Category Archives: Hartford

Busway Construction Causes Shutdown Near State Capitol For Weekend

by Categorized: 2014 Election, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Hartford, Tom Foley Date:

The construction of the new busway will cause an exit to be closed this weekend near the state Capitol.

The eastbound off-ramp on Interstate 84 will be shut down at exit 48A for the entire weekend, according to state officials.

The closure is scheduled to begin at about 10 p.m. Friday, and motorists will be directed to take a detour to the adjacent Capitol Avenue exit, which is heavily traveled on weekdays among those headed to the state Capitol and the adjacent Legislative Office Building.

The exit’s off-ramp is scheduled to be all clear by 5 a.m. Monday as commuters start heading back to the Capitol and nearby offices.

Backed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the busway has been heavily criticized by some lawmakers and Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield. The most recent criticism came during the Republican gubernatorial debate at The Hartford Courant, where McKinney referred to the project as the “busway to nowhere that nobody is going to use.” Continue reading

Dems File 2nd Complaint Against Foley

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Hartford, John McKinney, Tom Foley Date:

State Democrats have filed their second complaint in two weeks against Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley regarding the filing of campaign expenses.

The Democrats charge that Foley has not disclosed the expenses to create a television commercial that is currently on the air on multiple stations across the state. The Democrats say that “no payments or obligations regarding advertisement production costs have been disclosed in Mr. Foley’s most recent filings” on July 10.

Those production costs to create the ad “typically run in the tens of thousands of dollars,” the party said.

In the same manner that the Foley campaign rejected the first Democratic complaint made to the State Elections Enforcement Commission, Foley campaign spokesman Christopher Cooper said, “This is another attempt by Governor Malloy and his surrogates to distract attention from his failed leadership and his terrible record as governor.”

He added, “The Foley campaign has been working with the SEEC on nearly everything we do, and we are confident that we are in compliance with all SEEC procedures.”

Citing state law, a spokesman for the SEEC, attorney Joshua Foley, said the commission cannot confirm or deny whether it received a complaint and also could not comment on the details.

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Ernie Newton To Seek Dismissal of 7 Criminal Charges

by Categorized: Hartford Date:

HARTFORD – An attorney for former state Senator Ernie Newton said Thursday that he will ask a judge to dismiss seven criminal charges due to a recently discovered audit that he says exonerates Newton of campaign finance fraud.

The defense team never saw the audit by state election officials until recent weeks, but it says that Newton had reached the minimum $15,000 fundraising threshold to qualify for more than $80,000 in public financing in a Democratic state Senate primary that he lost in August 2012. The fundraising is at the heart of the criminal charges because the prosecution charges that Newton never reached the threshold and should have never received the public money – leading to a felony count of first-degree larceny for “falsely obtaining thousands of dollars in public funds.’’

Attorney Darnell D. Crosland, who represents Newton, read some details of the audit during a hearing in Superior Court, telling Judge Joan Alexander that 357 campaign contributions had been certified as “qualified’’ under state rules and that the final tally was $15,020 – just barely above the threshold.

“Mr. Newton has reached the threshold for qualified funds, which has brought us here,’’ Crosland told the judge. “We’ve been before this court for about two years. … We’re approaching a Brady issue or a discovery issue because this should have been turned over a long time ago.’’

The judge responded that she was not ruling that prosecutors were guilty of a “Brady’’ violation – meaning that they had not turned over evidence that would prove the innocence of a defendant.

In a rare appearance in court, deputy chief state’s attorney Leonard Boyle – the second-highest ranking state prosecutor – said that the “draft summary’’ of the audit that was dated June 3, 2013 was a mistake.

“I have reason to believe the 2013 date was in error,’’ Boyle told the judge, adding that the document should have been dated one year later. Continue reading

GOP’s Foley Says He Has Common Bond With Liberal Democrat Pelto

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Hartford Date:

Conservative Republican Tom Foley and liberal Democrat Jonathan Pelto would not seem to have much in common, but Foley says he sees a common bond between them.

Each candidate is running for governor this year and trying to unseat incumbent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a potentially tight race in November.

