Wednesday, September 30, 2009
On September 29, 2008, the US Congress passed the $700 billion bailout.
By the spring of 2009, the Federal Reserve had issued its own "private" bailouts in excess of $2 trillion... along with another $8 trillion in so-called "guarantees."
On April 2, the Senate Banking Chairman (Chris Dodd) explicitly voted against revealing the names of the banks that got the Fed's $2.2 trillion bailout.
On May 6, the Senate Banking Chairman promised FireDogLake's Jane Hamsher that he would ask the Fed Chairman (Ben Bernanke) for the names of the banks that got his $2.2 trillion in bailouts.
On August 24, since Chris Dodd had not yet gotten the names of the banks that got Fed bailouts, Bloomberg News proceeded with their December 2008 lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. And they got US District Judge Loretta Preska to direct the Obama's Fed Chairman to release the names of the banks by August 31.
By August 31, President Transparency's Fed Chairman had appealed Judge Preska's ruling and was given until Sept 30 to appeal the order to release the names of the banks that got the $2.2 trillion in Fed bailouts.
Today, the Fed appealed.
No word yet on a deadline for when the appeals court will have a decision.
I applaud Mark Pittman and Bloomberg News for hounding "the most transparent administration in history" until they cough up the goods.
From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:
Officials with Cheshire Youth Baseball are hoping that developing a concession stand in Bartlem Park will produce enough revenue that the league can lower its registration fees.
Plans for the 400-square-foot stand, which will be next to skate park and a parking lot, were approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday night.
I got an anonymous letter from a Town Hall employee today. I offer you this:
In the past, I've voiced my concerns about how the town is run. I encourage you to speak to your friends and family in Cheshire and encourage them to cast a well-educated vote on November 3rd.
Another thought is for you to give questions (anonymously) to the League of Women Voters on October 21 at the Council candidates' forum. Perhaps you could ask:
"Do you think the Town is well-managed?"
"Do you think the Town's senior management is doing a good job?"
Yes, I know those questions are not exactly your concern. But from my perspective, it's all related. Either you're a card-carrying member of The Inner Circle or you are not.
Then take those responses and let all of your friends and family know which candidates are comfortable allowing the hostile work environment to continue... and which candidates intend to stop it.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
As Anne Giddings (Council, at-large) mentioned elsewhere, she got the state documents regarding the turf grant. Here is the first page:I'll post the rest of the pages over the next few days.
And here's a repeat posting* of the July 8, 2008 Council acceptance of the turf money.
My comments start around the 20 minute mark. I knew I had tried (and failed) to redirect the money, but had forgotten that my motion was described as "preposterous" by the Council majority.
* This is the first of three videos
A guest post that first ran in the Herald:
Editor, The Cheshire Herald,
On September 1st the Democratic majority on the Town Council approved a Capital Budget that includes 21 projects and $7.85 million in the first year. The minority council members had proposed an alternative budget for about $420,000 less but, as usual, the Democrats went with their higher number.
One Council majority member said, “Our Capital Budget is kind of like your kitchens, bathrooms, and new cars. You’re investing in your house. You have to repair and remediate. When you spend money on your house, there’s a return on that investment.” Well, I’m not sure that his philosophy is quite the same as many residents who are tightening their own budgets, reducing expenses, or those who have lost their jobs or have had to take pay cuts and furlough days. Sure these residents, if they had to, would make minor repairs to their homes and cars, but with the housing market the way it is, I doubt they’d sink their hard earned money into major home projects not knowing if they’d ever get a return on their investment. And I’m not sure in this difficult economic time that residents are running out and buying new cars.
Spending on the community pool also became an issue in the Capital Budget. With still no concrete plan in place for the pool, the Democrats approved nearly $200,000 more in spending. The Republican council members wanted any further spending to come from the general fund where expenditures could be better managed, and the public would have more of a say in what happens with the pool.
Just as we have to tighten our budgets and maybe go without something in one year, we hope our Councilors would take the same approach with the town budget. Last year the Democratic majority made a $125,000 reduction to expenses in one area, yet in this Capital Budget they’ve doubled their spending in that same area to make up for it. Just when you think they might be trying to save some money, they spend twice as much!
When it comes to spending our tax dollars, I had hoped our current Council majority would be able to prioritize and concentrate on the “needs” of our town. What’s next on their agenda? Are they going to push through their turf field project even though it’s not mentioned in their Five Year Capital Budget? Let’s hope that on November 3rd things change and we’ll have a Council that can better manage our tax dollars.
And speaking of the turf with the election in mind... the Council majority and control of the agenda matters. In July 2008, I tried to get state officials to explain the turf grant to the Council and the voters. Unsurprisingly, the explanation was never given.
Monday, September 28, 2009
For those of you who are wondering what's happening with the linear trail in Southington... the MRJs Leslie Hutchison:
Southington received $3.2 million in federal stimulus funds for trail expansion, which will extend the pathway south about 10,000 linear feet from where it now ends at West Main Street. Preliminary construction is expected to begin in early winter, with completion planned for the spring.
It's about 10,000 feet from Southington's West Main Street to the Cheshire line.
Anybody happen to remember the nonsense that was getting regurgitated at the August Council meeting when the linear trail was being discussed?
From the NHRs editor:
The decision by Pratt & Whitney to close two state plants and throw some 1,000 workers onto the unemployment lines only adds to the pain of a recession in which Connecticut has already lost 79,100 jobs. With decisions such as Pratt’s, economists project a loss of some 100,000 state jobs before Connecticut’s job numbers start to grow again.
I think we need to improve the business climate in CT. Just last week, Forbes ranked CT 35th (among the 50 states) for doing business. That included a rank of 45 for business costs.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
From the NHRs Randall Beach:
In a terse, one-sentence action, state prosecutors in the Cheshire triple homicide case have withdrawn their controversial motion for a joint trial of the two defendants.
