State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield is moving to the legislature’s upper chamber.
The New Haven Democrat handily won election to the state Senate Tuesday, beating Republican Steven Mullins of West Haven in the 10th District.
“I’m very pleased with the results,” Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney said shortly after the votes were tallied. According to unofficial numbers, Holder-Winfield took 77 percent of the vote, Looney said.
“Gary will be a strong and able voice for urban Connecticut,” added Looney, a fellow New Haven Democrat. “He does have big shoes to fill.”
Holder-Winfield will fill the vacancy created when then-state Sen. Toni Harp was elected New Haven mayor. Holder-Winfield was initially a candidate for mayor, but when Harp got into the race, he got out.
Nancy DiNardo, chairwoman of the Connecticut Democratic party, called Holder-Winfield a “dedicated, smart public servant” and noted his commitment to social justice issues.
State Sen. Toni Harp will be sworn in as New Haven’s first female mayor on New Year’s Day.
The ceremony will be at 12 noon at Hill Regional Career High School, which was designed by Harp’s late husband, Wendell.
Harp’s seat in the state Senate will be filled in a special election that will likely take place by late February, said Senate Majority Leader Marty Looney, a New Haven Democrat.
After Harp steps down, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has 10 days to call for a special election. That election would then be held 46 days after Malloy’s announcement – meaning it would likely be mid-to-late February.
“The new senator will most likely not be in place for the start of the session” on Wednesday, February 5, Looney told Capitol Watch. Continue reading
In the most successful tax amnesty in state history, Connecticut has collected more than $175 million in back taxes from more than 10,000 delinquents, officials said Monday.
The largest single payment was more than $20 million, but officials declined to release any names of payers because of state tax confidentiality laws.
The oldest debt payment came from 1988 when Democrat William O’Neill was serving as governor – and has been succeeded by four governors since.
About 665 corporations paid back taxes worth $91.3 million, which was 52 percent of the money collected during the 60-day amnesty that ended on Friday, November 15. More than 2,600 taxpayers who owed sales and use taxes contributed $55.5 million, and more than 5,100 individuals paid personal income taxes worth $21.4 million, said tax commissioner Kevin B. Sullivan. A former state Senate President Pro Tem, Sullivan has become the face of the tax department.
State legislators and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy projected that $35 million would be collected, but the money coming into state coffers has far exceeded that projection.
“I think it tells us how much we underestimated the number of people and businesses that got in trouble during the recession, which fortunately is ending in the state, but nonetheless has been with us for quite a long time,” Sullivan told reporters Monday at the state Capitol. “This was an opportunity for them to come forward.” Continue reading
The state’s tax amnesty program has already collected more than $60 million for the state tax coffers, but it is still unclear whether the state’s largest tax delinquency will be paid.
State Senator Toni Harp’s family real estate business, Renaissance Management Company, owes more than $1 million in back taxes for sales taxes in a long-running dispute that went all the way to the State Supreme Court before a ruling was made against the family business in 2003. Harp herself said that the family would “absolutely not” take advantage of the tax amnesty program that would sharply reduce the interest by 75 percent and eliminate the penalties.
The 60-day program expires on Friday, November 15.
Harp’s son, Matthew, now runs the New Haven-based real estate business that had been previously operated by his late father, Wendell. Matthew Harp had a huge smile on his face last week when his mother won election as the first female mayor in New Haven’s 375-year history.
But he declined to comment on the back taxes and the amnesty program as he stood outside Harp’s election night party in New Haven. He said it was her night, and he did not want to talk about the tax situation. Continue reading
State Sen. Toni Harp made history Tuesday night after a bruising campaign, becoming the first woman mayor in New Haven’s 375-year history.
“It’s a historical day,’’ Harp told Capitol Watch in an interview after her victory. “What means the most to me is when I see the little girls in their classroom and they say, ‘Oh, that’s Toni Harp,’ and I think what that means to them and they know that they can be that some day or they can be more than this.’’
At the start of her speech at Kelly’s restaurant in downtown New Haven, Harp asked her happy supporters to listen closely.
“That is the sound of a glass ceiling shattering,’’ Harp told the crowd.
Harp was helped by another longtime Democrat who has won multiple elections for decades - Edith Prague, a former state senator who is now the state’s aging commissioner.
“Edith Prague came down here today and worked the phones,’’ Harp told the enthusiastic crowd that burst into big smiles as the results went up on the wall and the live band belted out Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.’’ Continue reading
A New Haven topless club and an adjacent after-hours club will both remain closed indefinitely after a shooting Saturday that resulted in the death of a 26-year-old fashion designer.
