Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hope for a New Year

I end every year exhausted, it seems, and lately I’ve found myself always hoping for a better year than the one that’s gone by.

I’ve had a lot of good things happen to me this year. I got a new job with the college I’ve grown to love over the past two years, and I find that my career as a librarian is starting, slowly, to take off. My wonderful wife and I are happier together then we’ve ever been.

This site has opened doors for me, too. I’ve been lucky. I’ve met with all kinds of fascinating people, from candidates to newspaper and television reporters to the (magnificent) other bloggers in this state, and I’ve been present for history several times.

And yet, I saw so much hate, division and blindness. I still see it, every day, and sometimes I feel like it’s pulling me apart. It seems that what divides us grows deeper and deeper with every year that passes, while the things that unite us lie forgotten. I worry for my country: are we so lost that we’ll never find our way back again?

But, since I sometimes tend to get carried away with my own melancholy, this is a note to myself, and to all of you, to have faith. Yes, we are lost. But we still blunder forward, blind and stupid, and some day we’ll emerge on the other side of whatever this is. History is neither an endless loop, where we pass by ourselves over and over again while going nowhere, nor a straight line from one point to another, but a spiral. There are cycles and patterns that can be discerned, and we do seem to travel in circles, but on each pass we are at a different point than we were before.

Maybe it’s easier to say that nothing is forever. 2006 is over and done—we won’t see it again. So let’s begin 2007 with hope—hope that this year will be better than the last, and faith that we are still moving ever higher, into the unknown.

Happy New Year, everyone. May we all know peace, understanding and joy.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Predictions for 2007

The new year is almost upon us. So what do you think is going to happen over the next twelve months?

Here are a couple of my own predictions, for what it's worth:
  • Gov. Rell will end 2007 with significantly lower popularity than she currently enjoys.
  • The legislature will pass some sort of universal health care plan in the waning hours of the 2007 session. It will be nothing like Rell's proposal.
  • Rob Simmons will announce that he's running again for Congress.
  • A primary between two no-name Republicans will start shaping up in the 5th District.
  • The most interesting mayoral race will be in Waterbury, again.
  • Republicans will make small but significant gains in municipal elections.
  • The legislature will not override a single veto of Rell's.
  • Joe Lieberman will make himself as big a pain in the ass as possible for everyone.
  • American troops will begin leaving Iraq by next December.
  • Chris Dodd will withdraw from the presidential race late in the year.
  • The race for the Democratic nomination will shape up as a battle between Obama and Edwards. Hillary Clinton will be a distant third.
  • The Republican field will be a contest between McCain and someone who is acting as the anti-McCain: maybe Gingrich or possibly Romney.
  • Michael Bloomberg will run for president as an independent candidate. Joe Lieberman will publicly support him, and probably end up as his running mate.
I remind you, my predictions are usually terrible. I think I was wrong on every single one last year!

So what are your predictions?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Year in Review: 2006 (part two)

A continuation of part one of the year in review.

July

7/3 - Joe Lieberman, sensing doom, starts collecting signatures for an independent run.

7/6 - The first debate between Lieberman and Lamont. Lieberman comes off as grouchy and combative. Lamont looks like a deer in the headlights. Lamont, however, scores enough points for a win, although he fails to knock Lieberman out. The debate is broadcast live on national news networks. National and international interest in the primary swells.

7/10 - Lieberman comes up with a new party name. It is silly.

7/11 - Then-Republican Diana Urban thinks about jumping into the Senate race. She doesn't collect enough signatures.

7/12 - Questions about gambling nearly force Alan Schlesinger from the race. A lot of the "outrage" seems to be driven by either the governor or Kevin Rennie. Schlesinger hangs in there, but his candidacy is permanently crippled.

7/18 - Malloy and DeStefano debate in New London. Few watch. Malloy does a little better, but the real star of the debate is a refreshingly crusty Mark Davis, who needs to moderate more debates.

7/20 - Lamont pulls ahead with two weeks to go.

7/24 - Bill Clinton comes to Waterbury. Spazeboy has trouble getting in to see him.

7/27 - Nancy Johnson releases an attack ad against Chris Murphy. In July. No wonder she lost.

7/27 - Joe Lieberman announces a bus tour of diners. It doesn't go well.

August

The conventional wisdom entering August was that Lamont was going to crush Lieberman. Polls showed him ahead by ten points or more. The Malloy campaign claimed to be inching closer and closer to DeStefano. What really mattered, however, came on August 8th:

8/8 - Primary Day. The world comes to Connecticut. I've never seen anything like it.

The day begins with an attack on the Lieberman website. Well, it's called an attack. Lamont's campaign and supporters slowly debunk it throughout the day, but the Lieberman campaign keeps claiming an attack and blames pro-Lamont forces.

Turnout is very high--43% of Dems vote. That's the highest turnout ever for a statewide primary.

Lamont does win by 52%-48%, but Joe Lieberman vows to run as an independent. He promptly fires his staff, and hires old hands.

John DeStefano wins against Dan Malloy in a squeaker--only a few thousand votes separate them.

Oddly, Malloy's running mate Mary Glassman absolutely wrecks Scott Slifka, as Democratic voters send a clear message about having a woman on the ticket. DeStefano orders new lawn signs.

8/13 - Lamont's campaign begins the general election campaign on the wrong foot. Never say bad things about Waterbury. It's not worth it.

8/14 - Jim Amann backs Joe Lieberman, earning him the enmity of pro-Lamont bloggers and others.

8/16 - Garfield's off the hook in Moodygate. Which is still going on.

8/17 - A Quinnipiac Poll shows Lieberman leading Lamont by about 10%, and Rell crushing DeStefano. Which, despite a few wavers here and there, is exactly where it all ends up.

8/25 - Chris Shays endorses a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, neatly stealing Diane Farrell's thunder. A decisive moment for Shays.

September

I spent September waiting for things to get interesting. They didn't.

9/1 - Three major House races in Connecticut are among those nationally targeted.

9/5 - It's revealed that the White House is funneling money to Lieberman. Surprise.

9/13 - The SOTS releases the list of towns which will use optical scan machines.

9/15 - Lieberman remembers why people liked him in the first place.

9/18 - Nancy Johnson suggests that a vote for Murphy is a vote for terrorists killing adorable children. Whew!

9/19 - Courtney and Simmons debate.

9/22 - Rell and DeStefano agree to two one-on-one debates, infuriating Cliff Thornton of the Green Party.

9/25 - Remember this guy?

9/28 - The House passes the so-called "torture bill." Shays, Simmons and Johnson vote yes. Later, my wife and I will listen to Simmons defend that vote... but he's lost ours because of it.

October

Yard sign month! I love October--usually. This October, however, seemed like one, long, ceaseless slog through the mud. By the end of the month, I just wanted it all to stop.

10/1 - 1-84 problems.

10/2 - Tax attacks!

10/3 - Lamont donates a ton of money.

10/4 - General Assembly commercials.

10/5 - Farrell/Shays debate.

10/6 - Rell dips into slush funds, Ruth Fahrbach benefits.

10/8 - People notice that Lamont is stuck in neutral.

10/9 - Gubernatorial debate #1. DeStefano does well, but Rell stays on her feet.

