I sent the following letter to the Herald. I'm hoping it's published tomorrow.
To the Editor:
Thank you to the many people who have extended their best wishes as I begin my charitable work in Haiti. Before I leave, I wish to invite my neighbors to vote to end the systemic corruption in Hartford.
Rep. Mary Fritz’s son gets a no-show job supervising the I-84 storm-drains-to-nowhere. Sen. Tom Gaffey double bills the state for expenses and gets a $1 Billion no-strings-attached grant for his lobbyist girlfriend. To say that these corrupt incumbents need to go is to state the obvious.
Then there are incumbents like Rep. Vickie Nardello who, while personally decent, are enablers of corruption. Her silence on the likes of Fritz and Gaffey makes her complicit. Nardello is part of the leadership in Hartford. She represents business-as-usual and she needs to go.
Kathy Brown is a refreshing alternative. She’ll work to end corruption, restore good government, and balance the budget. Please join me in voting for Kathy Brown for 89th district Rep.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
6pm Sunday: Ate dinner with representatives from Pure Water for the World. The dinner was basically for them, but besides their group -- a dozen strong -- I think I was the only other person staying at the guesthouse. So they asked me to join them. Based on the discussion, it seemed as though they're a group of Rotarians. They were mostly Americans, but from as far away as Australia.
7:00pm: Zonked out before the sun set.
Midnight: Asleep for the night!
5:30am Monday: Roosters crowing, sun rising, me awakening.
6:30am: Carry my three backpacks -- each stuffed more than a Thanksgiving turkey -- downstairs and out to the land rover. Eat a fried egg and my first melted, but now frozen, Hershey bar... which was melted again before I finished it... which took about three mins max.
7:00am: I'm an eyewitness to the chaos of the Port-au-Prince domestic airport. OK, this isn't exactly newsworthy. And I'm sure it's like this everyday. But on a smaller scale -- all planes appear to have 10 to 20 seats -- it's even more out-of-control.
8:00am: Survive the madness, get my boarding pass and make the walk to the 3-step door / ladder and jump in. Actually was kinda funny because there was a nun sitting right next to me who kept looking at me as though I'd be able to help her buckle her seat belt. Thing is, as she chuckled, we both knew her problem wasn't a lack of knowledge in basic mechanics. The problem was that the buckle was at the end of the belt and the two pieces still weren't reaching each other.
9:00am: I hear the computerized countdown in the cockpit... 30, 20, 10... touchdown! Back in Jeremie. Safe'n'sound.
Nuff for now. Gotta hit the books.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
8am Friday: I get a txt msg from a travel buddy that cholera is ripping through Haiti. Concerning to me is that this guy rode his bicycle around the world. He's no stranger to foreign adventure and I generally listen to him.
7pm Friday: I read the reporting on the cholera outbreak... it's nowhere near where I'm going... land in Port-au-Prince, then onward to Jeremie.
3pm Saturday: My neighbor stops by to encourage me to stay away from Haiti.
Midnight: CNN reports the cholera deaths are spreading to PAP. Great.
5am today: Wake up. 10 deaths in PAP. Not worried, but definitely concerned.
6:00am: Leave for JFK
7:30am: Say goodbye to Carrie and head thru customs.
9:15am: Buy bottled water.
9:30am: All aboard.
9:35am: Talking with a very professorial gentleman -- an aid worker. He assures me that I'll be fine in PAP. Reassuring, but still concerned. Not going to be drinking any tap water anytime soon.
10:00am: Zonked out... had about four hours sleep last night.
1:00pm: Wake up and realize I'm no longer and elected official. Kinda bittersweet. Sad, but I always enjoy looking forward to all the possibilities the future holds! And now turning back the clocks one hour...
12:30pm: The eagle has landed. I stand up to grab my bag in the overhead compartment. Jammed into the narrow walkway and start talking with an American who has just arrived with her NGO, Digital Democracy. They're doing something related to ensuring free and fair elections here. Coincidentally, their Presidential election is on Thanksgiving weekend. So I'm definitely not coming home then as I've been told that Haitian Elections make a Wilbur Cross - Cheshire football game look like The Teddy Bears Picnic... streets shut down, tire fires everywhere. It's not a time to move about the country. Anyway, her discussion of free'n'fair elections struck me for some obvious reasons. And also because public policy and good government are so important... and it all starts with free and fair elections.
1:30pm: Customs and baggage claim... I can take either the heat & humidity or the free-for-all, WWE mayhem of the baggage claim... but putting the two together... ugh. SO glad to get out of there and see someone waiting for me... though when the guy told me that I "had" to pay him $10 for standing there with a sign and bringing my bags the 200 yards to the parking lot, I got a bit annoyed again. NBD though. I just rolled my eyes and laughed at him, saying he had to be kidding himself if he thought I was actually going to give him $10 for that... and that he may as well give me my bags back. And since he didn't, I let him bend my ear for the less-than-five-minutes walk and gave him two bucks when we got to the car. I mean, I'm happy to tip somebody... but when it comes to Americans visiting the developing world... there are way too many people working in the tourist industry who think it's appropriate to scam Americans. So he hemmed'n'hawed as I got in the car, but he knew $2 was fine.
