A prayer offered by Father Mychal Judge on July 21, 1996 as part of a Memorial Service for flight TWA #800:
God is present, loving, smiling, having received our loved ones. They are in His presence, illumed by His smile and warmed by His love. His kingdom is enriched this day, so enriched by so many beautiful souls. So much beauty.
Our world is empty without them. Our hearts are broken, our sadness immense, our tears so abundant. We live our sorrow together.
We need You, Lord. Please come and touch us. Fill us with courage. Calm our discomfort. Give us signs of Your presence. We ask You, we beg You: come.
Friday, December 14, 2012
A prayer offered by Father Mychal Judge on July 21, 1996 as part of a Memorial Service for flight TWA #800:
Saturday, December 08, 2012
We all know about the recent Chris Donovan campaign scandal. We also know that such corruption isn't new to Connecticut. Over the past fifteen years, we've seen a Governor (John Rowland), State Treasurer (Paul Silvester), State Senator (Ernie Newton) and several big city mayors (Phil Giordano - Waterbury, Joe Ganim - Bridgeport, and Eddie Perez - Hartford) get indicted by federal investigators and sent to prison. They were not taken down by state investigators.
I didn't realize the significance of this (federal vs. state) until 2007. It was then that the NYTimes ran an editorial about the scandal engulfing then-State Senator Lou Deluca. It was a piece that explained many of the reasons that have led to the widespread corruption that exists in Connecticut. One of the reasons was the lack of subpoena power for state investigators, a.k.a. State's Attorneys.
Since then, I've been advocating for the legislature to seriously consider restoring subpoena power for State's Attorneys. My efforts have included blogging, obtaining local press coverage, attending state hearings, getting state legislation introduced, and writing LTTEs. And most recently, State Rep. Al Adinolfi indicated to me that he'll be reintroducing legislation in this session. So in an effort to increase the visibility of this issue -- and make it difficult for other less responsible legislators to hide from this issue -- I reached out to the Courant.
I explained my concern and some of this recent history in this email:
In light of what has thus far transpired in the Chris Donovan campaign scandal, I request that you consider writing an editorial on the value of a legislative debate on restoring subpoena power for state's attorneys.
If you are like me -- interested in good government -- then I ask that you glance at this 2007 NY Times editorial that was written during the Lou Deluca scandal. I found it to be a telling commentary on why Connecticut may seem to have a higher degree of corruption than other states. The piece is here.
It opines on the nature of the body politik (the legislature) placing greater importance on comity (and self-interest) than on good government.
I think this is particularly relevant, because I expect a bill -- to restore subpoena power for state's attorneys -- will be introduced in January. I've already spoken with State Rep. Al Adinolfi (R-Cheshire) about such legislation. I suggested he model it on this simple legislation that was introduced by then-Sen. Sam Caligiuri a few years ago.
I expect Rep. Fritz (D-Wallingford) and Rep.-elect Zupkus (R-Prospect -- Zupkus defeated Nardello) will support this legislation as they stated their support during an October debate in Cheshire. Sen. Markley (R-Southington) has also indicated that he's favorable to it.
Shamefully, the legislature's activities continue to suggest our name is Corrupticut. But it doesn't need to be that way. And a discussion on the value of subpoena power is entirely appropriate and, in my opinion, necessary. If the Courant ran an editorial on the topic, I suspect it would be much harder for the legislature to continue ducking and hiding from it... though Spkr Sharkey won't be surprised by the bill. I ran into him about a month ago, introduced myself and personally requested that he consider it. He told me that it's a decision of the Judiciary Committee... to which I reminded him that he -- not the Judiciary -- has the gavel.
Sincerely, Tim White
p.s. I'm happy to write an LTTE. I do that sometimes. But I feel this issue -- serious deliberation on restoring subpoena power -- is too important for a LTTE that would probably be ignored by most legislators. My guess is that the only way the legislature will consider this is if the media, particularly the Courant, increase the visibility of the issue. Thank you for reading this and considering it.
The Courant was receptive to the idea. Perhaps they'll write something? I sure hope so. And if they do, there's a chance that legislators will be even more responsive as I ask for their support.
