Author Archives: Gregory B. Hladky

Questions on Connecticut Science Center Plan With $4 Million State Grant

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Just five years after it opened, the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford is scheduled to get an additional $4 million state grant this week to launch an ambitious 10-year plan to expand and upgrade the center’s exhibits and facilities.

State officials said some of the center’s expansion plans include creating more educational lab space, transforming one portion of the existing building into a greenhouse and butterfly conservatory, and paying off debts relating to the center’s heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

Connecticut Science Center photo.

Connecticut Science Center photo.

The additional funding for the heating and cooling system drew questions from two Republican senators, L. Scott Frantz of Greenwich and Rob Kane of Watertown. They wrote to Gov. Dannel Malloy this week asking for more information about why money was needed for a heating and cooling system that was only five years old.

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Bacchiochi Abruptly Fires Campaign Aide Over Statement on ‘White Privilege’

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Chris Christie Date:

By CHRISTOPHER KEATING

Lt. Gov. candidate Penny Bacchiochi, whose campaign has been involved in various controversies, fired a paid campaign consultant Thursday after she made comments on Facebook.

The issue arose when another candidate, Heather Bond Somers, called upon Bacchiochi to disavow the “defamatory comments’’ by consultant Regina V. Ross Roundtree that involved “outrageous assertions about Heather Somers and her campaign.’’

Roundtree was still employed Thursday as the urban affairs coordinator for Republican Tom Foley’s campaign for governor.

Penny Bacchiochi campaign photo.

Penny Bacchiochi campaign photo.

“While a Republican primary may become very heated over the discussion of a candidate’s record and vision there is no place for the personal, divisive and defamatory assertions which are becoming common from the Bacchiochi camp,’’ said a statement released by Jon Conradi, the Somers campaign manager. “The Heather Somers campaign calls on Bacchiochi to immediately disavow herself of these divisive comments which have no place in the Republican Party or in public discourse.’’

In a posting under her name that has since been taken down from Facebook, Roundtree wrote, “People think what they think but help the party out and don’t plaster your complete sense of privilege. This is an example of what is sometimes phrased as “white privilege.’’ The way Heather talks. The arrogance and belittlement of Penny’s and her family’s feelings or any other person who has experienced racism. Our feelings or the fact that we may say something is an embarrassment to the party.’’

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Political Tweeting Wars

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BY MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA

Dave Walker, a Republican hopeful for lieutenant governor, was caught in traffic on Wednesday night. Like most frustrated drivers, he wanted someone to blame.

“Sitting at a dead stop on I-95 in #CT at 10:00 PM,” Walker wrote. “It’s time to fire #Malloy!” Yes, that Malloy.

David Walker, Hartford Courant photo.

David Walker, Hartford Courant photo.

If you don’t follow Walker, don’t worry: the people at the Connecticut Democratic Party are on top of it. About an hour later, the CT Dems, account tweeted back at Walker, questioning his judgment for using his cell phone while behind the wheel.

“Kind of reckless to be tweeting while driving, no?”

After Walker insisted that he had been “at a dead stop,” the Dems responded with a link to the state’s cell phone laws, which don’t list being stopped as an exemption to the regulation prohibiting cell phone use behind the wheel.

“You might want to review this when you are not behind the wheel,” the Dems wrote.

You can read the whole conversation here:

https://twitter.com/DeficitRanger/status/492129239127175168

The Twitter chain drew over a dozen responses from figures including veteran Capitol reporter Ken Dixon of the Connecticut Post, who advised Walker to follow the DOT on Twitter for construction updates.

“Thanks but it is evident that #DOT is grossly mismanaged in #CT. Many times there are few, if any, people working,” Walker wrote, adding later: “If you drove I-95 regularly, studied #CT’s financials, and were aware of the state of our infrastructure, you would know.”

Capitol Watch has reached out to the Connecticut DOT for comment. We’ll let you know when we hear back

Wyman Wields Gavel In Alaska

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Most years, Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman’s biggest responsibility is presiding over this state’s Senate or holding down the fort when her boss is traveling out of state. But this week she’s in charge of the National Lieutenant Governors Association annual meeting in Alaska, no less.

Wyman is acting as chair of the conference, which is being held at Girdwood, a classy ski resort near Anchorage, Alaska. She got the job because the dude scheduled to hold the conference gavel, Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, was unable to make the trip to our most northern state.