2:00pm: Arrived at the guesthouse, Matthew 25. No a/c, just a fan. But they have cold soda for a buck, paid for with the honor system. Others staying at the house include a Board Member for PureWaterForTheWorld... a group that provides some sort of sand and rock water filtration system to people in Haiti, Nica and Hondo... and a film crew producing a documentary on soil, composting and something else for a soil-related NGO based in San Fran. Both interesting to me. Anyway, I have both my Chem book and this jam-packed cyber cafe -- where each person gets about five square feet of real estate -- just across the street... where I'm sitting now... as far as know without any cholera! So I'm in a good mood. Fly out to the countryside tomorrow.
3:00pm: My one hour on the web is about to expire. So signing off for now!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
As I handed my absentee ballot to the Town Clerk's office this week, I also handed them this:Thank you for all the support over the past seven years on the Council and five years on the blog... TWL was born on January 17, 2006.
As I've said, a blog is a diary. So I'm sure I'll continue posting, but not so much about local politics. Plus, I start Chem 101 on Monday with Charter Oak U.
I'm logging off now for at least a few days... or perhaps a few weeks. If I have my internet connection fully sorted by Wednesday, I may post then. I sent a letter to the Herald and they said they'll try to run it.
But if I don't do much blogging, feel free to friend me on FB. It's easy enough to stay in touch there.
And if you're curious about who will represent the 4th district, join the club... I don't know either.
Labels: town government
Friday, October 22, 2010
The MRJs Dan Ivers reported on the Tom Gaffey / Len Suzio debate.
Thankfully, Len raised the issue critical to the issues facing Hartford. The corrupt politicians who run the show and need to go:
Speaking in favor of term limits, Suzio criticized Gaffey as a victim of his long tenure in the legislature, and brought up reporting violations in his campaigns that were uncovered as recently as last year, as well as his relationship with a state university associate dean while he voted to fund the university system.
Fair and necessary points. But Sen. Gaffey responded:
strongly by saying Suzio should be ashamed for bringing up his personal life, and in remarks after the debate, said it was "better to be a gentleman than score cheap points."
No, Mr. Gaffey. YOU are the one who should be ashamed. But like Mary Fritz, you are so out-of-touch that you don't even realize how wrong you are.
The MRJs Jesse Buchanan reported:
The Board of Education approved three motions which support the Cheshire High School artificial turf project Thursday night and forward it to the Town Council.
The motions were approved in a six to one vote with Republican Alan Sobol the lone dissenter.
Thank you Alan. This will be another long-term liability given to the taxpayers. And we need to reduce those liabilities, not increase them.
While some argue that the Town must replace the turf -- either with artificial turf or natural turf -- I suggest waiting to see the results of the $475,000 track referendum on November 2. If that fails -- and I think it may* -- then the taxpayers will have spoken loud'n'clear.
* Recent recreation projects, such as the pool and linear trail, failed. And roads and energy improvements have seen support decreasing significantly in recent years.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
At last night's debate, Vickie Nardello (D) and Kathy Brown (R) were told and asked:
The August 3, 2008 Waterbury Republican American editorial described the “discretionary funds” in Hartford as “slush funds.” Cheshire’s $525,000 turf originated from these “discretionary funds.” Since this money has not yet been spent, do you support or oppose defunding the turf project in an effort to balance the state budget?
Here is their response:
After years of seeing it, I've gotten tired of Vickie spewing facts to divert attention without ever actually answering a question. Which in this case was:
In an effort to balance the budget, would you defund the turf?
Instead we get the runaround... like when she started defending her opposition to the death penalty in all instances because an innocent person may be put to death... huh?... news to Rep. Nardello... those two predators are NOT innocent! Yet in her heart of hearts, she wants to protect the lives of those two murderers!
Agree with her or not -- and I agree with her -- at least Kathy Brown was direct in her answer.
From the Chamber of Commerce:
Elim Park is hosting the Congressional Candidates on Friday, October 22nd at 9:00a.m. Join Congressman Christopher Murphy and State Representative Sam Caligiuri for remarks and a question and answer segment. A Continental Breakfast will be served. The event is free of charge.
I like Chris, but voting for Sam was easy. Even before the borrow'n'spend issues comes good government issues. And like Vickie Nardello who sits silent as Mary Fritz and Tom Gaffey abuse their power, Chris sits silent as the likes of Charlie Rangel abuses his power.
