Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Linear trail funding: private is better than public

The Council is again moving forward with the linear trail. I understand the December Council meeting made two things happen:

1) $812,000 in federal and state grants was reallocated to the West Main Street to Jarvis Street section; and

2) the state DOT was asked to design the entire West Main to Southington trail.

The NHRs Luther Turmelle explains that the tradeoff in getting the DOT to do this work was a Council promise to move forward with the trail in next August's capital budget.

the funding is contingent on the town making a good faith effort to include the project in the 2011-12 capital budget and to get voters to approve the expenditure in November.

And since this stretch of trail is estimated to cost more than $2,000,000, we should probably expect to see more than a million property tax dollars included in the November 2011 referenda for this stretch of trail.

Although I don't support the idea of borrowing and spending more money on expanded services until we -- Cheshire, Hartford & Washington -- get our financial house in order, the Council does. As such, I have a suggestion:

Follow the lead of the turf supporters and fundraise to complete this project.

There's even some big funding available from non-government sources. American Express recently donated $200,000 for rails-to-trails. With some effort -- besides forced taxation at the local, state and federal levels of future taxpayers -- maybe Cheshire could score a trail grant?

Tim White

Milford & Amity schools using performance contracts for energy conservation

With all the snow on the ground... and forecasts of $4 gasoline by this spring... energy conservation may be on the minds of many of you.

Energy Commission member Walt Gayeski forwarded me this real-life example of performance contracts that are being engaged in the Milford school system, as well as the Amity School District (Bethany, Orange & Woodbridge).

But this is only an example. In reading the article, it appears that Milford schools first addressed their envelope issues. And now they're addressing their energy issues. Cheshire's plan is to simultaneously tackle both energy and envelope issues, as well as both school and town buildings.

Tim White

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Former Cheshire Coach, Addazio, to head Temple

I'm sitting in the Port-au-Prince international airport, Toussaint l'Ouverture.* And I'm on my laptop... loving how much technology has improved. Unfortunately, best I can tell I can probably only access about half the websites I try to visit with my current connection. So I say this with caution because I can only read the URL.

Apparently my former high school gym teacher, Steve Addazio, has been named the head football coach at Temple University. Good for him. For those of you who don't know the history, Coach Addazio is the pretty much the one-man show that turned an average football team into one of the best teams in the country.

I graduated in 1990. And Coach started at CHS while I was probably sophomore or junior. Anyway in the fall of 1989, Coach brought our team to the state championship and we lost to Glastonbury. Two years later he began is five-year unbeaten streak.

Now that's not the UConn girls... or the Ed Aston girls' swim team... but it's still a fantastic record. If I recall correctly, near the end of the streak the Rams had the second-longest winning streak in the country.

Tim White

* Monsieur l'Ouverture is the George Washington of Haiti.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Follow the cobblestone road. Follow the cobblestone road. Follow, follow, follow, follow...

Here's Part II of the story I began telling yesterday about my birthday adventure...

We had arrived at Klinik St. Joseph and the place was mobbed. It was payday for a joint project with a great NGO, CRS. The Church does some great stuff. I think they’re one of the biggest charities in the world. We were working together on a road extension project.

Apparently there were villages beyond the end of the road… and “Blanc” was going to take me. No, Geral’s not a white guy. But he is fairly light-skinned and he’s got a full head of hair and a beard – both of which are completely white. Hence, the name Blanc which dumdum me finally figured it out.

After grabbing my water bottle from the truck, we began hoofing it. Frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure where we were headed… except out in the field to see the roadwork. And though there was clearly some new road construction down the hill to the left, we were marching forward, up the hill.

Ok. I guess so. I’m usually game for some adventure. And we were definitely headed somewhere that I would never find in my Lonely Planet… so I knew this would be fun… just always had those lingering concerns about cholera… and considering how quickly it kills, after about fifteen minutes of walking I was thinking… ok… don’t touch anyone… don’t take any chances. We soon crested the hill.