Image courtesy of Girdwood Chamber of Commerce.

Image courtesy of Girdwood Chamber of Commerce.

“I am honored to chair the 2014 meeting and work with my colleagues to serve the public, grow our economy, support our military men and women, and affect positive change for our states,” Wyman said in a prepared statement.

Sounds like quite an agenda for a group of folks whose primary official mission is to hang around in case a governor dies, is too sick to lead a state, or resigns for one reason or another.

 

Expert Says No Need To Panic Over Recall of Listeria-Tainted Fruit

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The listeria-related recall of potentially contaminated fruit this week from certain grocery stores in Connecticut and across the nation is no reason for people to panic, a Yale University medical expert said Wednesday.

Dr. Joshua Copel said the mere fact that someone recently ate a peach, plum, pear or other recalled fruit from Trader Joe’s, Costco or one of the other stores involved doesn’t mean they need to be tested or to see a doctor.

“Most people don’t get sick from exposure to listeria,” said Copel, who specializes in maternal fetal medicine with the Yale Medical Group. “Just having had the fruit doesn’t mean you need any particular treatment or testing.”

State officials said Thursday they’ve had no reports of anyone in Connecticut coming down with listeriosis from the potentially contaminated fruit involved in this recall. Experts say the disease is rarely fatal, but can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, headaches, muscle aches, and nausea.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, “Whole Foods Market has recalled made-in-store items prepared with organic and conventional stone fruit, including peaches, nectarines, and plums from Wawona Packing Co. because of possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.”

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No Fees At Connecticut State Parks This Weekend

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No one’s going to have to pay to get into a Connecticut state park this weekend, and it’s all about the 100th anniversary of the creation of our state park system.

“To encourage everyone to visit a state park this Centennial year, we are waiving fees at our parks this Saturday  and Sunday,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement issued Wednesday. “We will not charge the usual parking fees and we will not collect admission fees at state park museums.”

State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection photos.

State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection photos.

For more information about the free parks weekend, you can go to www.ct.gov/freestateparksweekend.

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Sen. Maynard Injuries Not Life Threatening

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Sen. Andrew Maynard’s injuries from his serious accident this week are “non-life threatening,” according to a statement released Tuesday by his family.

Maynard, 52, is in “serious but stable condition and is resting comfortably with family and friends by his side” at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, his sister, Denise Mahoney, said in the prepared statement.

Sen. Andrew Maynard

Sen. Andrew Maynard

According to police, Maynard fell from an outside staircase at his house in Stonington early Monday morning and suffered multiple severe injuries. Several sources said he was carrying something at the time, and a neighbor was with him at the time of the fall.

A police spokesman said the initial investigation indicated the fall was accidental.

Maynard was taken to Westerly Hospital in Rhode Island and later transferred to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence for additional treatment.

The accident stunned politicians in both parties at the State Capitol

Maynard, 52, has served in the Senate since 2007 and is now a deputy Senate majority leader and co-chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee. His southeastern Connecticut district covers Stonington and seven other neighboring communities.

Here is the statement issued Tuesday afternoon by Senate Democrats:

“State Senator Andrew Maynard’s sister, Denise Mahoney, today released the following statement, on behalf of the Maynard family, regarding her brother’s medical condition:

“First, our family would like to thank the outpouring of support we’ve received in the way of thoughts and prayers from so many friends around Connecticut.  Additionally, the team of doctors and nurses at Rhode Island Hospital have been exemplary in their service.

Andrew suffered a fall early Sunday morning.  He suffered non-life threatening injuries and is in serious but stable condition and is resting comfortably with family and friends by his side.

122nd Assembly Special Election Is On Today, But Voters Will Do It All Again in November

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Voters in Connecticut’s 112nd Assembly District, which includes parts of Stratford, Shelton and Trumbull, are going to the polls today in a special election to choose a (temporary) successor to the late Rep. Larry Miller, who died last month.

The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

vote image

If it strikes you as odd that those folks will be voting today and then again in the regular election in November, you can blame it on the special election deadlines created by the General Assembly.

State law does provide for a scenario where a special legislative election could be conducted at the same time as a regular November election. But only if that legislative seat becomes vacant within 49 days of the regular Election Day. Otherwise, a separate special election has to happen.