Frankly, I don't really expect any such legislation to pass this session. And while it may seem counterintuitive -- that in light of the Donovan scandal, it would be even more difficult for legislators to publicly oppose this -- I do think the hurdle of passage grows larger. Why?
Keep in mind the crux of the Donovan scandal: killing bills before they come to a vote. That is exactly what I expect would happen with this bill. Probably members of both parties would seek to let it "die in committee." It's likely that the only way to pass something like this is to increase its visibility to such a level that legislators cannot ignore it and must go "on the record" explaining their views. And the best way to get elected officials "on the record" is to get voters talking about an issue. That's why I've made such efforts in the past and will continue doing so in the future.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
I was watching Up with Chris Hayes last week. I was surprised to hear him use a particular phrase:
World's reserve currency
What is meant by this phrase?
Well, the easiest way to begin to understand it is a wiki explanation on the phrase reserve currency:
A reserve currency, or anchor currency, is a currency that is held in significant quantities by many governments and institutions as part of their foreign exchange reserves. It also tends to be the international pricing currency for products traded on a global market, and commodities such as oil, gold, etc.
This permits the issuing country to purchase the commodities at a marginally lower rate than other nations, which must exchange their currencies with each purchase and pay a transaction cost. For major currencies, this transaction cost is negligible with respect to the price of the commodity. It also permits the government issuing the currency to borrow money at a better rate, as there will always be a larger market for that currency than others.
In other words, a reserve currency; increases the wealth of the country that prints that money.
So what is meant by the phrase the world's reserve currency?
Simply put, the US dollar is the single biggest reserve currency in the world. And that's a massive benefit to America -- a benefit that is risked by continued deficit spending.
Friday, November 16, 2012
While my Republican party continues scratching its head, wondering how to win elections, my hero clearly articulates where the GOP must go if it wants to both win elections and put America back on the path to peace and prosperity.
Here's an excerpt from his closing comments:
Sunday, November 11, 2012
As a result of November 11th falling on Sunday, it would've been difficult to arrange the Veterans Day event at the usual date and time: 11/11@11am. The Congregational Church was busy. So Cheshire's VFW Post 10052 helped arrange an afternoon event. And today it was inside the church, as compared the outside the church where activities are typically held on the Green.
Here are a few pix of the very well received event, including the VFW Post Commander (my dad, John White) offering his thoughts:
After two veterans, Al Adinolfi and Jeff Falk, laid the ceremonial wreath:
A view of the Church Choir:
A pic taken during the closing song, America, the beautiful!
And here's a short clip of the closing song:
And along with the many veterans who attended and were honored in person, I thank our elected officials who I saw attending the event:
Council Member Patti Flynn Harris,
State Representative Al Adinolfi and
Congress Member-elect Elizabeth Esty.
Monday, October 29, 2012
With Hurricane Sandy approaching, I was watching the news yesterday. It was a typical shot of a weatherman standing near the shoreline with the massive waves beating the coast... in Rehoboth Beach, DE, I think.
Though I don't know if coastal Delaware had been evacuated at that time, parts of Manhattan had already been evacuated. Expectations were already high that Sandy would be a damaging storm and the waves were a good indication of that.
Yet the waves were not a good indication for everyone that danger was nearing.
Behind the reporter was a surfer riding the waves. And considering that the surfer had not only gone out there, but remained in the water, he was clearly enjoying himself. I was happy for the surfer. I say let him enjoy those waves. But then I remembered Obamacare.
If this idiot chooses to ignore many coastal evacuation warnings... and ignore the fact that he was on an abandoned beach, except for a video crew... and ignore the fact that the weather conditions were rough... then if / when he -- or other like-minded individuals -- get hurt... why should one penny of my tax dollars go to help him?
No thank you.
I realize this is a fairly extreme example. But it's not much different from the lifelong alcoholic with cirrhosis. Why should I help pay for the liver transplant?
Again, no thank you.
I realize we have problems with our healthcare system in America. But I really, really dislike the notion of me being held responsible for those who take so little responsibility for themselves.