There she was. A beautiful, brand-spankin-new, cobblestone road that most four-wheel drives could handle. What I could see was winding, but pretty much flat and we weren’t allowed to drive on it yet. It was clear that this part of the road went thru the wetlands. So this work was really just elevating the road. Not easy stuff to do when you have no heavy machinery, but it was almost certainly easier than what I had heard was happening.

We came to the road and toward the mountains we went. The road here had never seen any motor vehicle with more than two wheels. It was an easy enough walk, except for the heat. And even that wasn’t too bad. As I learned on Kilimanjaro, when you're a mile high... even the equator can be cool.

Passing a 2,000 square foot, cement church on the left… going by some beautifully manicured lawns and a house painted sky blue on the right… here’s a candy, rice and flour vendor on the left… and there’s some people doing their wash in the river over there… it’s everyday life in these remote parts. But then, this wasn’t really that remote.

A stand of trees was behind us now and I saw some incredible roadwork. Unbelievable really. A cobblestone road heading up one heck of a steep climb. I looked at Geral and he looked at me, "allez." He nodded for us to head up the hill… umm… ok. I was secretly hoping that that was it. But no. It wasn’t. As we began our ascent, I thought I’d seen enough… I was tired… I didn’t need to see anymore. But there they were. The laborers. And that one steep stretch had hundreds of workers all over. That was why I was here... to see what we're doing in the field.

The genesis of this project was where the earthquake met healthcare. People had been living in these remote villages for centuries. And really nothing had changed significantly. There may not have even been much population growth since Haiti’s revolution in the 1790s. The earthquake changed all that.

Port-au-Prince collapsed on January 12, 2010. And there was a huge outward migration from there. People fled to the hills… fled to find their family… even distant family because they had nowhere else to turn. The tent cities are a nightmare. There’s no personal safety. From what I hear, the level of crime in them is extremely high. And on top of that, you have the fear factor. Who wants to live in constant fear?

So the influx to the remote mountain top villages began. With it came a strain on healthcare services – particularly those for expectant moms – that were already in short supply.


Turn a three hour walk into a one hour drive! Well, not exactly. But that’s the general idea. Plus there are other huge benefits to the project that I'll get to....

As we walked past team after team, it was apparent to me that this was a community effort. Some people were getting paid. Others were volunteering. Children… probably 12 to 15 years old were raking the red clay to provide a flat surface… it had been carved from the hill to provide edges to the road. Elderly who had little strength were slowly positioning the smaller rocks and placing them in the soft clay before the young adults – men and women – were banging them into place with other rocks and sticks. There was no sexual discrimination here. Even with the little equipment they had -- some shovels, pickaxes and a couple sledgehammers -- everyone was participating and doing what they could. It was an amazing sight. I love it when a community can come together.

Actually got me thinking about how great it was for so many Cheshire residents to come together around the turf. Now don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t have supported it last week. But different from other Council members, I wouldn’t have supported the linear trail either. We just need to stop the spending. Take a breather. Distinguish between maintaining and expanding services. And encourage community service, while simultaneously not placing further burdens on future taxpayers. But I digress...

Throughout the climb I was simply stunned at the work that was being done, but also couldn’t believe how steep some parts of this road were. There were definitely grades better than 45 degrees, yet Geral assured me that the SUVs would be able to get up here.

Ok. I’ll take your word.

Perhaps most telling to me though about work ethic was how many people were barefoot, while other wealthier individuals had nothing more than dilapidated plastic flops. Much of the red clay where they worked was soft. But when you can look at the face of a 20 year old and see the feet of a 50 year old, you know this isn’t an easy life. Plying these walking paths barefoot for twenty years takes its toll.

We had gotten to end of the ongoing road construction / extension. So now we had literally gotten to the proverbial end of the road, though the foot path continued higher into the mountains. There were still more villages toward the skies. And Buzz Lightyear’s human reincarnate, Geral, wanted to keep going.

