Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Death Penalty repeal to be introduced

State Rep. Gary Holder Winfield plans to introduce legislation to
repeal the death penalty. And Guv-elect Malloy has said he'll only sign DP repeal legislation that allows for the execution of the Cheshire murderers.

But here's the thing, as soon as that legislation gets introduced... it's going to be used by all the death row inmates as cause to repeal their death sentences.

So maybe Rep. Vickie Nardello won't feel compelled this term to reintroduce her own legislation to repeal the death penalty? Maybe she'll just lobby behind-the-scenes hoping that Bethany, Cheshire and Prospect forget about her real goal to repeal the death penalty retroactively?

Tim White

Monday, November 29, 2010

Performance contracting in Cheshire?

The MRJs Jesse Buchanan reports:

The town will soon release a request for energy-saving proposals as part of a performance-based contract, something the Energy Commission and former Town Councilor Tim White have pushed for years.

I thank the Council for seriously considering this as an option for engaging in a town wide infrastructure improvement and energy conservation plan.

Further into the article, Jesse had a line that suggests if you knock loud enough and long enough... they'll eventually consider what you're saying...

“Maybe people just got tired of Tim yacking about it and just did the thing,” Ogurick said. “We’ve been advocating for it for seven to eight years.”

Haha... I got a chuckle out of that line. Thanks Rich! But seriously...

Engaging in a town wide plan makes good financial sense. But besides conserving energy and saving money... if the initially planned four buildings is expanded to cover more of the towns 24 primary buildings (about 1,000,000 sq ft; 800k schools & 200k town), then this could eventually be a textbook case study in reducing the overall size and scope of government with a commensurate reduction in headcount... which would have a positive impact on our defined benefit pension plan.*

So this could have a lot of positives from the perspective of the taxpayer.

Tim White

* By "positive impact," I mean it may initially add beneficiaries to the plan. But ultimately, the first thing we need to do is get all eligible employees to close their plans. Then we can measure the liability. Then we can start paying it and reducing the liability.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Election Day 2010 -- Haiti-style!

For the first time in 20 years, I was near an election and I didn't vote. It was a good day though. I had heard there were going to be riots today. But it wasn't until around 4pm that someone stopped by and told me about them. So at least there was nothing in my neighborhood. And there were a few pop-pops -- maybe next door -- but I'm guessing they were fireworks and not guns. Besides, all gun licenses were revoked for the day. So I'm sure no one would use one.

Anyway, I'm still on the mend. But intend to go to work for a full-day tomorrow... first time in more than a week. And I've begun my weekly chloroquine cycle. That should at least mitigate the effects of another battle with malaria. Hopefully I won't have to reprise my pick-me-up theme song from last week:

Kodachrome, it gives us those nice bright colors
Gives us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah!

Love that song! Even when I pretty much feel I'd be better off dead... I just can't stay in a bad mood for very when I sing that verse.

As for the election results, all my news has been online... other than one conversation this afternoon. But after a month, my creole is still far-from-perfect. So I'll take a pass on that for now.

Thanks for all the support this past week. I really do appreciate it.

Tim White

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"It's a cultural thing."

Upon learning the wonderful news about my option to choose a disease (malaria or cholera!?), I learned I wouldn’t be walking back to bed. Not that it’s too far. In good health it’s just about a five minute walk, all downhill… akin to the walk from the top of Avon to North Brooksvale. Regardless, I was getting a ride!

The nice thing was that one of the few other Americans here – a recent NYU grad and native of The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Jack * – was driving. So I’d get another minute or two of easy conversation. That would be great because in my condition I wasn’t really up for the often laborious exercise of:

1) someone speaking to me in creole;
2) me translating to English;
3) me realizing I don’t understand one particular word;
4) me asking “’Q’est-ce que c’est?”;
5) me listening to an explanation… all in creole… expecting there would be another word that I wouldn’t understand; then

6) repeat the process.

I enjoy learning languages. But I have to be in the right mindset and in the right health. But I didn’t have to do any of that. Fantastic.

I get in the Land Cruiser.

Jack starts chatting. I knew he’d been here only three months and already had malaria twice. And while I don’t think either bout was as severe as mine – they usually aren’t – he can relate. He had already told me about his surreal night sweating under a blanket in the balmy summer night, contemplating the fact that he also had his fan blasting and pointed directly at him.