“The two issues he cares most about are issues that I care a lot about, too – and that’s education and corporate welfare,’’ Foley told The Courant. “We’re on the same side on those issues. We have the same objectives. He has a different approach to what’s the answer to our achievement gap and other problems in our underperforming schools. But I think we both agree on the goals – that the schools aren’t doing enough for our young people, particularly in our urban areas, and we simply must do more than this governor is doing and must do more than we’ve done in the past to fix these problems.’’

Pelto has been attacking Malloy from the left, while Foley has been doing the same from the right.

“On the corporate welfare, I totally agree with him,’’ Foley said of Pelto. “I don’t know why this governor is giving away billions of taxpayer dollars to wealthy corporations to bribe them to keep jobs here. All he needs to do is implement a number of policies that I’ve talked about – for free – that will make businesses more interested in staying here. That’s bringing down costs and bringing down the regulatory burden in the state – permits and inspections and all kinds of things that in many cases drive them out of the state.’’

Malloy has strongly defended his “First Five’’ program, saying that various government incentives have prompted corporations like CIGNA and ESPN to keep jobs in their home state. Malloy’s campaign declined to comment, referring questions to the state Democratic Party.

Party spokesman Devon Puglia said Foley’s comments were “yet another ludicrous claim’’ that comes after other “typical gross distortions and utter falsehoods.’’

“Every day it’s getting harder to take Tom Foley seriously,’’ Puglia said. “He’s reckless with his words and his actions.’’ Continue reading

Rock Cats Spoke To Then-Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez About Coming To Hartford

by Categorized: Hartford Date:

The New Britain Rock Cats stunned baseball fans with their potential relocation to Hartford, but this is not the first time that a team move to the capital city has been discussed.

The Rock Cats broached the idea for a new stadium in Hartford with the administration of then-Mayor Eddie A. Perez more than five years ago, said Matthew J. Hennessy, who was Perez’s chief of staff at the time and a participant in the discussions.

“The previous ownership of the Rock Cats approached Mayor Perez and city hall the last time that their lease was up with New Britain,” Hennessy told The Courant on Tuesday. “They began initial discussions about potentially moving the team to Hartford if a new stadium was built, with the potential of putting it in Asylum Hill or downtown. The city was insisting that there be substantial private investment as part of any agreement, and that’s when the discussions started to peter out.”

No deal was ever reached, and the talks have never been publicly disclosed until now.

Hennessy and the previous co-owners of the Rock Cats, Coleman B. Levy and Bill Dowling, all had differing recollections Tuesday about the situation. But everyone agreed that there was never a solid deal in place to move the team.

Dowling volunteered that there had been talk about whether there was enough room for a ballpark near what is now the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford’s North Meadows, but neither Levy nor Hennessy remembered that option. Continue reading

Sen. McKinney, Gov. Malloy Clash Again Over Budget, Transportation Spending

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Hartford, John McKinney Date:

For the second consecutive day, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican gubernatorial candidate John McKinney clashed Friday over the state budget and funding for transportation projects.

The dust-up started Thursday when McKinney criticized Malloy after a 118-year-old railroad bridge in Norwalk, known as the Walk Bridge, delayed Metro-North commuters because it was stuck in the “up” position and would not close properly. McKinney blasted Malloy for “sweeping” money out of the state’s special transportation fund in order to help balance the general fund budget, but Malloy’s spokesman said that McKinney didn’t know what he was talking about on the budget.

“To the governor’s comment that I don’t understand the budget, I’m ready to challenge him to a debate on the budget any time – any place,” McKinney said Friday.

When told of McKinney’s remarks, Malloy responded, “I’m sure Senator McKinney would enjoy a debate, and I’m sure we’ll have one if he wins the primary. The reality is the state of Connecticut puts more revenue into transportation than that which is generated by the gas tax. That’s the fact. … They want to ignore it, but that’s the reality.”

He added, “Since I became governor, we have increased infrastructure spending related to transportation by 165 percent.”