I'm far from a believer that a GOP Congress will be any sort of panacea. But I'm at the point where we may just need to start cleaning house every election until we get good people in there. Jim Himes has been in only one term, but we already know he reports to Wall Street... so even freshmen need to go. And I didn't say that two years ago when Murph voted for the bailout that I vociferously opposed. But things have only gotten worse. At this point, I have zero tolerance for any of them who sit silent.
And another upcoming event:
The Chamber of Commerce and The Cheshire Herald invite you to a "Meet & Greet" on Monday, October 25th from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. at Yellowfin's Seafood Grille. Many of the candidates in the local election will be available for brief remarks and networking.
I'm not sure if these are open events, but I've heard of them from different sources. So I'm guessing they're open, but you should call the Chamber @ 272-2345.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
When asked if -- in an effort to balance the budget -- she would defund the turf grant, Mary Fritz explains that we just don't understand... the $525,000 isn't really in the budget! It's really just a debt service line item in a future budget... NBD!
Thanks Mary for letting us know just how stupid we are!
Kinda reminds me of the September 2005 LTTE from Steve Carroll explaining the difference between the operating costs of the school budget and the capital costs of the linear trail... a letter which was soon followed by a resident chastising Steve for his letter. And in the audience tonight I already had one unaffiliated voter tell me "spending is spending... what doesn't she understand?"
Thank you Mary for putting the 90th district in play! She's so arrogant and she doesn't even know it.
And here's Richard Abbate's response... which I think may have been his best comments of the night...
I thank you Richard for standing up to Mary.
UPDATE: Here's the question I posed... The August 3, 2008 Waterbury Republican American editorial described the “discretionary funds” in Hartford as “slush funds.” Cheshire’s $525,000 turf originated from these “discretionary funds.” Since this money has not yet been spent, do you support or oppose defunding the turf project in an effort to balance the state budget?
During the debate tonight, the candidates for State Representative were asked about their views on the death penalty. This is when the Most Absurd Comment of the night was spoken.
State Rep. Nardello explained her opposition to the death penalty by talking about how she would never want an innocent person put to death.
News to Vickie...
Everyone else -- including the two murderers -- knows who is guilty!
So please, we don't need to hear your concerns about putting an innocent person to death. We all know that's a risk. And that's part of why I'm not a big fan of the death penalty. But we all know what happened... and we all know who the murderers are. So if you oppose the death penalty, fine. But don't suggest that these two murderers may be innocent!
And of course, she omitted the fact that she apparently wants these two wretched animals to live.
The LOWV debate will occur tonight. Though Gaffey & Suzio (Senate - 13) will be attending a debate in Meriden tonight, the following candidates are scheduled to attend:
Brown / Nardello (House - 89)
Abbate / Fritz (House - 90)
Adinolfi / Esty (House - 103)
Barry / Markley (Senate - 16)
No doubt the death penalty will be a topic of discussion. And I'm guessing there'll be a question about spending cuts. I'm sure that Mary Fritz is very much favorable to defunding her slush funds, right? Ha!
But in all seriousness, I'm intending on being there and offering a question or two, such as:
What have you done (intend to do) to make government more efficient?
I've been following the Rosemary Lane reconstruction lately. And though I'm leaving, the waste and mismanagement in Town Hall has not yet stopped. I doubt it would ever end completely, but the Council needs to take measures to reduce it.
Step one is recognizing where it has already happened.
Step two is taking measures to reduce the likelihood of it happening again.
For that reason, I'm still asking:
Why was Rosemary Lane repaved in 2008, but storm drains were constructed in 2010?
And also... what are the Public Works "best practices" that led to this mess?
I've already spoken with the Planning Committee Chairman, Jimmy Sima. He will be following up on this.
Monday, October 18, 2010
At last month's regular Council meeting, I made a very simple request. I asked the TM to publicly disclose the DPWs "to do" list. I didn't want a lot of details. I simply wanted the taxpayers to have the ability to hold staff and Council members accountable.
I wanted greater transparency and accountability.
Too bad the TM is opposed to such good government measures as they would be in direct conflict with his desired form of government... power & control... control the information.
Needless to say, I've gotten virtually nothing... nothing except for a promise to provide me the DPWs future road work schedule as soon as it's completed in a few weeks... even though I asked for a list of everything under the sun, including such relatively mundane items as potholes... and bigger items, such as culvert dredging. I didn't ask for a road work schedule.
But since I wasn't about to continue chasing the TM with his endless, never-to-be-fulfilled "I'll get back to you" promises, I simply chose to use the bully pulpit.
I waited until the next Council meeting and asked again.
And fortunately for the taxpayers, the TM wasn't at the last Council meeting... though his staff was. So they had to address my concern when I raised it again.
According to the DPW Director, releasing the DPWs "to do" list or "inventory" is a matter of policy:So my concern -- a concern shared by many voters -- returns to the TM.