Anyway, Jack asks me “Did you hear what happened at the bus station yesterday?”

I said no. But I know the bus station. It’s maybe a mile from where I live. He had my interest.

He goes onto explain.

I looked at him and said “so you mean a couple guys got necklaced?”

I taught him a new word. And if you don’t know the word, here’s Wikipedia’s definition:

Necklacing is the practice of summary execution carried out by forcing a rubber tire, filled with petrol, around a victim's chest and arms, and setting it on fire. The victim may take up to 20 minutes to die, suffering severe burns in the process.

And if you’re wondering why someone may get necklaced, I understand that this particular situation was that a few guys were accused of voodoo witchcraft and conspiring to kill “many children” with a cholera spell. The evidence of this crime was obvious and overwhelming.

1) The men were found with a bottle with a liquid in it. The liquid was believed to be a voodoo potion.

2) The men were “known for those sorts of things.”

3) The men had relatives who had died, probably due to voodoo spells.

So there you have it.

It happened a mile from where I sleep.

As I spoke with my mom yesterday, I could read her mind.

“Cholera, malaria, riots, the likelihood of another earthquake and NOW... necklaces.

Why. Are. You. There?”

* (Jack is a volunteer here, acting as a jack-of-all-trades. He helps with everything from helping organize World AIDS Day events to GPSing assets to some photojournalism. He actually saw one of the corpses -- still at the bus station -- after we talked. It was at least a full day after it happened. I asked him if he stopped for any photos, but he said he was essentially in shock... and also concerned about his own personal safety... for obvious reasons, I think.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Malaria or cholera? Decisions, decisions...

Although I didn’t fall asleep until around 3am last night, I did somehow feel fairly good when I awoke this morning around 6am. So I knew it was time to leave the clinic. No more livin’ the highlife with CNN and SyFy’s James Bond Thanksgiving Marathon. It was back to my own bed. Ugh. I was extremely grateful though for at least spending Turkey Day at the clinic. With CNN, I did not feel quite so lost and alone… especially when the few other Americans and native-English speakers I know were headed to a Thanksgiving dinner.

By 7am I had eaten a few scrambled eggs for breakfast – the first substantial meal I’d had in several days… unless you count my bowl of Berry Special K and a slice of bologna for Thanksgiving dinner “a meal.”

Finally ambled downstairs to speak with the Doc. My doc is great. He’s very personable and is extremely knowledgable. He gave me the skinny on why my malaria was worse than a typical case.

Warning: I'm more graphic than usual in this post. If you have a weak stomach, you may not want to continue reading.

He said I have more stomach acid than most people and that it triggered one of the side effects of Chloroquine: vomiting. Compounding that with the fact that I was quickly dehydrating, I now understood why my case of malaria seemed so much worse than how others had described it to me.

But my doctor said not to be too concerned. He explained that Zantac would fix my problem with Chloroquine… just reduce the stomach acid and those nasty side effects would be mitigated.


Then he continued.

There is a downside to Zantac and reduced stomach acid. When cholera enters your system, it heads straight to your stomach. And we do have a natural defense against cholera. It’s called... stomach acid!

So I’m offered a choice:

I get to decide if I’d prefer to be more susceptible to either malaria or cholera!

I’m sure you can tell just how excited I am about this decision. I feel so honored.

Tim White

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I'm thankful for the wonderful people who've helped me the past few days. I'm not 100% yet, but I'm doing much better. Much of the past few days I thought I might be better off dead. Obviously that's not true, but it was pretty horrible. And yes, it was malaria. Now I know that I'm supposed to start a cycle of chloroquine immediately at the onset of symptoms... not wait two days. Stupid me. Thankfully, I can still say... live and learn!

On a more interesting note... I noticed a report that Governor-elect Malloy is considering naming someone from Bristol to head Veterans' Affairs. Wouldn't it make Cheshire politics interesting if he instead chose a veteran named Al Adinolfi? Special election in the 103rd!

Again though, thank you to the people who nursed me back to health... and to all my well-wishers. It means a lot to me sitting in Jeremie. Now that I've been here a month, I have a much better understanding of the phrase "hardship posting." Saigon was much easier than this.

Tim White

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Last night I had a raging fever. I spent most of today in bed. I'm generally weak and ache all over. I was told these are the symptoms of malaria. Great.

I'll go to the clinic tomorrow and find out what it is. Until then, I'm ok. Whatever it is feels like an intense flu. So it's just sleep and drink lots of water today.