10/10 - Simmons and Courtney in Enfield. Other local candidates, too.

10/11 - Foley follies. Ew.

10/13 - Shays loses his mind on Abu Graib. A "sex ring"? Kinky.

10/16 - Let's have a debate in the middle of the afternoon. Lamont/Lieberman/Schlesinger. Schlesinger makes a great showing.

10/18 - A stealth senate debate, then a live gubernatorial one.

10/21 - The Courant endorses all the Democrats in Congressional races.

10/22 - Petty cash.

10/23 - Final U.S. Senate debate. I spend the afternoon talking to foreign journalists, then watch the debate live. Schlesinger impresses again--especially his response to hecklers sent by LaRouche to bug Lieberman.

10/26 - Johnson releases the drug dealer ad, which shows Chris Murphy being welcomed into the home of a drug dealer. Ouch!

10/27 - Glassman and Fedele debate on the radio. Nice.

10/28 - Lieberman and Bloomberg are friends.

The Courant endorses Lieberman, DeStefano. The New York Times endorses Lamont.

10/30 - NOW endorses DeStefano-Glassman.

November

At last! Election month.

11/1 - A ton of new voters this year. People are interested.

11/3 - Enfield. Center of the political universe.

11/7 - Election Day!

Rell, Lieberman, Murphy win by a lot. Shays wins by a little. Courtney wins by a very small number, the recount begins.

And that's that.

Democrats gain a supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly.

11/15 - Simmons concedes after the recount upholds Courtney's win.

11/16 - Larson elected vice caucus chair.

11/21 - Diana Urban leaves the GOP.

11/26 - George Gallo makes ready to step down as head of the state GOP.

December

It's been quiet around here this month. Expect things to pick up again in January.

12/4 - Newton sentence under review.

12/5 - Simmons thinks about running again.

12/7 - Squabbles over rate hikes.

12/12 - Courtney and Murphy get their committee assignments.

12/14 - More Moodygate. Just what I always wanted!

12/16 - Rell appoints a panel to investigate the State Police after a damning report is released.

12/20 - An investigation finds that Lamont supporters had nothing to do with Lieberman's website troubles.

12/21 - Rell fires people.

12/28 - Rell proposes a health care plan. As usual, I like it but everyone else thinks I'm nuts. Oh, well.

Happy New Year, everyone!!! Here's to another crazy year in Connecticut.

More on Rell's Healthcare Plan

The Courant points out some of the flaws in Rell's healthcare proposal. Many of the flaws pointed out in the article mirror our own discussion on this topic.

Long Quote:

A key issue is that the plan would require relatively high deductibles, some high co-pays, and other cost-sharing by consumers. As a result, people with serious health problems could spend more than $2,000 a year on medical bills - on top of the premiums they would pay.

"It doesn't appear to be providing any sort of universal health care coverage," said Beverly Brakeman, director of the labor and community coalition called Citizens for Economic Opportunity. She's glad Rell is "belatedly entering the debate," but she says not everyone can afford $250 monthly premiums.

Michael Starkowski, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Social Services, said the state is striving to keep premiums "reasonable" while protecting benefits, in hopes of attracting enough healthy consumers to make the program viable.

If only sick people bought the Charter Oak policies, claims would be higher than expected and premiums wouldn't be as affordable, he said.

The other out-of-pocket costs for buyers, such as a $1,000 annual per-person deductible, would help keep the premiums down, state officials say.

But the plan is expensive and "as it's presented, doesn't get us where we need to go because there's no investment by the state," said Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, adding he's glad Rell is talking about health care.

Also, the $1,000 deductible and high co-pays "are not going to encourage people to seek medical treatment unless they're experiencing severe problems," Williams said.


I still don't trust any plan that doesn't involve legislation.

Source
Levick, Diane "Flaws Seen in Healthcare Plan". Hartford Courant. 12/30/06

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Year in Review: 2006 (part one)

This was a hectic, wild and unpredictable year in many ways. Much of the excitement this year centered around Ned Lamont's insurgent campaign against Sen. Joe Lieberman, but there were a lot of other stories that made living in Connecticut interesting. This is a very basic chronology of some of the major stories in Connecticut during 2006.

If you're looking for a more complete timeline of the Lieberman-Lamont primary, check here.

I'll provide links to CTLP stories about these topics, as newspaper stories disappear from the web quickly. As you have no doubt noticed, most CTLP posts cite sources, making it easy for the researcher to find the news articles we originally linked to.

January

1/6 - News of Ned Lamont's possible candidacy leaks out. The media starts getting very excited.

1/11 - Lieberman first suggests he will run as an independent should he lose a primary.

1/23 - Dan Malloy capitalizes on discontent with John DeStefano in New Haven.


February

2/2 - Ernest Newton gets five years for accepting a bribe and other charges. An immediate comparison between Newton's five years and John Rowland's one is drawn.

2/6 - It was learned that Lisa Moody wouldn't be charged with any crimes for her role in a campaign finance scandal. Moodygate itself dragged on for months after--and still continues.

2/8 - Gov. Rell delivers the State of the State speech, and proposes eliminating the property tax on cars.

2/10 - Rowland goes free.

2/17 - Several polls show Joe Lieberman with a huge lead over Ned Lamont among Democrats. That would change.

2/21 - Paul Vance of Waterbury withdraws from the 5th District congressional race, clearing the field for Chris Murphy.

2/28 - Chris Shays lets slip that the GOP is considering endorsing Lieberman. Republicans deny it, but a massive storm is kicked up.

March

3/2 - Minority Leader Robert Ward announces his retirement after long service in the legislature. He will later be reincarnated as head of the DMV.

3/8 - The elections enforcement commission fines sixteen commissioners for their role in the Marco Polo fundraising scandal. Lisa Moody is not fined.

3/13 - Ned Lamont announces his candidacy. I suggest it's going to get ugly, which is does.

3/16 - Alan Schlesinger expresses interest in the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. I'm less than impressed, but I end up voting for the guy. How did that happen? Strange year.

3/17 - It's revealed that Rell's campaign manager was kept in the know about what elections enforcement commissioner Jeffrey Garfield was going to do about Moodygate. Both Moody and Garfield still have the jobs. Amazing.

3/20 - Immigration foe and local nut Paul Streitz announces his intention to challenge Lieberman. His campaign raises little money and ends in utter defeat.

3/30 - Joe Lieberman gets booed at the Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey dinner.

April

4/3 - Striking teamsters at Sikorsky go back to work, although they don't really get what they want.

4/3 - John DeStefano names a new campaign manager as panic about the upcoming convention sets in.

4/4 - Sen. Dodd says he has an "itch" to run for president in 2008, leading to all sorts of "itch" jokes.

4/15 - Challengers outraise incumbents.

4/25 - Peter Zarella withdraws his nomination after it's learned that former Chief Justice William Sullivan delayed the release of a controversial case to help him.

4/26 - Compromise is reached on a major transportation bill.

4/29 - Rell gets slammed as her tax repeals are scrapped by Democrats.

May

5/1 - Kristine Regaglia gets put out to pasture.

5/4 - A quick fix for campaign finance reform is passed. At the last minute.

