Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pearl Jam - Just Breathe

Yankee Gas pipeline to be available to households?

Last Tuesday, Yankee Gas presented their plan for an east / west natural gas pipeline through Cheshire. The NHRs Luther Turmelle reports:

Mark Smith, the project manager for the expansion, said the pipeline will benefit Cheshire by increasing the amount of natural gas available to businesses and homes as well as initially adding $100,000 a year in tax revenues.

And with regard to the possibility of homes hooking up to the NG pipeline as an alternative to oil or electricity as heat sources, I spoke here:

Tim White

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The ongoing story of the post office relocation

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

The U.S. Postal Service has been paying a local landowner $40,000 a year since 2006 for a 2.4-acre tract on Highland Avenue that the agency now says it can no longer afford to build a post office on.

Regional spokeswoman Maureen Marion said the Postal Service signed a 25-year lease with Marshall Fisco, who owns the land at 1227 Highland Ave. The deal with Fisco does not include any provisions for paying a penalty to break the lease, although Marion said it allows the Postal Service to sublet the property.

“At the time we signed the lease, we had every intention of moving forward with this,” Marion said of plans to build a post office on the site. “But now conditions are such that new construction is out of the question.”

Tim White

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Council meeting - Feb 23, 2010

The Personnel Committee and full Council met jointly at 6:30pm tonight. The hot topic? The ICMA report on the CPD. Ultimately, there was little discussion beyond the Council's ability to withhold the report. I think the basic idea is to get the ICMA consultant fact-finder to provide the Council with facts. That meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday and the consultant is planning to attend. The vote to table the discussion was 5-1-1 (White opposed, Sima abstained due to his late arrival and missing much of the discussion).

Then there was a special meeting of the full Council. First on the agenda was an hour-long presentation by Yankee Gas about the proposed east-west / Route 68 pipeline.

The Council then voted 8-0 (Adinolfi absent) to accept the $108,000 in federal energy grant money.

Then the Council voted 5-3 to reject the Dispatchers' Union contract (Giddings, Sima, Ruocco, Slocum, White opposed). The opposition voice by Tom and me was that it cost too much money.

Finally, the Council voted 7-0 (Ecke recused, Adinolfi absent) to adopt the CPD contract. The three-year contract is broken into four pieces:

1) July 1, 2009 - February 3, 2010 - 0.0% raise
2) February 4, 2010 - June 30, 2010 - 2.0% raise
3) July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011 - 2.5% raise
4) July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012 - 2.5% raise

The rationale for the February 4 date is that it was the date of "ratification" by the Police Union.

Tim White

Monday, February 22, 2010

Open forum - 2/22/10

The WRA reports on the new 10,000+ sq ft Rite Aid and on ATT wanting a cell tower at the sewer plant.

What else is happening?

Tim White

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Council's special meeting on Tuesday @ 7:30pm

7:30 P.M., TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2010


1. Roll Call.

2. Pledge of Allegiance.

3. Presentation by Yankee Gas.

4. Acceptance and appropriation of a Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant reimbursement grant.

5. Amendments to local property tax qualifying incomes and tax credits.

6. Dispatchers collective bargaining agreement, possible executive session.

7. Police collective bargaining agreement, possible executive session.

8. Adjournment.

Here are some details on the $108,000 EECBG energy grant:If I understand it correctly, this relates to the Bush Energy Policy Act of 2007. It has nothing to do with Obama's energy plans.

Tim White

Council meeting - Tuesday @ 6:30pm

6:30 P.M., TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2010


1. Roll Call.

2. Pledge of Allegiance.

3. ICMA police report, possible executive session.

4. Dispatchers collective bargaining agreement, possible executive session.

5. Police collective bargaining agreement, possible executive session.

6. Adjournment.

And yes, we got the report. But I'm not discussing it at this point.

Tim White

Thursday, February 18, 2010

If the CPD conflict remains unmediated...

The ICMA Police report is not yet here, but some numbers did cross my mind. I have some staffing concerns, if the Council receives the report and there is no significant action taken.

The department consists of approximately:

1) 43 sworn officers in the union; and
2) 4 sworn officers in the command staff.