The owner of the topless club, known as the Key Club Cabaret, asked Tuesday for a voluntary suspension of the liquor permit while state and local officials agree to meet regarding the shooting.
The Key Club Cabaret will remain closed until security issues are resolved, according to a one-page letter that was signed by John Bertini of Fuun House Productions LLC, which owns the club, and John Kraft, the permittee at the Key Club Cabaret.
“In addition, I agree to keep closed that portion of the premises known as “the Lounge,” where no alcohol is served and full body nudity is offered to patrons,” the letter stated. “I am anxious to meet with representatives from the Department of Consumer Protection, liquor control division, representatives of the New Haven Police Department and others to reassess our security and to formulate a security plan for the premises of the cafe permit premises and the business being operated as “the Lounge.” Both are located within the building at 85 Saint John Street, New Haven.”
The business, in an industrial area east of Interstate 91, was previously known as Stagedoor Johnny’s. The after-hours club was known as Backstage Johnny’s in the same building.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and New Haven mayor John DeStefano were both outraged by the shooting, and they held a high-profile press conference Saturday. Continue reading
Two former Democratic political rivals are now joining forces in an effort to stop gun violence in Connecticut’s major cities after recent shootings resulted in the deaths of several young people.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and New Haven mayor John DeStefano want to stop the shootings at after-hours clubs that are largely unregulated because they do not serve alcohol. Some clubs allow underage youths on the premises as they don’t have liquor licenses and do not serve alcohol.
“These types of clubs are extremely dangerous,” Malloy said at a weekend press conference in New Haven. “There’s no reason to have underaged people allowed at these clubs after the normal closing hour of a restaurant establishment.”
The call for action came after the shooting death of 26-year-old fashion designer Erica Robinson at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday in New Haven. The shooting was adjacent to a topless club, and five New Haven residents were injured in the incident - two critically.
The shooting came only two months after two fatalities in separate incidents outside Up Or On The Rocks, a well-known nightspot near the Hartford train station. Those shootings prompted Harford Mayor Pedro Segarra to call for changing the state law that currently allows 18-and-over parties in nightclubs where legal drinking is permitted for those over 21.
The New Haven fatality was the fourth club-related death this year, meaning the clubs account for 25 percent of the 16 murders in the city in 2013. The shooting prompted a major press conference that was attended by Malloy, DeStefano, Police Chief Dean Esserman, and others.
DeStefano unveiled a series of proposals that received praise from Malloy, Senate Majority Leader Marty Looney of New Haven and Michael P. Lawlor, a former legislator and New Haven resident who is now Malloy’s chief adviser on criminal justice issues. Continue reading
Fearing that a women’s professional tennis tournament would flee Connecticut, the state government has purchased the rights to the tournament for $618,000 in order to keep the matches in New Haven.
The official announcement was made Thursday in the move to ensure that the former Pilot Pen tournament remains in the Elm City. Some officials have been concerned about weak attendance for years at the tournament, where television cameras have shown huge areas of empty seats as the professionals are playing.
“We know that Connecticut is a great state for women’s sports, and this is another fantastic way to ensure that continues to be the case in 2014 and beyond,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement.
But House Republican leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk and Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield say the state has no expertise in tennis and should not be involved in owning the tournament.
“Tennis, anyone?” Cafero asked Capitol Watch. “That’s what’s going to be our new motto as a state.”
“Didn’t we learn from OTB?” Cafero asked. “There are certain things the government shouldn’t do. We’re going to promote tennis matches? What do we know about that stuff? … We don’t have a real good track record with sporting events. You look at the XL Center, and unfortunately, the Whalers left.”
Cafero added, “It’s good for the governor, who gives largesse to the particular town or city. This one is pretty blatant. It seems like a pretty blatant political move to garner favor from New Haven voters in the statewide election” in 2014. Continue reading
William Tong lost to David Martin by less than 300 votes. Toni Harp rolled over the opposition in New Haven. Check out the results from the Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.
Merrill says that there will be recounts taking place in East Haven for the town council, board of education and board of finance.
Longtime New Haven reporter Chris Hoffman filed this dispatch Tuesday night on comments by Henry Fernandez and Justin Elicker after state Sen. Toni Harp won the primary for New Haven mayor:
“I believe the people of New Haven deserve a run off for the top two contenders,” Fernandez said. “I am not one of the contenders.”
A person in the crowd yelled, “You’re the best though!” to applause. Continue reading