Assuming I'll be ok, the bummer for me is falling behind in my chem class again. But that coulda happened just as easily in Cheshire.

Tim White

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cholera in Jeremie...

Great... cholera officially arrived in Jeremie, Haiti today. I read CNN an hour or so ago and they weren't even reporting it yet, but it is here. Five cases so far. And we do have city power tonight. So I'm wondering if the road has been reopened to container trucks? Not sure. Regardless, I'll be washing my hands constantly now whenever I have soap and water available.

Speaking of soap and water -- and not necessarily running water -- I was just considering the fact that the "running" water I use is all gravity-based. And if I run out of electricity... at some point it'll be impossible to flip a switch and pump water to the roof. That means the water will need to be hauled from the rainwater-collecting-cistern to the 400 gallon drum on the roof. Ugh.

It's kinda funny to me because when I contemplated accepting this position, I recalled plenty of bucket-of-water, over-the-shoulder showers I had taken in the past. But that was typically while backpacking in some remote part of the world that can't afford running water. Being here, it's a little different as I go to work everyday. Regardless, I'll be fine. Running water is a luxury here. So as nice as it is, I remind myself that many here do without it. And I'll be just fine.

As for the riots, CNN reported an attack on a bus filled with foreign missionaries. But that happened in the same place the riots started: Cap Haitien. And the riots haven't spread to Jeremie. So I'm not too concerned about that. And with the elections less than a week away, I'm hoping the overt -- and currently suppressed -- volatility here subsides soon. I've been in some highly volatile areas and situations in the past. Whether it's traveling through Khmer Rouge territory and being stopped by a Cambodian whose face was covered with the memory-emblazoned red bandana or having my taxi driver drag me away from the Golan Heights as the Israeli soldiers started brandishing their rifles and the Lebanese responded by throwing softball-sized rocks over the 15-ft high chainlink fence... I've had more than one adrenaline rush before. But sitting here in Jeremie, I'm quite happy to enjoy the stars and moon with a warm Caribbean breeze wafting over me. I don't need any riots this weekend. I have chemistry homework to do!

Tim White

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jeremie's energy supply & the Adinolfi vacancy

I think Jeremie has largely run out of fuel at this point. The sole propane distributor sold out by last weekend. And the city power company -- whose generator runs on gasoline -- seems to have shut down electricity for the city tonight. So not sure how much longer I'll actually be able to blog. But I've heard reports that there's serious work happening to reopen the road to Aux Cayes. If open, proper fuel trucks could pass the canyons.

On the other hand, while that would be great for getting fuel and all sorts of other neat stuff -- like functioning automobiles and lights -- it is a double-edged sword. As of this afternoon, Jeremie was still officially without cholera. And while I'm certain that'll change soon... the longer it takes, the better.

But I'm still blogging tonight, so...

The NHRs Luther Turmelle reported on the Justin Adinolfi vacancy. The two names mentioned were Matt Altieri and Patti Flynn Harris. Of those two, my guess would be PFH getting the appointment for a variety of reasons. But the more interesting thing to me is who is not mentioned: Elizabeth Esty.

As I mentioned before, if she doesn't get appointed to the Council... then I bet she's seriously leaning toward a run for the CT-5. On the other hand, she's been a big supporter of Governor-elect Malloy. So who knows... maybe she'll get offered a job in his administration? I believe her professional background has been at the intersection of law and the environment, including work for the Natural Resources Defense Council at some point. And if you haven't heard of the NRDC, they're one of the ten biggest environmental NGOs in the country. The Nature Conservancy is the biggest, followed by NRDC, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Audubon Society et al.

So maybe the DEP? I'm not sure. But whether there will be any high-level openings at the DEP, is only a guessing game. And while I'm guessing most political appointees will soon be gone, I think the environmental community tends to like Jodi's appointee at the DEP (can't recall her name). So that may be one person who Gov. Malloy will keep??

It'll be interesting to see which legislators make the move between branches.

Tim White

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Justin Adinolfi resigns

First Peter Massey, then me and now Justin Adinolfi resigned. The online MRJ article doesn't give any details. Can anyone provide them? And has the Council decided on a new 4th District Council member?

As for me, I've got some juice left in my laptop battery. So I logged on for a minute, but am about to logoff. Neither I nor anyone else in Jeremie has city power tonight. I kinda like it. The night sky is simply beautiful and relaxing.