Of those 47 sworn officers, I think 8 to 10 are at the 25 year mark.

Now consider the pension plan. I believe the Police Union pension has two significant vesting tranches:

1) 20 years = 2% per year
2) 25 years - 2.5% per year

And the pension maxes out at 27 years.

In other words, an officer with 24 years will receive 48% of his/her salary* for the rest of his/her life.

And an officer with 25 years will receive 62.5% of his/her salary for the rest of his/her life... with it maxing out around 68% after 27 years.

My point?

Nearly a quarter of the department is at the top pension tranche. And I find it unlikely that they're interested in the money. More than likely, they're interested in having a job they enjoy. I'm guessing many of them could find a less stressful job and make at least 33% of their current pay. And they'd be making the same as though they were a Police.

If this conflict remains unmediated, will there be an exodus of the department's experienced officers?

And this would obviously have the knock-on effect of the current Chief staffing the department. Yet the rank'n'file have no confidence already. So I imagine there's a multiplier effect there.

I may post some financial numbers this weekend, including pension costs and OPEB (Other Postretirement Employment Benefits - healthcare) vs. new hires, etc.

Tim White

* I think it's the average of the final three years.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Caligiuri and CRTC fundraisers

David Schrumm is organizing the CRTCs annual spaghetti supper. It's scheduled for March 19 at Cheshire Academy.

Sam Caligiuri is also holding a fundraiser for his run for Congress:Tim White

Pool enclosure and the terminally ill bubble

The PBCs Pool Enclosure Committee visited area pool enclosures recently.

And speaking of the pool, I now have a better understanding of Council Chairman Tim Slocum's perspective when he wrote this letter.

When I read his words about the continued use of the bubble, I was of the understanding that the bubble had another three to five years of useful life. However, I now understand that is not the case. It's been suggested that the bubble may have only one or two years left.

So theoretically, if the pool budget is passed this year with the usual subsidy and a June 2010 enclosure fails at referendum... then it could be as early as November 2011 when a bubble is on the ballot at referendum.

Needless to say, I will not be supporting anything related to a bubble.

Tim White

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

ICMA Police report not yet here

Earlier today, Town Hall gave a status update on ICMAs police report.

It should arrive in a few days. Though it'll probably first be vetted by the Town Attorney to determine if any information should be redacted.

I'm of the opinion that the whole thing should be disclosed. But I won't necessarily argue, if there's a good reason for non-disclosure of certain information.

I doubt anything will be public before next week.

Tim White

Council meeting delayed

Tonight's Council meeting was delayed due to the weather. It's been rescheduled to next Tuesday, February 23.

Tim White

$108,000 for energy stimulus funds

Cheshire got $108,000 in energy-related stimulus funds.

Tim White

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Council agenda - February 16, 2010


7:30 P.M., TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2010



1. Roll Call.

2. Pledge of Allegiance.

3. Presentation by Yankee Gas.

4. Amendments to local property tax qualifying incomes and tax credits.

5. Dispatchers collective bargaining agreement, possible executive session.

6. Police collective bargaining agreement, possible executive session.

7. Adjournment.

I'm looking forward to the Yankee Gas presentation. I've heard from people who want natural gas as an alternative to oil or electricity as their primary heat source. Of course, with NG the big issue is the cost of infrastructure - the cost to lay the pipe. But once the pipe goes by your house, NG may very well be the most cost-effective energy source available.

Also worth mentioning, dispatchers and police are the first two of five town union contracts that need to be agreed. The library, public works and Town Hall unions also need new contracts. I believe all five contracts expired on June 30, 2009.

Keeping in mind that I'm only one of nine - and cannot force anything to happen - my number one goal for each of these contracts is to move from defined benefit pension plans (DB) to defined contribution pension plans (DC). And I'm trying to be realistic about it. So if we could simply eliminate the DB plans for future union employees, I'd be pretty happy about that.

And for those of you who wonder about the collective bargaining process, I understand it's a three-step process:

1) Town management and a Union executive board tentatively agree;
2) Union membership ratifies the agreement; and
3) Council approves the agreement.

Tim White

The story of Bloomberg vs. The Fed nearing an end?

