Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Norwalk Debates: District 25 State Senate

It turned out a large crowd wanted to hear State Senator Bob Duff and challenger Fred Wilms debate the issues in the community room at city hall Monday night. Their debate was the headliner, and the state rep candidates squared off in a community round table format, in separate rooms later in the evening.

It’s fair to say that republicans outnumbered democrats in the audience for the state senate debate. State budget director, Bob Genuruario, who previously held the seat for many years looked on as the opponents squared off on what’s turning out to be the chief issue in the race, state funding for Norwalk. Wilms contends that Duff has failed to hold onto the level of funding previously held.
"We just don't seem to have a lot of clout up there in Hartford," Wilms said. "First of all, I would be on Gov. Rell's team. We're still getting less money than before (Duff) took office. I think we should be getting at least $40 million more, atop of the $17 million that we're already getting."
Wilms argued that majority Democrats have steered state dollars toward Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven. "There is a marriage between party and geography here and that is a fact," he said.

Duff counters that he’s increased funding levels 12% since he took office.
Duff blasted an anecdote told earlier by Wilms that suggested that lawmakers allocate state aid "by getting together in a back room" and "the guys with the biggest muscles get the most money." He rejected Wilms' assertion that political affiliation plays a role in state aid.
"If the governor wants to do more for Norwalk, I'm all ears," Duff said. "State aid to Norwalk has always been a struggle and it will always continue to be a struggle. We will always do everything we can to get more money. State aid to a municipality is not a Republican or Democratic issue."
What is true is that state funding for Norwalk has continued to be an issue for the Norwalk delegations for a long time. Agreement on changing the educational cost sharing funding formula is not disputed. What to do about it becomes the contention. Wilms charges that the 20 year Democratic majority in the legislator has ignored Norwalk at the expense of favoring Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven. Wilms claims that Duff has not been able to stand up to the Democratic leadership and do more for Norwalk. Duff touted a list of legislation he’s supported that delivered benefits to Norwalk including tax credits, job promotion, and economic issues. Duff made clear that during his first term he’s increased state aide nearly 12 percent.

Brian Lockhardt, reporter for the Norwalk Advocate, caught both candidates in a hypocritical moment.
Both candidates said neighboring towns do not build their share of affordable housing.

But at a forum in Darien last week, Duff and Wilms sided with Nearwater Lane residents concerned over a proposal to turn a single-family home into a 13-unit affordable housing complex.

The Hour, State funding focus of District 25 candidates' debate By ROBERT KOCH 10/31/06

The Norwalk Advocate , State aid is a big issue at debate, Brian Lockhardt 10/31/06


Anonymous said...

The Norwalk Hour captured the quote of the evening:

Question: What impact the war in Iraq has had on Connecticut's economy?

On that last question, Wilms and Duff reached far different conclusions about the role of state lawmakers.

"Well ... whether it's Bob or me in Hartford, we're going to have precious little to do about the war in Iraq," Wilms said. "Our focus ... is more local-type issues. So we really don't get involved in the war. Affecting our economy, well, I guess it's good for Sikorsky and I'll leave it at that."

Duff countered that the war is costing $250 million a day, and that Hartford lawmakers are expected to "restore some of the funding" lost from the federal government.

Anonymous said...

Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven get more state assistance because the state uses these cities as dumping grounds for the poor, social services, non-profits and ex cons. In addition, due to complete lack of regional planning, the state has basically thrown away the money that was invested in developing urban infrastructure over the past 100 years. Taxes are all about redistributing wealth, upwards and downwards.

Anonymous said...

Unfunded mandates like NCLB are the bigger problem. Why nothing on controlling spending up in Hartford.

Anonymous said...

Duff addressed controlling spending when he talked about the Results based accountability team (he is co-chair). It is great to see that is is not just "more spending" or even re-allocation, but also "spending effectiveness."

Anonymous said...

Senator Duff challenged Frederich Wilms on Wilms's continual reference to Norwalk as a distressed municipality. Duff indicated that Norwalk, in fact, is NOT on the distressed municipality list and has not been on it as far back as 2000.

Wilms'reiterated that Norwalk is on the list in rebuttal.