The Superior Court filing, signed by State’s Attorney Michael Dearington and Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Gary Nicholson, simply said, “The state hereby withdraws its motion for a joint trial.” It was filed Sept. 16.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
On Friday, Ron Paul's HR 1207 - Audit the Fed! - finally got a hearing as House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank placed it on the agenda. This happened despite immense opposition by Washington's Political Class. Frankly, it happened largely because of a nationwide grassroots effort that has been inspired by Dr. Paul.
Here's a short clip of Ron Paul getting interviewed on Bloomberg TV:
As many of you know, Cheshire's junior state Senator is Sam Caligiuri. Sam is running for the Republican nomination to run against US Senator Chris Dodd (D).
This afternoon, Bob and Lori Murphy hosted a small gathering for Sam. Here are a few photos I took at the event:Sam delivered a great stump speech. He really is a fantastic speaker. And while I already knew much of his comments - such as his principled opposition to the state budget that ended deep in the red this summer - I learned something new. Sam Caligiuri is a big supporter of equal rights for homeschooling parents. I can't really speak much to this, but I have heard from a few parents - who homeschool - that schools around the state don't treat them fairly.
I suspect that due to his voting record... in the GOP primary, Sam will get a great deal of support among homeschoolers.
As for me, I was glad to hear Sam's stump speech include a mention of the need for improved monetary policy.
Republican Board of Education candidate Tony Perugini has a website:
An excerpt from his website:
Common sense says we need to focus on our core foundation in education: Reading, Writing and Math. Without a solid foundation, our children will not be prepared for life. As much as I'm biased towards technology I learned a long time ago that simply throwing technology at a problem is not necessarily going to fix it. If the foundation is cracked, technology will make that crack worse. In great or poor economic times, we cannot lose focus of the basics. Common sense says we need to balance needs vs. wants. Let's get our 'needs' in order and earn our 'wants'.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Justin Bernier is running for the US House of Representatives (CT-5). He's a Republican challenging our incumbent Congressman, Chris Murphy (D).
Here's a shot of Justin speaking with the Cheshire RTC on September 24, 2009:Here are a few words from Justin following the Cheshire Republican Town Committee meeting at the Senior Center:
My understanding is that there are other Republicans considering a run for the CT-5, but I don't know their names.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I was told tonight that the WPCA meeting was quite interesting. Apparently the Authority actually discussed the possibility of having no sewer fee this year. That's right... it wasn't about having no increase in the fee... they were discussing the elimination of the fee.
Inattention by Town Hall... shocking! Of course, anyone who follows this blog knows that I've been saying several members of the Town's senior management need to be held accountable. That's partly due to the existence of a hostile work environment. But in the case of the WPCA, it's the inability of staff to do their job which creates long-term problems for the town and the taxpayers.
So over the course of the next 40 days, I strongly encourage you to try to identify five Council candidates who are willing to hold the Town's senior management accountable.
While the pool gets the headlines, it's the mismanagement of the Town that is IMHO the single biggest issue facing Cheshire.
Labels: town government
From the NHRs Ann Dematteo:
The owner of a North Haven company has been indicted for his participation in an alleged scheme to defraud the developer of a New York shopping mall, according to U.S. Attorney Nora R. Dannehy.
A federal grand jury sitting in New Haven recently returned a 19-count indictment that charged Frank M. Ruocco Jr., 42, of Cheshire; Boris A. Tomicic, 37, of West Hartford and Ruocco’s company, Earth Technology Inc., with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering offenses, Dannehy said. Ruocco and Earth Technology, an environmental contractor on Sackett Point Road, also are charged with obstruction of justice in connection with a federal grand jury investigation.
The charges stem from the defendants’ alleged participation in a scheme to defraud the shopping mall developer by submitting inflated invoices for the removal of contaminated soil and other items, Dannehy said in a prepared statement.
I got a virus last night (Antivirus Spy 2010). It's pretty nasty... even crashed my computer last night... and now it's just incredibly slow. I've got to figure this out before I blog much more. Hopefully I can figure it out by Saturday night. I've gotten as far as logging on in safe mode, but then can't connect to the web to upload malwarebytes.
Very, very ugly. I hope these cretins end up in jail. They deserve time for pulling this BS.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
From the MRJs Jesse Buchanan:
The warden of Manson Youth Institution wants to introduce two Nintendo Wii video game systems for use by inmates - but the correction officers' union is balking.
Warden Jose Feliciano wants the systems, which the department says were bought with inmate money, made available as rewards for good behavior. But Moises Padilla, vice president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 387 and a correction officer at Manson, says doing so would lead to more fights among inmates.
From Rasmussen Reports last week:
Sixty-two percent (62%) of voters nationwide now hold populist, or Mainstream, views of government. That’s up from 55% earlier in the year. These voters are skeptical of both big government and big business...
Only four percent (4%) now support the the Political Class, down from seven percent (7%) six months ago. These voters tend to trust political leaders more than the public at large and are far less skeptical about government.
When leaners are included, 79% are in the Mainstream category, and 12% support the Political Class.
I wonder how Cheshire's Political Class will fair in November? I wonder how many town employees remember this November 2008 post that was a trip down memory lane to October 2005?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Wiggum: Put out an APB on a Uosdwis R. Dewoh. Uh, better start with Greektown.
Friday: That's "Homer J. Simpson", Chief. You're reading it upside down.
Wiggum: Uh, cancel that APB. But, uh, bring back some of them, uh, gyros.
Friday: Uh, Chief? You're talking into your wallet.
The MRJs Amanda Falcone reports that neighbors of Meriden's Falcon Field are not particularly enthusiastic about their new turf field.
If there's increased use of a new CHS turf field, there will be downstream impacts. I hope the BOE is considering them. Though I suspect this would just be another case of "that's not our responsibility."