“With respect to the bridge, if he had picked up the phone and called me, I would have told him that it is our priority with respect to [federal] Sandy relief money … and that specifically I traveled and had a conversation in Washington with the Secretary of Transportation concerning the Walk Bridge specifically in the last couple of weeks,” Malloy said. “If he had asked – but he didn’t – and I’m not surprised because he’s running for office.”

But McKinney says that the state needs to spend more money on its aging transportation infrastructure.

“The reality is this governor has raided nearly $190 million from the Special Transportation Fund since he took office,” McKinney said. “He uses the money not to fix ancient bridges, or cracked rail lines, but to fill gaping holes in the state budget. Where are his priorities? It is clear he believes throwing half a billion federal dollars at a busway to nowhere is important.  Those federal dollars should have been invested in our aging rail system – again priorities.” Continue reading

Tom Foley Says He is First To Qualify For Public Financing In Governor’s Race

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Greenwich, Hartford, John McKinney, Mark Boughton, Tom Foley Date:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley says he has become the first gubernatorial candidate to qualify for public financing by reaching the $250,000 threshold – just before Saturday’s nominating convention.

The campaign announced Thursday that it has raised more than $254,000 and has been averaging more than $5,000 per day over the past week. The contributions must be confirmed by the State Elections Enforcement Commission before Foley – or any other candidate – can receive public financing.

Overall, more than 3,000 contributors have given money to Foley’s campaign, and the campaign is projecting to reach $265,000 during the next week.

The Foley campaign says it is the first Republican campaign in state history to reach the $250,000 threshold without the help of a lieutenant governor candidate and “the first campaign of any party to reach the goal in only three and a half months.”

“Contributors to my campaign have told me they are supporting me because of their concerns for their families and the future of Connecticut,” Foley said Thursday in a statement. “We are going to win the race for governor so we can alleviate those concerns by bringing back the opportunity, optimism and pride we had before Governor Malloy was elected.”

Foley’s contributions will be checked by the State Elections Enforcement Commission before any public money is officially allocated. Under the law, candidates who raise $250,000 in small contributions can receive $1.25 million for a primary in August and then $6 million for the general election in November.

Despite reaching the threshold, Foley – a multimillionaire business executive from Greenwich – is still not sure whether he will accept the money or tap into his own personal funds to run the campaign.

“He hasn’t decided,’’ Christopher Cooper, Foley’s spokesman, said Thursday. “He said he would decide after the convention. That has been his consistent position on that one.’’

During the 2010 race against Democrat Dannel P. Malloy, Foley spent more than $10 million of his own money before losing in the closest gubernatorial election in Connecticut in more than 50 years. Foley won 128 cities and towns, but Malloy pulled more overall votes by winning 41 cities and towns, including by huge margins in New Haven and Bridgeport. Malloy has close allies in the key city of New Haven with two newly elected officials – Mayor Toni Harp and Democratic Town Committee chairman Vinnie Mauro.

The next public filing date for all candidates is July 10, which will cover all contributions for the second quarter that ends on June 30.

In the latest public filing in April, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney of Fairfield had raised the highest amount of any candidate for governor in the all-important money race.  McKinney had raised more than $178,000 in small contributions by the end of the first quarter on March 31. He was followed by Foley at $131,000 at that point and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton at $121,000, according to public documents. Continue reading

Cities and Towns ‘Pleading’ for No State Aid Cuts, No Unfunded Mandates

by Categorized: Environment, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Hartford, Newtown, Sandy Hook, State budget, Uncategorized Tagged: , , Date:

It’s become an annual rite of spring in Connecticut’s legislature: municipal leaders who have already passed their own local budgets arriving at the State Capitol begging lawmakers not to cut aid to cities and towns.

Wednesday morning’s Connecticut Conference of Municipalities news conference focused on the usual worries about what lawmakers would do in the yet-to-be-passed state budget, and hand-wringing about a bunch of other potential General Assembly actions.

capitol building

Those include concerns about possible expansion of workman’s compensation for local first responders who witness horrific scenes like the Sandy Hook massacre, a potential ban on use of pesticides on high school grounds, and new local tax exemptions for properties leased to local schools.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said he and other mayors and first selectmen are “pleading with our delegations” not to cut from the levels of state municipal aid proposed by Gov. Dannel Malloy. “To have any further decreases in those numbers would be really devastating,” Segarra said.