Monday, October 22, 2012
A letter that I just submitted to the local papers:
When the Chris Donovan corruption scandal broke here in Connecticut, as usual, it was the FBI – not state investigators – who had to dig up the facts. Why?
It's because - unlike much of America - our state investigators don't have the power of subpoena used in criminal investigations. Why?
It's because decades ago, the state legislature stripped the power of subpoena from the Chief State’s Attorney. Why?
It's because legislators felt that too many questions were being asked.
If you want to fight the corruption that runs rampant in Hartford, please support a return of this subpoena power. Unlike the current Democratic leadership, including Rep. Vickie Nardello, who oppose the restoration of this investigative authority, Al Adinolfi, Guy Darter, Joe Markley, Len Suzio and Lezlye Zupkus support this measure to fight the culture of corruption. Please support “Uncle Al,” Guy, Joe, Len and Lezlye!
And for a better understanding of my concerns, please read this June 2007 NYTimes editorial.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
It's been probably about seven years that I've been pushing for Cheshire to implement a town wide energy management plan, including serious consideration of a performance contract as a financing mechanism.
And although I attended the meeting and vote at last week's Council meeting, the MRJs Andrew Ragali has now written a piece explaining the status of Cheshire's town wide energy management plan:
The Energy Audit Contracting Review Committee will take information gathered by Ameresco, which performed the audit on all town-owned buildings over the last year, to pinpoint the proposals that will move forward as capital projects this spring.
The article also notes that while lighting improvements have been identified and tend to have quick payback periods:
Other projects identified by Ameresco include improving computer technology, energy management systems and building weatherization. There are also plans to eliminate electric heat at Highland School and Cheshire High School, and replace old boilers and furnaces in town buildings. Some projects concentrate on upgrading windows, pipe insulation, transformers, roofing and water conservation efforts. Masciana said the committee will also look into solar and wind power projects.
I'm glad that the town is moving forward. As you can see here, other CT municipalities are already making town wide projects happen:
I thank the members of the Council, Energy Commission and town staff for getting us to this point.
Friday, September 07, 2012
I've been delinquent. I know. I've been busy. I started school a week ago, but began going into New Haven a few months ago as I've been working there too. I've tried to ride my bike as much as possible. It's just too expensive to park in New Haven. At a $1.50/hr, it can easily cost me $10 to $12 per day just for parking. Then tacking on a couple dollars for gasoline and wear'n'tear on my car and biking was an obvious option to save money. The trail is perfect for it... although after I had one incident in Newhallville, I won't go biking thru there alone anymore. That's for sure.
Anyway, school is great so far. But the main reason I'm writing today is because of what I happened last night.
As you may know, I live in Cheshire... just a few houses from the Hamden line. And it may very well be the DeDominicus property from where I thought I heard a child scream. It was the middle of the night. Maybe 3am or 4am. I awoke for a minute and when I did, I heard the scream. It shocked me. And living in Cheshire, I was particularly concerned.
But then I remembered a recent conversation. Before I started classes at Yale's School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (FES), we went camping for a few weeks at two different Nutmeg forests. During my time there, I had a bunch of conversations about CTs fauna. One conversation was about fisher cats. I never knew them to be in CT when I was a child, but Jimmy Sima had mentioned to me that he'd heard plenty of stories about them in eastern CT... not western CT though.
My recent conversation about fishers mentioned one strange thing... they scream like a child.
After hearing the first scream last night, I recalled the that comment. And I listened to the repeated "scream." It was random. It was very deliberate. It probably lasted for a second, then paused for a second. There was no real urgency to the scream. So I quickly concluded that it wasn't anyone screaming.
It was probably a fisher cat... a large weasel that can grow up to four feet long.
I think that's pretty cool. I'm guessing they lived here a long time ago... before becoming extirpated, as so many species similarly went missing. But with black bear, beaver, bobcat and moose all returning to CT and Cheshire (well, not moose in Cheshire)... it seems likely that fisher would also return.
But here's the hitch for you besides an increase in the diversity of Cheshire's mammals, fishers are known to eat house cats. And, like bobcats, fishers can climb trees. So while coyotes have been around for a while, Tabby was still fairly safe back in the 90s. But with bobcats and fishers back in town, you should be aware of the increased risk to your beloved furry ones.
