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Occhiogrosso departs at mid-term
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
December 10, 2012

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced the long-planned departure of his senior adviser, Roy Occhiogrosso, a move that deprives Malloy of his public voice and closest confidant as he begins the two-year march towards the 2014 campaign.

Occhiogrosso, 47, who has been framing issues and political messages for Malloy since the governor's first unsuccessful run for governor in 2006, left open the question of formal or informal involvement in the 2014 campaign.

With the governor preparing to nominate to two justices to the Connecticut Supreme Court and at least 10 Superior Court judges, his general counsel, Andrew McDonald, is expected by court watchers to soon be leaving for the bench.

Malloy has signaled to his senior staff at the approach of the mid-point in his four-year term that now is the time for departures; anyone staying past January is seen as signing on the for the remainder of the term.

Occhiogrosso has played a unique role in the quartet of advisers generally seen as Malloy's inner circle: He often is the public face of the administration, especially on matters of political controversy; in private, Occhiogrosso is probably the adviser is bluntest with the governor.

"We've been at this together for a long time, almost on a daily basis for 6 years," Malloy said at his regular press conference after the monthly Bond Commission meeting. "He is someone that I have relied on, the lieutenant govenor has relied on, and he will be greatly missed."

Occhigrosso is a symbol of the Malloy administration's unending campaign. He is the point man who hectors and cajoles the press and engages the administration's critics with emails, phone calls and, more recently, in exchanges on Twitter.

"You know of his dedication," Malloy told reporters at a press conference following the State Bond Commission, when he announced Occhiogrosso would leave by month's end. "Some of you have even been witness to his passion."

The divorced father of young twin sons, Occhiogrosso originally planned to depart a year ago and step back from a job that respects few boundaries between work and home.

"About a year ago, I approached him with the idea of staying yet another year. It took him 30 days to give me an answer, but I did get a year," Malloy said. "I've appreciated every moment of that year."

"I personally think people tend to stay in these jobs too long some times," Occhiogrosso said.

The governor's original inner circle already has changed with the resignation after one year of Tim Bannon, the governor's first chief of staff. He was succeeded by Mark Ojakian, a deputy budget director who was Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman's top aide during her time as state comptroller.

As recently as last week, Occhiogrosso was coy when asked by the Mirror if he was ready to leave. Today, he shrugged and noted, "Eventually, the answer was going to be yes. What can I say?"

Lamont lost in Democrat primary, Foley, Republican, in general election.

Foley, Lamont find fault with Malloy's budget tactics

Ken Dixon, Staff Writer, CT POST
Updated 08:19 a.m., Tuesday, April 5, 2011

NEW HAVEN -- The two runners-up for governor criticized Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday for raising spending and asking for higher taxes from recession-wracked state residents.  During an hourlong head-to-head at the Yale Law School, Tom Foley, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, charged that Malloy should be following the example of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who made big cuts in that state's operating budget while holding the line on new taxes.

"I thought they said they were cutting spending," said Foley, who lost to Malloy in November by 6,404 votes. "Are you confused, too? This is snake-oil stuff." He said Malloy's budget is "a cynical deception" that's full of "gimmicks and head fakes," while actually raising spending levels.

Lamont, who lost the Democratic primary by 103,154 votes to 77,772, wasn't as critical as Foley, calling Malloy's two-year proposal "relatively honest," including billions of dollars in anticipated concessions from state unions and $2.5 billion in new taxes, a full $1 billion more than Malloy has portrayed. 

He said Malloy's budget would hit the middle class very hard and that the governor and his agency commissioners should accept pay cuts to at least symbolically align themselves with "shared sacrifice."

Lamont said Malloy should be more aggressive in reducing health-care costs and harnessing the expertise of the nonprofit provider community, while reforming the tax structure, including the termination of corporate taxes.

"We need a real sea change if we're going to turn around the ship of state," Lamont said, adding that Malloy's budget may be "a good start."

He said that Malloy is asking state employees to offer major givebacks, including $1 billion a year in unspecified savings. "What we need is more taxpayers in this state," he said.

Foley said that if he had won the election, he'd be "in a better position" to leverage concessions from state unions, who supported Malloy.

Lamont challenged Foley's assessment, describing Malloy as "a bull in a china shop" while he's seeking his bottom line. He blasted John G. Rowland, the former Republican governor, who gave unions a 20-year fringe benefits deal in 1997.

Foley said nationwide movements against union rights should be taken up in Connecticut to stop taxpayers from "being held hostage." The state was in jeopardy well before the nationwide recession, said Foley, a private investor who recently started the nonprofit Connecticut Policy Institute.

"We have a very different economy from what we had," he said, noting that while the service economy has emerged throughout most of the state, high value-added jobs, including financial services, have been fostered primarily in southwestern Connecticut.

Lamont, a telecommunications executive, who like Foley lives in Greenwich, said that Connecticut has been lacking the kind of creativity exemplified by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently announced plans to start a new university focused on 21st century jobs in the sciences.  Lamont said if he were governor he would have required local school boards to agree to major reforms if they were to get larger amounts of state aid.  About 90 people attended the early evening event, sponsored by various law school organizations.

"The action right now is in the state capitals," Lamont said, asking the law students to stay in the state, after a show of hands indicated that most of the 20 or so are planning to move when they gain their degrees.

"Please do stay in Connecticut," Foley concluded. "We will fix these problems."

Flatto now a Bridgeporter after sale of Fairfield home
Andrew Brophy, CT POST
Updated 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, May 29, 2012

FAIRFIELD -- The man who served as Fairfield's top elected official longer than anyone else in the last three decades is now a resident of Bridgeport. And he also will be making another career change.

Kenneth Flatto, who was first selectman for nearly 12 of the last 14 years before stepping down last year, moved to the Park City this month after receiving what he termed "a really fair offer" for the Fairfield house that he and his wife owned on Orchard Hill Lane for about 20 years.  Flatto now owns a condominium at 3200 Park Ave. in Bridgeport, just over Fairfield's eastern border. Flatto said he's not sure yet whether the condominium will be a short- or long-term home.

"We only had a month between when the offer came and the move so we had a very short window to find a place," Flat said Monday. "We're happy to find a place fast and happy to sell the house fast. "

According to Fairfield land records, Flatto and his wife, Liz, sold their Fairfield home at 136 Orchard Hill Lane for $520,000 to Sylvia Vermeer and Jarrid A. Hall.  The house most recently was appraised at $543,300, so the sales price nearly matched the appraised value in a difficult real estate market for sellers. The Flattos bought the house in April 1993 for $261,000.  Three of the Flattos' four children are living on their own and the fourth is in college, so Flatto said he and his wife decided to downsize.

"We were interested in condo-style living, and the only one we found that fit our criteria was along Park Avenue," Flatto said. "There were really no comparable units in the Fairfield area."

Flatto added that he and his wife also thought this is a good time to invest in the Park City because of "a lot of positive things happening on the development front."

"We didn't want to rent and thought it was a great time for an investment," he said.

Flatto declined to specify what he and his wife paid for the condo, though he said it was a "very good investment price."

"The condo market is pretty challenged right now so the prices are very reasonable," he said.

The Flattos won't have to walk or drive far to be back in Fairfield. The condo they own is in a complex about 50 feet from the border and across the street from Toilsome Hill Road in Fairfield, Flatto said. "We feel like it's kind of straddling both communities," he said. "I've always been a big believer in Fairfield and Bridgeport. Many people living in the (condo) complexes are former Fairfielders."

Flatto said it was difficult to leave Fairfield, but he thought it would be exciting to become familiar with the North End of Bridgeport and a new section of Fairfield after living near the geographic center of Fairfield for so long.  Flatto, who was still a District 4 member of Fairfield's Democratic Town Committee after leaving office, said he has emailed other District 4 representatives to say he would be stepping down from his post at the end of the month.

The move to Park Avenue happened so quickly that Flatto said he still needs to change his voter registration and half of the addresses on bills.  Flatto said he does not foresee entering politics in Bridgeport, and envisions his role in Fairfield as that of a booster for the town and "kind of an emeritus first selectman."

"My thought is just to help where I can," in Fairfield and Bridgeport he said. "I'm looking to just be a supporter and a booster."

He added that may be able to help the communities in "a big-picture way," without getting involved "in an overly political fashion."

Flatto also said he is transitioning away from his job at the Jewish Home for the Elderly and had a future career in mind, though he said it would take a week to 10 days before he would be able to discuss it. "It just didn't end up being the right fit," Flatto said of his job at the JHE. "I'm going to be helping, but it's pretty much finishing soon."

The Flattos attended Monday's Memorial Day parade, standing next to other town dignitaries on the reviewing stand on Town Hall Green.  The former first selectman said he was pleased to be at the annual event and to see many familiar faces.

He couldn't say if he might return to living in Fairfield, but said he has "a lot of allegiance and love for Fairfield."

"I and my family have a strong love of Fairfield and an attachment, and we're always going to be involved, whether we're living there or not," Flatto said.

Flatto was elected a member of Fairfield's Board of Selectmen in 1995, and then won election to the office of first selectman in 1997, serving in the town's top job for one term before losing it in 1999.  He then was elected first selectman again in 2001 and served until May 2011, when he resigned to accept a job in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration.

He left that job in January to become vice president for community services and business development for the Jewish Home.


Soon to be Former First Selectman Ken Flatto

Ken Flatto to join Malloy administration
Published 10:25 a.m., Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FAIRFIELD -- First Selectman Ken Flatto is joining the Malloy administration as the Executive Director of the Division of Special Revenue.

The division is responsible for managing various special revenues and for regulating legalized gaming in the State of Connecticut, including the Lottery and Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

"Ken will bring his 30 years of experience as a financial and accounting manager to this integral position," said Governor Malloy. "Although we are trying to maximize revenue that comes into the state, we always need to be mindful that it does not come at the expense of our state's citizens."

"I am truly looking forward to helping Governor Malloy and his administration account for additional revenue and improve services for Connecticut citizens," said Flatto. "I thank the Governor for his confidence and I intend to achieve solid results in this position."

With taxes the issue, GOP gets a do-over in special elections
Mark Pazniokas and Arielle Levin Becker, CT MIRROR
February 21, 2011

With Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed $1.5 billion tax increase still dominating the headlines, Republicans get a do-over Tuesday in special elections to fill six House and three Senate seats left vacant by Democrats who won in November, only to resign before the legislature convened Jan. 5.

On WFSB's "Face the State" on Sunday, Malloy was unsure if the nine state legislative races will be interpreted as an early referendum on one of the state's biggest tax increases, but the Democratic governor seemed resigned to seeing his party's substantial legislative majorities shrink.

"I think we'll probably lose some seats," he said. "We'll win some seats."

The balance of power cannot shift in a significant way Tuesday, since Democrats are guaranteed to end the day still holding at least 20 of 36 seats in the Senate. In the House, the GOP is seriously contesting only in four races, meaning that Democrats will end up with at least 96 of 151 seats in the House.

But a Republican sweep of the four House and three Senate races they are targeting could rattle Democrats about the wisdom of the largest tax increase since another new governor, Lowell P. Weicker Jr., responded to another inherited fiscal crisis in 1991 with Connecticut's first broad-based tax on income.

Taxes have been a common theme in most of the races, but the abolition of the death penalty -- an issue whose fate could be settled Tuesday -- was introduced as an issue in one race over the weekend with an endorsement by Johanna Petit Chapman, the sister of Dr. William Petit, the survivor of the Cheshire home invasion.

New Britain Mayor Tim Stewart, the Republican candidate trying to succeed Democrat Donald DeFronzo in the 6th Senate District, said automated calls went out over the weekend with an endorsement message from Chapman, whom he called a friend.

"I am a strong advocate for the death penalty, always have been," Stewart said.

His Democratic opponent, former Rep. Terry Gerratana, D-New Britain, said she was unsure how she would vote on a bill Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed in 2009 that would have abolished the death penalty for future cases. She is the only Senate candidate not on record as opposing repeal.

The repeal bill passed two years ago in the Senate, 19 to 17. After the November election, the Senate appeared to be evenly divided, 18 to 18. Of the three senators who resigned, Andrew McDonald of Stamford favored repeal and the other two, DeFronzo and Thomas P. Gaffey of Meriden, voted against repeal.

Democrat Thomas Bruenn and Republican Leonard Suzio, the two candidates seeking Gaffey's seat in the 13th District, oppose repeal.

"I happen to believe that with the DNA evidence that we present that it is almost impossible for an innocent person to be on death row," Bruenn said.

In Stamford, Republican Bob Kolenberg is opposed, and Democrat Carlo Leone voted against repeal in 2009 as a member of the state House of Representatives.

The death penalty has not been a major issue in any of the House races, according to strategists in both parties.

Bruenn said when he goes door to door voters want to talk about taxes, jobs and the cost of health care.

Voters have told him that Malloy's tax increases are too heavily weighted toward the middle class, and Bruenn said he agrees with them. He would like to see higher taxes on couples making more than $500,000 a year and lower the tax rates for the poor and middle class.

Suzio could not be reached for comment, but he has campaigned against taxes. He signed a pledge last month saying he would vote against any effort to raise taxes, and said during a debate the same day Malloy presented his budget, "I don't like the tax increases. Not a penny. No new taxes. No more taxes. No way."

In New Britain, Gerratana distanced herself from Malloy's tax plan, saying it wasn't "appropriate" for the district.

"I think people are a little bit outraged what they saw the other day," Stewart said. "I would say taxation is a huge issue for every person in the district."

Stewart's refusal to say when he would resign as mayor if he wins has been an issue. Stewart said he would perform both jobs during a transition period.

"His approach is it is OK to do both," Gerratana said. "I would be a full-time senator."

Gerrantana is one of two former House members on the ballot Tuesday. In West Hartford, Republican Allen Hoffman is competing with Democratic Councilman Joe Verrengia for the seat vacated by David McCluskey. Hoffman was a one-term representative in the 1990s.

Four Republicans running Tuesday were on the ballot in November.  In East Haven, Republican Linda Monaco is making a second try for the 99th House District seat. Janet Peckinpaugh, the former TV anchorwoman who was the GOP nominee for congress in the 2nd District, is running Tuesday in the 36th House District.

Kolenberg was the GOP nominee in the 27th Senate District in November, losing to McDonald, who quit to become Malloy's top legal adviser. Suzio was the GOP nominee in the 13th, losing to Gaffey, who resigned after pleading guilty to double billing for legislative travel.

Republicans have given the 27th District special attention, drawing campaign stops over the weekend by former Lt. Gov. Michael C. Fedele, who once challenged McDonald for the seat, as well as the GOP's gubernatorial and U.S. Senate nominees, Tom Foley and Linda McMahon.

Malloy had no scheduled campaign appearances over the weekend, though he has helped raise money for a couple of candidates, said his staff. Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford, did make a pitch on "Face the State" on behalf of Leone.

"He'd be a great state senator," Malloy said.

The GOP did not nominate a candidate in the 25th House District, ceding the seat to Democrat Robert Sanchez.

In Bridgeport's 126th House District, the state GOP is putting no resources in the race to succeed Democrat Chris Caruso, but a Republican, James Keyser, is on a crowded ballot. Joining Keyser and Democrat Charlie Stallworth are five petitioning candidates, including former Rep. Robert Keeley, a Democrat trying to make his second comeback.

Senate 6 - Berlin, Farmington and New Britain
(Vacancy: resignation of Sen. Donald J. DeFronzo, D-New Britain)
Terry Bielinski Gerratana (D)
Timothy T. Stewart (R)
Terry Bielinski Gerratana (WF)

Senate 13 - Cheshire, Meriden, Middlefield, and Middletown
(Vacancy: resignation of Sen. Thomas Gaffey, D-Meriden)
Thomas E. Bruenn (D)
Len Suzio (R)
Thomas E. Bruenn (WF)
Len Suzio (Independent Party)

Senate 27 - Darien and Stamford
(Vacancy: resignation of Sen. Andrew J. McDonald, D-Stamford)
Carlo Leone (D)
Bob Kolenberg (R)

House 20 - West Hartford
(Vacancy: resignation of Rep. David McCluskey, D-West Hartford)
Joe Verrengia (D)
Allen Hoffman (R)
Allen Hoffman (Connecticut for Lieberman)

House 25 - New Britain
(Vacancy: resignation of Rep. John Geragosian, D-New Britain)
Robert Sanchez (D)
Robert Sanchez (WF)
Richard Marzi (Write-In)

House 36 - Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam
(Vacancy: resignation of Rep. James F. Spallone, D-Essex)
Philip J. Miller (D)
Janet Peckinpaugh (R)

House 99 - East Haven
(Vacancy: resignation of Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, D-East Haven)
James M. Albis (D)
Linda Monaco (R)
James M. Albis (WF)

House 101 - Guilford and Madison
(Vacancy: resignation of Rep. Deborah Heinrich, D-Madison)
Joan M. Walker (D)
Noreen S. Kokoruda (R)

House 126 - Bridgeport
(Vacancy: resignation of Rep. Christopher Caruso, D-Bridgeport)
Charlie L. Stallworth (D)
James Keyser (R)
Mark P. Trojanowski (Petitioning Candidate)
Carlos Silva (Petitioning Candidate)
Robert T. Keeley, Jr. (Petitioning Candidate)
Thomas R. Lombard (Petitioning Candidate)
Verna Kearney (Petitioning Candidate)

List: Connecticut Special Elections (as a result of Election 2010 in almost all cases)
Special elections will be held Feb. 22 to fill nine state legislative seats.
Hartford Courant
January 24, 2011


20th District: part of West Hartford. Reason for vacancy: David McCluskey left to join the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.

25th District: part of New Britain. Reason for vacancy: John Geragosian left to become the legislature's Democratic auditor.

36th District: Chester, Deep River, Essex, Haddam. Reason for vacancy: James Spallone left to become deputy secretary of the state.

99th District: part of East Haven. Reason for vacancy: Mike Lawlor left to join Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget office as the undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning.

101st District: Madison, part of Guilford. Reason for vacancy: Deb Heinrich left to take a Malloy cabinet-left position advocating on behalf of nonprofit providers.

126th District: part of Bridgeport. Reason for vacancy: Christopher Caruso left to join the state Department of Economic and Community Development as an urban policy adviser.

Senate (see Senate Circle above)

6th District: New Britain, Berlin, part of Farmington. Reason for vacancy: Donald DeFronzo left to become head of the state Department of Administrative Services..

13th District: Meriden, Middlefied, part of Cheshire, part of Middletown. Reason for vacancy: Thomas Gaffey resigned after pleading guilty to larceny charges.

27th District: part of Darien, part of Stamford. Reason for vacancy: Andrew McDonald left to become Malloy's chief budget counsel.

LEADERSHIP:  Stretching the Westonites work with legislators from neighboring towns on environmental issues? Gail Lavielle is listening!
Will we have a one-Party government in the buildings shown above November 3?  Where will Weston's voice be heard in the building to the left? 
Try working, for example, with Wilton!  CT Legislature: 2010 totals from Hartford Courant here.  And an unofficial recount going on the week of November 29 - December 3 in Bridgeport...

Congressman Himes re-elected (r);  Dan Malloy most likely will be declared the next Governor, if votes in Bridgeport cast between 8pm and 10pm by judge's order, are allowed.  And make that Senator Blumenthal now!  Weston has all-G.O.P. legislative team, continuing a tradition established so long ago I can't remember when it now we can call on the new 143rd District rep from Wilton, who knows
 transportation and education and has been to Weston and likes our town!

Incoming DSS commissioner: 'We have a complete system to overhaul'
Arielle Levin Becker, CT MIRROR
April 20, 2011

The barriers state residents face in reaching the state Department of Social Services are unacceptable, and the options they have for accessing services are "woefully inadequate," incoming commissioner Roderick L. Bremby told lawmakers at his confirmation hearing.

Department workers want to improve the situation, he said, but they're limited by an obsolete phone system and a computer network so outdated it uses a programming language Bremby said was antiquated when he learned it in the late 1970s.

Addressing the legislature's Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee Tuesday, Bremby, in his 16th day on the job, spoke of the need to overhaul the systems the department uses and improve the service residents receive.

Bremby, who previously served as secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, also spoke of the need to transform the fragmented health care services Medicaid clients receive into a coordinated system of care, and to plan for succession because a large portion of the department's workforce is eligible for retirement.

With a budget of more than $5 billion, DSS is responsible for a wide range of safety net programs that serve more than 750,000 people, including close to 600,000 in Medicaid. In recent months, the department has come under criticism for its handling of the food stamp program, which has among the worst rates in the nation for providing benefits on time and accurately. Bremby's predecessor, Michael P. Starkowski, attributed the problems to outdated technology and not having enough staff to handle skyrocketing caseloads.

Bremby offered a similar assessment Tuesday, saying that the department's front line workers need better tools to keep up with record demand for assistance.

"We pledge to meet requests for help respectfully, while assuring our clients the maintenance of their dignity," he said.

Bremby spent much of his confirmation hearing addressing problems that clients face, several brought up by lawmakers.

Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, told Bremby he heard from a constituent who spent weeks trying to reach a DSS worker, then turned to a legal aid attorney, who also had trouble getting calls returned for a week.

"Unfortunately, that is a complaint that I've heard repeatedly since I've arrived," Bremby said. "It's not acceptable."

Then he explained why it happens: When the phone system is busy, calls go into a voice mail box, which fills up.

"When that mail box fills up, people start calling our HR function, they start calling the secretary's office, they call the governor's office, I'm sure they call your offices, and they call any and everywhere they can," he said. "They're looking for contact with a human to provide the services that they're desperately looking for."

Bremby said there should be "no wrong door" for accessing department services.

"I'm sad to say that at this point in time, the service levels that are being provided are woefully inadequate," he said.

A modernization effort meant to update the phone and computer systems could help. The full modernization is expected to take several years, but Bremby said the department doesn't have that long to address direct service requests, and said the department could make some changes sooner. One option could be to devise a way for people to use smartphones to check the status of their applications, he said.

The department is also expected to get an interactive voice recognition program that could ease some of the phone congestion by providing automated responses to people calling to check on the status of their applications or other information that a computer could verify. Bremby said the system could be available by late spring or early summer.

The department's communications with clients also needs work, he said. Currently, clients receive notices for meetings and hearings after the scheduled date. Bremby said the mail room that sends out the notices is backlogged.

"We have a complete system to overhaul," he said.

Bremby has experience with updating technology systems. In Kansas, he oversaw the implementation of an immunization registry, a web-based system to report birth and death records, and the introduction of paperless systems for purchasing, personnel and document routing. As assistant to the city manager in Fort Worth, Texas, he directed the implementation of an enhanced 911 system.

Rep. Marie L. Kirkley-Bey, D-Hartford, said she wondered why DSS' outdated systems weren't addressed before.

"I think that there was a lack of investment, clearly, in trying to keep our systems current," Bremby said. "I know that people want to do better, they just didn't. Why the resources didn't come, I don't know."

He added that the federal government can provide a significant portion of the funding for a new eligibility management system and that "we have a commitment of staff who really want this system to be better."

Rep. John E. Piscopo, R-Thomaston, relayed a different sort of constituent complaint, saying he hears from people who believe the safety net system might make people too comfortable and serve as a disincentive to work.

"Sometimes we look at a neighbor and we have questions why that neighbor might be getting assistance, because they don't look like they might need assistance," Bremby said. "But we may not know the whole story."

Regardless, he said, "We each have a responsibility to try to make sure that the safety net fabric is broad enough so that those who need the service the most actually get those services, and they're not consumed by people or others who don't really have that great a need."

Asked about his priorities for the department, Bremby said making sure that department workers have the right tools is "job one right now."

A second priority, he said, is transitioning from a fragmented medical care system to one that focuses on patients, in which health care providers work as a team and address preventive care and the patient's overall health needs, not just the particular issue that brought the patient into the office.

A third, Bremby said, will be succession in the department.

"We have a large number of staff who are eligible for retirement, but yet the bench is not deep," he said.

Beyond those three, he said, there are many other items he plans to focus on.

"I daresay that I won't be bored at all," he said.

Malloy picks Kansas man to lead DSS
Arielle Levin Becker, CT MIRROR
March 8, 2011

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will appoint a former Kansas health and environmental official to lead the state Department of Social Services, according to a source in the governor's office.