To infinity… and beyond!

And with that, I think I’m gonna call it quits for the night. This is already getting a bit long and I’ve got some other stuff to do before catching my flight back stateside!

Tim White

Monday, December 20, 2010

The road to Dayere

Didn’t sleep well last night. Probably didn’t fall asleep til at least 1am and was wide awake by 6am. So the day didn’t start off too well, but I was still excited about the possibility of doing some hands on, outreach today.

It’s 7:30am and I’m running out the door to work.

Keys? Check.

Money? Check.

Cell phone? Check.

Asthma inhaler? Check.

K. Good to go… running out the door.

Oh, wait… forgot my ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts), water bottle and pregnancy pills, Azithromycin!

Cholera symptoms can begin within two hours. And death can occur within four hours from the onset of symptoms. If I’m going into the countryside, there’s no way I’m going without my meds, including my pills for pregnant women. Apparently they also have some side effects that mitigate the impact of cholera. So I’m game… I have no problem poppin’ a few pills, if it’s gonna save my life!

Out the door, up the hill, arrive at work around 7:30am and… no one’s here?! Haha… actually worked out fine. It’s essentially a three week Christmas break for most staff. So aside from a few staff who arrived shortly, most people are already on holiday.

And the late arrival was also welcome. I got to work until about 10am and got thru a bunch of stuff that I needed to do. With only two days left before I leave, I’ve got to jam on a number of things and a few hours today was very helpful.

Jump in the SUV – I was riding shotgun as I was a special guest today – and off we went to Dayere.

As we were leaving town we passed the bus station where some people got necklaced a few weeks ago. At least the charred bodies appear to have been removed... Cross the bridge and head into the jungle, before beginning our ascent into the mountains.

As we’re climbing, much of the forest disappears. The slopes have been largely denuded. There are a good number of palms around, but with their 50 foot branchless trunks they don’t give much cover. And there are some hills covered in low lying veggies, such as beans. But much of the area seems to be just grass. I’m not sure why, but a lack of water supply seems like a pretty good guess as to why the hills lie uncultivated.

Having driven for perhaps two hours thru the switchbacks and slopes that may have been more than 45 degrees at points, we cross some ridges. What a sight. Reminded me of my drive from Macedonia into Albania and down to Tirane. Absolutely gorgeous… and not much to stop you from tumbling down hundreds of feet to certain death – if you go a few feet too far to the side. With the narrow crossways flattened and reinforced at the edges, one can view mountains as far as the eye can see… except of course where the mountains stop and the placid, royal blue Caribbean begins.

We pass a village now and school is obviously getting out. It’s lunchtime and the 4 to 7 year old kids, dressed in their pastel pink, button down shirts and navy blue shorts are headed home… but not without a quick chase of the car! As we’re passing, dozens of the school kids start chasing after us.

With the treacherous road – if you can call it a road – composed of rocks six to eight inches in diameter and ruts that are often nearly a foot of mud before you see the puddle that goes down… who knows how far?... it’s not uncommon for us to be traveling at one to two miles per hour. So it’s not too tough for a four year old to catch up with us. That is, until the driver stopped, jumped out and yelled at them to scare them away… haha… I’m guessing he was concerned for their safety. But they're kids. They don’t care! So they back away until we start moving again, and the chase resumes. I’m not entirely sure why the kids were chasing us. It may have been simply “le machine.” A motor vehicle is pretty rare in these parts, so maybe that was it. Or maybe it was me.

“Blanc, blanc” they cheer out. “White, white.” They know my name! Haha… no, it’s really just what they call a foreigner – or more specifically, a whitie – around here. (The N and C in “blanc” are largely silent. It's sounds more like "blah" with a very muffled "n" at the end.)

The kids are still chasing, but we make a pitstop. No, we haven’t found a “highway rest area.” But it’s only guys – about ten of us – in the SUV. So the forest is fine.