5/7 - It's learned that Kos of Daily Kos will briefly appear in a Lamont commercial. A very stupid firestorm ensues, which no one who isn't an online political junkie notices.

5/15 - Jodi Rell picks Michael Fedele, who is unknown outside of Fairfield County, as her running mate.

5/18 - Pony up, czarina. John DeStefano never got to use that one.

5/19 - Mary Glassman is selected as Dan Malloy's running mate. Be on the lookout for weirdness involving her later on!

5/19 - Lamont wins an impressive 34% of the vote at the Democratic convention. I see Wolf Blitzer in the convention hall. Excitement!

5/20 - Dan Malloy is endorsed after a long, nasty process. DeStefano names Scott Slifka as his running mate after the vote is done.

5/23 - There's a fistfight at a nominating convention in Bristol. Politics is fun!

5/26 - The judicial openness task force gets underway.

June

6/1 - Someone siccs the FBI on us. I poop my pants, but all turns out well. What the heck happened to Bruce, anyway? I miss the guy.

Most of June - Primary rancor is the order of the day. I'm shocked by how negative and, well, petty the Lieberman campaign is. I felt dirty whenever I read one of their press releases. Hey, I still have 'em all saved--just ask and I'll send you one!

6/16 - Lieberman drags out the bear ad again. Everyone groans and covers their eyes. The pain!

6/18 - Lieberman has a bad week. Or a bad month. Or a bad couple of months. The disintegration of the Lieberman campaign is a marvel.

6/19 - Trouble for Fabrizi in Bridgeport as it's learned he used cocaine while in office.

6/21 - It turns out Moodygate wasn't done. Jeffrey Garfield apparently "forgot" to include some material in his report to the General Assembly. Why does he still have a job? Someone tell me.

6/22 - The Judiciary Committee subpoenas former Chief Justice Sullivan.

6/30 - The last two holdouts in Fort Trumbull pack it in. Still no eminent domain reform.

Look for more in the coming days

Rell Proposes Health Care Plan

The vision thing is on the move. Gov. Rell has proposed a health care plan for uninsured adults called the Charter Oak Health Care Plan. From the Courant:
The initiative, called the Charter Oak Health Plan, would be open to adults of all incomes and cost each participant about $250 a month in premiums.
[...]
The Charter Oak Health Plan would offer a full prescription drug package with copays ranging from $10 to $15. Enrollees with pre-existing medical conditions would not be restricted from coverage.

There would be no maximum annual benefits, but there would be a lifetime maximum of $1 million of coverage. Laboratory and X-ray services would require a 20 percent copay while copays for prenatal, postnatal and preventive care would be lower than regular office visits to encourage people to receive that care.

The plan also would discourage costly visits to emergency rooms by requiring customers to pay for a portion of the visit if it's a non-emergency situation.
[...]
Rell said her proposal is not a "big government program." Rather, it encourages insurance companies to offer The Charter Oak Health Plan as an affordable choice in their offering of health care plans to reach people who otherwise can't afford coverage.

Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, said he's pleased Rell offered the proposal, but said the state will have to spend more money on health care.

Long quote, I know. But there's a lot to talk about, here. The idea is that the state wouldn't actually pay for the plan, but promote it. Insurance companies (and subscribers) would pay for it. Apparently, insurance companies are interested in offering it.

If it works, and it's affordable (although $250/month might be a bit steep for some), it's definitely worth considering over more traditional universal health care schemes.

I'm very interested to see what people have to say.

Source
"Rell Unveils Health Care Plan For Uninsured Adults." Associated Press 27 December, 2006.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Open Forum

What's happening this week that we haven't talked about?

Larson Becoming More Powerful

Apologies for light posting during the holiday week

A piece about the increasing influence of Rep. John Larson ran in the Courant today:
The man has friends. A lot of them, and it's why, as Democrats take control of the House next week, Larson begins 2007 as a major power broker.
[...]
Larson is a Pelosi loyalist.

"We're not joined at the hip," he says, "but I'm one of the top 10 she calls for advice, and that's a good thing."

Let's face it--unless Larson runs for governor (he tried in 1994), U.S. Senator or some other office, he'll be a Congressman for as long as he wants. He has plenty of time to amass power and influence. We may see him rise farther up in the ranks if the Democrats are successful this term--or even if they aren't.

Source
Lightman, David. "Larson Powers Up His Career." Hartford Courant 27 December, 2006.

President Gerald Ford Dies

CNN (and many others) are reporting that President Gerald Ford has died at the age of 93.

I have a lot of admiration for Ford. Despite the heat he took over his pardon of President Nixon, I believe that history will recall Ford fondly, as a straightforward man who steered America out of a dark time. The nation is less for losing him.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

2007 Poll #1

I think we may have done this one before, but here it is again.

What issues would you most like the General Assembly to focus on during the upcoming session?
Health care
Housing
Crime
Energy issues
Gay marriage
Property taxes
Other tax issues
Education
Transportation and infrastructure
The economy
Environmental issues
Urban renewal/development
Campaign finance reform
Something not listed here
Free polls from Pollhost.com
Once again, if I've left something important out, leave it in the comments. Remember that these are issues you would like to see explored in some way, not necessarily specific bills you'd like passed.

Ward to head DMV

Anne Gnazzo Picked for Administrative Services

Retiring Minority Leader Robert Ward has been tapped to lead the DMV, according to the Associated Press:
Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Tuesday tapped veteran Republican lawmaker Robert Ward to run the state's motor vehicle department.

Rell, a Republican, appointed the outgoing House minority leader as her new commissioner.
[...]
Rell also announced she is appointing Anne Gnazzo as the next commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services, which handles state purchasing and human resource management.

Gnazzo is deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management. Rell seems to be making as many moves as she can before her inauguration--and the start of the session--on January 3rd.

Source
"Rell appoints Ward to head Department of Motor Vehicles." Associated Press 26 December, 2006.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Holidays

It's been a peaceful couple of days. It's been nice to have a breather from work, and from politics, and to spend time at home with my wife. The only thing missing is the snow--which hasn't fallen at all this year.

2006--a tumultuous year, to be sure--is coming to a close. The coming week will be a good time to reflect on the year that is ending, and the new year to come. We'll do lots of that, don't worry.

For now, though, enjoy the holidays, and forget about politics for a little while.

...

Or, if like me, you just can't forget about politics, read an interview with Rell by Associated Press writer Susan Haigh. Rell is promising to bring back the elimination of the car tax, and to be a "voice of reason." She and the legislature are promising action on energy issues, including letting NU and UI back into the generating business. An interesting read.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Weekend Open Forum

I'm in Kentucky visiting family for the holidays. I haven't even looked at a newspaper in 24 hours. We did discuss the upcoming presidential race during dinner tonight. My mother likes Hillary, while my younger brother prefers Obama. Other than me and my husband no one has even heard of Chris Dodd.

What's going on in Connecticut?

Long Island: Blumenthal a Pain

There is little love for AG Richard Blumenthal on Long Island these days:
Be careful about getting Steve Levy started on Blumenthal. The Suffolk County executive blasted the AG as a politician who, rather than fostering cooperation between the Island and Connecticut, prefers to muddy pools with an “’us vs. them’ mentality.”

