Saturday, September 30, 2006

District 142: Lex Paulson


Part of an occasional series on challengers for seats in the General Assembly.

From Activist to Candidate
Democratic Challenger Lex Paulson has a long history of volunteering and activism with a progressive bent. Previously he has worked to bring the arts to public schools, organize youth in New Hampshire for the Dean campaign, and help write a bill (House Bill 575) that was passed and signed into law . Through his work on local campaigns he became familiar with State Senator Bob Duff and State Rep. Chris Perone who recruited Paulson to run in the 142nd district.

"Being a candidate is a different kind of service." said Paulson when asked about the difference between working on a campaign and actually being the candidate. "The first time you hand someone a piece of literature with your own face on it is a surreal and humbling experience."

Transportation
"In addition to thinking big you gotta think small." Paulson said when asked about transportation. "We have to come up with more numerous and creative ways to incentivize public transportation." Paulson would like to see the state's bus systems undergo a major overhaul so that they connect to the state's commuter rail stations. He also stressed the importance of additional parking at Metro North trains, and making long needed improvements on 95 and state roads.

Healthcare
Our conversation about healthcare mainly focused on closing gaps and streamlining existing programs. Paulson pointed out that with so many bills being passed each session in the State Legislature representatives often don't fully understand the details of each and every bill. This can create gaps in the care available and extra paperwork for local families. "To streamline a process you have to understand it in detail." says Paulson.

Transparency
When asked about the state government's role in Development Paulson emphasized transparency. "To often we look at the development process as something mysterious, that happens behind closed doors, that involves secret deals between developers and political figures. I think that it shouldn't be that way and it can't be that way." Paulson's position is that it's important that all deals be open so that the communities affected by development know the details from the start. He also believes that while tax incentives should be a tool for bringing jobs into CT, the state must hold companies accountable to the promises they make to get those incentives.

Walking Towards Victory
Lex Paulson's main campaign push is a walking tour through his district. He feels that it's important to meet face to face with voters.

"There are lots of ways to communicate with voters and every candidate makes a decision whether they're going to use their time to make phone calls or send mail or spend time knocking on doors. Knocking on doors is the most time intensive, but I decided that this year especially, the only way for a candidate to break through at the state level is to talk to voters face to face."

Lex Paulson's opponent, State Rep. Lawrence Cafero currently serves as the Deputy
Minority Leader. To the best of Paulson's knowledge Cafero isn't going door to door.

Challenging a powerful incumbent takes guts and determination and Lex Paulson seems to have plenty of both. To learn more about Lex and his campaign be sure to check out his website.
********

Selected Audio
This is my first experiment in audio. The following clips are snippets from my interview with Lex Paulson, allowing you to hear directly from him. Thanks to Lex for agreeing to participate.

Three Qualities Every Legislator Needs
On Writing and Passing a Bill.
On Going Door To Door.

Are you a challenger for a seat in the General Assembly? Contact us!

Rell's Good Governance

Sometimes you can tell much about a person by the little things they do. In the case of assessing M. Jodi Rell's leadership we can look at recent developments in Bridgeport. Recently, Mayor Fabrizi has been working hard to move the Steel Point project forward. The Steel Point project plans for thousands of new apartments, condos along with 1 million square feet of retail space and offices. In addition it includes a marina and hotel fronting a waterfront boardwalk and retail area. In total it's tagged as a billion dollar economic development project. The scale necessitates state money, and in a recent Connecticut Post article,
Fabrizi said twice this week, Gov. M. Jodi Rell spoke with him to reassure her commitment to the long-delayed billion-dollar development.

Robert L. Genuario, secretary of the state's Office of Policy and Management, said Friday the governor fully supports Steel Point, but does not want to release more money until the city needs it to conclude a purchase.
Apparently that was not good enough for State Senators Bill Finch, Edwin A. Gomes and State Rep. Robert T. Keeley, Jr., who claimed that Rell has been slow in reacting and not pushing the project forward.
"This project's in trouble," Finch said of Steel Point. "These are big developers, and if the state is going to nickel and dime this and it fails, it'll be the governor's fault." Finch said the project needs more "upfront" money.
Of course the State should not be writing blank checks for projects without setting some standards of accountability.
Genuario said last year the state committed $20 million, and this year it's more than $13 million.

"The mayor is a good advocate for the Steel Point project," Genuario said. "I think he's satisfied that the state is supportive."
Genuario said he also spoke this week with representatives of Midtown Equities LLC, the designated developers.

"It's not unusual for us to provide funds as they are needed," Genuario said, adding the city has yet to access the $8.5 million approved earlier this year. "The urgency may be more perceived than real."
Exactly. Maybe the urgency of an election. Rell is right to insist that any state money authorizations come after a deal is made to acquire the remaining properties.

Connecticut Post Development moves inexorably forward, by Ken Dixon 9/30/2006.

Senate Says: Build 700 Miles of Fence along Mexican Border

In another convulsion of political theatrics, the Senate approved a bill authorizing 700 miles of fence along the southwest border, which in geographic terms means Senator Jon Kyl-R state of Arizona gets the bulk of the fence with another section in New Mexico and parts of Western Texas. The vote was 80-19. The CT delegation voted: Dodd -Yes Lieberman -No. Illegal immigration is the driving issue behind the fence according to the Washington Post
The measure was pushed hard by House Republican leaders, who badly wanted to pass a piece of legislation that would make good on their promises to get tough on illegal immigrants, despite warnings from critics that a multibillion-dollar fence would do little to address the underlying economic, social and law enforcement problems, or to prevent others from slipping across the border.(Washington Post)
But more importantly, good old common sense says that building a fence of 700 miles along rugged terrain is dumb idea. The Soviet Union, of whom GOP lawmakers seem to emulate more and more, tried the whole fence thing too. But an even better example is a WW II one, where France installed a defensive fence ignominiously known as the Maginot Line. It's not like deer, dogs and cats ever seem detered by fences either but politcal theater is much more important than actually addressing illegal immigration.
The Arizona branch would have to plunge down steep ravines and scale craggy mountain peaks. "This is not Iowa farmland," said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Construction is "going to be near impossible."

A vast stretch of the Arizona fence would traverse the lands of the Tohono O'odham Nation, which strongly opposes it and could bring suit, said Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.). Construction crews would have to deal with rivers and streams running north to south and wildlife migration routes that do not respect the U.S.-Mexico divide. And the Border Patrol does not have enough agents to stop smugglers from simply knocking holes in remote stretches.

"It's not feasible," said Kolbe, who is retiring from Congress at the end of the year. "It's a statement for the election. That's all."(Washington Post)

Friday, September 29, 2006

League of Women Voters Invites Thornton to Oct. 9th Debate

Update: Never mind--this is apparently not going forward after all.

-------

The Thornton campaign is saying that the League of Women Voters, which is co-sponsoring the October 9th gubernatorial debate in New London, has invited their candidate to participate alongside Gov. Jodi Rell and John DeStefano.

Thornton was jubilant, according to a press release from the Thornton campaign:
"Apparently, the Rell and DeStefano camps thought they could impede democracy," Thornton said. "They were afraid that I might pull some shenanigans in the debates, so they decided to keep me out. Their fear is correct. I am going to talk about the issues that matter to Connecticut voters and in today's restrictive political environment, talking about the issues of concern for Connecticut voters is a shenanigan."

Hopefully, this means that all of the candidates for governor will, in fact be on the same state at the same time. I can't imagine that the DeStefano or Rell campaigns would back out of the debate at this point.

Good for the League of Women Voters. It's a shame they don't moderate national presidential debates any longer.

Borden Acts to Open Up Judiciary

Acting Chief Justice David Borden has approved nearly all of the recommendations of the Public Access Task Force, and will implement some of its suggestions, including putting information about daily docket schedules, criminal convictions and attendance records of judges online, right away. The rest have to wait either for the General Assembly to act, or for approval from the state's judges.
Borden said he approved other recommendations in the report, but is unable to implement them without a vote of all the state's judges, while others will require action by the Rules Committee of the Superior Court before it goes to a vote of all the judges.

Some of these recommendations include public access to police reports used to determine probable cause in criminal matters, a recommendation to rescind a rule that seals financial affidavits in uncontested divorce cases, expansion of television coverage of both the Supreme and Appellate Courts, and a pilot program to allowed expanded coverage of criminal proceedings. (Stuart)

It may be difficult to get the judges to approve of the new rules. Some are saying that a constitutional amendment may be necessary if the judiciary can't adopt the rules themselves. Borden himself opposes such an amendment.