As we’re getting back into the truck, a little girl grabs my arm with both hands. I yank it away; at once thinking cholera; yet also wanting to be kind to a little girl who’s probably never seen a blanc and was simply curious. Regardless, I’m not going to let anyone touch me at the risk of getting cholera… which is rife in these villages. But I do speak my pigeon French-Creole and offer her some kinds words. I think she was fine… and frankly, I think just about anywhere in the world it’s inappropriate to simply grab people… so even though she may have been taken aback, I'm confident that her parents wouldn’t approve of grabbing as she did.

In the car and off we go. After about a three hour drive, we arrive in Dayere. We had literally come to the end of the road… part of the reason why I was here. It’s a major road construction – extension, really – project. But I’m tired now, so I’m done blogging for the night. I’ll probably post more tomorrow about my trip today. It really was fantastic… it was a great gift for my 38th birthday.

Tim White

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Introducing the CT Curmudgeon

Perhaps Cheshire's blogosphere is blossoming? Here's another local blog:

CT Curmudgeon

I suspect this will be a very conservative blog that will cover Cheshire politics to some degree. Good luck CTC! It takes time, but you can have an impact... particularly on the local stuff.

Tim White

Ron Paul: Fed cartel needs competing currencies

Congressman Ron Paul wants to End the Fed. That's no secret. It's the title of one of his books. But making big things happen typically requires a transition.

Last year Congressman Paul introduced legislation in favor of competing currencies. Here's an excerpt from a recent CNBC interview on the topic:

Paul said he views the Fed as a "monopoly" that could benefit from the introduction of competition.

"We should start ending the Fed by allowing competition," he said. "I don't like the fact that they have monopoly control. It's a cartel: they print the money. The Constitution really doesn't give them that authority. The Constitution said that only gold and silver can be legal tender. I want to legalize competition and allow individual Americans to use gold and silver in competition, as money. Today if you do that, you can go to jail.

Competing currencies is an imperfect solution to me, but any sound currency would be an improvement over the current fiat-based monopoly. Despite the claims of Bush, Obama, Greenspan & Bernanke, the fact is that Keynes was wrong. Money doesn't grow on trees. And now we need to figure out the best way to transition away from our current monetary policy... and hope we avoid the complete collapse of the dollar.

Tim White

Saturday, December 18, 2010

With the grant writing done, it'll be outreach next week

The past two weeks for me have been crazy... running around like a chicken with my head cut off! But it's been worthwhile. With the onset of cholera in the Grand'Anse region, things are moving fast... and they must. People are dying and the cholera isn't slowing down for the holidays.

As such, I've been involved in a bunch of fast-moving, fluid grant proposals for a variety of issues near Jeremie. Cholera treatment is obviously the biggest issue, but it invariably leads to a number of related issues.

With local necklacings being blamed on cholera-related voodoo, education is obviously important. And there are other health issues -- disposal of bodies -- that must be addressed.

The last two weeks have not only been long, they've been draining. To hear the heartbreaking stories of death... and the wonderful success stories of continued life... it's something I never thought I'd experience as a CPA. But I do love it, despite the highs and lows that can take a toll.

Anyway, with the holidays here, things are slowing down on the funding side and picking up on the humanitarian / outreach side. With the cholera outbreak hitting the Jeremie area a few weeks ago, I expect that funding should be arriving now. So greater outreach efforts will be possible.

With that in mind, I'm expecting to get out there myself next week. I had the opportunity for some hands-on work back in August... and this will be my first time since then to get involved in more of the hands-on work that convinced me to come here. I realize I'm here for my professional skills, but it was the ability to be directly involved in humanitarian work that got me here.

Tim White

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hats off to Jimmy Sima and Anne Giddings!

For three years I've been the lone vote on the Council opposing the TMs contract on the basis of poor performance.* But tonight I understand the vote on the TMs contract extension passed 5 - 2. Jimmy and Anne were opposed and Steve Carroll and Patti Flynn Harris abstained.