He’s not done – Levy just paused to reload on his fellow Democrat. Blumenthal, at the expense of middle-class Long Islanders, is “out to make cheap political points for some rich folks who live on the coast of Connecticut,” Levy said. And don’t forget, Blumenthal is “parochial” and his actions “lack common sense.”
[...]
Republican Brookhaven Town Board member Kevin McCarrick piled on – he champions the idea of “appealing to U.S and state senators to get Blumenthal to behave” – and even Rep. Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, joined in. According to Bishop, by blocking the proposed Islander East natural gas pipeline from Connecticut to Long Island, Blumenthal is providing aid and ammunition to Broadwater Energy’s plans for a floating natural gas plant in the Sound.

In his protracted legal fight against the pipeline, Blumenthal is allowing Broadwater – which, publicly, the AG passionately opposes – to ride to the rescue by convincing ratepayers it’s the only natural gas alternative, Bishop said. (Clancy)

We tend to forget that Long Island Sound isn't entirely ours, and I think we tend to dismiss their take on things. However, suggesting that the Connecticut coast is filled with nothing but the idle rich is inaccurate, at best. And why would Blumenthal need to curry that much favor with the super-rich? They probably all voted for Bob Farr anyway.

It's sometimes difficult to figure out whether Blumenthal is making a principled stand or going for media attention. Maybe the real issues here are whether the environmental concerns are actually justified, and whether Connecticut is appropriately compensated for a project that will not benefit us in the slightest.

Source
Clancy, Ambrose. "Why does this man hate us?" Long Island Business Journal 22 December, 2006.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dodd Signs Sought After Kerry Aide

Senator Dodd signed former Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan as a top advisor. Jordan was formerly working with Mark Warner until he decided not to run.

Dodd plans to decide next month on a White House bid, but by adding Jordan to his team, sends a strong signal he is seriously leaning toward a bid.

Jordan said he is joining the Dodd team because "He's easily, of all the potential candidates, the one who's most qualified to do the job. He's also one of the most interesting and charming people in politics."


While Jordan was fired when Kerry floundered in November 2003, the article points out that he was largely thought to be a scapegoat and still had many of the 2008 Democratic contenders drooling after his services.

Contrary to the CW on this blog and elsewhere, Jordan believes that Dodd is viable.

Jordan insisted Dodd has a good shot. "I'm very optimistic about his chances," he said. Asked why, in such a crowded field, Jordan said, "Because of his qualifications and political skills--he's what voters will be looking for."
...
Dodd has been making all the types of moves a potential candidate would make. He visited key early primary and caucus states this fall, donated more than $1 million to Democratic candidates around the country this election cycle, and has about $2 million on hand. And he is seen as able to raise plenty of money, particularly since he was the Democratic party's general chairman in the mid-1990s and is slated to become Senate Banking Committee chairman next month.


Also in Dodd's favor is the goodwill that he has built up over 20 years or so of raising money and campaigning for candidates all over the country.

I'm not ready to jump on the viability bandwagon yet, but Dodd has just posted a big win in the all-important talent primary (the one that comes before the all-important money primary, which comes before the all-important, you know, actual primaries).

H/T to CTBob.

Update: The Journal Inquirer weighs in on the money Dodd has spent to support other candidates, coincidently I'm sure, in New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina, and Missouri:

The latest FEC filing from Citizens for Hope Responsibility Independence and Service PAC, also known as ChrisPAC, reveals that between Oct. 19 and Nov. 27 it sent $89,500 in contributions to Democratic Party committees and candidates in Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

The single-biggest contribution - $13,000 - was dispatched on Nov 2 to the New Hampshire Democratic State Committee, which got another $5,000 four days later.

Another $20,000 was split evenly between four party panels in three states: the Iowa House Truman Fund, Iowa Senate Majority Fund, Missouri Democratic State Committee, and the Democratic Party of South Carolina.

ChrisPAC had made $65,000 in similar contributions over the previous three months, bringing its total investment in the venues at the top of the list of 2008's early presidential showdowns to $154,500.

Seven Commissioners Out

From the Courant:
Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that she has accepted the resignations of the following six state agency commissioners:

• Commissioner Darlene Dunbar of the Department of Children and Families;
• Commissioner James Abromaitis of the Department of Economic and Community Development;
• Commissioner Susan Cogswell of the Department of Insurance.
• Commissioner (Acting) William Ramirez of the Department of Motor Vehicles;
• Commissioner Patricia Wilson-Coker of the Department of Social Services;
• Jennifer Aniskovich, Executive Director of the Connecticut Commission on Arts and Tourism.

Consumer protection commissioner Edwin Rodriguez announced his resignation yesterday.

Housecleaning. Way, way overdue.

House Republicans Plan for Session

From the AP wire:
There may only be 44 of them, but members of the state's House Republican caucus said Thursday that they'll make their presence known when the legislature meets in January.
[...]
The group plans to push for a bill to create a new first-time home buyers fund. The state income taxes of recent college graduates who remain in Connecticut would be put in investment accounts that could be tapped to buy homes.

House Republicans also hope to exempt senior citizens' pensions from the state income tax and create new portable health care plans that workers can take from job to job.

The idea of a first-time home buyers fund for college grads who stay in Connecticut is intriguing.

Source
"Small House GOP caucus vows to be heard next session." Associated Press 21 December, 2006.

Lieberman Leaves Centrist Coalition

Founds Social Club

From Political Wire:
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) "has relinquished his position as co-chairman of the Senate Centrist Coalition, halting talks with co-chairwoman Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) over the future of the organization in favor of creating his own bipartisan group with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)," according to Roll Call."

Lieberman's group will be bringing senators together in social settings, according to a letter published in a Tennessee newspaper.
The purpose of the group is to create an opportunity for Senators to know one another better across party lines so that we can identify common interests and work on issues that are important to our country.

Snowe and Landrieu will be working on reaching out to "non-ideological" centrists, according to the Roll Call article. I assume that Lieberman is not one of these?

Sources
Centrist Split in the Senate. Political Wire. http://politicalwire.com/archives/2006/12/21/centrist_split_in_the_senate.html

Lieberman, Alexander Organize Bipartisan Members Group." The Chattanoogan 20 December, 2006.

Dodd Seeks Call-Back Exemptions For Unfit Soldiers

H/T to Rose over at The Nutmeg Grater for this. She's been following issues that our local soldiers face for awhile on her blog, and deserves major credit for that.

From the Courant:

U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd is asking newly appointed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to ensure that soldiers debilitated by post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses are not sent back into combat.

"If experienced VA doctors diagnose military personnel with incapacitating disabilities, such as severe PTSD, it would seem counter to our national security interests for the military services to somehow disregard these evaluations for less thorough assessments performed by military officials," Dodd wrote in a letter Tuesday to Gates. "It seems unacceptable and perhaps even reckless to ask our servicemen and women to entrust their lives to soldiers deemed mentally unfit by medical professionals."


This is part of the problem with sending in even more troops. We're already sending people who are unfit for duty back into combat. I shudder to think about what lengths they'll go to when the call for more troops becomes official.