As I depart, I will encourage the Council to direct the TM to release the DPW inventory of requested work that they have accepted as DPWs responsibility.
And it should be that simple, but this is discouraging. It is the type of thing that shouldn't even require a request... is should simply be done. It should not get the runaround from the TM. But that is his modus operandi.
Control the information.
If no one knows, then no one can hold him accountable!
That must stop.
Regardless, based on the DPW Director's candid response it's obvious to me that the TM is simply dawdling on my request.
I'll ask the Planning Committee Chairman, Jimmy Sima, to follow thru on this.
As you might expect, I'm cleaning house and tossing a bunch of old papers. In the process, I came across the original Council motion regarding the turf:Some have wondered if the Turf Committee was created by way of a Council motion.
It was not.
Frankly though, I still feel that the Turf Committee is an integral part of the process and do appreciate the work they've done. Regardless, if I were voting... I don't see how I'd support increasing services,* if I felt the long-term liabilities related to replacing the field would be borne by the local taxpayers.
* from 30 two-hour uses per year to 300 two-hour uses per year.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
In a recent post on the Council voting to raise Parks & Rec fees I wrote:
My concern was not only increasing fees in this economy, it was also the process.
The process concerns me because I don't want residents to believe that a Council vote has real legislative authority, unless that is true. And based on previous TM explanations I've been given, I understand that the Council has no actual authority over P&R fees.
So why did we vote?
I'm not entirely sure. But the TM wasn't there and my process concern was relatively minor in the bigger picture. Nonetheless...
Going forward, I hope that when the Council votes on P&R and pool fees it is made clear to the voters that the vote is symbolic only. And I also hope the TM -- the paid, full-time staff -- stops failing to disclose relevant facts when the Council votes. But then, the TM has always had a preference for omitting -- rather than disclosing -- relevant information.
I think it's important that the voters be given an accurate understanding of Council actions. And I've felt this way for years. For example, in June 2007 the TM had the authority to work with the Friends of Boulder Knoll, yet he refused to act. But the former Council majority refused to publicly chastise the TM. So they kowtowed to his wishes and knowingly misled the voters by voting to authorize and direct the TM to act.
I'm leaving the Council now. But I hope that when issues regarding the authority of the Council vs. the authority of the TM arise, the Council makes clear to the voters if the vote has legal standing or is simply symbolic. Symbolic votes have value, but the voters should know if a vote is symbolic or legal.
For more on the Council vote on P&R fees, you can see the Herald article here and the MRJ article here.
And here are my comments regarding the relevance of a Council vote on P&R fees:
I consistently hear from residents who are disappointed that there is no longer a bulky waste pickup in town. And since a pickup today would likely cost in the $150,000 to $200,000 range, I offer an idea for a cost-effective alternative.
No, I'm not talking about opening the transfer station for several days per year, free-of-charge to residents. Instead...
We could have a townwide tag sale.
Sure some people have no interest in sitting in their driveway / garage for six hours on a Saturday and / or Sunday. But...
If it's town wide, it would attract large numbers of people from neighboring towns and people could simply move their stuff to the curb sometime before the townwide tag sale... then people would be coming around to collect stuff that interests them... no different than bulky waste.
My idea for Cheshire originated with Prospect. Mayor Bob Chatfield helps organize two townwide tag sales per year. I understand their most recent one included about 80 households and he provides a list of all participating households in town hall.
If someone created a map on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of a paper with dots for each participating household and / or a list of all their street addresses, I bet we could tackle a large part of the call for bulky waste... by spending $150 to $200, instead of spending 1,000 times that.
It would take some effort to organize, but I think it could work. Plus... it's a great excuse to shoot the breeze with your neighbors! Haha...
Saturday, October 16, 2010
On Thursday a sick, sick mailer hit mailboxes in the 18th Probate District. The local papers, including the MRJ and the NHR covered the story. But I didn't see an image of the flyer for which the slimeball responsible took no credit:Since it's in the fourth district, I know the family that lives in the house... and it's not who this flyer is suggesting. So I'm glad to see that both candidates immediately denounced it in no uncertain terms.
I wonder if the person responsible can sleep at night?
Friday, October 15, 2010
At Tuesday's meeting, the Council voted to increase fees at the Parks & Recreation Department, including at the pool. Both the Herald's Josh Morgan and the MRJs Jesse Buchanan reported on it.
Here is the resolution, along with the fee schedule:Councilman Ecke and I opposed the motion. Here are my comments prior to the vote:
My concern was not only increasing fees in this economy, it was also the process. I'm running out the door now, but will hopefully find some time this weekend to give some more background on my "process" concern.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
My 2009 Council opponent, Peter Talbot, was appointed to fill the Board of Education vacancy created by Peter Massey's resignation. I congratulate Peter Talbot on his appointment and thank Peter Massey for his service.