From the AP:
The Machinists union asked a federal judge Tuesday to block Pratt & Whitney from moving 1,000 jobs from Connecticut, accusing the jet engine maker of negotiating in bad faith.
The International Association of Machinists said in court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Hartford that Pratt & Whitney executives failed to make "every reasonable effort" to preserve the jet engine repair jobs in Connecticut.
The subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. announced Monday it will shut its Cheshire plant by early 2011 and shift some operations from its East Hartford facility beginning in the second quarter of next year. Work will be moved to Columbus, Ga., Singapore and Japan.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Channel 8's Mark Davis has a good recap of where the CT Senate race stands today:
No mention of Dodd's primary opponent, Merrick Alpert. But with a 72% approval rating among Dems, Dodd is not about to lose a primary.
A general is a different story though altogether.
The NHR has reported on the Town of Cheshire's energy-related share of President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package:
The Energy Commission is currently drafting a list of projects and will likely make a recommendation to the full Council and / or TM in the near future.
Early this afternoon the Town Council was notified by the TM that Pratt & Whitney would be leaving Cheshire by early 2011. I'm sure there'll be plenty of press reports, but here's one troubling fact that P&W included in their "fact sheet:"
ISSUE #3: REMAINING VIABLE IN A HIGH-COST/HIGH-WAGE STATE
Current shop costs at the Cheshire Engine Center are approximately 40 percent higher than the Columbus Engine Center in Georgia. Current shop costs at CARO are about 40 percent higher than Japan Turbine Technologies and 170 percent higher than Turbine Overhaul Services in Singapore.
Since I started knocking on doors back in 2001, I've heard a steady drumbeat from small business owners that they can't afford to keep their shops open in CT. To me, this closure takes this discussion to a whole new level.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Linda McMahon is in the race!I'm sure many of you got this flyer this weekend. I like it. Very snazzy and extremely professional.
I've heard she's planning to spend $30 million of her own money on the race. So she may have a legitimate shot. Besides the money though, she's not the type of candidate to pull any punches:
Shall the town spend $250,000 on window replacements?There is value in this, but it shouldn't be framed as "energy improvements." The payback on windows is likely in the 25 year range. If the town is going to spend money on energy improvements, windows should not be high on the list.
However, Highland School is our newest school and it is nearly 40 years old. I believe Doolittle, Norton, Chapman and CHS all date to the 1950s and need maintenance. That includes the windows, some of which certainly have mechanical problems. So for some reasons - such as addressing mechanical problems or improving air quality - this referendum makes sense. But to support this due to energy improvements is a poor use of tax dollars IMO.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I had the pleasure of attending a concert at Elim Park last night. Doreen Pulisciano was honored as Elim Park's Person of the Year. The event cost $10 and was well worth it. There were even desserts after the show. Yum... I'm a chocoholic. Some upcoming concerts are:Tim White
Friday, September 18, 2009
More than a year ago I tried to determine the criteria used in allocating the turf money. Unfortunately, when the Rubber Stampers voted to accept the turf money from
Crusher's annual $12 million slush fund then-Speaker Amann's annual $12 million discretionary fund, the Rubber Stampers were defiant, indignant and angry. And my questions geared toward a rational adult-like discussion were ignored. Instead we witnessed a whole bunch of chest-pounding "I don't know why I take this abuse" comments.
It was Town Council Truthiness at its finest!
Anyway, my point is that I believe the $525,000 of turf money could be used on any part of the CHS athletic complex... including the construction of new locker rooms.
As an anecdotal piece of evidence to substantiate my belief, I offer what one anonymous commenter mentioned:
State grant money can be redirected at times. It was recently done in Wallingford.
And since a Cheshire turf bill proposed by state Rep. Mary Fritz mentioned CHS' entire athletic complex in the language, my guess is that the turf money could be used on locker rooms at the athletic complex... though the Town's current majorities on the Council and BOE would likely never admit that. Pounding their chests, getting angry and throwing a temper tantrum is much easier than having an adult conversation about the merits of an issue.
Until someone shines a light on the murky depths of Hartford's slush funds and show me the details that prohibit the use of the turf money on new locker rooms... I will support the use of those funds on new locker rooms at the football field.
I have to wonder if the Council's Rubber Stampers intend to bring this to a vote before November 3rd?
Thursday, September 17, 2009
The Herald's Josh Morgan reported on this week's happenings with the pool. The most unfortunate news made in the story was:
(Staff) was working with the contractors to see if there was a way to speed up the construction process by working longer days or on weekends, but understood that would come at an additional cost to the Town.
Shocking! The Rubber Stampers intend to waste even more money to band-aid the pool back together.
Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to spend we go!
The rest of the story discusses the four contractors who proposed a permanent structure for the pool.
47 days until we meet the 20th Council.
An anonymous comment from a previous post... I thought this would be worth front-paging:
Recap of the boe meeting tonight -
Turf field will likely cost 825K.
May need to spend more to address wiring issues at field.
Will cost approx 600K to replace in 8 - 10 years.
May want to purchase separate insurance to cover vandalism.
May want to redirect money in capital budget to help cover costs.
May want to set up an account in the budget with 78K set aside annually to go towards replacement.
The $150K currently in C.B. to resurface the track isn't enough to cover actual resurfacing costs.
Can't wear spike heels on turf.
Probably won't use turf in July or August between 10 & 2 because of heat issues; yet we'll supposedly be able to have well over 300 events per year on it.
May look to get funds from the town's gift account if fundraising doesn't cover add'l costs.
And the list goes on.
BTW - Due to budget constraints, the schools were not able to set up at the fall festival to hand out pencils. Due to budget constraints, we have 15 - 18 less teaching positions. Due to budget constraints, the cleaning service no longer cleans the schools daily - only twice a week now.
What's wrong with this picture???
