hall at 7:30pm. And the vote for the capital budget is scheduled for next week.
The Sunday MRJ had a nice piece about last week's Council vote to eliminate defined benefit plans for future non-union hires. It basically just explains how the defined benefit plans are no longer an option, but that 457(d)* plans will be funded going forward. Anyway, this is where we stand now:I'm hoping that the current union contract negotiations can at least include the elimination of DB plans for future union ee's. I'm sure it will cost something. That's the nature of negotiations. But as I was quoted in the MRJ article "I'd be willing to pay a bit more to the unions up front to know the cost with certainty rather than saying, 'Someone will pay for (pensions) in the future.'"
If we can get agreement on that, I'd consider it a huge victory because there would be no new hires joining the plan. And over time, those long-term liabilities would be eliminated... ultimately forcing sitting Council members to raise taxes, if they make promises... unlike the current situation where Cheshire's plan is currently underfunded (due to the market)... or the state's situation where they simply never funded their DB plans in the first place.
* I believe a 457(d) is the public equivalent of a 401(k).
Here's the complete list of capital projects proposed under the schools' renovation budget:
New locker rooms:At tonight's meeting, Tim Slocum asked about the possibility of spending the $525,000 grant for "turf and athletics complex" (the wording is something like that) on these proposed new locker rooms. There was no clear answer. And frankly, barring a significant change in the composition of the Council, I doubt we would ever get an answer.
District-wide repaving:CHS heating retrofit:You may recall this led to some heated discussions during last year's capital budget. And that was a result of a promise made two years ago to consider financing this project with a performance-based contract. (I wrote a brief history of that promise. It began with that promise and continued thru this month. You can see it here.) Tonight, Councilman Altieri assured me that as this project proceeds he will ensure that PC is considered. I take Councilman Altieri at his word. As well, many BOE members were present tonight and they didn't voice any opposition to considering PC as a serious option.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Chris Dodd may have another possible GOP opponent. And no, I'm not talking about Kane. We all know Kane would destroy Dodd. But we'll have to see how this other possible opponent performs in the ring.
It's only 18 seconds. And you've gotta check it out before you vote.
There's a capital budget meeting on Monday at 7pm in Town Hall. The schools are on the agenda. Then the Council will hold the public hearing on the capital budget on Tuesday at 7:30pm. In addition to the public hearing, the Council is planning to vote on additional funds for the pool. I don't expect to be voting in support of more money for the pool.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
I recently did a front-page post with some comments from Anne Giddings (Council, at-large). You can see the entire post here. And since there were some questions / concerns raised, Anne offered this very thoughtful response that I re-post here (unedited):
I am glad to let anyone know my position on educational funding, waste, and other issues.
Easiest one first: I hate waste of any resources, whether money, time, or other. I am a thrifty person (my children have sometimes used more pejorative terms, but I prefer thrifty) and I feel an increased need for care when given responsibility for someone else’s resources, such as the public’s. I do realize that what I consider “waste” may be considered essential by someone else—that is where discussion and the political process come in.
As to education funding, that is one area among many where people disagree as to the necessity of spending levels. A certain minimum expenditure is required in order to provide schools, teachers, busses, learning materials. The disagreement is over what expenditure is necessary. (Please see the last sentence of the previous paragraph.) I do not presume that any amount requested by the Board of Education is necessarily essential. I consider myself amenable to reason and factual evidence.
All town expenditures should be examined in order to determine whether they are necessary in order to provide needed community services. Since the Council can only set the total amount for the education budget, not make changes to items included in it, it is especially important for the Council to know why a requested amount is needed for the schools. When I attended the public hearing on the budget, I felt that the necessity for some expenditures was not fully spelled out.
One advantage of being a former educator is my strong belief in the importance of planning, both short- and long-range. Example: right now the Council is considering repairs to the building section of the town pool. There have also been options for the long-range destiny of the pool covering. My concern is that the two be linked. We should not spend a large sum on refurbishment of the building section, if that refurbishment does not fit with the final decision regarding the pool covering. We need to know the final decision as well as the immediate one, and we need to be sure that the pool can be used (although I am not myself a user of this facility).
Unfortunately, my contact information was not included in my original information to Tim. I will include that and invite anyone who would like to discuss these or other issues to contact me. I welcome the opportunity to have discussions with residents.
915 Boulder Rd.
I take Anne at her word. I'm absolutely convinced that she'll be questioning spending and working toward fiscally responsible budgets.
p.s. I changed the email address so as to limit botmails.
