The NHRs Luther Turmelle reminds us that the
consultant fact-finder report should arrive soon.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
The NHRs Luther Turmelle reminds us that the
Saturday, January 30, 2010
My understanding is due to several factors (use of the rainy day fund, state funding, etc.), for the budget to remain flat this year - in other words, no increase in spending - an additional $1.4 million dollars is needed.
Depending on the final mil rate, the increase in the grand list will likely cover about $275,000 of that increase:But what source will the other $1.1 million shortfall?
Perhaps the legislature will increase municipal aid? I'm not holding my breath.
Maybe the rainy day fund (about $10 million) and the CRRA money (about $5 million) could cover it partly. It could mitigate the impact of budget cuts. But frankly, we've got massive long-term liabilities - underfunded pensions, other postretirement employment benefits (VEBA / OPEB - mostly medical costs related to the police), heart & hypertension, etc. And as of today, those costs probably near $40 million.
So those costs are well in excess of the rainy day fund and are entirely unrelated to capital projects, such as the sewer treatment plant or school building improvements.
I don't know what will happen with the budget, but my preference for use of the rainy day fund is geared more toward funding our long-term liabilities... rather than funding the annual operating budget.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention... no increase in spending = 2% tax increase.
Labels: taxes n spending
I haven't read much about these proposed regulations on CT waterways yet, but I have been getting emails on this issue for the past couple weeks. The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports on the pro-business side:
A broad coalition of business groups and community leaders is opposing regulations proposed by the state Department of Environmental Protection that would govern how much water could be drawn from the state’s rivers and streams, as well as associated watersheds.
Then offers something on the pro-environment side:
The regulations the DEP is proposing are the result of legislation enacted in 2005. State Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, was one of the authors of that legislation, and after Wednesday’s press conference, she said that the proposed regulations are the result of years of work. The state does not have a comprehensive plan for water usage, Mushinsky said, and the proposed regulations are necessary if the state is to avoid costly court battles over how water is used.
So would you prefer a higher cost of living and a better protected environment? Or a lower cost of living and a less protected environment? I can guess where most people stand in this economy.
There may be some middle ground though. I understand part of the concern is the total volume of water that is currently licensed to be diverted from our waterways. But that may be something of a red herring as many of those licenses have gone unused for years and likely could be revoked with few complaints.
Writing for the New Haven Advocate, great Nutmeg reporter Greg Hladky introduces us to the CT Mirror:
Right after the invasion of Iraq, the brilliant strategists running the U.S. occupation disbanded the Iraqi army. It turned out that sending all those veteran dudes into the streets without jobs (but with lots of bullet-and-bomb expertise) was a bad idea. As in, vicious insurgency bad.
Something like that seems to be going on in Connecticut's media world, where reporters and editors laid off by traditional outlets like the Hartford Courant are joining a revolution in the way news is reported.
They've already done several worthwhile investigative pieces.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Unsurprisingly, Senator Dodd (Political Class - CT) and Senator Lieberman (Political Class - CT) both voted against the middle class today. As is their custom, they voted in favor of Wall Street.
By a vote of 70 - 30, the Chairman of America's
number one crime syndicate central bank, Ben Bernanke, was reappointed.
What does this mean?
It means... Obama needs to go. Dodd needs to go. Lieberman needs to go. The whole gang needs to go.
The ridiculous thing is when supporters argue that Bernanke "saved" America in a time of crisis. This argument reminds me of people who advocate clemency for criminals. Just ask Mike Huckabee how well that works out.
And how many times has the Administration spoken of how "we don't reward failure"?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
The Cheshire Republican Town Committee met tonight. And boy... it certainly felt like Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts has gotten Rs interested in running. We had at least eight candidates there tonight:
1 for Governor
2 for the CT-5
1 for SOTS
2 for the 16th state Senate seat
1 for the 89th
1 for the 103rd
Of course, the 103rd was Al Adinolfi. And he always attends the RTC, so he's not news. And one of the CT-5 candidates, Justin Bernier, has visited before. But the other six candidates were all new.
Jeff Wright is the Mayor of Newington and is running for Governor. I thought he did a good job. Phil Coppeto asked him about binding arbitration and, being a local elected official, Jeff understood the implications. I was frank with him. I thought he was pretty good. But if Shays runs, I'll probably support him. He has high name recognition, can raise the money and has a record. Frankly, I always thought Chris Shays was more of an even-handed Chief Executive than a representative... who I view as more of an advocate.
Justin Bernier and Kie Westby both visited and are running for the CT-5. Justin said he has an economics background. I was unaware of that, but upon learning this, I decided to ask him about my trillion dollar concern:
US monetary policy - good or bad? And what would you change?
Justin said he supported Audit the Fed. So I loved that. But I was hoping to hear more about the inherent problems of fractional-reserve banking and fiat money. Oh well. It bores most people to death, but debating those two issues is critical to America's future IMHO.
I didn't get a chance to hear Kie Westby speak, other than his opposition to changing "don't ask, don't tell." Doesn't matter much to me though. Sam Caligiuri has helped me in the past and he's extremely thoughtful on policy. So I trust and support Sam. But if it wasn't Sam, I'm confident I'd support Justin. He's well-spoken and energetic... even though I really just want a policy wonk who bases all decisions on The Grand Philosophy.* Go Ron Paul!!!
Running for Susie B's job is Jerry Farrell. He's a member of the Wallingford Town Council and Commissioner of Consumer Protection.
Former state Senator, and Southington resident, Joe Marklee is running for Sam Caligiuri's 16th Senate seat. And there was a Wolcott resident (didn't get his name) also stumping for the GOP nod in the 16th district.
Bethany resident Kathy Brown is going after Vickie Nardello's 89th House seat. After having gotten involved with some of CTs Tea Parties, Kathy decided to step up to the plate and run for office. As for my plans... ummm... chalk me up as undecided. But it is tempting. :) In the meantime, here's an introduction to Kathy:
And you all know the 8th candidate of the evening, Uncle Al. So no introduction is necessary.