Today’s voting pits two Shelton residents against each other: Democrat Arlene Liscinsky and Republican Ben McGorty.

But even if McGorty wins this special election to fill out the remainder of Miller’s term (which ends in January), he also faces an Aug. 12 Republican primary opponent in Michael Vickerelli.

So it’s possible that McGorty could win this special election but not even make it on the November ballot.

Budgets and Bumblebees: The Rise and Fall of the State Surplus

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Keeping track of official estimates of Connecticut’s state surplus over the past few months has been a little like attempting to describe the flight of a bumblebee: It’s down, it’s up, down, and there it goes, up again.

And all those swerves and swoops, even if they appear rather dramatic at the moment, probably don’t mean that much in the end.

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget experts announced Tuesday that the state ended its 2013-14 fiscal year on June 30 with a budget surplus of $121.3 million.

Photo courtesy of Connecticut State Government.

Photo courtesy of Connecticut State Government.

That’s considerably higher than the state Comptroller’s Office estimate of a $33.2 million budget surplus that came out at the beginning of this month. And that early July surplus guesstimate was $75.5 million below what the budget gurus were expecting back in May, and way, way beneath the $500 million surplus projected several months earlier.

 

All these ups and downs are essentially little more than blips for a $19 billion budget operation, variations that can be influenced by a host of different factors.

Sales tax collections can increase or decline due to weather or consumer confidence. Corporate, income and capital gains taxes can rise and fall as well, and are often altered by the course of Wall Street’s fortunes. Even the sudden death of a very wealthy Connecticut resident can mean tens of millions of dollars in estate tax revenue officials hadn’t planned to get.

Surplus and deficit projections can also change as a result of more or less spending by state agencies.

Last year’s surplus ended up at $270.7 million, or about 1.6 percent of that year’s budget. If this year’s surplus comes out to $121.3 million – and that’s won’t actually be known until October – it would amount to less than .2 percent of this year’s budget.

Malloy, who is running for reelection this year, was promoting the fact that the surplus will be deposted in Connecticut’s budget reserve or “Rainy Day Fund.” He also noted that this will be the third year in a row that the state has put money into its reserve account, which now amounts to $392 million.

“Depositing this surplus into the Rainy Day Fund, combined with our efforts to limit spending, are just a few ways that we are taking responsible steps to restore the fiscal health of our state,” Malloy said in a statement.

Republicans, of course, take a very different view.

Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, scoffed at Malloy’s surplus estimate Tuesday.

“Why stop at only a $121 million surplus,” asked Fasano, who is one of the top GOP Senate leaders. “Why not bond for more expenses? Why not move more money away from the Special Transportation Fund? Why not employ every tactic we can think of to grow the Rainy Day Fund without cutting expenses, and then pretend to be a fiscally prudent state?”

The almost-final number on what this year’s surplus actually was won’t be known until the State Comptroller’s Office issues it’s end-of-year finding in early October. And no money can be put into the Rainy Day Fund until after the state’s official budget audit is completed in December.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CT Science Center, Mark Twain House Head List of Cultural Sites Getting New State Grants

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A $4 million grant to the Connecticut Science Center and another $2.2 million for the Mark Twain House & Museum head up an impressive list of state funding proposals for cultural institutions that are expected to win approval Friday.

The agenda for this week’s state Bond Commission also includes $650,000 for improvements to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford; $600,000 to the Music Theater of Connecticut for creation of a new music facility in Norwalk; and $300,000 to the Connecticut Historical Society for renovation work.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Twain House & Museum

Photo Courtesy of Mark Twain House & Museum

The funding for the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford will pay for replacement of heating, air conditioning and ventilation equipment, technology upgrades and additions to science exhibits, according to state officials.

Officials at the Mark Twain House said the $2.2 million being allocated for that popular tourist attraction will pay for long-needed maintenance and improvements.

“We face major challenges regarding certain aspects of our site,” Cindy Lovell, executive director of the Mark Twain House, said in a prepared statement.

Needed renovations include improvements to deal with water infiltration and humidity in the museum’s historical collections, repairs to deteriorating exterior stairs and courtyard, and an inefficient heating, cooling and ventilation system, according to Lovell.