Category Archives: Employment

Did Fuzzy Math Cheat East Hartford’s Mayor Out of a $1,000 Raise?

by Categorized: Data, Employment, Government Date:

The mayor of East Hartford hasn’t had a raise in nearly five years. So a few weeks ago, the town council voted to boost the pay for the top job from $81,400 to a little over $87,000 – a jump intended to partly account for inflation since the salary was last adjusted in 2008.

Town officials justified the bump-up in pay by saying the cost of living had gone up 13.89 percent since the mayor’s last raise – a figure that seemed awfully high and prompted the nerd squad here at The Scoop to grab our holster-mounted calculators and dig into the numbers.

Bottom line No. 1: There’s a good reason the inflation rate sounded so high. While the pay was last increased in 2008, that raise merely caught the mayor up to the cost of living through 2005. So the action last month was intended to soften the effect of inflation for the years 2006 through 2012, and the town was calculating seven years’ worth of inflation, not five.

Bottom Line No. 2 – and the far more interesting bottom line: For the 2006-2012 time frame, according to The Scoop’s analysis, a miscalculation had the town using too low a figure for inflation, shortchanging the mayor by a cool grand and then some.

Here’s how the numbers break out. Warning: math ahead.

Continue reading

The Kishimoto Meeting – Behind Closed Doors, but Why?

by Categorized: Education, Employment, Transparency/FOI Date:

Among the criticisms the Hartford Board of Education heaped on Superintendent Christina Kishimoto was a concern over her communication skills, knocking her for what they said was a failure to keep the board and parents in the loop as she made decisions. Board members said she needed to do better, and she promised she would.

But when Kishimoto and the board got together Tuesday night for a meeting that would decide the future of herHartford Superintendent of Schools Christina Kishimoto tenure – and the future direction of the state’s second-largest school district – both sides made a familiar retreat behind closed doors, leaving parents once again in the dark.

It’s all legal. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act permits – but does not require – agencies to hold executive sessions to discuss “the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee.” Tuesday’s gathering, at which the board unanimously voted against extending Kishimoto’s contract, certainly met that criteria. But why choose to shut out parents and other members of the public?

Operating out of the public eye promotes a level of candor revered by those in government. But the officials who assembled Tuesday night should remember that their primary duty is to the people of Hartford, and they should resist any urge to have one level of honesty for the public and an enhanced level of honesty that comes out only in private.

Tuesday’s vote was not a surprise, and both Kishimoto and various board members have been transparent in expressing their views. This was not a shady back-room deal. But when the conflict between the board and Kishimoto reached a crescendo with a closed meeting that stretched longer than 90 minutes, those involved seemed to lose sight of an important adage: that in a democracy, the people’s business really is the people’s business.

To a Hartford resident, the schools superintendent may be the most important official in the city. The decision on whether she stays or goes is a big deal. So memo to all involved: Next time there’s a discussion as significant as Tuesday night’s, consider leaving the doors open and letting the real bosses see what’s being done on their behalf.

More and More U.S. Clothes Are Made by Bangladeshi Workers Earning Pennies an Hour

by Categorized: Business, Consumer Affairs, Data, Employment, Finance, Politics, Poverty Date:

U.S. consumers horrified by the tragic building collapse in Bangladesh might want to check the manufacturer’s label on the clothing they’re wearing; data show the compact nation is now the fourth-largest source of apparel imported into the U.S., delivering $4.5 billion a year in goods.

That’s more than double the amount imported from Bangladesh a decade ago, and in that same time frame, Bangladesh’s share of the U.S. apparel market has nearly doubled as well. In 2003, Bangladesh ranked 10th among nations supplying the United States, with 3 percent of all apparel imports, Department of Commerce numbers show. But as manufacturers have sought ever-lower labor costs, that figure has jumped to 5.8 percent.

The shift in manufacturing to Bangladesh comes as wages are rising slowly in other apparel-producing countries, including China. Pay in Bangladesh increased three years ago as well, but the minimum wage for garment workers in the country is still about $38 a month.

Efforts to increase that amount have met resistance from factory owners and government officials, who fear even a small uptick in wages will lead Western brands to look elsewhere for suppliers.

Claim Check: PACs Take on Linda McMahon and Social Security

by Categorized: Claim Check, Employment, Politics Date:

There is something of a hierarchy in political ad nastiness.

The tamest ads – and yes, this is entirely relative – typically come from the candidates themselves, who have at least a modest disinclination to appear overly vicious.

Ads from political parties push the envelope a little farther, taking on topics or themes the candidates may be reluctant to directly address.

And then there are the PACs, which work independently of the candidates – at least officially – and which show little hesitation to get in the mud and start slinging it around.

That’s what we see in a new ad from a pair of PACs opposing Linda McMahon’s candidacy for U.S. Senate. The 30-second spot takes a line McMahon said during a candidate’s forum last April, and twists it to create a narrative that doesn’t exist in support of a political charge that has no base. Continue reading

Claim Check: Linda McMahon on Middle-Class Taxes and Job Creation

by Categorized: Claim Check, Data, Employment, Finance, Politics Date:

If there is one topic on which the candidates for U.S. Senate in Connecticut have most consistently confused voters, it is the issue of federal income taxes. And Republican Linda McMahon continues that trend with a television ad revisiting familiar ground on taxes as well as job creation.

“On key issues, compare the candidates,” the narrator instructs. “On cutting middle-class taxes, Linda McMahon’s plan saves the average Connecticut family $500 a month. But Congressman Chris Murphy voted to raise middle-class taxes three times.”