Only thing here that perplexes me is the mention of "the town's gift account." I'm not sure what that is.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Conservative Congressman Ron Paul and liberal columnist Arianna Huffington team up to explain how President Obama is not reforming Wall Street. Rather, he's perpetuating the
The Political Class the oligopoly:
Hope and change!
The second and final evening of discussion was held with the vendors of permanent structures for the pool. Here's a pic from the meeting:
The two proposals tonight were priced at about $4,900,000 (+ $600,000 for a cogeneration system) and $4,100,000. Both of tonight's proposals were interesting.
There were many numbers flying around, including whether all vendors were using consistent numbers with regard to the cost avoidance of the bubble going up and coming down every year. But if I calculated the numbers correctly in my head... then we're looking at a payback on the various proposals as:
1) 20 to 25 years - the $4,100,000 proposal (limited windows)
2) 30 years - the Open-Aire structure for $5,100,000
3) 35 years - the $5,500,000 ($4.9m + $600k)
And I'm not particularly interested in even considering the other proposal. They just didn't impress me with their proposal... though I'm sure they do fine work.
Another thought to keep in mind is that some vendors and residents argue that a permanent structure will increase winter revenue. But by the same token, a permanent structure may decrease summer revenue. So until I hear more details, I'm going to assume revenue stays flat if any permanent structure is erected.
I think it's worth noting that of the four presentations, they were attended by five Council members:
Cameo appearances were made by Matt Hall and Mike Ecke. Council candidates Sylvia Nichols and Anne Giddings also attended all or some of the presentations.
Considering that the pool is the single biggest concern of the voters, I wish more candidates had attended. But hey, that's just me.
And here's the wrap of the presentations by Councilman Altieri:
From Town Hall:
The Town of Wallingford recently applied to the State Office of Policy and Management (OPM) for amendments to the State Plan of Conservation and Development, one of which concerns a location on the Wallingford/Cheshire line that could impact Cheshire. As such, the Town was notified by OPM on September 8, 2009 of the opportunity to host a public hearing on said amendment if we responded within 20 days. The Planning and Zoning Commission at their meeting on September 14, 2009 voted to request a public hearing, and to invite the Town Council as well. Town Planner Bill Voelker and his staff are working on an analysis of the potential impact to Cheshire. I will forward the date of the public hearing once set, and the impact analysis when completed.
From Town Hall:
Yesterday our staff met with the contractors who will be performing the roof, interior and exterior construction projects at the Pool. Also, in attendance were the consultants Lloyd Hamilton and Frank Gilroy. The purpose of the meeting was to coordinate the activities of the contractors to ensure that the project moves as efficiently as possible and does not compromise the effort to eliminate the mold and mildew, and to determine the most expedient way to get the work done.
There was no exact timeline determined at this meeting, since the roof work is a critical path for completion and is weather-dependent (as is the bubble installation, which is tentatively scheduled for mid October). However, we anticipate that it will be four to six weeks before the pool is operational for the winter season. The pool will continue to be open during most of this project, and should only be closed for the normal one to two week timeframe when the bubble installation prevents pool use. Sheila Adams and Bob Ceccolini are working with the swim teams (Cheshire High School and the YMCA) to accommodate them as best we can. Swim practices and meets will continue to be held outdoors (weather permitting) as will public use of the facility. We will distribute this information to the public through our website, Channel 14 and press releases.
We will continue to have weekly job meetings with all involved to closely monitor the progress being made.
Two of the proposers of a permanent structure for the pool spoke tonight. The first vendor was Open-Aire (from Canada). The second vendor was O, R & L from Branford / Glastonbury.
Both proposals had price tags in the $5,200,000 to $5,300,000 range. I appreciated both firms visiting and speaking. Frankly though, the Open-Aire guys specialize in pool structures and it showed.
Both vendors spoke of possible energy-related savings. Open-Aire's number was around $125,000 / year. O, R & L's number was about $70,000 / year.
Open-Aire builds aluminum frame structures that look like a greenhouse. O, R & L offered an interesting design, but it didn't have a particularly open feel to it.
Councilman Altieri did a good job chairing a very fluid meeting.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Arianna Huffington offers her thoughts on the absolute nonsense "reform" speech delivered yesterday by President Obama to Wall Street:
Listening to President Obama's heartfelt, well-intentioned, but ultimately naïve speech on financial reform today, my mind kept flashing on a story I heard the last time Washington, in the wake of the Enron scandal, promised to reform Wall Street.
The story came from a friend who took a family trip on a cruise ship. Her 10-year-old son kept pestering the crew, begging for a chance to drive the massive ocean liner. The captain finally invited the family up to the bridge, whereupon the boy grabbed hold of the wheel and began vigorously turning it. My friend panicked -- until the captain leaned over and told her not to worry, that the ship was on autopilot, and that her son's maneuvers would have no effect.
And that's the way it is with our leaders. They stand on the bridge making theatrical gestures they claim will steer us in a new direction while, down in the control room, the autopilot, programmed by politicians in the pocket of special interests, continues to guide the ship of state along its predetermined course.
I agree. President Obama's financial reform agenda isn't guided by him. Though I add... while he apparently wants to be remembered in history as an Abraham Lincoln... he's more likely to be remembered as an Edward Smith.
America's financial system needs to be righted. I recommend the strongest regulation possible - legalize the Constitution:
The Congress shall have Power... To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures (Article I, Section 8)
And President Obama should begin this national discussion on regulating the financial system by discussing:
1) fractional reserve banking vs. full reserve banking
2) fiat money vs. honest money
3) the existence of the Federal Reserve
$500,000 for CHS infrastructure improvements?You can find details of spending on school infrastructure here.
Monday, September 14, 2009
From the MRJs Jesse Buchanan:
The town may buy an advanced emergency communications system through a grant received last month from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
But while the initial purchase wouldn't cost the town, Fire Chief Jack Casner wants to determine annual costs before recommending approval of the grant to the Town Council next month.