Saturday, July 07, 2012
I offer a guest post that I thought might be of interest to some readers: Budget cuts to schools have led some school districts to increase class sizes and eliminate some teachers. Yet every education expert and school reformer recognizes the importance of introducing technology to today’s students in order to prepare them for the competitive 21st century global economy. Increasing the budget for technology and developing the best online degree programs will require an understanding of how technology works hand-in-hand with teachers in the K-12 classroom and judging by the changing nature of education, this will be a worthwhile investment. According to Education Reform Studies, “The vision for technology-supported reform-oriented classrooms is one in which student groups work on long-term, multidisciplinary projects involving challenging content that is interesting and important to them with the support of technology tools for collecting, analyzing, displaying, and communicating information.” That same study identifies four major challenges of integrating technology with education reform, each of which will impact a school system’s budget: · Providing Adequate Technology Access · Equalizing Technology Access · Involving a Majority of Teachers · Providing Technical Support for Technology Use and Maintenance One of the many budgetary issues that face schools is the lack of individualized control over spending. For some schools, the primary issue will be increasing student access to technology inside the classroom and possibly after school. Other schools face the issue of a lack of training in technology for the teachers. Teachers without a tech-savvy administrator may find that they have plenty of equipment but don’t know how to use it to best provide education to their students. According to a survey in Education World, many tech experts in schools would like technology training to become a standard part of the education programs for new teachers. "I also would like to institute technology proficiency testing for prospective teachers to ensure that new teachers know the basics of technology and are comfortable with using it before they're hired," said Robin Smith, educational technology specialist, Hollidaysburg Area School District, Hollidaysburg, Penn. in the survey. "And I would like to provide laptops for every teacher. Until teachers have access to machines 24/7, and develop a comfort level using them, curriculum integration is only a dream.” Some school systems have introduced policies that encourage teachers to engage in the use of technology, but those who have little training or who are more focused on other instructional methods may be resistant. Smith suggests providing incentives for teachers to use technology, having principals set the example and making sure teachers are informed about the ways technology can ease their busy schedules. Access to computers and to the Internet is important to teachers as well as to students. According to CNN, a 2009 survey by “the National Center for Education Statistics found that while 99% of public school teachers have some access to computers, just 29% of public school teachers use them during instructional time ‘often.’” CNN also reported that an FTC survey in 2010 of schools participating in the agency’s program for discounted telecommunications revealed that 80% of the surveyed schools said their Internet connections “don't fully meet their current needs”. In addition to the need for access to technology, including the hardware, Internet access and appropriate software, schools will need to provide tech support for the equipment, the teachers and the students. Engaging already overworked teachers requires one more portion of the technology budget, which schools will need to adequately divide to address each of the four challenges to integrating technology into classrooms. Estelle Shumann A resident of the State of Washington
Saturday, June 02, 2012
Martha, Ed, Amy, Zeze and I began our journey to Cayemite by car. When we arrived in Pestel, we parked at the church and walked down the hill and found a boat-for-hire. Then we were on our way:
A view looking back at Pestel:
After about a half hour, we approached the Cayemites:
And soon circumnavigated the peninsula to find the open ocean to our right and our own
deserted beach piece of Heaven to our left:
As you can see, I was all smiles:Tim White
Friday, June 01, 2012
The FBI is investigating if Speaker Chris Donovan was influence peddling in Hartford. And while Register Citizen's CT-5 Campaign Team had already begun questioning the value of contributions to Donovan's campaign, in Cheshire we already knew all about the shady side of the Meriden Democratic party. Let's not forget our
disgraced state Senator, Tom Gaffey.
But Cheshire is already acutely aware that corruption permeates Hartford. After years of trying to understand how Cheshire secured the $525,000 state grant for the artificial turf, I finally had the opportunity to directly question state Rep. Mary Fritz on camera. I asked her to inform Cheshire voters of the criteria used to allocate the $525,000, noting that it came from a $12,000,000 pot called the Speaker's "discretionary funds." Rep. Fritz' response:
"They are not slush funds! It's called negotiations."
