Brown Rudnick’s Annual Red Wine Night on April 24 at Bond Ballroom in Hartford

by Categorized: Brown Rudnick, Larry Cafero, Tom Ritter Date:

Brown Rudnick, the well-known lobbying and law firm with close ties at the state Capitol, will be  holding its annual “Red Wine Night” on April 24 in Hartford.

The night has exploded in popularity and has turned into a tradition on the Capitol calendar. The official legislative bulletin provides the details on the evening.

In very precise legal language that cites the Connecticut General Statutes, the announcement of the event states, “Red Wine Night is permissible under Connecticut ethics laws as a ‘legislative reception’ pursuant to C.G.S. Section 1-91 subsection (g) (10), and pursuant to C.G.S. Section 1-96d, the sponsors do not reasonably expect this event to be reportable pursuant to subsection (e) of section 1-96.”

The event dates all the way back to the days when Hartford Democrat Thomas D. Ritter was the House Speaker for six years in the early to mid-1990s, and the wine nights became well-known in the House Democratic caucus room on the Capitol’s second floor. Today, Ritter is a partner in the Hartford office of Brown Rudnick, as is House Republican leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk. Continue reading

GMO Battles Set for NY, Massachusetts, Vermont and Congress

by Categorized: Agriculture, Environment, GMOs, Uncategorized Date:

Connecticut made national headlines last year by becoming the first state in the nation to pass legislation requiring labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Anti-GMO rally at Connecticut State Capitol

Anti-GMO rally at Connecticut State Capitol

There were some big, big conditions attached to Connecticut’s bill that have prevented those labeling requirements from actually making an impact for consumers. But developments in other states could change the situation soon.

In order for Connecticut’s law to take effect, at least four other states with a combined population of at least 20 million would have to pass similar laws. And at least one of those state would have to border Connecticut.

Right now, the odds of those conditions being met seem to be getting better.

New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maryland all have GMO labeling legislation in the works. (Maine passed its own GMO law last year.) Polls consistently show massive public support for such labeling requirements, but federal officials and Big Food and  Big Agriculture are opposed. Continue reading

New Greenberg Web Ad Highlights His Biography

by Categorized: Elizabeth Esty, Mark Greenberg, Obamacare Date:

Mark Greenberg, a Republican running for Congress in the 5th District, has a new web ad out. The one-minute, 15 second spot is heavy on biographical details, highlighting Greenberg’s record as a businessman and community leader who founded an animal rescue facility.

The spot never mentions Greenberg’s Democratic opponent, U.S. rep. Elizabeth Esty. But despite the ad’s soft tone, it does spend a few seconds slamming Obamacare and reiterating Greenberg’s pledge to repeal it.


Q Poll: Pols Who Cheat On Spouses Not As Bad As Those Who Abuse Office

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:
A Quinnipiac poll released today shows American voters have a less favorable view of politicians who abuse their positions than those who engage in extra-marital affairs.
The school’s polling institute used a fictitious congressman to weight public opinion. This is from Quinnipiac:
American voters dislike a politician who abuses official power more than an elected official caught in an extra-marital affair, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today.Quinnipiac University presented voters with a theoretical congressman – James Miller – whose “main concern in office is developing policies to help middle-class, working families.”  Miller was described as 53, married, with two children.While he is not identified as Republican or Democrat, 83 percent of voters have a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” opinion of him, and 65 percent say they “definitely” or “probably” would vote for his reelection.

Some voters were told that Miller was “unfaithful to his wife with another woman.” Among those voters, only 36 percent have a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” opinion, with 58 percent “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable.”  A total of 39 percent say they definitely or probably would vote for him, while 49 percent say they definitely or probably would not vote for him.

Another group of voters were told “Miller created a new, well-paid position on his staff in order to hire an unqualified family member as a favor.”  In that group, 22 percent have a very or somewhat favorable view, with 75 percent somewhat or very unfavorable.  Only 24 percent definitely or probably would vote for him, with 67 percent who definitely or probably would not. Continue reading

Blumenthal, Esty Push for New E-Cigarette Regulations

by Categorized: Elizabeth Esty, Richard Blumenthal Date:

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty came to the state Capitol complex Monday morning to press for new regulations on electronic cigarettes.


Specifically, the two Democrats from Connecticut are pressing for passage of legislation that would prohibit advertising and marketing e-cigarettes to children and adolescents. They were joined by representatives from several public health non-profit groups, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Lung Association.

“E-cigarettes are simply the device du jour for nicotine delivery by Big Tobacco,” Blumenthal said. “They are very simply, for young people, a gateway to tobacco smoking.”

E-cigarettes are battery-operated, smoke-free devices, some of which deliver nicotine in the form of an inhaled aerosol.

Continue reading

Florida Basketball Coach Billy Donovan, His Long Island Roots, And Me

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

Way back in sixth grade — more than 35 years ago — I tried out for the boys basketball team in a small town on Long Island named Rockville Centre.

The tryouts were the biggest thing in my life at the time, and what I clearly remember now is that every time there was a timeout, a little kid from first grade — standing probably less than 4 feet tall — would dribble onto the court with his own basketball and use all his might to hurl it up to the 10-foot rim.