Do any of you remember the August 12, 2009 Council meeting where the discussion to
waste spend $250,000 on another ad hoc pool fix began? You may recall Jimmy Sima's questions about the use of two different contractors. In particular, he asked who would act as the coordinator or "general contractor" (GC) for the job?
The response given to Jimmy and the taxpayers was that "somebody on our staff" would take care of it.
Yet during the August 2008 vote to
waste spend $50,000 on a PMS consultant, the taxpayers were told that due to budgetary constraints and head count reductions over the past few years... the DPW department had no time available:
Well, which is it? Is there time available or not?
President Obama gave a speech to Wall Street today. He claimed there's a new sheriff in town.
I doubt it, unless he meant to say "don't worry, GWB was easy on you... but we'll be even easier!" Don't forget that Obama not only promoted TurboTax Tim, but he also reappointed the-man-who-created-the-24/7-printing-press, Ben Bernanke.
Anyway, I think this article from Bloomberg News (by Alison Fitzgerald and Christine Harper) captures the essence of the President's nonsense regulatory "reform:"
the Obama plan would label Bank of America, New York-based Citigroup and others as “systemically important.” It would subject them to capital and liquidity requirements and stricter oversight, relying on the same regulators who didn’t understand the consequences of a Lehman failure. And while companies could be dismantled if they got into trouble, they, their creditors and shareholders could also be bailed out with taxpayer money, according to the plan.
The article continues:
As much as it might mitigate some risks, the Obama strategy is fatally flawed because it fails to force the largest banks to change their behavior, said Johnson, the former IMF economist who is now a professor for finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.
“The biggest problem is it doesn’t deal with too-big-to- fail,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t say anything.”
If constraints aren’t legislated, “complexity will multiply and take on new forms,” and regulators once again won’t be able to keep up, he said. “You have to make things a lot smaller.”
I couldn't have said it better myself. I used to deal with MBS' and CDS'. No matter how hard the regulators try, the traders & product-creators will always be at least one step ahead of the regulators. And over time, budgets will be cut as people push the storyline "That was then, this is now. It's different now." Glass-Steagel and deva vu, all over again!
The article is pretty lengthy, but if you have the time I highly recommend it.
For decades now, Presidents (R & D) have enabled the creation of this mess. But Obama is not fixing it, he's just reinflating the bubble and setting the stage for an even bigger mess. There is a way to fix it though. The President should address the nation and begin a discussion on:
1) fractional reserve banking vs. full reserve banking
2) fiat money vs. honest money
3) the existence of the Federal Reserve
Almost everyone in Washington (pols and MSM alike) seem to simply accept the existence of the Federal Reserve and the policy of
central planning central banking as moral and just. But if you'd like to hear an alternate view, you can learn more about Congressman Ron Paul's argument against the existence of a central bank in his book, End the Fed. It's officially being released this week. I'm sure it'll instantly hit the best-seller list.
As I talk to people around town, inevitably one thing comes up:
And while even big pool supporters generally tell me that they agree with me that the recent $250,000 band-aid to address the mold was a waste of money... they're also happy to hear that there will be meetings to consider a permanent structure for the pool this week.
Despite the two years of foot dragging (by the whole Council majority), at this point I do give credit to Councilman Altieri for having scheduled the meetings. I hope that we hear some good news at the meetings. I'm looking forward to them.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Councilman Tim Slocum offers some thoughts on the PMS and road improvements:
Rasmussen conducted a poll on the state of politics in CT. Rob Simmons is still leading Dodd by a considerable margin - 49% to 39%. And even those who are largely unknown around the state (Sam Caligiuri & Peter Schiff) did fairly well in head-to-head matchups.
Schiff 40% vs. Dodd 42%
Caligiuri 40% vs. Dodd 43%
Probably the most troubling issue for Dodd though was his "unfavorable" rating of 59%... with only 2% of respondents offering no opinion. Frankly, I don't see how Dodd is going to recover from that.
I still think the Democratic Party would be wise to ask our senior Senator to just walk away quietly, if they want to keep the seat blue.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Based on the comments here, it's obvious that many of you are as annoyed as I am about the Town's $50,000 PMS and the related roadwork. So if you've got 43 minutes of free time today, I thought you may want to take a trip down memory lane and listen to the reasons given in support of
wasting spending nearly $50,000 on another consultant and more unnecessary software. Keep in mind that August 12, 2008 was after most people already knew we were in a recession:
Having watched the video, I'm reminded of how important it was to get a uniform, snapshot-in-time of our roads! If we didn't do that, then the road conditions may change... and then the software may not be able to tell us which roads need to be fixed.
52 days to go... anyone care to write an LTTE about the $1,000,000 road request and $50,000 PMS?
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Excerpt from the
Last Homily of Father Mychal Judge
at Mass for Firefighters: Sept. 10, 2001
You do what God has called you to do.
You get on that rig,
you go out and do the job.
No matter how big the call,
no matter how small,
you have no idea of what
God is calling you to do, but
God needs you. He needs me.
He needs all of us.
I had a chance to speak with Anne Giddings (Council, at-large) after Tuesday's Council meeting:
As well, I know some people have asked about the views held by Anne Giddings on schools. And since she posted this very thoughtful comment on this week-old thread on the schools' NCLB non-compliance, I decided to front page her comment:
This retired educator (Full disclosure: former high school math teacher, math department chairman, high school assistant principal, middle school principal, curriculum supervisor, assistant superintendent) cannot resist adding her two cents to this topic.