But seriously... eight candidates. I can't remember how many years it's been since eight candidates total have even come to the CRTC. Scott Brown's victory had implications across America. Wow.
* i.e. - The US Constitution, Article I, Section 8!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I am trying to avoid blogging, but two of America's Chief Criminals will be testifying before Congress tomorrow. If you're angry about the bailouts, I highly recommend this absolutely damning read about one theory on how former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson engineered the AIG bailout... exclusively to bailout his former firm, Goldman Sachs, and to protect his reputation since so much of Goldman's behavior occured under his watch which didn't end until 2006.
And in the runup to Senator Dodd's sellout of Connecticut's working class via the rubberstamping of Ben Bernanke's reappointment as Fed Chairman, Senator Jim Bunning is claiming that Bernanke's Fed staff recommended against the AIG bailout. But Bailout Ben overruled them.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I know I said I was taking a break from blogging... but this seemed like it would be of interest, if true. Anyway...
There were several meetings at Town Hall tonight, including Energy and PBC.
I was at Energy, while PBC was discussing the pool enclosure.
Though I was not at the PBC meeting, someone did mention to me some of the discussion about the pool enclosure.
I was told that the footprints of the six responses were inconsistent in size. And while I wonder if that's an issue for the RFP process, it also brought to light another concern.
Apparently the two remaining enclosures do not include the picnic area. And that's where birthday parties tend to occur and visiting swim teams tend to congregate.
So do we move forward with the two current proposals? Or do we consider larger enclosures? Any chance that would increase the cost of the two buildings?
Again, I wasn't at the PBC meeting. So this was second hand. But it is the pool and Murphy's Law applies.
And since I'm online...
Today I noticed that not only did NY Fed officials show their disdain for transparency when discussing their
bailout of Goldman Sachs bailout of AIG, but they also required all AIG related emails be run by the Fed's external lawyers at Davis, Polk & Wardwell. And maybe this is a complete coincidence, but one of the DPW partners is named Sam Dimon. Any chance he's related to Bank of America's CEO, Jamie Dimon? Jamie Dimon works the second shift as a member of the Federal Reserve New York's Board of Directors.
Then I see Reuters reporting that the SEC was in on the AIG / Fed anti-transparency game. Apparently the SEC was claiming "national security" concerns with regard to the
Goldman Sachs AIG bailout emails.
I mean... how absurd can the fraudsters make this?
And finally I recalled something that looked fishy to me all along.
On September 16, 2008, top GOP Bankster Hank Paulson announced the criminal act of bailing out
his former company, Goldman Sachs AIG with the first $85 billion.
Then on September 23, 2008, Warren Buffett announces his $5 billion investment in Goldman.
And on September 23, 2009, it's shown that Buffett made $3 billion on his Goldman investment.
Any chance that during the week of Sept 16 to Sept 23 2008, Warren had a brief conversation with Hank Paulson or one of the other Bush / Obama thieves who were in-the-know on the backdoor bailout for Goldman Sachs?
I wish there was just one person in Washington with the political courage and ability to stand up to these crooks and demand answers. And it should go all the way to the top. Bush and Obama should both be placed under oath and required to testify to two questions:
What did you know? And
When did you know it?
Someone needs to be held accountable... and this $120 billion tax that Obama wants is nonsense. First Obama votes for Bush's $700 billion bailout. Then President Obama allows Bailout Ben to dish out $12 trillion to his cronies on Wall Street and to other global Banksters? And he thinks $120 billion tax is going to soothe my anger?! He must be kidding himself. Or maybe he thinks the American people are truly stupid?
The fix is in. I just wish someone would do something about it.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
First off, Happy Birthday TWL! And thanks to everyone who has guest published, commented or just been lurking over the past four years.
Second, I won't be posting daily over the next two weeks. I'm starting a class on Wednesday night... thinking that I may work toward an MBA. Not sure yet. But simply need to take a break and reclaim some of my time for non-Council related stuff. It gets to feel as though it's all consuming. Over the past few years I've spent an average of two hours per day - at least six days per week - blogging. And I need to focus on some other stuff right now. So while I know many of you appreciate the blog - and a few members of Cheshire's Political Class hate the blog - I'm going to take a short hiatus. I just need to get some other stuff done.
I'll be back for the February 9 Council meeting... and also the report from the
consultant fact-finder on the CPD.
p.s. I love that Bernanke is now in the hot seat as a result of Scott Brown's election!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Some of you may remember a July 2007 post about now-Gubernatorial candidate Gary LeBeau. At the time he described The Maguire Group as the "nexus" of the I-84 storm-drains-to-nowhere debacle.
And some of you may also remember this piece about the relationship between The Maguire Group and my favorite state Rep.
Well, The Maguire Group is back in business! The WRAs Andrew Larson reports:
The Maguire Group, under new ownership since its involvement in a botched construction project on Interstate 84 between Cheshire and Waterbury, has been awarded a new contract with the state.
The company, which is based in New Britain, has been selected to perform environmental services for the Department of Transportation.
I'd say it's unreal. But hey, this is Corrupticut.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I don't think it was simply a repudiation of healthcare reform. As I've mentioned before, I think HCR was largely a sellout to big corporations. And that's just one piece of a bigger problem faced by President Obama.
My feeling is that this race was related to anxiety over the economy and anger over Washington's cozy relationship with Wall Street and the Capitol's love affair with K Street.
This was less about Republicans vs. Democrats. This was about Populists vs. The Political Class... The Corporatists.
From HCR to the bailouts, I believe that President Obama is a card-carrying member of Washington's Political Class. And unless he decides to go populist, his party will lose a lot of seats this fall... not that the GOP challengers will necessarily be much better if they're also members of The Political Class. But maybe the voters will simply start throwing the bums out every two years until our CongressCritters figure out why they are there?
And on a somewhat related topic, Congressman Ron Paul offered his State of the Union to CNN here:
The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports:
Superintendent of Schools Greg Florio said Tuesday night he’s concerned that the recession could have long-term effects on the buildings the district owns.
Florio said that while the amount the district is able to spend adequately covers routine maintenance costs, it doesn’t allow him to do “those things that take an old building and allow the district to keep it current.”