Tim White

A city without power?

Be it the earthquake, cholera, hurricane or riots, I've been confident that I could make things work. But with my goal of taking online classes, I may soon have an insurmountable hurdle in my way as a result of several problems arising contemporaneously. I had been thinking about mentioning this stuff, but hadn't gotten to it... hoping they'd be resolved before now.

First, the container boat that normally plies the PAP to Jeremie route pooped out. It literally isn't carrying goods back and forth.

Second, the Aux Cayes to Jeremie highway partly collapsed in the hurricane. By that, I mean the highway is filled with switchbacks and hairpin turns as the road traverses the mountains. And as would happen in the US, rocks fall and inadequately built roads collapse in treacherous weather. So the hurricane resulted in a partial collapse of the highway, such that buses and container trucks can no longer use it. At best, I small pickup truck can now drive the Aux Cayes to Jeremie highway... and Aux Cayes is a midway point from the international ports of Port au Prince and Cap Haitien.

With the loss of container travel on the seaways and roadways, I understand that Jeremie is running out of fuel. And I'm already seeing the consequences.

This morning, I needed to refuel a propane tank for the stove. By lunchtime I learned that Jeremie is out of propane. So it's back to charcoal for cooking. I doubt the trees are all too happy 'bout that.

Trucks and motorbikes may soon run out of fuel. And the city power company runs a generator on gasoline or diesel. So even electricity may end soon.

Photovoltaics, or electric solar panels, are here. So emergency services will have some sort of electricity for refrigeration -- if the sun is shining. But if neither the road nor the boat are repaired soon... there could be big problems here. Then tack on a cholera outbreak and medical facilities with insufficient power...

Don't even wanna think about it.

I'll try to keep you posted... but computers and the web may soon be an unaffordable luxury.

Tim White

Monday, November 15, 2010

Electricity, cholera, unrest and breadfruit

As I mentioned yesterday, I am getting situated. Still trying to figure out the schedule for city power though. It would make my life -- basically my studies -- a lot easier if I knew the schedule. My backup plan, such as my laptop battery, only lasts so long. I'll try to figure that out at some point, but in the meantime... it is what it is. But my years of scouting are helpful in such situations. One must be prepared.

Now on an entirely different topic...

At work today there was some discussion regarding protests in a different town in Haiti: Cap Haitien. I was wondering what was happening. Perhaps some civil unrest as the November 28 Presidential election approaches?

By the time I got out of work, I found out. CNN is reporting that there's some serious civil unrest related to the cholera outbreak:

In Cap Haitien, schools and banks were closed, residents set fire to tires at entrances to the town and gunfire ricocheted through the streets, residents and officials told CNN.

Thankfully, Cap Haitien is nowhere near Jeremie. But... who knows where these things lead. And if you read the report, you'll probably agree that it doesn't look good for certain people.

And on one last entirely different topic... I'm really liking some of the local fare. The breadfruit is good and seems to be a staple. I'd never heard of it before I got here, but they cook it a million different ways. And some of it is really tasty. They make a great alternative to sunday morning, diner-style hash browns.

As for photos, my camera is malfunctioning. I'm hoping to get one when I visit CT at Christmas. Until then, I won't be able to provide many photos.

Tim White

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Starting to feel as though I'm getting situated...

I've been here for three weeks and I finally starting to feel as though I'm getting situated.

The big thing hanging over my head the past few weeks has been my Chem 101 class. And I finally caught up tonight. I'm back on track with the rest of my class. My professor was gracious enough to take my situation into account* and give me some leeway on some of the deadlines. But I just finished my Week 3 exam and I'm back on track.

Of course, this science stuff has always been interesting -- though never particularly easy -- for me. I can do it. It just takes time. And this 100-level class is taking me way more time than my MBA 500-level class I took last spring. But hey... I asked for it. And I do enjoy it. So no complaints from me.

Nice thing though is that I'm hoping next weekend I may be able to stroll around town a bit. Right now we're in the middle of a project building ten homes in -- what is probably -- one of the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods in the world: Makandal. It's in Jeremie, Haiti and it's a truly fantastic project.

When you see clay / cement homes with holes in the wall that you could stick your head through... you know it's not a wealthy area. And you know people truly long for the oppotunity to provide their family with a better life.