Still, it's good to see someone in the judiciary as committed to reform as Borden obviously is. Hopefully he'll be able to use the time he has left as acting chief justice, should he not be nominated for the position permanently, to open the courts up as much as possible.

Source
Stuart, Christine. "Chief Justice Approves Most Recommendations. CT News Junkie 28 September, 2006.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dodd's Senate Speech on Torture and the CT Delegation Votes

I won't post the whole thing, but it's on Dodd's site in full. The House passed Bush's torture bill. The NyTImes:
Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.(nytimes,)


Johnson, Shays & Simmons Vote Yes, DeLauro & Larson vote No.

Dodd's Speech

Mr. President, on September 11, 2001, America was attacked by
ruthless enemies of this country. It is my strong belief that those
responsible for orchestrating this plot, and anyone else who seeks to
do harm to our nation and our citizens, must be brought to justice,
and punished severely.

These are extraordinary times, and we must act in a way that fully
safeguards America’s national security. That is why I support the
concept of military commissions -- to protect U.S. intelligence and
expedite judicial proceedings vital to military action under the
Uniform Code of Military Justice. In my view, as we develop such
means, we must also ensure that our actions are not counter-
productive to our overall efforts to protect America at all levels.

As you know Mr. President, 430 detainees are being held in Guantanamo
Bay facilities as so called “enemy combatants.” The President has
claimed the authority to detain prisoners indefinitely without
formally charging them with a crime, to use questionable
interrogation practices which some experts say violate international
law banning torture, and to set up secret tribunals in which some
detainees could be convicted without ever seeing the evidence against
them, while others receive no trials at all. The Supreme Court ruled
in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld this activity is unconstitutional. But the
groundwork for this decision was laid in the Supreme court decision
Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, two years ago, in which Justice Sandra Day
O’Connor declared “A state of war is not a blank check for the
President."

Mr. President, the Administration and Republican leadership would
have the American people believe that the War on Terror requires a
choice between protecting America from terrorism and upholding the
basic tenets upon which our country was founded -- but not both. This
canard has been showcased in every recent election cycle.

I fully reject that reasoning. We can, and we must, balance our
responsibilities to bring terrorists to justice, while at the same
time protecting what it means to be America. To choose the rule of
law over the passion of the moment takes courage. But it is the right
thing to do if we are to uphold the values of equal justice and due
process that are codified in our Constitution.

Our founding fathers established the legal framework of our country
on the premise that those in government are not infallible. America’s
leaders knew this sixty years ago, when they determined how to deal
with Nazi leaders guilty of horrendous crimes. There were strong and
persuasive voices, at the time, crying out for the execution of these
men who had commanded with ruthless efficiency the slaughter of six
million innocent Jews and five million other innocent men, women, and
children. After World War II, our country was forced to decide if the
accused criminals deserved a trial or execution.
Read more of Dodd's Speech

Updated: Lieberman Yes Dodd No Senate Passes the Military Commissions Act of 2006: A bill to authorize trial by military commission for violations of the law of war, and for other purposes.

Lieberman: "Political Convenience, Not Conviction"

CBS News:
(AP) Taking aim at the newcomer, Joe Lieberman on Friday accused presidential rival Wesley Clark of joining the Democratic Party for "political convenience, not conviction" as the retired general came under increased scrutiny.
It's great to see what conviction Sen. Lieberman has. I think it's pretty obvious at this point that the Senator is, and has been, looking out for himself above all else.

In addition, Gen. Clark endorsed (via tparty) Ned Lamont today.
---
"Clark Attacked For GOP Ties". Associated Press. 9/26/03.

tparty. "Wes Clark on "Wishy-Washy" Senators". Lamontblog. 9/28/06.

The Price of Cronyism

It was Supreme Court Justice Potter who coined the definition of obscenity with “I know it when I see it” in 1964. Cronyism is another term that tends to fall under the “I know it when I see it” umbrella, which makes one man’s crony another man’s loyal public servant. The Iraq rebuilding efforts, if you can call it that, more accurately the period after US troops marched into Baghdad, provides a fine examples of cronyism in action.

The Washington Post serves up a must read article outlining the results of the GOP efforts,

Twenty-four-year-old Jay Hallen was restless. He had graduated from Yale two years earlier, and he didn't much like his job at a commercial real-estate firm. His passion was the Middle East, and although he had never been there, he was intrigued enough to take Arabic classes and read histories of the region in his spare time.
He had mixed feelings about the war in Iraq, but he viewed the American occupation as a ripe opportunity. In the summer of 2003, he sent an e-mail to Reuben Jeffrey III, whom he had met when applying for a White House job a year earlier. Hallen had a simple query for Jeffrey, who was working as an adviser to Bremer: Might there be any job openings in Baghdad?
"Be careful what you wish for," Jeffrey wrote in response. Then he forwarded Hallen's resume to O'Beirne's office.
Three weeks later, Hallen got a call from the Pentagon. The CPA wanted him in Baghdad. Pronto. Could he be ready in three to four weeks?
The day he arrived in Baghdad, he met with Thomas C. Foley, the CPA official in charge of privatizing state-owned enterprises. (Foley, a major Republican Party donor, went to Harvard Business School with President Bush.) Hallen was shocked to learn that Foley wanted him to take charge of reopening the stock exchange.
"Are you sure?" Hallen said to Foley. "I don't have a finance background."

There’s more of the same in the rest of the article and we know post-Katrina, post HUD, well this isn’t an administration that takes care to actually govern now doesn’t it? Those on the left rightfully decry this rampant product of cronyism, until that is when one looks to the recent scion of Connecticut liberal idolatry, Ned Lamont.

There is nothing in Lamont’s background to suggest that he has the capabilities to rise above sub-mediocrity and become more than a just another crony, mixing who-you-know-connections over practical experience and meritocracy. Ned’s world is the mix of social privilege established by his lineage, which itself is not the issue. It's whether one merits advancement into positions based on capability and execution versus who you know. And, admittedly a little of both is not a bad thing.

In looking at candidate Ned Lamont it is clear that has been handed assets and connections with no great results. Ned’s cable company is neither a tech innovator nor a leader in the cable industry. It hasn't even grown to a scale that someone with his background should have been able to attain. Sure the counter argument could be that he was just not cut out for the hard driving tech business world. But on these business merits alone, its enough to wonder what are his capabilities. Then there's his political expereince. His first attempt at politics only led him to resign from the Greenwich DTC because "he got tired of reading a bunch of resolutions passed by the DTC that I don't always agree with."

There was a time that political parties strove to get the best and the brightest to run for office. It seems that fealty to ideology has replaced that noble pursuit. Neither side should tolerate it.

Washington Post, Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq Rajiv Chandrasekaran, September 17, 2006.

Kansas City Star Politics at play in HUD deals
An internal review says the housing secretary discouraged giving contracts to Democrats.
TODD J. GILLMAN Friday Sept. 21, 2006.

Poetry Corner

In honor of Connecticut's new poet laureate, John Hollander of Yale (you may read one of his poems here, if you wish), let's take a quick poetry break. Here's a poem I found with an autumn in Connecticut theme:
Autumn Twilight
Harry Hibbard Kemp

Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut

Rich afterglows of Autumn
Fill all the world with light
And elm and oak and maple
Loom up like fire in flight,

And golden is the valley,
And golden is the hill,
And golden is the first star
At twilight’s window-sill.


You can read about a Connecticut poet, Wilbert Snow, who was governor for about two weeks back in the 1940s here, and see a few lines from one of his poems.

Feel free to post a poem you like. Also feel free to stay far, far away from poetry.

WSJ Poll: Race Within Margin of Error

The new WSJ/Zogby poll shows Lieberman's lead is less than two points instead of ten. I absolutely trust the Q-Poll more, but it's interesting that some polls out there have the race very close, while others don't.

WSJ/Zogby Poll:

Lieberman.....45.8%
Lamont..........44%
Schlesinger......5%

What's really happening? I'd say the margin right now is probably about 5-7%, give or take. The problem for Lamont remains: he's behind, and his numbers aren't moving much at all.