The need for infrastructure improvements to our 60-year-old schools is a large part of the reason I've advocated the consideration of performance contracting. For example, you can marry a one-year payback lighting retrofit with a ten-year payback HVAC... and get a demonstrated five-year payback that the voters would likely support at referendum.
I hope the TM and Superintendent are talking about these comments that made me quite happy to hear:
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
A few days ago I mentioned my years long desire to reauthorize the power of subpoena for the Chief State's Attorney. Here's the video from last Tuesday's Council meeting:
For reference purposes, here's the NYTimes editorial that I quoted. And it's also important to note that Senator Sam Caligiuri introduced legislation to address this issue.
I finally got Cheshire's 2009 voter turnout by precinct. Here are the results:As you can see pretty clearly, Republicans turned out in a much bigger way than Dems - 50.3% to 41.5%.
I don't have the election results handy. Nonetheless, it appears to me that even if Dems turned out in the same percentages as Rs... the GOP still would've won big with unaffiliated voters swinging to the GOP last November.
One other thing that caught my attention is the higher turnout for Tom Ruocco among all voters, particularly Rs. Impressive.
Labels: 2009 election
I visited my parents tonight and was watching some of the pundits discuss Massachusetts. Frank Luntz' polling group jumped out at me.
At one point Luntz asked a self-described Obama/Coakley voter & healthcare supporter if the Congress should continue pressing forward with appointed Senator Paul Kirk. The Mass voter said something to the effect of "No. The voters spoke. That would be like jamming healthcare down the country's throat... when it's clear that's not what people want."
Luntz replied "But you say this even though you support the President's healthcare bill?" The voter replied, "yes."
Made me think of a little discussion and vote that occured with Cheshire's lame duck Council in November.
The question of the day was:
What do Massachusetts GOP Senate candidate Scott Brown and the pool enclosure have in common?
The answer of the day:
I doubt either would get 50% in November.
Needless to say, I'm glad that Scott Brown won. Obama's sellout to Big Phrma and Big Insurance... coupled with The Louisiana Purchase, The Cornhusker Kickback, The Dodd Disbursement... all left a really horrible taste in my mouth, though there are changes that can and should be made to the healthcare system.
Monday, January 18, 2010
David Schrumm's agenda for his meeting tomorrow:
BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING
7:30 P.M., TUESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2010
ROOM 210, TOWN HALL,
84 SOUTH MAIN ST., CHESHIRE, CT 06410
1. Roll call.
2. Pledge of Allegiance.
3. Water Pollution Control Authority budget.
4. F. Y. 09-10 Budget Status
5. F. Y. 10-11 Pre-Budget Planning
And while I don't recall any public statements from the Budget Chair, I have asked him to clamp down on some of the Town's ridiculous spending in recent years - conferences & seminars all over North America, 6% & 7% payraises last year, etc. And I don't see any reason why that stuff needs to wait until "next year's budget." From my perspective, that stuff stops now - not on July 1 with the new budget.
It's one of the reasons I believe a GOP majority was elected.
I gathered some polling data from the Quinnipiac website. QU has sporadically asked voters if they approve of the job being done by the state legislature. Here's the results that I could find:There doesn't seem to be any polling between June 2004 and February 2007. But it's pretty obvious that people aren't too happy with the legislature.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
For several years,* I've been advocating for the state to return the power of subpoena to the Chief State's Attorney. I continued making this point at the January 12 Council meeting. The Herald's Josh Morgan reported on the Council's wish list for our legislative delegation:
White added one item and hoped to see the chief state’s attorney’s office obtain subpoena power during investigation. White felt this was the best way to fight public corruption in the state by giving that office “more authority.”
* See some examples from June 2007, December 2007, October 2008 and December 2008.
Here's the numbers for the 8-year average of annual June 30 BOE budget transfers:IMO, the single most significant area in which the moves occur is Maintenance and Operations. If you look at the PINK numbers at the bottom, you'll see that these accounts are virtually always over budget... by over $300,000.
I suspect this was an important factor in the October 2008 creation of a $350,000 fund for unforeseen Maintenance & Operations issues.
If I were on the BOE, I'd ask why some accounts are always over budget and some accounts are always under budget. Deviating from a budget will always happen, you just want to minimize it. But to see that some items are always going one way or the other begs questions.
President Obama is stumping for Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley. And Obama gave a fine demonstration of his hypocrisy.
From the HuffPost's Charles Babington and Liz Sidoti:
"Martha's opponent already is walking in lockstep with Washington Republicans," Obama said, criticizing Brown for opposing the president's proposed tax on banks that received federal bailout money. "She's got your back, her opponent's got Wall Street's back. Bankers don't need another vote in the United States Senate. They've got plenty. Where's yours?"
Excuse me, Mr. President... but... ummm... if you had shown good judgment in October 2008, then you would've voted against the bailout and supported taxpayers. In turn, those banks would have gone belly up and there would be no need for a discussion on your proposed tax. But let's just forget that little bit of history and move on.
The Global Post has an article on some of the biggest thefts of diamonds ever. Frankly though, I'd like to see more in depth coverage of the biggest theft ever - namely, the past two years of Bush and Obama bailouts for their banker buddies Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner and Robert Rubin.
Thankfully though - when it comes to the highly incriminating, November 2008 AIG / Fed emails that were written by NY Fed lawyers who were reporting to then-NY Fed President Tim Geithner - one House Committee intends to ask some questions:
Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has been asked to join his successor Timothy Geithner in testifying before a House panel examining bailout payments to American International Group Inc.’s trading partners.
Paulson was invited to a Jan. 27 hearing set by Edolphus Towns, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, about the decision to fully reimburse AIG’s bank counterparties for $62.1 billion in derivatives. (by Hugh Son)
Since the fix is in, I doubt the Washington Power Brokers - Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Dodd, Frank, etc. - will do anything. But who knows? Maybe HOGR member, our Congress member, Chris Murphy will step up, ask some real questions and demand some real accountability?