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Rep. Clemons, Considering Retirement, Recalls Days With New York Jets

by Categorized: 2014 Election, General Assembly, Hartford Date:

State Rep. Charles “Don” Clemons has had multiple careers in his life, including 24 years with the Bridgeport fire department and 11 years in the state legislature.

As he is leaning toward retiring from the legislature, the 61-year-old Clemons recently recalled yet another phase of his life: his playing days in 1975 on the taxi squad of the New York Jets professional football team.

As a wide receiver who weighed only 205 pounds at the time and could run the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds, Clemons caught passes in scrimmages from one of the most famous quarterbacks in football history: Hall of Famer Joe Namath.

“Lou Holtz was the coach. That was the only year he coached [professionally] – 1975,’’ Clemons told Capitol Watch in an interview. “Joe Namath. Rich Caster. John Riggins. I hung out for a few months with those guys.’’

The team played at the longtime practice facility at Hofstra University on Long Island back in Namath’s heyday. Clemons was a member of the so-called taxi squad, which was the practice team.

After his tenure with the Jets, Clemons got a tryout with the Washington Redskins under another Hall of Famer: coach George Allen. Continue reading

Nonpartisan Office Projects Next Year\’s State Budget Deficit At $69.4 Million

by Categorized: 2014 Election, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Hartford, John McKinney, Tom Foley Date:

Top Republican leaders said Monday that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy\’s budget was unbalanced from the moment he delivered it last month, citing a new report by the legislature\’s nonpartisan fiscal office.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis says the projected deficit for the fiscal year that starts on July 1 is $69.4 million. The latest fiscal report focuses on the next fiscal year that starts July 1, and it does not have an impact on the current year\’s budget.

In the current year, which ends on June 30, the state has a projected surplus of more than $500 million partly because the state reaped huge capital gains from taxpayers due to the skyrocketing advances on Wall Street in 2013 that state officials believe will not be duplicated in 2014.

Senate GOP leader John McKinney of Fairfield and House GOP leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk said that Malloy\’s proposed state budget would have broken the state-mandated spending cap if it included all the items that are now being considered, including additional money for magnet schools and retirees\’ healthcare.

“It is clear now that the governor willfully disregarded what people in his own administration presented to him in their budget requests last October and November, months before he put out his budget,\’\’ Cafero said Monday. “We know now the budget was out of whack the moment he dropped it and exceeded the spending cap.’’

Citing documents from the nonpartisan fiscal office, the Republicans said that Democratic state comptroller Kevin Lembo had sought nearly $52 million on October 12, 2013 for health insurance for state retirees. The reason is that more than 800 employees in the Department of Correction are eligible to retire, but the governor\’s budget anticipates that fewer than 300 employees will retire.

The Republicans also cited a request by the state education department on Nov. 13, 2013 for nearly $34 million in additional funding for magnet schools. The fiscal office now estimates a shortfall of nearly $19 million in the account for magnet schools.

“The governor had a fiduciary responsibility to present the legislature and the people of Connecticut with a balanced budget and he failed to meet that responsibility,\’\’ McKinney said. \”What’s worse is that the omitted expenditures look intentional. How else can [state budget director Ben] Barnes and Governor Malloy explain shortchanging two areas of their budget they said were priorities?\’\’

Malloy\’s spokesman, Andrew Doba, responded, “The governor’s budget proposal is balanced. If it were passed today, we would live within it.”

\”In contrast to previous administrations, Governor Malloy has shown that he can manage to the bottom line. That’s why we’ve held growth to less than 2.8 percent over the course of his term. It’s clear that many in the Republican caucus will say anything to score cheap political points,\’\’ Doba said. \”If they were serious about managing the state’s finances, they would put forward a budget. But we all know they aren’t going to do that.\’\’

Administration officials believe they can manage the budget within the current totals, and they do not consider the projected deficit to be a major issue. A projected deficit of $69 million represents a tiny fraction of an overall budget of about $22.3 billion, including off-budget accounts, that is managed by commissioners, budget officials, and the governor. Continue reading