It was a study in concentration, perseverance and hard work. And often, he got it in.

His name?

Billy Donovan.

Donovan’s father, Bill Sr., was the head coach of that sixth grade team, and I remember his son shooting baskets during those tryouts at the St. Agnes Cathedral High School gym like it was yesterday. St. Agnes was a perennial Long Island powerhouse, and it sent many players to Division I schools, including one to Providence College by the name of Billy Donovan.

Fast forward to 2007, and a smile came to my face upon seeing that sixth-grade coach and former Boston College player — Bill Donovan Sr. — on national television as he was sitting in the stands at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. He was watching his son make history as the coach of the Florida Gators, who won their second consecutive NCAA Tournament championship. Only four people in history have played in a Final Four and also coached a national champion: Bobby Knight, Dean Smith, Joe B. Hall, and Donovan.

The kid from Rockville Centre became successful because nobody works harder. His locally famous high school coach, Frank Morris, used to say the formula for basketball success boils down to three numbers: 12, seven and four, meaning you must play 12 months a year, seven days a week, four hours a day.

But Donovan took it to another level, according to Morris. He was 12, seven, six. Continue reading

George Jepsen Seeking Reelection As Attorney General

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Chris Shays, George Jepsen, Kie Westby, Linda McMahon, Richard Blumenthal Date:

George Jepsen, the former legislator and former state Democratic chairman, announced Monday that he is seeking reelection to a second term as the state attorney general.

Jepsen won the position more than three years ago after longtime Attorney General Richard Blumenthal ran for the U.S. Senate – opening the job for the first time in 20 years and breaking a political logjam that set off a scramble for elected positions.

Standing with his wife, Diana, in the lower press room at the state Capitol, Jepsen said he hopes to continue the tone that he has set over the past 3 1/2 years.

He said he believes that “mediation and arbitration is preferable over litigation” as he oversees a huge staff of about 200 lawyers that handles a wide variety of lawsuits from environmental protection to consumer issues.

Jepsen’s next task will be raising $75,000 in small contributions with a maximum of $100 by the deadline of August 19. That means he would need 750 supporters to contribute $100 each. If the average was $50, then the number of supporters needed would rise to 1,500 contributors.

“I think I can raise the qualifying money pretty quickly,” he said. “It’s challenging for anybody.”

In the fall, Jepsen could be facing Republican attorney Kie Westby of Southbury, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate nomination that eventually went to wrestling entrepreneur Linda McMahon when she defeated former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays in a primary in August 2012.

When asked by an online reporter why he waited so long to announce for reelection, Jepsen responded, “If you’ve never run for public office, you wouldn’t understand.”

He explained that the attorney general’s job is a 24 – 7 position, and he would rather concentrate on the office instead of being involved in a political campaign. Continue reading

Lawmaker To Shabazz Napier: I’ll File Legislation For College Players’ Union

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

UConn star guard Shabazz Napier told reporters he understands why Northwestern athletes want to unionize, saying he has gone to bed “starving” because he has no money for food. Here’s the CT Mirror story:

And here’s state lawmaker Pat Dillon’s reaction on Facebook:

OK Shabazz! If we cannot do it this year I’ll file legislation next session to change CT labor laws permitting athletes to unionize at state schools. Then they can vote on it – it’s up to them.

Ted Kennedy Jr. Expected To Announce State Senate Bid Tuesday

by Categorized: 2014 Election Date:

Ted Kennedy Jr. is expected to announce Tuesday that he is running for state senate.

According to a release from his press office, Kennedy will hold an event Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the James Blackstone Memorial Library in Branford to announce his decision about the open 12th district senate seat.

The 12 district includes the towns of Branford, North Branford, Guilford, Durham, Killington, and Madison. The seat currently is held by state Sen. Edward Meyer, who announced last month that he would not seek reelection. Kennedy’s name immediately was raised as a potential successor.

Gov. Malloy previously said that he hoped Kennedy would run. “I urged him to give it consideration,” Malloy said, just four days after Meyer announced that he would step down. Meyer’s public service began 50 years ago when he was appointed as a federal prosecutor by Robert F. Kennedy.



Bill Scaling Back Drug-Free School Zones Clears Judiciary Committee

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

A bill sharply scaling back drug-free school zones narrowly cleared the legislature\’s judiciary committee on Wednesday.

Under current law, those convicted of selling drugs within 1,500-feet of a school, daycare center or public housing development face an enhanced penalty. Critics say the policy unfairly targets residents of densely populated urban areas, some of which are completely within the school zone.

\”It\’s good public policy,\’\’ said Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven. He notes there is already an enhanced penalty for selling drugs to minors.

Senate Bill 259 would reduce the size of the drug-free zones to within 200-feet of school property, a guideline endorsed last year by the Connecticut Sentencing Commission.

Critics note the bill has come up many times in the past and they expressed concern about the message it would send, particularly to young people.

\”This legislature to my great dismay decriminalized marijuana,\’\’ said Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, \”and I\’m struggling once again with the thought we truly are sending a message by way of this action that…is perceived as further lessening of the penalty for drug-dealing….I don\’t believe this is the way to go.\”

The judiciary committee approved the bill by a vote of 21 to 19. The measure now heads to the state Senate for consideration.