I'd like to see the following happen:
1) Every person that was included in those AIG / Fed emails subpoenaed to testify,
2) Geithner, Paulson, Bernanke and the rest of the bailout crew subpoenaed to testify,
3) All of them placed under oath, and
4) Asked two simple questions:
A) What did you know?
B) When did you know it?
People belong in jail for this theft. I mean, AIG was nothing more than a front man for this theft of American tax dollars.
At least one company agreed to take a 2% haircut on the AIG payments. And it was reported before that as far back as July 2008, counterparties were considering taking 40 cents on the dollar. Yet Geithner's team insisted on full payment.
And if Geithner knew nothing of the AIG / Fed emails, why hasn't he publicly repudiated the employees who did it? Why not call for them to be fired? Could it be that he's concerned that those employees would then be more likely to come forward and tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
I hope somebody in Congress starts to let the subpoenas fly. But in a somewhat unfortunate turn of events, the person who was most likely to do that was Senator Chris Dodd. And considering that he's now looking at the solid-gold, revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, I find it highly unlikely that he's going to go populist now and actually do the right thing.
The WRAs Paul Hughes has this piece on the level of importance of CTs burgeoning Tea Party movement.
I'm a firm believer that it was Ron Paul's Presidential run that kicked off America's 21st century tea partying. And I'm proud to have been a part of that... I even lost my voice one night up in Manchester, New Hampshire leading one of the chants "Ron Paul revolution; legalize the Constitution!" And I love to see people getting more involved, such as going to rallies and seeing the "End the Fed" signs. It is disturbing at times though, such as when I see some of the images associating the President with certain historic figures.
And on a marginally-related note, GOP Senate candidate Peter Schiff has a money bomb today His site says that he's raised nearly a million and a half bucks so far. Pretty impressive.
From the MRJ editor's blog:
Meriden: the parks committee committed to the next Phase of the Linear Trail
When I drove over South Meriden Road to get to the Square, I think there's a paved trail on the opposite side of the river there. If that's the case, I imagine 2nd district Cheshire resident may use that trail more than the trail in Cheshire.
Anyone know where this Meriden's trail is located? Does Meriden have more than one?
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Today I took a hike up Connecticut's second highest falls - Roaring Brook Falls. Here's a shot of the brook near the chimney:Here's a shot of the brook from above the main falls:This is a view of Sleeping Giant from Prospect Ridge (above the falls):Here a couple of pictures of the main falls:And here's a short video I took:
I've been going up there since I was a kid. I especially love going up there in the winter or when it's raining. I find it very quiet, beautiful and peaceful.
Excerpted from the HuffPost:
Tim Geithner believes that bailed out insurer AIG was "absolutely" right to pay other bailed out Wall Street firms 100 cents on the dollar for their toxic credit default swaps. Geithner also believes that there was no other option.
See the CNBC interview here:
During the interview, Geithner maintained that even as Chief of the New York Fed, he was not involved in the decision to advising AIG to keep details of the payments private.
But what truly defies belief is that Geithner not only maintains that the
bailout for his buddies at Goldman Sachs the bailout for AIG was "absolutely" necessary, he continues by saying he doesn't understand the Wall Street bonuses.
He must sincerely believe that Americans are idiots. I mean he claims to understand the absolute necessity of criminal banking policy, but then doesn't understand the bonuses related to the counterfeit money he printed at the Fed. Geithner belongs in jail with the rest of the Felonious Fedsters.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Until yesterday, I assumed the Massachusetts Senate seat was up for reelection in November of this year. But that's not the case. The winner of this election will be seated for three years.
I figured if Scott Brown won, he'd be toast with a normal voter turnout in ten months. But with three years, he may have enough time to win the trust and support of a majority of Massachusetts voters and win a regular election. That would be pretty amazing IMO.
I got an update from David Schrumm about an October 13 Economic Development Commission meeting. I found it to be interesting reading.
Everyone present discussed how the economy is affecting his or her business. Some businesses have seen the effects now for over 2 years and other are just starting to feel the pinch. The businesses represented today range from 2 years in existence to 35 years +.
Some of the representatives talked about how quantity is taking a priority over quality of products and services in this difficult economy. Also discussed was the impact that overhead costs have on businesses. With health care rates rising 20%, minimum wage increasing at a steady level, taxes increasing in addition to material price increases, businesses are suffering.
A common theme discussed during the meeting was how special Cheshire is and how it should be highlighted to draw in people from other communities to come and spend some time exploring the town. Cheshire should be a destination to go to and spend a day shopping, dining, apple picking, etc.
Some suggestions to attract people to the current gems in Cheshire were: highlighting a business or businesses on the Town web site, adding some signs along the Linear Trail to alert visitors to other “destinations” in Cheshire, create a special “shop & dine in Cheshire week”, create a business to business coupon “trade off” that would highlight another local business at your business for a week, and vice versa or a progressive business to business night that could help to get people into a business they may not have visited before.
A few of the representatives talked about the need to expand the stores and restaurants in Cheshire to help attract people to Town, similarly to what Southington has down with their downtown area. Others expressed concern that the proposal by W/S Development for a large shopping center on the north end of town would wipe out their business.
A topic that many of the businesses represented today were interested in was how to do business with the Town government departments, notably the schools. Also, all present expressed a desire for the Town to think hard about imposing higher taxes on businesses, especially since many of these local business owners live in Town. Anything that can be done to reduce the tax burden on local businesses would be helpful and greatly appreciated.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Congressman Ron Paul continues getting airtime. In this Fox Business interview, he explains how the bank CEOs - who just got hauled before Congress - were simply taking advantage of a system that was intentionally rigged by Washington's Political Class, including Bush, Obama, Geithner, Bernanke, Dodd, Frank and many others.
If you have eight minutes to spare and want a fairly succinct recap of the true causes of the meltdown, then I encourage you to begin by understanding these highly philosophical issues:
1) fractional reserve banking vs. full reserve banking
2) fiat money vs. honest money
3) the existence of the Federal Reserve
Address these issues and you'll begin to understand the source of the financial meltdown.
I hope you watch this video.