I'm glad to say we're making it happen.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to visit it yet. I had the opportunity to visit last week as the foundations were being laid. But I've just got too much to learn with the transition at this point. And I had my studies, but I'm ok there now too. So hopefully I'll be fully situated soon. At that point, I'm sure I'll become more involved in the community / culture... learn the language, etc.

But in the meantime... off to bed....

Tim White

* ya know... stuff like no power... regardless of a hurricane... don't speak the language... no idea of where to look for an ISP... local holidays where the country closes... etc.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Adinolfi vs. Esty III?

I doubt it.

Keep in mind, Chris Murphy has about the worst-kept secret in Connecticut. Everyone knows he'll be running for the US Senate in 2012. That leaves the CT-5 open.

So I figure Elizabeth has a choice. Run an extremely difficult race for:

1) the US House


2) the CT House

The fifth district is virtually guaranteed to be an open seat, while Al may very well run for another term. He certainly worked hard this year and I don't see anything slowing him down anytime soon.

I realize it may seem a bit unorthodox to jump from the losing a state seat to winning a federal seat. But I figure the question isn't so much if she's a legitimate contender in a general election. The real test is if she can take the Dem primary. And I think that's entirely possible.

As with most federal offices, the issues are money and organization. And since very few people kick off their first run for Congress with a large organization, I think the bigger issue is fundraising.

Fundraising is a hurdle for any candidate. But when you have a Yale / Harvard background and your family has worked for the POTUS, you have a rolodex. And if your argument for viability is having lost an extremely close race because of an issue -- the death penalty -- that is probably near and dear to many Dem primary voters... then I think you've got a chance.

And when it comes to other social issues -- the issues that drive many primaries -- she's there with base.

On top of all that, she's been a supporter of Governor-elect Malloy since his losing bid in the 2006 Dem primary. So she's probably got a supporter there.

And when it comes to the competition, much of the CT-5 is dominated by Rs in both the House and Senate in Hartford. Sure there are some office holders. But if she wants to take the time to get started fundraising -- probably before Christmas -- I think it's entirely possible that she could raise the money and win the Dem primary... and go all the way to Washington in 2012.

So in a nutshell... if she decides to run again, I'm guessing she'll run for Congress. And there won't be another rematch of Adinolfi vs. Esty in 2012. That'd leave Al a virtual lock for reelection in 2012, if he chooses to have at it.

Tim White

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Haitian diet

... includes kabrit. I've had kabrit before, but never in the US. And never on a regular basis.

This is Haiti. Goat is a staple here. And I've been eating it quite a bit. It's ok, but personally I'm not a big fan. It's similar to lamb in that it has a distinctive flavor. It's not nearly as pungent as lamb, but it certainly doesn't taste like chicken. I'm thinking it may be something of an acquired taste. We'll see. And hey... I hated yogurt when I went off to college. But by the time I returned to Cheshire... yum.

Dannon fruit on the bottom? Love it now.

Regardless, when in Rome...

Among my dietary delectables, I have fresh fruit and juice everyday. And that I already like. And my fruit intake goes beyond that. I had some sort of banana porridge this morning. It was good by itself, but... with a bit of sugar added it was delicious.

Despite the kabrit... relative to Vietnam, Haiti's diet seems quite similar to CT.

For instance, snake wine was everywhere. It was typically stored in a clear, two gallon glass jug. The snake would be coiled about two thirds of the way up the jug... effectively creating an inner wall for the jug. And it would be a cobra inside with the head standing up and the hood expanded to occupy the top third of the jug. But cobras weren't endangered. When it came to live pangolin, bear paw, monkey brain, tiger penis and rhino horn... everything was available. You'd just have to look around a bit. That stuff was upsetting. But the answer to addressing that stuff is complicated to say the least. Though in a nutshell, the way to end hunting of endangered species in Vietnam is the way to get reelected in the USA this year: jobs, jobs, jobs. But I'm getting way off topic. Gonna hit the sack now.

Tim White

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Cholera & malaria: The medical advise I got

So the hurricane has come and gone. That's nice, but we're still not out of the woods yet. I saw a headline yesterday about cholera officially spreading to Port-au-Prince.

The cholera outbreak began north of PAP and has now officially reached the capitol. That sounds par for the course with cholera, but it's still concerning to me.