Q-Poll: Lieberman Leads by 10

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x11362.xml?ReleaseID=964

Among likely voters:

Lieberman.....49%
Lamont.......39%
Schlesinger...5%


Rell..........63%
DeStefano...30%

So Lamont picks up a point or two, and DeStefano is going nowhere against Rell.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Overnight Open Forum

Chris Murphy releases a new ad attacking Johnson over security. So far, Murphy has been attacking Johnson on the two fronts she probably expected to be strongest on: security and health care.

A judge has dismissed most of the state's lawsuit against No Child Left Behind, but the ruling was jurisdictional in nature, and had more to do with procedure than the merits of the lawsuit.

Lamont has donated more money to his campaign.

A new Q-Poll is expected out tomorrow morning.

A field coordinator affiliated with the Simmons campaign is caught using images from the Holocaust to make a point about Universal Health Care on his Facebook site. Nasty.

Rudy Giulani will host a fundraiser for Rob Simmons in October.

What else is going on?

The Second and Subs

Rep. Simmons receives a "setback" on plan to increase Sub building:
U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons' effort to rescue the declining submarine industry in Connecticut - his self-described "Simmons Plan" - encountered both bad news and hope this week.

The push to increase nuclear-powered submarine production rates has so far foundered, but a letter from Taiwan's military leadership highlights the possibility of a whole new heading for Connecticut sub builder Electric Boat.

Congress is close to authorizing the extra $400 million Simmons wanted in order to increase the submarine building rate within three years. But the committee in charge of finalizing defense spending decided this week against providing the cash to pay for that authorization this year.
Would Rep. Simmons time be better spent trying to make his district less dependent on the building of submarines? I'm not sure if there's a good answer, but I would hope Simmons is looking to the long-term effects of any plan to increase sub spending, and not just to it's effects in November.
----
Jesse Hamilton. "Setback, Hope For Sub Effort". Hartford Courant. 9/27/06.

Love Makes a Family PAC Endorses DeStefano

From the Press Release:


“Mayor DeStefano supports full equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. He supports marriage equality for same-sex couples because he understands that Connecticut should treat all its citizens fairly and equally,” said Executive Director, Anne Stanback. “He has been a leader in supporting the LGBT community as mayor of New Haven, and we know he will be an active leader and supporter as Governor of Connecticut. For that reason we are proud to endorse him today.”

“I am honored to be the first gubernatorial candidate ever endorsed by Love Makes a Family,” said DeStefano. “I believe that all Americans deserve equal rights and the politics of division practiced by the national Republican Party is destructive to our democracy and is frankly, un-American. We need a governor who is going to stand-up to President Bush and his agenda, not support him. Whether it’s supporting ultra-conservative anti-choice and anti-gay candidates for the state legislature, benefiting from fundraisers with President Bush, or helping the President maintain control of congress, Gov. Rell stands on the wrong side.”


Is gay marriage even an issue in this race? Civil Unions haven't received much attention since they passed, and while it isn't gay marriage Rell did sign the bill. I'm not sure if the general population cares one way or the other. Worse still, I'm not sure that the public would make a distinction between Rell's view and DeStefano's.


Source
Stanback, Anne. "Love Makes a Family Political Action Committee Endorses Mayor DeStefano". Press Release. 9/27/06

Enfield: Judge Rules in Favor of School

From Cool Justice:
The Enfield Montessori School has been rescued from the clutches of the venal Planning and Zoning Commission and its fellow marionettes. Hartford Superior Court Judge Richard Rittenband smote the sledgehammer that has been pounding the school, its children and the Felician Sisters for several years, ruling Tuesday that an old dirt lot is just an old dirt lot.

"The good ladies of Enfield of prevailed, absolutely," said the lawyer for the Felcian Sisters, Ken Slater of Hartford's Halloran and Sage.

"This is not a complex case," Rittenband wrote in his decision, Docket No. CV 05-4008771, Enfield Planning & Zoning Commission et al vs. Enfield Zoning Board of Appeals et al. "This gravel is merely maintenance or repair of an existing use and not an expansion thereof."

Excellent. The town, it seemed, was doing its level best to harass a productive and valuable resource out of business, and the judge did the right thing. For now, at least, the school is safe.

There's a lot more information on this subject at Andy Thibault's Cool Justice Report, and you can also see my earlier post.

The decision itself is posted here.

Getting Tough Over Tea

The Courant reports on an apparent about-face from Joe Lieberman:
A day after saying in a major campaign speech that "we must get tougher with the Iraqi political leadership," Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman met Tuesday with Iraq's president and had a pleasant conversation that ended with the two men agreeing progress is being made.

"President Jalal Talabani is committed to working for a unified, democratic Iraq that preserves the rights and promotes the security of all its citizens," the Connecticut Democrat, who is seeking re-election as an independent, said after he and four other senators met privately with Talabani for 45 minutes in the Capitol.

Asked if he followed through on Monday's "get tough" message, Lieberman said, "This is a question of allies working together. With a friend, you don't essentially put a gun to their head." (Lightman)

Right. Lieberman also commented on the ill-timed release of the NIE:
"Are there terrorists in Iraq? Of course there are. That's a reason we went in," he said. (Lightman)

Except, of course, that that's not really true.

The thing is, Joe Lieberman is good at defending the war, and posturing about national security. He may be right that pulling out will lead to nasty reprecussions in the region.

But he doesn't have any better idea of what to do now than anyone else.

Source
Lightman, David. "Getting Not So Tough." Hartford Courant 27 September, 2006.

Politics on the gridiron

New London has contributed more to the national conversation about over-reaching governmentish bodies than any other town in Connecticut. It was New London that gave us Kelo v. New London, and the talk of eminent domain became kitchen table conservation all throughout the country. In June of this year, New London gave us the "Jack Cochran" rule, or as most football junkies refer to it, "the wussification of football rule". To the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) it is the "Score Management Rule".

The rule basically states that any coach whose team wins by a margin of 50 points or more will be suspended for the team's next game for unsportsmanlike conduct. A school can have up to 48 hours to appeal the suspension. The rule came into being after a New London football team posted a 90-0 win over a Griswold, which was really the icing on the cake so to speak since the team had victory margins over over 50 four times last year. The New London coach was Jack Cochran, whose sportsmanship came into question many times, which in turn ultimately led him to resign after punching another coach from another school during a joint weightlifting workout.

It didn't take long for the first game to break the 50 point margin of victory and thus the first appeal. That happened on September 15th when Bridgeport Central won 56-0 over Bassick. So in went Bridgeport central football coach Dave Cadelina to appeal the rule and out came the first wussification of the rule, the CIAC said "The review committee was convinced that Bridgeport Central's coach made the necessary legitimate efforts to manage the score of this game to the best of his ability."(WFSB)

And so we have administrators coming up with a rule to correct the behavior of one guy, by arbitrarily messing with the the most fundamental aspect of a sport, scoring, only to have them arbitrarily decide that the score maybe isn't enough to make a judgement. Football shouldn't be this complicated.

Joe Palladino of the Waterbury Connecticut Republican American raises the political implications of this football story:
But still, there is a deeper issue here, one that we happily ignore. We are concerned about how coaches manage the scoreboard in football when we really need to ask this question: What should we do about the competitive imbalance that exists in all high school games?

That leads to this disturbing question: Should we dismantle our current athletic structure?

Instead of fixating on the final score, should we be wondering why an Ansonia plays Sacred Heart in football in the first place? Or why the Crosby boys play Wolcott in basketball? Or why Seymour softball plays Wilby? Or why anybody swims against the Cheshire girls? Shouldn't we align our schools in a more intelligent manner? Why does a "LL" school like Naugatuck play its entire schedule against smaller schools, some more than half its size? Why don't we group schools by enrollment in the regular season like we do in the tournament season? Would that solve our competitive imbalance?


Predictably campaigns across Connecticut speak to Education, with choruses of spend more, test more, fix more, but it seems that there is something more intrinsically wrong with our schools when the sports teams can't compete because of administrative decisions designed to address a specific individual's behavior. It seems that maybe the fundamental problem with schools are the administrators whose programs and studies lead to these predicaments. And maybe that trickles down from politicians who are more concerned with banning soda, than questioning why educational costs keep going up while sports and other extra-curricular programs keep getting cut.

In the case of the blowouts, there was a better choice. CIAC could have adopted the "running clock" rule recommended by the National Federation of High Schools. This rule simply suspends the clock stoppages that happen on incompletions, penalties or when the ball goes out of bounds, but only when a team leads by more than 35 in the second half.