Here's the seventh installment of the annual June 30 BOE budget transfers:Within a few weeks, I should be getting a copy of the audit for the year ended June 30, 2009. Then I'll be able to provide you with last year's budget transfers. In the meantime, I'll probably offer some trend analysis this weekend. Though I'm sure you can already see where the moves occur.
I know there are many good causes here in Cheshire, but if you're interested in helping the people of Haiti and don't want to simply donate money... perhaps you could sign up and fly down to help Visions in Action.
Or you could stay put in Nutmegville, drive to Westport and help the call center at Save the Children (1-800-728-3843).
I'm sure there'll be faith-based groups organizing efforts over the next several weeks that'll be looking for help. I haven't really researched this very much. So I'm sure there'll be more to help that are not strictly financial donations. But I wanted to offer a few thoughts. If I can get two weeks off before the budget starts and without missing any Council meetings, I may go myself. I actually tried to do that in November 1998 in Honduras. But I made the mistake of trying to help after I got there. I won't do that again. My sense is that these situations are simply too chaotic to jump in someplace where you don't speak the language... and as a result cannot locate the key people who can give you some direction... so gotta set it up stateside, unless you speak the language... and unfortunately for me...
Mon francais es tres mal. J'ai etudier francais au college. Et j'ai oublier que parler francais beaucoup ans il y a.
The Herald's John Rook reports on the Superintendent's proposed school budget and the crux of the issue:
In October of 2008, the Cheshire Education Association and the Board of Education agreed to a new, three-year deal that promised educators an average salary increase of 4.4 percent. The economic climate worsened throughout the fall and winter of 2008 and, by the time budget talks began in 2009, many in town were asking that the union agree to certain concessions to help mitigate costs.
However, talks between the union and school administrators did not produce an agreement and no changes were made to the contract.
During his presentation, Florio mentioned that talks between administrators and employee unions were “ongoing” and that his budget had not “factored in any adjustments that might be made.”
I await the news from Dr. Florio.
And if you're wondering what's happening in Wallingford, this MRJ article explains their proposed budget.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
The HuffPost has some ideas for helping with earthquake relief, if you're so inclined.
Mercy of God deliver us.
Love of Christ heal us.
Spirit of God strengthen us.
Lord, have mercy on all those hurt by the earthquake --
the victims, the injured, the grieving,
the rescuers, and the healers.
Prince of Peace, grant through your holy Cross
where you suffer with all humanity,
that we may rise up to new life with you,
to be instruments of your Peace.
Through Christ our Lord,
and the intercession of Fr. Mychal Judge,
friend of the injured, rescuers, and the grieving. Amen.
At last night's Council meeting we were informed of ongoing efforts by the Administration to consider the viability of performance contracting:
I view performance contracting as one option that may expedite Cheshire's Comprehensive Action Plan for Energy (CAPE). But my real goals are to conserve energy and hopefully save money. I'm just thinking that PC may help move us in that direction sooner, rather than later.
I thank the Town Manager for his efforts. Energy conservation measures in four to six buildings in the not-so-distant future would be quite impressive.
Here's the sixth installment of the annual June 30 BOE budget transfers:Anyone know what's been happening at the BOE meetings this week? I've been reading that Wallingford wants to close a school and reduce their total number of teachers by 55.
The present day Pecora Commission begins their discussions in full force tomorrow. First up? The Big Bank CEOs - Dimon, Blankfein, Mack & the new guy at Bank of America.
Unfortunately, while bonuses for CEOs that are running bankrupt companies are angering... the meetings are intended to understand the reasons for the financial meltdown... and the CEOs of the banks are not responsible. To address the real reason for the financial meltdown, one must begin by addressing several key philosophical questions about America's monetary policy:
1) fractional reserve banking vs. full reserve banking
2) fiat money vs. honest money
3) the existence of the Federal Reserve
Address these issues and you'll begin to understand the source of the financial meltdown.
Hint: the CEOs & big banks are a symptom, not the disease.
Tonight's most spirited discussion was certainly the vote to direct the PBC to recommend a pool enclosure to the Council. I thought there were several valid points made by the loyal opposition, though I didn't exactly agree.
It seemed to me that Councilman Adinolfi wanted to give the PBC more time. And while I was comfortable with that, I absolutely wanted to give them a deadline to act. No more foot dragging on this.
And Councilman Ecke seemed concerned that the Council should have the final say on which structure goes to referendum. I agreed with him on that, but simply wasn't that concerned about the process of getting there. There's just too many variables with the pool and I want action... and I'm comfortable moving forward with an enclosure that is the PBCs second choice.
Anyway... any thoughts or comments on tonight's pool enclosure discussion?
The vote was unanimous.
Monday, January 11, 2010
It's January and I already see changes in Town Government.
Not only are we moving forward with the concept of an enclosure for the pool, but the Administration is actually discussing the deauthorization of some money.
And is this deauthorization a case of the Budget Chair saving $1,000,000? Well, not exactly... since the idea came from staff. But as the elected official - and since we take blame for bureaucratic gaffes - he will deserve the credit, if it is deauthorized. Frankly though, I think the main reason staff brought this forward is because of the November election results. The handwriting is on the wall.
So even though I'm disappointed about the direction in which the CPD situation has gone ... I do see real progress being made in other areas by the new GOP majority.
With regard to tomorrow's Council agenda here are the details to item 7E - deauthorizing CNR money:I don't really have much more detail on this, though I'm sure the Budget Chair will explain it before we vote on it.
Council Chair Tim Slocum has been extremely busy recently. Here's the fruits of one of his efforts:Looks OK to me. I think March 15 is fairly aggressive, but I'm glad to see action being taken.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Only bummer was that I kept thinking about President Andy Jackson's own Trail of Tears:
The Trail of Tears was the relocation and movement of Native Americans, including many members of the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole,and Choctaw nations among others in the United States, from their homelands to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma) in the Western United States. The phrase originated from a description of the removal of the Choctaw Nation in 1831. Many Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while en route to their destinations, and many died, including 4,000 of the 15,000 relocated Cherokee.