Roderick Bremby served as secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for seven years, the longest-serving secretary in the department's history. He was appointed in 2003 by then-governor and current U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

If confirmed by the legislature, Bremby will take the helm of a department with a budget of more than $5 billion and responsibility for serving more than 750,000 people who rely on its safety net programs. The department will play a key role in implementing federal health care reform, which is expected to add more than 100,000 people to the Medicaid program DSS runs in 2014.

Bremby's relationship with Sebelius, the top U.S. health official, could prove useful as the state implements the health reform law and competes for federal dollars. Many of the programs DSS administers receive federal funding, and changes to some, including Medicaid, often require federal approval.

In Kansas, Bremby was responsible for a department with an operating budget of more than $230 million and more than 1,000 full time staff. He oversaw the implementation of several changes aimed at improving efficiency, including an immunization registry with more than 9 million records, a web-based system to report birth and death records, and the introduction of paperless systems for purchasing, personnel and document routing.

He left the job in November after being dismissed by then-Gov. Mark Parkinson. News accounts have pointed to speculation that Bremby's dismissal was linked to a pending permit application for a controversial coal-fired power plant. Bremby had previously denied the company's application for a permit because of concerns about the effects of carbon dioxide emissions, becoming the first official in the U.S. to do so. His successor later approved the application.

Before working in state government, Bremby worked as an assistant research professor at the University of Kansas, where he led a work group on health promotion and community development. He spent 10 years as assistant city manager and chief operating officer of Lawrence, Kansas, and four years as assistant to the city manager in Fort Worth, Texas, where he directed the implementation of an enhanced 911 system and an accounting and management reporting system.

Bremby was an appealing candidate for the Malloy administration in part because of his tenure in the Kansas state agency and his experience streamlining services and implementing web-based systems, the source said. He has the ability to make tough decisions at DSS and the skills and experience to oversee the administration of benefits to some of the state's most vulnerable residents, the source added.

Overhauling the technology DSS uses will likely be a major priority for the next commissioner. The current eligibility management system, a mainframe computer system, was developed in 1989 and was one factor federal officials cited last month as a barrier to improving the performance of the state's food stamp program, one of the worst in the nation. Malloy's proposed budget includes money for beginning the process of replacing the eligibility management system, which is expected to take several years and could cost between $120 million and $150 million. Much of the cost could be reimbursed by the federal government.

The department has also struggled with a surge in demand for services as its staffing levels have fallen. The current staffing level--1,962 people--is down 20 percent from 2001.

The food stamp program, in particular, has drawn attention after federal officials warned that the state could face financial sanctions if the program's performance does not improve significantly. The program ranks worst in the nation in the rate of wrongly denying or terminating food stamps, and among the worst in paying inaccurate benefit levels and missing deadlines for processing applications.

Commissioner Michael P. Starkowski has attributed the problems largely to having too few staff and outdated technology while demand for services rises. The department recently received approval to fill vacant positions for handling program eligibility and hire retired eligibility workers on a temporary basis to handle food stamp applications.

The new commissioner will also oversee major changes to the way the Medicaid programs, which together serve nearly 600,000 people, are administered. The HUSKY program, which serves close to 400,000 mostly low-income children and their families, will be moved out of managed care, and other Medicaid programs for low-income adults and people with disabilities will be moved into a system in which care is more coordinated than it is now. The new system is expected to be in place by Jan. 1, 2012.

DSS also administers programs including cash assistance, child care subsidies, elderly prescription assistance, winter heating aid and some employment services.

Bremby graduated from the University of Kansas in 1982 and received a master of public administration degree from the university in 1984. He served on the board of Kansas Action for Children and the Kansas Health Policy Authority, and founded the Lawrence Partnership for Children and Youth. He also served as president of the Lawrence, Kansas, branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

In 2007, Bremby and his then-wife filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the result of health problems that required her to stop working. The source said they are repaying their debts and will be done repaying them next January. They are now divorced and Bremby is remarried.

Malloy reappoints Leo Arnone as Dept. of Corrections chief
Published 01:40 p.m., Friday, March 4, 2011

HARTFORD -- A 22-year-veteran of the Conn. Department of Corrections will be staying there for a little while longer. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy reappointed DOC Commissioner Leo Arnone of Somers to the position on Friday.

In addition to his 22 years at the DOC, he also spent 12 years working for the state Judicial Branch and for three years at the Department of Children and Families. An interim commissioner prior to his reappointment, Arnone was initially put into the position by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

"Leo is well-liked by staff at the department and well-respected by members of his peer community," said Malloy in a statement. "He believes, as I do, that public safety comes first, but we also need to spend less and find ways to reduce recidivism in our inmate population. His ties to community-based providers and his special insight into early intervention and juvenile justice programs are also of particular interest to me as we find ways to reform our criminal justice system."

Arnone was appointed to be the commissioner of the Department of Corrections in 2010.

"I'm looking forward to working with Gov. Malloy - a former prosecutor and someone who deeply believes in the reformation of our current system," said Arnone in a statement. "With my career spanning two branches and as many departments, I have a broad understanding of the ways in which we can better address the needs of our criminal justice system."

Arnone began his career at DOC in 1974, starting as a Correctional Officer and rising to the position of Correctional Captain. He then served as Deputy Warden and Warden at the Hartford Correctional Center from 1988 to 1993, a high security, 1,000 bed pre-trial facility. Then from 1993 to 1995 he was a regional director with the department and oversaw six correctional facilities in the Enfield and Somers area. He supervised 1,800 employees on 1,700 acres of property and over 100 buildings. There were 4,000 inmates in his control.

Arnone then moved into the Judicial Branch, working there from 1995 to 2007 as Superintendent of the Hartford Juvenile Detention Center. He became the Deputy Director of Operations for Juvenile Detention Services. He last served from 2007 to 2010 he was the Bureau Chief at the Bureau of Juvenile Services within the Department of Children and Families where he oversaw the Conn. Juvenile Training School, five privately-owned residential training schools, parole and reentry programs for children and specialized community mental health programming.

Malloy names ING executive to oversee economic development

Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
March 3, 2011

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today named a top insurance executive, Catherine H. Smith of ING, to oversee economic development, a recruiting coup and a sign of his desire to grow one of the state's best-known industries.

Smith, 58, the chief executive of ING U.S. Retirement Services and a former high-ranking executive at Aetna Financial Services, brings corporate star power to the administration's economic development efforts, a top priority in a state with nearly flat job growth over the past 20 years.

"I'm thrilled that Catherine has agreed to take on the immense task - and I do mean it's immense," Malloy said. "We've got to reverse a 22-year history of failing to grow jobs, and do it as quickly as we can."

In Smith, Malloy has hired an executive with experience in operations and marketing. She helped streamline operations in ING during the recession, consolidating 14 service centers into four and cutting costs for those services by 30 percent over three years, Malloy said.

Her salary at ING is not public record, but she smiled during the press conference when asked about her $170,000 state salary. "Let me put this way, I'm taking a big pay cut, and I believe it's the right thing to do for me," she said. "My husband and I are financially able to do this, but we are very committed to helping the state."

Smith, who worked for a non-profit environmental organization in Washington after graduating from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., said she always planned to eventually work in the public sector. Her graduate degree from the Yale School of Management is in public and private management.

"Under the leadership of the governor the lieutenant governor, I think we're finally putting the spotlight back on creating jobs in the state," Smith said.

Smith said the state has high costs, but a good system of higher education, a skilled work force and a great quality of life. "I'm very much looking forward to getting those strengths out into the marketplace," Smith said.

The potential market for employers who should be recruited to expand or relocate here must be viewed broadly, she sad.

"I'm not just talking about great start up in biotech or bio medical. I'm talking about looking at other, more mature industries as well," she said.

Malloy said she will have a free hand in remaking the state's economic-development bureaucracy.

"Catherine will be fully empowered to create a new organization," Malloy said.

Smith's last day at ING is March 31. She begins her new job the next day.

"This is great," said an insurance industry source before Malloy's announcement. "He is taking very calculated steps to show the industry they are not a punching bag any more." Last month, Malloy chose Thomas Leonardi, a venture capitalist and not a consumer advocate, as his insurance commissioner.

Smith was a top executive at Aetna Financial Services when the unit was obtained by the Dutch financial services giant, ING. Her tenure at Aetna overlapped with Timothy Bannon, the governor's chief of staff and co-chairman of Malloy's transition team.

Bannon said Smith initially was invited to help with the transition, but the administration then began to recruit her, a process that took months to complete. "This is a great outcome, well worth the wait," Bannon said.

ING is preparing an initial public offering for its U.S. insurance business, a project that makes leaving the company difficult. "That would have been fun," she said.

Smith worked at Aetna from 1983 through 2000, when ING purchased its financial services business. She has been chief executive of the retirement unit, which has 3,000 employees and oversees $285 billion in assets, since 2008.

"Throughout her career, Catherine has modeled community service, community involvement, and community leadership," said Rob Leary, the chief executive officer of ING Insurance U.S. "Therefore, this next step in her career is a natural extension of her life-long passion for public service.

Her name was 9th on American Banker and U.S. Banker's 2009 list of the 25 most powerful women in insurance, asset management and other areas of finance outside banking.

In 2005, InformationWeek named her as most influential in the information-technology field Smith, then the chief operating officer of ING, took over the financial -services company's IT operations.

According to her ING bio, she serves on the board of Outward Bound, Connecticut Fund for the Environment and the Trust for Public Land's Connecticut Advisory Council.

Smith is married and lives in North Branford. She and her husband, Peter, are the parents of two children.

Conn. Gov. names Palmer labor commissioner
29 August 2012

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has named Sharon Palmer, the longtime teachers' union president, his new commissioner of the Department of Labor.

Malloy, who announced the appointment on Tuesday, said he reached out to Palmer in recent weeks to fill the job held previously by former union president Glenn Marshall. He called her "a tireless advocate for working people from all walks of life."

The 68-year-old Palmer has been president of the Connecticut chapter of the American Federation of Teachers since 2003. The union represents 28,000 teachers and other employees in the state.

Palmer's union and Malloy were at odds at times during the last legislative session when lawmakers considered a massive education overhaul bill. Palmer said she and the governor gained a healthy respect for one another during that process.

Her nomination requires legislative approval.

Malloy to name Carpenters' official as labor commissioner
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
January 24, 2011

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has settled on a Fairfield County carpenters' union official as his choice for labor commissioner, despite a push by another of his labor backers, the Service Employees International Union, for one its top executives.

Glenn Marshall, the president of Carpenters Local 210, which endorsed Malloy in April, is the governor's choice from a field of candidates that included Kurt Westby, the state director of the SEIU affiliate, 32BJ, according to political sources.

In Marshall, whose appointment is expected to be made Wednesday, Malloy is selecting a down-state union leader he knows well over an executive from SEIU, a union that endorsed him in May and made more than $270,000 in independent expenditures on his behalf.

The labor job is one of special interest to the construction trades, who often look to the state for enforcement of labor laws and funding of training programs.

The Malloy administration declined to comment on the selection of Marshall, but one union leader said that the appointment of either Marshall or Westby would be welcomed by organized labor.

"Kurt and Glenn are pretty well-known in the labor movement," said John Olsen, the president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. "They are seasoned. They are tested. They have been around the block. They both have good political skills."

Olsen, a former Democratic state chairman, said he was not informed by the Malloy administration if the governor had a made a choice. Both Marshall and Westby are on the executive board of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, which endorsed Malloy after he won the Democratic primary.

Marshall, who also is the district business manager for New England Regional Council of Carpenters and the treasurer of its political action committee, testified last year at the General Assembly in favor of legislation increasing fines on employers who misclassify employees as subcontractors to avoid paying workers' compensation and unemployment compensation.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed the bill.

The carpenters' PAC last year contributed $10,000 each to the campaigns of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney, Chris Murphy and Rosa DeLauro and $8,000 to U.S. Rep. Jim Himes.

Marshall was at Murphy's announcement last week for U.S. Senate.

He did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

Malloy names Big Tobacco foe to head Consumer Protection
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
January 24, 2011

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy tapped a member of the legal team that helped bring Connecticut a multi-billion settlement against the tobacco industry one decade ago to become the new head of the Department of Consumer Protection.

Malloy, who announced his selection of Hartford attorney William M. Rubenstein, 59, Monday morning in the Legislative Office Building, charged his new commissioner with keeping a close watch on the "charlatans" that are bilking consumers on ever-growing Internet markets.

"The Department of Consumer  Protection has a broad mandate - spanning a range of marketplace regulation - from keeping the public safe from nefarious business practices and ensuring that professional licensure standards are maintained," Malloy said. "Bill's exhaustive experience in public service ... leave me with no doubt that we have a commissioner who will be a diligent and thoughtful protector of, and advocate for, Connecticut residents.

Rubenstein, who will serve on an interim basis while his nomination is considered by the General Assembly, pledged that those who perpetrate fraud on consumers "deserve no quarter, and get no quarter on our watch."

Though fraud isn't limited to the Web, Rubenstein said the relative distance between merchant and consumer, and--in some instances--the speed with which transactions occur, make it easier for consumers to be mistreated.

For example, customers who used to be handled a paper contract or other type of formal agreement that they read carefully in front of a clerk or salesman now make purchases online through sites that allow them to swiftly "click through all of the 'yes' boxes," without actually reading terms of sale.

But while the new commissioner said he wants to use department rules, consumer information, and new regulations and laws developed in cooperation with the legislature to better protect Internet customers, he also wants to department that fosters online commerce.

"I think we're a far ways away from when most retailing was done by brick and mortar," he said, adding that the efficiency of online purchasing does offer benefits to consumers.

As commissioner, Rubenstein will lead an agency with an $11 million annual budget and nearly 130 employees. His salary was not immediately available from the Malloy administration.

Rubenstein served in the Antitrust and Consumer Protection units within the Attorney General's Office from 1986 through 1997. As an assistant attorney general in 1996, Rubenstein served on the legal team that represented Connecticut in a landmark lawsuit against five major tobacco companies, largely in response to marketing efforts aimed at teen smokers.

Connecticut was one of 46 states that participated in that case, which led to a 1998 settlement that awarded $246 billion settlement to the states, and dramatic new restrictions on how tobacco companies could market their products.

Connecticut was guaranteed between $3.6 billion and $5 billion of that settlement over 25 years. Since payments began in 2000, the state has received nearly $1.3 billion.

Prior to his service in the attorney general's office, Rubenstein was counsel for the Federal Trade Commission. Most recently he has led the antitrust division at Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider in Hartford, where he is a partner, and also has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

Rubenstein and his wife, Judith Eisenberg, live in West Hartford.

Malloy taps hospital association executive to take the lead on health reform
Arielle Levin Becker, CT MIRROR
January 4, 2011

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy has appointed a Connecticut Hospital Association executive and former head of the Hispanic Health Council to lead state efforts to implement federal health care reform.

As a deputy health commissioner and special advisor to Malloy, Jeanette DeJesús will oversee a wide range of efforts intended to prepare the state for an expansion of health care coverage. Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does not fully roll out until 2014, it leaves considerable responsibility to the states.

By 2014, each state must have a health insurance exchange, a marketplace for purchasing coverage that will also be charged with collecting data, reporting to the federal government, certifying and rating insurance plans, and tracking which employers do not offer insurance to their workers. By 2015, the exchanges must be financially self-sustaining.

In addition, states must prepare to ramp up their Medicaid eligibility by 2014. Connecticut is projected to have 114,000 new Medicaid enrollees, which will likely require additional staff to process applications.

DeJesús will succeed Cristine Vogel, who led health reform implementation efforts as a special advisor to Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Vogel has also led a Health Care Reform Cabinet, which includes the commissioners of 11 agencies.

As a newcomer to the health reform role, DeJesús won't be alone. Many states have political appointees leading health reform implementation efforts, and with more than two dozen states inaugurating new governors, many of those positions are likely to change hands.

But DeJesús already has been involved in efforts to promote health reform on the state and federal levels. She co-chaired a task force on tobacco and smoking cessation for the SustiNet Health Partnership board, which designed a proposal for a state public health insurance option. In 2009, she spoke as part of U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd's "Prescriptions for Change" health care listening tour, and described working daily with people who had no health insurance and often worked two or three jobs.

DeJesús, who has a degree social work from New York University and a degree in public administration from Harvard, currently works as vice president for strategic alliances at the Connecticut Hospital Association. She previously served as president and CEO of the Hispanic Health Council.

She also previously served as executive vice president of the National Conference for Community and Justice, and managed a rape crisis program at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York.

She also is a member of the Board of Directors of The Connecticut News Project, publisher of The Connecticut Mirror. She will resign from that position.

Heinrich to quit House for new post in Malloy administration
By Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
Jan 04, 2011 1:31pm

Rep. Deborah W. Heinrich, D-Madison, who was an early supporter of Dan Malloy's campaign for governor, was named today by the governor-elect to a cabinet-level position that doesn't yet exist -- to lead a Community Nonprofit Human Services Cabinet.

"I have been clear that getting our fiscal house in order will require a shared sacrifice on all our parts, but I've been equally clear that I will not cut the safety net," Malloy said in an emailed press release. "Engaging the nonprofit community in a concerted, strategic way to maximize services and minimize cost will be a large part of the way in which we do this."

The new position runs counter to Malloy's campaign pledge to cut gubernatorial appointments by 15 percent, but Malloy cast the job as a potential money-saver.

"Representative Heinrich has been an advocate for those who need our help the most and I'll be looking to her to find ways in which the services people need can be provided at a lower cost to taxpayers," he said.

Heinrich was elected to the legislature in 2004 from a Republican district that the GOP will have hopes of recapturing. The seat will be filled by one of eight special elections likely to be held in March.

She is the fifth legislator tapped by Malloy to join his administration. In addition, two others are quitting for other jobs and Sen. Thomas Gaffey announced yesterday he is resigning in the wake of facing misdemeanor larceny charges.

Malloy's window for hiring legislators is fast closing. Once they take the oath of office for their new terms tomorrow, they are barred from taking a job in another branch of government for two years.

East Hartford mayor to take over DMV

Jacqueline Rabe, CT MIRROR
December 30, 2010

East Hartford Mayor Melody A. Currey, Gov.-elect Dan Malloy's choice to head the state Department of Motor Vehicles, said Thursday she is taking over with the goal of making the much-maligned agency more streamlined and efficient.

"My marching orders are very direct: Make sure the customer is taken care of and make sure we do it in an efficient and effective manner and as fiscally conservative as possible," Currey said after Malloy announced her appointment.

Malloy said he would like Currey to help move the DMV in a direction that would allow state residents to be able to do more online at home or at more convenient locations.

"In a perfect world she would put herself out of business," he said, adding it's a "real possibility" that the agency could be merged with another state agency down the road.

The DMV's budget has remained almost unchanged over the last decade, with the state spending $53 million from the general and transportation funds in both fiscal 2003 and in the current year. However, the number of employees has been drastically reduced during that same time -- from 883 to 768 people this year.

Currey, who served as a legislator for 16 years before becoming mayor, said during an interview following the announcement that while she intends to streamline the DMV, it is too early to tell if that will mean a further reduction in the number of employees at the agency.

"We are looking for savings and that may mean using technology and the Internet to our advantage," she said.

The DMV also will face numerous management challenges. Earlier this month, an investigation by the attorney general's office concluded that agency officials were lax in investigating apparent violations by one of the state's largest driving schools.

A recent state audit also found problems such double payment of bonuses to employees and failure to suspend licenses or registrations paid for with a bad check. The auditors also said the agency was slow to look into complaints from the public, police agencies and local tax authorities.

In response, the agency announced this week it will start notifying cities and towns when it receives complaints that a resident has registered a vehicle out-of-state to avoid local property taxes.

Currey said cracking down on improper registrations will be a priority. She is currently president of CCM, and has fought at the Capitol against state mandates on cities and towns and to preserve state funding.

Jim Finley, executive director of CCM, said out-of-state registrations are a significant problem. Better enforcement of the current law -- which requires people to register their car after 60 days of moving to the state or if they spend more than six months in the state each year - could bring towns millions in additional revenue, he said.

Finley, who has worked with Currey for years, said has what it takes to transform the DMV.

"She's good at reinventing government and she has a history of convincing other state legislators to jump on board," he said.

A good choice, "About Town" thinks,  by Gov.-elect Malloy: Sullivan's has the heft to get the job done!

Sullivan returns to state government as tax chief

Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
December 29, 2010

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy tapped West Hartford Democrat Kevin B. Sullivan, a former longtime state Senate leader and lieutenant governor, to lead the state's tax agency.

Sullivan, 61, will assume control of the Department of Revenue Services as the new Malloy administration prepares to address what effectively amounts to the largest budget shortfall in state history--a gap Malloy concedes cannot be closed without tax hikes.

"I've known Kevin for years and while he's no longer a public official, that's never stopped his commitment to public service," Malloy said. "As commissioner, Kevin will draw upon his experiences and relationships born out of his time in the legislature to help Connecticut find new and innovative ways in which to collect the money it is due."

The department oversees collection of nearly $13 billion in tax revenues from the General and Transportation funds and processes nearly $1 billion in refunds.  With an annual budget of $66.9 million and a staff about 730 employees, the department also includes Division of Special Revenue, which oversees Indian gaming and the Connecticut Lottery Corp.  More recently the state's tax system has come under scrutiny because of the increasing problems that Connecticut--like most states--is facing collecting taxes tied to Internet transactions.

Though state law requires residents to report on their state income tax returns any sales taxes owed from online transactions, legislators and other state officials have long conceded most residents do not abide by this requirement, either through ignorance or indifference.  Estimates for revenue losses tied to this problem have ranged from $10 million to more than $60 million, though nearly all analyses agree that this problem is growing as online shopping increases in popularity.

Malloy said Connecticut can't afford not to properly enforce all of its existing tax laws, though he declined to discuss any specific proposals to bolster collections.  Malloy must submit a plan in mid-February to close a projected $3.67 billion deficit built into the 2011-12 fiscal year, a gap that is equal to nearly one-fifth of all current state spending.

"We need to collect all of the money that is rightfully owed to the people of Connecticut," he said, adding that the problem was getting a serious review by his staff. "I think what we're looking for is a department that is very proactive but also works with people."

Sullivan quipped that "I do not intend to be the tax man" known only for enforcing tax codes, adding that he also hoped to contribute to be "part of the economic development, job development, jobs creation agenda" of the new Malloy administration."

Malloy praised Sullivan for bringing a wealth of experience to his administration, and predicted he would call upon the new commissioner to assist with other projects "above and beyond the traditional role of commissioner of revenue services."

First elected to the state Senate in 1986, Sullivan served for 18 years, including four terms as president pro tem. A former assistant to the state commissioner of education, Sullivan also served as vice president of Trinity College in Hartford during much of his Senate career.  He had to leave his Senate leadership role in July 2004 when then-Gov. John G. Rowland resigned amid an impeachment inquiry.

In accordance with the state Constitution, Rowland's lieutenant, M. Jodi Rell, became governor, and Sullivan, as president pro tem of the Senate, became her lieutenant. That created an odd dynamic for 18 months as a Republican governor was forced to share an administration with a Democratic lieutenant governor who also was one of the prior administration's most vocal critics.  When Rell was re-elected for a full term in November 2006, her running mate was Stamford Republican Michael Fedele, while Sullivan became president of The Children's Museum in West Hartford.

"I'm honored that Governor-elect Malloy believes my skills and experience will be of use to him in his administration," Sullivan said. "I'm looking forward to stepping back into public service on behalf of the people of the state of Connecticut."

Sullivan is married to Dr. Carolyn Thornberry, a former West Hartford town councilor who was recently elected that community's Democratic registrar of voters.

Geragosian and Ward named new state auditors
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
December 28, 2010

For the first time in nearly two decades, state government will start the year with a new team of fiscal and programmatic watchdogs with Tuesday's naming of Democrat John C. Geragosian and Republican Robert M. Ward as the auditors of public accounts.

Geragosian's appointment also opens another key position in the legislature: The New Britain lawmaker currently serves as co-chairman of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee. Sources said the post will go to veteran Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven.

The new auditors, who still must be confirmed by the full legislature, will replace the retiring Robert G. Jaekle and Kevin P. Johnston, who have served as the Republican and Democratic auditors, respectively, since 1993.