I strongly agree with retired teacher* that standardized tests can be helpful if they test what is being taught. Each district sets its own curriculum, and although most districts follow the outline the state provides for its tests, there is no guarantee that they match. And, though there is some cognizance of spelling and other writing “conventions” on the CMT, important since these conventions help the reader to understand the intent of the writer, students are still not always taught spelling rules. They should be, although this senior citizen was taught spelling rules and lots of phonics back in the dark ages, and I remember my 4th grade teacher telling my mother, “Anne spells phonetically, not necessarily correctly.” One has to give some attention to spelling, and check for typos; take some time to look at what has been written; that should be taught, also. (Similar to checking math work for possible errors, rather than just writing an answer and rushing on to the next problem…..)
There is a problem in using standardized tests to judge school systems, since particularly in districts such as Cheshire, many students enter school having had a variety of excellent learning opportunities at home: literacy rich homes with parents reading and using large vocabularies when talking to their children; private pre-kindergarten; travel; exposure to theater, art and musical performances; restriction on TV watching; etc. Historically, CT state testing, CMT and CAPT scores, tend to show a correlation with town demographics.
Also, one test a year will not show growth made by a child. A pre-test in the fall and a post-test in the spring would come closer to showing the effects of the schooling for that year, but would still not show the cause of the student achievement. Cheshire has generally good CMT/CAPT scores, and we would expect that to be the case.
I do know that NCLB has helped to nudge some school districts to pay more attention to the % of students scoring below goal, rather than just congratulating themselves on the % that score above goal. Attention should be paid to individuals who could achieve more, not matter where they score.
What does decent research show is the single most important factor in student learning? Not turf. Not smartboards. The factor is the teacher. We want playing fields to be safe for users and technology can make learning less tedious—help to motivate students. But technology is not the silver bullet. There is no easy answer.
* "Retired Teacher" was the name of an earlier commenter on the thread to which Anne replied.
This is nearly unbelievable, but apparently it's true. The outcrop of Ron Paul's inspirational campaign for the Presidency, Campaign for Liberty, is reporting that Barney Frank's Barney Frank's House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on Ron Paul's H.R. 1207 - Audit the Fed!
This is absolutely fantastic news. Keep in mind, if the Fed is given a real audit (for the first time in its history), not only may we learn the recipients of Bernanke's funny money ($2.2 trillion in actual printed dollars and another $8 trillion in so-called "guarantees")... but we may also learn what deals have been struck between Bernanke and other foreign central banks.
Has the Fed loaned money to Canada? Is it a big deal?
How about if the Fed has loaned money to Iraq? Might that be a concern?
What about if the Fed loaned money to Pakistan? How about Venezuela?
I mean... no one knows where all this money has gone. Though my guess is that Goldman Sachs will be listed somewhere among the top recipients of Fed bailouts.
But of course, while Ron Paul's bill may eventually get traction... Senator Bernie Sanders' S604 - The Federal Reserve Sunshine Act - is in the fast lane to nowhere since Wall Street's #1 water boy, Chris Dodd, is the gatekeeper on the sister bill to Ron Paul's HR 1207.
I hope Chris Dodd soon realizes the foolishness of opposing transparency and good government... and corrects his way.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
The Huffington Post continues its fantastic reporting on:
1) the never ending bailouts
The Beast The Federal Reserve
3) US monetary policy
Bush's failed economic team Obama's failed economic team
Ryan Grim reports on the way in which the Federal Reserve coopted the opposition. It's a long read, but the HuffPo did a fantastic job researching the piece - something that almost no newspaper would ever consider doing anymore.
Here's one anecdote used to demonstrate their assertion that no "reputable" economist is allowed to challenge them:
When dissent has arisen, the Fed has dealt with it like any other institution that cherishes homogeneity.
Take the case of Alan Blinder. Though he's squarely within the mainstream and considered one of the great economic minds of his generation, he lasted a mere year and a half as vice chairman of the Fed, leaving in January 1996.
Rob Johnson, who watched the Blinder ordeal, says Blinder made the mistake of behaving as if the Fed was a place where competing ideas and assumptions were debated. "Sociologically, what was happening was the Fed staff was really afraid of Blinder. At some level, as an applied empirical economist, Alan Blinder is really brilliant," says Johnson.
In closed-door meetings, Blinder did what so few do: challenged assumptions. "The Fed staff would come out and their ritual is: Greenspan has kind of told them what to conclude and they produce studies in which they conclude this. And Blinder treated it more like an open academic debate when he first got there and he'd come out and say, 'Well, that's not true. If you change this assumption and change this assumption and use this kind of assumption you get a completely different result.' And it just created a stir inside--it was sort of like the whole pipeline of Greenspan-arriving-at-decisions was disrupted."
It didn't sit well with Greenspan or his staff. "A lot of senior staff...were pissed off about Blinder -- how should we say? -- not playing by the customs that they were accustomed to," Johnson says.
The Federal Reserve must be challenged. Unfortunately for America, instead of having a statesman leading the charge, we're apparently stuck with Senator Dodd carrying their water and leading the retreat. Oh well.
As I mentioned last night, here is staff's explanation on why the taxpayers cannot be informed which roads would be paved if the $1,000,000 passes at referendum:
A year ago, I opined on an alternative to the town's Pavement Management System (see here and here). And I say it again now...
using staff's recommendations, the Council should vote to establish the criteria used in prioritizing improvements to roads (along with sidewalks, curbs and perhaps tree trimming)... then the Council should set the budget (subject to voter approval at referendum) and there should be no deviation from those lists unless there is an emergency.
Last year, Chairman Hall even agreed with me that this was a worthwhile discussion. Too bad he referred it to the Planning Committee where it's languished for a year. I'm just so tired of the nonsense in the DPW. It has got to stop.
And for the record, IMO the lack of disclosure is due to the Rubber Stamp failing to direct staff to address this. I mean, doesn't it stand to reason that you would know 90% of the roads to be improved next year? Isn't that why we
wasted spent $50,000 on PMS?
55 days and counting...