But aside from that bummer, the movie was incredible.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Yes, you read that correctly. Public Policy Polling has GOP candidate Scott Brown leading Dem candidate Martha Coakley - 48% to 47%. Stunning. Looks like Senator Dodd may have been onto something. See the crosstabs here.
Here's the fifth installment of the annual June 30 BOE budget transfers:This was the "zero budget" year. As you can see though, there was a mid-year increase of $237,000. I find this year to be particularly interesting to see where the money went.
HuffPost reports on a recent Ed Show interview with Eliot Spitzer. With regard to getting to the heart of the problems on Wall Street, Spitzer is among the best. Some of his comments on The Ed Show:
"What many of us have been saying for quite some time right now is that AIG is the center of the web of the entire economic cataclysm on Wall Street and the only way to understand what happened is to go through those emails. The amazing thing Ed, is we own the company. Taxpayers own the company. it is our right to understand what is being done with our money, what happened, what led to this cataclysm and only from that will we understand what did Tim Geithner do. The New York Fed was instrumental in creating the structure that failed. Tim Geithner was the president of the fed. You go back to who chose him to be there it was the head of the leaders of the New York investment banks that have benefited from the bailout.... Let's not jump to conclusions. But I can tell you... one thing with absolute certainty. Until we get every one of those emails. We Will not know..."
See the full interview here:
I attended the kickoff for Cheshire's Lights of Hope today. Organized by Jenifer and Don Walsh - and started in 2005 - nearly $30,000 was given to three beneficiaries today. The CHS Ram Band kicked off the ceremony. Then Don spoke:The Lights of Hope donated $2,500 to recent CHS grad Chelsea Clouse for college:Then $13,500 was donated to the Cheshire Food Pantry at St. Bridget's... before issuing another $13,500 check... this time to The Petit Family Foundation:The last speaker was Council Chairman Tim Slocum:And though it's a pretty shaky video, here are the first few minutes of Dr. Petit's comments:
Friday, January 08, 2010
Thursday, January 07, 2010
The Cheshire Superintendent of Schools announced his 2010 / 2011 budget proposal tonight.
So to learn a bit about the budget, I give you a member of the Cheshire Board of Education's freshman class. I know he's well-known to many regulars here already. Here is Tony Perugini offering his immediate reaction to the budget proposal that included a 3.89% increase:
We all know that Chris Dodd decided to begin Tea Partying and agreed to dump himself. But for me, the pressing issue here is not that Dick Blumenthal will almost certainly be our next Senator. Nope.
The big issue is with no looming reelection battle, how does Dodd treat financial regulatory reform? Will he continue his corporatist, Wall Street Wins Ways? Or will he do what so many Dems thought he would do... pull a Palin, go rogue and allow populist ideals and Main Street to Makeout for once?
Recognizing that the Senator has a young family... and the revolving door to K Street is extremely lucrative... I suspect he'll take the former, not the latter.
But maybe I'll be proven wrong?
In a perfect world, Chris Dodd would not simply cash in and sell out. Instead he'd do the right thing. For instance, he'd fire The Fed's Bailout Ben. And Senator Dodd certainly has the ability to do that. That would be fantastic. But Bernanke is only half of Obama's failed economic team.
Has the other half - Geithner - made any major gaffes recently?
Well... breaking news today from those fantastic financial reporters at Bloomberg:
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, then led by Timothy Geithner, told American International Group Inc. to withhold details from the public about the bailed-out insurer’s payments to banks during the depths of the financial crisis, e-mails between the company and its regulator show. (by Hugh Son)
I strongly encourage you to read the entire story - it's damning. But also keep in mind that the single biggest beneficiary of the AIG bailout was Goldman Sachs. So to me it's obvious that Geithner needs to be fired - immediately. And that could lead to Obama being required to create a new economic team. Any chance it'd be a failure just as big as his first?
But also keep in mind that Obama was already President-elect when this happened. So even more important to me:
What did Obama know? And when did he know it?
People almost certainly belong in jail for this. Unfortunately, this goes all the way to the top. So I doubt anyone will ever be held to account.
I thank Congressman Darrell Issa for pursuing this.
Councilwoman Anne Giddings provided this update on Tuesday's Ordinance Review Committee meeting:
PBC--a small committee will be established to draw up guidelines for town administration to use to recommend that the Town Council provide the PBC with waviers of some steps of the process. Jim McKenney was at the ORC meeting and agreed to serve. A Council member will be asked to serve and a rep of the town. (Since then Mr. Milone has informed me that Joe Michaelangelo will be that rep.)
Parking tickets--referred to the Town Attorney for paperwork so that the Hearing Officer can refer those who do not respond or pay fines to court and civil action can then be taken.
Patton Drive--ORC recommends no change.
Massage parlor--due to a change in state law this is now a moot point. Police do not need any additional laws/ordinances.
Noise ordinance--ORC recommended no change. Jerry Sitko will continue to work with the businesses involved.
Building permit fee--Approved and sent to Town Council.
Elderly tax freeze--Approved and sent to Town Council.
Elderly tax credits--Approved and sent to Town Council.
Historic District fees--referred to Town Attorney for wording of ordinance. (I recused myself from this, since I am a member of the Congregational Church and of the Board of Trustees; I was at an HDC meeting last summer as a representative of the church when 3 applications for work on the church and the parsonage were presented. By the end of Jan. I'll no longer be a Trustee.)
Labels: council mtg
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
A reminder about this weekend:
Cheshire's Lights of Hope is this Saturday, Jan. 9.
We will be holding a kick off rally beginning at 1:30 in front of Cheshire High School. We will be presenting our 1st $2,500 scholarship to Chelsea Clouse who graduated from Cheshire High School in June. We will also presenting checks to our other 2 beneficiaries: Judy Proulx, the director of the Cheshire Food Pantry at St. Bridget's and Dr. William Petit, the president of the Petit Family Foundation. Members of the Cheshire High School marching band will perform and we also asked Tim Slocum to say a few words. Immediately following the rally we will send out a group of volunteers to light the Mile of Hope (From Bartlem Park to Cheshire Academy).
A little history about our event since many feel it just began following the Petit tragedy.