As the bailouts of 2008 & 2009 were beginning to ramp up,* Bloomberg News and the now-deceased Mark Pittman were hot on the case. They wanted answers to learn more about our tax dollars by asking such "tough" questions as:

Who got money from the Fed? How much did they get? In exchange for what collateral? And under what terms?

Of course, The Beast The Federal Reserve is pushing back hard. And who wouldn't? If information is power, how many people / organizations are comfortable relinquishing power? After all, Big Brother knows best!

In fairness though, the Fed does have legitimate concerns... just nothing credible enough for them to maintain their veil of secrecy... secrecy which began nearly a century ago:

The Federal Reserve has wrapped itself in secrecy since the turn of the 20th century, when a select group of financiers met at the private Jekyll Island Club off the eastern coast of Georgia and, forgoing last names to preserve their anonymity among the staff, drafted legislation to create a central bank.**

Its secrecy, of course, persists today, with Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, refusing to tell even Congress which banks received government money under the bailout. There is also a heated battle to force the Fed to disclose its role in the controversial attempt to save the insurance giant American International Group.

Of course, if you read this brilliant piece by David Fiderer, you'll get a sense of why the AIG bailout was so secret... because it was spearheaded by a bunch of corrupt public officials, such as Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner, along with their bosses, The Banksters.

Anyway, the reason for this NYTimes piece was not only to revisit the two year history of the Bloomberg FOIA lawsuit against The Federal Reserve... it was also to mention that the lawsuit to lift the veil of secrecy may be decided within a few weeks.

I hope the 2nd District Court of Appeals recognizes that the crime syndicate running the US Government does not represent the best interests of the American people. If it does, there's a good chance that the court will tell The Banksters to cough up the info.

It's our money. They have no moral authority to withhold that information.

Tim White

* I date them to March 2008 and the Bear Stearns bailout.

** This fact is central to much of America's modern day conspiracy theory.

Rite Aid development moving forward

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

A Middletown developer has taken out a $4.4 million loan with Liberty Bank so it can begin building a nearly 15,000-square-foot drugstore at West Main Street, Maple Avenue and Main Street.

Tim White

UConn ain't looking too good

Yesterday's game against Cincinnatti wasn't pretty. It was fun though. It had been a few years since I actually attended a UConn game.

Tim White

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Slocum on the pool enclosure and the bubble's future

I was glad to see Council Chairman Tim Slocum's letter in today's Herald:He addresses a critical issue regarding the pool enclosure:

Many have asked what happens if the referendum fails. The short answer is nothing will happen right away. But, eventually the pool bubble will have to run its useful life and need to be replaced.

I'm glad Chairman Slocum raised this point. But I'm not certain his assertion is correct. He's assuming there will be five votes to continue funding the bubble until its useful life ends.

In other words... of the nine Council members, you would need five members to continue funding the bubble. So maybe the Chairman has done a straw poll? I have not. And based on public statements, I only know two votes with certainty.

I will remain consistent and oppose funding the bubble. It's a total waste of energy and costs too much money for "a self-supporting facility."

But again, that's only two of nine votes. Beyond that, David Schrumm has long been an outspoken advocate of the pool. He even voted for the $20,000 pool consultant in November 2006. So I suspect that's two votes in favor of subsidizing the bubble.

Councilman Mike Ecke also voted in favor of the pool consultant, while Councilman Tom Ruocco opposed it. So they may very well be a vote each way. But based conversations over the years, I think David's unwavering support for the pool is much deeper than any sentiments held by either Ecke or Ruocco.

Regardless, I'm glad Chairman Slocum got this conversation started.

I hope over the next few months that all nine Council members will tell the voters exactly where they stand on the future of the bubble, if a pool enclosure referendum fails.

Tim White

Sam Caligiuri's campaign manager, Greg Cogswell, on Election 2010

Sam Caligiuri's campaign manager, Greg Cogswell, says why Sam should be the next Congressman for the CT-5:

Tim White

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Yankee Institute creates

The CT-based, conservative-leaning think tank Yankee Institute has created a useful new database:

I have not yet investigated Crusher's $120,000/yr no-show job that Speaker Donovan tried to create a year ago. But even if it's not in there, I'm sure there are plenty of interesting data.