However, Duff is correct - this reference gives the Distressed Municipality list from 1999 to 2006 and Norwalk is not on it.

In fact, Norwalk is NOT on the list (per the ECD site)
CT Distressed Municipality list from 1999-2006

One should note that Norwalk IS on the list of Targeted Investment Communities. (Economic development zones for businesses). It is surprising that Wilms, who claims to be a banker helping small businesses, does not know the difference - it has huge implications for small businesses who want to locate in Norwalk. It is important that those serving our small business community stay informed about what the tax implications are for businesses.

The list for 2006 (lastest list) is:

2006 CT Distressed Municipalities
East Hartford
East Windsor
New Britain
New Haven
New London
North Canaan
West Haven

Anonymous said...

Enterprise Zone brochure

Anonymous said...

If Wilms wants to be on "Jodi Rell's team" he should apply for a Commisioners job instead of running for a position in the legislative branch where he would be expected to represent his district.

Anonymous said...

Bob Duff has not increased the amount of state aid that comes to his district. The problem with him assuming titles in the leadership is that his compromises, which add titles to his name, unfortunately shortchanges his district in receiving their fair share of aid from Hartford. He is totally beholden to the interest of upstate and not downstate. Instead of spending money more efficiently I cannot understand why they do not analyze how to just spend less money.

ctblogger said...

Again Turfgrrl is making comments about Norwalk with alerting her readers about her role in the local government and it's wrong.

This has to stop.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:49- Don't let the facts get in your way of thinking. Duff has increased the amount of state aid to the 25th district by 12% over two years.

Spending more efficiently leads to spending less money. Programs that get results get money - programs that do not are killed.

It is not a difficult concept.

Anonymous said...

As much as Wilm's would like to imply that being on Jodi Rell's team would bring more $$ back to the 25th district- I ask this question: Why couldn't the past Republican Senator (Genuario) bring back more money while he was on Rowland's team?

Duff has increased state aid 12% with all kinds of funding cutbacks- plus he has a real solution which is gaining traction with the idea of getting back some $$ from the Sales and Use Tax. Rep Genuario wanted to ADD a SURCHARGE to the sales tax and have that go to the municipalities. Duff's idea is to take a portion of the existing 6% and plow that back to the municipality that delivers it.

Of the $184MM Norwalk sends to Hartford, $104MM is sales and use tax. Norwalk sends the 6th largest amount to the state on sales and use tax. If Duff is successful on this - and he KEEPS trying to get this through with more and more interest in it, Norwalk would disproportionately benefit because it sends so much S&T tax up.

Anonymous said...

By the way, other than his idea that "being a Republican" is what makes him all powerful and able to promise $40MM incremental money-(oh, wait he does not promise that; but thinks recognizing the "problem" is brilliant)--- what could Frederich Wilms bring to the senate to bring more money back to the 25th district?

What does HE have that Genuario did not?

Frankly, if, indeed, being a Republican is what is critical, why should we in the 25th have to give up the best senator we could have (Bob Duff works so hard for us and is getting so many results) - instead, let some other town take the hit for the team and send in their Republican candidate.

Bob Duff is the best - giving him up with be foolish.

Anonymous said...

CTblogger 9:53 get over it on Turfgrrl for goodness sake. Aren't most of the posters and readers people who are involved in their community? I don't see you prefacing your posts with "In the interests of full disclosure, I'm a fanatic." Participants in this web site know you're a fanatic and Turfgrrl has a role in government so unless those aspects of your participation have direct impact on the post, let it go.

Anonymous said...

Bob Genuario was 10 times the senator that Duff tries to be. Face it, all this support for Bob is as fake as his caring about Norwalk over Bob Duff. Fred Wilms quit his job to make a difference in Norwalk. Bob Duff sells real estate and then wants to make laws about funding levels based on property values.

Anonymous said...