I applaud Jimmy and Anne. I'm uncertain of their reasons, but I'm guessing that it was partly for the reasons I mentioned yesterday. In particular, it's nice to see elected officials who demand an end to the waste and mismanagement of the DPW. And as for hearing about how "hard-working" staff can be... I recall Council Chairman Slocum's recent Herald LTTE.

Just because one "works hard" doesn't mean one is effective. Someone could "work" 16 hour days. But if someone else can do the same workload in eight hours, then the 16 hour person may need to be replaced. So with regard to the whole "he works hard" argument, I dismiss it. Besides, most of the "hard work" is spent cultivating the nonsense message that he and his office are apolitical... and also simply controlling the information, reminding staff that they are not allowed to speak openly and that all information must be vetted through The Boss -- or else.

Again, I thank Jimmy Sima and Anne Giddings for their votes tonight in opposition to the Town's highly political and unnecessarily costly mismanagement.

I also understand that some sort of turf vote passed 5 - 4 with Anne Giddings, Tom Ruocco, David Schrumm and Jimmy Sima being opposed. I agree with my fellow Rs. The long-term liabilities facing the USA, the State of Connecticut and the Town of Cheshire are enormous. Cheshire has spiraling healthcare costs, an underfunded pension plan, a $30 million sewer plant coming toward us... along with about $60 million in existing debt and an annual operating budget of $100 million.

I believe we should be avoiding the addition of significant, long-term liabilities, such as the turf. And with the Washington Establishment still believing the ridiculous Keynesian economic theory that money grows on trees, I don't see America's economy improving for years. Unemployment will remain high and no elected official is going to want to see the turf replacement when it arrives in the 5-yr capital budget in only three years.

Tim White

* Two years ago, the vote was 5 - 4. But I only recall my colleagues opposing the raise... not the performance.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Council meeting - December 14, 2010

It'll probably be an interesting Council meeting tomorrow night.

First thing will likely be the appointments of Steve Carroll and Patti Flynn Harris to fill the vacancies of Justin Adinolfi and yours truly.

Then you'll see the turf vote. I'm uncertain of what way it'll go, but this was my whip count back in June: 4 favor, 3 oppose, 2 unknown. I had Justin listed in favor and myself opposed with David Schrumm and Anne Giddings opinions unknown.

And last, but certainly not least, the annual vote on extending the TMs contract. I don't know how this vote will go. But seven years ago I asked the TM to "make the trains run on time." Unfortunately, he's done far more than that. And since his last contract extension, he's:

1) Meddled in union affairs to influence the outcome of last year's election.

Ignored the crisis at the PD, in order to spend time in Hartford advocating for John Destefano's regional sales tax.

Accepted the waste and mismanagement at the DPW.

Judgment matters. He could do a good job making the trains run on time. But for him, that's not enough. He insists on playing politics and accepting poor quality work -- at the expense of the taxpayer -- while covering up for his cronies.

A TM should be a professional, not a politician. We can do better.

And on a related note... in case you hadn't noticed... we've had one TM since 2000. And if you go back to 1999, with one exception, the voters have switched Councils every two years. Anyone see a pattern there? Unfortunately for the taxpayers, they don't have the opportunity to vote on the Chief Executive.

Tim White

Ron Paul gets the gavel, Bernanke can't be happy

Taken from Politico's headlines:

White House launches charm offensive with new Republican chairs

GOP chairmen are getting congratulatory phone calls from President Barack Obama and private meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder. The incoming Agriculture Committee chairman, Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), is setting up a regular monthly lunch with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The White House's efforts moved into high gear shortly after the Republican victory on Election Day.

If you read the full article, it appears that every committee chair is getting some mono-on-mono time with the administrators who they will oversee. Politico even mentions that Ben Bernanke sat down the Chair the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Darrell Issa.

