Author Archives: John Ferraro

Former State Senator Joe Harper Slims Down – Way Down

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Former state Sen. Joe Harper, the New Britain Democrat who became known in the Capitol both for his skill as a legislator and for his size, has shed about 450 pounds since he left the chamber almost two decades ago. What’s more, Harper accomplished the dramatic slimming without now-common weight loss surgeries, according to New Britain’s Hospital for Special Care.

When he left the Capitol in 1995, Harper had topped out at 736 pounds: he was so hefty that the state built him a custom chair in the Senate chamber. Today, the former lawmaker is under 280 pounds.

“Achieving this weight loss is probably the hardest, yet most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life,” Harper said in a release distributed HSC, where he retired as vice president for government affairs in 2010. “I never could have done it without [HSC CEO] John Votto, my physical therapist Stanley John and everyone else who works with them at Hospital for Special Care.”

Votto said he’d “never seen anything quite like it.”

He added:  “I’ve known Senator Harper for quite some time now and to see what he’s been able to accomplish is astounding. He is a role model and example of what determination and personal discipline can achieve.”

In celebration of his achievement, Harper and HSC have collaborated to launch the Harper Fund for Autism, which will go directly to support HSC’s outpatient autism programs. In the release, Harper called the new fund “my way of giving back.”

Before shedding the weight, Harper spent 16 years working for New Britain at the capitol, 12 as a state senator and four as a state representative. Since leaving the legislative branch, he has served as deputy state treasurer, a vice president at Central Connecticut State University, and at HSC.

CCM Chooses Town Manager As President

by Categorized: Mark Boughton Date:


The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, a group that lobbies the state government on behalf of the state’s local governments, elected its slate of leaders on Tuesday, choosing Matthew B. Galligan, South Windsor’s town manager, as president.

Unlike mayors, town managers are appointed, usually by a city or town council. For most of its 48 year history, the CCM has been led by mayors; Galligan is just the third town manager to hold the top spot.

Danbury Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark D. Boughton, will serve as Galligan’s vice president. Boughton is currently in the three-way Republican gubernatorial primary with Greenwich businessman Tom Foley and Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney of Fairfield.

For the last year, Galligan and Boughton served as vice president and second vice president, respectively, under president and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch.

In total, Tuesday’s CCM annual meeting saw the re-election of 14 officers to the group’s leadership and the election of five new officers, including New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

A board of directors which includes five past presidents of CCM, as well as other officials from Connecticut municipalities, governs the organization.

Don Williams To Visit Quinebaug As Candidate For President

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Outgoing state Senate President Donald Williams will visit Quinebaug Valley Community College to meet Thursday with faculty, staff, students and community members. Williams is a candidate for president, the school said in a press release.

During his visit, he will also meet with members of the Board of Regents and Board of Regents President Dr. Gregory Gray, the school said


Latest On Democratic Governors’ Suit Over Campaign Finance Laws

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Connecticut election regulators and the state Republican Party are fighting a Democratic effort that could boost Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s re-election war chest by removing restrictions on campaign fundraising and spending from the state’s landmark campaign finance reform laws.

The state Elections Enforcement Commission and the Republicans filed papers in U.S. District Court Tuesday opposing a suit by the Democratic Governors Association that challenges the law as an unconstitutional infringement of political free speech.

The DGA wants the federal court to overturn key components of the law that regulate coordination between candidates and groups that raise money and spend to influence elections . In the meantime, the DGA is asking for an speedy court order blocking the state from enforcing the parts of the law the DGA wants set aside.

If the court were to issue the order on the DGA’s schedule, it would clear Malloy to raise money for the DGA at a what is expected to be a lucrative, Democratic policy conference in Greenwich later this month. The DGA then would be free to donate unrestricted sums to groups supporting Malloy and other democratic causes later in the campaign.

The state’s elections overseers and the Republicans have joined an array of clean campaign advocates attacking the DGA suit on a variety of grounds.