Our political debate however, will studiously avoid the real issues affecting education. Oh sure, there will be some talk about property tax reform and the linkage to ECS. But the shape of the debate will revert to form, one side advocating grandiose programs, and the other advocating against anything that increases costs. One can wish though that the relentless march towards behavior management rules will one day slow down.


50-point rule quickly turns into a laugher, The Connecticut Post, by Sean Patrick Bowley, 09/21/06

First 50-Point Rule Suspension Overturned, WFSB 09/20/06

Rule ignores root cause of routs, Republican-American, by Joe Palladino 09/10/2006

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What Divides Us

I've been thinking a lot about what divides us. I like to think in geographical terms. Specifically, I think in maps.


(Statistics from here)

This is a map showing which party is dominant in what towns, and by what percentage. Towns where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a higher percentage are a deeper blue, where Republicans outnumber Democrats is a deeper red, and so on.

I found some surprises. For example, Democrats dominate in Stafford. Also, a full fifth of the state's minor party members live in Norwalk. Who knew? But for the most part, the map shows what we knew already. Republicans dominate in the west. Democrats dominate the Connecticut Valley and the east. You can start to discern voting patterns, to a degree. The presidential map from 2004 bore a passing resemblance to this one.

Of course, what the map doesn't show is Connecticut's huge wild card: independents. They outnumber the members of the dominant party in every town but 19 (there are more Democrats than independents in Berlin, Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Derby, East Hartford, Hartford, Middletown, New Britain, New Haven, Stamford and Union; and more Republicans than independents in Darien, Greenwich, Hartland, Morris, New Canaan, Ridgefield, Weston and Wilton). Independents dominate in every congressional district, and in every county.

What the map also doesn't show is the great variation within the parties themselves. The primary between Ned Lamont and Joe Lieberman showed that the Democrats who dominate Naugatuck are very different from those who dominate Cornwall. The Republicans of Greenwich are not the same sort as the Republicans who dwell in Ledyard. The independents of Hartford are a far cry from those in Darien or Somers.

Party divides us. Except, of course, that it doesn't--not really. Party means different things depending on where you are. I don't buy that we need to be partisan all the time. We have too much in common. We can be smarter than that.

Open Forum

I wouldn't take too much advice from the President if I were Shays...

DeStefano puts a new "kiss" in ad.

And an overlooked exchange with Lieberman:
REPORTER: Does this NIE report in the Times change things for you?

LIEBERMAN: I'm gonna talk about it during the remarks.

REPORTER: Does it change things, or not?

LIEBERMAN: No.

REPORTER: No?

LIEBERMAN: No.

What else is going on?

DeStefano: "I have big ideas"

As I've said before, John DeStefano is at his best when he's pitching big ideas to the public. That, in fact, is the point of his new ad:

He gives his opponent credit where credit is certainly due when he says that Rell handled the transition from Rowland well. The bills piling up in the mailbox are a nice image, which makes his point while not being too negative. In fact, the entire point of the ad seems to be: We like Jodi, but John can do better. Which isn't the worst message DeStefano could have.

And yes, he comes right out and says he has big ideas, including universal health care.

The ad strikes the right chord. It's simple, direct, and it makes a case for change while not being overly negative. Probably the best DeStefano ad has offered yet. Whether it can help him in any way is another story.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Lieberman Supporter has "no affiliation" with Campaign.

A few days ago, slightly incensed after seeing this on the side of the road, I shot off a quick letter to the Lieberman Campaign:

I would like to know whether you condone or condemn the tactic of the man in this photograph?
The Lieberman campaign's response:
Sir,

The Friends of Joe Lieberman campaign in no way supports this individual and his actions. This individual is acting under his own accord and has no affiliation with the Friends of Joe Lieberman, or Senator Lieberman in general.

Friends of Joe Lieberman
I'll let you take what you want from their response, but I don't think they answered the question.

Thornton Calls for Free College Tuition

It isn't the most compelling political ad I've ever seen--nor is its subject the most charismatic politician ever to stand before a video camera. But the content of the ad is pretty interesting.

Cliff Thornton is calling for free tuition at state universities and community colleges for all eligible state residents. The catch? You have to remain in Connecticut for four years following graduation. The idea behind Thornton's plan is to open up high education to those who could never otherwise afford it.

In a press release today, Thornton said that "The UConn board will raise tuition again, like it has every year during the past decade... The skyrocketing costs of tuition and fees make college unaffordable for many deserving students. By allowing
this to happen, the Democrats and the Republicans in state government threaten Connecticut's economic viability."

Thornton noted that the UConn Board of Trustees raised in-state tuition by 6.5% for 2007 at their meeting this June.

"It is not a coincidence, then, that young people move out of Connecticut at the second highest rate in the country," Thornton said. "The solution is free higher education. It will create more jobs and more opportunities for people. Education is a human right."

Ken Krayeske, campaign director for Thornton, said that the program would cost "about $1.1 billion" per year, but that a combination of state and federal funds would be able to pay for it. Thornton wants to use revenue from the lottery and the casinos as primary sources of funding. Krayeske pointed out that the Rell car tax cut, which would have been funded by casino revenue, would have cost $435 million, and that the federal government bonds $250 million per day to fight the Iraq War.

"The legislature funded a $300 million football stadium that is used maybe 10 nights a year," Krayeske said, "So I am convinced it could find a way to pay for higher education.

Lieberman Slams Lamont on Iraq

Take Two

Joe Lieberman's big speech on Iraq today had a lot of the same attacks on Ned Lamont that we've seen before, with a few sort-of new proposals thrown in. Some excerpts from the AP:
"The clear choice before Connecticut's voters in this campaign is Ned Lamont's plan for giving up on Iraq and my plan for getting the job done there," Lieberman said in a speech at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post.
...
"The Lamont plan for immediate withdrawal and an arbitrary deadline is doomed to fail and weaken our security," Lieberman said. "It will leave our troops more vulnerable to attack while they remain, and will leave Iraq to become a failed state and a terrorist breeding ground when were gone."
...
In his speech, Lieberman proposed replacing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, doubling or tripling the number of American soldiers embedded in Iraqi units and increasing the size of the Army and Marines to better prepare for global conflicts.
...
Lieberman warned against withdrawing troops too soon, saying such a move would embolden terrorists and spark an all-out civil war in Iraq. But he also says he does not support an open-ended deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq.
...
"We have to realize that reasonable people can disagree on this difficult question, and that does not make you a terrorist sympathizer, on the one hand, or a warmonger, on the other," the senator said.
AP)

A few things:

1. If American troops are embedded with Iraqi troops, won't that leave a lot of holes? How will those be covered? We can't reasonably expect Iraqi troops to cover them right away, especially given their past performance.

2. How does he expect to expand the size of the military, given current recruitment? It isn't as they're lining up around the block at recruitment centers. If they were, we wouldn't need stop-loss.

3. Putting those things together... is this a call for a draft?

4. There are a few shades of meaning between what Lieberman says not to do in the last quote, and what he actually does in the first and second ones. He's not outright calling Lamont a terrorist sympathizer. He's implying that Lamont is more of a terrorist emboldener. But how far is that, really, from that guy who dresses up as a terrorist and holds up a "We Support Lamont" sign?

But otherwise, there wasn't much that I saw that was terribly new or different from what Lieberman has said before. He is still against timelines and leaving too soon. He still thinks Lamont's plans are reckless. He's already stated that he wants Rumsfeld gone, and that he wants to strengthen the Iraqi military.

Source
"Lieberman says troop pullout timelines 'doomed to fail'." Associated Press 25 September, 2006.

Open Forum

Lieberman's going to give a speech about Iraq today. The Lamont campaign responds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI2e9io7edk.

Anything else going on today?

Running Fast

I used to teach high school English. One of the things that I taught to my freshmen every year, along with Animal Farm and endless preparation for CAPT, was Romeo and Juliet. I always looked forward to it.

One of my favorite ways to bore my students was to use Friar Laurence to make a point about moderation. Here's what he has to say in Act II, sc. iii. on the subject:
For nought so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give,
Nor aught so good but strain'd from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;
And vice sometimes by action dignified.
Within the infant rind of this small flower
Poison hath residence and medicine power:
For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;
Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will;
And where the worser is predominant,
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant. (II.iii, l. 17-30)

It's then that Romeo comes in to tell him he's going to marry Juliet, at which point Friar Laurence promptly tells him he's an overhasty young idiot. Which he is.

