Keno gambling appears dead in Connecticut before the games even started – as numerous top officials now say they are against the bingo-like game.
House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey called Wednesday for the state to repeal keno before it takes effect – dealing a huge blow to the game and essentially ending its chances for implementation. Continue reading →
State Sen. Toni Harp will be sworn in as New Haven’s first female mayor on New Year’s Day.
The ceremony will be at 12 noon at Hill Regional Career High School, which was designed by Harp’s late husband, Wendell.
Harp’s seat in the state Senate will be filled in a special election that will likely take place by late February, said Senate Majority Leader Marty Looney, a New Haven Democrat.
After Harp steps down, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has 10 days to call for a special election. That election would then be held 46 days after Malloy’s announcement – meaning it would likely be mid-to-late February.
“The new senator will most likely not be in place for the start of the session” on Wednesday, February 5, Looney told Capitol Watch. Continue reading →
House Republican leader Larry Cafero is charging that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is “cooking the books” by projecting a lower state budget deficit heading into the 2014 gubernatorial election.
Cafero criticized an accounting change by the governor’s budget office, which he said “artificially slashed $500 million of the expected budget deficit” for the first fiscal year after the November 2014 election.
As a result, the legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal office is projecting a deficit of $1.1 billion for the 2016 fiscal year, while the Malloy administration says the deficit will be about $515 million.
“Cooking the books to get beyond the next gubernatorial election is not going to solve the problem,” Cafero said. “Connecticut continues to head down the wrong fiscal path. The next governor, whoever that is, will be once again facing fiscal chaos, despite assurances made by Governor Malloy.”
Cafero added, “The fiscal policies have been failures, from the so-called shared sacrifices, the SEBAC union deal that saved no money, massive borrowing and the largest tax increases in state history.”
But Malloy’s budget director, Ben Barnes, says that the projected deficits in the “out years” are lower than some projections have been in the past.
Regarding Republican criticisms, Barnes said, “This is a well-worn page in their cynical propaganda manual. The reality is that the budget is in balance today, with a strong surplus projected for the end of the year. It will be balanced next year, with no new taxes.”
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 →
Fearing that a women’s professional tennis tournament would flee Connecticut, the state government has purchased the rights to the tournament for $618,000 in order to keep the matches in New Haven.
The official announcement was made Thursday in the move to ensure that the former Pilot Pen tournament remains in the Elm City. Some officials have been concerned about weak attendance for years at the tournament, where television cameras have shown huge areas of empty seats as the professionals are playing.
“We know that Connecticut is a great state for women’s sports, and this is another fantastic way to ensure that continues to be the case in 2014 and beyond,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement.
But House Republican leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk and Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield say the state has no expertise in tennis and should not be involved in owning the tournament.
“Tennis, anyone?” Cafero asked Capitol Watch. “That’s what’s going to be our new motto as a state.”
“Didn’t we learn from OTB?” Cafero asked. “There are certain things the government shouldn’t do. We’re going to promote tennis matches? What do we know about that stuff? … We don’t have a real good track record with sporting events. You look at the XL Center, and unfortunately, the Whalers left.”
Cafero added, “It’s good for the governor, who gives largesse to the particular town or city. This one is pretty blatant. It seems like a pretty blatant political move to garner favor from New Haven voters in the statewide election” in 2014. Continue reading →
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who generally avoids endorsements, appears to be headed to New Haven today to announce his support for state Sen. Toni Harp, who is in the midst of a primary fight in the race for mayor.
Henry Fernandez, a Democrat opposing Harp, had this to say about Malloy’s pending endorsement today:
If Governor Malloy was really concerned about what is best for New Haven, he’d be coming here today to ask Senator Harp to pay the million dollars her family owes in delinquent state sales tax. Instead, he is here to endorse a candidate who lives tax free in a mansion and has a history of failing to pay her own taxes, all while working in Hartford to write state budgets that raise taxes on New Haven families. Clearly, the governor is more concerned about re-election and keeping special interests happy than supporting a candidate who will fight for New Haven families and taxpayers.
