Donald Williams, the longest-serving Senate president pro tem in state history, surprised his caucus today by announcing that he is not seeking reelection this fall.
Williams, 56, has served in the highest-ranking position in the state Senate for 10 years – surpassing all others in a position that dates back in the legislature to 1845.
At the center of the biggest issues of the day, Williams negotiated state budgets and crafted laws with the past three governors and the past four House Speakers – covering the biggest issues from the death penalty to gun control to improving education.
“It’s been a very difficult decision because I love the institution of the legislature and the Senate,’’ Williams said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with The Hartford Courant. “For a lot of reasons, I feel that this is the right time to move on to other challenges. There’s a little anxiety in that, on the one hand, but I also find that exciting.’’
After declining several times to say exactly what he will be doing, Williams flatly said “no’’ when asked if he would become a lobbyist like other previous lawmakers.
When asked if he would run for higher office, Williams said, “You should never rule something out for the future. I certainly will not be a candidate this fall’’ for any office.
“I’m not leaving this job to take a specific assignment,’’ Williams said. “I plan on exploring thoroughly what my next step will be.’’ Continue reading
Here’s the story about the federal investigation into the ex-governor, who went to federal prison for 10 months after a December 2004 corruption conviction and now is an afternoon talk radio host on WTIC 1080 AM.
MSNBC personality Rachel Maddow, writing in the Washington Post, cites Jon Lender in a column titled “Democracy Needs Dogged Local Journalism” and praises The Record’s coverage of the Chris Christie scandal. About Lender, she writes:
When Connecticut Gov. John Rowland was still denying the allegations of corruption that would ultimately force him out of office, his wife read a poem (to the meter of “The Night Before Christmas”) mocking Hartford Courant reporter Jon Lender at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting:
“When out on the yard there rose such a hub-bub,
I thought maybe Jon Lender had jumped in the hot tub.
Now surely that man needs to go soak his head,
but there on the lawn stood Santa instead.”
Lender didn’t jump into anything, but he did stay on the story, and the aforementioned hot tub turned out to be one of the illegal gifts that would send the governor to prison.
In a blog post today, our former and felonious governor says liberals don’t like the fact that “too many people of color are selling drugs with 1,500 feet of schools.” This year, state legislators are expected to consider a proposal that will ease penalties for minor drug offenses near schools.
Clogging our jails with low-level drug offenders, isn’t a problem, Rowland reasons:
The Connecticut Sentencing Commission, directed by the puppeteer former State Rep. Michael Lawlor has approved a recommendation to reduce the zones around schools to make it easier to sell drugs and lower the penalties. Their argument is that too many people of color are getting arrested well…… maybe too many people of color are selling drugs within 1,500 feet of schools ? Why change the law just because you don’t like who is actually getting arrested for committing the crime?
At Holy Land USA in Waterbury, former Gov. John Rowland attends the dedication of the giant cross Sunday night:
With 11 more days to collect, the state has already far exceeded its goal of $35 million in tax amnesty collections.
The state has collected nearly $63 million so far in order to balance the state budget, according to state tax commissioner Kevin B. Sullivan.
The 60-day amnesty program, approved by the legislature earlier this year as part of the annual budget, started on September 16 and is scheduled to end on November 15. If tax delinquents come forward, they can avoid criminal prosecution and pay 3 percent interest instead of the state’s normal rate of 12 percent.
Virtually any business or individual with back taxes is eligible, including those already enmeshed in civil lawsuits against the state, those who are currently being audited, and those who have not paid taxes at all.
The state’s number one tax delinquent is New Haven-based Renaissance Management Company, which is a real estate business that is operated by the family of state Senator Toni Harp of New Haven. The business owes more than $1 million in back taxes and penalties, but Harp told The Courant recently that the company would “absolutely not” use the state’s tax amnesty program to lower its bill.
Sullivan, a longtime West Hartford Democrat who worked for years with Harp in the state Senate, has declined to comment about Harp’s case. The money is owed by the real estate company and not by Harp personally. Continue reading
The radio host has a worth-reading blog post about what his party is doing in Washington:
This will end as a lose-lose for the Republicans in Congress, at some point they will vote to reopen government, the conservatives across the country will be mad they gave in, Obamacare will be untouched, there will be some permanent scars and hard feelings within the Republicans in the Congress and they will get blamed for government disruption. A lot of us may be glad this all happened , but I never understood the long term strategy for Republicans, bottom line… I don’t think we can change the minds of these folks in Congress time for all of them to go….we need term limits now more than ever!!
It was an important meeting for John Rowland.
The Republican governor was running for reelection in 2002, and he was riding high as he was near the height of his popularity. He was the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and a close friend of then-President George W. Bush and Florida Governor Jeb Bush. The scandals that would lead to his downfall and federal prison sentence had not yet come to full light.
Rowland had arrived to see The Hartford Courant’s editorial board, and the members were asking him why he was running for a third term. They wanted to know what was on his plate on the important issues of the day: tax cuts, balancing the state budget, providing more money for education.
So, a board member asked Rowland directly, what unfinished issue did he need to tackle and why was he running for a third term?
“Coltsville,” Rowland deadpanned. Continue reading
Saying that anti-gun legislators are hypocrites, a prominent gun lobby has withdrawn support for a federal bill that would establish the Coltsville National Historical Park in Hartford.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gun manufacturers that include Colt’s Manufacturing Company, issued a letter to members of the all-Democratic Connecticut Congressional delegation and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that says it is hypocritical to support the national park and gun-control laws at the same time.
“Our industry is offended by the hypocrisy of our elected officials in Congress and the state government that simultaneously advocate for legislation that pays homage to our industry’s heritage and legacy in Connecticut by establishing a national park on the site of the legendary, iconic Colt factory, while at the same time pursue gun control legislation,” said a two-page letter signed by Larry Keane, the foundation’s general counsel.
“As major contributors to the state’s economy, we find it unacceptable for lawmakers to propose banning our products and hindering the ability of Connecticut companies to grow their businesses, create more good-paying manufacturing jobs, and contribute hundreds of millions in taxes,” the letter states. “Our Connecticut members are unwilling to trade valuable manufacturing jobs for ticket-taker jobs at a national park.”
Read the letter about Colt Park here. And here’s another letter to Rep. John B. Larson, the proposed park’s chief champion, when the gun manufacturers were in a better mood in 2010. Continue reading
Jack Bannan, the former president of the Connecticut State Federation of Teachers and the founder of the annual Farmington Valley turkey drive, died July 3 after a long illness. He was 89 and had been living for the past several years at the McLean Home in Simsbury.
A former 6th grade teacher for 32 years, Bannan served as the president of the CSFT, which is now known as AFT Connecticut. A native of New Britain, Bannan became the organization’s first fulltime president from 1967 to 1971.
Bannan preceeded George C. Springer, Sr., a well-known union official who ran the organization for decades as it rose to prominence as the state’s second-largest teachers’ union. Springer died in December 2006.
Both Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman offered statements of condolence following Bannan’s death. Continue reading