Does anyone else get the sneaking suspicion that Rep. Fritz' "negotiations" are similar to the "negotiations" that occurred between Donovan and the Roll-your-own tobacco dealers?
What had been a four hour journey was now only a three and a half hour journey from Jeremie to Pestel. The Brazil-sponsored road improvements were beginning to speed travel and, more importantly, improve the lives of Haitians. We also stood to benefit. Shaving an hour of travel off our already long day of travel to Cayemite Island would help us get home before dark.
The road from the outskirts of Pestel to its port were narrow and filled with people. So for difficulty in movement and for safety, Zeze parked the car at the church and we hoofed it down the hill in search of a Captain for our destination. You can see Ed and Martha making the descent in the lower right corner:
The port was bustling with activity, but we were ok. We had our driver, Zeze, to help us score a boat with Captain!
Amy and Martha adjusting their bags:
In the foreground is the opposite side of Pestel Bay. In the distance is our destination: The Cayemite Islands!
Some of the boats were rather precariously loaded IMO. But that's a direct result of the poverty. The weather was beautiful this day, but if it was raining with stormy seas it may well have been similarly overloaded. And that's a recipe for disaster... something that happens too often when we see headlines of "Boats overturns in XYZ Sea, hundreds believed dead." It's a sad tale, but it continues to happen and won't change without a reduction in poverty.
Some Haitians are ingenius and industrious. This guy gathered a few sheets of plastic and carved out a log... then he was ready to tackle the ocean!
After about 15 to 20 minutes, Zeze had found us a boat with Captain and we had negotiated a price. It was $100 for a round trip out to the islands. That included about $50 for fuel @ $6 / gallon.
Thank you Zeze! Here's our group, clockwise starting with the orange head cover: Martha, Ed, Zeze and Amy:And off we go, on our three-hour tour...
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The Hill reported that as of Friday, House GOP Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, placed Ron Paul's Audit the Fed bill (HR 459) on the House's July agenda:
One of Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Texas) pet issues will hit the spotlight this July, as House Republican leaders plan to hold a vote on authorizing a top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve.
The House version currently has 227 co-sponsors. Cheshire's Congressman -- and Senate hopeful -- Chris Murphy is not among them. I already called his office this morning and pointed out to his staff that failing to support transparency during a primary is not the most politically astute move. Furthermore, he already co-sponsored Audit the Fed during the prior Congress. And considering that some liberal Dems, such as Pete DeFazio and Dennis Kucinich, are already co-sponsors of the measure, it behooves Chris to co-sponsor sooner rather than later. The longer he waits, the more opportunity exists for Susan Bysiewicz to issue a press release stating her support for Auditing the Fed... while simultaneously repeating her mantra that Murphy works for Wall Street, Jamie Dimon, the Fed et al. Murphy should become a cosponsor asap. But since he's not already, I encourage everyone who believes in good government to also contact his office to ask him to support HR 459. You can email him here or call him @ 202.225.4476.
Along with HR 459 is the sister Senate bill, S 202. It was introduced by Ron Paul's son, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). S 202 has only 20 co-sponsors at the moment. I understand that all 20 are Republicans, but expect that some pro-transparency Senators, such as Bernie Sanders, will soon be co-sponsoring. In the meantime, I strongly encourage all Nutmeggers to contact our US Senators. You can email Dick Blumenthal here or call him @ 202.224.2823. And you can email Joe Lieberman here or call him @ 202.224.4041.
I doubt Lieberman will support Audit the Fed, but maybe Blumie's got some good-government populist blood in him??
Last, but not least, please considering spreading the word about this opportunity to finally Audit the Fed. There's already an Audit the Fed page on Facebook that you can visit / like / share.
Although Haiti's karst is nowhere near as dramatic as the karst of Guilin, China, it's still pretty IMO. The sheer cliffs of Pestel exemplify Haiti's karst. I snapped a few shots on the road to Pestel:
I had hoped to get some better pictures, but the car was moving and the more dramatic karst cliffs were pretty blurry. Tim White
Since first arriving in Haiti, I wanted to visit a small town about four hours to the east of Jeremie... and if possible, jump in a boat and head to the offshore island of Cayemite. I'd seen the Town of Pestel and Cayemite during the flight from Port-au-Prince to Jeremie, but for more than a year I had been focused exclusively on my online classes and had no time to travel.