I prefer seeing Mr. Talbot on the BOE, at least moreso than on the Council. If he were on the Council he'd need to recuse himself from voting on the budget of the Town Manager's office. And that's a budget that needs as many votes as possible to reduce the unnecessary spending there.
Btw, when I first heard of Peter Massey's resignation I incorrectly believed that the BOE would appoint a member. But based on a discussion with David Schrumm and Jimmy Sima, I now understand that the 1996 Charter revision included a change in the body that appoints BOE members. Previously, the BOE appointed its own. Now the Council fills all elected vacancies, including the BOE.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
As I mentioned yesterday, I'll be resigning from the Town Council. Here's the five minute vid of me making my announcement... I got a bit choked up near the end... not the easiest thing to do:
And the local newspapers had some online coverage today, including the MRJs Jesse Buchanan and the WRAs Lauresha Xhihani writing:
During his seven years in the council, White has represented the fourth district and is known for walking his district year-round and talking to residents. Independent minded, White often broke ranks with his own party on issues.
The NHR reports:
Support for Connecticut's death penalty has reached its highest point in more than a decade, and even some who generally oppose capital punishment say it's appropriate for a man convicted in the 2007 deadly Cheshire home invasion, according to a new poll.
Quinnipiac University's poll, released Wednesday, found 65 percent of those surveyed support the death penalty. That's up from 61 percent two years ago, and the highest number since the year 2000.
I certainly hope that state Rep. Vickie Nardello doesn't continue introducing legislation to repeal the death penalty retroactively. I think the death penalty is entirely appropriate for these two predators.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I’d like to announce tonight that I’m resigning from the Town Council, effective October 24.
I am resigning from the Council because I have accepted a position as the Director of Administration and Finance for the Haitian Health Foundation. HHF is headquartered in Norwich, CT, but I will be living and working in Haiti for the next year or two.
Having just spent time in Haiti,* one of the poorest nations in the world, I was again reminded of my appreciation for America’s freedoms and material abundance that we so often take for granted.
I was deeply moved by the tragedy of the earthquake and wanted to do more than just donate money. I’ve never been particularly concerned with making a lot of money, as much as I’m concerned with trying to make a difference for the common good.
I wanted to personally contribute the best of my skills. Having lived in the developing world – I lived in Vietnam from 1995 to 1998 – I know I’d be comfortable living in Haiti. And having studied in Paris, my French language skills will be helpful.
My position with HHF will allow me to contribute my CPA skills as their director of finance, and to do humanitarian work directly with many Haitian people in the field.
I have loved serving the residents of the fourth district and all of Cheshire.
I have been most motivated by the basic principles of good government: accountability, transparency, responsiveness and effective long-term planning.
During my seven years on the Council, I’ve strived to bring each of these to you with some success.
At times, some may have thought that I was harsh on management. But that’s because the taxpayers have little tolerance for waste and mismanagement and they want people held accountable for their actions. Times are tough and we need to use our tax dollars wisely. Having reduced the number of town take-home vehicles is one of the ways in which I’ve helped to reduce wasteful spending.
I’ve also tried to increase transparency in local government, successfully advocating the addition of Council meeting video to the town website and increasing the use of new media by the town, including the forthcoming addition of Council meetings and government channels to AT&T’s U-verse.
And I’ve tried to be responsive. Besides policy issues, I have a list of about 30 outstanding constituent concerns. When my replacement is named, I’ll contact him or her to ensure a smooth transition of your concerns. And if you’re interested in serving the fourth district, please contact the Republican Chairman, Adam Grippo.
More effective long-term planning is another improvement we’ve seen. From modernizing the town’s pension plans, to comprehensively addressing the approach taken by the Public Works department, and with various other projects, we’re making solid progress for Cheshire’s future.
As for my blog, it’s really a diary of sorts. I expect to continue posting on it, but I don’t expect to focus on local issues. If you want to stay in touch or learn more about my time in Haiti, you can still visit my blog or friend me on Facebook!
Finally, during my four terms in the 17th through 20th Councils, I’ve served with 17 different Council members. I thank all of you. I thank all town employees for your work. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for giving me this time. I thank the voters of the 4th district for giving me the opportunity to serve you. And I especially thank my two biggest supporters – thanks mom and dad.
But this isn’t a goodbye forever. This is just au revoir – until we meet again.
God bless you all and God bless America.
* See here, here and here.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Previously I commented Project Vote Smart. It was in relation to 89th district's race for State Representative between Kathy Brown (R) and Vickie Nardello (D).
Of the other five candidates running for State Rep in Cheshire, only Al Adinolfi has completed their "political courage" test. So agree with Al or not, at least you can click here and see where he stands...