This event started in 2005, 2 years before the Petit tragedy, in our Contour Drive neighborhood. It was a way to unify our neighborhood while raising money for Relay for Life. The following year, we added a couple of more streets and raised funds for the Ct Chapter of the MS Society.
After the events of July 26, 2007, we felt the need to bring this event town wide in order to help Cheshire begin the healing process from this horrendous tragedy and to help our neighbor, Bill Petit.
Today, we are a 501c3 charity and we continue to unite the town while raising money for local charities.
This is a total grass roots organization made up of many of our friends and neighbors. We all donate our time and energy to making this a successful event.
This town has a tremendous group of businesses who are willing to step forward and donate monetarily of through goods and services to assist us.
To date, Cheshire's Lights of Hope has raised over $250,000.
We hope that through our scholarship, we will teach the youth of our community the importance of giving back through volunteerism. We have already seen that through the number of events we have held to prepare for this event.
If you would like more information about our event, you can visit our web site Cheshire's Lights of Hope or:
Luminaries can still be purchased at R.W. Hine for $10 per kit (contains 10 bags,10 candles, 10 cups).
Donations can be made to:
Cheshire's Lights of Hope
P.O. Box 553
Cheshire, CT 06410
For more info you can email us at: email@example.com
We are still looking for volunteers to assist with the set up on Saturday and the clean up on Sunday. Anyone interested can contact Edmonde Bernier at:
Excerpted from a recent email from Town Hall:
At the August Town Council meeting, the Council authorized a grant application for $250,000 for a National Recreational Trails Program grant for construction of the Linear Park (Cornwall to West Main Street). Staff have been notified by a representative from the Department of Environmental Protection that our application has been approved but we probably will not receive formal notification until the spring.
If the Council moves forward with this project - and I haven't spoken with anyone about this recently - then I still think as I did last August. The trail should be extended south from Southington. I spoke with Southington Town Hall a few months ago and was assured their project would move forward in 2010. I think the Council should revisit the viability of using this grant money there, rather than the headache of extending from Cornwall to West Main.
I previously mentioned President Obama's broken promise to hold the healthcare reform debate in public.
Now the Campaign for Liberty's Matt Hawes opines:
Further proving (as if there was any doubt left) that for all his rhetoric, Obama should have campaigned on "Status Quo with Better Pronunciation" rather than "Change You Can Believe In."
Instead we get the Louisiana Purchase, Cornhusker Kickback and Dodd Disbursement. With 13 state AGs (all Rs) suing the Federal Government over the sweetheart deal for Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), I wonder how CTs AG - and presumptive Senator - feels about it?
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
A recent update from Town Hall:
We were apprised by the Connecticut State Library Association that they approved our construction grant application of $50,000 to supplement the proposed library Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)/construction project. We are not scheduled to secure Bond Commission approval until sometime in the spring
I first mentioned this project on TWL in Marcy 2007.
Here's the third installment of the annual June 30 BOE budget transfers:You can see that the schools were under budget this year. That was a direct result of the 2002 post-election announcement by Hartford of the mid-year budget cuts to municipal aid.
I was not on the Council at the time, but understand that additional school-related budget cuts were made to the capital non-recurring (CNR) account that had been dedicated to the schools. The CNR account is a line item in the Town's annual operating budget. In my six years, it's ranged from about $800,000 to $1,300,000. The schools get about half of the money for various capital projects, such as new bleachers or lockers.
Anyone else get Linda McMahon's mailer today?I think the other included lit piece was a fantastic marketing job. Must be nice to have a virtually unlimited campaign budget!
At this point, I'm thinking she wins the GOP nod. And even if Senator Dodd retires and AG Blumenthal steps up... with her money and campaign team... I think she's still got a shot at the title. It'll be interesting to see the PPP polling later this week.
Monday, January 04, 2010
Over the past year we've learned all sorts of new acronyms related to our economic catastrophe - MBS, CDS, TBTF, OTS, SSDP*, etc.
But do you remember PPIP?
Public-Private Investment Program
If you don't recall it, that's NBD. Team Bailout (featuring Bush, Obama, Bernanke, Dodd and Frank) has been hard at work creating all sorts of schemes to counterfeit money and bailout more of their buddies on Wall Street that few of us can remain current.
Anyway, Bloomberg's Christopher Condon and Jody Shenn give us some of the more important details of PPIP and how TBTF see the situation:
Only months after it was started, the U.S. program designed to purge debts of no immediate discernable value from the balance sheets of troubled banks has helped transform the frozen debt into a money-maker as the bonds have rallied...
It’s “absolutely ridiculous” that banks, which were expected to reduce their holding of such volatile mortgage securities, bought them before the government program was running and may now profit, said Michael Schlachter, managing director of Wilshire Associates, the Santa Monica, California- based investment-consulting firm. “Some of them created this mess, and they are making a killing undoing it.”
* OK, this one may not be that well-known. But when it comes to
Bush's failed economic team Obama's failed economic team, it should be.
Tonight I got an email from a friend who witnessed Cheshire's weekly Monday Tea Party for the first time:
the thing is that this rally in Cheshire had participation and turnout that I am unaccustomed to seeing in a small town (around here, a couple of dozen people is a good crowd)
His basic comment to me was the Dodd needs to go. And considering that the Banking Chairman:
1) allowed TBTF to get even bigger in the past twelve months;
2) opposes transparency; and
3) supports Bailout Ben
I think it's time for Dodd's retirement.
But returning to the Tea Party, I understand there was some talk tonight about attending the Republican caucus this Thursday in an effort to join the RTC and work to reform the system in an official capacity.
Considering that most delegates to the GOP convention next May will likely come from the RTC... that's probably a smart move as they'll likely be influencing the GOP candidates for Senate, Congress and Governor. Keep the same thing in mind for the Democratic party.
Public Policy Polling is conducting a CT poll tonight that was a direct result of Paulistas living up to our reputation! From Tom Jensen at PPP:
Well that was certainly the most spirited 'vote on where we poll' to date. The political blogs in Alabama did an impressive job of generating votes for their state, as did a lot of the Republican blogosphere on Massachusetts' behalf. Ultimately the Ron Paul/Libertarian Republicans won out, as they often do on the internet, and Connecticut was the winner because of interest in Peter Schiff's candidacy.