Source
Chedekel, Lisa. "Dodd Seeks Call-Back Exemptions For Unfit Soldiers". Hartford Courant. 12/20/06.

Hartford Mayoral Race in the Works

I wanted to point out this Stan Simpson column on the upcoming Hartford mayoral race. Simpson mentions a few potentials, but suggests that none of them are quite up to challenging Eddie Perez:
But the cast of early potential rivals - former state Sen. Frank Barrows, state Rep. Art Feltman; onetime Deputy Mayor I. Charles Mathews and state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez - may be more distraction than real challenge to the mayor.

The next mayor, after Perez, must be one who can raise significant cash and connect with corporate Hartford while still having the credibility to mingle in its multi-ethnic neighborhoods.(Simpson)

Simpson mentions possibilities like Kevin Henry, State Rep. Kevin Roldan and Republican Corey Brinson as possibilities for 2007. One person Simpson leaves off his list is state Treasurer Denise Nappier, who has been rumored to be interested in Perez's job for a while, now. Is she no longer a potential candidate?

I suspect that there will be some sort of meaningful challenge to Perez regardless. He's made a lot of enemies, and Hartford has not made much in the way of tangible progress during his term. A lot of the hope people felt about Perez when he first took office has since disappeared.

Source
Simpson, Stan. "Political Change Is Brewing." Hartford Courant 20 December, 2006.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Republicans to Introduce Bill to Ban Trans Fats

From the AP wire:
Two weeks after the New York City Board of Health voted to make the Big Apple the first city in the nation to ban artificial trans fats in restaurant food, two Republican state senators in Connecticut proposed similar legislation Wednesday.
[...]
"By forcing some of the world's largest food chains and restaurateurs to use healthier alternatives in their food preparation, New York City has paved the way for what I hope will be a national movement to improve the health quality of the food we eat in restaurants," said Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield.

Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, ranking Republican on the legislature's Public Health Committee, co-sponsored the bill. (AP)
So, is this:
A sensible bill that will protect our health
Nanny state-ism
Some sort of ploy
All of the above
Free polls from Pollhost.com
Source
"Connecticut lawmakers hope to ban trans fats in restaurants." Associated Press 20 December, 2006.

Lieberman Makes Call for More Troops Official

The Courant reports that after a visit to Iraq, Senator Joe Lieberman is calling for us to send in more troops.

"After speaking with our military commanders on the ground," he said Wednesday in an email, "I strongly believe that additional U.S. troops must be deployed to Baghdad."

Lieberman, D-Conn., visited Iraq last week with a Senate delegation. He also traveled to Kuwait and Israel.

Bush has been considering a "troop surge" to help secure the Iraqi capital, but told a news conference Wednesday he had made no decision on how to proceed.


Senator Dodd, has a different take.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., Sunday gave qualified support to a troop surge but only under very limited conditions. Reid suggested a two- to three-month surge; Dodd said he would go along only after "demonstrable evidence that (Sunnis and Shiites) are coming together as a people."

Otherwise, Dodd said, talk of a troop surge is "a phony argument, in my view … just delaying the inevitable." Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who was traveling with Lieberman, also said he backed more troops only if they helped expedite a faster U.S. exit.


I am not a military strategist, but I just don't see the value of sending more troops in at this point. I also don't trust Bush, and Lieberman to get us out of the mess they helped create. The problem is that there are no good answers. It doesn't seem right to leave Iraq in it's current state, but I don't think any workable solution is going to come from our continued involvement.


Source
Lightman, David. "Lieberman Calls For More Troops". Hartford Courant. 12-20-06

Lamont, Supporters Cleared in Lieberman Web Fiasco

Remember when Joe Lieberman's website went down on Primary Day, and his campaign basically dumped responsibility on the Lamont campaign's evil blog-ish supporters? Guess what:
The U.S. attorney's office and state attorney general have cleared former U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont and his supporters of any role in the crash of U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman's campaign Web site hours before last summer's Democratic primary.

"The investigation has revealed no evidence the problems the Web site experienced were the result of criminal conduct," said Tom Carson, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal confirmed the joint investigation "found no evidence of tampering or sabotage warranting civil action by my office." Both men declined to provide additional information, such as what might have happened to the site. (Lockhart)

So I wonder what actually did happen to Lieberman's website? As you might remember, it was down for weeks thereafter. I do remember the Lieberman campaign being very, very outraged about the whole thing, and it was clear that they blamed overzealous Lamont supporters.

Source
Lockhart, Brian. "Lamont camp cleared in hacking of Lieberman Web site." Stamford Advocate 20 December, 2006.

Rell Not Ruling Out Running in 2010

From the New Haven Register (subscription):
As she prepares to be sworn in for her first full term as governor, Republican M. Jodi Rell said Tuesday that she isn’t ruling out running again four years from now.

"I’m not going to discount that at all," said Rell. "I know some people have said right away, ‘Oh, she’ll never run again.’ Well, you never say never." (Hladky)

The rest of the interview is basically puff, but that idea is interesting. The conventional wisdom has always been that Rell would not be running in 2010--indeed, that she might be planning to leave office before then.

Puts a damper on plans for Fedele '10... if only for a little while.

Source
Hladky, Gregory. "Rell eyes inauguration, running for 2nd full term." New Haven Register 20 December, 2006.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Open Forum

A Connecticut soldier from Eastford was killed in Afghanistan last week.

A judge is reviewing Ernie Newton's sentence.

Dodd and Kerry go to Damascus.

Rate hikes have UI customers worried.

What else is going on?

Courtney, Murphy to Outline First 100 Hours of New Congress

According to a press release, here's what the new Congress will be working on during its first 100 hours:
* Reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of fossil fuels, and begin by rolling back the multi-billion dollar subsidies for Big Oil.
* Improving accessibility to college by significantly cutting interest rates for student loans.
* Adopting the recommendations of the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission to make our nation safer.
* Fixing the Medicare prescription drug program, including negotiating lower drug prices and closing the gap in prescription drug coverage. Stem cell research will receive greater attention and support from the new Congress.
* Guaranteeing a meaningful retirement income, and blocking any attempt to privatize Social Security.
* Reforming Congress by implementing meaningful lobbying reform legislation and restoring fiscal responsibility by restoring pay-as-you-go.
* Treating the American worker with respect by refusing any new Congressional salary increase until the American public gets a minimum wage increase.

Murphy and Courtney will detail more at a press conference this afternoon.

I have to wonder why Rosa DeLauro and John Larson aren't doing similar press conferences?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Minimum Age for Candidates?

Seen on Dean Pagani's blog, Media Attache:
The Mayor of Torrington is twenty-three. The congressman-elect from the fifth district is thirty-three. Barack Obama is forty-five.

Without speaking to the qualifications of any specific political leader, it is time to consider increasing the minimum age for those we elect to serve in public office. It’s time for all of us, as employers, to demand some experience before we elect to give the most important jobs in our state and in this country to young men and women with limited life experience.

Huh. And yet, by all accounts, Ryan Bingham is doing very well in Torrington. We don't know whether Obama will be a good president, but one of the things I like about him is his age. He doesn't see the world through the warping lens of the 1960s, like our last two presidents and a majority of the members of Congress.