Though Ward's endorsement as the new GOP auditor had leaked out earlier this month, Democrats had been quiet as sources said both Geragosian - an eight-term representative and co-chairman of appropriations for the last two years - and Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr. of Brooklyn both were rumored to be interested in the Democratic slot.

Williams and House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, announced the new auditors today in a joint statement also issued by the House and Senate Minority Leaders, Republicans Lawrence F. Cafero of Norwalk and John McKinney of Fairfield.

"The auditor's position requires individuals of high integrity and a thorough understanding of financial matters," Donovan said. "I can't think of a person who better exhibits those characteristics than John Geragosian, who served the General Assembly with distinction for many years."

"John has always been a fair-minded legislator and he will make an excellent state auditor," Williams said. "I'd also like to thank outgoing state auditors Kevin Johnston and Robert Jaekle for their years of fair-minded and dedicated service."

Geragosian said he hopes to place a strong emphasis on performing additional programmatic audits and on attacking a growing backlog of state employee whistleblower complaints.

The legislature's Program Review and Investigations Committee reported in December 2009 that the whistleblower process is inefficient and unable to handle an annual caseload that more than doubled between 2002 and 2008.

The auditors' office routinely processes between 80 and 90 cases each year of corrupt and illegal practices, mismanagement, and dangers to public safety, the report found. But nearly 200 cases were backlogged when the December 2009 report was issued, including 29 that were more than two years old.

"I think fiscal constraints have diminished the auditors' ability to deal with these areas over time," Geragosian said, adding that these priorities would mesh well with Gov.-elect Dan Malloy's stated desire to enhance government transparency.

The auditors currently oversee an annual budget of $13.4 million and a staff of 117 employees.

Cafero called Ward "the consummate public servant who over the years gained the trust and confidence on both sides of the aisle. Bob has always commanded the utmost respect from his colleagues. He will prove to be a great choice for this critical position."

"Bob's record of public service and reputation for fairness and hard work are beyond reproach," McKinney added. "He will be an effective watchdog for Connecticut's taxpayers, helping to assure sound fiscal management of all state agencies and assets at this critical time when we all must work to reduce the size and cost of state government to close our budget deficits."

The longest-serving Republican House leader in Connecticut history, Ward retired from the legislature after 22 years in 2006 and was named commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles by Gov. M. Jodi Rell in January 2007.

"I'm honored by this and I take it very seriously," Ward said Tuesday, adding that in tough fiscal times "it is increasingly important that the auditors look for issues of waste, fraud and inappropriate spending."

The auditors' posts are two of Connecticut's oldest, dating back over 200 years. A relatively small office within the legislative branch, the auditors review the books and accounts for state agencies, boards, commissions, state-supported institutions and quasi-public entities created by the legislature.

The General Assembly passed an amendment in 1895 requiring that the auditors be from separate political parties. Their compensation is set by the legislature. Jaekle and Johnston earned $219,978 and $216,648, respectively, last year.

But other than the bipartisan rule regarding the two auditors, the statutes are relatively silent on any minimum qualifications the auditors must possess.

Connecticut's auditors have come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

According to legislative researchers, Robert Claffey, who served from 1959 to 1965, owned a store. Raymond Thatcher, who served from 1956 to 1958, was a pharmacist, while Leo Donohue, auditor from 1967 to 1992, was a career state employee.

Though Jaekle and Johnston both were state legislators, Jaekle also is an attorney and Johnston was a banker.

Geragosian has been a Realtor in New Britain for the past 26 years. Ward is an attorney.

Malloy reappoints Pitkin as banking commissioner
Political Mirror
Keith M. Phaneuf

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy reappointed state Banking Commissioner Howard Pitkin on Tuesday to serve in his administration.

A 30-year veteran of the Department of Banking, Pitkin has lead the agency for the past five years.

"Howard Pitkin has had a long, successful tenure ... and I've been impressed with his leadership since becoming commissioner five years ago," Malloy said. "The Connecticut Department of Banking will play a large part in our state's economic recovery and I'm pleased he will continue in this role."

The commissioner administers state laws governing commercial and savings banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, consumer credit, broker-dealers, investment advisers, securities, tender offers and business opportunities.

Pitkin also will continue to oversee the supervision of 40 state-chartered banks and thrifts and 34 state-chartered credit unions. The Banking department has a $20.6 million annual budget and nearly 120 employees.

"I appreciate Governor-elect Malloy's confidence in me, and I'm looking forward to continuing on in my current role under his leadership," Pitkin said. "Connecticut consumers need to have confidence in their banking institutions as we begin to reemerge from the recession and move toward recovery."

Prior to serving as commissioner, Pitkin was chief of administration, which included overseeing the agency's technological initiatives, and restructuring the bank examination and credit union divisions into the financial institutions division.

Pitkin had served on the Conference of State Bank Supervisors and the board of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors.

A graduate of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University, Pitkin also is a veteran of the United States Army Reserve. A resident of South Windsor, Pitkin has two children and three grandchildren.

Also Tuesday, Malloy named three commissioners from Gov. M. Jodi Rell's administration to serve on an interim basis while his staff continues with national job searches.

Peter O'Meara of Developmental Services, Jeffrey Parker of Transportation and Michael Starkowski of Social Services will continue to head their respective departments when Malloy takes office on Jan. 5.

Malloy names Farm Bureau head as agriculture commissioner

Jacqueline Rabe, CT MIRROR
December 28, 2010

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy has selected Steven K. Reviczky, who has been the voice for Connecticut's 4,000 farmers for the last five years at the Capitol, as the state's commissioner of agriculture.

Currently the executive director of the Connecticut Farm Bureau and a farmer in Coventry himself, Reviczky is versed in the issues facing the state's agriculture community, including attempts to ban outdoor wood furnaces, regulating water-flow for reservoir owners and the severe drop in the number of dairy farmers in the state.

Lawmakers are gearing up now to propose once again banning outdoor wood-burning furnaces statewide, but Reviczky opposes a ban. He says wood harvesting is a form of farming and a ban would eliminate the market.

As agriculture commissioner, Reviczky will also be at the center of brokering a compromise on water flow rules. Earlier this month the state Department of Environmental Protection proposed requiring dam operators to release water to maintain river and stream water levels. But agriculture interests are among those opposing the DEP's rules, saying they would prevent farmers from being able to draw water for their crops during the summer months when water levels are low.

Also at the top of Reviczky's agenda in the continuing months is renewing a state subsidy given to dairy farmers in the state to help them pay their bills. That subsidy is set to expire in July.

Prior to his time at the non-profit farm bureau, Reviczky led the state agriculture department's review of applications for grants through the Farmland Preservation Program. He also led the drafting of Connecticut's proposals for funding under the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program. Reviczky is a former First Selectman in Ashford. He graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a degree in Public Policy and Government.

George Jepsen, AG-elect in CT - former State Senator from Stamford-Darien

Jepsen Sees AG Job As Ally Of Business
By Greg Bordonaro,
27 December 2010

When Attorney General-Elect George Jepsen takes office next month he knows he won’t have a direct role in job creation.

But that doesn’t mean the 56-year-old former state lawmaker can’t help improve Connecticut’s business climate. And that’s exactly what he said he intends to do.

Attorney General-elect George Jepsen says his approach won’t be to “shoot first and ask questions later.” In an interview with the Hartford Business Journal, Jepsen said one of his top priorities when he’s sworn into office Jan. 5 will be opening up a direct line of communication with the business community. He said his office needs to better educate businesses on where the lines in the legal sand will be drawn.

And taking businesses to court won’t be his first priority.

“I’m not a person who is going to shoot first and ask questions later,” said Jepsen, who describes himself as a problem solver by nature. “I’m not a litigator of first resort; I’m a litigator of last resort. While there are some moral and civil rights issues where I take a very hard stance and see things in very stark terms of right and wrong, I find in the real world — and especially the business world — most of the issues aren’t black and white. I try to understand all sides of the issues and get all stakeholders to the table to figure out how to solve the problem.”

During the campaign, Jepsen said he heard a lot of frustrations from the business community, including that businesses often learn they are on the wrong side of the law only after an enforcement action is taken against them. He wants to change that.

He also wants his office to better distinguish between businesses that inadvertently step over that line and the business that has a culture of playing close to the line, and going over it whenever it can get away with it.

“Businesses want the bad guys put away because they can’t compete with cheats,” Jepsen said.

Some critics, including Jepsen’s Republican campaign opponent Martha Dean, have accused the attorney general’s office of being business unfriendly and overly litigious in recent years.

Jepsen said that perception is overblown, and that outgoing Attorney General Richard Blumenthal did a lot to protect consumers and businesses. He noted that 97 percent of the 54,000 cases the AG’s office deals with annually are nondiscretionary, where the state is playing defense. Only 3 percent of cases involve the state proactively suing someone, and most of those cases are initiated by executive branch agencies.

Still, Jepsen said, he will bring his own style and approach to the job.

When asked how he will be different than Blumenthal, Jepsen said his background as a lawmaker and lawyer has made him more of a negotiator and mediator than a litigator. He said he’s not afraid to litigate if he has to, but his general approach is “to try to understand the nuance of why a problem exists and work it out.”

And although he shares many of Blumenthal’s values, he’s not as likely to seek the spotlight as much as his predecessor either. One early example of that: he’s reducing the size of the office’s press staff.

“I would make as a matter of confident prediction that you will see a lot less of me in the press,” Jepsen said.

Jepsen’s tone demonstrates just how far Connecticut’s public figures — even those with limited roles in economic development or job creation — are going to help reverse the perception that the state is anti-business.

Although new to the attorney general’s office, Jepsen is a household name in Connecticut’s legal and political landscape. George Jepsen is credited with helping reform the state’s workers comp system.He is a Harvard Law grad and served 16 years in the state legislature representing Stamford, first as a state representative, and then as a state senator. He spent six years as the majority leader.

John Rathgeber, the CEO of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, said Jepsen has always taken a balanced approach when it comes to working with the business community. He remembers, for example, the role Jepsen played as a state lawmaker in helping pass sweeping workers compensation reform in 1993, a measure that helped to reduce costs for employers.

Democrats including Jespen, who used to work as a lawyer for the carpenters’ union, took heat from organized labor as a result of their support for the law.

“George understands the importance of private sector investment,” Rathgeber said. “He sees himself as a problem solver and someone who can bring people together.”

In terms of policy issues, Jepsen said implementing the Dodd — Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will be among his top priorities. He said attorneys general are going to be deputized to enforce many of the consumer protections under the law, especially related to predatory lending and mortgage fraud.

And he wants to move aggressively in both of those problem areas.

He also said the state needs to be more aggressive in helping homeowners who face foreclosure, including strengthening loan modification programs. If that means making more banks take a hair cut on a loan, rather than absorb a foreclosed property that will likely be sold below market value, he’s open to the idea.

“The quicker we can sensibly move our way through homes that are underwater or are being foreclosed, the sooner property values will once again rise, which will have a positive impact on the economy,” Jepsen said.

Working with the Department of Public Utility Control, the attorney general also has a direct role in prompting energy conversation, something Jepsen said he will push extremely hard. He said there are several conversation programs that need to be expanded, including initiatives that help individuals and businesses underwrite efforts like insulating a facility or weather-stripping doors.

Jepsen also wants to crack down on businesses that misclassify employees as independent contractors, and speed up the time it takes for the state to issue permits and contracts.

“I think I want the public faces of Connecticut to be welcoming to businesses and I’m going to look for ways to work with them,” Jepsen said.

Malloy reappoints Rehmer to lead DMHAS

By Arielle Levin Becker, CT MIRROR
Dec 23, 2010 4:57pm

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy has reappointed Patricia Rehmer to serve as commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, a post she has held since last year.

Rehmer joined the agency in 1999 and served as deputy commissioner from 2004 to 2009. A nurse by training, Rehmer has also worked at the Institute of Living and served as CEO of the Capitol Region Mental Health Center.

"Commissioner Rehmer has been a leader in the fields of mental health and addiction services throughout her career, and I'm pleased that she and I will be working together to help those citizens in Connecticut who need our help the most," Malloy said in a statement released by his transition team. "Particularly because the population she serves relies on the continuity of service and programs DMHAS provides, I'm glad that she and I have a shared vision for the department and will continue her tenure uninterrupted."

In a statement, Rehmer said, "I appreciate Governor-Elect Malloy's confidence in me as he takes office and begins to implement his own vision and ideas for the state. Working together I believe that we will continue to provide these essential services for those in our state very much in need. In these difficult times, we cannot forget those who need our help the most."

News of Rehmer's reappointment drew praise from advocates for people the department serves.

"We're more than pleased," said Alicia Woodsby, public policy director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Connecticut. "People feel comfortable with her and they really feel like she's listening and cares about our needs."

Terry Edelstein, CEO of the Connecticut Community Providers Association, which represents groups that serve people with disabilities, substance abuse, mental illness, and disabilities, called Rehmer "a responsive and conscientious partner with community providers and the people they serve."

"Some of the things that have happened in the past year are very promising," Edelstein said.

Those include converting state-administered general assistance, which served many people with addictions, into a Medicaid program, allowing the state to receive federal reimbursement and more people to enroll. Edelstein also cited DMHAS' role in the state's highly regarded behavioral health partnership.

In announcing Rehmer's reappointment, the Malloy transition team noted Rehmer's effort to maximize federal resources. That's something she will likely need to do more of as the state grapples with a massive budget deficit, said Sheila Amdur, a National Alliance on Mental Illness board member and a former member of the DMHAS state advisory board.

Mental health departments across the country are facing the prospect of budget cuts, but Amdur said DMHAS has some advantages because Connecticut has not used Medicaid to finance all the services it could. Making better use of Medicaid program options could bring the state more federal funds, she said.

Amdur praised Rehmer for embracing community-based services and focusing on program outcomes.

"She has really continued to try to move the department to much more accountable services, more outcome-driven services," she said.

Connecticut has a "pretty well-run" mental health system, but it has holes, including money being spent on prisons and nursing homes for people who could be cared for in the community, Amdur said.

"Pat knows this," Amdur said. "She's open, she's I think very eager to work with a broad range of stakeholders, and that to me is very encouraging."

Malloy taps DeFronzo for DAS commissioner
Ted Mann, NLDAY
Article published Dec 22, 2010

Hartford — Gov.-elect Dan Malloy announced Wednesday that he will make state Sen. Donald DeFronzo, D-New Britain, the new commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services.

DeFronzo will lead an agency that is at the center of some of the structural reforms that Malloy's transition team is contemplating for the state government, the governor-elect said at a news conference at the Legislative Office Building.

"I need his expertise," Malloy said of DeFronzo, who won reelection to a fifth Senate term in November, but will not be sworn in and will join the Malloy administration instead.

Malloy highlighted DeFronzo's previous experience, in addition to his tenure in the legislature, where he has served as co-chairman of the Transportation Committee.

Before serving in the Senate, DeFronzo was the mayor of New Britain, worked for 10 years in the Office of Policy and Management, overseeing federal block grants for human service programs in Connecticut, and later was the executive director of the Human Services Agency of New Britain, the Malloy team said.

"He knows how to stretch a dollar," Malloy said at the news conference, going on to confirm that he and his advisors are considering a number of possible agency consolidations. Those could include merging the Department of Administrative Services with another agency, like the Department of Public Works, or the Department of Information Technology, Malloy said, though final decisions on those discussions have not been announced.

DeFronzo said he was excited by a chance to "reshape and restructure state government."

"I think we've all come to the conclusion that Connecticut can do better, that we need to do better, and that we will do better," DeFronzo said.

In addition to DeFronzo, Malloy has selected two powerful legislators — Judiciary Committee co-chairs Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, and Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven — to join his administration.
McDonald who was corporation counsel for the city of Stamford when Malloy was mayor, will serve as legal counsel to the governor. Lawlor, a former state prosecutor and the longtime House chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will become a deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, with a focus on criminal justice and corrections issues.

And contacts.

New Public Health Commissioner Puts An Emphasis On Prevention
Three Months Into The Job, Jewel Mullen Discusses Vision For Public Health
The Hartford Courant
9:00 PM EDT, May 26, 2011

When the Department of Public Health is working well, its new commissioner said, you probably won't notice it.

"When public health is really successful, people don't realize that public health is at work — because we're in the background," said Dr. Jewel Mullen. "I say that public health is like one of our vital organs. It's like your heart: Unless it skips a beat, you don't notice it."

With that philosophy, she took over in February from Dr. J. Robert Galvin, health commissioner since 2003. Mullen, 56, previously was with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, serving as the director of the Bureau of Community Health and Prevention.

She brings with her the same focus on prevention.

"Investing in prevention and public health upfront does a lot more to keep us healthy than intervening after people are sick," she said. "It's one thing for anybody to do smoking cessation, but it's another thing to keep people from smoking in the first place. It's one thing to address all the needs of a low-birthweight child, but it's another thing to address the factors that lead to pre-term deliveries and low-birthweight babies."

To some extent, she said, this effort involves educational programs. But it also involves looking directly at what she calls the "social determinants of health."

"Where people live, their education and their access to services," she said. "All those determinants have a big influence on what their health and well-being are. Public health is increasingly about looking at social determinants and how to address those."

Among those determinants are so-called "food deserts" — low-income areas that don't have a full-service grocery store. All the educational programs about healthy eating aren't going to help if people don't have a place to get food that meets their basic nutritional needs.

"We want to help towns figure out ways to get a supermarket in their community," she said.

During Mullen's tenure in Massachusetts, the public health department faced steep budget cuts, so she braced herself for a difficult state budget in Connecticut, as well. The proposed budget for 2011-12 was a pleasant surprise, she said.

"I felt really fortunate, given the constraints of this budget, that we were not really cut," she said. "If the budget is passed, we will actually have a bit of an increase, so I see that as a commitment both from the executive branch and legislative to public health."

That doesn't mean her department will have an easy time of it financially.

"In general, these are really hard times for public health across the county," she said. "We stand the chance of losing a lot of federal dollars. … The department's funding for public health comes much more from federal monies than from state monies."

Among the most pressing concerns, Mullen said, is the reduction of funds in the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant, which pays for programs that address chronic disease, environmental health and preventive screenings and services. It also funds programs for emergency preparedness.

The state currently receives $1.1 million from the grant program, a $300,000 reduction from the previous fiscal year. And when the new fiscal year begins, she said, "This has the potential to be zeroed out."

She's also crossing her fingers that Connecticut's share of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC, won't be hit too hard. Connecticut now gets $45 million for it, a $3 million reduction from the previous year. Mullen said the amount of the upcoming grant is uncertain.

Mullen, whose annual salary is $170,000, lives in Guilford with her husband, and has two adult children. She is still getting to know the workings of the department, so it's been a lot of meetings since February.

Mullen received her bachelor's degree and master of public health degree from Yale University. Specializing in internal medicine, Mullen began her clinical career with the National Health Service Corps at Bellevue Hospital in New York. She also has been on the medical staffs at the Hospital of St. Raphael and Yale-New Haven Hospital.

It was only a few years ago that she decided to give government work a try. In 2008, she accepted a position in Massachusetts.

"As somebody who looks at systems and tries to figure out how they can serve people, I decided that from the health care delivery side and public side, if I really wanted those systems to work better for people, I should work in government."

It can be difficult, she said.

"When you look at it from the outside, you're really only looking at it from your perspective, but once you start doing the work from the inside, you have a much stronger appreciation for how many different perspectives inform a policy or law," she said. "People criticize government all the time. It's not easy work."

Copyright © 2011, The Hartford Courant

Malloy picks Mass. health official to head state DPH
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
December 17, 2010

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy has selected Dr. Jewel Mullen, a Massachusetts public-health official and a lecturer at Yale University, as the state's commissioner of public health, according to sources. She will be the second woman and second African American selected by Malloy to lead a state agency.

Mullen, the fourth agency head selected so far by Malloy, oversees community health and prevention for the Department of Public Health in Massachusetts, where she also serves as the chronic disease director.

Mullen has bachelor and master of public health degrees from Yale University, a medical degree from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and a master of public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.  Malloy is expected to announce her appointment Monday.  Malloy had pledged during the campaign to promote diversity and increase the number of women in the top ranks of state government.

"I said I would do that," Malloy said earlier this week, as he named Reuben Bradford as the first black commissioner of public safety. "I am doing that."

Teresa Younger, the executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, said she Malloy's transition team is committed to assembling a diverse, qualified administration.

"They are very conscious of this," she said.

Younger said the public should resist keeping score on gender and race until the administration takes form. An NAACP official objected to the racial makeup of Malloy's transition team, even before the names were announced.

"Sometimes people are looking for controversy. They are ready to jump on things that aren't there yet," Younger said.

But the commission will issue a gender and diversity scorecard in March, seeing if Malloy was able to match or exceed his predecessor's success in bringing women in government.  Gov. M. Jodi Rell, only the second woman to become governor in the state, filled 37 percent of her top executive posts with women, including the first woman to oversee the Department of Correction. Younger said that percentage put Connecticut among the top ten states with women in the upper levels of government.

To assist Malloy, the commission solicited resumes from women interested in joing state government and forward the names of 61 female candidates for executive-level positions.

"They are out there," Younger said.

Malloy said earlier this week he was not keeping score.

"We're not keeping score by category. What I'm trying to do is staff immediately and as quickly as possible commissionerships," Malloy said.

His previous department-head appointments are: Ben Barnes, Office of Policy and Management; Supreme Court Justice Joette Katz, Department of Children and Families; and Bradford, Department of Public Safety.

Malloy's inner circle so far consists of men he has known for years, plus his running mate, Nancy Wyman. He has named Timothy F. Bannon as chief of staff, state Sen. Andrew McDonald of Stamford as his legal counsel and Roy Occhiogrosso, his media strategist on two campaigns, as a senior adviser.

While the rest of the State of Connecticut was watching  UCONN...
Top state education official resigns, citing 'stress'
Jacqueline Rabe, CT  MIRROR
December 21, 2010

Saying the stress of the job had become too much, State Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan announced his resignation today, one day after a public outburst that stunned members of a panel appointed to make recommendations on school financing.

"I reached this decision yesterday when I realized that I no longer wanted to do this work and saw all too plainly that the stresses of my job are more than they should be and more than I am willing to accept," McQuillan, 62, wrote in a letter to state Board of Education members and other education officials.

On Monday a panel composed of representatives of unions, businesses, municipalities and education groups met to begin drafting some of their final recommendations on how schools should be financed by the state. McQuillan opened the meeting by saying he wanted to defer that discussion until January.  As various members of the group objected to the delay, McQuillan showed increasing irritation.

"Do you want to run this meeting?" he finally snapped at board chairman Allan Taylor. When Taylor said yes, McQuillan raised his voice and said, "No, I am running this meeting."

He quickly adjourned the meeting and was out the door in seconds, leaving the room of about 30 people stunned.  People familiar with the episode said two events likely contributed to McQuillan's outburst.

One was the fact that Gov.-elect Dan Malloy's transition team for education had scheduled a meeting at the same time McQuillan's group was to convene. The majority of the members of the school finance panel were late because of the transition meeting.  McQuillan also was taken off guard when a group of finance panel members presented him with their own set of recommendations shortly before the meeting began.

Taylor said he was surprised by McQuillan's actions.

"I am sorry it happened that way," he said.

McQuillan has up until today said he intends to lobby to remain the state's education commissioner. McQuillan has been the commissioner for the last four years. His term was set to expire at the end of the year, but the state board members voted to keep him on until Malloy has decided who he wants as the next education leader.  Malloy has said McQuillan is a strong contender for the position but said he is also looking elsewhere to fill the position. During a recent trip to Washington he asked U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan for names of possible candidates.

The final decision will ultimately be up to the 11-member State Board of Education, but Malloy will gets to begin appointing eight of those members when he takes office Jan. 5. McQuillan's resignation is effective the same day.

"I’m focused on working with the State Board of Education to find an interim replacement while the search for a permanent replacement goes on,” Malloy said reacting to McQuillan's decision to step down.

Malloy rounds out top policy and politics jobs
Mark Pazniokas
December 16, 2010

The top public policy and political ranks of Gov.-elect Dan Malloy's administration took shape today with the appointments of his legal counsel and communication strategist, followed hours later by other key posts at the Office of Policy and Management.