PPP plans to poll many of our different scenarios for this fall, particularly the GOP vs. Dodd race. They intend to begin releasing results on Thursday.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
The MRJs Jesse Buchanan has an article on some of the big issues facing the new Council:
"There is an expectation that we'll be on the case," said Town Council Chairman Tim Slocum
Councilman Ecke spoke on the 'no confidence' vote at the CPD:
"Do I think it will be magically fixed in a year? Only time will tell," he said. "I don't know that it will be solved, but I'm sure it will be addressed."
Councilman Schrumm spoke on the budget:
"We can't print money like the Federal government,"... "I don't think they're in the mood for a substantial tax increase," he said.
And I weighed in when asked about the pool. I offered two goals of mine:
1) A referendum on a permanent structure by November... noting that a special referendum would cost money... so there would need to be a good reason for holding a special referendum... particularly since it would have an entirely different voter pool (likely much lower) than the general election in November.
2) All Council members say whether they will support / oppose the continued use of the bubble. I don't and won't. It costs too much money for a "self-supporting pool" and it wastes too much energy at a time when I thought we were supposed to be getting serious about energy consumption.
Labels: 2009 election
Excerpted from Town Hall email:
the Environment Commission is planning a 4-mile hike through the DeDominicis property on Saturday, January 9, 2010 from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Anyone interested in participating with Suzanne Simone, our Environmental Planner, may meet at 9:00 a.m. at the trailhead kiosk located on Old Lane Road.
Per BOE member Tony Perugini on a previous post:
The budget meetings are as follows:
1/7/2010 - Presentation of Super's Budget 7:30pm at Town Hall
1/12/2010 - Public Budget Review #1 7:30pm Dodd Middle School
1/14/2010 - Public Budget Review #2 7:30pm Dodd Middle School
1/19/2010 - Public Informational Meeting/Board Member Responses to Superintendent’s Budget/Adoption of a Board of Education Budget, if possible
1/21/2010 - BOE Business Meeting 7:30pm Town Council Chambers
If you have any questions about my following post - such as the meaning of "tuition" - I encourage you to attend the BOE meetings and ask your questions. I'm sure you'll get a better answer there, than from me.
Many people, including myself, often wonder where the BOEs tax dollars go. Considering that the BOE has been known to ask for more teachers... even when they don't know how many teachers they have... one must wonder what's happening with our tax dollars. And I recall a different time when I asked about the line items of fluff in the BOE budget. Only to be shushed again! (Note: I don't have the budget numbers per the BOE this far back... only have the budget numbers per the Auditors this far back.)
But those questions required me to analyze a level of detail which I do not intend to analyze at this moment. Instead, I just want to use the Town's audited financial statements to look at the budget variances for the BOE accounts... without digging into the account details.
As I began looking at this data, I expected that there would be variances - any budget would have them. But are there materially significant trends to the budgetary overages / underages?
In order to answer that question, I've put on my auditor's cap and am about to give you a bunch of information. That is, I'm going to give you a ton of boring details first... then in a week or so, you'll get to see the trends that I found.
So first things, first. I've looked at the Audited Financial Statements for the Town for the past decade. Within the town audit, there is a statement on the BOEs budget. I've entered that data to a spreadsheet (along with the likely mapping to the BOE Budget by account) and have calculated the variances by audit account.
Here you can see the audited BOE budget for the 2000 / 2001 fiscal year:*
As I post each year over the next week or two, I encourage you to pay particular attention to the BOE bottom line numbers for the "original budget," "final budget" and "actual" expenditures. Normally these three numbers are within $1,000 of each other. But that's not always the case. There are two years with significant variations in the budget, as follows:
1) In 2002/2003 the state cut the budget mid-year.
(Note: I don't have the budget numbers per the BOE this far back... only have the budget numbers per the Auditors this far back.)
2) In 2004/2005 the town provided a supplemental appropriation.
I hope you find this analysis interesting / useful. Also keep in mind that I entered these numbers to Excel. So there could be a typo, but I've tried to ensure my numbers are consistent with the various data sources.
* The auditors and BOE define "accounts" in a slightly different way. But I'm hoping my spreadsheet is self-explanatory.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Though I had supported Congressman Ron Paul for a long time, it wasn't until March 2007 that I mentioned him on this blog. Fast forwarding ten months, I then drove to New Hampshire twice to knock on doors for him. Back then I explained my rationale for supporting him:
My real goal is to reinstate the Constitution, not to elect any particular candidate... and I think Ron Paul's voice is the best way to do that.
And though the past year has seemed like a complete catastrophe when it comes to economic policy, my participation in the Ron Paul r3VOLution is paying dividends. Not only is Ron Paul getting airtime with the WSJ... even the LA Times' Don Lee admits he's getting some street cred with other pols:
For three decades, Texas congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul's extreme brand of libertarian economics consigned him to the far fringes even among conservatives. Not a few times, his views put him on the losing end of 434-1 votes on Capitol Hill.
His warnings on deficits and inflation are now Republican mantras.
Though frankly, based on their prior performance... it's obvious that much of that is disingenuous.
The article elaborates on the sincere motives of My Congressman:
Paul is a disciple of Ludwig von Mises, an Austrian theorist born at the end of the 19th century who contended that government intervention in an economy would fail because free markets were better at allocating resources and fueling growth.
Having lived through Germany's devastating hyperinflation in the early 1920s, which helped pave the way for Hitler, Mises wrote long before the Great Depression that over-generous credit policies would encourage excessive borrowing, creating a boom and then a bust.
Hmmm... over generous credit policies... excessive borrowing... sound familiar?
But in all seriousness, these are extremely important issues. I'm trying to gain a better grasp of them by reading RPs most recent book, End the Fed. If you're interested in improving the economy, I encourage you to read it. Whether you agree or not, at least you'll see the public policy debate - over issues such as bailouts - that Washington's Political Class has long tried to ignore.