Here's the 103rd House district:
Al Adinolfi (R)
Elizabeth Esty (D) (i)
And here's the 90th House district:
Richard Abbate (R)
Mary Fritz (D) (i)
Peter Votto (CFL)
If you believe that government should be conducted in smoke-filled rooms and behind closed doors, then you should definitely support Mary Fritz. She's quite vocal in her opposition to good government:
The NHRs Luther Turmelle gives an update on the search for a new chief:
The search for a new police chief will narrow the field of about 60 applicants to eight to 10 candidates, who will be interviewed later this month, the town’s personnel director said...
“The review panel will reduce the field to three or four finalists, who will then be interviewed” by Town Manager Michael Milone, Zullo said.
Friday, October 08, 2010
On a couple other posts this week, there's been some discussion regarding a retroactive prohibition on the death penalty. Gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy has said he opposes the death penalty, but in Cheshire's instance his opposition means nothing because a prohibition would be forward-looking only.
Not so fast Mayor Malloy. I think we may need further explanation from you because...
AN ACT CONCERNING MURDER WITH SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES was introduced in the 2005 legislative session. It was offered by eleven legislators, including 89th district Representative Vickie Nardello. You can read the language here. But this is the first paragraph:
Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, from the effective date of this section until July 1, 2007, the execution of the sentence of death with respect to any person who has been convicted of a capital felony and sentenced to death before, on or after the effective date of this section shall be stayed and the death penalty shall not be inflicted upon such person during such period.
I'm assuming the legislature and Governor would be able to craft any law as they see fit. And frankly, even if our elected officials obeyed the Constitution for once, I'm uncertain how the penalty component of a crime would be impacted by ex post facto.
It'll be interesting to see what the candidates, including Rep. Nardello, say at the October 20 LOWV debate.
Over the past couple months I was told a couple times the name of the Democrat running against Joe Markley for Sam Caligiuri's Senate seat, but I kept forgetting it. Now I remember. The Dem is John Barry. I believe he's a former Council Chair of the Southington Town Council.
Anyway, it's kind of unfortunate the way I finally learned his name. According to the National Review's Jack Fowler, Barry gets paid $72,000 per year by the state legislature... and he's campaigning while he's supposed to be at work.
And this has nothing to do with the Markley campaign. This is coming from someone entirely unassociated with Joe. As Mr. Fowler explains:
Now it seems that during normal working hours, from between 9AM to 5PM, when Mr. Barry should be earning his large salary, he is regularly – allegedly – campaigning (door-to-door, and – at a prison!), in violation of state laws. And so Mr. Sean Murphy, an angered citizen, has formally asked state officials to investigate these charges.
Frankly, it wouldn't surprise me. I've heard so many stories about the no-show jobs created in Hartford... look no further than Rep. Mary Fritz' son -- the 1st Selectman in the Town of Clinton -- William Fritz. He was the so-called "Chief Inspector" on the I-84 job. With those storm-drains-to-nowhere, it's obvious that even if he did show up for work... he wasn't doing anything.
And now we hear stories about a $72,000/yr Assistant Clerk in the Legislative Office Building not going to work as a matter of course. This stuff has got to stop. This issue really gets to the heart of the arrogance of elected officials in Hartford. It's not only people like Mary Fritz and Tom Gaffey who seem to believe they can do whatever they want without consequence... it's also the others who fail to take them to task for their arrogance and abuses.
From the HuffPost... changes in jobs from August to September:
(76,000) = local government jobs
(77,000) = census jobs
+64,000 = private sector jobs
(95,000) = jobs lost in September
The eye-catching number for me was the local government jobs. HuffPo further notes:
Local governments cut 76,000 jobs last month, most of them in education. That's the largest cut by local governments in 28 years.
I'm confident that almost all school districts have fewer teachers this year than last year.
Thursday, October 07, 2010
I've spoken with the WPCAs Chairman, John Atwood, a couple times about the status of the tentatively proposed $30 million sewer plant improvement project. Here's a synopsis of the most recent status update he's given me:
The WPCA put an extensive amount of time developing a facility plan that took a 20 year forward look – these included many special meetings focused exclusively on the facility plan, where the WPCA invited everyone one to participate and assist them in making the correct decisions. Similar to the improvements with the plant (the $30million plus project) the WPCA has done the same following the facility plan. The treatment plant improvement plan, has taken a short term, long term, and an economic view on the plant as a whole; furthermore the members have further broken down (what ever can be broken down) into discrete sections and done a further analysis.
Right now there are two moving variables that are major impactors:
1) What rules are the WPCA working under? Specifically what are the phosphor limits to be maintained in 2011, 2012, 2015, and moving forward? What other limits if any will be changed by the State or EPA that the WPCA will have to meet and adhere to?
2) How will this be financed? Specifically what rules will be in place that will decide on what municipal waste water projects will receive financial support from the State and/or Federal government?
