Category Archives: Connecticut

Partisan Clash Over Easing Connecticut’s Voting Rules

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Connecticut, Democrats, General Assembly, Republicans, Uncategorized Tagged: , , , Date:

How and when people should be allowed to vote has become a highly partisan issue around the United States in recent years, and Connecticut’s turn is now arriving smack in the middle of a heated political campaign season.

Democratic and Republican state lawmakers squared off Wednesday at a legislative meeting over the seemingly innocuous issue of how to explain to voters a proposed state constitutional amendment that’s on the ballot this November.

Photo courtesy of Connecticut State Government.

Photo courtesy of Connecticut State Government.

The real debate wasn’t about the wording, but about the proposed amendment that would remove current restrictions on the General Assembly’s ability to allow things like early voting or “no excuse” absentee ballots. Republicans insist the change could lead to more voter fraud, but Democrats say all they want to do is to make it easier for people to vote.

Connecticut’s constitution doesn’t allow early voting systems like those now used in 33 other states, such as opening the polls on the Saturday before an election. At least 27 states permit registered voters to use “no excuse” absentee ballots – but Connecticut will only allow an absentee ballot if someone is too sick or is out of state at the time of that Election Day.

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Polling Woes: Foley’s Way Ahead of Malloy, Or Maybe Not

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Connecticut, Democrats, Gov. Dannel Malloy, John McKinney, Jonathan Pelto, Republicans, Tom Foley Tagged: , , Date:

If anyone needed any more evidence about how cautious you have to be of political polling these days, all they have to do is look at the results of two very different opinion surveys released in the last few days.

On Tuesday, a new-style, online type of poll on Connecticut’s gubernatorial race came out with the somewhat startling results that Republican Tom Foley was leading Democratic incumbent Dannel Malloy by nine percentage points.  One reason it got so much play – despite all the questions about how it was done – was because it was commissioned by the New York Times and CBS.

Democrat Dannel Malloy

Democrat Dannel Malloy

On Thursday, a slightly more traditional opinion survey was released, this time by a GOP-leaning group called Vox Populi Polling. It found Malloy was ahead of Foley by a single percentage point. A third-party candidate, Jonathan Pelto, came in with three percent support among those polled. With the margin of error involved, the only conclusion you could have is that the race is too close to call.

Republican Tom Foley

Republican Tom Foley

So, which one are we supposed to  believe? The NYT-CBS sponsored survey that used rather questionable online methods? Or the Vox Populi Polling results that also involved some methods (such as automated “robo-calls” to presumed voters) that traditional pollsters question?

Maybe the answer is to be very wary of both.

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State Selling Ads On Connecticut Ferries

by Categorized: Connecticut, Transportation Tagged: , , Date:

Two historic state-owned ferries have been carrying vehicles and passengers back and forth across the Connecticut River for generations, but this year is the first time they have been emblazoned with commercial advertising.

Chester-Hadlyme ferry crossing the Connecticut River. DOT photo.

Chester-Hadlyme ferry crossing the Connecticut River. DOT photo.

State Department of Transportation officials say Carter Mario Injury Lawyers is paying the state $5,000 to put up its ads for this ferry season (April – November). That breaks down to $2,500 for the ad on the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferry, and the same amount for Chester-Hadlyme ferry.

DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said agency officials decided to seek advertising for the ferries to help offset the boats’ operating deficits. In 2012, the ferries were kept operating with a combined state subsidy of $651,000 dollars.

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Dodd Likes Pelto, But Supports Malloy In Tight Race For Governor This Fall

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Chris Dodd, Congress, Connecticut, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Jonathan Pelto Date:

Former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd goes way back with fellow eastern Connecticut Democrat Jonathan Pelto.

When asked if he has known Pelto for about 30 years, Dodd responds, “Actually longer than that.”

The relationship goes all the way back to the mid-1970s before Dodd became a prominent member of the U.S. Senate and a national political figure as general chairman of the Democratic National Committee under President Bill Clinton.

“Jonathan was about 12 or 13 years old when I was a freshman member of the House when I received a paper from a young man in Storrs, Connecticut on energy policy,” Dodd told Capitol Watch recently in an interview. “I put it in the Congressional Record. The author was Jonathan Pelto.”