Wilms Running For Senate Seat
By Leslie Hutchison
Article Launched:05/12/2006

Republican Fred Wilms, who announced his candidacy for the 25th Senatorial District seat on Monday, said he quit a higher paying job in New York City three years ago to become more involved in Norwalk's future.
"I've made a lot of changes in my life to do this," he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

This is not Wilms' first foray into state politics. In 2002 he ran for the 137th General Assembly District seat but was defeated by Democrat Chris Perone. "When I lost I decided my life was going in too many directions," said Wilms, adding that he has made changes to correct that.
(error in article- he was defeated by Duff)

My take on his comments is that he started getting involved in community activities in order to have a better shot at defeating Duff in the future - not a bad idea, but certainly not an indication that he is "more caring."

Anonymous said...

Fred Wilms has represented Norwalk fairly in his years on the council. I have no problem switching my vote to Fred because of what I know about Fred.

Anonymous said...

Well, that gives him two votes at least: Fred and you.

His mom lives out of town and he is estranged from his wife. So much for his family vote.

Anonymous said...

The democrats are right, there's too much rubber stamping going on in government... like Hartford! Let's sweep them out of the state senate and vote in Fred Wilms!!!! Like Larry, Fred will fight for Norwalk against the spending those guys in the back room dream up.

Anonymous said...

Leaving these pensions so underfunded and up to our kids to deal with is irresponsible at best. These guys should be held accountable but obviously won't be.

Talk about an iceberg dead ahead!!! There's a huge one here in Connecticut, as well as in Washington....

Anonymous said...

What does HE have that genuario did not? Better hair for one!!!

Anonymous said...

anon 11:03

When Wilms said that the pensions in Norwalk were totally funded, do you think he took this into account?

"Post employment benefits are an issue that everyone is concerned about. The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) sets the accounting rules for the entire country. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) sets the accounting rules for the private sector. The GASB sets the accounting rules for the public sector. The rules have changed for pension accounting in both the public and private sector. The retiree medical benefits had been treated on a pay as you go basis. The change in accounting rules says that you have employees for 20 or 30 years who are earning the right to medical benefits that will continue on into retirement. The liability is $152M. Of the $18M in the operating budget for employee benefits, $5M-$6M is for retirees. Contributions on a full actuarial basis would have to be about $14M, leaving a $9M gap to close. They would need to create a trust fund, along with a plan, to say that they will phase-in to the plan."

Finance Committee 2-21-2006

Do you think he is even aware of this? He is a banker and involved in our budgeting/estimating process so I would guess he should know about it, but maybe not.

Anonymous said...

Duff waits and waits and waits before "standing up for anything" Remember the truck weigh station hours? Rell on Duff: Senator Duff had all session to push that item ... that he is complaining now ... speaks volumes about his effectiveness as a state senator

Anonymous said...

Opening the weigh sations at all hours is a bogus issue from both sides of the aisle. The state cops have to wave trucks during heavy travel times or the traffic backs up to I-287 and trucks drive around the weigh staions anyway if they know they are open. The damn station is in the wrong place and I am not from Greenwich.

Anonymous said...

person quoting "effectiveness"

The governor's press office threw Wilms a bone and he has been whirling it around ever since.

Those stations hours will be fixed - because Duff won't let the issue drop.

Anonymous said...

Why debate this crap?
Fred Wilms is toast.

Anonymous said...

Staffers gotta look like they are doing work.

Anonymous said...

Wilms is a banker alright, a glorified teller is more like it but he does have better hair than Genurio and Duff, too..

Anonymous said...

Why the battle of the weigh stations will be won.

Weigh Station Update

bluecoat said...

People who think having the weigh staions open for longer periods of time are going to solve the probelm with truck accidents are delusional. It will help somewhat but trucks in superb condition get in accidents quite often too. It;s about the road that needs to be fixed.

Anonymous said...

The anon who keeps putting up numbers that feebly trying to buttress Duff sounds like the purported marketing guru who also help Alex Knopp to crash in flames. Why hide in anonymity ? Also, what campiagn handbook did you read that tells people right online that we will write purported letters of support ? Really swift. I think that would make the top ten list of biggest campaign blunders in connecticut for 2006.

Anonymous said...

Bob Duff and spending effectiveness is a joke. He is part of the problem and is a consumate insider with no real solutions. He is more concerned with keeping Bob Genaurio's seat for more than one term.