Tim White

White advocates the Henry Channel for AT&T U-Verse

This is from the January Council meeting, but I believe I never posted it here. Basically, it's just my request to get Henry Chase's government channel added to the AT&T U-Verse TV service here in town. There are legitimate technical issues related to offering the channel on U-Verse. But other towns have made it happen. So I expect Cheshire will do the same.

And FWIW, I don't have any cable TV service... or any broadcast TV for that matter. I disconnected nearly in two years ago to save money. And I'm fine with it. Besides, I can always watch Family Guy or The Office on Hulu.

Tim White

Notification of the official BOE budget adoption

The Council received this notification from the TM regarding the BOEs adopted budget:Tim White

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Council meeting & open forum

Tonight's Council meeting was unbelievably brief. I think we adjourned by 9:30pm.

Any comments?

Tim White

UPDATE: Forgot to mention... senior tax freeze passed 8-1 (White opposed) and the senior tax credits passed unanimously. And thanks Breach for explaining some of the largely unforeseen problems with US tax policy. The whole thing needs to be simplified. And with regard to union contracts, there was no executive session and no contract votes either. I understand that - of the five town unions - the contracts may get votes next Tuesday... when the Council is scheduled to discuss the Yankee Gas pipeline with the PBC, Energy, Inland Wetlands, etc.

BOE cuts $950,000 from 2010/2011 budget

From the NHRs Luther Turmelle:

Brittingham, Stephen Mrowka and Peter Massey, the budget committee chairman, voted against the $950,000 cut, with Tod Dixon, Alan Sobol, Tony Perugini and Sandra Pavano supporting the cut.

Tim White

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A suburban CT problem in the Great Recession

The NHRs Amanda Pinto reports on CTs suburban hunger problems:

“You think of Madison as an affluent town, but if you’re in need in Madison, it’s actually harder than if you’re in the inner city, because there they have more support services,” said Walden, a supervisor at Madison’s food pantry. “Here, it’s easy to fall through the cracks.”

Cheshire has similar problems.

Tim White

Everybody's not for sale

Someone started a rumor that Irv Morris is selling Everybody's, but his attorney denied it.

I find it difficult to believe he wants to sell it. He does fun stuff, such as the Christmas party. To organize and fund events like that says to me that he really loves it... and wouldn't want to sell it.

Tim White

Council agenda - February 9, 2010

Here's the agenda for Tuesday's meeting:Some thoughts...

With regard to items 7A & 7B, I expect to remain consistent with prior years. I expect to support the senior tax credits, but not the tax freeze. The tax credits can achieve much the same goal with less administrative effort. Additionally, at some point in the not-so-distant future there is the distinct possibility of someone losing eligibility for the tax freeze. And the "cliff" that is being created by the freeze is very concerning to me.

For instance, if the freeze limit is currently $35,000 and a senior makes $34,000 for a number of years... then taxes remain frozen. But if a dividends or interest kick in sometime soon, then a senior could make $36,000 the next year. And if the taxes have been frozen for five years, then it's entirely possible that taxes will jump from $3,000 to $4,000 in one year. And that could be a huge problem.

On the other hand, the "cliffs" in the tax credit program are much more measured. The Council has much more control over them. For these reasons I favor the credits, but not the freeze.

With regard to item 7J, I'm concerned about a conflict of interests. To whom does the Clerk of the Council report? In years past, the Clerk of the Council reported exclusively to the Council. More recently, the Clerk has reported to both the Council and the Manager. I view this as a conflict of interests. To whom does the Clerk report? IMO, this conflict needs to be eliminated.

With regard to item 14, the Council may finally conclude the first of five union contracts - police, dispatchers, library, public works & town hall. I'm looking forward to concluding these contracts, particularly since they all expired on June 30, 2009.

Finally, no word yet on the report from the CPD consultant fact-finder.

Tim White

Friday, February 05, 2010

BOE budget vote

I was at the Caligiuri for Congress meeting last night. I arrived at the BOE meeting as it was ending. But I understand there was a proposal to reduce the budget by $650,000... which failed 1 to 6. So no budget was adopted and another meeting is scheduled for Monday night.