Malloy named two close advisers, Roy Occhiogrosso of New Britain and state Sen. Andrew McDonald of Stamford to his senior staff. Deputy Comptroller Mark Ojakian of Hartford, state Rep. Michael P. Lawlor of East Haven, Gian-Carl Casa of Hamden and Anne Foley of West Hartford are filling the other top policy jobs at the Office of Policy and Management.

The appointments of McDonald and Lawlor, the co-chairs of the legislature's judiciary committee, will set off a scramble for two of the higher-profile committee assignments at the State Capitol. Lawlor is the committee's longest-serving co-chair.

Lawlor is one of the legislature's leading opponents of capital punishment. Lawlor and McDonald, who are both openly gay, also helped lead the legislative push to legalize same-sex civil unions and then codify in state law a court decision legalizing gay marriage.

Occhiogrosso, who was Malloy's media adviser for his gubernatorial campaigns in 2006 and 2010, will be the administration's communication strategist. McDonald will be general counsel.

"Roy and Andrew have provided me professional guidance on a number of issues throughout the years, and their acceptance of these offers will allow me to rely on a senior leadership team in my office ripe with experience inside and outside of state government, cognizant of the great challenges that lie ahead for us, and uniquely prepared to deal with them effectively and efficiently," Malloy said in a press statement.

Occhiogrosso, McDonald and Timothy Bannon, the chief of staff, all will report directly to Malloy.

With his inner circle complete, Malloy''s transition office named the four other advisers who will be based at the Office of Policy and Management, which is state government's budget office and often acts as its think tank, providing policy advice directly to the governor's office.

Ojakian, who is now the deputy to Comptroller Nancy Wyman, the incoming lieutenant governor, will be the deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management. Malloy previously had named Ben Barnes, a top aide during his mayoral administration in Stamford, as OPM secretary.

"I'm grateful that these public servants have agreed to join my staff at such a critical juncture in our state's history," Barnes said.

Placing Ojakian at OPM serves at least two purposes: one, it gives Barnes, a newcomer to the Capitol, a deputy well-versed in the political players, as well as fiscal issues; two, it reinforces Malloy's promise that Wyman will play a policy role in the administration. Ojakian is Wyman's closest adviser.

Lawlor, Casa and Foley will be undersecretaries, each overseeing areas of public policy. Lawlor will be the undersecretary for criminal justice, giving him an opportunity to shape Malloy's approach to sentencing and prison issues.

Casa, the top lobbyist for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, will be the undersecretary for legislative affairs. He is a former colleague of Barnes, whom Malloy hired away from CCM to join his mayoral administration.

Foley, who already is a senior policy adviser at OPM, will be the undersecretary for policy development and planning. She has worked at OPM for 23 years.

The vacancies caused by the coming resignations of McDonald and Lawlor will force the first of several special elections. Others are expected.

Rep. John Geragosian, D-New Britain, the co-chairman of the appropriations committee, is a top contender for the job of Democratic state auditor, a post appointed by the House speaker and Senate president pro tem, with the consent of the legislature.

Rep. Jamie Spallone, D-Essex, has been offered a job by Denise Merrill, the incoming secretary of the state.  Legislative leaders have delayed making committee assignments until they see who leaves for the executive branch.

McDonald to ascend to Malloy administration post
Brian Lockhart And Magdalene Perez, Staff Writers
Published: 10:16 p.m., Wednesday, December 15, 2010

STAMFORD -- State Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, handily won a fifth term in November, but will instead return to Hartford in January as counsel to long-time friend Governor-elect Dan Malloy.

Malloy, Stamford's former mayor, announced he will be naming two important appointments Thursday at noon at the city's Government Center, rather than the capitol in Hartford.

Hartford Courant Columnist Kevin Rennie first reported Wednesday afternoon on his blog that McDonald, a Stamford native and long-time Malloy friend and confident, will be named the new governor's top lawyer.

Sources contacted by Hearst Connecticut Media Group supported Rennie's claim.

A Malloy spokesman declined comment and McDonald did not return phone calls.

"If it's true it's a superb choice," said Attorney General-Elect George Jepsen, whom McDonald succeeded in the state Senate in 2003. "Andrew is immensely capable. Works very hard. Has the utmost integrity and, in addition to being an excellent lawyer, has excellent political judgment and knowledge of governmental process. He's about as complete a package for that job as you could possibly find ... He enjoys Dan's complete confidence."

A former Stamford corporation counsel under Malloy, McDonald earned notoriety when, as a freshman legislator, he was made co-chairman of the legislature's powerful Judiciary Committee.

"Regardless of what you think of his politics, Andrew McDonald is a very accomplished attorney," House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, himself a lawyer, said.  Cafero noted McDonald is employed as a litigation partner with Stamford-based Pullman and Comley.

"Pullman is no slouch firm," Cafero said.

Although there has been speculation among political insiders that McDonald, a member of Malloy's transition team, would join the administration, there have been some who thought Malloy would maneuver to elevate his friend to a more powerful role within the state Senate to ensure passage of priority legislation.

"I heard the rumors they were going to find a spot for (Senate President and Brooklyn Democrat) Donald Williams ... and clear the way for Andrew as far as being senate majority leader or president," Cafero said. "And in that way the Malloy/McDonald partnership would take effect, with him being head of one chamber of government."

Asked why an influential senator like McDonald might choose to leave the General Assembly, Jepsen, a one-time senate majority leader, said as Malloy's counsel, McDonald "would be an immensely powerful figure in the administration during what promises to be four of the most important years for determining Connecticut's future course."

The thought of McDonald gaining even more power is sure to worry some of his critics who have been concerned he and Judiciary Committee co-chairman Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, have overstepped their bounds in recent years.  Though fiscally conservative, McDonald is socially liberal and was at the forefront of efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in Connecticut. He has also clashed on numerous occasions with the Catholic Church, most notably in 2009 when his proposal to alter oversight of parish finances ignited a political firestorm and was soon withdrawn.

State Rep. Arthur O'Neill, R-Southbury, a ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, called McDonald "an able chairman" who brought "a fairly rationale approach" to the position and was respectful of his colleagues.

"It makes a lot of sense Governor-elect Malloy might pick someone like Andrew, and being chief counsel to the governor is a tremendous opportunity to influence public policy," O'Neill said. "Obviously Andrew and I have disagreed on a variety of different issues over the years ... As the governor's counsel he will be acting on behalf of the governor and not a completely free agent. He'll have influent ... but I get the distinct impression the new governor has a lot of his own ideas and specifics of how he wants to handle things."

Reached by phone Lawlor declined to comment for this story.  State Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, who, with McDonald, also represents a portion of Darien, said McDonald joining the Malloy administration will be a big win for the governor-elect.

"I know that Dan relies on Andrew and frankly Andrew has a great legal mind," Duff said. "He's been such a good force on the Judiciary Committee and as a legislator. But if he can serve the entire state, I think that's good too."

Duff and McDonald have been voices for Fairfield County on the Transportation Committee. Asked if McDonald's departure will be a loss in that area, Duff said, "I think anybody who takes his seat would still be a strong voice on transportation. And he'd continue to be a strong voice within the administration."

Gary Rose, chairman of the Department of Government and Politics at Sacred Heart University, said it would be a "logical choice" if state representatives in the district run for the seat. Those, excluding the seat won this fall by Republican Michael Molgano, include state Representatives Gerry Fox III, Carlo Leone and Patricia Billie Miller, all Democrats. However, moving from representing a house district of about 29,000 to a senate seat encompassing 90,000 constituents can be a big change, Rose said.

"You're really talking about double the responsibilities in terms of constituent services, in terms of issues," Rose said. "All of a sudden serving in the state senate, it's a whole different dynamic. It's two different worlds in many ways."

Republican Board of Finance member Bob Kolenberg, who ran against McDonald for the senate seat, questioned why McDonald ran for the office if he was going to accept an administration position. But he said he is open to running again.

"I'm not going to say no and I'm not going to say yes but I'd definitely consider it," Kolenberg said. "I'd have to see what kind of support is out there for me."

Democratic City Committee Chairwoman Ellen Camhi said there are "many Democrats that would fit the bill" for a special election, but did not elaborate.

Asked whether he would consider running, Fox said it was too early to comment.

"I'm sure there will be a number of announcements in the next few weeks and I don't want to speculate on what might be," Fox said.

Leone and Miller could not be immediately reached for comment.

Stamford Democratic Registrar of Voters Alice Fortunato said she and her Republican counterpart would have to look into how and when a special election would take place, as there has never been one for a state senate seat during her 12 years serving in the office.

"We'd have to research that, it hasn't happened in my time as registrar," Fortunato said. "Certainly that's a very important position."

Malloy names former trooper public safety commissioner
Ken Dixon, Staff Writer
Published: 11:33 p.m., Wednesday, December 15, 2010

HARTFORD -- A retired state trooper who directs security for the NFL was named Wednesday by Gov.-elect Dan Malloy to be the next commissioner of Public Safety, the first black to hold the position.

Reuben F. Bradford was called a "great and seasoned leader" by Malloy during a noontime news conference. Malloy also said Bradford will make the state police department "sharp and glow."

"It is truly and honor to come full circle," said Bradford, who started his 22-year career with the state police in 1974.

Bradford, who rose to the rank of major in the State Police, will not join the Malloy administration until after the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl early next year.

The current chief of the department, Commissioner James Thomas, has agreed to remain in his current post until then.

Bradford has worked for the NFL for 15 years and is responsible for ensuring games and venues across the country are safe.

The 64-year-old Bradford anticipated retiring next August, but the lure of public service beckoned. He said the commissioner pay is "substantially less" than his current salary.

Bradford, an African-American, who recalled overcoming racism while in the state police, also has a motor-neuron disease that affects his balance.

A state trooper for 22 years, he at one time commanded Troop G when it was based in Westport. Troop G is now located in Bridgeport. Bradford lives in Glastonbury with his wife and three children.

The Department of Public Safety is composed of three divisions: the Division of State Police, the Division of Fire, Emergency and Building Services and the Division of Scientific Services.

As a retired state trooper, Bradford gets a $3,069 monthly pension, according to a state database.

Malloy names state's first black public safety chief
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
December 15, 2010

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy today named Reuben F. Bradford of Glastonbury, the NFL's senior director of security and a retired state police major, as Connecticut's first African-American commissioner of public safety.

Bradford, 64, retired from the police in 1996 after a 22-year career that saw him rise through the ranks from trooper to major, with assignments that included commanding a barracks, two regional districts, the training academy and being the chief of staff.

"He has a great understanding of the needs of the department, has been an insider and an outsider and is prepared I think to be an extraordinary commissioner for this department," Malloy said at a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

Bradford said Malloy was offering him a rare opportunity to end his career where it began.

"It's not often that you get a chance to come full circle," Bradford said. "It is truly an honor."

Bradford, who has been with the NFL for nearly 15 years, will not join the Malloy administration until after the football season concludes. Public Safety Commissioner James Thomas has agreed to remain in office until Bradford is available, Bradford said.

The commissioner of public safety is a civilian post with responsibility for the state police, the state crime lab, the state fire marshal's office and state building inspector.

Bradford will assume command of an agency that was the subject of a scathing investigative report in December 2006 about shortcomings in its internal affairs division. Its crime lab suffered from a backlog that drew Malloy's attention during his campaign.

A year ago, the lab had more than 10,000 DNA samples from convicted criminals that had yet to be processed and entered into the DNA registry, but the administration of Gov. M. Jodi Rell says all the samples have been entered since the state used $1 million in federal stimulus money to hire forensic examiners. The lab still has a smaller backlog of DNA investigation for open criminal cases.

In March 2008, Gov. M. Jodi Rell said that all pending internal affairs investigations referenced in the 2006 report had been completed.

"The Department of Public Safety is on the right track in transforming the internal affairs process," Rell said.  "We want the State Police Internal Affairs unit to be a model for the rest of the nation in promoting integrity within the department, and I am pleased with the progress that is being made."

At various times, the state police also have been subject to allegations of racial discrimination. Asked if he ever had faced discrimination in his state police career, Bradford replied without hesitation, "Yes, but it was overcome." He did not elaborate.

"I've selected someone who I think will make the department sharp and glow. He will not be subject to political pressures from my office. I was very clear," Malloy said.

Asked about the best and worst elements of the department's culture, Bradford said the ethic of public service was the best. "I really can't come up with a worst-case scenario," he said.

As the security chief for the NFL, Bradford traveled widely, helping to coordinated security for major events such as the Super Bowl. He had just flown back for his press conference on a red-flight from meetings in Hawaii.

Bradford has a neurological disorder, ataxia, that affects motor control and sometimes leaves him unsteady on his feet, especially when fatigued. He mentioned the disorder during the press conference. In some people, ataxia also can affect speech.

The return to public service will cost him a significant pay cut, but it will keep him close to family in Connecticut. He is married and the father of three.

Bradford is Malloy's fourth major appointment. He is the governor-elect's first minority appointment.

He previously has named Timothy Bannon as chief of staff, Ben Barnes as budget chief, and state Supreme Court Justice Joette Katz as commissioner of the Department of Children and Families. Other appointments are expected this week and next, but Malloy has ordered a national search to fill other jobs.

Malloy tells labor he'll 'protect the most vulnerable' from budget cuts
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
December 16, 2010

MERIDEN -- For those state employees who are worried how Dan Malloy's plans to solve the state budget crisis will affect them, the Democratic governor-elect cautiously reminded them Wednesday night that it could be worse: Republican Tom Foley could have won the election.

Malloy, who was greeted loudly and enthusiastically at the Connecticut Working Families Party's winter awards dinner, also thanked the public- and private-sector labor groups behind the party for the crucial role they played in securing his narrow win on Election Day.  His warm reception at the labor gathering came just a day after a business group, the MetroHartford Alliance, applauded Malloy's pledge to improve the business climate in the state by balancing the budget and providing the stability needed to promote economic development.

But the governor-elect reasserted Wednesday that fixing the state's fiscal problems would not be at the expense of Connecticut's neediest and most vulnerable citizens.

"How bad would it be for the people we embrace... if we had not accomplished what we had accomplished on Election Day?" Malloy told a crowd of about 150 gathered at the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center. "We in Connecticut stood up on a principled basis and said we care about our fellow human being."

Foley had frustrated Malloy throughout the campaign by insisting he could close the largest budget deficit in state history -- a projected $3.67 billion budget gap-- without raising taxes.  Malloy never referred to his chief gubernatorial rival by name, nor did he refer to Foley's no-tax-hike pledge directly, saying only that the campaign was marked by "people saying what they never should have said."

Foley had said he would seek major concessions from state employees and would consider trimming state social services to close the deficit. And while Malloy repeatedly said "we're not going to shred the safety net," he generally was more vague about the prospect of seeking wage- and benefit-givebacks.

The next governor was gracious and appreciative Wednesday in his 10-minute address to the Working Families Party, whose member unions played a key role in delivering Malloy huge margins of victory in Connecticut's urban centers while Foley was capturing most other communities across the state.

"We're all part of one big family," said Malloy, who arrived with running mate Nancy Wyman. "We wouldn't be here without all of the hard work of the people in this room. I know that. I appreciate it."

The party honored Carmen Boudier, president of New England Health Care Employee Workers Union, District 1199, and Malloy hailed her as "a great leader" and advocate for "people who have been forgotten in society... who care for the sickest."

Malloy said that he would take a physician's approach to the budget crisis, following the foremost principle behind the Hippocratic Oath: "We should do no harm."

"Some way, along the way," he added, "we have to protect the most vulnerable among us."

Pledging to break from past Republican administrations that have clashed loudly and at times bitterly with public-sector unions, Malloy again emphasized his willingness to consider all labor proposals to reshape government.

"We're going to talk to more people," he said. "We're going to be in more places. No one is going to be shut out."

Malloy wasn't alone in offering a glass-is-half-full outlook to the difficult budget solutions Connecticut must face.

"I know we all have breathed a big sigh of relief" when Malloy won on an Election Day when Democrats lost the governor's office in many other states, said Julie Kushner, president of the United Auto Workers Region 9A, one of two party leaders who introduced Malloy. "The rest of the country went right down the tubes."

Working Families Party Director Jon Green said afterward he believes many party members recognize that Malloy's fiscal choices are limited.

"There's rhetoric and there's reality and the reality is the state is in a very deep hole," Green said.

But the party leader also was careful with his comments, making it clear that organized labor believes it also is one of the new governor's highest priorities. "I believe the governor's remarks tonight were a reminder on how important it is to have a leader in this state who recognizes the important role working families play in our economy."

Malloy consistently has endorsed one of the party's highest legislative proposals, mandating paid sick leave for part-time workers.  Legislation defeated last year would have required companies employing more than 50 workers and not already providing any paid time off to allow them to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the state's chief business lobby, has said that regardless of whether this proposal would impact a significant number of companies, it would break ground no other state has stirred up yet, and send a dangerous anti-business message.  During an interview after his address, Malloy, who also has said Connecticut must carefully monitor its tax policies against those of competing states, said he doesn't believe mandating paid sick leave for part-time workers would contradict that principle.

"I think it will benchmark us, but in the right category," he said, adding it would demonstrate Connecticut's commitment to healthy, safe working environments that protect both workers and consumers.

"I'm willing to talk with anyone," he said. "We can still talk about the details. But people shouldn't come to work sick."

Malloy vows to tackle fiscal mess ignored by Rell, legislators
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
December 9, 2010

In increasingly blunt talk about the state's fiscal crisis, Governor-elect Dan Malloy says his Republican predecessor, M. Jodi Rell, and the Democrat-controlled legislature clung to futile hopes for a quick economic recovery instead of making long-needed structural changes to Connecticut's operations and finances.

"They should've been done earlier. They should have been done by the governor," Malloy said in an interview with The Mirror in his transition office at the State Capitol. "They should have been done by the legislature. Now I have to do them."

Malloy offered a view of the state's multi-year fiscal crisis that is sharply at odds with his fellow Democrat, House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan of Meriden, who has largely blamed the crisis on the recession and resisted calls for sweeping changes.

In public speeches and private conversations, Malloy said he is making the case that legislators are wrong if they believe Connecticut can take stop-gap measures and then wait for a rebounding economy to erase a deficit of more $3.5 billion

"They had the hope that this recession would be like other recessions, that the recovery would be well under way right now," Malloy said. "Now, I never agreed with that. I never supported that."

Despite his blunt language, Malloy said he is casting no blame or criticism at anyone who has been hoping that an economic recovery would save the state from painful spending cuts and tax increases, a pattern followed after most previous recessions.

"It doesn't mean that they were evil, it just means that they were wrong," Malloy said.

Rell proposed a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 that guaranteed the next governor would face a deficit. Her proposed $18.9 billion budget for the 2011 fiscal year was based on $2.7 billion in one-shot revenue, including federal stimulus dollars, reserve funds and borrowing against future revenue.  In a speech Monday to the House Democratic majority, Malloy said he wanted to acknowledge that many Democrats have pinned their hopes on a recovery. But they must embrace a tougher reality, he said.

"We've got to turn the corner on that, and our aspirations are undoubtedly going to be delayed. Those were two very pointed messages," Malloy said.

Other than acknowledging he intends to propose a mix of new taxes and spending cuts, Malloy has declined to spell out what he means by structural changes. The details will come in his first budget proposal in February, a month after he takes office as Connecticut's first Democratic governor in 20 years.  Donovan, who is completing his first term as speaker, resisted calls for fundamental changes in the state's budget this year, saying that a combination of federal stimulus money and an improving economy could get the state through the crisis.

"Unfortunately, Dan wasn't the governor then," Donovan said Wednesday. "Now, we're going to make those changes."

Donovan said state revenues have picked up, but not enough to offset rising costs for Medicaid and other services. With the Republican takeover of the U.S. House, Donovan said he no longer is expecting more federal help.

"That's a big change. We need to react to that change," he said.

In an interview late last February, Donovano did not accept that government must downsize or that the state needs to renegotiate state employee benefits to reduce the state's unfunded liability for pensions and retiree heath costs.

"I think in some ways government is the whipping boy for other structural changes that have to take place," Donovan said then. "The Obama administration is right to look at health care. That's a major cost."

Donovan said unwarranted negativity is itself a drag on the economy.

"I think some people, constituencies hurt themselves by trying to make this worse. They don't look for the silver lining," Donovan said in the February interview. "They look for the most negative thing. In some ways putting out that attitude, throughout the state, throughout business, throughout the community, it hurts our recovery."

Malloy said Donovan was hardly alone in viewing the recession as something the state could merely outlast.

"In fact, I think all but a handful of people in that room fall into that category. They are not bad people," Malloy said of the House Democratic majority he addressed Monday at the Hartford Hilton. "It means that they were optimistic. They were overly optimistic."

Malloy said he was not being critical of what failed to happen in the past; he is trying to focus the legislature and public on what must happen today.

"I have to acknowledge that no one acted out of malice. That's my message. It's not that I'm being critical of other people. I was acknowledging their good intentions."

After Malloy addressed the House Democrats at a luncheon retreat Monday at a hotel in downtown Hartford, Donovan stood next to the incoming governor and pledged a partnership.

"We're looking forward to working with the governor, facing the deficit squarely and saying, what do we have to do? What are the ideas?" Donovan said.

"There's going to be disagreements," he said, standing outside a room where most of 101 Democrats in the House had just applauded Malloy."There are disagreement among the 100 people in that room right there, but we have dialogue."

Lt. Gov.-elect Nancy Wyman: 'We might as well face the problems' (Keith M. Phaneuf).  Like pulling teeth?

Conversion to GAAP means kicking bad fiscal habits
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
November 23, 2010

It's the budgetary day of reckoning that state officials have avoided for nearly two decades.

But when Gov.-elect Dan Malloy attempts to convert state financing to generally accepted accounting principles starting next year, it's likely to mean more than paying for over $1 billion in papered-over problems from the past.  For a legislature that initially mandated GAAP conversion in 1993--and has postponed it repeatedly since 1995--it will mean immediately swearing off an array of fiscal gimmicks that has enabled it to balance a series of budgets with hundreds of millions of dollars in phantom savings and creative accounting.

"The fact is that the gimmicks are gone," said Lt. Gov.-elect Nancy Wyman, who has spearheaded the push to follow GAAP rules since she became comptroller in 1995. "While we're facing our new problems, we might as well face the problems we avoided previously."

According to the Government Accounting Standards Board, that means following a series of common financial guidelines--already imposed on Connecticut cities and towns--that emphasize transparency.  Unlike the modified cash basis currently used, under GAAP expenses must be promptly assigned to the year in which they were incurred. Similarly, revenues are counted in most situations in the year in which they were received.

In the context of the state budget, that means no more pushing the last monthly payment for nursing homes from June 30 to July 1--a move that artificially helps to balance the books by shifting state expenses from the last day of one fiscal year into the first day of the next.  Similarly, other Medicaid expenses incurred in one year and paid in the next can't be recorded as part of a future budget.  And tax revenues accrued at summer's end no longer can be drawn back into the prior fiscal year.

At first glance that appears harmless. If an extra payment to nursing homes was added in July, at the start of a given year, wasn't it offset at year's end, when the June 30th payment was similarly pushed into the future, and so on?  The problem with this never-ending shifting theory is inflation, which always leaves the future inheriting a somewhat higher cost.

According to calculations by the comptroller's office in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, these gimmicks have gradually amassed a sizable spread between the budget set under the modified cash system and a budget that adheres to GAAP.  Since 2003, that difference has risen annually by an average of $85 million. By the end of 2008-09 fiscal year it had grown beyond $1.35 billion.  Though Malloy pledged to sign an executive order directing all agencies to begin converting to GAAP rules immediately after he is sworn in on Jan. 5, untangling this fiscal mess could take some time.

Agencies traditionally work for three months or more preparing their budget requests, and the respective plans for 2011-12 from more than 60 departments, boards, commissions and offices already have been submitted.  That means Malloy's first biennial budget proposal due in February, which will cover the 2011-12 and 2012-13 fiscal years, likely would have to wait until the second stage to operate under GAAP finances from start to finish.