But the point of the speech was that you can have too much even of good things, and that everything has some sort of use or purpose. When a man becomes unbalanced and tilts too far to one side or the other, it's like being poisoned.

And that's how I live my life, and form my politics. Everything has a use, a purpose. All things in moderation. "Wisely and slow," the Friar counsels Romeo, "They stumble that run fast." It seems like good advice. We often push change too hard or restrict ourselves too much, we either try to do too much or do nothing at all. We don't move with wisdom and forethought. We listen to our emotions, and not our minds. It's dangerous. We stumble.

My students thought this was dumb. They lived emotional lives. They acted on impulse. Meeting a girl one night and marrying her the next morning seemed a little weird, but it made a certain amount of sense to them.

But Shakespeare may have sneaked one past me, clever soul that he is. Friar Laurence tries desperately to walk the middle path throughout the play, but at crucial moments he is unable to act decisively. His plan to fake Juliet's death and then sneak her out of the city to where Romeo waits is clever, but far too indirect. He's still on a middle course, trying to cause as few waves as possible. Better to simply abscond with her to Mantua and Romeo, and let the consequences fall where they may. His plan leads to tragedy and death. When it unravels, and Romeo lies dead as Juliet awakens, Friar Laurence panics and runs away, leaving Juliet just enough time to stab herself to death. Fear masters even the wise.

The lesson seems to be that there are times when caution and moderation at the expense of the ability to act decisively is just as dangerous as rushing headlong into the unknown. Friar Laurence commits just as blindly to his middle course as Romeo and Juliet do to their extreme one. Maybe that's the wisdom lost in the play.

Or maybe it's that events will destroy us, no matter what we do or how hard we try. Romeo and Juliet had a night of pure bliss before they died. Friar Laurence ends up with nothing but ruin and ashes. Who am I to say who was the wiser?

And so. How does this relate to Connecticut politics? I'm sure I could think of a dozen ways. Maybe Ned Lamont, who is riding a tiger that will someday consume him. Or Joe Lieberman, who plays the moderate from time to time. Maybe Lamont's tiger will carry him to dizzying heights. Maybe Lieberman's desperate moderation keeps him from seeing the big picture.

Maybe this nation is a tragedy.

And maybe I'm just depressed this morning.

Farr Attacks Blumenthal

The race for attorney general has actually sputtered to life. Republican candidate Robert Farr is attacking AG-For-Life Richard Blumenthal over tax policy and the limits of his office:
After state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called for imposing a "windfall profits" tax on oil companies, his Republican opponent criticized him for it.
...
"He has no authority or power to set tax policy," said Farr, who is running an aggressive underdog campaign against the four-term incumbent. "He's out making demands instead of doing his job. He's a rouge attorney general. He just does whatever will get him more press."
...
"I've been more proactive than any attorney general in Connecticut history," Blumenthal said. "For 15 years, apologists for lawbreakers have accused me of seeking excess publicity. Part of my job is to tell people how to protect themselves from scams and con artists. I do that through the media."

Discouraging excess profits at the expense of consumers, also would be part of his job, Blumenthal said, in calling for increased taxes on oil companies. Farr argued such a tax would be passed on to the consumer and make gasoline more costly. (Lucas)

Blumenthal has certainly been more, um, visible than just about any other attorney general in recent memory, and he has pushed the boundaries of the office significantly. Maybe it isn't the place of the attorney general to call for a windfall profits tax on oil companies. However, the people of Connecticut seem to like Blumenthal just fine where he is. He is consistently one of the most popular political figures in the state. The last poll measuring such things, taken last year, gave him an approval rating of 73%. For a guy who has been in the same office since 1990, that's pretty good.

Still, it's good to see some debate about Blumenthal and his record. The article is worth reading, just for a little more information about a race that usually stays below the radar.

Source
Lucas, Fred. "Gloves come off in attorney general's race." Danbury News-Times 25 September, 2006.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Kevin Rennie: Lamont mostly carping about Sen. Joseph Lieberman

Rennie, in Sunday's Courant, raises points about the "the man who seemed a fresh force in the spring is starting to look like a contrivance as the fall begins". Contrived? Lamont? No kidding.

There's much to wonder about a guy who couldn't hack reading resolutions when he was on the Greenwich DTC, but Rennie goes down a different path:
In his cable business, however, Lamont has not been so eager for union attention. At one conclave, Lamont gave the cold shoulder to Bill Henderson, president of Communications Workers of CT Local 1298, when Henderson had the temerity to suggest to the cable executive that he ought to let the union into Lamont Digital.


Rennie goes on to delve into the Ann Lamont investment messes, which frankly I'm not sure mean much except the one that he doesn't mention, where somehow, really, no coincidence here, Ann's fund invested in a cousin of Bush. Maybe Ann will attend the George Bush fundraiser hosted by L. Scott Frantz in Greenwich.
As the staunchest of staunch Republicans, Frantz did something unusual in 1990; he contributed to the state Senate campaign of a Democrat. The fiscally conservative Democrat was little known outside of Greenwich then, but he had the same type of entrepreneurial background and Ivy League pedigree as Frantz.

His name? Ned Lamont.

"Frankly, we've been pretty good friends," Lamont said. "I respect him. I like him. But I've still got to work on him on the political front. Maybe he'll do a fundraiser for me and show his true bipartisanship - reaching across the aisle."





The Hartford Courant, Getting A Line On Lamont by Kevin Rennie, Sept. 24, 2006
The Hartford Courant, Bush Enters On Cat Feet by CHRISTOPHER KEATING, Sept. 24, 2006

Issues Voters Care About

John DeStefano is daring Jodi Rell not to accept money from the Bush fundraiser on Monday.
John DeStefano, the Democratic candidate for governor, is challenging Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell to forgo campaign help from state Republicans that could be financed with cash collected from a fundraiser on Monday featuring President Bush.

Huh?
DeStefano's campaign will deliver a letter to Rell on Monday for her to sign asking George Gallo, chairman of the state Republicans, to not include her in coordinated GOP efforts, such as telephone banks, polling and literature, the campaign said.
...
Rell won't attend the Greenwich fundraiser because she has a scheduling conflict, aides said. The governor also has said she will not accept any money raised by the event. (AP)

Okay, then. I've read the article, and I still don't quite understand exactly what it is DeStefano wants her to do.

But you know what? I don't care.

DeStefano has been attacking Rell for months, saying she's not addressing the big issues. He's at his best when proposing and explaining big, grand plans that deal with issues voters care about. But this? I don't care about this. Nobody cares about this. If John DeStefano were holding himself to the same strict fundraising rules as Jodi Rell, I might care a little more. But probably not.

Source
"Destefano Challenges Rell On GOP Money." Associated Press 24 September, 2006.

Sunday Polling

Just curious:

Which of the following combination of senate and gubernatorial votes do you intend to cast?
Rell and Lieberman
Rell and Lamont
Rell and Schlesinger
DeStefano and Lieberman
DeStefano and Lamont
DeStefano and Schlesinger
Something Else (i.e. Green Party candidates)
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Bush Visit: Rell, Schlesinger Won't be Attending

President George W. Bush will be in Greenwich Monday. Gov. Jodi Rell and U.S. Senate candidate Alan Schlesinger won't be.

Rell, who makes a habit out of avoiding the president whenever she can get away with it, will be nearby:
Gov. M. Jodi Rell had a scheduling conflict and is expected to be in western Connecticut to announce progress on the long-running problems on the heavily traveled Route 7 corridor, her aides said. (Keating)

Lame! But I can't blame her. Bush is not a popular guy around here, and a fundraiser with Bush would just provide fodder for John DeStefano. Rell doesn't need the money, the Greenwich connections, or the President of the United States.

There is someone who does, though, and his story is much sadder.
Bush will be spared any awkward encounters with sad sack Republican Senate nominee Alan Schlesinger, who continues to draw just 2 to 6 percent in polls. Unless the flailing candidate, badly damaged by summer reports of a history of gambling under the assumed name of “Alan Gold”, buys his own ticket, he’ll have to read about the Bush visit in the newspapers. The usual courtesy of including even doomed Republican candidates will not be extended to Schlesinger. (Rennie)

Ouch. To make things worse, Schlesinger once said that he would welcome the chance to campaign with Bush, and that he would be "one Republican who does not run away from the president."

