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
HARTFORD – When it comes to gun rights and gay rights, Connecticut is often not the same as the rest of the country.
That became evident again Friday when U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal called upon the Republican House Speaker John Boehner to allow a vote on the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
ENDA was passed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday by 64 to 32, including support by Blumenthal and Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut, John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Orrin Hatch of Utah.
The bill was introduced 17 years ago in the U.S. Senate by Democrat Ted Kennedy, but it was never passed until this week. The measure is designed to prohibit employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation by businesses with more than 15 employees, as well as labor unions and employment agencies.
Boehner, who controls the agenda in the Republican-led House, says that the bill is unnecessary and will hurt small businesses.
“I’m very proud to be from Connecticut, where we’ve already recognized this principle,” Blumenthal told reporters Friday at the state Capitol complex. Continue reading
State welfare officials were very happy when they hired Suki L. Handly in 2008 as a new employee to help distribute welfare benefits in the Manchester regional office.
What state officials did not know was that Handly – who was hired under the administration of former Gov. M. Jodi Rell — was also a convicted prostitute with criminal convictions for drug possession and larceny, according to public records.
They also did not know what would happen next: Handly would begin stealing money from the state in a complicated scheme and did not stop until she was caught and arrested for first-degree larceny for stealing more than $44,000 in benefits, officials said. She confessed to the thefts and told an investigator that she was “battling addiction to Oxycontin” at the time of the larcenies, according to an arrest warrant affidavit by the chief state’s attorney’s office.
Now, the state auditors and House Republican leader Lawrence Cafero are wondering why they knew nothing about the case of Handly and two other state employees concerning the misuse of state funds. Handly’s criminal conviction came to light recently when the auditors sent a letter to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that said the state Department of Social Services, which oversees public welfare programs, had violated state law by failing to notify the auditors about the illegal handling of state money. Continue reading
Linda McMahon journeyed from her home in Greenwich to Wethersfield Thursday night to attend an event in support of Republican candidates in town, including her former campaign staffer Jodi Latina and the son of former Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
“Great to be in Wethersfield supporting GOP candidates for Town Council and the Board of Education, including my friend Jodi Latina and Michael Rell, son of Gov. Jodi Rell. Best of luck to all!” McMahon posted on her Facebook page.
It was a major reunion this week for the administration of Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who has been out of office for nearly three full years.
Virtually all of the major players of the Rell administration gathered for the official unveiling of her portrait at the state library in Hartford.
They included Rell, her husband Lou, former chief of staff M. Lisa Moody, former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, former budget director Bob Genuario, and former social services commissioner Michael Starkowski. They were among the biggest players in the Rell years and among the most powerful state employees in their heyday.
The crowd also included former press secretary Chris Cooper, spokesman Adam Liegeot, and commissioner Raeanne V. Curtis, among many others.
As she was greeting people in the crowd, Rell said, “I miss you guys, but I don’t miss the politics.”
The official portrait of Gov. M. Jodi Rell, painted by Woodbury artist Laurel Stern Boeck, was unveiled at a state capitol ceremony today.
To view paintings of more former Connecticut chief executives, see the gallery Portraits Of Connecticut Governors.
The official portrait of former Gov. M. Jodi Rell will be unveiled at a Hartford ceremony next week. The reception is open to the public.
“It looks great,” said Michael Rell, the governor’s son. Woodbury artist Laurel Stern Boeck, whose website describes her as “one of the nation’s foremost portrait painters” painted the portrait.