The more immediate challenge for Malloy simply will be not making the GAAP margin worse as he tries to close a deficit which could run as high as $3.7 billion in 2011-12, equal to about one-fifth of current spending and one-half of all annual receipts from the state income tax.  Though the new governor's first budget still is under development, Wyman said the incoming administration is committed to beginning the conversion and stopping the cumulative GAAP margin from getting any worse. That would mean Malloy, in addition to closing what effectively equals the largest deficit in state history, also would have to find about $85 million or more in offsetting spending reductions or new revenues.

"Dan understands this will be hard, but this whole budget will be hard," Wyman said. "But this has got to be transparent. People have to understand what is going on. We call it honest budgeting."

But what about the $1 billion-plus difference that ultimately must be addressed? A 1994 study by the Office of Policy and Management suggested closing a much-smaller GAAP margin at that time by making annual payments into a separate fund for 15 years, using that and the fund's interest earnings to complete the conversion.  Wyman declined to speculate whether Malloy would expect state government to begin whittling that $1 billion-plus margin down right away, noting that the legislature's plate already would be filled addressing a huge deficit and the first stage of GAAP conversion. But she did predict Malloy would propose a long-range strategy for finishing the job.

Malloy made the GAAP conversion one of the cornerstones of his platform, vowing to veto any budget that did not begin the changeover. His promise to adopt strict budgetary standards sparked considerable speculation over whether his fellow Democrats, who have controlled both chambers of the legislature since 1997, would be willing to give up their fiscal leeway.  Rep. John Geragosian, D-New Britain, co-chairman of the Appropriations Committee, predicted his fellow Democrats would adopt a GAAP conversion "in some form" in 2011.

"We've all heard about the deficit and we all know what the nature of the problem is," he said. "I think it's always good to know where you stand."

But Rep. Craig A. Miner of Litchfield, ranking House Republican on the Appropriations Committee, noted that when outgoing Gov. M. Jodi Rell warned of a potential $46 million gap in federal funding for the winter heating assistance program, legislators opted neither to scale back the program nor appropriate additional funds.

"If that was any indication, it might (not?) be happen right away," he said.

Malloy unveils transition team
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
November 22, 2010

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy unveiled a 22-member transition team Monday that includes officials from state and municipal government, representatives of business, labor and the private, nonprofit community, political consultants and several individuals from a racial or ethnic minority background.

Malloy made the announcement two days after being publicly accused by the Connecticut chapter of the NAACP of lacking diversity within his transition effort--a charge the Malloy team quickly countered was unfounded.

"I've chosen people from public and private life, Republicans and Democrats, and those who have participated in state government before--as well as those who never have," the governor-elect said in a written statement. "I'm confident that the people selected will help me find the best and brightest hires for positions within my administration and make sure we get off to a strong start."

Malloy announced shortly after Election Day that Timothy F. Bannon of Manchester, head of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and holder of several key posts in former Gov. William A. O'Neill's administration, would be his chief of staff, and that Bannon and Lt. Gov.-elect Nancy Wyman would co-chair the transition effort.

Several of those appointed have strong backgrounds in state government.

Lorraine M. Aronson, who is Bannon's wife, is a former chief financial officer for the University of Connecticut, is a former deputy budget director under Govs. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. and John G. Rowland, and commissioner of the Department of Income Maintenance--the forerunner of the Department of Social Services - under O'Neill.

Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford has served eight years in the legislature and co-chairs the powerful Judiciary Committee.

Former Superior Court Judge Kathryn Emmert of Stamford also is a past president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers' Association.

Mark Ojakian has served as deputy comptroller since 1995.

A former mayor of Stamford for 14 years, Malloy named three mayors, Pedro Segarra of Hartford, Adam Salina of Berlin and Scott Jackson of Hamden, to the transition.

Among the business and labor leaders Malloy tapped are: Northeast Utilities senior vice president Greg Butler; Juanita James, the recently retired chief marketing and communications officer for Pitney Bowes Inc.; Johnna Torsone, general counsel at Pitney Bowes; longtime state AFL-CIO President John W. Olsen; Ben Cozzi, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 478; and Shawn Wooden, a partner with Day Pitney LLP and formerly an official with the national AFL-CIO's investment office.

Malloy also appointed Joseph McGee of Fairfield, a former state economic development commissioner and currently a vice president for the Business Council of Fairfield County.

Having pledged in the last campaign to protect Connecticut's social service safety net, Malloy named several individuals from the private, nonprofit community to assist with the transition, including, Marilda Gandara, who has held leadership roles with several groups including the Hispanics in Philanthropy Funders Collaborative, which raised over $50 million for Latino-linked nonprofits; Linda Kelly, president of the Hartford Foundation for Giving; Len Miller, co-founder of the Nonprofit Collaborative Alliance; and Sanford Cloud Jr., chairman of the Connecticut Health Foundation.

Malloy also reached into his most recent campaign and his 2006 gubernatorial run for political advice.

Roy Occhiogrosso, a partner with the Global Strategy Consulting Group and senior advisor to the 2010 campaign, was chosen, as was Chris Cooney, Malloy's campaign manager in 2006 and president of The Wilmark Group, a marketing consulting firm.

"These teams reflect the diversity of opinion, experience, political party, and cultural background that make Connecticut the great state it is," Malloy added.

The governor-elect was chastised Saturday by the Connecticut NAACP, which released a list of nine individuals--all of whom are white--that it believed were involved in the transition effort, adding it reflected a "shameful" lack of diversity.

But the Malloy transition quickly responded Saturday that half of the names were incorrect, that the transition team would be diverse, and that it still was a few days away from being announced.

The group Malloy announced today includes eight individuals who are African-American or Hispanic. Segarra, a native of Puerto Rico, is Hartford's first openly gay mayor.

Connecticut NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile could not be reached for comment immediately after the Malloy team was announced on Monday.

Supreme Court justice to head troubled child welfare agency
Mark Pazniokas and Jacqueline Rabe
November 30, 2010

Governor-elect Dan Malloy today turned to Justice Joette Katz of the Connecticut Supreme Court to lead the Department of Children and Families, a troubled agency that has been under court supervision since 1991.

Katz, 57, is giving up a seat on the state's highest court to take over an agency that has frustrated efforts by three gubernatorial administrations to escape the oversight of the U.S. District Court.  The choice announced today during a press conference in Hartford was a political blockbuster by a governor-elect who has enjoyed offering surprising choices to populate his new administration.

Katz brings to the job a reputation for a first-rate intellect, but no experience in running a major bureaucracy. Prior to going on the bench, she was the chief of legal services for the Office of the Public Defender.
Malloy said Katz, who also serves as the administrative judge for the appellate courts, has significant management experience in the judicial system, but he made clear he was most interested in bringing a keen mind and an outsider's perspective to a difficult job.

"Quite frankly, I'm hiring a pretty smart person right now," Malloy said.

Katz called her new appointment, which is subject to confirmation by the General Assembly, "my most important challenge."

She said Connecticut should be grateful to the advocates who first filed suit during the administration of Gov. William A. O'Neill to demand improvements in DCF, which has been subject to court oversight since the administration of O'Neill's successor, Lowell P. Weicker Jr.

"The DCF today is not the same DCF that it was," Katz said. "Having said that, however, it is clear to me that it is not the DCF that it can be."

Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Christopher Droney refused a request by the administration of Gov. M. Jodi Rell to end court oversight, the latest reminder of the difficulties of bringing the child-welfare agency up to national standards.  In response to a reporter's question, Katz dryly acknowledged she was giving up a "monastic" life on the court for the rough and tumble life of running an agency that often invites the harsh glare of the media.

"You mean, have I seen my psychiatrist this morning?"  she said, smiling.

She was appointed to the Superior Court by O'Neill in 1989 and became the state's youngest justice at age 39 in 1992 with her appointment by Weicker to the Supreme Court. She was reappointed by Gov. John G. Rowland and Rell.  Once justices are confirmed for an initial eight-term term, by tradition they are reappointed every eight years until retirement, an effective lifetime appointment. Katz could think of no one who had left the court for another career.

Jamey Bell, the executive director of Connecticut Voices for Children, called Katz a “brilliant choice” to lead DCF.

“It takes the precisely right person, and I think this choice is the best shot we’ve had in a long time to bring this agency up to where it should be,” said Bell, who rushed to the announcement from another meeting at the Legislative Office Building.  Among the agency's failings, according to a court-appointed monitor, were inadequate health and dental services, as well as delays in moving children from state institutions to foster care.

“We don’t have a scarcity of foster parents. We have enough if we could just retain them,” Bell said.

Bell and Malloy have also said the state’s inability to comply with the consent decree is not from a lack of money – the agency has a $865 million budget for the current year.

“Money is not the barrier, retaining foster parents is,” Bell said.

Martha Stone, one of the lawyers behind the class-action lawsuit that led to federal oversight, said she knows from her professional dealings with Katz that "she is not going to tolerate bureaucracy hindering progress. ... She has absolutely got her eyes on the prize. She wouldn't have left a job with as much prestige unless she is dedicated."

Stone also said Malloy's selection is "unique" from any other previous DCF commissioner.

"It's definitely a different kind of appointment from what we've seen because she doesn't have a child welfare background. That will make it that much more important who her team is made up of," Stone said. "I think she is going to get the job done."

Betty Gallo, who was a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union when it helped bring the DCF suit, complimented Malloy for "a best-and-brightest" approach to his initial appointments.

"This augers well," Gallo said.

Katz is an honors graduate of Brandeis University and the University of Connecticut Law School.  She was a public defender from 1978 to 1983 and the chief of legal services for the Office of the Public Defender from 1983 until she became a judge in 1989.

Katz was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. She is married to Dr. Philip Rubin, the chief executive officer of Hoskins Laboratories in New Haven. She is the mother of two adult children, Jason Rubin and Samantha Katz.

Martha Stone

DCF commissioner appointment a 'high priority'

Jacqueline Rabe, CT MIRROR
November 22, 2010

For two decades, the state has failed to meet the mandates of a federal court order to improve the way it cares for children in its custody, making Gov.-elect Dan Malloy's choice to head the Department of Children and Families a closely-watched decision.

"He has to get this right," said Martha Stone, one of the lawyers behind the class-action lawsuit that led to federal oversight of DCF. "Enough is enough. Let's finally fix this."

"This appointment is a very high-priority,' said Malloy's chief of staff and transition team leader, Timothy F. Bannon. "Now that the focus is no longer on filling the [budget director] job, we have shifted to this."

The latest quarterly report by the court-appointed monitor overseeing DCF cites both the state's continued lack of foster homes and the lack of medical and mental health treatment for too many of the 4,000 children in DCF care. Overall, DCF adequately met the needs of children in just over half the cases reviewed, the report said

"You can't change things overnight, but it shouldn't take 20 years to fix things... Many children still aren't getting the care they deserve," said Stone, who still represents plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Among the problems resulting from the lack of foster homes, she said, are the 300 children living in out-of-state facilities at any given time and infants living in large group settings.

"When Malloy chooses who will run DCF, hopefully they will be able to make progress pretty quickly," she said.

Malloy has said the problems at DCF stem from the lack of leadership and the state's inability to recruit and retain enough foster care parents.

"We just about need to change everything we've been doing... We have to change directions," Malloy said during the campaign after a federal judge rejected Gov. M. Jodi Rell's request to relieve DCF of federal supervision. Malloy said he agreed with U.S. District Court Judge Christopher F. Droney's ruling.

Three Connecticut governors have failed so far to reform the state's child welfare agency enough to end federal supervision. Now it's up to Malloy and whomever he appoints as the next commissioner to reshape the $865 million bureaucracy.

Bannon said they have begun reaching out to potential candidates to replace current-commissioner Susan Hamilton, who announced the day before Malloy was elected she would resign at the beginning of the year.

"We have been focused on top-tier appointees who just haven't come out of the process in the past. They have been unsuccessful," Bannon said. "We are going to solve the problems at the root of that consent decree."

Stone said the constant turnover of leadership in DCF has been part of the problem.

"It's a revolving door," Stone said, noting that no DCF commissioner has lasted more than 3 years since federal oversight began. "We need real leadership."

The state's child advocate, Jeanne Milstein, is confident Malloy understands what needs to be done.

"He clearly understand the need for a new leadership team at DCF," she said.

Why do you think?
Bridgeport decides to keep controversial Election Day ballots away from state audit

Ken Dixon, Staff Writer
Published: 12:51 a.m., Wednesday, November 17, 2010

HARTFORD -- Bridgeport officials have rejected a plan to audit the voting in 12 city precincts that ran out of ballots and were kept open an extra two hours, stunning the state's top election official who pushed for a review to clear up lingering Election Day questions.

Arthur C. Laske III, deputy city attorney, said Tuesday night that Bridgeport's two voter registrars never agreed to such an audit and that Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz does not have the authority to order one. Laske, speaking before Tuesday night's public hearing on the Election Day confusion, said the local registrars are unprepared to undertake another recount and there is no budget for such an endeavor.

"What's the legal authority, who agreed to do it and who's going to pay for it?" Laske asked during an interview in the City Hall Annex. "They (state officials) haven't answered any of those questions."

Laske said that "preliminary" discussions with a member of Bysiewicz's staff occurred, but her staff never followed up, so there was never an agreement on Bridgeport becoming part of the statewide post-election audit.

City Attorney Mark Anastasi called Bysiewicz's office Monday afternoon to announce the city would not participate. In a joint statement Tuesday night, Laske and Anastasi reiterated their belief that the city and Bysiewicz agree there is no legal authority requiring -- or even allowing -- the state or the city to conduct such a recount that does not involve the random audit of machine-cast ballots.

Bysiewicz disagreed with that account.

"Bridgeport did not want to conduct an audit," Bysiewicz said in a Tuesday phone interview. "This is contrary to what we agreed upon with the voter registrars last week." Bysiewicz initially had attempted to order Bridgeport officials to conduct the audit, a posture she had to abandon in favor of persuasion when it was found that she lacked the authority to compel such a review.

On Monday, Bysiewicz said that Santa Ayala and Joseph Borges, Bridgeport's Democratic and Republican registrar, respectively, said they were willing to have a review of the cardboard ballots -- essentially a recount -- that were cast on the state's optical scan machines as well as the lighter, photocopied ballots used when the cardboard ballots ran out.

Bysiewicz Tuesday said she was surprised by the development in the scandal that embarrassed the city on Nov. 2, when the dozen precincts ran out of the election ballots, resulting in a three-day delay in deciding the close gubernatorial race between Democrat Dannel Malloy and Republican Tom Foley.

"We understand that we don't have the statutory authority to order an audit, but given the situation, we thought that Bridgeport would be eager to participate in a hand count, which would have gone a long way toward reassuring voter confidence," Bysiewicz said.

The much lighter photocopies do not scan and they had to be counted by hand. It delayed the final tallies until Friday, Nov. 5. Foley finally conceded on Monday Nov. 8, losing by 6,707 statewide. In Bridgeport, Malloy had 17,973 votes to Foley's 4,099.

Anastasi's call to Bysiewicz's office Monday occurred hours after a morning news conference to randomly select 74 precincts -- 10 percent of all statewide polling places -- for routine audits of the use of optical scanners.

Barnes warms to the challenge of Connecticut's fiscal crisis
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
December 3, 2010

Those close to Gov.-elect Dan Malloy say they never doubted who'd be asked to tackle a massive budget deficit, end billions of dollars worth of fiscal gimmicks and help revitalize a stagnant job market.  Connecticut's fiscal Rubik's Cube was destined for Ben Barnes' hands from the moment the election was over.

"Ben is one of those rare talents," Tom Cassone, former Stamford city corporation counsel, said. "He develops his thoughts, expresses them so well, and carries them out. He even speaks in fully developed paragraphs.

"Anybody who knew Stamford city government knew Ben Barnes would be OPM (Office of Policy and Management) secretary."

The appointment of Barnes, the 42-year-old chief operating officer for the Bridgeport public schools and an outsider to Capitol circles, stunned many political observers earlier this month. He will head the budget office for an administration facing the worst fiscal challenges in two decades.  Raised in St. Petersburg, Fla., Barnes has spent most of the past two decades connected to municipal government, first as a policy expert for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, then by holding three posts under Malloy in Stamford, and lastly with his current job in Bridgeport.

But while no one expects Barnes to reverse overnight fiscal problems that have developed over years--and in some cases decades--his supporters say the new budget chief has insight to find solutions others would miss.

"Ben always wants to get to the heart of the matter," Malloy said. "He's a very bright guy, very inquisitive and he's willing to peel the onion."

"Ben is unflappable," said Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, another veteran of Malloy's municipal administration. "He has the unique capability of mastering any aspect of government in short order."

McDonald, who also had served as city corporation counsel, first met Barnes 10 years ago when he applied to lead the city's efforts to promote affordable housing. Over the next decade, Barnes also would oversee Stamford budget and financial operations, as well as its public works and engineering departments. 

But it was while pursuing his master's degree in urban planning at New York University in the late 1980s that Barnes first gained his interest in economics and government finances.

"I learned that if you wanted to build stuff and make cities better places, the single biggest impediment was figuring out how to pay for it," he said during an interview Thursday.

For example, when a city program to help poor families purchase affordable housing bogged down about five years ago, Barnes moved "decisively" to help hundreds of families, according to Joan Carty, president of The Housing Development Fund, Inc., the Stamford-based nonprofit working with the city on that project.  Delays in receiving federal funds kept some eligible families from closing on homes. But Barnes arranged a broader funding pool that temporarily leveraged city funds to resolve the problem without added costs, she said.

"It was fixed virtually overnight because Ben got the problem and he knew how to solve it," Carty said. "It became immediately apparent to me he could home in on whatever challenge you had and then take it to the next step."

Barnes, who lives in Stratford with his wife, Tania, and their three sons, conceded that when it comes to politics, he's comfortable with a low-key approach.  His friends say that might be an understatement.

"Ben would gladly sit at the back of the room," Cassone said. "He's not a big personality, like Dan is, but he's just as bright."

"Ben is good with words and he's good with numbers," CCM Executive Director James Finley said. "That's a rare combination."

Barnes' father, Andrew, a who retired two years ago as chief executive officer for the St. Petersburg Times, spent nearly four decades in journalism as a reporter, editor and newspaper executive, including stints at the Washington Post and Providence Journal-Bulletin.  Despite taking on one of the most sensitive positions in state government, Barnes said he doesn't anticipate an adversarial role with the news media, even though there will be times he can't comment on issues under development.

"I really believe in the public's right to know," he said. "I'm a big supporter of the news media, and a big consumer. Hey, they paid for me to go to college."

McDonald, who once described Barnes as a "little geeky," said his former colleague is shockingly bright with a dry sense of humor. He doesn't take himself too seriously, but he takes his job very seriously."

And though no one said they expect Barnes to find any fiscal silver bullets to solve the budget crisis, they predicted his recommendations will speak for themselves.  Fiscal gimmicks, such as paying tomorrow for expenses incurred today or using one-time funds to support ongoing programs, have been a prerogative of legislatures throughout history, Barnes said. But if Connecticut is to begin moving in another direction, it means reminding officials of the price tag that comes with those short-cuts.

"If you build a cliff for yourself, you have to remember that the day of reckoning does come," he said, referring to a nearly $3.7 billion built-in deficit in the first budget Malloy must draft, a shortfall equal to nearly half of all annual revenue from the state income tax.

Barnes' tenure in Stamford also taught him the value of taking "well-considered risks to make government work better"--a philosophy Malloy uses to empower his staff. "If my people can convince me of the rightness of their ideas, they can probably convince anybody," Malloy said.

"I've been very frustrated because I don't think the state of Connecticut has lived up to the potential that it has," Barnes said. "I think there is a lot of room for more creativity and some ideas to make things work better."

A small strategic investment can make a huge difference, he said, recalling how assigning one city employee in Stamford a few years ago to expand health care outreach resulted in thousands of uninsured, needy residents being enrolled the state's HUSKY program.

"It was a tremendous benefit to the community and it took just one person," he said.

Barnes and Malloy haven't tipped their hands regarding the fiscal solutions they'll present to the legislature in just over two months, but the new budget director said he expects his boss will be fully engaged.  Barnes said his relationship with Malloy is built both on professionalism and friendship--along with a mutual fascination with how government works.

"Dan does his homework," Barnes said. "He remembers everything you tell him with astonishing clarity. I like to talk about public policy myself, but he will keep needling you to keep telling him details about things. ... He is very interested in how everything works."

The two met in 1990s when Barnes was working on education policy for CCM, and the new Stamford mayor had been chosen the coalition's president.

Barnes had become fascinated with public funding strategies for education and Malloy was grappling with a system that penalized Stamford for its wealthy tax base while failing to recognize the city's large pockets of poverty.

"He was a very exciting new mayor of a big city and we raised a number of ideas," Barnes said.

Barnes returned briefly to Florida for less than a year in 2000, but ultimately decided he wanted to return to Connecticut. A resume was sent unsolicited to the Malloy administration, and a few interviews later, Barnes would begin a 10-year tenure in city government.

"Ben and I have always worked well," Malloy said, adding that those who suspected Barnes always had been part of his plans for state government are correct. "He was always going to play a role in my administration."

Malloy names Capitol outsider as OPM chief
Mark Pazniokas and Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
November 17, 2010

Governor-elect Dan Malloy today named one of the top aides from his mayoral administration in Stamford for the pivotal role of overseeing the budget and contract negotiations with state employees.

Malloy introducing Ben Barnes

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy introduces his OPM choice, Ben Barnes, as Lt. Gov-elect Nancy Wyman looks on (Mark Pazniokas)

Ben Barnes, 42, who held three top jobs in Stamford, brings an outsider's perspective to the post of secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, a job that in recent administrations often has gone to former legislators.

Along with the chief of staff, the OPM secretary tends to have one of the closest and most important relationships with a governor, especially one who will be confronted with a deficit of as much as $3.7 billion.

"He knows how I work," Malloy said with a smile, talking about some of Barnes' qualifications. "I think ultimately in my choosing an individual to move forward with, I had to feel confident the person fully understood what it is I am trying to accomplish."

He introduced Barnes at a press conference at the Legislative Office Building by joking that his latest appointee should not expect a vacation before August.

Barnes was a government finance expert at the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities when Malloy, then mayor of Stamford, hired him away nearly 10 years ago. Of the three posts that reported directly to Malloy, Barnes held three of them.

"I am terribly honored by the selection and the trust Dan has shown in me," Barnes said. "I am looking forward to facing some rather enormous challenges the state of Connecticut faces."

Barnes, who lives in Stratford with his wife and three sons, is now a facilities manager for the Bridgeport schools. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College and has a graduate degree in urban planning from New York University.

Friends describe Barnes as smart, even-tempered and detail-oriented, all traits that will be tested in the first months of the new administration. Andrew J. McDonald, a state senator from Stamford who was Malloy's legal counsel, says Barnes can be a "little geeky," with a wickedly dry sense of humor.

"There is no doubt that Ben understands the rhythms of Dan Malloy's style of leadership," McDonald said.

When asked if he felt a special affinity for cities and towns, which rely heavily on state aid to balance their own budgets, Barnes nodded and deadpanned, "I wouldn't live anywhere but in a city or town."

Advisers to the governor-elect say Barnes enjoyed Malloy's complete confidence while overseeing, at different times, such diverse areas as finance, administration and operations.

"Dan Malloy has offered me some extraordinary opportunities in my career, and in accepting them and working with him I have prospered, and I hope that communities we served together have prospered," Barnes said.

Barnes will get his first briefing at OPM on Wednesday.

He said there is no "silver bullet" that will erase the state's fiscal challenges.

Malloy's decision to reach outside of legislative circles for a strategist to solve what effectively equals to largest budget deficit in Connecticut history was applauded by fellow Democrats.

"Sure, a former legislator can come in to the job knowing more people," state Auditor Kevin P. Johnston, himself a former legislator, said after the announcement. "But somebody can be colored by having been here so long. We need to have someone who is open to new ideas."

"They should have the best people around, be they from the legislature, municipal government, the business world or academia," said Rep. John Geragosian, D-New Britain, co-chairman of the Appropriations Committee, adding that a legislative background is not essential for a budget office to have a good relationship with the General Assembly.

"Ben is going to be part of a larger team and there probably will be others who can provide that background," Geragosian added.