Sadly, the president is running away from him.

President's Host Supported Lamont in 1990

Interestingly, the host of the party, investment banker L. Scott Frantz, was a supporter of Ned Lamont during his failed 1990 state senate bid:
As the staunchest of staunch Republicans, Frantz did something unusual in 1990; he contributed to the state Senate campaign of a Democrat. The fiscally conservative Democrat was little known outside of Greenwich then, but he had the same type of entrepreneurial background and Ivy League pedigree as Frantz.

His name? Ned Lamont.

"Frankly, we've been pretty good friends," Lamont said. "I respect him. I like him. But I've still got to work on him on the political front. Maybe he'll do a fundraiser for me and show his true bipartisanship - reaching across the aisle."
...
"I know plenty of Republicans. I'm from Greenwich," Lamont said. "There's no irony." (Keating)

None at all.

Sources
Keating, Christopher. "Bush Enters On Cat Feet." Hartford Courant 24 September, 2006.

Rennie, Kevin. "Bush's Connecticut Fundraiser Exceeds Expectations." Taegan Goddard's Political Wire (blog) 21 September, 2006.

House Votes Yes on Picture Voter Ids for 2008

We all remember the headlines about non citizens caught trying to vote in elections right? With national elections each year rarely breaking a 50% turnout, the Republican led 109th Congress thinks the most pressing bill to address before the election is one concerning federal elections in 2008. In brief:
Voter ID Requirements: Members voted, 228-196, to require photo identification as a condition of voting in federal elections starting in 2008. The bill also requires that by 2010 voters must show proof of citizenship along with their photo ID. A yes vote was to send the bill (HR 4844) to the Senate.


The Connecticut Delegation voted along party lines, so much for being moderate Shays, Johnson and Simmons:

Chris Shays Y
Nancy Johnson Y
Simmons Y

DeLauro N
Larson N

The reality is we are well on our way to requiring a national id. You can't drive, fly, open a bank account, and receive a whole host of government services. But this bill sidesteps the issue in the name of voter fraud. And somewhat disingenuously, since the headlines of recent past elections were about the voter suppression allegations and the general lack of a paper trail accompanying the move to electronic voting, not to mention the vunerability of electronic voting machines.

In Connecticut, the march towards new voting technology has been painfully slow. And unlike Oregon, there's been no move towards gaining more voter participation by moving towards voting by mail. The polling locations, apparently are here to stay. As Robert Kuttner says, "Tens of millions of Americans don't vote because we make voters go through a two-step process of registering and then voting." Despite the Democratic opposition to the requirement of picture IDs, there is no counter argument to increase voter turnout and participation.

On the surface It seems that the purpose of this bill is to depress voter participation, by elevating a requirement handled at the state level, to a federal mandate. The people most affected by this bill will be poor, rural, disabled and elderly citizens. There is nothing in this bill that addresses what states can do to help their citizens meet these requirements. Isn't it time that Republicans stop sending unfunded mandates to the states?


National Turnout
2004 42.45%
2002 37%
2000 51.3%
1998 36.4%
1996 49.08%
updated: source: www.eac.gov


Thomas Roll Call
The American Prospect License and Registration by Robert Kuttner, 12.09.04

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dodd '08: Very Red States

Sen. Chris Dodd headed down to South Carolina this weekend as he continues to test the presidential waters.
"It's a nice place to stop and meet people and give them a chance to meet a guy from Connecticut," Dodd said.

Dodd already has been making the rounds in Iowa and New Hampshire and says he's looking at similar visits in Nevada.(AP)

South Carolina is a state that Chris Dodd will almost certainly not win. Dodd can take some consolation from the fact that Hillary Clinton probably won't win it, either. This is John Edwards's territory, and it's a good bet that Edwards will want to stay in the race at least as long as South Carolina. Mark Warner, should he run, is also a possibility to win there. But Dodd? Probably not. So why go?

Democrats need someone who they believe can do at least reasonably well in southern states. If Dodd can come in second or third behind Edwards, he'll be in good position to continue the race. If not, as is more likely, it'll be time to pack it in.

Source
"Connecticut's Dodd stirs presidential politics in South Carolina." Associated Press 24 September, 2006.

Wrong For Too Long: Farrell on Shays and War

The Farrell campaign has put out a new ad attacking Shays on Iraq and his 14 trips to Iraq.
Today's Courant profiles former Shays supporters who've defected over Iraq.
In his speech to the group in Boucher's living room, Shays advocated setting a series of deadlines for the Iraqi people to reach independence, and, once those milestones are reached, a "one-for-one step down" as each new Iraqi solider is trained.

He said the United States should withdraw and power be transferred when the country's internal security is restored.

At that point, Andrew Shopick raised his hand to speak. The stockbroker from Wilton, an unaffiliated voter, plans to support Shays but is deeply disturbed by the war. Shopick represents the outer rim of Shays' support. Beyond him are the defectors.

"Iraq is becoming such a nightmare," Shopick told Shays in Boucher's living room. "We've basically taken a country and destroyed it. You talk about not leaving until we provide security, but as soon as we walk away, chaos will begin."

Shays' response shows how politically volatile the war has become for him.

He said, "We destroyed their security and we have a moral obligation to replace it."


Shays may well have defined the moral clarity that the anti-war movement lacks, it is unamerican to destroy and not rebuild. It is also more defining that the Republican controlled three branches of government have yet to rebuild anything. Not the economy, not post Katrina, Rita and Wilma devastated areas, not Afghanistan, not transparent elections, not a balanced budget, and on and on.

So while Shays may be right, harkening back to Democratic controlled rebuilding efforts in previous post war eras, he's also hoping that voters ignore that his party has proven itself incapable of governing let alone rebuilding anything.


Courant Shays Feels Heat Of Message To Washington By JOSH KOVNER, September 23, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

Thornton Campaign on Debates: "The Green Party will not take this sitting down."

The following is a statement from Ken Krayeske, campaign director for Green Party candidate Cliff Thornton:
"Both the Republicans and the Democrats lied to Thornton for Governor, but more importantly, the voters of Connecticut. The major parties cannot be entrusted with the future of this great state.

On Sept. 1, 2006, Gov. M. Jodi Rell's campaign manager Kevin Deneen wrote a letter to Mayor John DeStefano's campaign manager Henry Fernandez stating "The Governor believes strongly that Mr. Thornton deserves a place in any debates."

Today, we saw that Gov. Rell and her campaign did not tell the truth about their intentions.

Yesterday, we compromised with Mayor DeStefano's campaign that there should be four televised debates, two with only the major parties and two with the all candidates on the ballot. Today, DeStefano's debate negotiator Derek Slap said they were able to negotiate the first part of that - two major party debates. He said they still hold out hope for the other two, but Cliff Thornton won't be holding his breath.

Herb Sheperdson, the negotiator for Gov. Rell, told me that the Governor would not agree to more than two debates. Then he told me he was going to hang up on me and he did. Both the Republicans and Democrats blame each other for not including the Greens and Concerned Citizens in at least one of the two agreed upon debates.

This is a travesty for the voters of Connecticut. From what we can tell, this is the first time in more than 50 years that neither major party accepted an invitation from the League of Women Voters to moderate a gubernatorial debate. That Gov. Rell wanted and got only two debates is a fallacy in and of itself. How can we honestly discuss the future of a $17.5 billion enterprise in under 120 minutes with only two people speaking?

How can we trust either party when they go back on their word? How are we supposed to trust anything they say in the debates? Caught in this particular broken promise and lie, everything Mayor DeStefano and Gov. Rell say from here on in is suspect.

The Green Party will not take this sitting down."

I would hope that the Rell, DeStefano, Thornton and Zdonczyk campaigns could agree to one more debate, with all the candidates invited. We could have it here in Enfield. We could have it on my front lawn (I'll have to mow), if it comes to that. It doesn't matter where or how, but voters deserve a chance to see all the choices together at least once.

Rell Agrees to One-on-One Debates

The Rell campaign has agreed to two one-on-one televised debates with John DeStefano, according to a release from the Rell campaign.
“Unfortunately, we were not able to come to agreement on allowing the participation of third-party candidates,” Governor Rell said. “But I’m sure there will be ample opportunity for voters to hear from all of the candidates at the various events and public meetings on the campaign trail.”