I wonder if Ben Bernanke has yet placed his congratulatory phone call to Monetary Policy Chairman Ron Paul?


I love it!

But in all seriousness, regardless of Congressman Paul's philosophical views on monetary policy, his chairmanship will be founded on two important principles that have been missing in that committee for a long time:

1) He will demand what all reasonable and rational people -- this excludes The Fedsters -- expect: transparency.

2) He will use the bully pulpit to push a national discussion on monetary policy, including:

a) Fiat money vs. sound money?

b) Fractional-reserve banking vs. full-reserve banking?

c) Keynesian economics vs. Austrian school economics?

d) Should America have a central bank?

The Establishmentarians like to dismiss this discussion by explaining there is an "international consensus" on all of these issues. But therein lies the problem. The consensus -- that money grows on trees -- has been decreed by The Political Class. And therefore this is no consensus among regular people. And my view is that most regular people know that money doesn't grow on trees.

Go Chairman Paul!

Tim White

Quote of the week

From CNN reporting on Sarah Palin's weekend visit to Haiti:

"Not to get political, but if some of the politicians would come here and see the conditions perhaps they would see the need for, say, a military airlift to bring the supplies that are so needed here," she said...

The article continued:

Palin said she would not take questions from reporters. "The reason I won't be answering questions is because we don't need to be getting political here today," Palin said.

Tim White

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I miss hot showers, but...

I love the weekends. I take a shower later in the day... after the sun has heated the rooftop water.

I don't have hot water here -- other than stove-boiled water -- and the two minutes or so of warm water in the shower is so nice.

And speaking of my rooftop water, it reminds me about my dad voicing his concern for me as a hurricane approached Haiti's "southern claw" last month. He asked me to make sure I had plenty of drinking water available. Being my dad, I did ask someone about his concern.

The response I got?

"Put some buckets on the roof."

Ahhh... sustainable living. I love it!

Btw, I haven't seen Sarah this weekend. I can't imagine she'd come to Jeremie.

And speaking of Mrs. Palin, I appreciate her helping to increase public awareness of some of the problems here. But I certainly hope she doesn't suggest that a weekend stopover in Haiti has any relevance to the "foreign policy credentials" of a candidate for POTUS. Frankly, I don't think foreign policy experience is that important for Sarah Palin anyway. None of our three most recent Presidents had any such experience when they took office. And besides, we have plenty of domestic issues to be addressed.

Tim White

Thursday, December 09, 2010

GOP Council: Another voter victory

The Herald's reporting that AT&T U-Verse customers are going to be getting the local public access channels by February. It's taking longer than it should have. But it certainly wouldn't be happening this quickly, if not for the "encouragement" of the Council.

There are some possible drawbacks to this though. For years, Cox was a monopoly in Cheshire. Likely due to that monopoly, they provided various groups -- most notably the two major political parties -- access to their TV studios. I suspect access to their studio may be restricted to some extent as they lose their monopoly status... and probably get more freedom from CTs regulators. But IMO this is NBD.

With new media it's probably easier to shoot high quality video in a living room or at a park, rather than scheduling studio time and having to learn the use of the expensive equipment. So the benefits clearly outweigh the drawbacks.

Tim White

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The volatile situation continues...

I went back to work after lunch today and chatted with a coworker. He said downtown was interesting today. The roads that form the town square were largely blocked by burning tires.

I asked if it was a dangerous situation. He said it was NBD. It was more just a nuisance to have to slow down and navigate the flaming hazards like an obstacle course.

Personally, I'm not so sure that it's NBD. Volatile situations can explode at anytime. And it was only two weeks ago that Jeremie had a public necklacing.

And now that the sun has set, I hear the chanting starting again. And though the gunshots were limited this afternoon. I've heard a few nearby in just the past couple minutes.