Sen. Donald DeFronzo, D-New Britain, the subject of some speculation that he might have been under consideration for the job, said Barnes can be brought up to speed on the budget.

"The number one consideration is whether the governor is confident" in the OPM secretary, DeFronzo said. With Barnes, he added, "There is a confidence level that doesn't have to be created. This, by all accounts, is a relationship that is intense and well-established."

Malloy's running mate, Nancy Wyman, said the new administration wanted someone who wouldn't be dissuaded by politics from examining any solution to the state's fiscal problems. The new team faces a built-in shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1 that ranges from $3.4 billion to $3.7 billion, based on estimates from the Rell administration and nonpartisan legislative analysts.

But both projections represent nearly one-fifth of current spending, and more than half of all annual receipts from the state income tax.

"With what we're facing, a fresh look is what we need," said Wyman, a former legislator who has been state comptroller since 1995. "Maybe an idea didn't work out before, but it could now. Ben has the experience and he understands how budgets work."

Johnston added that legislative experience, though valuable in many instances, isn't always an advantage.

"People can come out of the legislature with a lot of baggage," he said. "You can have a former legislator that nobody cared for."

A transition begins, for a governor-elect and Connecticut
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
November 8, 2010

In his first press conference as governor-elect, Democrat Dan Malloy today praised his opponent, Republican Tom Foley, as "a classy guy," then quickly turned to Connecticut's first full-fledged gubernatorial transition in 16 years.

"Now it's time for Nancy and I to get to work," said Malloy, standing with his running mate, Nancy Wyman.  "I want the people of Connecticut to know that we are committed to putting Connecticut back to work and getting Connecticut's fiscal house in order."

Malloy, 55, the former mayor of Stamford, will be inaugurated Jan. 5 as the state's 88th governor, assuming responsibility for a deficit of $3.3 billion and control of a government with the nation's second-worst record of creating jobs over two decades.

Less than two hours after Foley conceded defeat and announced he would not challenge the election results, Malloy and Wyman stepped to a lectern in the ornate Old Judiciary Room of the State Capitol for the first time as the undisputed governor-elect and lieutenant governor-elect.

Malloy, who unsuccessfully sought the office in 2006, said he was fully cognizant of the weight of expectations and challenges that soon will fall on his shoulders.

"The good news is the state of Connecticut is filled with good, honest, hardworking people who have great strength and resiliency, and this will be an administration that will match the people's strength and resiliency," he said.

He pledged to the public and press to be as open and transparent as possible as he takes office as the first Democratic governor since William A. O'Neill left office in January 1991, giving way to the independent, Lowell P. Weicker Jr.

"We will treat you with honesty, with forthrightness and look to have a strong working relationship," Malloy said.

The first real trappings of power will be visible Tuesday, when Malloy is expected to come under protection of a State Police security detail that will be his constant companion for the next four years.

Malloy, who is married and has three sons, the youngest of whom is a college freshman, intends to live in the Executive Residence on Prospect Avenue in Hartford's fashionable West End, near Elizabeth Park.

Connecticut has not seen the governor's office pass from one party to another since January 1995, when Weicker was succeeded by Republican John G. Rowland. Rowland resigned under threat of impeachment for corruption in July 2004 and was replaced by his lieutenant, M. Jodi Rell.

Malloy used the Rell administration as a constant foil on the campaign trail, calling the governor a disengaged chief executive. Foley was only marginally friendlier to Rell, who remains personally popular.

Rell congratulated Malloy today.

"I want to offer my personal congratulations to Governor-elect Malloy. I also extend my appreciation to both candidates for the patience they have shown during the extraordinary and often trying days that have followed the election," she said.

She offered her cooperation, even though she issued a memo last week barring her commissioners from direct contact with Malloy. Today, Malloy said he assumed the memo was a reflection only of the uncertainty about who had won.

"I take the governor at her word," Malloy said. "She wants to have a robust dialogue, concerning the transference of authority, and I expect that will take place."

Tim Bannon, Malloy's chief of staff and the co-director of the transition team with Wyman, already has met with Rell's chief of staff, Lisa Moody.

Bannon, who served in the O'Neill administration when Moody was a legislative staffer, called Moody an old friend. He said he anticipates a smooth transition.

So far, the transition team has no work space, other than Bannon's kitchen. Even before the election, Bannon was tasked with the responsibility of completing a check list for the new governor.

Malloy will take office with less than 50 percent of the vote, as did Weicker in 1991 and Rowland in 1995. He dismissed a question about a lack of a mandate.

"I have 100 percent of the responsibility," he said. "My mandate is to do the best I can with my running mate."

His first question was an easy one: Why did he stop wearing the green neckties he wore every day since May 1? They had become a good luck charm for Malloy, the seventh son of an Irish-Catholic couple.

Today, he wore a maroon tie.

His answer: "Because I won."

Ballots previously stored in City Hall Annex building;  LWV counts at McLevy Hall (l). Jasper McLevy, former Mayor of Bridgeport on snow removal: "God put it there, let Him take it away".

Bridgeport vote recount shows widespread miscalculations, cascading errors
Tim Loh, Staff Writer
Published: 01:07 a.m., Sunday, December 12, 2010

BRIDGEPORT -- If you cast a photocopied ballot in last month's gubernatorial election in Bridgeport, there's a 1 in 4 chance your vote was miscounted.

A recount of the Bridgeport governor's vote from the chaotic Nov. 2 election shows that about 1,500 of the nearly 6,000 photocopied ballots used when polls ran out of regular ballots were incorrectly counted, never counted at all or misrepresented on the city's final returns. The photocopied ballots were a part of the overall 24,000 cast in the governor's race.

In three precincts, the photocopied ballots weren't even included in the city's final report.

The net effect was that Democrat Dannel Malloy was shortchanged by 761 votes; Republican Tom Foley by 174; and Independent Tom Marsh by 19.

The errors affected the candidates in roughly the same proportion as Bridgeport's reported results, which suggests there was no fraud afoot. The missing votes would have increased Malloy's margin of victory by nearly 600 votes above the official statewide margin of 6,404. Thus, the final result of the gubernatorial race would not have been swayed.

But the scope of the mishandled ballots raises a troublesome prospect: Had Foley earned about 9,000 more votes in the rest of the state, Bridgeport's botched returns might have prevented a statewide official recanvass for races closer than 2,000 votes.

The recount illustrates the profound consequence of the city's failure to order enough ballots, which set off the chain of cascading errors that grew into Connecticut's biggest Election Day meltdown since it switched to optical-scan voting machines four years ago. The recount also points to a lack of training and leadership in the city's election offices and to issues of oversight the state Legislature may soon be addressing.

"What if the election was a little closer and our result brought the race into the recount territory?" asked Luther Weeks, executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Election Audit Coalition, which conducted the recount. "But now, it's too late by state statute to recanvass, so you'd probably have to go to court."

The Connecticut Post sponsored the recount in an effort to clear up confusion surrounding the Nov. 2 election in Bridgeport. The newspaper obtained access to the ballots under the Freedom of Information law. The troubles grew out of the two registrars of voters' decision to order only 21,100 ballots for the city's roughly 68,000 registered voters. City officials agreed to the recount and cooperated fully on the project.

It has no legal impact on the outcome of the election.

Many voting districts on Nov. 2 ran out of ballots by early afternoon, creating long lines for people hoping to vote and forcing city officials to send waves of photocopied ballots to every district. The photocopied ballots, which can't be read by the scanning machines, had to be hand counted by polling station workers after the voting closed. The problems delayed the city's reporting of its results to Hartford until Nov. 5, as head moderators holed up in McLevy Hall, working around the clock through the labyrinth of numbers.


The margin of error found in Bridgeport's results is hard to put in context because there are few comparisons.

For one thing, most areas of the country that use optical-scan machines only started doing so recently, so there are few recounts like this one. Most have been limited to the machine-read totals, such as Connecticut's post-election audits of 10 percent of the state's voting districts. And when hand-counted tallies are included, they generally account for such a small portion of the votes as to be statistically negligible.

Bridgeport was different. Hand-counted ballots represented 1 in 4 votes cast. And the circumstances in which they were counted -- by poll workers following a 15- to 17-hour work day, between midnight and Wednesday morning's sunrise -- were far from conducive to accuracy. What's more, election experts assert, the inclusion of hand counting immediately increases the prospect for error.

"If it weren't so late, and people hadn't been working all day, and you didn't have this confusion with the paper ballots, there would likely still be some mistakes," said Lawrence Norden, senior counsel of the Democracy Program of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. "But a 4 to 6 percent error rate is not acceptable. It may happen sometimes, and it's not the end of the world in a situation like this, where it's not impacting an election outcome, but I think that's clearly too high a number. And Bridgeport and the state should be looking to bring that down significantly in future elections."

To be fair, Bridgeport's margin of error pales when compared with the 17 percent margin of error that the New York Board of Elections discovered in its own recanvass of last month's election. That error stemmed from the city not reporting nearly 200,000 votes on Election Day.

But that discrepancy, which included only machine-read votes, was unearthed by the election board before the vote was certified. This was not the case for Bridgeport, which failed in its own opportunity to identify some of the discrepancies before the election was certified.

Some good news for Bridgeport: The recount found there were about 50 fewer votes recorded overall than the total number of voters whose names were checked off precinct lists. In other words, there is not the remotest indication of any ballot-box stuffing.


The recount found mistakes at several steps -- in the hand counting of ballots at almost every polling station, in the delivery of the hand counts to the city's head moderators who were compiling results in the registrars' office, and in the head moderator's transposition of the districts' results into the final report that was sent to Hartford.

For example, the moderator of the City Hall voting district, who counted and tallied roughly 110 ballots by hand after the polls closed, mistakenly sealed up those results with the photocopied ballots in a bag separate from the machine-read ballots. The moderator returned both bags of ballots, but only provided the head moderators with the machine-read tally sheet. The head moderators never knew there had been a hand count at the polling district.

That misplaced tally sheet only resurfaced during the Connecticut Post's recount -- and only after several hours of head-scratching when it was discovered that the district's machine-read numbers clearly didn't match up with the district's voter check-in list. The hand-counted votes would have given Malloy 86 more votes and Foley 12 more votes. These numbers represented two out of every five votes cast at the City Hall district.

Nor was that the only polling station where this mistake seems to have occurred. Bridge Academy never reported its hand-counted ballots -- there appear to have been 93 of them -- and neither did one of the two Bassick High School districts.

Also, most of the districts that hand counted ballots -- 20 of them --seem to have made minor counting mistakes compared with the recounted figures. But in a handful of cases, the coalition found, the city's counters appear to have erred with whole stacks of the ballots, creating discrepancies that, on a few occasions, exceeded 100 votes.

For instance, the Park City Magnet district seems to have missed roughly 130 hand-counted votes for Malloy. And the Central High School 129-2 district appears to have given Foley 14 extra votes and shortchanged Malloy by 87, the coalition reported.

At seven of the voting districts, it appeared that moderators incorrectly handled the so-called "unknown votes" for Malloy, which occurred when a voter filled in two bubbles for the candidate -- once in the Democratic row, once in the row for the Working Family Party, which also endorsed him. These votes should have gone to the Working Family tally, but sometimes were excluded from the results entirely. In the Read Middle School district, for example, it appeared that the moderator excluded the 25 of these votes from the tallies.

In a half-dozen cases, the recount found discrepancies between the results that polling stations reported to the head moderators and what the head moderators reported to Hartford. These discrepancies occurred while the head moderators were transposing the districts' results. One example was the Longfellow School 129-03 district, whose moderator reported 39 fewer votes for Malloy than what the head moderators reported to Hartford.

That latter problem is troubling because Bridgeport's town clerk's office was supposed to have identified at least some of those errors before it was too late. By state law, the town clerk is required to compare the district moderators' returns with the numbers the head moderator sent to Hartford. The town clerk is given three weeks to find any discrepancy, sort out the problem, and report amended figures before the secretary of the state certifies the election.

This did not take place. For example, the moderator for the Roosevelt School district reported 117 votes for Foley and 35 for Malloy in the Working Family Party. The head moderators, however, reported to Hartford 110 votes for Foley and 18 Working Family votes for Malloy. (This particular district had no hand-counted votes.) Had the town clerk's office identified this discrepancy -- and some of the handful of others, which in one case provided for a 71-vote swing -- then the city could have eliminated at least some of the miscounts before it was too late.

"There were counting errors," concluded Luther Weeks, "yet there were also accounting errors in transcribing, adding and including district totals to provide official results to the state. These accounting errors caused the greatest differences in the reported results."


Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch declined to offer an opinion as to how to prevent such a mess from recurring or who should be held responsible, citing the ongoing work of the five-member commission he charged with investigating the matter.

"The public will was confirmed," he said, referring to the recount. "It was in our self-interest to show the public that the outcome was accurate, that the right candidate won -- the one who had the most votes. That's the most important thing."

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz repeated calls for the state Legislature to mandate that municipalities order ballots for every registered voter.

"I have great difficulty trying to require that registrars do things that aren't in the law," she said. "That's why it has to be a law. If that were the law on Nov. 2, the registrars would be subject to complaint and fine for violating a statute."

Santa Ayala, Bridgeport's Democratic registrar of voters, said that more training for moderators and poll workers may be needed. "They have been trained, but it's like learning a foreign language," she said. "If you don't practice it, it's not going to be as fresh in your mind -- even though we go over everything in a general formal way."

Moderators, she said, may be trained for hand counts, but not for the scope of what Bridgeport underwent. And seizing Bysiewicz's claim that hand counting might start the following morning, she said: "Unfortunately, everyone is saying that now, but no one was saying that that night when we were being rushed from every which side."

Were she to repeat the experience, she said, she would have sent the poll workers home before the recount: "And I'll never allow them to work with cameras in their faces and microphones on top of the table where they're trying to do a tally," she said. "They were working under super stressful circumstances and I'll never allow that to happen."

Both registrars have acknowledged the most serious blunder was their decision not to order enough optical-scan ballots, a decision that had a snowball effect in poll after poll Election Day.

Neither Malloy nor Tom Foley was shocked by the 1,500 errors found in the recount of Bridgeport ballots. Both indicated that the state should do whatever it can to make sure the shortage of ballots does not happen again.

"There were persistent problems in Bridgeport and not just the last time around with this election, but voting in the past," said Foley. "They might want to bring in someone at the state level to help them. When you have problems it calls into question the results and the integrity of the election process and that shouldn't really be happening in Connecticut."

For two days after the election, Foley insisted he had won a narrow margin out of the 1.1 million-plus votes cast. Until Bridgeport's numbers came in, Foley did indeed hold a slim lead. The outcome had been earlier muddled when The Associated Press reported incomplete numbers out of New Haven that failed to show all of Malloy's vote.

Roy Occhiogrosso, a top adviser for Malloy, who takes office Jan. 5, agreed with Foley that mistakes were made in Bridgeport, but he said they were inadvertent and that officials acted in good faith to sort out the mess. Occhiogrosso said that Malloy would support rectifying any official miscues that resulted in the mistakes.

Just who are the people counting the ballots?
Tim Loh, Staff Writer
Published: 05:53 p.m., Saturday, December 4, 2010

BRIDGEPORT -- Bill Bunnell is leaning over a blank worksheet, which is lined with many boxes and many rows. With a freshly sharpened pencil in hand, he evokes the image of a fifth-grader just before the big test.

Only Bunnell is 80. And for possibly the thousandth time of the day, he's waiting to hear the word "Democrat." That means he'll draw a hash mark on line number two. But if he hears "Republican," he'll make the scratch on line number one. There are two other options, which correspond with lines three and four.

Seated across the table, Ruth Karl grabs the first sheet of paper and states "Democrat." She slides it left and reaches for the second. She continues the process for several minutes. By the time she stops, her words have prompted Bunnell into action 49 times. Content with this, he lifts his head to find his supervisor frowning.

"I'd be satisfied if your box here had one more mark," David Anderson says.

An extra mark would, in fact, square Bunnell's worksheet with that of Cheryl Dunson, who's seated beside him. Then the team would move onto their final stack of ballots for Thursday, and soon be headed home. But what if Dunson's sheet is wrong and Bunnell's sheet is right? He seems to mull the thought as he rotates his pencil. He eyes the eraser; he eyes the graphite tip. Once more, Karl breaks the silence.

"We have to do it again, don't we?" she says.

Dunson whispers: "Yup."

For the dozens of volunteers inside City Hall Annex last week, pouring through Bridgeport's ballots offered a rare glimpse under Election Day's usually tightly clamped hood. The innards they encountered were particularly complex given Bridgeport's bungled election last month, when a shortage of ballots forced city officials to send photocopies to every polling station; when poll workers toiled nearly to Wednesday's sunup hand-counting the photocopied ballots; when head moderators needed three days to untangle all the tallies and file official results with Hartford.

When the city agreed to allow the Connecticut Post and a group of good government groups to recount the gubernatorial race just before Thanksgiving, the volunteer counters started signing up. They would be arriving from every corner of the state -- from Greenwich to Glastonbury, Deep River to Litchfield. (Bridgeport residents were barred from taking part)

So who are these volunteers? Most of them are members of the Connecticut Citizen Election Audit Coalition, which joins the League of Women Voters in Connecticut, Common Cause, and Connecticut Citizen Action Group. Many of them have spent the past three years observing the state's post-election audits, which only scrutinize ballots that are read by optical scanning machines. Here was their chance to do the recounting themselves.

During breaks, the counters often spoke of performing a civic duty: "If your vote doesn't count," said David Anderson, "then does anything else matter?" At times though, they were so swamped in voting sheets that the civic duty seemed not so much about mastering the election medium as fighting through the election tedium.

Anderson, who's 52, runs an epoxy manufacturing firm in Manchester. His business partner, also his brother, was "somewhat sympathetic" to his decision to skip work on Thursday and help with the recount. They would have to postpone a meeting until Friday so he could do so. "He said, `What's the big deal?'" Anderson told his counting team, of which Bunnell, Dunson and Karl were members. "And I said, `Well it matters to me!'"

He reshuffles the stack of 50 ballots and passes them to Karl, who lives in Windham. When she's finished reading each vote aloud, everyone cranes their necks to see if Bunnell's and Dunson's worksheets are equal. They are. This affords Karl to lean back and yawn. Anderson pulls a five-hour energy drink from his breast pocket. "Want some of this?" he asks. "I use it every day at work about 2 o'clock. Gets me through the afternoon."

Counting ballots is only one of the volunteers' tasks.

Others, like Laura Axthelm of Westport, were busy reading through voter check-in lists -- those thick stacks of stapled pages that list residents by street and alphabetically -- to make sure that everyone who checked in as having voted had their ballots counted in the results. It was a job that seemed to fit with Axthelm, a member of the League of Women Voters.

"I have two buttons at home," she said Friday afternoon. "The first one says `I care enough to vote.' The second one says `My vote counts.'" Pounding her fist on the table, she added: "That's what we're doing here. Making sure everyone's vote counts."

Her partner was Tom Flynn, a former deputy registrar of voters in Fairfield. He watches as Axthelm bounces her pencil eraser down Page One, landing for a moment on each voter who's checked off as having voted at Hallen School.

"Thirty in-person voters," Axthelm stated. "And zero absentee."

Flynn put those numbers in box number one on two different sheets. Then the pair went through 16 more pages of names, finding 650 in-person voters and 13 absentees. This was nearly a perfect match with what the moderator reported after the polls closed. Opening the next packet, this one for Black Rock School, Axthelm asked, "Should we mix it up and do the absentee ballots first?"

"Oh," Flynn answered. "That'll be exciting."

Bill Bunnell couldn't work Friday. He'd worked Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, but on Friday he had to "catch up with the doctor appointments." So when his team counted through the last stack of 50 ballots Thursday afternoon, he strapped his jacket on and consulted the train schedule that had been poking out of his back pocket.

"It's less than an hour commute in the morning," he said, "if I get the connection right." The connection is in New Haven, where he switches to the Shore Line East train tracks and heads home to Madison.

This offers him several advantages. First, he can read through the report he brought one morning, subtitled "Eva Waskell and the Election Integrity Movement." Second, he doesn't have to deal with parking in Bridgeport.

"And it's cheap as hell," he adds, heading for the door. "Round trip is only $14." Then he stops.

"I mean it's $7; as a senior."

End in sight as Bridgeport recount breaks for the weekend
Tim Loh, CT POST Staff Writer
Published: 09:44 p.m., Friday, December 3, 2010

BRIDGEPORT -- On the sixth and seventh days, the recount workers will finally rest.

But they'll return to City Hall Annex on the eighth, Monday morning, and pick up where they left off -- tallying ballots from this city's 25th and final voting district, comparing their numbers with the ones sent to Hartford last month and allowing city officials one final crack at finding errors in the recount process.

Then they'll be done.

"But first we're going to go over it all with the city and see if there's anything they're not satisfied with," explained Luther Weeks, executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Election Audit Coalition, which is co-sponsoring the recount of Bridgeport's gubernatorial race along with the Connecticut Post. "We'll see if there's anything the registrars of voters want us to review, or to review themselves."

The recount was undertaken after a shortage of ballots on Nov. 2 left Bridgeport election workers having to hand-count photocopied ballots and delayed reporting the city's final tally until Nov. 5. That delay tossed the governor's race between Democrat Dannel Malloy and Republican Tom Foley into limbo, until Bridgeport's numbers gave Malloy the victory.

The recount does not affect the outcome of the race, but city officials and good government groups have supported the effort, saying it will bring some clarity to Bridgeport's muddled results.  Weeks noted that recount volunteers -- although they're given more time and rest than their Election Day counterparts -- also can make mistakes. Even though the recount system is steeped in double- and triple-checking, some mistakes in counting or transferring numbers could sneak through onto Weeks' master tally sheet.

And if that happens, which is one possible explanation if certain recount numbers disagree with the city's totals, then the registrars ought to have the chance to show the problem isn't theirs, Weeks said.  That's how Friday ended, maybe.

While finalizing the recount numbers from one district, Weeks compared his team's numbers for photocopied ballots with the city's figures. He showed the comparison to Santa Ayala, Bridgeport's Democratic registrar of voters. The numbers weren't in alignment, so the two agreed to check for a recounting fault.

First, Weeks and his assistant, Cheryl Dunson, president of the League of Women Voters of Connecticut, checked that their master tally sheet -- which shows the district's total results, broken down into the number of machine-read ballots and hand-counted ballots -- matched perfectly the half-dozen or so working tally sheets that were affixed to each stack of 50 photocopied ballots. The stacks were located in the district's duffel bag, neatly paper-clipped, with the worksheet on top. The tally sheets agreed.

So out came the ballots for another recount.

"We're looking at the `Malloy for Democrat' numbers," Dunson told four female counters, who were sitting at the neighboring table. The statement distinguished the desired tallies with the two other Malloy columns, one of which represented voters who cast ballots for the Working Family Party, which also endorsed Malloy.

The roughly 15 minutes of recounting that followed yielded one hash mark being moved. It wasn't enough to account for the difference between the recounted numbers and the city's results.

"At this point," Weeks told Ayala, "we're going to put these ballots back in the duffel bag. Would you agree that our numbers are correct?"

Ayala thought for a second.

"I'd like to look at it again on Monday," she said. "With some fresh eyes."

Going on now...
How the recount will take place

Tim Loh, Staff Writer
Published: 07:25 p.m., Saturday, November 27, 2010

Election Day was a mess. Bridgeport's ballot shortage and the resulting chaos is troubling, particularly with such a tight governor's race. Winners have been certified, but we want another look at the ballots. So on Monday, the Post's own recount will begin. It's no small task, but we'll take as much time as we need. In the end, we'll compare results with the city.

Who are the counters? How can I help?

The point man for the recount is Luther Weeks, the executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Election Audit Coalition, which formed in 2007 after the state switched to optical-scanning voter machines.  Weeks hopes for between 30 and 40 volunteers each day at the recount, and said Friday that he has about half of that manpower signed up.  Not just anyone can help. Carrying out such a sweeping recount poses myriad challenges, so Weeks is relying mostly on members of his coalition -- which includes the League of Women Voters of Connecticut, Common Cause, Connecticut Citizens Action Group and -- to do so.