This is very sad, indeed. A debate featuring all the candidates would have been good for democracy.

I will post more information about where and when the debates will take place when I receive it.

Update 1:35pm:
The DeStefano campaign says that they proposed further debates with the minor party candidates, but the Rell campaign insisted on only two debates. From a September 20th letter sent to the Rell campaign:
We originally proposed a series of at least five televised debates and additional forums involving DeStefano and Governor Rell. The Rell campaign insisted that there be only two debates and that all third party candidates be included in each one.

In an effort to reach an agreement and get the debates scheduled quickly, the Destefano campaign amended its offer and suggested four televised debates and two additional forums. Again, Governor Rell refused to negotiate.
...
Today the DeStefano campaign is again trying to reach a compromise by offering at least two televised, one-on-one debates with an additional two or three debates or forums including minor party candidates.


This deal apparently fell through.

Rich Harris, spokesman for the Rell campaign, told CTLP that while he didn't know the specifics of the negotiations, the governor had been very interested in including the minor-party candidates. "I was there when she talked about wanting the minor party candidates in the debate and she meant it. There was no talk of strategy. I know no one will believe it; why should they? It's a cynical age. ... But it's true."

New URLs

We at CTLP are planning some major changes for the future, like migrating away from a free Blogger site and setting up shop somewhere more reliable.

One of the first things we've done is to purchase shorter, easier-to-remember (and type) domain names.

Right now www.ctlocalpolitics.org and www.ctlocalpolitics.net will just redirect you to the home page here. But it's our intention to have one of them become our primary domain name at some point in the future (and before you ask, someone already took ctlocalpolitics.com. Go and shake your fists in rage at them!).

But the new domains are a sign of things to come. This site has changed a great deal over the past year, and will continue to do so up through and after the election.

Thanks, everybody, for reading! This post can be an open forum.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Positive Ads

Mostly

John DeStefano and Jodi Rell have both taken to the airwaves with new ads, both of which are mostly very positive. DeStefano's ad, which is his first of the general election, contrasts his ideas with the past twelve years, during which "Republicans ruled our state," and, "You know from your own life, things just aren’t getting done." While the first statement is a little dubious (Republicans last won control of of one of the chambers of the General Assembly in 1994, and no Republican save Rowland and Rell have been elected to statewide office for a decade), the second tries to appeal to a genral sense of worsening times. This is as negative as the ad gets. DeStefano presents his ideas as a remedy for "the politics of inaction," promising "He’ll close corporate loopholes and use the money to lower heath care costs---for everyone," and "A real plan to lower electric bills and freeze property taxes for seniors."

No mention of Universal Health Care? Surprising. And no sweeping property tax reform, massive transportation plan or school reforms either. DeStefano's biggest and boldest ideas are missing from the ad.

And the line "You're getting squeezed: squeeze back," is either really goofy or an incitement to class warfare. Maybe both. You can see the ad for yourself below:


Gov. Jodi Rell's second ad is, like her first, relentlessly-- almost painfully-- positive. Rell highlights past achievements like saving the sub base (the number of jobs saved seems a little high) and ethics reform, as well as making a mysterious claim that Connecticut is on the way to becoming a national leader in job creation. She pours it on about how great Connecticut is, and how much she likes being our governor.

Schmaltz, yes. But also perfect. She's making all the right moves for someone who is 20 points ahead of her opponent. Her ads are positive and light, but not entirely free of substance. Here's her ad:


The difference between the ads--and also between the campaigns--is that DeStefano is selling the idea of change, and his own ideas with it. Rell is selling herself. So long as she continues to enjoy high personal approval ratings, she has to do little else. DeStefano is putting a lot of ideas on the table, but it will take more than just ideas to combat Rell's personal popularity.

SOTS Will Audit Optical Scan Machines

From the Secretary of the State's office:
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said today that her office and the University of Connecticut’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering will perform random audits following the November 7th election in cities and towns using optical scan voting technology in place of lever machines. The audits will be done to examine how the machines worked and to ensure the reliability of Connecticut’s voting technology.

Secretary Bysiewicz said her office will work with UConn Computer Science Professor Alexander Shvartsman, whose department this year formed a partnership with the Office of the Secretary of the State to assist in certification and acceptance testing of the new voting technology, as well as the citizens’ group TrueVoteCT. These audits will be performed randomly in the twenty-five (25) Connecticut towns that will begin using the optical scan voting machines in place of lever machines this year.

This is a good idea, especially given the fact that a lot of people are jumpy about moving over to new voting technologies.

America Gives Congress 25% Approval

From the NYT:

By broad margins, respondents said that members of Congress were too tied to special interests and that they did not understand the needs and problems of average Americans. Two-thirds said Congress had accomplished less than it typically did in a two-year session; most said they could not name a single major piece of legislation that cleared this Congress. Just 25 percent said they approved of the way Congress was doing its job.

But for all the clear dissatisfaction with the 109th Congress, 39 percent of respondents said their own representative deserved re-election, compared with 48 percent who said it was time for someone new.

What is more, it seems highly unlikely Democrats will experience a sweep similar to the one Republicans experienced in 1994. Most analysts judge only about 40 House seats to be in play at the moment, compared with over 100 seats in play at this point 12 years ago, in large part because redistricting has created more safe seats for both parties.

The poll also found that President Bush had not improved his own or his party’s standing through his intense campaign of speeches and events surrounding the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The speeches were at the heart of a Republican strategy to thrust national security to the forefront in the fall elections.



For those who are fond of predictions, how many seats will Republicans or Democrats pick up or lose? Can Democrats take the House or Senate?

Source
Nagourney, Adam. "Only 25% in Poll Approve of the Congress". New York Times. 9/21/06

GQ

This piece from GQ piece has been burning up the liberal blogosphere, but I thought it was worth discussion here as well. Usually I don't enjoy reading national reporting about the Senate race, but Kenneth Cain really gets it. This isn't the pre-packaged, cookie cutter narrative I've become accustomed to seeing from the national press.

On the differences between the Lieberman and Lamont campaigns:

The first human within reach is Derosier. Joe grabs his hand and embraces him in a full-on man-clench for the cameras, as though Derosier were a faithful supporter who drove out to the mouth of the Norwalk River just because he's eager to hear more about Joe'’s support for bike trails. I turn to the young staffer next to me and say, "“Wait, thatÂ’s his driver he just embraced!"” She shrugs like, No shit, you idiot, that'’s how this works. And she's right. This event might as well be taking place on a soundstage. All that matters is that the manufactured support looks real on the evening news tonight and in the paper tomorrow.

Lamont'’s events, by contrast, have been full of genuine enthusiasm and unpaid supporters but informal and amateurish from a media-war point of view. Standing there in the oppressive sun watching the fake Lieberman event, I wonder whether Ned, with all the attendant populist hopes that have been projected onto him —can withstand the weight of the Big Dog's rally and then a ten-day onslaught of expensive stage management. Welcome to the big leagues, selectman.


And here is the only acknowledgement of the African American vote and the rolw it played in the primary that I've seen. Lieberman supporters love to make an issue of Sharpton and Jackson's presence in CT, but I wonder how they'd feel if Sharpton and Jackson had been out stumping for Lieberman.

Ned Lamont is white. I mean, really white. Prep school at Exeter, undergrad at Harvard (where one of the libraries carries his family name), grad school at Yale. He comes from old money (his great-grandfather was a chairman at J. P. Morgan), his wife made lots more, he made more himself. He doesnÂ’t exactly exude street cred. Ned volunteer-teaches in tough schools in Bridgeport, which everyone respects, but still, thereÂ’s a wall of privilege around him. But in the closing days of this race itÂ’s clear that Ned will win in affluent, white suburbs and that Joe will win in ethnic blue-collar towns, so it comes down to this: If Ned can mobilize disaffected blacks, heÂ’ll win the biggest upset in a generation. If not, he wonÂ’t.


Thoughts?

Source
Cain, Kenneth. "THE KISS OF DEATH". GQ October 2006

Anti-war drumbeat alienates voters

According to the LaTimes, Bush and GOP Making Gains Among Voters
In June, Republicans led Democrats by 9 percentage points when voters were asked which party they trusted most to handle national security and the war on terrorism. In the new poll, voters prefer Republicans by 17 percentage points, 49% to 32%.