For all the above reasons, I applaud all of Cheshire. Next week two people -- Steve Carroll and Patti Flynn Harris -- will take office. And I'm quite certain that there will be no tire burnings, no gunfire, no necklacings, no burned out government offices, no road blockades, no airport closings... because we've got that wonderful little phrase we tend to live by... peaceful transition of power. It really is something special.

As for when things may calm down? I don't know. But I know that there was an expectation that two candidates from the non-incumbent party were expected to proceed to the Jan 16 runoff. But yesterday's announcement indicated that one of the two candidates -- the one with a demographic comprised largely of young supporters -- would not be in the runoff. Instead, the candidate from the incumbent party would proceed. Which of course, leaves the 18-30 yr old demographic upset. So much of the immediate future of Haiti rests in the words of "Sweet Mickey." What he says matters.

Now... let's see if I can study tonight...

Tim White

P.S. Since I arrived here, a lot of email has failed to get delivered to me... including stuff I send to myself! So if you email me and I don't reply, it may be due to malfunctioning email. My FB emails seem to be working though. So feel free to friend me / email me there.

A precursor of things to come?

At this moment, I have not yet heard of any deaths in Jeremie related to the political violence sweeping the country. Though people seem to have been killed in most of the other towns.

I did hear the gunfire for several hours last night. This morning a local friend insisted on walking me to work. Everything -- banks, schools, gov't offices, airports -- is closed. But the bottom line to me is that there no deaths of which I'm aware in Jeremie, thankfully.

It is interesting though. Just before lunch, I saw the "manifestation" pass by my office. There was no gunfire. Rather, it was something like an impromptu parade... with people cheering, playing horns, carrying signs... but I was told that the cheers -- in Creole -- included calls for the President's execution and the removal of UN forces from Haiti. Yikes.

Precursor to a revolution? Not that far-fetched IMO. People are angry.

Jeremie is a relatively quiet town, but the situation is extremely volatile.

Tim White

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Preliminary election results due today

They do their elections Louisiana-style here. There's a whole slew of Presidential candidates -- 18 or 19 in this case -- and if no one gets 50%, then there's a runoff between the two candidates who received the most votes. A runoff is tentatively scheduled for January 16.

The preliminary results of last week's election are due today.

I haven't seen any results online, but I was reading about violence in Port-au-Prince. And now I'm fairly certain that I'm hearing chanting and gunshots outside my house in every direction. Great.

One nice thing though... the place I sleep has 7-inch thick concrete walls. Just gotta remember to keep away from the windows. As I sit here writing this, I keep looking directly ahead of myself... trying to determine if the top of my skull is higher than the bottom of the window.

I'm slouching now. Bad posture? Yes. But laying down six-feet-under is a less attractive option.

I have no interest in living through -- or dying in -- a bloody coup d'etat. My proximity to one in Cambodia was plenty for me.

I seriously hope this is a peaceful transition of power. George Washington set such a wonderful precedent in America.

Tim White

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Having an impact

I was working late on Friday. Someone asked me if I'd be going home soon. The thought hadn't even crossed my mind. I was working on something.

It was an urgent grant request for outreach related to both cholera awareness and treatment. The grant request was going to be delivered on Friday night. I needed to get my part done. The weekend certainly wasn't on my mind.

The cases of cholera are increasing rapidly in Grande d'Anse Department* now. People are dying from an entirely avoidable disease.

Now it's Sunday and I'm uncertain of the status of the grant request. But I know one thing... having lived through malaria, lived down the road from a necklacing and lived with the knowledge of another impending earthquake... I had been wondering if this was for me.

I'm no longer wondering.

The opportunity to have a real impact reminded me why I'm here. As a CPA, I don't remember ever feeling as though I was having an impact. I do feel though that -- in a small way -- I am having a real impact for the first time as a CPA. And that's far more important to me than money or an American standard of living.