We’ve evaluated — and challenged — the first part of that assertion multiple times, but the campaign continues to make the claim, albeit with slight modifications. For the record, under no scenario does McMahon’s plan save the average Connecticut family $500 a month, and there are two flaws with the campaign’s calculation. Continue reading

Claim Check: In Senate Race, One-Two Punch from the Democrats

by Categorized: Claim Check, Employment, Finance, Media, Politics Date:

Chris Murphy’s drastically out-financed bid for U.S. Senate is enjoying fresh reinforcements from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has committed $320,000 in advertising aimed at Murphy’s opponent, Linda McMahon.

What does this mean for voters? Well, this morning it meant not one, but two new attack ads on the airwaves. One is from the national committee; the other directly from Murphy. Both take on past targets, criticizing McMahon’s record as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment as well as the details of her income tax plan. And both repeat statements likely to confuse viewers. Continue reading

Claim Check: Linda McMahon Revisits Murphy’s Job Performance

by Categorized: Claim Check, Employment, Finance, Health, Media, Politics Date:

Flip on the TV these days and it seems like every channel is airing the fierce cage match between Linda McMahon and Chris Murphy. It remains to be seen if either candidate is bruised by the slugfest, but there’s little question that accuracy in political ads has taken a few body slams.

In this column, we’ll break down a McMahon spot that revisits earlier attacks on Murphy’s attendance record at committee hearings and accuses the three-term congressman of voting to cut Medicare and raise taxes on the middle class.

Is it true? Depends how far you’re willing to stretch the language. Continue reading

Claim Check: Chris Murphy on Linda McMahon’s Business and Political Plans

by Categorized: Claim Check, Employment, Finance, Health, Politics Date:

While Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon ran away with their respective primary wins in this year’s U.S. Senate race, the general election promises to be much, much closer. And if history is a guide, that means we may see plenty of ads on the airwaves for the next couple months that skate mighty close to  – and occasionally over – the edge of accuracy.

That, anyway, is the case with the latest ad from Murphy, the Democratic candidate, which stretches language to make points about McMahon’s business record and political platform.

The ad, titled “McMahon’s WWE Record Exposed,” begins with a pointed look at McMahon’s tenure as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, the successful if tacky enterprise that made her a multi-millionaire. But rather than focusing on the crass programming as past political foes have, Murphy takes aim at McMahon’s business decisions, saying her plan for the company included using offshore bank accounts (which the ad illustrates with an image of palm trees on a beach) in order to “shift profits overseas to avoid U.S. taxes.” The ad also says McMahon had a plan to deny employees health and disability insurance coverage to boost profits.

Neither claim is completely accurate. Continue reading

Claim Check: Linda McMahon On Murphy’s Congressional Attendance Record

by Categorized: Claim Check, Data, Employment, Finance, Politics Date:

Years ago, I attended the annual conference of the Electronic Retailing Association – the fancy name the infomercial people gave themselves – and learned that when you’ve got 30 seconds to work with, the most successful pitches often ask viewers a simple and direct question with an obvious answer.

Linda McMahon, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, is advertising something far more consequential than egg peelers and Ginsu knives, but she utilizes the same direct approach in her latest ad, which targets Democrat Chris Murphy’s attendance record at Congressional hearings.

“If you skipped 80 percent of the meetings for your job, would you get a promotion?” a narrator asks rhetorically at the very opening of the ad, in a reference to Murphy’s bid to move from the House of Representatives to the Senate.

“During America’s financial crisis, Chris Murphy served on two committees trying to avoid a financial meltdown,” the narrator continues. “But Murphy skipped nearly 80 percent of those urgent hearings.”

To drive home the point, the ad shows a hearing room with an empty chair behind a nameplate reading “Mr. Murphy.” Continue reading

New Roberti Financial Disclosure Form Shows Divestment From Father’s Lobbying, Consulting Businesses

by Categorized: Data, Employment, Finance, Politics Date:

On the eve of today’s Democratic primary election, Fifth District Congressional candidate Dan Roberti has filed his financial disclosure statement for 2012, showing he liquidated a trust fund that held interests in his father’s lobbying, consulting and real estate businesses.

Roberti had sought an extension of filing deadline for the federally mandated form in order to sort out the exact value of the trust, which Roberti said he intended to sell to his brother. A year ago, the disclosure forms show, Roberti’s share of the businesses was valued at between $380,000 and $850,000. With the divestment complete, Roberti’s only listed investment asset is a separate trust currently valued at between $50,000 and $100,000. Roberti has loaned his campaign $902,000.

Roberti’s father, Vin Roberti, runs Roberti Associates, a prominent Washington lobbying firm. Dan Roberti said he would divest of his interests in that company, and all of his father’s businesses, to avoid the apperance of a conflict of interest.

The form also shows Roberti earned a little over $3,000 this year in consulting fees and commissions from Dan Klores Communications, a public relations firm in New York City. Roberti had earned an average of about $43,000 a year at the firm in 2010 and 2011, but left to care for his ailing mother, who died Sunday.

The value of the trust was determined by attorney James Wade of Robinson & Cole, who also reviewed – and found errors – in Roberti’s 2011 disclosure form. In an amended disclosure form for 2011, the value of some individual assets has been restated, although the overall range of values was unchanged. But the form also shows that Roberti overstated his income from the trust in 2010 and understated his income in 2011.

Roberti’s original form, filed a year ago, indicated he had earned $50,000 to $100,000 from the trust in 2010 and between $20,000 and $65,000 in the first 7 1/2 months of 2011. The amended form indicates he earned no more than $15,000 in 2010 and at least $105,000 for that part of 2011.

Roberti is facing fellow Democrats Chris Donovan and Elizabeth Esty in today’s primary election.

View Roberti’s 2012 and amended 2011 disclosure forms below. And view forms for all of the Fifth District candidates here.