Frankly, I'd rather voters make the call about whether a candidate is experienced enough. But then again, what do I know? Apparently, I haven't had enough experience yet to make a call either way. Curse my damned youth!

Connecticut Political Person of the Year

Time Magazine has named "You" as the Person of the Year, which seems like an incredible cop-out to me. That said...

Who was Connecticut's Political Person of the Year?
Jodi Rell
Ned Lamont
Joe Lieberman
Chris Shays
Chris Dodd
Joe Courtney
Chris Murphy
James Amann
Someone Else
Free polls from Pollhost.com

If I had to choose, I'd pick Lamont--and perhaps, more importantly for the future, his supporters both online and off--for sheer impact on state politics, and for getting a lot of people involved in and excited about politics statewide. Close runners-up would be Murphy and Courtney, followed by Rell.

Is there anyone I should have put on this list that I didn't?

Dodd May Back Troop Increase, With Conditions

From the Courant:
Two key Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, said Sunday they could back a temporary increase in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq - but only if that surge was for a very short period and specifically helped end American involvement.

At least three other Democrats, as well as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, saw little help from such a surge.

And on the other side of the Iraq debate, Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., are saying additional troops are not only needed, but should not be subject to any withdrawal timeline.
[...]
...Dodd told reporters in a conference call, "Show me some demonstrable evidence that they're coming together as a people - Shias and Sunnis, sitting down and recognizing that they have an obligation to come together as a people - then I'd be willing to support some additional people if we needed it in order to get the job done." (Lightman)

Dodd also said that he believes that more troops could just delay Iraq's government from "making the decision about their political future."

Dodd's view is similar to incoming Majority Leader Harry Reid's, and at odds with many other Democrats'. The idea of Shi'ite and Sunni coming together as a people does seem a little farfetched, however, so Dodd's position is basically that, if things get a whole lot better in Iraq, in which case extra troops probably wouldn't be needed, then he's support sending extra troops.

Source
Lightman, David. "Dodd Could Back Buildup." Hartford Courant 18 December, 2006.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Because Rumors are Fun

From the Raw Story:


While much of Washington kept rapt attention on the health of Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, an article in Salon today speculated that President George W. Bush could tip the Senate to a Republican majority via other means -- namely, appointing Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut to be America's next Ambassador to the UN.
****
Conason acknowledges that Lieberman, having fought so hard to keep his seat, is unlikely to give it up. But he points out that Lieberman was a candidate for the job of UN Ambassador at an earlier time. And, he also suggests that the move could be used to put Lieberman on course to be the Vice Presidential candidate on a ticket with John McCain in 2008.


I don't put much stock in this story, but it would make sense. It would be a rare win-win for Bush. Lieberman is a popular political figure, and probably wouldn't have much trouble being confirmed. Republicans could then retake control of the Senate, at least for the next year.

But I agree with Conason that Lieberman isn't likely to sacrifice the seat that he just fought so hard to win back. Bolton's old job doesn't have nearly as much power or influence as Joe's current gig. There's little to nothing for Lieberman to gain as UN Ambassador.

Lieutenant Governors of the 1960s

Another in a series of profiles of historical figures you’ve probably never heard of

Lt. Governor John Dempsey succeeded Gov. Abraham Ribicoff when the latter departed Connecticut to become John F. Kennedy’s Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. Dempsey would serve just shy of ten consecutive years as governor, a feat of longevity exceeded by only a select few, including Jonathan Trumbull (1769-1784), Samuel Huntington (1786-1796) and William A. O’Neill (1981-1991). John Rowland (1995-2004) comes close.

Dempsey had four Lieutenant Governors during his time in office.

-------

Anthony J. Armentano (D) of Hartford (1961-1963)

Anthony Armentano (1916-1987), like many Lt. Governors, would be better known for his work in other areas. Armentano was a lawyer from Hartford who had entered private practice shortly before World War II. He joined the Army during the war and served in the Pacific, attaining the rank of Captain in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps before his discharge at war’s end. He returned to Hartford to resume his law practice. He entered politics in 1956, when he mounted a successful run for the State Senate. Armentano became president pro tem of the Senate in 1959, which set him up to take over as Lieutenant Governor when then-Lt. Gov. Dempsey succeeded Ribicoff in early 1961.

There was a lot of confusion over the official status of both Dempsey and Armentano, owing to the vague language the 1818 Constitution, then still in effect, used to describe the succession. From Article Four, Section 14:

“In case of the death, resignation ... of the governor, or of his impeachment, or absence from the state, the Lieutenant Governor shall exercise the powers and authority appertaining to the office of Governor...”
Unfortunately, it states nowhere that the Lt. Governor would actually become governor. Succession was just as murky for the Lt. Governor’s position. According to the constitution, the Senate President Pro Tem was to, if both higher offices became vacant, “in like manner administer the government.” The problem had come up in 1948, when Gov. James McConaughy died and Lt. Gov. James Shannon took over (he was often referred to as “Acting Governor”), when Wilbert Snow took over for Raymond Baldwin in late 1946, and at two earlier points in 1925 (the resignation, after one day, of Gov. Hiram Bingham) and 1909, when Gov. Lilley died in office. Each time, rumblings about an amendment to the constitution were made, but nothing was done until the current constitution was approved in 1965. Armentano was often referred to as “Acting Lt. Gov.” throughout his tenure.

Armentano’s succession led to a strange opinion from Attorney General Albert L. Coles which stated, essentially, that Armentano was required to be both president pro tem of the Senate and Lt. Governor:

Artmentano, said Coles, is the lieutenant governor, but only by virtue of being president pro tem of the Senate. And he is president pro tem of the Senate because he is a senator. Therefore, Coles reasoned, to be lieutenant governor, Armentano has also to be the other two. (Zaiman)

Convoluted? Absolutely. Actually, Armentano didn’t seem to care much for the office of Lt. Governor. He didn’t even bring his family to his swearing in. His was an uneventful tenure (although in 1962 he was present for the opening of Hartford’s first fallout shelter), and he did not seek re-election to the Senate or re-nomination as Lt. Governor in 1962.

Armentano went on to have a much more interesting career on the bench. He was nominated by Dempsey to the Court of Common Pleas in 1963, and in 1965 became a Superior Court judge. He served from 1981-1983 on the state Supreme Court.

-------

Sources
“Display Ad 51 -- No Title.” The Hartford Courant Sep 20, 1956.
Schonrock, Keith. “Doubt Cast on Parson’s Right to Title.” The Hartford Courant Mar. 31, 1948.
“The Honorable Anthony J. Armentano.” Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys As Printed in the Connecticut Reports. v.205, p. 815.http://www.cslib.org/memorials/armena.htm
Zaiman, Jack. “At 12:30 ‘Twas Official; Lieut. Gov Armentano.” The Hartford Courant Jan 25, 1961.

-------

Samuel J. Tedesco (D) of Bridgeport (1963-66)

Samuel Tedesco (1915-2003) was, for a brief period, Mayor of Bridgeport, chair of the Bridgeport DTC, and Lieutenant Governor at the same time.