I appreciate the efforts of the entire WPCA. It's quite likely the Council will soon be asking the taxpayers for $30,000,000 for plant improvements. The Council is going to need to know this project has been well vetted, including both a review of anticipated initial and long-term costs.
On Tuesday I emailed the two candidates for state Representative in CTs 89th district:
Kathy Brown (R)
Vickie Orsini Nardello (D)(i)
I asked them about Mary Fritz' beloved
slush funds discretionary funds:
Kathy gave me a verbal response. She doesn't support these funds.
But Vickie gave me a more informative response... for which I thank her. Here is her unedited, complete response:
The contingency funds account existed in the years 06-09. In those four years 26 million dollars was spent. It was funded from surplus dollars in the annual budget. The expenditure of the money was determined by the Governor, Speaker of the House, and Senate President. There is no longer any money in the account and it did not receive funding in FY 10 or 11. I would not support funding this account in the future.
I'm not convinced on the total accuracy of her response because I distinctly recall a few details reported by the press that do not agree with Vickie's statement. But that's neither here nor there. I take her response at face value and in good faith. So my concern has been partly answered.
I'm still left wondering though if funds that have already been approved by the Bonding Commission -- but not yet spent by the recipient -- will remain available after the election.
Foley and Malloy remain silent on this. And since this question is apparently irrelevant as a future funding issue, I doubt Foley / Malloy will get asked about my "clawback" question for past allocations that are still unspent... a question that relates directly to Mary Fritz' $525,000 grant for artificial turf.
Could be an interesting question for the October 20 LOWV debate though. Hmmm...
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Project Vote Smart, a group that asks candidates the "tough" questions, has asked both Kathy Brown and Vickie Nardello for answers to their "political courage" test.
Kathy responded here, but Vickie hasn't responded... and these guys ask multiple times. So they have this posted on their website:
Representative Vickie Orsini Nardello refused to tell citizens where he/she stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2010 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders.
She may have simply not gotten to it yet. And I hope she does respond... tend to doubt though that she'll wanna answer any questions on the death penalty.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
I just emailed the following to the two candidates for the 89th House district:
To: kathy at brownforct2010.com
vnardello at aol.com
vickie.nardello at cga.ct.gov
Dear Ms. Brown and Ms. Nardello:
The August 3, 2008 editorial in the Waterbury Republican American clearly explains the existence of an annual $36,000,000 discretionary fund in the state budget. You can find the editorial here.
Do you support or oppose the existence (continuance) of these discretionary funds?
Furthermore, while the Bond Commission has already voted in favor of discretionary funds over the past few years, not all of these discretionary funds have actually been spent. In relation to balancing the state budget, do you support or oppose a “clawback” of unexpended discretionary funds? (This question is related to both the $10m x 3 people that goes through the Bond Commission and the $2m x 3 people that does not go through the Bond Commission.)
(P.S. Vickie... I wasn't sure if the state address was appropriate for an election question, but also wasn't sure if you still used your AOL address. And I really am hoping for an answer on this. I've repeatedly asked the same question of Foley and Malloy and neither of them have answered yet.)
It's the same question for which I've been chasing Foley & Malloy. And neither of them will answer. Now it's time to start asking our legislators.
I attended the Ordinance Review Committee meeting tonight and missed the first Gubernatorial debate.
Nonetheless, I'm Republican and normally vote GOP. But frankly, I'm annoyed with both of the major party candidates at this point because of their refusal to speak to the existence of Mary Fritz' slush funds.
So I'm still sorting through the details before I decide who gets my vote. As such, I was reading tonight's NYTimes take on the debate, including this not-so-flattering piece:
Mr. Malloy returned to the topic of the company and said that voters should “be afraid that he’ll do to Connecticut what he did to the Bibb company in Georgia”
Reminds me of Dick Cheney's Mushroom Cloud moment. If that's not fearmongering, I don't know what is.
Anne Giddings' Ordinance Review Committee met tonight. I attended the discussion regarding the Historic District Commission.
Considering the concerns of many HD residents, the HDC suggested some changes. In particular, the HDC is recommending:
1) elaborating on the definition of the phrase "minor change"and
2) allowing for one staff member to the HDC and one HDC member to determine if something falls within that definition.
I know the sole staff member. So my immediate question was:
Who is the HDC member?
The answer was that the intention is for the Chair -- and the Vice Chair, when the Chair is unavailable -- to make the determinations on "minor changes."
The goal of this change would be to reduce approval time for minor changes in household upkeep.
But in another light, it increases the power of the Chairman. And that's not something to which I'm particularly favorable.
Monday, October 04, 2010
Yesterday I wrote about natural gas pipelines in town, including:
I thank Jimmy Sima and the Planning Committee for looking at not only the initial costs, but at the lifecycle costs, including the much larger relationship. It's also nice to see the Council and BOE doing this for many big, new projects, such as the pool, the turf and natural gas pipelines.