The Democratic governors argue that Connecticut’s strict campaign finance laws – regulations that seek to increase transparency and eliminate back-room influence buying by major donors – have been made illegally restrictive under U.S. Supreme Court decisions affording first amendment protection to what are known as independent political expenditures.

Groups challenging the suit argue that the DGA is wrong on the law and that state campaign law passes constitutional muster. They have characterized the DGA’s request for an immediate order blocking enforcement of the laws an attempt to get an advance exemption from potential campaign spending violations.

“Not only does the DGA seek to render completely inoperable a central component of Connecticut’s campaign finance scheme – its expenditure definition – it also seeks to be shielded from any investigation or inquiry about whether it has violated other remaining provisions of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws,” the state Attorney General’s office wrote in papers filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday in behalf of the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Attorney’s Proloy Das and Richard Healey, representing the Republicans, are seeking to intervene in the suit, pending before Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C, Hall. In their papers, the two argued: “The concerns of hidden money influencing campaigns … are precisely what the DGA’s lawsuit, if successful, would create. The Supreme Court has recognized the state’s interest in preventing those scenarios from occurring.”

Malloy, whose fundraising efforts stand to benefit by a DGA legal victory, has been a long supporter of campaign finance reforms and twice used public financing to defeat wealthy, self-funded opponents in the last gubernatorial election cycle. But he said the Supreme Court’s campaign finance decision in Citizen’s United changed the political landscape and he and other candidates have been forced to adapt.

Malloy’s spokesman, Andrew Doba, said the DGA notified him in advance of the lawsuit as a courtesy.

“The governor’s perspective on this has always been very clear,” Doba said. “As soon as the Citizens United decision came down he said he thought it was the wrong decision because it would open up the floodgates to outside money coming into campaigns. He also has been very clear that he believes the playing field should be level. While this is not the landscape he would’ve chosen, he does believe that if organizations believe they need to take certain actions in order to ensure that level playing field they have every right to do so.”

Election reform advocates forecast doom for Connecticut’s aggressive set of campaign laws, which already have been sent through one set of amendments following an earlier constitutional challenge.

“The integrity of Connecticut’s elections generally, and the publicly-financed elections in particular, depend on the successful defense of the challenged ‘coordination’ restrictions,” representatives of five advocacy groups wrote to state Attorney General George Jepsen.

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Imprisoned Transgender Girl Sends Malloy Letter, Lawyer Says

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The attorney for a 16-year-old transgender girl placed into  York Correctional Institute for woman in Niantic on April 8 has supplied The Courant with a letter he says the girl has written to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. DCF invoked a rarely used law permitting the transfer of a juvenile to adult prison if the department proves it can’t care for the youth anywhere in the juvenile system – an assertion hotly contested by advocates in this case.

Here is the letter:

Dear Governor Malloy,

I am writing you to let you know that today is my anniversary. I have been sitting in this prison for a month now and there is no plan to get me out. I am suffering in here. I’m having trouble sleeping and I’m not eating much. I cry in bed every night. I can’t be myself in this place. I feel forgotten and thrown away. As you probably know, these feeling are not new for me. This is the way my life has been going since I was a little kid. My lawyer says that Commissioner Katz is the only one who can fix this but when I wrote her a letter it didn’t help. She has given up on me. If you’re her boss you can do something, right? Everyone says I need to be somewhere where I can get help and Katz keeps telling everyone that she is working to get me out of here but I don’t believe her. I think this is just another one of her stories that isn’t true. I want to call her a liar but people tell me that I shouldn’t say that about someone important like her. All I know is that she has said a lot of things about me that aren’t true. She was on TV telling people I blinded someone and broke their jaw. That was a lie. She said that she never asked that I go to Manson. That was a lie. She told everyone that I should be going to that new girls program at Riverview. That was a lie. Now she is telling people she is trying to get me out of here but nothing is happening. I hear people talking and they are saying that I am going to be here till I’m 18. I am done with DCF. They just want to make up stuff about me so that everyone thinks I am some kind of wild animal. Is it Ok for them to do this? To just lie about me and throw me in prison and forget about me? If I was in charge I wouldn’t let this happen. If you’re the Governor then you are in charge of everyone who works for the state. DCF is supposed to be helping me, right? If this is helping me then I’m all set with being helped.  I would be a lot better off being on my own. It seems like you’re my last chance to get out of here. Don’t forget about me. I can’t take another month of this.