Kevin Drum of Washington Monthly summarizes the dilemma one way,
Note, though, that "Republicans have nearly doubled their lead when voters are asked which party they trust most to protect the nation against terrorism." The Democratic message is apparently not getting through either.
They also have a nice graph from the times that highlights the rest of the poll.

Basically, I disagree with Drum's conclusion. The main Democratic anti-war message is getting through, it's just turning off voters. The Republicans on the war and on terrorism are as incompetent as ever, the only thing that's changed is that the once rabid war hawks now appear moderate thanks to the liberal anti-war movement. It will be interesting to see how this uptick in Republican support plays out with the weak-kneed three.

LATIMES, Bush and GOP Making Gains Among Voters, Ron Brownstein, September 21, 2006.

Wasington Monthly IRAQ AND TERROR, Kevin Drum, September 21, 2006.

Open Forum

Gov. Rell has opened the door to a possible one-on-one debate with John DeStefano. I hope this doesn't mean there won't be any debates with the other two candidates. That would be a shame.

The DeStefano campaign sent Mary Glassman out to the steps of the Capitol yesterday to accuse the governor of ducking debate. They're finding good uses for her.

Joe Lieberman backs universal health care. Wow, he's suddenly pretty liberal. How did that happen?

Remember the Lamont "Turncoat" ads? Apparently no one else liked them, either.

What else is going on?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lamont-Lieberman Debate Scheduled

Hat tip to MikeCT over at MLN

Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont will debate in New London on October 23rd, according to both campaigns.
George Stephanopoulos, chief Washington correspondent for ABC television news, will moderate the debate among U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman; Ned Lamont, who defeated Lieberman in the Democratic primary; and Republican Alan Schlesinger.

The candidates will face questions from three reporters and editors: Ted Mann, political reporter for The Day; Mark Davis, state Capitol correspondent for WTNH-News Channel 8; and a member of The Day’s editorial page staff. News Channel 8, The Day's television partner for the debate, will broadcast it live.

As soon as tickets are printed, The Day will make them available to the public at a variety of locations in its circulation area.

October 23rd? Hm. There may be other debates in the works, but the late date of this one suggests that it might be the one and only. The 1970 debate between Lowell Weicker, Tom Dodd and Joe Duffey, also in late October, proved to be decisive. This one may prove to be as well, given the closeness of the race. According to the latest poll from American Research Group, Lieberman leads Lamont 47%-45%.

Update I have heard from someone in the know that another debate may soon be scheduled. Stay tuned.

Source
U.S. Senate Candidates to Debate Oct. 23 in New London." The Day 20 September, 2006.

The Prodigal Returns

He never comes back to the old family home. He was born in New Haven, but moved out West as a baby. He never really knew life here. As a consequence, he grew up to be a different man from his patrician grandfather and awkward, insulated father.

But George W. Bush is coming home to the state of his birth, and the town of his forefathers, on Monday for a very expensive fundraiser.
State GOP Chairman George Gallo said the fundraiser will energize the party's faithful.

"We're absolutely excited and ecstatic to have the president of the United States come to Connecticut to support the Republican Party and the Republican team," said Gallo, who is hoping to raise about $400,000 from 30 couples. (Vigdor)

The president remains deeply unpopular in Connecticut, with only a 32% approval rating. The Farrell campaign is doing all it can to take advantage of Bush's unpopularity. This is the statement they released yesterday:
"President Bush is coming to Greenwich for two reasons: first, to thank Chris Shays for his unwavering support for the War in Iraq, and for a host of other Bush priorities; second, because President Bush knows Chris Shays is in serious trouble, he's here to try and rescue him. This visit is a reward and a down payment on Chris Shays' continuing support for the War in Iraq.

"The president could have held this fundraiser anywhere in Connecticut, but he chose Chris Shays' district, which is understandable and appropriate."

Greenwich is also home to a lot of rich Republicans. Basically, the president can get in, raise an ungodly sum of money, and get out before he is drawn into uncomfortable conversations with relatives ("So! How's your war going?") or reporters ("So! How's your war going?").

In any event, the return of the president to his ancestral homeland probably won't be a huge story. He is not doing any active (i.e, public) campaigning here, especially not alongside endangered incumbent Chris Shays.

Source
Vigdor, Neil. "President to visit Greenwich to raise funds." Stamford Advocate 20 September, 2006.

Participation in Debates Debated

There is a minor controversy over possible gubernatorial debates brewing. The upshot seems to be that Gov. Rell wants to include all the candidates, including two from minor parties, while John DeStefano wants a one-on-one with Rell. The Courant reports on why:
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano is trying to get Rell out of the Rose Garden and get her in front of the voters in a one-on-one debate. So far, that has not worked.

DeStefano is so frustrated that he is even citing disgraced former Gov. John G. Rowland as a positive campaign role model for Rell, because Rowland went one-on-one with Democrat Barbara Kennelly in 1998 and did not include the minor-party candidates.
...
As part of the spirit of the state's landmark campaign finance reforms, the minor party candidates should be given a greater voice, Rell said.

"Why shouldn't they be a part of the debate?" Rell asked reporters this week. (Keating)

Both Rell and DeStefano have a point. Cliff Thornton (Green) and Joseph A. Zdonczyk (Concerned Citizens) qualified for the ballot, and should be part of at least one debate. DeStefano makes himself look even worse by trying to shut them out. The precedent mentioned in the article is Sen. Chris Dodd's four-way debates in 2004:
Rell cites the precedent of U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, who participated in two four-way debates in 2004 that included equal time for the Concerned Citizens and Libertarian Party nominees along with the chief Republican challenger, Jack Orchulli. Political insiders said Dodd's strategy worked because the debates became so diluted that Dodd skated to victory in a cakewalk against three virtual unknowns. (Keating)

Right, it was the debate that cost Orchulli the election. Got it.

But DeStefano is right that Rell is avoiding him. And why not? She can afford to. She has a ton of money and a huge lead. If he's lucky, she may actually speak his name sometime in October.

There are a lot of issues that need to be debated. Something like three debates in October would be great. DeStefano, however, should accept the minor candidates. He should welcome them, in fact. If his ideas are as powerful, innovative and necessary as he says, then that should come through no matter how many others are on stage with him.

Source
Keating, Christopher. "Debating Protocol For Debates." Hartford Courant 20 September, 2006.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

CT02 - This just in

Press Release received today from the Courtney campaign:

Getting it Done? Simmons' Hypocrisy Knows No Limits
Simmons' Message Thanks Joe for Putting Politics Aside to Save Base from BRAC

COLCHESTER, CT
– Rob Simmons paid to unleash his very first TV ad of the 2006 campaign -- a personal and negative attack on accomplished former State Legislator Joe Courtney -- claiming personal success in saving the submarine base from base realignment and closure (BRAC), politicizing a sensitive issue for eastern Connecticut.

Simmons obviously forgot that just a few short months ago, he personally called Joe Courtney to thank Joe for helping him to save the base and for not politicizing the issue. In his own words excerpted from the message, "And I just wanted to say to you how much I respect your decision back on May 13 not to take political advantage of the process, uh, uh, I think that was the, the high road. I think that without the support of, of everybody involved we wouldn't have been successful." [sic]

In last night's candidate debate at the Garde Arts Center in New London, Rob Simmons asked if Joe Courtney would have been able to save the base. Well, according to Rob Simmons' own words, Joe did just that – along with everyone in eastern Connecticut.

"Rob Simmons' hypocrisy is astounding and Simmons has been caught in what's become typical of desperate Republican Members of Congress across the nation clinging to their incumbency by their fingernails," stated Brian Farber, Communications Director, Joe Courtney for Congress. "Simmons will stop at nothing to revise history to his own benefit and contradict even himself for political gain. Joe Courtney will change the direction of this country while restoring obviously needed integrity to Congress."

Click here to listen to Rob Simmons' message thanking Joe Courtney for not politicizing the BRAC process.


"I[...]look forward to seeing you or hearing from you any time in the future."
- Rob Simmons, voice mail to Joe Courtney

In all fairness, Courtney has held his fire. This isn't politics as usual from Rep. Simmons, who sounded sincere in his voice mail. Does it suggest that Simmons is getting desperate late in the campaign?

Here is the CTLP post on the BRAC announcement last August.



Source:
Courtney campaign press release, 19 September 2006