And today I see this Luther Turmelle article on the BOE turf discussion delays, including:
“It’s one thing that the board is taking an approach where they want more concrete answers about building a financial reserve for replacing the field,” said Peter Massey, a nine-year school board member who is stepping down this month. “But on the other side of the coin, I can’t remember doing it this way for any other major capital project in town. Is it a smart thing? Yes, but it shouldn’t be the thing that’s holding this up.”
I'm glad to see bipartisan support for the review of long-term costs for various projects in town. Though I'm confused by the statement from Bob Behrer:
“When the town built the senior center, nobody asked how they were going to pay for replacing it or modernizing it some day,” Behrer said. “They just went ahead and built it like every other town project except for this one.”
As I explained above, that's simply not true. There's a new sheriff in town. The 20th Council is less than one year old, yet it's been reviewing the long-term costs on several large ticket projects.
I thank Council Chairman Tim Slocum for making this change happen. I also hope that people begin to acknowledge the reality of the 20th Council, rather than repeatedly referencing the inaction and lack of long-term planning by former Councils.
Last week the Council's Planning Committee discussed the possibility of extending natural gas pipelines to both Norton School* and Doolittle School.** When the issue of costs arose, it gave everyone pause. As the MRJs Jesse Buchanan reported:
Town Council planning committee chairman James Sima said Norton school could be hooked up to existing gas pipes... for $500,000, while Doolittle could be hooked up for $450,000.
Not chump change. But the Planning Committee recognized that initial costs are only part of the discussion.
Using the Town's Energy Benchmarking Tool, we immediately knew that Norton School had about $105,000 in energy bills last year, including both oil and electric. But costs are a function of the main concern: consumption.
DPW staff quickly determined that Norton's oil consumption was:
19,500 gallons (delivery dates from 11/16/09 to 3/31/10...)
and then had that converted to BTUs and to an equivalent of:
2,621 MCF of natural gas.
Then BOE staff immediately reviewed Norton's numbers with a back-of-the-napkin calculation and determined:
19,500 gallons of oil @ $2.362 = $46,059
26,210 CCF of natural gas @ $1.22 = $31,976
And noted that ancillary costs* may be $3,000 annually... for an annual savings of $17,000 based on current unit costs.
By itself, this would be a 30 year payback on the Norton pipeline.
$500,000 / $17,000 = 29.5 years
And while there are other tangible benefits,** 30 years is a long time. So by itself, this may not work. BUT...
Yankee Gas is interested in Town business beyond Norton and Doolittle.
For example, the Youth Center uses oil exclusively. Yankee would like to sell NG there. And while CHS runs largely on oil, it's also prepared to heat with NG... but until now, the pool consumed everything that made it that far south.
So the new NG capacity offers the possibility of material changes to the overall Yankee / Town relationship. As such it may be possible to work within the DPUC-regulated pipeline costs, while moving our schools to NG and providing an improved quality of life / lower cost of living to many town residents.
I thank Jimmy Sima and the Planning Committee for looking at not only the initial costs, but at the lifecycle costs, including the much larger relationship. It's also nice to see the Council and BOE doing this for many big, new projects, such as the pool, the turf and natural gas pipelines.
Where data can be quantified with some degree of certainty, we should look at the big picture and not be exclusively focused on initial costs.
* Probably down Route 42
** Probably down Ives Row and across Oak Avenue
* NG is much cleaner than oil, thus it's less costly to maintain equipment, NG does not need anyone monitoring oil levels to ensure timely fuel drops, etc.
** NG is from North America, not the middle east; NG is cleaner than oil; North Brooksvale homeowners could hookup; feeder roads may be able to get pipeline in the future; etc.
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Elizabeth has a new video posted on YouTube. I don't have TV though. Anyone happen to know if she's running this on local access? I think Cox sells 30 second ads in the $5 to $15 range. So it'd be entirely possible to run 1,000 short commercials with a $30,000 budget.
As we all knew, the death penalty is an issue in the Foley / Malloy race for Governor.
In limited circumstances where there is no doubt about one's guilt, I think it's appropriate. And the two predators deserve it. I just hope they don't drag it out for many more years through an appeals process.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
Kathy Brown is running for State Representative in Connecticut's 89th district, comprised of Bethany, Prospect and part of Cheshire. She holds a weekly sign waving rally on Wednesday afternoon. I stopped by to wave and talk with her last week:And here's a short video:
Friday, October 01, 2010
Anne Giddings is holding an Ordinance Review Committee meeting on Tuesday @ 7:30pm in Town Hall. I expect the hot topic will be the Historic District.
1. Roll Call.
2. Pledge of Allegiance.
3. Historic District ordinance.
4. Prison Advisory Committee / Public Safety Commission possible merger.
Labels: council mtg