Tedesco, a Bridgeport native, had earlier served as a state representative from 1940-1942. He served as a member of the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II from 1943-1946. He was elected to the State Senate in 1948, and served as Minority Leader from 1952-3. He returned to Bridgeport as a City Court judge, and defeated longtime Socialist Mayor Jasper McLevy by a mere 169 votes in 1957.

Tedesco won re-election in Bridgeport several times, and continued to serve as mayor of that city despite his election as John Dempsey’s second Lt. Governor in 1962. Tedesco had also been elected as chairman of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee in May of 1962. The fact that he held these three posts simultaneously drew cries of protest from Tedesco’s enemies on the all-Democrat Bridgeport City Council, who accused him of “bossism.” Tedesco eventually resigned as head of the DTC in late 1963, but ran for Mayor again in 1963 and won. He continued to hold both jobs until 1965, when he declined to run for re-election as mayor.

Tedesco continued the tradition of the lieutenant governor’s office as being a highway to other, more interesting jobs by resigning to become a Superior Court judge in 1966. Tedesco made headlines later in his career by being convicted of a felony (falsely certifying an oath on a liquor license application for a country club owned by members of his family) and disbarred in 1976, only to have his conviction overturned in 1978. Despite the conviction and subsequent removal from the bench for two years, Tedesco had continued to draw a salary.

Tedesco returned to private law practice in 1980.

-------

Sources
“Tedesco Asked to Resign by Council Head.” The Hartford Courant 11 August, 1963.
“Former Bridgeport Mayor Tedesco dies in California.” Connecticut Post 12 August, 2003.
“Judge Tedesco Back on Bench.” The Hartford Courant: Jun 28, 1978.

-------

Fred J. Doocy (D) of South Windsor (1966-67)

Fred Doocy (1914 - ) seems to have been a much quieter lieutenant governor than either of his predecessors. Doocy was a banker with the Hartford National Bank & Trust Company. Doocy, a World War II veteran, was active in South Windsor town politics for many years, including three terms as town treasurer, before his election to the State Senate in 1958 (he continued to hold the position of town treasurer until 1959). He was elected president pro tem of the Senate in 1963. Doocy was also chairman of the Roads and Bridges Committee, which oversaw the expansion of Connecticut’s highway system during Doocy’s time in office.

Doocy took Samuel Tedesco’s place as Lt. Governor in 1966 when the latter resigned. There was some speculation that Doocy’s succession was something of a reward for loyal service—in any event, the move effectively ended Doocy’s career. He was not the nominee for Lt. Governor in the 1966 election—in fact, he was never expected to get the nomination. Democrats, wanting an ethnic balance to the ticket, nominated Attillio Frassinelli of Stafford Springs instead.

After leaving office in January of 1967, Doocy served on various commissions (including the Connecticut Development Commission in 1969), but by the 1980s and 1990s had largely disappeared from public view. I believe he is still alive and possibly living in Manchester.

-------

Sources
“Doocy Appointed to State Position.” The Hartford Courant 10 December, 1969.
Kravsow, Irving. “Democrats Name Doocy President Pro Tempore.” The Hartford Courant 8 January, 1963.
Morse, Charles F. J. “It’s Lt. Gov. Doocy on Monday.” The Hartford Courant 13 January 1966.
Zaiman, Jack. “Resignation News Soon From Tedesco, Driscoll?” The Hartford Courant 10 September, 1965.

-------

Attilio R. “Pop” Frassinelli (D) of Stafford (1967-1971)

Attilio Frassinelli (1908-1976) had a long career in state and local politics before becoming Gov. John Dempsey’s fourth and final lieutenant governor.

Frassinelli started his career in 1932 by serving on the Stafford Board of Education. He later became First Selectman of Stafford, a post he kept from 1946-1958. He was also a three-term state representative, a longtime member of the Democratic state central committee and the state’s first Commissioner of Consumer Protection. His name was being floated for lt. governor long before his predecessor, Fred Doocy, had even taken office. Great care was taken in selecting a lieutenant governor nominee in 1966, as this would be the first time the governor and lt. governor would appear on the same ballot line. Frassinelli was chosen not only because of his long service to the state and the party, but because he brought ethnic and geographic balance to the ticket. Dempsey and Frassinelli won handily.

Frassinelli’s candidacy was marred by allegations of not paying about $17,000 in taxes—which Frassinelli then paid near the end of the campaign. Perhaps the most interesting thing to happen, politically speaking, during Frassinelli’s term as lieutenant governor was his tie-breaking vote in the State Senate against a bill sponsored by the governor which would have allowed wire-tapping in several new types of cases.

Frassinelli left office when his term expired in 1971. He died in 1976.

-------

Sources
“Attilio Frassinelli Dead: Ex-Official.” The Hartford Courant 10 February, 1976.
Zaiman, Jack. “Frassinelli’s Vote Kills Dempsey’s Bill.” The Hartford Courant 4 June, 1969.
Zaiman, Jack. “Frassinelli Leads for 2nd Spot.” The Hartford Courant 17 December, 1965.


Want more history? See
Lieutenant Governors of the 1950s or the Connecticut History main page.

Sunday Open Forum

Friday night I saw Blog Wars, a movie about bloggers during the CT Senate primary. The movie will air on the Sundance Channel December 28, but if you simply can't wait that long Connecticut Bob is hosting a screening in Milford on *Tuesday Night*. Email him at Blogwars@yahoo.com if you'd like to attend.

If you do watch the film, see if you can spot Gabe and me for the three seconds we're on screen.

In other news...


  • The Courant has a lengthy article about the electricity rate increase.

  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro wants to consolidate all Federal agencies that deal with food safety.



What else is going on?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rell Appoints Panel to Probe State Police

From the CT Post:

Eight people have been appointed to a special commission to oversee reforms in the Connecticut State Police's problem-plagued internal affairs unit, Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced Friday.

Rell named outgoing state Rep. Robert Farr, R-West Hart­ford, to chair the commission, which was formed after a 13­ month investigation by Con­necticut and New York officials found a slew of lapses in the in­ternal affairs unit. The report found incom­plete, inadequate investiga­tions of complaints accusing state police personnel of bribery, drug use, drunken dri­ving, association with drug dealers and prostitutes, sexual assault, falsified overtime, as­sault of a motorist and improp­er drunken-driving arrests.

The new commission will evaluate dozens of recommen­dations in the 207-page report. Public Safety Commissioner Leonard Boyle will act as an ex­officio member of the new com­mission.

Other members include state Rep. Stephen Dargan, D­West Haven, co- chairman of the General Assembly s pub­lic safety committee; Superi­or Court Judge Maureen Keegan; Glastonbury Town Council Chairwoman Susan Karp, who will serve as a member of the public; State s Attorney Walter Flanagan; Milford Police Chief Thomas Flaherty; and former U. S. Marshal John O Connor.


Do you think this will do any good?

Source
Associated Press. "Rell panel to probe State Police". Connecticut Post. 12/16/06

Friday, December 15, 2006

Power Failure

Regulators have approved a 52% rate increase for United Illuminating. The governor and others had asked for more time to enact reforms (although a special session on energy issues was nixed by Democrats just a few weeks ago).

Here's the problem, for those who are wondering:
Because of deregulation, Northeast Utilities - which owns CL&P - and United Illuminating have sold off their power generating businesses and focused only on distributing electricity.