From the NHR:
One of two men charged in a deadly home invasion says the trial may need to be moved because the sole survivor of the attack has called him an "animal" and is campaigning for his execution.
Court papers filed last week by an attorney for Joshua Komisarjevsky says Dr. William Petit has repeatedly made inflammatory remarks about his client. He said he is investigating a change of venue request, based on Petit's comments and pretrial publicity.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
It was a surprisingly short meeting tonight. The only discussion seemed to be about the CYB concession stand at Bartlem Park (passed unanimously, DeCaprio absent, Altieri abstained). You may recall a few years ago the Town tried to get a private vendor to open a concession stand at Bartlem, but that went nowhere. Hopefully, this will work. CYB said the proceeds will be used for league activities, such as reducing the participation fees and field maintenance.
The other vote that got some discussion was the fireworks. It passed 5-2 (Ruocco & Sima opposed, Decaprio absent, Dill abstained). PZC member Woody Dawson spoke in favor of increasing the Council's proposed supplemental appropriation of $1400. But when it came for a vote, no one mentioned increasing the amount. If there had been five non-rubber stamp votes, I would've considered Woody's suggestion by eliminating the $14,000 being wasted on a new strategic plan... then spend some of that money on fireworks. Alas, there was no way that suggestion was getting anywhere tonight.
The only other part of the meeting that really jumped out at me was the TMs report. I had a few comments tonight:
1) It was about five years ago that then-Representative Al Adinolfi secured $225,000 in grant money for improvements to Bartlem Park. Five years and we learned tonight that the 90' diamond still isn't done! But the really sad thing is that if the Rubber Stampers had their way and continued ignoring it, I doubt anything would be done. As far as I can remember, I'm the only person who's been chasing on this issue for the past few years here in March 2007 and here in January 2008. Five years is ridiculous. But do you think Councilman Turf would ever say anything? Ha. The Rubber Stampers need to go.
2) When I was over at the Notch this weekend, someone suggested to me that the Town investigate if grant money was available for new locker rooms under the ADA fund. I passed that along to the TM to pass along to the Superintendent.
3) The most ridiculous thing I heard tonight was when I asked for a list of roads to be completed next year with the PMS we bought for $50,000. I was essentially told that the list of roads to be improved next year has not yet been determined. Huh? Isn't that why we spent $50,000 on PMS?! Oh well. Maybe I haven't been in government long enough to understand that we need to waste money to pretend we're accomplishing something. If reelected, perhaps I can then depart from reality and enter the alternate universe in which government operates.
I'll try to get some of that PMS video for tomorrow.
Labels: council mtg
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Telegraph reports on China's unease with US monetary policy:
Cheng Siwei, former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee and now head of China's green energy drive, said Beijing was dismayed by the Fed's recourse to "credit easing"....
"If they keep printing money to buy bonds it will lead to inflation, and after a year or two the dollar will fall hard. Most of our foreign reserves are in US bonds and this is very difficult to change, so we will diversify incremental reserves into euros, yen, and other currencies," he said....
"The US spends tomorrow's money today," he said. "We Chinese spend today's money tomorrow. That's why we have this financial crisis."
"He who goes borrowing, goes sorrowing," said Mr Cheng.
It was a quote from US founding father Benjamin Franklin.
Oh wait... silly me.
President Bush's failed economic team President Obama's failed economic team (Bernanke and Geithner) said "Trust us. Just do as we say and everything will be fine."
Whether America experiences more deflation or inflation over the next few years, one thing is certain: America's standard of living is going to fall. I just hope the politicians in Washington are honest about it. The sooner they get past the denial stage, the sooner we'll head toward a robust recovery.
The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports on the proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) pipeline in town:
Having completed liquid natural gas storage facilities in Waterbury’s South End, Yankee Gas Services Co. is now considering a $60 million expansion of its distribution network in Cheshire and Wallingford.
Officials with the Berlin, Conn., utility hope to get corporate parent Northeast Utilities to approve the 16-mile pipeline by the end of the year, said Karen Samide, a spokeswoman for Yankee Gas.
If that happens, construction of the 16-inch diameter pipeline would begin in March or April 2010 and be completed in the fourth quarter of 2011, Samide said.
If built, this pipeline would dramatically increase the town's available energy supply.
Monday, September 07, 2009
This is estimated to have a cost of $1,500,000 for the design. But the bigger numbers would come with the construction. The five-year capital budget includes $8,500,000 for the construction in year three.
Labor Day weekend is over and the local election is starting to kick into high gear on both sides of the aisle.
While the GOPs at-large Council candidates - Joe Bartoli, Sylvia Nichols, Jimmy Sima & Tim Slocum - have been driving to neighborhoods all over town and talking to people... and the GOPs other at-large Council candidate - Anne Giddings - has been riding her bike to neighborhoods all over town:
The Democratic majority is now definitely kicking it into gear too. It was no surprise to me to hear someone tell me that Councilman Altieri was out and about (along with someone running for PZC, but I can't remember the name). And Justin Adinolfi put out the first signs of the campaign.
57 days left...
While knocking on doors this weekend, I learned that Cheshire is home to the winner of the 2008 Hot Pepper Award. The Executive Spice President:even gave me a taste test of the Salemme Pepper Co's award-winning spice.
I like it.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Saturday, September 05, 2009
I support a continued maintenance program for our roads. But it seems to me that after the Council
wasted paid $50,000 to a consultant to take pretty pictures of our roads and give us PMS... which supposedly "prioritized" the roads... the least that can be provided to the voters is a list of roads that are expected to be improved.
But not in Cheshire! Our Town Government knows that the taxpayers don't need such information. Little people don't need to know these things.
Just pay your taxes and keep your mouth shut!
The arrogance gets tiring.