Tim White

* Grande d'Anse Department is the state of which Jeremie is the capitol.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Journalists need reliable sources

Only one week has passed and it appears that the international media -- in this case, the NY Daily News -- have finally caught up with TWL:

Up to 12 people accused of using "black magic" to infect others have been murdered as a result of the week-long witch hunt, with new cases being reported daily.

Local officials reported that six suspected witches in the town of Chambellan were stoned or hacked to death, a fate that an additional three people met in the city of Jeremie...

"Their corpses were burned in the streets."

Lesson for the day?

If journalists don't have sources, they won't get the story. Good journalists take the time to know lots of people... and are not only continually meeting new people, but also catching up with old friends.

And if you've ever wondered why a particular story isn't being reported... call a reporter and let him / her know. Who knows where that call could lead?

Tim White

Carroll to represent the 4th District

The MRJs Jesse Buchanan reports:

The Republican Town Committee nominated former town councilor and party chairman Ste-phen Carroll Thursday to replace town councilor Tim White who resigned in October.

I fully expect the Council to agree with the RTCs recommendation. So I congratulate Steve and wish him well! I know that next year's operating budget won't be pretty.

Now with regard to November 2011, I presume Steve has agreed to run. So you may be wondering about his chances?

My thoughts...

He's a parishioner at St. Thomas Beckett and has lived in the south end for more than thirty years. So he's quite well known.

Furthermore, I haven't looked at the election results recently but Steve has run at-large several times. And though he's both won and lost, I'm pretty sure that each time he's run his best showing was at Norton School... which constitutes 80% of the 4th district. So if Steve works -- and I fully expect him to work -- I think he can keep the seat in the GOP column.

No word yet on Justin Adinolfi's replacement. Personally though, I'd prefer to see Patti Flynn Harris rather than Matt Altieri. I could never understand why it seemed like my former colleague wanted to be pals with the TM. And though I often disagreed with him on policy, I respected Matt in the sense that I know he'd work.

Some members offer very little to the Council. But I never felt that way about former Councilman Altieri. In his own way, he tried to have an impact. Regardless, I'd like to see Patti get a chance on the Council. My guess is that she'd be more interested in representing the voters to Town Hall, rather than representing Town Hall to the voters.

Tim White

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Same old, same old legal corruption

In October, Rep. Vickie Nardello explained the funding of Mary Fritz' beloved slush funds to me:

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.

She continued by noting that Fritz' slush funds no longer exist:

There is no longer any money in the account and it did not receive funding in FY 10 or 11.

And she concluded by assuring me that:

I would not support funding this account in the future.

Well Rep. Nardello, the future is here.

According to CT Capitol Report, here are just a few of the places where the current slush fund will be directed on December 10 when The Rubber Stamp Bonding Commission members earns their salary by robbing the taxpayers blind spending money we don't have:

CPTV to get $1 million check from state..
Williams gets $3.75 million for Putnam YMCA...
$275,000 for fence in Hartford...
$950,000 for New Haven...
$500,000 for ski resort...
$350,000 for Hartford Regional Farmer's market...
$100,000 for Norwich museum; 'beautiful Romanesque Revival home'...
$700,000 for Montville police station...

If I were in CT, rest assured I'd be at that Bonding Commission meeting and personally questioning Governor Rell about the benefit to society for all these projects. I mean, how ridiculous is this? No, no, I'm sure this has "nothing" to do with a few last minute favors being paid back on the way out the door. Right?

But in fairness to The Loved One, Williams and Donovan are complicit in this scheme to cheat the taxpayers.

Donovan, Rell and Williams are obnoxious. Their blatant disrespect for the taxpayers, as they thumb their noses at us, is despicable. They know the budget is in horrendous shape, yet they continue trying to buy votes and popularity.

Have they no shame?

And considering that Rep. Nardello said she wouldn't support these funds, I wonder if she'll be attending the December 10 Bonding Commission meeting to fight this pilfering of the treasury? Ha. She's a player, just like Fritz and Gaffey. They all need to go.

Tim White