That means they must buy electricity for their customers from power generators and middlemen, and have told regulators that they already are bound to contracts that must be met. (AP)

There you go. The failure of deregulation. Consumers haven't benefited one bit.

Let's see if we get anything beyond a windfall profits tax out of the General Assembly next year, though.

Source
"Regulators grant tentative approval to UI rate increase." Associated Press 15 December, 2006.

Courtney Sees "Fiscal Mess" Left by GOP

Congressman-Elect Also Names Staff

Joe Courtney is blaming the outgoing GOP-controlled Congress for the fiscal problems the new Congress will have to deal with:
"Nine out of the 11 budgets have not been enacted," U.S. Rep-elect Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said Wednesday in a meeting with the Norwich Bulletin Editorial Board. "What that means is that the new Congress will, in effect, have to deal with two budgets -- finishing the '07 budget and then working on the '08 budget."

The Republican-controlled Congress adjourned last week after adopting continuing resolutions that allowed the government to operate, but without fully funding government agencies for the full fiscal year. Those continuing resolutions will expire in February, just as the president presents his budget proposal for the new fiscal year that will begin next October. (Hackett)

Nice of them. Courtney is pledging that Democrats will act responsibly:
"We're going to be responsible," he said. "One of the remarkable things in our lifetime is that the Democratic Party has become the party of fiscal responsibility." (Hackett)

I have to hope that the Democrats will, in fact, act responsibly in fiscal matters. The out-of-control spending of the past six years simply can't continue. Perhaps divided government will help: President Bush will almost certainly veto more bills during the next two years than the single one he's vetoed so far. It's worth remembering that divided government during the 1990s led to budget surpluses.

Also, according to the Norwich Bulletin, Courtney has named Colchester First Selectwoman Jenny Contois as his district director, and Jason Gross, who is the director of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign, as his chief of staff.

Source

Hackett, Ray. "Courtney blames GOP for leaving 'fiscal mess'." Norwich Bulletin 14 December, 2006.

Chief Justice Hunt Still Open

An article in the Connecticut Law Tribune reveals that the search for a Chief Justice is still open (registration required):

In a surprise development, the state Judicial Selection Commission has scheduled an extraordinary meeting for Monday, Dec. 18, presumably to allow an additional candidate or candidates to qualify for appointment by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to the position of chief justice.

At its Dec. 13 meeting, the commission gave final interviews to three candidates, sources familiar with the proceedings said afterward. If approved, those candidates would join two Superior Court judges who previously gained JSC clearance.


The article also has a short review of each (known) candidate. If I was a bettor, I would bet on former Appellate Judge Dranginis - she seemed to have been encouraged to get certification and she has a record both as a solid jurist and as a supporter of judicial openness.

Also in CLT is an editorial that asks not to close the book on Justice Zarella (no registration required):

There are those who believe she will not submit the name of her original nominee, Justice Peter Zarella, to avoid any criticism by naming him since his nomination gave rise to Sullivan's inappropriate conduct.

Gov. Rell, however, should treat Justice Zarella fairly and resubmit his name since there is no evidence that he engaged in any wrongdoing or even knew what Justice Sullivan had done until after Justice Richard Palmer reported Sullivan'’s decision to place a hold on a Supreme Court ruling in which he and Zarella were in the majority. Both Justices Zarella and Sullivan have so testified, but Justice Zarella asked the governor to withdraw his nomination because of the uproar.


First of all, given that it was Justice Zarella himself who asked for his name to be withdrawn, its unlikely that this is even an option for Governor Rell. Justice Zarella would have to indicate that he is willing to go through the confirmation process under a real or perceivied suspicion of some wrongdoing.

Second, even if Justice Zarella was willing, Governor Rell would have to be willing to dredge up the Sullivan scandal - something that everyone seems to be willing to put behind them.

A better option is mentioned at the end of the editorial:

Gov. Rell also has an opportunity to recognize Justice David Borden, who could serve as chief justice until August 2007, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.
...
Justice Borden certainly has earned this act of recognition for his years of public service as a judge in the courts, his service as chairman of the Rules Committee and his shouldering of the burden, if not the mantle, of chief justice in recent months. In this context it should be noted that this Advisory Board published its opinion on the front page of this publication six years ago recommending Justice Borden'’s appointment as chief justice.


Again, by way of disclosure, I took Justice Borden's class and enjoyed it. Following this path would reward a Justice who stepped up in difficult times, would sail through the legislature, and would allow Governor Rell ample time to decide on a Chief Justice appointment without the pressure of the Sullivan scandal and failed Zarella nomination in her rear-view mirror.

Sources:
Thomas B. Scheffey, Rell Keeps Door Open For CJ Post, Connecticut Law Tribune, December 14, 2006.
Law Tribune Advisory Board, Give Zarella Another Shot, Connecticut Law Tribune, December 14, 2006.

Open Forum

The White House is saying that a visit to Syria by Sen. Dodd and Sen. Ben Nelson, Sen. Arlen Specter and Sen. John Kerry is "inappropriate" and gives Syria a "public relations victory." Could help a Dodd presidential bid, however, if progress is made.

There's trouble at Yale-New Haven Hospital involving the possible organizing of a union there. The union organizers are accusing the hospital of threatening employees, and are delaying the vote. [Update by Gabe] The article points out that an agreed-upon arbitrator found that the hospital had "serious violations" of federal labor law and that the President of Yale University, historically a position that is no friend to organized labor (JSTOR), is "dismayed by the recent actions of the hospital that violated the letter and spirit" of the agreement the hospital and the union signed last spring. "I have consistently urged hospital management to abide by its terms," he said in a statement.

In Massachusetts news, Mitt Romney will be announcing his run for president on January 8th. Maybe.

What else is happening?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lieberman Joins Call for More Troops

From the AP:
Sen. John McCain said Thursday that America should deploy 15,000 to 30,000 more troops to Iraq to control its sectarian violence, and give moderate Iraqi politicians the stability they need to take the country in the right direction.

McCain made the remarks to reporters in Baghdad, where he and five other members of Congress were meeting with U.S. and Iraqi officials.
[...]
Lieberman said the U.S. delegation left its meetings with al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani and other Iraqi officials believing "there is a force of moderates within the context of Iraqi politics coming together to strengthen the center here against the extremists."

"We need more, not less, U.S. troops here" to improve Iraq's security, he said. (AP)

Lieberman actually has been moving in this direction for a while, now, so it isn't surprising to see him embrace it at last.

Unpalatable as it may be to a lot of Americans, a brief but substantial increase in the number of troops may, in fact, be the best way to achieve at least some of our aims there. We may also be able to get all of our troops home sooner if we do this. But will people support McCain (and Lieberman) in this? Or are Americans ready to throw their hands up and walk away?

What do you think we should do?


What should we do about troop levels in Iraq?
Stay the course/change nothing
Send more troops
Slowly withdraw troops - no timeline
Slowly withdraw troops with a set timeline
Immediate or quick withdrawal
Something else
Free polls from Pollhost.com
Source
"McCain says U.S. needs thousands more troops to stabilize Iraq." Associated Press 14 December, 2006.