Friday, September 04, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
The Energy Commission met tonight. EC member Clive Scorey offered interesting thoughts / comments on two topics in particular:
1) New lighting for the Town Hall parking lot. I shared his previous email in which he explains some of the recent improvements in lighting technology.
2) Councilman Matt Altieri has taken his advocacy of the consideration of performance contracting on the road! Matt was discussing the concept at last night's PBC meeting.
Too bad Councilman Truth had to mislead everyone two years ago into believing that he would seriously consider PC. If he hadn't done so, I (and others) wouldn't have wasted our time trying to educate him. Oh well.
Going forward, while I know the timing doesn't look good, I do believe that Matt Altieri is sincere about his interest in considering performance contracting. Thank you, Matt.
Finally, EC member Dave Gavin intends to prepare questions for the four contractors who have offered alternatives to the pool bubble. Those meetings are scheduled for Sept 15 & 16.
From the NHR:
Gov. M. Jodi Rell offered $100 million in incentives Thursday to jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney to prevent the possible loss of about 1,000 jobs.
The five-year plan includes lifting a cap on tax credits for parent corporation United Technologies Corp., providing training assistance, establishing a job retention tax credit, making investments in machinery and equipment and building an Engineering Center for Excellence for engineers at Pratt & Whitney and other aerospace companies.
By the NHRs Elizabeth Benton reports on the diagnosis of No Child Left Behind:
Thirty-seven districts statewide have been identified as needing improvement, 16 more than last year.
Locally, Ansonia, Cheshire, Hamden, Milford, New Haven, Wallingford and West Haven are on that list.
Well, there ya have it folks. Four years of Democratic majorities on the Council and Board of Ed have destroyed our schools!
No. I'm kidding. It's no more Democrats doing wrong than it would have been Republicans doing wrong. Based on my understanding of the NCLB, I don't like it. First, it's an underfunded mandate. Second, I don't think it's improving schools.
IMO, on balance the standardized tests in our schools are not a benefit. And the NCLB is not a good measure of the value of the Cheshire Public Schools.
From the NHR:
Superior Court Judge Roland Fasano heard arguments Thursday, but did not immediately rule on the state's request to combine the trials of Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes to spare the victims' relatives and friends the ordeal of two trials...
In written arguments, Hayes' lawyer, Thomas Ullmann, called the prosecutor's request for a joint trial unprecedented and disturbing, because the victims are prominent and white. He said separate trials have been held in numerous similar cases.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports on last night's 09/10 capital budget vote:
the Democrats voted down a budget amendment by Republican Councilman Tom Ruocco that called for spending nearly $7.43 million in the first year. Ruocco and the other Republicans said saving another $630,000 was prudent given the economy.
“It’s really hard to ask the taxpayers to come up with any additional money,” Ruocco said....
Ecke said that passage of the Republicans’ alternative budget “would effectively close the pool...”
“If the town wants to close the pool, I’m not necessarily opposed to that. ... But let’s not do that by not fixing the pool,” Ecke said.
Republican Councilman Tim Slocum said Ecke’s claim was misleading.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said of claims that Republicans want to see the pool closed. “We’d just like to see a little more management and a little less mismanagement.”
If I had done nothing in the past two years, then Mr. Ecke's claim may be fair. But I have tried to take action. It was February 2008* when I began trying to move past the bubble (which is the problem IMO).
Unsurprisingly though, the Council majority chose to employ the classic Washington-style tactics of "deny, defer, delay." And now we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. That's a situation for which I do not take responsibility because I have tried to act.
But I'm not surprised that some Council members appear quite happy to blame the current situation for the "need" to spend more money on their policy of patchwork. After all, at least one Council member has admitted (WRA, 2007) he hired the $20,000 pool consultant for nothing more than a pat on the back and a "You're doing a good job, kid!" Apparently Councilman Ecke is comfortable blaming everyone, except for him and his Council majority.
But perhaps the most telling comment about Councilman Ecke's true feelings on the pool came during the October 2007 Council debate when he stated that he was "afraid to make big, bold decisions."
And now he tries to demonize Republicans as opposed to the pool? The distortions being spewed by the Council majority are just ridiculous at this point. They should be embarrassed.
* See a history of me trying to address the health, energy and financial concerns related to the bubble here.
"If you talk to bankers, particularly smaller bankers...they're very angry when people blame the banks for the subprime crisis because, on the whole, it wasn't the regulated financial institutions that did this. What happens was that a whole set of institutions grew up that could make mortgages that were not part of the banking system...Most of the loans that went bad were made by the non-banks. It wasn't deregulation, but non-regulation." - House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Barney Frank
Anyone catch the meeting tonight? Tom Ruocco presented his budget and he got support from Rs, but no bipartisan support.
The main concern for me was the pool. I intend to post the video of my comments ASAP, but in the meantime have to say that I'm disappointed in (what I view as) the intellectual dishonesty of the majority.
I don't recall the specific words, but it sounded to me as though the majority kept saying "The Republicans want to close the pool." And this comes from the same group of people who claimed they didn't understand the phrase "request for information." Such a bunch of baloney.
If they wanted to be somewhat fair, they could've at least acknowledged their footdragging on the pool RFP. But then, their goal isn't good policy... it's good politics. Though frankly, I'm not convinced that talking about spending more money on the pool is good politics. Nonetheless, I wish they could at least be intellectually honest in the fact that they're the dillydallyers who've failed to take expeditious action on the bubble. But then, I guess I shouldn't be surprised:
Unlike my colleagues to my left, I tried to be fair tonight. I thanked Councilman Altieri for his sincere (if ill-timed) consideration of performance contracting. Could you imagine Councilman Ecke thanking me for trying to action on the pool? After four years of chest pounding and indignation over stuff like
1) questioning his turf and
2) requesting consideration of performance contracting
I certainly couldn't imagine him being fair in his comments about how any Republican Council member feels about the pool.
Anyone write any letters to the editor yet?