These volunteers typically monitor Connecticut's state-mandated audits, which follow primaries and full elections, and then brief state officials and the public on how effective the audits were.  Now, though, the members will conduct the audit themselves.

"We just don't have the time to work with everyone that might sign up," Weeks explained. "A lot of our observers have been involved in the process one way or another and have experience. But we would love for people to just become involved in the next audit situation."

Anyone interested in watching the recount is invited to come to the City Hall Annex at 999 Broad St.  What, exactly, are the counters counting?  The recount starts Monday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., and will run through the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Throughout, counters will pore through every ballot cast in Bridgeport, tallying anew the governor's race.In its official moderator's report sent to the state, the city stated that 23,158 registered voters' names were checked off at polling stations and that 22,185 votes for governor were cast. That allotted Democrat Dannel Malloy 17,973 votes, Republican Tom Foley 4,099 votes and the Independent Party's Thomas Marsh 113 votes.

The recount will probe further, tallying the number of votes cast in more than five categories, which include machine-read ballots, photocopied ballots, provisional ballots, absentee ballots and write-ins.


Here's a broad outline of how the recount will be carried out, described by Weeks and Cheryl Dunston of the League of Women Voters. The details are subject to change.

Volunteers will form several sets of teams responsible for calculating votes, checking chains of custody, making judgments on questionable ballots and supervising the entire operation. The volunteers may switch among teams during the course of the week.

The process will kick off on Monday afternoon, when city officials deliver several bags of ballots from the registrar's office in McLevy Hall, located across the street from City Hall Annex.

Save for absentee and provisional ballots, which have their own bags, each bag will contain all of the ballots from one of the city's 25 polling stations. Before the bags are opened, the chain-of-custody team will check the numbered seal on the bag to make sure the bag hasn't been opened without documentation since election week.

Meanwhile, the counters will form teams of four, each team with two tables -- one for tallying, the other for storing a voting district's ballots. Before tabulating, the team will place all of a district's ballots in stacks of 25, making sure to sort out any "questionable" ballots, misplaced write-ins, or unclear hand-counted ballots, the processes for which are described below.

The counting teams will then start adding the stacks of 25 ballots at a time. Returning with a stack to their first table, one member of the team will read one ballot at a time, with a second looking on. The third and fourth team members, seated across the table, will register hash marks beneath each candidate's name. These two will compare results when the stack is finished.

After a team is finished with an entire bag of ballots, the ballots will be placed back in the bag, and a new seal on the bag. City officials will return that bag to the registrar's office, eventually bringing new bags to the recounting room. While counting teams will typically cover an entire voting district as a unit, there may be times when a bag is split between several teams, such as toward the end of a day, when the teams hope to finish a voting district before everyone heads home.


The term "questionable" refers here to the counters' uncertainty that a machine actually read a ballot, not the counters' confusion over who the voter intended to vote for. For example: a voter might have placed a check mark or an "X" beside a candidate's name rather than filling in the bubble. Generally, the machine isn't fooled by these mistakes and registers the vote anyway. But not always.

There are other problems. Occasionally, a machine might break down. Or a voter might make a more egregious error, such as circling a candidate's name or scribbling the candidate's name across the ballot. These ballots are unlikely to register. As a result, the counters sort out the "questionable" ballots from the beginning, passing them to a separate team that doles out votes based on their view of the voter's intention.


A similar logic applies to the photocopied ballots, all of which were hand-counted after Election Day.

During the recount, whenever a photocopied ballot appears that is improperly filled out, it will be sent to the team charged with discerning voters' "intent." This also happened on Election Day, with the moderators making the judgment call. The two readings may at times be different, but Weeks expects that to happen infrequently.  The rest of the photocopied ballots will be tallied in the way described above, with the teams making separate counts for how many photocopied ballots there were at each voting district.

"Questionable" machine ballots and unclear photocopied ballots don't bob up all too often, Weeks added: "It depends on who went to the polls, but people are getting better at filling out the ballots."


Provisional ballots are those filled out by people who either weren't listed as registered voters on Election Day or who forgot to bring identification to the polling district.  The ballots were separated then so that city officials could follow up on the voter's status. Depending on the finding, the ballots were either confirmed or tossed away.

Because of the review process, the provisional ballots aren't stored with the rest of the ballots. As such, they -- and absentee ballots, for a similar reason -- are bundled together.  That's the only difference about these ballots for the recounters, who will re-tally each group.

WHAT IF these numbers are vastly different? are these numbers better?

The short answer is that nothing, legally, changes.  But if the recount produces a widely divergent outcome, then it may form a basis for legal action by concerned parties. It could also expose problems with the voting system, both state and citywide.

"I don't want to speculate until I see the results," Weeks said, "but if there were significant differences, there would obviously be some lessons or implications."

As for the primacy of the recount's numbers in the public eye, Weeks would only say that these numbers will be "accurate."

"The recount will be observed, done deliberately by people who've gotten a good night's sleep and who haven't just put in a 17-hour day conducting an election," he said. "I'm not saying our numbers are going to be more accurate than Bridgeport's. But that's what we're going to find out."

And how long  will this take?  The recount is tentatively scheduled to last five days, starting Monday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., and resuming Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  That may not suffice, but Weeks thinks that it will. He's hoping things will wrap up by Thursday. But he won't prognosticate.

"We'll just have to see what happens," he said. "We don't want to rush it, especially in the beginning if we have kinks in the system, people learning the process. We just have to make sure we get going at a good fitting."

Foley concedes, finding 'no credible evidence' of fraud
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
November 8, 2010

Republican Tom Foley conceded the race for governor today to Democrat Dan Malloy, ending Connecticut's closest gubernatorial contest in a half century.  Nearly a week after the polls closed and three days after the last vote was counted in Bridgeport, Foley said he will not seek a court-ordered recount, despite errors and irregularities in Bridgeport.

Foley said a review of results over the weekend found "no credible evidence of fraudulent voting." He called Malloy's victory "conclusive," and he said he intended to call the Democrat after his press conference.

"I'll be congratulating him," Foley said.

The 5,637-vote margin of victory was well outside the statutory trigger for a mandatory recount: 2,000 votes or less.  An automatic recount is ordered only when the margin is 2,000, so Foley and his lawyers have been examining the chaotic results in Bridgeport, where a shortage of scannable ballots forced city officials to use thousands of photocopied ballots that had to be counted by hand.

With the delivery Friday afternoon of results from Bridgeport, the secretary of the state's office announced that Malloy won with 566,498 votes to 560,861 for Foley and 17,586 for Independent Tom Marsh.

The town-by-town results showed Malloy winning a three-way race for governor with just under 50 percent of the vote. It was Malloy, 49.48 percent; Foley, 48.99 percent; and Marsh, 1.54 percent.

Despite Foley's decision, the Connecticut Republican Party has hired Ross Garber, a prominent Republican attorney, to conduct an inquiry into how the election was conducted in Bridgeport.  Garber already has written to the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, David Fein, and Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane, asking them investigate, saying the GOP's has found evidence of "significant deficiencies, irregularities and improprieties."

Bridgeport's registrars ordered only 21,000 ballots in a city of 69,000 voters, assuming a record low turnout of 30 percent for a mid-term election. The city ran out of ballots in 12 of 23 polling places.

The Connecticut Republican Party also is seeking town-by-town voting results and records under the Freedom of Information Act, looking for mistakes and discrepancies that could provide a reason to seek a court-ordered recount.  Healy said Sunday the party is gathering as much information as possible, but the decision to concede or challenge rests with Foley.

"Tom has been very thoughtful. He's been calm and cool," Healy said.

Malloy, who narrowly lost a Democratic primary for governor in 2006, has told his staff to refrain from criticizing Foley's refusal to concede.  In his only public statement, Malloy has expressed confidence he is the winner, but he added, "I appreciate and respect Tom Foley's perspective."

Foley to announce today whether he'll concede or fight on
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
November 8, 2010

Republican Tom Foley said Sunday night he intends today to either concede defeat or outline sufficient grounds to challenge results showing Democrat Dan Malloy winning the race for governor.

"People will know where we're going," Foley said.

Foley is holding a press conference at 1 p.m. in Hartford to discuss his lawyers' review of election results completed Friday that showed Malloy winning by 5,637 votes - just under one-half of one percent.  An automatic recount is ordered only when the margin is 2,000, so Foley and his lawyers have been examining the chaotic results in Bridgeport, where a shortage of scannable ballots forced city officials to use thousands of photocopied ballots that had to be counted by hand.

"I've been working pretty hard. We had a pretty big operation going around," Foley said of the examination of the election results. "I've been pretty involved as a candidate."

With the delivery Friday afternoon of results from Bridgeport, the secretary of the state's office announced that Malloy won with 566,498 votes to 560,861 for Foley and 17,586 for Independent Tom Marsh.  The town-by-town results showed Malloy winning a three-way race for governor with just under 50 percent of the vote. It was Malloy, 49.48 percent; Foley, 48.99 percent; and Marsh, 1.54 percent.

The Connecticut Republican Party also is seeking town-by-town voting results and records under the Freedom of Information Act, looking for mistakes and discrepancies that could provide a reason to seek a court-ordered recount.  But the primary focus remains on Bridgeport, said Chris Healy, the Republican state chairman.

"What we've concluded is the operation was consistently bad and consistently outside the law that required better care and custody of these ballots," Healy said.

Bridgeport ordered only 21,000 ballots for nearly 70,000 registered voters, betting on a record-low turnout of 30 percent. Half the polling places ran short, forcing the city to use the photocopied ballots. At the request of Democrats, a judge also ordered the polls to stay open an extra two hours.  The late-cast ballots were segregated. If an appellate court rules them invalid, it only affects about 100 votes.

Photocopied ballots cast at the JFK School were not counted Tuesday night, as required by law, after a key polling worker fell ill. The 336 ballots were placed in a sealed bag and opened Thursday night to be counted. If the votes are invalidated, Malloy still wins by a margin that does not trigger a recount.  The question Sunday was has Foley's campaign found wider problems?  He declined to say.

Healy acknowledged that the Republicans need to find more than discrepancies. They must find irregularities of a scale that raise doubts about the outcome.

“If we added it all up with all the mistakes, would it affect the outcome of the election? I think that is a reasonable way to look at it,” Healy said.

In 2006, Republicans discovered that 300 more votes were cast in Norwich than voters had been checked off as having voted. The congressional race that year was settled by just 83 votes.

Was it sloppiness by the staff? Or was it evidence of fraud?

"How do you find out how they voted? It is an alarming thing. Those are the things that drive you crazy," Healy said. Ultimately, Republicans did not make an issue of the discrepancy.

Healy said the party is gathering as much information as possible, but the decision to concede or challenge rests with Foley.

"Tom has been very thoughtful. He's been calm and cool," Healy said.

Malloy, who narrowly lost a Democratic primary for governor in 2006, has told his staff to refrain from criticizing Foley's refusal to concede.

In his only public statement, Malloy has expressed confidence he is the winner, but he added, "I appreciate and respect Tom Foley's perspective."

Independent seen as spoiler in governor's race
Ken Dixon, CT POST Staff Writer
Published: 06:34 p.m., Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tom Marsh, the Independent Party candidate for governor, may have siphoned away enough votes from Republican Tom Foley to give the governor's race to Democrat Dannel Malloy.  Marsh, the Chester first selectman - a long-time Republican before changing parties this year - doesn't believe he's the spoiler of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

But Republican State Central Committee Chairman Chris Healy said Saturday that it's as plain as the numbers on the page: Marsh, 17,586 votes; Foley's deficit to Democrat Dannel Malloy, 5,637.

"I don't like it very much, but what are you gonna do?" Healy said in a phone interview. "If people were responding to his message, it was very similar to Tom Foley's message, so certainly that's a sad conclusion of this campaign."

For months during the early part of the gubernatorial campaign this year, Marsh ran as a Republican, before he changed parties and became the Independent Party's standard bearer for the state's highest office.

"Tom being a Republican first selectman of Chester and talking about lifting the burden off local communities and cutting the size of government certainly had an impact on the election, I would say, to Tom Foley's detriment" Healy said. "But he got on the ballot legitimately and he campaigned legitimately and these are some of the `what ifs?' of any close election."

Marsh said in a Saturday afternoon interview that he has received a few e-mails from Republicans who believe Foley would have won if Marsh didn't take away votes. But Marsh doesn't agree with the premise. He thinks he took away support equally from Foley and Malloy.

"You can't just cherry pick," he said. "I'm quite certain it was an even split. I know for certain I took away Malloy votes in Chester, where I took 16 percent of the town vote. Everybody in town, through this whole thing, has been good about it."

What Foley thinks

Foley, in a phone interview Saturday, said that in some respects, Marsh was closer to Malloy in campaign proposals, particularly the need to raise taxes.

"I don't know the answer to the question of whether he took support away from me," Foley said.

"When we looked at our internal polling, it looked like Tom was taking support away from Dan and that he was not hurting me as much as he was hurting Dan."

Foley's polls showed Marsh shifting away support from Democrats at a rate of three-to-one, compared to Republicans.

"I was proud of the fact that I beat Tom Marsh in his hometown," Foley said with a laugh.

In Chester, Marsh got 261 votes, Malloy 765 and Foley 617.

Marsh did best in his running mate Cicero Booker's hometown of Waterbury, collecting 584 votes. The Independent Party duo topped 300 votes in Wallingford, Milford, Manchester and Bristol. They scored 113 votes in Bridgeport.  Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy's campaign adviser, said Saturday that there's no way to really find out where the damage was done without actually talking to those who cast ballots for Marsh.

"Some votes would have gone to Tom and some would have gone to Dan," Occhiogrosso said.

"Some people might not have voted at all. It's always speculative unless you talk to the people who voted for Marsh. All of the polling data indicated a close race and none of the polls even included Marsh. Dan was up a couple points until the end, when he was down a couple points. Dan might have won by more in Marsh hadn't run."

Marsh anticipated being crushed on Election Night.  He and Booker, a Waterbury alderman, received only a fraction of the more than a million votes split nearly equally by Foley and Malloy.  But the 17,586 votes allow the Independent Party to avoid the state's prolonged petitioning process in 2012.

Marsh, who had to collect more than 7,000 signatures this year to reach the ballot, said he believes the local Chester Democratic and Republican leaders were nice enough to only put up a few lawn signs of his better-financed opponents.

What a vote cost?

While Malloy participated in the state's public financing program and had $8.7 million to spend, Foley invested about $11 million of his own fortune and spent about $12.5 million, according to the latest filings with the State Elections Enforcement Commission posted Saturday. Marsh raised and spent about $10,000, spending about 57 cents per vote.

Malloy collected 566,498 votes, at a cost of about $15.36 per vote. Foley got 560,861 votes at a cost of $22.29 per ballot.

Marsh's overall aim was to get 1-percent of the total votes cast to give the group minor-party status and automatic-ballot lines in the next election.  That target of about 11,000 was easily reached.

"The election more than met the objectives set early in the campaign. The Independent Party qualified for ballot status in every Constitutional office race, as well as numerous state legislative races," he said.

"We now set about the work of building on that success and expanding our grassroots organization.

"I congratulate Dan Malloy on his hard- fought victory and wish him well as he begins the task of addressing the significant challenges facing Connecticut," Marsh said in a statement.

Marsh was crowded out of the race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination by better-known and wealthier candidates including Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele of Stamford and Foley, who won the primary.

Foley refuses to concede; says 'it may well take a recount'
Keith M. Phaneuf, Arielle Levin Becker
November 5, 2010

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley refused to concede the election Friday and continued to cast doubt on vote counts that showed Democrat Dan Malloy winning the race by more than 5,000 votes.

"It may well take a recount to get an accurate count," Foley said during a mid-morning press conference in the lobby of the Hartford building that houses the office of his campaign's counsel, former U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor. "There's no automatic recount, but there may well be plenty of basis for a recount."

Though Foley stopped short of pledging to wage a legal challenge, he said his campaign has identified several irregularities and improper procedures that it wants to research further.

"Until we know what an accurate vote count is, we are not going to make any decisions," he said.

But Foley also told reporters that he was less confident that he would win the election than he was a few days ago, saying that vote totals being reported in Bridgeport were less favorable to him than his campaign had anticipated.

"But I am determined, and I think the voters of Connecticut, the citizens of Connecticut, should be as determined that we have an accurate count of how they voted on Tuesday," he said.

What will make him confident in the results?

"We're not sure what it's going to take to have confidence," he said. "The voters of Connecticut will benefit if I can say with confidence that I believe in these results."

Because both candidates have formed transition teams, Foley said taking another couple days to parse the results would not hold up either side from preparing to take office.

"We are being laughed at around this country," he said. "I've even had calls from [overseas] about this vote and what our public officials have done here. I don't want to create a situation where a result is declared here and then it's changed. That could be even worse than where we are."

Malloy issued a statement Friday afternoon reasserting that he is "100 percent confident" he has won by "a margin comfortably outside what is required for a recount," but added that he and running mate Nancy Wyman appreciate and respect Foley's perspective.

"As is the case with more than a few other races in other states across the country, this race is taking a few extra days to play out.  Nancy and I think it should be allowed to play out in an orderly fashion and we support the process established by law," Malloy wrote.

"We're as anxious as everyone else is to get the final numbers," he added. "We're also continuing our intensive efforts to create an administration that is up and running, and ready for the challenges awaiting us when we take office on January 5. To do otherwise would be irresponsible."

Foley took particular aim Friday at Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who released unofficial statewide results on Wednesday that showed Malloy ahead by more than 3,100 votes and called Malloy the "apparent winner" -- all while thousands of votes remained uncertain.

Foley noted that Bysiewicz's office altered the final vote count reported on its website for Torrington on Thursday to reflect about 2,000 additional votes for Foley.

The GOP nominee's campaign also objected to the prolonged delay in getting final results from the state's largest city. Bridgeport officials did not provide final numbers until about 5 a.m. Friday, more than 50 hours after the polls closed and 35 hours after the results were due, by law, to Bysiewicz's office.

"I think it is very unfortunate that the citizens of Connecticut had to wait three days to get even preliminary results," Foley said. "Connecticut deserves better from its public officials."

And Bysiewicz's office still hadn't received the Bridgeport results by late Friday morning, according to a written statement from spokesman Av Harris, who added that the office would spend considerable time reviewing them -- once received -- before reporting the totals.

"As of 11:30 a.m. we still have not received the return from Bridgeport," Harris wrote. "Once the return is received by our office, the data will be entered to our computerized database.  Then the result will be tabulated.  Then the figures will be double- and triple-checked to make sure any errors are eliminated.  When we are confident that we have a complete and accurate election result, then we will release it to you.  Secretary Bysiewicz will not have anything to say until then.  I appreciate your patience."

Foley said his campaign would seek a meeting with Bridgeport election officials to review all of that city's election results, adding that it also would invite the Malloy campaign to participate.

On Thursday, Foley's campaign raised questions about the validity of the ballot count in Bridgeport, particularly about a bag of ballots that weren't counted for two days after polls closed Tuesday night.

"It is unclear where these ballots originated, where they have been for the last two days, and whether they are still valid ballots," Foley said in statement released by his campaign Thursday.

But it turned out the bag had been sealed by a polling place moderator after a poll worker fell ill and couldn't participate in counting the ballots Tuesday. It was opened Thursday night and the ballots -- like the rest of the Bridgeport vote--overwhelmingly favored Malloy.

Foley's running mate, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, told reporters Thursday afternoon that there was no need to declare a winner while vote counts were still in flux.

Boughton said it would make sense for Bysiewicz's office to double- and triple-check numbers coming from moderators. He said he believed the winner could be determined in the next day or two.

"Let's take our time folks, let's slow down a little bit, let's get it right," said Boughton, who expressed concern about Bridgeport workers who had been up for 36 hours and were counting ballots.

Bysiewicz spokesman Av Harris said the office had two teams double-checking and triple-checking vote totals Thursday and corrected figures on the website as necessary. The final corrections were made at noon or shortly after, he said, and everything on the website reflected up-to-date figures.

Late Connecticut Governor Ballots Favor Democrat
November 5, 2010

Dannel P. Malloy, the Democratic former mayor of Stamford, inched ever closer on Friday morning to being declared the winner over Thomas C. Foley, the Republican candidate, in their bitter and bizarre battle to become the next governor of Connecticut.

In an early morning news conference, the mayor of Bridgeport, Bill Finch, declared that his city, after myriad delays and embarrassing problems, had finished counting all of its ballots. And the result, he told reporters, was that Mr. Malloy had 17,800 votes, and Mr. Foley 4,075 votes — a margin that unofficially would give Mr. Malloy a 5,000-vote lead statewide.

The vote count, Mr. Finch said, did not include the roughly 100 ballots that were cast after 8 p.m., when a state judge allowed 12 polling sites to stay open an extra two hours because of a lack of ballots. But in the latest revelation that has made Connecticut an electoral laughingstock this year, Mr. Finch also noted that the vote did include 336 ballots that were found, unopened, in a bag at a polling site.

The ballots were scheduled to be taken to Hartford later Friday morning by State Police, and delivered to Susan Bysiewicz, the secretary of state, who is the state’s top election official. She is then expected to make an announcement later declaring Mr. Malloy’s victory.

Of course, if the last four days are any indication, one never knows what may go awry.

Ever since the polls closed on Tuesday night — or, more precisely, ever since the polls closed two hours later than normal in Bridgeport because of ballot troubles — Mr. Malloy and Mr. Foley have played political chicken over who will actually become the state’s 88th governor.

The two were separated, it would seem, by a few thousand votes. But beyond that, voters across the state were experiencing symptoms of political whiplash, given all the confusion and contradictions over the past three days.

“I’m hoping that Connecticut is not becoming Florida,” said Thomas J. D’Amore Jr., a political consultant who was chief of staff to Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. “Or California. For all of the ribbing that California takes with so-called Governor Moonbeam, he is beginning to make California look like the Land of Steady Habits. At least they seem to know who they’ve elected to office.”

State and local election officials managed to add to the chaos on Thursday. At first, Ms.Bysiewicz declared that she would have the official results at noon. But that was delayed, and then delayed again, when state officials learned that a Bridgeport election official had gone home to take a nap only to be summoned by a police officer to return to work.

The drama, perhaps predictably, was prolonged when election officials said there were too many ballots from Bridgeport to be counted before the end of the business day. The work would resume on Friday.

Some officials criticized Ms. Bysiewicz, a Democrat who had once been considered the leading contender for governor, before opting to run for attorney general, only to be disqualified by a state court. She, in turn, blamed Bridgeport officials.

Regardless of the results, Republicans said they expected Mr. Foley, a wealthy financier who spent $10 million of his own money on the race, to explore every legal option.

“I’m sure there’ll be lively litigation over it,” Ms. Bysiewicz said on a radio program Wednesday.

The first sign of trouble came on Election Day, when officials in Bridgeport, the state’s largest city, ran out of ballots a few hours before the polls closed at 8 p.m. They had been banking on low turnout and did not order more. So Ms. Bysiewicz, over the objections of Republicans, persuaded a state judge to extend voting hours at 12 Bridgeport polling locations until 10 p.m.

Mr. Foley led the returns most of the night. But Mr. Malloy then declared victory, sort of, in a speech after 1 a.m. Not to be outdone, Mr. Foley declared victory, too, and then said he was going to bed.

On Wednesday, Ms. Bysiewicz declared that Mr. Malloy was indeed the winner, by 3,103 votes, unofficially, based on information provided by election officials in every town. But Mr. Foley was having none of it. Declaring that his own numbers indicated that he had won, he even called a radio program on Wednesday, when Ms. Bysiewicz was on as a guest, and chastised her.

“It was a bit out of character for him,” said Richard Foley, a former Republican Party chairman in Connecticut, who has known Thomas Foley for 20 years (they are not related). “He is not given to flights of fancy. This was not his normal M.O.”

Mr. Malloy, hoping to give his candidacy an aura of inevitability, held a defiant news conference later on Wednesday in Hartford, and announced a transition team, led by a former official in the last Democratic administration to run the state, in the 1980s. Not to be outdone, Mr. Foley announced his own transition team, led by a utilities executive and a former state representative.

By Wednesday night, the story took another twist. The Associated Press, which had originally called the race for Mr. Malloy, withdrew its declaration and said Mr. Foley held the upper hand.