It can take time to spread and is almost certainly headed west to Jeremie. There have been a number of cases reported west of PAP. But they may still be people who contracted it in PAP, not in the towns on the road to Jeremie. And that makes a difference because the longer it takes to spread, the more time there is to increase awareness... which is really fairly basic.

I spoke with a great local doctor today and he told me the problem with cholera is that it can kill in four hours. But the cure is very simple... drink lots of water. If you get it, you have a real problem. But if you drink water -- or better yet, get an IV -- you should be fine.

I also asked about malaria, particularly as I'm not taking anything for it. I considered taking an anti-malarial once. It was larium and it was during my trip to east Africa in 2000. But most drugs have side effects. And larium has its own alter ego. It doubles as a hallucenogenic drug.

I wasn't really interested. Besides, I was hallucinating naturally!

By the time I summited Kilimanjaro my high altitude sickness (HAS) had me seeing all sorts of stuff... including a bull elephant charging across Ernie's Snows straight at me. The ridiculous part about that was that I was so giddy from the HAS, I just laughed when I saw it in full stride.

Anyway, I was told that the Jeremie strain of malaria is NBD. There's no need to take anything -- even chloroquine. It's easier to deal with as it comes.

So there you have it on the medical front. I had a great local doctor tell me that I shouldn't be worried... just educated and cautious.

We'll see how that works out... knock on wood...

Tim White

Monday, November 08, 2010

The jury's unanimous verdict is in: Death

First he did the crimes, then he was convicted, and now he pays the price. This is as it should be. As Dr. Bill Petit said today, "This isn't about vengeance, it's about justice". Serious crimes have serious consequences.

I just hope my activist legislator, Vickie Nardello, doesn't get her wish to "save" him with her legislation to retroactively repeal the death penalty. She may not introduce the legislation this term. But I bet she pushes it again at some point.

Next up: The other predator, Joshua Komisarjevsky.

Tim White

Ron Paul is likely to get the monetary policy gavel !

Nothing is certain yet, but... if the House GOP continue to use their long-established rule of seniority determining who chairs various committees and subcommittees, then Ron Paul is set to Chair the House Financial Services Committee's subcommittee on Monetary Policy!

This is absolutely fantastic news for anyone who is concerned about Washington's penchant for powering up the printing presses.

Furthermore, I understand that subcommittee Chairs get the power of subpoena.

I just hope he gets the gavel. I'm confident that the Chief Proponent of Printing Presses, King Bernanke, will do whatever he can to stop Congressman Paul from getting the gavel though. Bernanke will pull out all the stops on this one. I wouldn't be surprised if he challenges the seniority system itself.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of the seniority system. I think the most qualified people should run committees, when possible. But that wouldn't make a difference with this committee. Ron Paul is the most qualified person to run the Monetary Policy subcommittee.

While one may disagree with his views, the reality is that he's the only member of the Gang of 535 who had any view on monetary policy before 2008, The Year of the Bailout.

And if he does get the gavel? I expect that with the power of the gavel, Ben Bernanke will have to actually engage in a philosophical debate with Ron Paul about monetary policy, including:

1) fiat money vs. sound money
2) Keynesians vs. Austrians
3) Should the Federal Reserve exist?
4) fractional-reserve banking vs. full-reserve banking

This is gonna be fun!

Tim White

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Nov 9 Council meeting

I understand that the meeting will include discussions on two state grants:

1) $525,000 for artificial turf

2) $100,000 for West Main sidewalks
(phase 3)

I have no idea if there will be nine Council members at the meeting.

Tim White

Moody: Control the information, forget the transition

I recall quite clearly the outrage toward the Bush Administration for controlling the flow information from the White House to the public. I think it was noticeable to me during the "accidental release" of information regarding Valerie Plame.

Now we see the Rell Administration, particularly her Chief of Staff Lisa Moody, being publicly chastised for contolling information as they've prohibited all staff from speaking with a new administration:

Moody is renowned among Rell's administrators for insisting on knowledge and control of even small details, and for heavily managing the image and message of the administration.

"This is a completely unnecessary artificial roadblock to the transition, whoever the governor is," Lawlor said. "Obviously the governor's chief of staff has a history of keeping all the agencies on a very short leash, and this gets in the way of good government.

Some information should be kept confidential. But the way some people would like control information is ridiculous. Transparency and good government matter.

Tim White

Friday, November 05, 2010

Hurricane Tomas in Jeremie, Haiti

It's been a few days since I blogged on my time here in Haiti. I had to discuss the election. But I see Haiti, including my town, all over the news. So I want to offer an update.