Pestel was beautiful from the air. It contained some of the more dramatic karst mountains of the now-famous Haitian fault line. I had to up close and personal.
By March 2012 I found time to join some friends and rent a truck for the group adventure. Our plan was to leave early with the intention of leaving enough time to find a boat, visit Cayemite and return to Jeremie the same day.
We set out around 7am.
Here's some of the early morning jungle view as we careened over mountain tops:
Soon after, I snapped these mist-filled scenes during a quick pitstop to check for a flat tire:
Heading down from the mountains, the first coastal town we passed was Corail with its own beautiful port:
The town even offers a written history for visitors:
After leaving Corail, we headed back into the mountains. At one point we encountered a "traffic jam" as someone was clearing the road of debris:
A common scene on this major Haitian highway... the pile of rocks is most likely locally collected rocks that have been placed in a pile for the various construction materials vendors who drive the highway, looking for raw materials.
And at this point, we were heading downhill and began seeing more and more people carrying goods. So it was obvious that we were fast approaching Pestel on market day!
Monday, May 28, 2012
Among the many brave people who have served in the US Armed Forces, each person is honored on one of the three days:
Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the US Armed Forces.
Veterans Day is a day honoring armed service veterans.
Armed Forces Day is a day honoring those serving in the five U.S. military branches – the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Some of my colleagues... Philippe, an accountant, wearing a hat I gave him for the annual party... Kah-ni-val or Mardi Gras!
This is Mirleine. Her crutch is a result of typhoid. Running water and sanitation systems have stamped out typhoid in the USA. But due to poverty, Haiti doesn't have such amenities and typhoid still occurs. And while it may be difficult for a disabled American to find work in the USA, you can imagine how difficult it would be to find work in Haiti... where official unemployment runs in the range of 70% to 80%. Thankfully, my boss, Sister Maryann, is a living saint. And as you might expect, Mirleine helps out at the klinik and earns a modest living for her efforts.
And here's Pierre Emile. He's our construction manager. He's fantastic with people and has to be. Although organizing construction projects in the USA will involve many people, such as materials vendors and architects, Pierre Emile's job is a bit different. Our houses are in far flung places that can require a four hour drive, then a four hour walk. And then he needs to meet with the beneficiary and laborers on site. So oftentimes, those conversations can occur when someone is already pretty tired. But Pierre Emile is wonderful at it.I thank all of my 200 or so colleagues for their efforts. Tim White
After I finished my classes last November, I started taking walks around Jeremie. Here are a few pix I snapped.
Here's the picture that the Herald ran with their story. I took it outside St. Pierre School, the school we sponsor.
Another shot of the same group of kids:
And here are some pix from atop a hill that's on the edge of Jeremie at the southern side of its bay. If you look at the right edge of the photo, you'll see the pastel orange building near the middle of the right edge. That's St. Pierre School. About another 30 feet to the right and you'd see the beach view that it has. No, it's nothing glamorous. Considering that Haiti is largely deforested, the nearby major river ensures that Jeremie's bay is never Caribbean blue. And considering that Jeremie, as well as Haiti, has not trash collection system, the beach is covered in garbage that gets washed there from the nearby hills. Regardless, I always try to find the bright side to any situation. And if you can get past the garbage and poverty for just a moment, the ocean view from the school is nice.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Although most Haitians live in poverty, they do find ways to have fun. A popular happening around holidays is the ra-ra band. They're loosely organized bands that march around their respective towns, usually collecting other participants along the way. Oftentimes, the extras don't play an instrument (often simple PVC pipe), but they bring a flag and wave it around.
Here's one of the neighborhood kids, Richard, with his white flag:
Some members of this ra-ra band put on dresses as part of their act:
Some more of the boys and their costumes, as well as their PVC horns:
Some examples of the colorful costumes for the more "professional" ra-ra bands:
These two ra-ra bands donned their garb for the big ra-ra competition hosted by the City of Jeremie every Easter.