Fast forward to 2014 and Pelto is now gathering signatures in an attempt to get on the ballot in the race for governor. Despite his long relationship with Pelto, Dodd says he will be voting for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“I have great admiration for Dan Malloy,” Dodd said. “He’s not a back-slapper. He’s not a glad-hander. I don’t need someone to make me feel good with rhetoric. He’s trying to get our state in a good, strong place. I’d rather have a leader like than than someone who makes me feel good. I like Jonathan, but I’m a Dan Malloy guy.”

Fedele Endorses Walker For Lt. Governor

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Connecticut, David Walker Date:

BY MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA

Former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele today endorsed David M. Walker, the Republican who hopes to be the next occupant of the third-floor office now occupied by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman.

Fedele photo_QB63322.jpgFedele served under Gov. M. Jodi Rell from 2007 to 2010 and ran unsuccessfully for the Republican gubernatorial nomination against Tom Foley in 2010. He announced the endorsement Thursday morning at Stamford Old Town Hall, three weeks after endorsing Foley for governor.

“Dave will bring bold change and real leadership to the Capitol,” Fedele said. “Dave has over 40 years of public, private and non-profit-sector leadership, including 10 years as comptroller general of the United States, which makes him by far the most qualified candidate to help create a comeback in Connecticut.  Dave can work with the next governor to help grow the economy, create jobs and put our state’s finances in order.”

Walker accepted the praise in stride, and returned it.

Fedele “knows first-hand the type of person Connecticut needs to serve as lieutenant governor in these challenging times,” Walker said.

Walker has not been shy about his experience at the federal level. In June, he told the Working Families Party that he wasn’t simply chasing the honor of being called “lieutenant governor” “because I’ve had better titles.”

The three candidates for the GOP’s nomination for lieutenant governor are Walker, former Groton Mayor Heather Somers and Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-Stafford. The trio will be in West Hartford tonight for a debate-style segment with NBC Connecticut, scheduled to air on Sunday.

Walker has pooled funds with Republican gubernatorial hopeful John McKinney, the Republican senator from Fairfield who is considered an underdog against Tom Foley. In Connecticut, there is no official “ticketing” in the primary round, meaning Walker and McKinney won’t appear together on the ballot.

Fedele is now CEO of Pinnacle Group, an information technology company he founded.

 

Taxpayer Tab for Fixing State Capitol Skylights: $800,000

by Categorized: Connecticut, General Assembly Tagged: , , Date:

The  State Capitol’s beautiful stained-glass skylights, which have been falling apart for years, are finally getting repaired at an estimated cost of $800,000.

capitol

“It’s a scary number,” admitted Eric Connery, facilities administrator for the office responsible for upkeep of the historic building.

The cost becomes more understandable when you consider the amount of work necessary to get these hundreds of glass panels fixed. The skylights sit five stories above the State Capitol’s lobby on either side of the building.

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Two Connecticut Immigrants Agree To Drop Civil Rights Lawsuit

by Categorized: Connecticut Date:

Two undocumented immigrants from Connecticut Wednesday dropped their civil rights lawsuit against federal officials in return for being allowed to stay in the U.S.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement photo.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement photo.

The negotiated settlement was reached between U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Gabriel Villanueva-Ojanama of Hartford and Sebastian Manuel Castro Largo of Meriden.

As a result of the federal decision to drop deportation proceedings, the two men will be able to stay with their families in Connecticut, according to students from the Worker & Immigration Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. Law students from the clinic represented the men in their federal lawsuit.

Both men were arrested by Connecticut police in separate incidents in 2011 and convicted of motor vehicle offenses in state courts. They were turned over to ICE agents as a result of federal “detainers” under a controversial program called Secure Communities.

Critics of the program charge that tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been unfairly deported despite never having committed any serious crimes. The Obama Administration has claimed the Secure Communities deportations were intended to target only felony criminals such as drug dealers and rapists.

The 2013 lawsuit filed by the two Connecticut men charged those federal detainers were administrative notices that failed to meet legal requirements for a warrant, and violated the civil rights of Villanueva-Ojanama, 37, and Castrol Largo, 34.

“I’m grateful that ICE agreed to terminate my case and recognized how serious and difficult my experience was,” Villanueva-Ojanama said in a prepared statement. “I’m glad I can now put this behind me an continue to live here and support my family.”