In a race known for unexpected surprises, another one came Friday – New Haven mayoral frontrunner Toni Harp was endorsed by a cocaine-selling convicted felon who has turned his life around.
Sundiata Keitazulu, a plumber who spent 10 years in prison for selling cocaine under the name of John Denby before deciding to run for mayor, stepped forward at a news conference to say he was dropping out of the race and endorsing Harp.
First-time political candidates often have varied backgrounds, but Keitazulu openly admitted that he received a 19-year sentence that was sliced when he was paroled in 2005 after a decade behind bars. During candidate debates recently, Keitazulu sat at the table on an even playing field with the other Democrats. He was largely treated with respect, and he could sit through an entire debate with his background never being mentioned at all.
State Sen. Toni Harp and local political leaders are blasting a New Haven mayoral candidate for comments that he made this week in a front-page article in The Hartford Courant.
Longtime New Haven resident Henry Fernandez talked about drug dealing and prostitution in Fair Haven, where he lives with his wife, Cornell Law School graduate Kica Matos, and their eight-year-old son.
After hearing complaints by Harp and three Fair Haven aldermen who are supporting her, Fernandez unloaded on Harp for criticizing him.
“Senator Harp lives rent-free in a mansion with an elevator and an indoor swimming pool next to a golf course,” Fernandez told Capitol Watch. “She has a separate mansion in Bethany she says she uses just for parties. Senator Harp is out of touch and has no idea that there is crime in our neighborhoods or that as parents that we have to shield our children from that crime. Seriously, how out of touch must you be that you don’t think there is drug dealing and prostitution in Fair Haven?’’
Fernandez said, “Senator Harp’s free home is owned by the Harp family business, which owes the state of Connecticut more than $1 million in taxes, making the Harps the number one tax deadbeat in the state.’’ Continue reading →
Here’s the front page story from today’s Hartford Courant :
Henry Fernandez reached the heights of the academic world by graduating from Harvard College and Yale Law School before marrying his soul mate from Cornell Law School.
Those Ivy League credentials for a power couple often lead to huge salaries on Wall Street with the finest of educations for their children in private suburban schools. But Fernandez and his wife have chosen to live in New Haven’s impoverished Fair Haven neighborhood and send their 8-year-old son to the local public school.
Now Fernandez is trying to improve his hometown by running for mayor of the Elm City in a contentious five-way battle marked by numerous twists, turns and unexpected developments.
Fernandez, who has raised the most money in the race, and his opponents caught a break last week by the stunning development that the front-runner, Sen. Toni Harp, has been forced to collect signatures to get on the Sept. 10 primary ballot because of a filing error.
As a result, Harp is now suddenly on equal footing with four challengers who are also gathering signatures: Fernandez, City Alderman Justin Elicker, Hillhouse High School Principal Kermit Carolina, and Sundiata Keitazulu, a plumber and a convicted felon who served 10 years in prison until 2005 for selling cocaine and says he is now turning his life around.
Faced with public relations issues and questions about the family’s taxes, Democrat Toni Harp’s campaign for mayor has hired a veteran Democratic spokesman, Patrick Scully, as a paid consultant to the campaign.
Scully, well known at the state Capitol as the former spokesman for the Senate Democrats, tells Capitol Watch that he will be handling media strategy and communications, along with providing ideas on policy.
“I worked with Toni for years when I was on staff as communications and media director for the Senate Democrats,” Scully said Sunday. “I know her to be bright, hard-working and deeply caring about the city of New Haven. I have watched the race closely from the moment she announced and the timing was right in my own consulting business to be of help to her.
“I haven’t recently worked on campaigns, but I decided Toni was such an outstanding candidate who would make an excellent mayor so I wanted to be on board,” said Scully. “This is a time of great opportunity for New Haven, and Toni will be a driving force for progress as New Haven’s next mayor.” Continue reading →