If you're among the 75% of the American public that wants an audit of the Federal Reserve, then you may want to visit this new website: AuditTheFed.com.
And speaking of the Fed, have you ever wondered how it works? Well, one useful tool for me in understanding how something works is to diagram it. I offer my understanding of their
independent murky and secretive organizating here:Frankly, I can't figure out if the Presidents of the 12 regional banks are supposed to report to their Boards of Directors... or to the FOMC which is headed by Ben Bernanke.
And this is fairly relevant IMO because in 2008 the then-President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Tim Geithner, negotiated Federal Reserve bailouts for both the Bear Stearns acquisition by JP Morgan and the lifeline offered to Goldman Sachs.
So with regard to those two particular bailouts, was Geithner negotiating a bailout with one of the banks he was regulating? Or was he negotiating a bailout with his boss?
And who knows where the $2.2 trillion in freshly printed bailout money went? And let's not even discuss the $8 trillion in so-called "guarantees" offered by Bernanke to others.
But Washington's Political Class still tells us that the Fed must not be audited.
I can barely believe they actually oppose an audit of the Fed.
From the AP:
Lawmakers began looking at ways Friday to halt possible job cuts at Pratt & Whitney, but met resistance from the jet engine maker, which said it prefers to work with economic development officials.
Sen. Gary LeBeau, co-chairman of the General Assembly’s Commerce Committee, said before a hearing that he and other legislators want to determine what the state can do to “wipe out the job cuts, if possible.”
LeBeau recently joined the Democratic field for Governor. I think Crusher is still the only announced candidate. Then Malloy and Bysiewicz (sp??) are undeclared, but raising lots of money. Compare that to Crusher who isn't raising any money, even with all the favors he dished out from his annual slush fund of $12 million that he controlled as Speaker. And I only know of one other possibility - Ned Lamont - who keeps dipping his toe in the water... but he's definitely not jumping in... not yet at least.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Greg Hladky continues to offer some great reporting.
He's got this piece in the New Haven Advocate about questions that continue to surround government contracting in CT. It doesn't say anything bad has happened, but it certainly paints a picture in which any resident of Corrupticut has got to scratch his/her head.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
While Cheshire residents are being told that Government is The Boss and they are no longer allowed to freely communicate their concerns to elected representatives without a possible fear of reprisal by government...
The courts are now saying that
The Beast The Federal Reserve is immune to the Freedom of Information Act... at least in some cases.
Huh? What is happening to our country? I thought our country was founded on freedom?
Yet I see the government asserting a dominant role in which citizens are not the boss... they're more like subjects. And government can do as it pleases without concern for the citizens.
And all of this comes under the watch of President Transparency. This is almost impossible to believe.
Labels: good government
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
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.
O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her. — Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.
I now see how Thomas Paine helped inspire the birth of our nation.
Here's the first guest post I've received from one of the candidates for the Cheshire Town Council, Anne Giddings:Thanks, Tim, for offering me some space on your blog.
I am happy to be a candidate for Cheshire Town Council at Large and look forward to meeting residents and working to preserve Cheshire ’s character and assets.
As a result of a decision two years ago to let my hair grow for Locks of Love, I look a bit different than in the Land Trust photo you had a link to, so I will send you a recent photo.
I will also send you a little information about myself and some of the ways that I have been engaged in community service in the past. This includes my contact information.
Now that I am retired, I have a lot more time to be involved in community work. As an educational administrator in the Newington and Ansonia school districts, I learned to manage many of the challenges that towns face. It is always important to be judicious in handling the public’s assets, and it may be more important now than at any time in memory. Working together to find the best solutions for problems is also imperative. Getting full information and openly examining the advantages and disadvantages of all possible choices is the way to operate. I believe in full disclosure—I’ve had my salary printed on the front page of a local paper several times and survived!
Recently, I have been doing what can be considered community service, since I am a certified math teacher: serving as a math tutor for homebound students and doing some substitute teaching.
Also, although my husband, Dr. Bob Giddings, has been heavily involved with the Friends of Boulder Knoll and the Community Supported Agriculture program that the Friends have started on the town-owned farm next door to our home, I am not a member of either group. I just volunteer at the farm and donate plants to the program. This is the type of operation that I believe in. Grass roots volunteer efforts to provide a source of locally grown vegetables and educational efforts with students. Having survived the mud traps during the rainy season (was that all summer?), I enjoy weeding the herb garden and working with the Waterbury youth who learned about gardening. It is important to use the wonderful open space that the town has preserved, and this is one good way to do so.
And for the record, this is unedited... and there was no need to edit either. That's a small reason, but one of many reasons, why I'll be voting for her on November 3.