Report Gives Connecticut Top Marks For Budgeting Process

by Categorized: Connecticut, Democrats Date:

Connecticut ranks first among the states for its use of fiscal planning tools, according to a recently-released report from a D.C. think tank.

\"capitolUnder the state budgeting process, lawmakers set multi-year projections, ask a non-partisan agency to analyze the fiscal impact of legislation and put money into a \”rainy day fund\” that can be tapped in budget emergencies – all effective tools in long-term budget planning, according to the report from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Connecticut also received praise for providing estimates of how much it would cost to continue delivering services at the current level, a projection that helps show when a governor\’s proposed budget includes significant cuts to a state agency. The report cited Gov. Malloy\’s 2011 budget as an example, and said that the baseline estimate allowed lawmakers to see that a $5 million cut to a department\’s budget was, in fact, a more significant cut of $10 million when compared to the actual cost of continuing current services. The legislature reversed some of the cuts in the final budget it adopted, the report said, after \”digging deeper\” and learning about some of the programs Malloy wanted to cut.

Connecticut received low marks from the CBPP in just two of 10 categories: pension oversight and oversight of tax expenditures. The state needs regular reviews of future pension costs from an outside agency, and needs to better scrutinize the future costs of tax breaks, the report said.

Malloy\’s budget director, Ben Barnes, said Connecticut had a \”transparent and accurate system of fiscal reporting.\”

Right-To-Die Activists Call On Legislature To Revisit Issue

by Categorized: Connecticut Date:

After right-to-die legislation was defeated in the General Assembly last year, advocates, hoping they will have another shot at the issue in the upcoming session, held a press conference Wednesday to call for new laws that would allow terminally ill patients to choose physician-assisted death.

\”Looking at the trajectory of this disease can sometimes fill me with sadness and fear,\” said Sara Meyers, a Connecticut resident who was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig\’s disease.

\”I wish that I had the choice to have help, when enough is enough, to end my suffering,\” said Meyers, who said she considered moving to states where aid-in-dying was legal. \”Whether I ever use the option, knowing it was there would allow me to live my day without so much fear,\” she said. Continue reading

Rapoport To Lead Common Cause

by Categorized: Connecticut, Democrats Date:

\"milesMiles Rapoport, a stalwart liberal Connecticut Democrat who once seemed ticketed for Congress, will take over as the new head of Common Cause.

“Miles brings us an incredible combination of intellect, energy and experience,” said Robert Reich, chair of Common Cause’s National Governing Board. “His commitment to our mission of holding power accountable, and his understanding of the challenges we face in executing it, is unparalleled.”

\"rapoport

Rapoport, a former state legislator and Secretary of the State, has lead the public policy research group Demos since 2001.

Founded in 1970, Common Cause is a non-partisan advocacy group with more than 400,000 members. It bills itself as \”the nation\’s original \’citizens lobby\’\” and \”an advocate for increased citizen engagement in politics and government and effective controls on the political power of major institutions and the wealthy.\”

Founded in 1970, Common Cause is the nation’s original “citizens lobby,” a non-partisan, non-profit organization with more than 400,000 members and supporters and offices in 35 states. Throughout its history, Common Cause has been an advocate for increased citizen engagement in politics and government and effective controls on the political power of major institutions and the wealthy. – See more at: http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4773613&ct=13596075#sthash.PClbDJU8.dpuf
“Miles brings us an incredible combination of intellect, energy and experience,” said Robert Reich, chair of Common Cause’s National Governing Board. “His commitment to our mission of holding power accountable, and his understanding of the challenges we face in executing it, is unparalleled.” – See more at: http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4773613&ct=13596075#sthash.PClbDJU8.dpuf
“Miles brings us an incredible combination of intellect, energy and experience,” said Robert Reich, chair of Common Cause’s National Governing Board. “His commitment to our mission of holding power accountable, and his understanding of the challenges we face in executing it, is unparalleled.” – See more at: http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4773613&ct=13596075#sthash.PClbDJU8.dpuf
“Miles brings us an incredible combination of intellect, energy and experience,” said Robert Reich, chair of Common Cause’s National Governing Board. “His commitment to our mission of holding power accountable, and his understanding of the challenges we face in executing it, is unparalleled.” – See more at: http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4773613&ct=13596075#sthash.PClbDJU8.dpuf