But first some background...

Haiti has four four-day weekends:

New Year (January 1 & 2)
Mardi Gras (& Lundi Gras)
Good Friday (and Good Thursday)
Day of the Dead (November 1 & 2)

Day of the Dead is relevant for a future post, but also because I just had Monday and Tuesday off from work.

And some more relevant background for this post:

I'm here replacing another CPA. And before she leaves, she wanted to see a bit more of the country. So she took the opportunity to extend her long weekend and planned on taking an extra day and a half holiday, returning on Thursday afternoon.

I'm based in a town named Jeremie and she visited a town named Aux Cayes (or Les Cayes, if you want to look at a map). The two towns are probably about 30 miles apart, but that's typically a seven hour ride by bus which is the most common (and regularly scheduled) form of transportation. She told me that cars and motorbikes can make the trip in four to five hours though.

And now the status update:

All week there has been talk about the impending hurricane. Following the earthquake and the cholera outbreak, I'm guessing the government realizes the value of disaster preparation. And by Wednesday, I figured Ann -- the girl I'm replacing -- wouldn't even be returning this week as Jeremie and Les Cayes both lay in the projected path of the eye of Hurricane Tomas. Then by early Thursday morning, she called to say she was probably going to be stuck in Aux Cayes until the hurricane had gone and roads were again passable.

The morning came and went, but at lunch the office door flew open. "Miracles do happen!" she said. After half a dozen phone calls and referrals on Thursday morning, she got in touch with Catholic Relief Services (CRS). They were probably going to be driving the last SUV out of Les Cayes to Jeremie before the hurricane really hit.

But they didn't get out before the hurricane hit. For the first half of the trip -- probably to where the mountains slowed Tomas' progression -- the hurricane was pouring down. At one point, the SUV had to cross a river.

She told me that although they were in a rush, they initially waited to see someone walk across the river to gauge the depth of the water. Seeing someone cross, they decided to go for it and the SUV didn't stall! But there was a fairly surprising comment she made to me.

She said that she made sure they rolled down the windows because she didn't want to get into a car accident and drown. I understood what she was saying, but it still seemed a bit odd. She then elaborated. About a year ago, she knew three people who drowned in that same spot. So obviously this is one of those places in the world where flash floods occur -- because of steep canyon walls -- and kill.

She had gotten across without any serious injury. But she added that there really wasn't any problem crossing the river. And they were able to hightale it back to Jeremie. And after all that conversation, our boss let us know that there was actually one more SUV doing the Les Cayes - Jeremie trek yesterday. So Ann would've had one more chance to return before the weekend.

That was all on Thursday.

Fast forward to today.

Although the health clinic was closed, Ann and I worked. Just too much to do with the transition. And when I walked in the door, Ann told me about the second SUV.

At that same crossing, her "backup ride" tried to cross the river a few hours later. And whether they rolled down their windows or not... the nightmared came to be. And by the time I got home today, the AP was reporting on it:

Four deaths were confirmed by Haitian officials, all people attempting to cross rivers by car or on foot in the mountainous region to the west of Leogane, on Haiti's far southwestern tip.

It really is a tragedy.

Yet as close as this struck to home, there was something as equally unnerving to me as the fragility of life. It's the raw feelings and the sensory overload that can lead to some temporary desensitizing for me during my time in the developing world. With all the deprivation and death that I see in some parts of the world, I just can't help it at times.

Having said all that, I'm glad to report that I haven't heard of any deaths in Jeremie proper. And since flooding is a serious issue in some of the most poverty-stricken slums in Jeremie -- part of the reason I decided to come here -- it's worth noting. Though I'm guessing we'll get an increased number of visitors to the clinic by Monday.

I've got a ton of homework to get done this weekend. But if I take a walk, I'll head down to the parts of town that were probably hit hardest and get you an update.

Tim White

Remember, remember the fifth of November!

For those of you unaware of the quote, it comes from 17th century Britain.

A British citizen got disgusted with Parliament. So he prepared a load of dynamite and attempted to use underground tunnels to deliver the dynamite to a place directly below Parliament. He wanted to blow the place up. Unfortunately, he got caught along the way.