Here's the proposed capital budget for P&R:Park improvements:Linear trail:Pool improvements:This is the $50,000 that I mentioned here a few days ago. FWIW, I'm not voting to spend this money on the pool. It's beyond ridiculous. How many times do we have to fix this roof?!
If there was any leadership on the Council, they wouldn't have thwarted my efforts to fast track my calls for an alternative to the bubble in February 2008. And if they had moved on that, the town may have been able to get money in December 2008 for a shovel-ready, green energy project that would have eliminated the bubble for good. Oh well. 73 days to go.
But hey... at least Councilman Turf secured $525,000 for his Cheshire version of the Clint Eastwood / Hilary Swank classic!
My comments from the vote on the TMs contract:
Some additional thoughts:
With regard to driving policy through inaction... add Mixville as another glaring example... steering people to the pool to increase revenue there, while neglecting Mixville, was wrong. And that had happened for years. Hopefully that practice had ended.
My overall concern though is judgment. And excluding the members of Cheshire's Political Class, including some residents of The Gated Castle, what Cheshire residents actually believe giving a 6% or 7% payraise after the recession had started shows good judgment?
How some Council members could speak with a straight face last night... after some of the comments they made off camera... is amazing to me. It reminds me of a comment made by the Council Chairman a few years ago. He recalled a comment made to him by Councilman Altieri. Basically, Altieri said to Hall that politicians were actors who couldn't succeed in Hollywood.
Based on last night's performance, I think several people sitting behind the dais could do quite well in Hollywood.
And I'd still love for someone to get Councilman Ecke on the record, responding to my concerns about the work environment at the CPD.
Labels: town government
Tim Slocum is running for Town Council (at-large). Tim is currently a member of the Council and previously served four years on the Planning & Zoning Commission. He owns HFM Fabrics... located where Scully Auto Parts had been for years. I wish Tim the best of luck. Frankly though, as I've mentioned before... I'm only convinced of two Republicans who will win this fall - Tim Slocum and Tom Ruocco.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Before the meeting, I introduced Sheldon Dill to Anne Giddings. The introduction was fun. Anne attended the meeting to listen and participate. And she's clearly excited and looking forward to the campaign. I'm sure she'd thoroughly enjoy being on the Council. I hope she gets to join me there in a few months. But getting to the meeting...
Tonight's agenda moved along, but there was some discussion. Perhaps helping the meeting move along was the absence of Councilman Ecke. Missing his presence, I was guessing there may not be a vote to spend an additional $200,000 to $250,000 or more on the pool (keep in mind that one of the two bidders had problems with the bid bond). The bids are here:We then voted (8-0) to adopt the changes to the personnel rules & regs. Included in that were new rules:
1) Prohibiting the accumulation of more than 35 vacation days (transitioning past the existing accumulated days is a separate issue) and
2) Eliminating the defined benefit plan for future non-union hires as an option. Going forward, future non-union hires will be given the option of a defined contribution plan with a 5% auto payment and additional 1% match if an ee contributes 1%. Personally, I think it's a pretty generous plan.
Now I want to focus on the other three parts of this grid:But those would need to be negotiated in a fair and equitable manner. That could take time... though the town's union contracts just expired on June 30... with new ones in negotiations. For my part, I'm comfortable spending a bit more now... so as to avoid sticking the bill to the next generation... as they love to do in Washington with their new found love of "borrow n spend" fiscal policies.
The Town Manager's contract extension passed (7-1). I opposed it. I offered several thoughts - both complimentary and constructive. I may elaborate later this week. But in the meantime, if any reporters are reading this... I suggest you call Councilman Ecke to ask for his views. I think it would be interesting to mention to him that I voiced concerns about employee morale, particularly with the CPD. Then ask him if my concerns are legitimate. I'd find his response fascinating. Oh... and... btw, it wouldn't surprise me at all if that was part of why he wasn't there tonight.
Grant money for the linear trail was discussed.
And the OTT Freedom of Information Act ruling that all constituent emails are subject to FOI. I understand the idea behind it, but I think it's an invasion of the privacy of the public. As I mentioned tonight... We The People are in charge of the government. The government is not in charge of We The People.
And near the end of the meeting, Councilman Altieri asked for Council feedback on the possibility of investigating the use of performance contracting as a financing mechanism for some town projects. Great idea! Thank you Matt... now maybe the Council can make some progress if we can replace the guy who wants little else than to be Honorary Mayor... with Anne Giddings... maybe we can make get some things moving in town!