Anyone able to elaborate?

Tim White

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Another long-term liability: OPEB

OPEB = Other Postretirement Employment Benefits

OPEB is not part of the pension plans. It relates to medical benefits and is big. And though it's been getting discussed by the Government Accounting Standards Board for some time, it's now nearing implementation.

On the liberal side, there may be a request for the Town to fund $2 million in an OPEB account next year. But I don't see that happening. Assuming the fund is created, funding would probably be more conservative... to the tune of a few hundred thousand dollars... still not chump change though.

But who would benefit from the OPEB fund?

My understanding is that it would apply to all Cheshire unions:


Town Hall
Public Works



But the lion's share of the expenditures would relate to the police and teachers because that's how the union contracts are written.

Tim White

A contrast in municipal PDs and solving the crisis

On October 7, 2009, the NHRs Luther Turmelle reported on the "management style" of Cheshire's Police Chief:

“It is clear that there is tension between the rank and file and the chief of police,” Milone’s statement said. “The issue seems to lie primarily with management style. We will continue to meet on these and other outstanding issues ... to find a resolution.”

Now yesterday, February 2, 2010, the NHRs staff reported on the "managerial style" of NHs Asst Police Chief:

Assistant Police Chief Peter Reichard put in his retirement papers Monday, three days after the chief relieved him of duty over problems related to his managerial style.

Some people may argue that there's a serious difference between state laws governing "just cause" and "at will" employees. But I argue that in Cheshire, a political appointment serves at the discretion of the Council.

I'm curious to see what the consultant fact-finder reports.

Tim White

The GOP wants Obama's Senate seat

Yikes! Check out this video and you'll get a sense of how ugly it's going to get in Chi-town:

Tim White

h/t to Ironman!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mayor Jeff Wright (R - Newington) is running for Governor

The Mayor of Newington, Jeff Wright, is running for Governor.

While speaking to the Cheshire RTC, he made the point that Newington Dems outnumber Rs by 3 to 1. Impressive.

It's an uphill battle for him, but I did like him. I particularly liked the fact that he spoke about Connecticut's problem with our long-term liabilities.

Tim White

FDNY budget cuts, comparison to Cheshire

Across America, municipal budgets are under the gun. Taxes and spending are a concern and budgets seem to be getting cut everywhere.

The NYTimes's Al Baker is reporting that even the NYFD is going to face cuts:

“If we have to close 20 companies, which is a 6 percent reduction in the number of companies we have, it is going to tax us,” said Salvatore J. Cassano, the newly appointed commissioner of the Fire Department of New York. “It is certainly the most challenging thing we have faced in decades.”

What caught my attention with this article though was less the discussion of cutting the NYFD budget - as Cheshire's FD is volunteer - but more the statistics included in the article. Back in 2006, I compared Cheshire's FD to Southington's FD, but this article gives a few interesting statistics on NYC that can be compared to Cheshire:I'm glad Cheshire has a volunteer department. I certainly wouldn't want to add 20 to 30 paid firefighters to Cheshire's budget.

Tim White

Monday, February 01, 2010

Special Council meeting: Yankee Gas pipeline

From Town Hall:

Michael, pursuant to discussions with Tim Slocum, has invited Yankee Gas to come to a Special Council meeting (set for Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.) to present an extensive explanation of their gas line project, including benefits to our community and the timetable for the project, and to answer any questions we might have.

Because this project impacts so many different areas of our municipality, we will be extending invitations to the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Public Building Commission, the Economic Development Commission, the Inland Wetlands Commission, the Energy Commission, the Board of Education, the Cheshire Chamber of Commerce and Cheshire Academy.

I'm glad this is happening. Back in December I mentioned that I was considering organizing something of this nature as another energy forum. So this makes my life that much easier.

Tim White

Jury selection delayed

Jury selection has been delayed.

Tim White

Joe Markley running for the 16th Senate district

At last week's RTC meeting, I asked Joe Marklee Joe Markley why he was running for Sam Caligiuri's 16th Senate district:

Tim White