No, no... all joking aside... what he tried to do was wrong. But when I see the results of Tuesday's election... then see Ben Bernanke announce more "stimulus" and presumptive Speaker Boehner doesn't say a word... I get so disgusted. I just hope the 70+ new Republicans are clear with John and Mitch -- before the leadership votes -- that the policy of borrow and spend has got to stop.

Anyway... Happy Guy Fawkes Day! And if you want to learn a bit more about Guy Fawkes, you can pickup a copy of V for Vendetta at the Cheshire Public Library. It's my favorite movie and was also something of an inspiration for the Ron Paul 2008 movement... the same movement that gave birth to the Tea Party!

Tim White

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Cheshire's newest blogger, Tony Perugini

With my temporary departure from home, I'm sure I'll be posting a lot less. Partly as a result of my departure and partly a result of simply wanting to increase communication with Cheshire's voters, BOE member Tony Perugini is starting his own blog. Known to many of you as a regular, candid member of TWL, you can find Tony's new blog here:

Tony Perugini Listens

So along with Cindy's Underground Town Hall, there should still be something of an active blogging community in town. Good luck, Tony!

Tim White

Why did we elect Republicans?

Perhaps lost amid the hurrahs of last night's election results, the Fedsters and Helicopter Ben have announced another $600 billion in "stimulus."

I find it hard to believe that Bernanke made this announcement without first communicating his intentions to presumptive Speaker Boehner... and probably getting some sort of tacit approval.

Has Boehner voiced any opposition to more of the same? I haven't seen anything yet... which is entirely unacceptable. I certainly hope that some of the new GOP call him on this and demand his strong public opposition to more stimulus. I mean, if Boehner can't see the obvious disparity between yesterday's election and today's stimulus, then he's too dumb to be Speaker. And if he sees the difference, but ignores it... then the house cleaning probably ought to continue in 2012.

Why did we elect Republicans?

Tim White

2010 Referenda results

$425,000 Fire Dept breathing apparatus
YES 8800 73.99%
NO 3094 26.01%
Total votes 11894

$1.5m Road Repavement
YES 7196 62.48%
NO 4321 37.52%
Total votes 11517

$1m roof replacement
YES 6279 54.90%
NO 5159 45.10%
Total votes 11438

$570,000 Dodd kitchen renovations
YES 5960 51.84%
NO 5538 48.16%
Total votes 11498

$475,000 CHS track replacement
YES 4542 39.48%
NO 6962 60.52%
Total votes 11504

Here's a ten year history of Cheshire referenda results. And see here for a trend analysis of certain referenda.

I'm guessing the recent history of rejected recreation-related projects (2005 linear trail, 2010 pool, 2010 track) will be taken into consideration by the Council when the turf comes to a vote.

With regard to the track, I'm uncertain what will happen with the $150,000 previously appropriated. My guess is that it'll be used to perform ongoing maintenance... or the Council could probably defund all or some of the appropriation... before it gets used on other projects "related to the track." Wouldn't be surprised if David Schrumm already knows the answer to that.

It's also notable that the Dodd kitchen renovations weren't given any sort of massive support, while roads were given pretty strong support.

Tim White

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Live from Haiti... Cheshire Election Results 2010

The MRJ is reporting that Matt Jalowiec defeated Matt Hall for Judge of Probate... yes! Congratulations go out to the Honorable Judge Jalowiec elect!!!

And congratulations to Joe Markley! The MRJ is also reporting he won. So that's the two open "local" seats both being won by Rs.

And the last bit of info that I got tonight... apparently the track lost 2 to 1. As I've been mentioning for a while now, I'm not at all surprised that it went down. People are tired of spending and the track simply isn't a necessary expenditure at this time.

But the question in my mind that relates directly to the track... what happens with the turf? Seems to me that people are tired of spending. And the voters know that the spending today means spending tomorrow. And it's yet another example of Alan Sobol demonstrating that's he more attuned to taxpayer concerns than any other board member.

Tim White

Election Day 2010

No doubt to the dismay of some Advocates of Big Government, I'm alive and well! Haha...

I haven't had access to The Internets since Friday. Getting situated is proving to be somewhat complicated and time-consuming. But I'm confident everything will be fine within a couple weeks. Until then, I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be doing.

In the meantime, feel free to use this as an Election Night Open Forum. I know the pundits are saying the GOP will do well tonight... let's see what happens.

I cast my ballot before I left.

Of most interest to me isn't an election for an office. I'm wondering what's gonna happen with the five referenda.

Tim White