State insiders are closely watching the fate of CRRA, the regional garbage and recycling agency, as some town officials believe that the agency is hurting financially and could eventually go out of business.
Now, a longtime Hartford Democrat is asking the state legislature to force CRRA to set aside money in case he wins a bitter lawsuit against the agency.
Matthew J. Hennessy, who runs a consulting firm known as Tremont Public Advisors, is asking the legislature to insert language into a CRRA bill to force the agency to “post a bond in sufficient amount to pay any judgment or arbitration award resulting from outstanding claims pending against CRRA as of December 31, 2013.”
That would include Tremont’s civil lawsuit that says CRRA violated the state’s anti-trust act and competitive bidding laws after Hennessy’s firm failed to win a consulting contract that had long been held by Brown Rudnick, the law and lobbying firm that employs former House Speaker Thomas Ritter. Hennessy and Ritter are longtime Hartford Democrats from the West End who have had cordial relations in the past, but they have clashed over the CRRA issue.
“Based upon the information that has been discovered to date, I am confident that our suit will be successful,” Hennessy wrote in a letter to the environment committee co-chairs, Sen. Edward Meyer and Rep. Linda Gentile.
Thomas D. Kirk, CRRA’s president and CEO, declined to comment on Hennessy’s letter. Continue reading
A Hartford law firm won a preliminary victory recently in a bitter lawsuit against the regional trash agency when a judge refused to disqualify the law firm for a conflict of interest.
Murtha Cullina, a well-known firm that served as the former general counsel for the embattled Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority for 29 years, is now representing a consulting firm headed by Hartford Democratic political operative Matthew J. Hennessy in a lawsuit against CRRA.
In one of its first moves in state Superior Court in Hartford, CRRA tried to disqualify Murtha Cullina from the civil lawsuit after charging that “the firm has gained confidential information regarding the defendant’s finances, development, and private matters that will result in an unfair advantage to the plaintiff in the present action,” according to court papers. Continue reading
Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley is sharply criticizing the state’s surplus of more than $500 million, saying it is a “phony election-year surplus” that cannot be sustained. Continue reading
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is touting the state’s budget surplus in an election year as the projected total has climbed to more than $500 million for the current fiscal year.
“For too long, our state had been putting off the tough decisions needed to get our fiscal house back on track and keep it there,” Malloy said in a statement. “While the work isn’t done yet and we must continue working to improve the state of our state, thanks to the efforts of many people in our state, we’re seeing progress.”
What does Tom Ritter do for the state’s regional garbage agency?
That was the question Tuesday at a two-hour public hearing in front of the state’s Freedom of Information Commission.
Ritter, the influential former Speaker of the House, has worked for years as a consultant for the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, the regional garbage-burning and recycling entity that serves about 70 towns. His work has been part of a broader controversy as part of a freedom of information battle that has lasted longer than 18 months and has cost the CRRA more than $100,000 as the agency refuses to reveal more than 1,000 emails by Ritter and others that CRRA says are protected by attorney-client privilege, according to testimony.
The issue was still not resolved after Tuesday’s hearing and will be the subject of future testimony, which has not yet been scheduled.
The FOI hearing officer, staff attorney Kathleen K. Ross, seemed unclear at times during the hearing over exactly what services Ritter performs for CRRA.
“What is his job?’’ Ross asked at one point. “What does he do?’’ Continue reading
It just didn’t sound right to West Hartford Mayor R. Scott Slifka.
As a board member of the state’s powerful regional garbage agency, Slifka knew that state law prevented the agency from hiring a lobbyist. Yet, Slifka was being asked to vote on extending the consulting contract held by the firm of a registered lobbyist, former House Speaker Thomas D. Ritter.
An attorney, Slifka said he believed that the move by the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority to extend a “municipal liaison’’ contract for three years was not following the spirit of the law.
“There was this splitting-hairs definition that this isn’t really lobbying,’’ Slifka says now of the board deliberations in 2011. “It seems it doesn’t pass the smell test. That’s the kind of thing the man on the street doesn’t understand, and that’s how I felt. It may be legal, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense.’’
In the end, Slifka voted against extending Ritter’s contract, but he never sought publicity and generally avoided talking publicly about his concerns – until now. Continue reading
The board of the region’s powerful garbage agency held an emergency meeting Monday to discuss a high-profile lawsuit that charges illegal lobbying and favoritism in the awarding of a consulting contract.
The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority held the meeting to discuss the strategy and defenses to the civil lawsuit, said board chairman Donald S. Stein.
“We have to take it seriously and put a defense together,’’ Stein said in a telephone interview. “We don’t believe the charges have merit.’’
Stein, who also serves as the first selectman of Barkhamsted, declined to comment in detail on the lawsuit by a consulting firm run by longtime Hartford Democratic strategist Matthew J. Hennessy, who was one of two bidders for a three-year consulting contract worth more than $250,000.
Hennessy was trying to unseat the incumbent consultant, Thomas D. Ritter of the law and lobbying firm of Brown Rudnick. Ritter’s firm has held the contract since 2006, and Hennessy charges in the suit that Ritter’s firm was the “predetermined’’ winner. Hennessy’s firm, which was never interviewed and was the high bidder, is seeking monetary and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, treble damages under the state’s anti-trust statutes, “an injunction prohibiting CRRA from utilizing outside lobbyists,’’ and a Superior Court judge’s ruling awarding him the contract. Continue reading