Jane Doe

DMV Expands Learner’s Permit Testing Appointment Sites

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:

The Department of Motor Vehicles will begin taking appointments for learner’s permit tests in the Old Saybrook office, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday.

Old Saybrook joins Waterbury, Danbury, Bridgeport, Cheshire, Norwalk, Wethersfield, Hamden and Willimantic in offering learner’s permit testing by appointment, the governor’s office said. The first available appointments start May 13.

“From the start, our goal has been to make it easier to do business with state agencies by streamlining government and making it more accessible to residents,” said Malloy. “In particular, the current operating environment at DMV is 30 to 40 years old and does not provide the flexibility for on-going state and federal changes that will be required in the future. Through DMV’s Modernization Program, we are upgrading various pieces of antiquated technology and systems used throughout the agency in a manner that facilitates efficiency and practicality. Based on the feedback we have received from DMV customers thus far, we are making significant progress toward that goal.”

In a press release, the office said “the modernization program is bringing a number of different enhancements to DMV and the most popular so far has been scheduling online a learner’s permit test. Other efficiency changes by offering online services include certain registration renewal, checks on status of licenses and registrations, and look ups for vanity plate combinations.”

“We are making strong strides in this effort to turn around an old system that posed many inconveniences to customers. Customer convenience is at the heart of the reasons we are doing this upgrade and these all are necessary changes that we simply cannot afford not to make,” said DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey. “These are also complex changes to be made and while some deadlines came and went, we have held steady on a path to success and the positive results are happening. We also need to remember that technology has changed significantly in the last three decades and that has prevented us from making the service improvements until now that we feel are needed for our customers.” Continue reading

UConn Responds To Video Of Professor, Creationists

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Another state professor. Another rant, this time from UConn’s James Boster, Professor of Anthropology.

By Wednesday afternoon, the university put out a statement.

“Everyone has the right to exercise free speech on our campuses. At the same time, we expect our faculty to act in a way that promotes civil discourse and to express themselves respectfully. The use of abusive language and a confrontational posture are inconsistent with UConn’s values.”

Boster started at UConn in 1997. He makes $119,486 a year.


State GOP Hopes To Cash In On Professor’s Rant

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State Republicans are hoping to cash in on the video of an Eastern Connecticut State University professor’s rant against the GOP. Elissa Voccola, the party’s executive director, sent an email the potential donors with a link to the video.

The email tells recipients that “while teaching a creative writing class, a professor at Eastern Connecticut State University said that Republicans are “racist, misogynist, money-grubbing people.”

It continues, with links to a website where donations can be made:

As a Republican, as a woman, and as a former student of a Connecticut State University, I was deeply offended by his comments. Like you, I want our state universities to be places that foster and encourage open discussion. But this professor’s comments cross the line and fall far short of the standard to which we should hold our public employees.

This is exactly the type of thing we need to fight back against. Please help our fight by sending a secure online contribution of $10, $20 or $40 today.

The reality is, this is what we’re up against. With recent college graduates in Connecticut unable to find jobs and facing mountains of debt, Democrats are resorting to offensive lies and desperate scare tactics to try to hold on to the youth vote.

But we will make sure that voters know the truth. And you can help by making a contribution to support our cause today.


Elissa Voccola
Executive Director, CT GOP

P.S. The best way to fight back is by electing Republican leaders in November. By donating today, you can help us elect Republicans up and down the ticket.