By Thursday, though, The A.P. had revised its numbers, based on more information from New Haven, yet another Democratic stronghold.

Gary L. Rose, chairman of the government department at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, said the confusion made him wonder, “What is happening to the quality of our politics in this state?”

“Bring back the bosses,” Dr. Rose said, half-jokingly. “They sure stabilized things, and things ran better.”

Connecticut voters, meanwhile, could barely keep up. Over burgers and beer at the White Horse Country Pub and Restaurant in Marble Dale, patrons watched big screen TVs that announced periodically that there was still no answer.

Michael Garrity of Washington, who classified himself as “an unemployed salesman who would vote for Mickey Mouse as long as he was a Democrat,” said he voted for Mr. Malloy and “was overjoyed” when he heard on the radio that he had won.

“But then I heard he didn’t win,” Mr. Garrity said. “And my heart sunk. Then I heard he won again. Then didn’t win.

“It’s just too weird. Now I’m just sitting here drinking wine, and waiting.”


On Wednesday morning, 9:30am, the numbers in our local races showed these interim results:  updates an hour later from Connecticut POST added in 135th for Easton and the 26th for Ridgefield






FROM THE CT SECRETARY OF THE STATE:  Statement of Vote page here

Lavielle is probable winner in state rep contest
Wilton Bulletin
Written by Jeannette Ross
Tuesday, 02 November 2010 20:47

Wilton Republicans have declared Gail Lavielle the winner of the race for state representative in the 143rd District. “I hope that today marks a new change of course for our district,” Ms. Lavielle said. “I can’t think of a group of ladies and gentlemen I’d want to represent more.”

...The Wilton Republican Town Committee did not have totals for Norwalk District B, saying only Ms. Lavielle won that district by 38 votes.

“We have a new state representative,” said RTC Chairman Al Alper. “She worked very hard for that.”

“It was a hard-fought race,” Peggy Reeves said. “I want to congratulate my opponent for winning in Wilton. I have loved serving the people of the 143d District.

“It was a difficult year to be an incumbent. I wish my opponent the very best of luck.”


Click here to go to the LWVCT Online Voter's Guide - no state-wide LWV debates for Governor and possibly for U.S. Senator, either.
CONNECTICUT ELECTION SEASON 2010:  This year we will stick to strictly reverse chronological order, by office

For example, altered historical fact issue

And there is always the shadow of Washington, D.C. "mid-term election" curse...
Did someone mention Campaign Finance Reform or De-form? Which campairns are we paying for?  Tea Party influence in CT? 
Health Care in CT?

2010 Primary story:

FROM THE SECRETARY OF THE STATE:  Statement of Vote page here

OUR UNOFFICIAL TALLY:  Number of votes cast total/percent of registered voters, Weston - est. 6700 registered voters and 3851 voted = 57%

W I N N E R S    I N    W E S T O N

Governor/Lieutenant Governor - FOLEY/BOUGHTON
United States Senator - BLUMENTHAL
Representative in Congress - HIMES
State Senators 26th &28th Districts BOUCHER26 & MCKINNEY28
House 135th - SHABAN
Secretary of the State - FARRELL
Treasurer - WRIGHT
Comptroller - ORCHULLI
Attorney General - JEPSEN
Judge of Probate - O'GRADY
Registrar of Voters - MORAN (2053) & SMITS (1917)

V O T I N G     D I S T R I C T    O N E   (Most of Weston - the State Senate District #28)


V O T I N G    D I S T R I C T    T W O  (the smaller area in the southern part of town, State Senate District #26)

John Shaban and Carl Bernstein debate - 2 lawyers go at it.

Weston candidates square off at debate
Weston FORUM
Written by Liz Skalka

Wednesday, 27 October 2010 11:42

More job growth, a lower deficit and a more efficient state government — while the goals are common, how to achieve them is still a matter of debate between candidates vying for the 135th House District.

Carl Bernstein and John Shaban running in the district, which includes all of Weston, Easton, and part of Redding, along with candidates in Redding’s other House district (the 2nd), squared off in a Redding League of Women Voters debate at the Redding Community Center last Wednesday, Oct. 20, responding to questions submitted by audience members about taxes, state government, education and transportation.

Weston’s Carl Bernstein, a Democrat, and Redding’s John Shaban, a Republican, are jockeying for the 135th District seat being vacated by John Stripp, who is not seeking re-election. Gabriel Rossi is also on the ballot as the Green Party-endorsed candidate, but he did not participate in the Oct. 20 debate.

The 2nd District candidates at the debate were Bethel Democrat Jason Bartlett, the incumbent, and his challenger, Republican Dan Carter, also of Bethel. The district includes parts of Danbury, Bethel and Redding.

While they were able to reach a consensus on some issues, opinions about others spanned differing personal and party ideologies.  Candidates were first asked by league moderator Charlotte Garrell to describe themselves and why they chose to run for office.

“As a citizen, I have an obligation to serve my community,” said Mr. Shaban.  Mr. Shaban is a Greenwich law firm partner. He’s chairman of Redding’s Water Pollution Control Commission and vice chairman of that town’s Zoning Commission.

Mr. Bernstein, a New York litigation attorney, touted his active involvement in the Democratic Party.

“This is an extension of what I believe is my ability to serve,” said Mr. Bernstein, who noted he once ran for the New York State Assembly.

Revenue and deficit

The candidates responded to a question that broadly addressed taxes, revenue, the state’s deficit and state government.

Mr. Bernstein said he’s reluctant to raise taxes, but would consider it a solution of “last resort.”

He advocated “making the state as job-friendly as possible” through special economic zones. He also suggested working with universities to keep employment within the state.  In terms of improving state government, it must be streamlined in order to be more effective and user-friendly, he said.

Mr. Shaban said his focus is on “people and business — that’s it.”

“Would I raise taxes?” he asked. “That’s like bleeding the patient … You can’t raise taxes and expect businesses and jobs to come back.”

He seeks to create a “predictable and stable environment” for businesses to grow. Mr. Shaban added that government size and spending has increased more than the population has.

Republicans can’t talk about slashing and burning without stating specifics, Mr. Bernstein responded.

Mr. Bartlett agreed with Mr. Bernstein that parts of state government need to be consolidated. He suggested merging agencies such as Homeland Security and Public Safety. State employees should also make concessions, he said.

Education cost sharing

The candidates were asked about their views on the Education Cost Sharing grant, the state’s largest funding program for kindergarten through grade 12.

“I see my job as getting every dollar Easton-Redding is entitled to,” Mr. Bernstein said.

“Let’s keep dollars here, don’t send them up to Hartford,” Mr. Shaban said. He added, “The focus should be on hiring talented people. Teachers first, bells and whistles second.”


Another discussion centered around SustiNet, the state health care plan for Connecticut. In 2009, the SustiNet law established a board to recommend details and plans for implementation to the legislature by January 2011.

Mr. Shaban said the program has some great ideas but “has the potential to put government in the insurance business.” We will be “nickel, dimed and quartered to death with government-run insurance,” Mr. Shaban added.

SustiNet is “critical to help Connecticut and those people with pre-existing conditions,” said Mr. Bernstein, who does not see it as government entering the health care business.

Candidates were asked specifically about business regulations, but the discussion expanded to how business should be grown.

Mr. Shaban said taxes and regulations are speed bumps. “Regulations are just part of the problem. The biggest problem is taxes,” he said.

Mr. Bernstein is in favor of business enterprise zones, but added the state needs better public transportation and highway infrastructure to really have businesses thrive.

“We have a great opportunity to grow business here and I’d like to take more advantage of it,” Mr. Bernstein said.

“I think we’re all saying the same thing, but the devil’s in the details,” Mr. Shaban said. Mr. Shaban was also in favor of enterprise zones in Bethel, Danbury and Georgetown.

Other topics

Minimum wage: Mr. Shaban agreed with the idea that the only reason to lower minimum wage would be to encourage business growth in enterprise zones, but added that minimum wage adjustments would not solve employment issues. Mr. Bernstein said he was shocked with what Republicans had suggested, and described minimum wage as a “safety net to live with some degree of decency in the state.”

Danbury Branch rail line: Mr. Shaban said he would be in favor of making improvements to Metro-North’s Danbury branch to help revive industry along the rail line. Mr. Bernstein said capacity should be increased.

Agriculture: Mr. Shaban said state agriculture should be run like any other business — with an eye toward profit — while Mr. Bernstein said though he hadn’t given a lot of thought to agriculture, he agreed it should be profitable.

Closing remarks

“I understand what concerns people,” Mr. Shaban said. “I’m done sitting on the sidelines.”

Mr. Bernstein said, “I want to do everything to streamline government and bring an effective voice to government.”

This was the first and only debate among the candidates.

There is a wide division between making laws and following them.

Harry Reid aide off campaign after reports of sham marriage
By Rachel Rose Hartman
Tue Oct 26, 9:07 am ET

An aide for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) covered up an illegal seven-year marriage to a Lebanese national who was the subject of an Oklahoma City Joint Terror Task Force investigation, Jana Winter reported Monday night for Fox News.

Reid's office told Fox on Monday night that Reid had not known of the sham and that the aide, Hispanic-media press secretary Diana Tejada, is no longer with the campaign.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley also noted that the alleged conduct took place several years before Tejada had worked for Reid.

Tejada reportedly admitted to receiving payment in exchange for fraudulently marrying Bassam Mahmoud Tarhini in 2003 so he could attain permanent U.S. residency. She also reportedly lied to federal immigration and FBI agents and submitted false federal documents to the Department of Homeland Security.

Tarhini was deported for the fraudulent marriage in March 2010, but no charges were filed against Tejada.

The news broke just one week before Reid faces the fight of his political career against Republican nominee Sharron Angle.

Manley, in a statement to Fox News, suggested the story is "a desperation measure by partisan Republicans, who have stooped to slinging mud about junior staffers to score points in the waning days of [Angle's] campaign."

Candidates for governor differ over state DEP staffing

Keith M. Phaneuf
October 18, 2010 (we just noticed this today)

NEW HAVEN -- Connecticut's gubernatorial candidates split Monday over how to make the environmental watchdog process more efficient without putting the state's populace and natural resources at risk.

During a Yale University forum sponsored by the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and nearly a dozen other environmental advocacy groups, Democrat Dan Malloy stopped short of pledging more staff for the Department of Environmental Protection, but questioned whether it could improve responsiveness with current employee levels.

Meanwhile, both Republican Tom Foley and Independent Party nominee Tom Marsh said they believe that with appropriate leadership, the DEP could do its job with staffing at current levels or below.

The format for Monday's forum, which took place before about 150 guests in the university's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, also pressed the candidates about clean energy, brownfield remediation, open space preservation and clean water issues.

"Whatever we do (with the DEP) has to address appropriate levels of staffing," Malloy said, adding that while Connecticut's next governor must improve the agency's ability to process permit applications in an efficient and timely manner, there are complaints within the department that it lacks sufficient staff to do so now.

The DEP, which has been overseen by Republican governors since 1995, has been "purposely underfunded" for years, Malloy said, adding this problem cannot be ignored in the quest to create new jobs.

"It's fundamentally important that we hold ourselves to high standards, and timeliness is one of those standards," he said, adding that state government needs to focus on creating jobs and operating government more efficiently. "We have to understand that all of the things we want to do in Connecticut ... are going to require that we change how we do business, but not that we sacrifice the environment."

But Foley said the DEP has both a reputation and a track record of responding slowly to permit applications from the business community, and the problem doesn't stem from staffing issues.

When asked by National Public Radio journalist Nancy Cohen, the forum's moderator, to address a nearly 10 percent staffing reduction the DEP has faced since 2003, Foley said "I have complaints all over state government that there aren't enough staff. But that's attitudinal. We simply need to do more with less."

Foley added that he has heard complaints from businesses that application requests have taken close to two years to process, a delay that is driving businesses and jobs away. "No permit requires two years. I can promise you that's not a responsive organization," the GOP nominee said, adding that "I really think the answer is better management, better leadership, setting goals."

Foley, who has been a strong advocate of privatization as a means to reduce state spending, refused to rule out employing private contractors to handle environmental inspections currently being performed by state employees. "We should get the best deal we can," he said. "If we can get the same level or quality for less, we have an obligation to the taxpayers and the citizens to turn it over to a private contractor."

Marsh echoed the other two candidates in calling for a "systemic change in how we do business," but with a $3.3 billion deficit forecast for the fiscal year that begins in less than nine months, he would not rule out asking the DEP to do more with less.

Marsh did say, though, that the legislature and Gov.M. Jodi Rell made a "deplorable" decision in propping up more than $950 million in spending in this fiscal year's budget with borrowing to be paid off with a surcharge on state utility bills, and by  raiding about 35 percent of a clean energy investment fund.

"We have to bring integrity back to our budgeting process," he said, adding that while the next governor cannot "wave a magic wand" and reverse this and other raids on special funds immediately, that would be a priority in a Marsh administration.

The format for Monday's event was designed by the Fund for the Environment to force the candidates to focus solely on issues and to eliminate the prospect of angry exchanges.

Each candidate was brought separately into the auditorium in Kroon Hall, given five minutes for an opening statement, and then invited to participate in a 15-minute discussion with Cohen, who specializes in environmental issues.

The three candidates did reach common ground in several areas, emphasizing remediation of polluted, former industrial sites, typically referred to as brownfields, to both spur job growth and protect the environment.

Malloy and Foley also agreed that while they support investments in fuel cells and other environmentally friendly or "green" technologies, they oppose the development of new wind turbine stations on Long Island Sound.

Both major party candidates also said they believe state government should continue with an open space preservation program, even amidst a large state budget deficit, calling it a top environmental priority and a sound financial investment.

Tuesday, Oct. 12 10:35 a.m.

Ex-Rep. Chris Shays is back on the airwaves in Connecticut's 4th congressional district, even if he's not on the ballot. Shays has cut a TV ad for state Sen. Dan Debicella, a Republican from Shelton who is trying to oust freshman Democratic Rep. Jim Himes.

Himes narrowly wrested the seat from Shays in 2008, and he's tried to adopt Shays' independent label in his showdown with Debicella. The new Shays ad takes direct aim at that strategy.

 "Voting with Nancy Pelosi 94 percent of the time does not meet my test for independence, and I can't imagine it meets yours," Shays says, as side-by-side photos of Himes and Pelosi appear on the screen before returning to Shays sitting in a comfy living-room setting, where he makes a pitch for Debicella.

Thanks to HIMES campaign for list - not an endorsement of candidate, however!

AARP Debate
October 13, 2010 at 10:30AM
Bridgeport Holiday Inn
1070 Main Street, Bridgeport
Please call HIMES HQ for tickets: (203) 987-3333 (Thanks to e-mail from HIMES, we have this list)

World Affairs Forum Debate
October 21, 2010 at 7:00PM
Downtown Stamford Holiday Inn
700 E. Main Street, Stamford
No tickets, first come-first served

League of Women Voters Debate

October 24, 2010 at 4:00PM
Wilton High School, Clune Auditorium
395 Danbury Road, Wilton
No tickets, first come-first served

Bridgeport Regional Business Council Debate
October 26, 2010 at 8:00AM
Housatonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd., Bridgeport
Please rsvp (203) 335-3800, Walk-ins welcome as space permits

Business Council of Fairfield County Debate
October 28, 2010 at 9:00AM
UCONN Stamford
1 University Place, Stamford
Advance registration is REQUIRED
$25 for members, $35 for non-members

Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce Debate
October 28, 2010 at 12:00PM
Norwalk DoubleTree Inn
789 Connecticut Ave, Norwalk
Advance registration is REQUIRED, please call: 203-866-2521

Worry and surprise, born of uncertainty.  We'll have the answer soon.
September 29, 2010 Q-Poll stirs unease in Democrat's U.S. Senate camp and pleasant surprise for Republican candidate for Governor. 

Latest Quinnipiac Poll: Tom Foley Closes In On Dannel Malloy In Race That Is Too Close To Call
Hartford Courant
By Christopher Keating  on September 29, 2010 6:41 AM

Republican Tom Foley is quickly closing the gap against Democrat Dannel Malloy in a race for governor that is now too close to call, the latest Quinnipiac University poll shows.

Malloy is ahead by 3 percentage points, but the margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points makes the battle too close to predict in an increasingly nasty race.

One of the key shifts is that the all-important unaffiliated voters - the largest voting bloc in Connecticut - have moved toward Foley in recent weeks. The race had previously been a flat-footed tie among independents, but the latest survey shows Foley ahead by 6 percentage points among independents.

A longtime business executive from Greenwich, Foley has poured more than $4 million of his own money into the race against Malloy, who is receiving up to $6 million in public financing.

The latest Q-Poll, which was released at about 6:40 a.m. Wednesday, shows Malloy ahead by 45 percent to 42 percent with 12 percent undecided. Another 22 percent say they could change their minds before election day on November 2.

In the previous poll that was released in mid-September, Malloy had been leading by 9 percentage points with 8 percent still undecided and 26 percent saying that they could change their mind before the election.

The gubernatorial poll results came out a day after the Q-Poll had also shown Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal's lead narrowing to 3 percentage points over Republican nominee Linda McMahon -- again, shrinking to within the margin of error.

Meeting with reporters at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the state Capitol, Quinnipiac Poll Director Doug Schwartz explained the new results this way: "Similar to yesterday, when we found the Democrat in the Senate race leading by 3 points, we also find the Democrat in the governor's race leading by 3 points. In both races, we found a narrowing of the gap. The Republican is gaining ground."

Schwartz added that in the last gubernatorial poll two weeks ago, Foley had trailed by 9 points. "Now he trails Malloy by just 3 points. It's too close to call."

"One of the key differences between the senate and governor's races .. is that there are many more undecideds in the governor's race than in the Senate race," Schwartz said. "Twelve percent of voters in the governor's race are undecided, compared to 4 percent in the Senate race. This makes sense because in the governor's race the candidates are not nearly as well known as they are in the Senate race. More than 3 in 10 voters said they don't know enough about either Foley or Malloy to form an opinion. So there is more room in the governor's race for movement."

Schwartz said that in the Malloy-Foley race, about one-third of the voters are "persuadables" -- with "12 percent undecided and another 22 perecent of voters who say they could still change their minds." That means that the effect of upcoming debates may be greater on the Malloy-Foley race than on Blumenthal-McMahon, Schwartz said.

In both the Senate and governor's races, the reason for the narrowing is that "there's been a shift among independents," Schwartz said. "Malloy and Foley were tied two weeks ago among independents. Now Foley has a 6 point lead among independents."

While many politicians and political observers are obsessed with polls in the heat of the campaign season, Malloy's campaign manager says he views it differently.

In response to the survey showing that Foley is closing the gap, campaign manager Dan Kelly, said, "We don't pay much attention to polls. The same poll had Dan down by 3 the day before the primary, a race he won by 14 points. Dan tells us to campaign as if we're in second place, 10 points down. So that's what we do.''

Malloy and Foley have clashed sharply in television commercials in recent weeks, and several new ads are hitting the airwaves today.

Foley is broadcasting a new commercial this week that was being shown Wednesday on the morning news programs. The ad mentions that Malloy sought a pay increase as Stamford's mayor, saying, "Malloy raised taxes year after year. ... Dan Malloy: a career politician whose policies kill jobs.''

Foley has particularly focused on the loss of 13,843 jobs in Stamford since the peak employment year of 2000. Malloy has repeatedly stated in commercials that he helped create thousands of jobs as mayor, but state labor statistics show that there was a net loss of more than 5,000 jobs during his 14-year tenure leading the city. In addition, the unemployment rate - which measures the employment of Stamford residents as opposed to the overall number of jobs in the city - jumped by 58 percent during the Malloy years.

In a new ad, Malloy focuses on employees who had once worked at a factory that Foley owned at The Bibb Company in Columbus, Georgia. The company's longtime textile mill closed about two years after Foley left the firm as chief executive officer in 1996. Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele aired a similar commercial during the primary, but Foley countered that some of the workers who appeared in Fedele's commercial had never worked at the factory and others thought they were being interviewed for a documentary about the mill.

In another new, anti-Foley commercial by the Democratic Governors Association that aired before 7 a.m. Wednesday, a narrator says that Foley "devastated a community and thousands of lives'' in Georgia as he and his company "made millions.''

Folely is also airing a 30-second commercial that features his wife, Leslie Fahrenkopf Foley, an attorney who attended Yale University and the University of Virginia who says that she has worked with many impressive people during her career. She adds that there has been "no one more impressive than Tom Foley - so I married him.''

Malloy, Foley and Independent Party candidate Thomas E. Marsh of Chester faced off for the first time in the general election campaign on Tuesday night in a debate that focused on public education. They spoke on a stage in front of a live audience at a public school in Middletown.

Today, the three candidates are scheduled to discuss tourism in another forum at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. The televised debates begin next week on Fox Connecticut in a debate at 7 p.m. Tuesday that is co-sponsored by The Hartford Courant at The Bushnell Center For the Performing Arts in Hartford.

LWV scraps three gubernatorial debates
Mark Pazniokas
September 24, 2010

Ignored by Republican Tom Foley, the League of Women Voters said today it was pulling the plug on three televised gubernatorial debates planned for Bridgeport, Stamford and Danbury.

But there still will be at least four gubernatorial and three U.S. Senate debates televised between Oct. 4 and 29, though none will include minor-party candidates.

The Independent Party's candidate for governor, Tom Marsh, had met the League's criteria for inclusion in the cancelled debates, as has the party's Senate candidate, Warren Mosler, for a series of Senate debates.

The criteria includes evidence of a significant campaign and public support, including having raised $50,000. John Mertens, a minor-party candidate for Senate, is on the ballot, but he did not meet the League's criteria.

"We cleared their hurdles, and they invited us. We were ecstatic," said Alice Marshall, a spokeswoman for Mosler, a successful businessman. "Warren is running to get out a message about full employment and prosperity, and this would have been a chance to be heard."

Mertens, a Trinity College professor, said minor-party candidates often make points and introduce issues shunned by the major-party candidates.

"They don't answer questions in debates. They are rehearsed on how not to answer questions. The real answers come from third-party candidates," Mertens said.

The League's Senate debates have not been cancelled, but they are in jeopardy, as Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republican Linda McMahon have not agreed to attend...

We note the following three (3) statements from Stamford ADVOCATE article:
  1. "He's only been here two years. You can't change a country overnight," Carlo Leone said in reference to President Obama's record..
  2. State Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, said he does not believe McMahon has the experience to serve in the Senate and has not told voters what she will do to solve problems.  "When will she actually start to articulate meaningful solutions to the problems we have?" McDonald said. "She's got no public record."  McDonald and other Fairfield County Democrats have in past years opposed fellow legislators' efforts to hike income taxes on households earning around $250,000, arguing they could be considered upper middle-class residents of the state.
  3. "The President is in Connecticut today to put the administration's stamp of approval on Richard Blumenthal," McMahon spokesman Ed Patru said...

Your polling choices: Malloy, Foley and 'someone else'
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
September 15, 2010

Independent gubernatorial candidate Tom Marsh says his exclusion from today's Quinnipiac University poll is "unacceptable," but the poll's director says it is good polling practice.

Douglas Schwartz, the poll's director, said polls that prompt voters with a question about minor-party candidates get results that exaggerate their support.

Instead, Quinnipiac records the preferences of voters who say they intend to vote for someone other than Democrat Dan Malloy or Republican Tom Foley. In today's poll, the vote for "someone else" came to 1 percent.

Among unaffiliated voters, "someone else" got 2 percent.

Marsh can lay claim to any support registered in the name of someone else: He is the only other candidate for governor on the ballot.

Marsh, the first selectman of Chester, ran for the GOP nomination, then dropped out to run as the nominee of the Independent Party. He says he has been invited to participate in 10 gubernatorial forums this fall.

In an interview in March, he told the Mirror he is running as a small-town official frustrated with how local officials fare at the State Capitol.

"It all rolls down hill," Marsh said. "We're the tail on the dog here."

Marsh said he resented listening to legislators talk about a need to entice municipal officials to experiment with regionalization. He sees no one in Hartford with any business advising municipalities.

"The first thought was, 'I'm doing a lot of complaining. Why not give it a shot and get on the podium and say your piece?' " Marsh said.

By jumping to the Independent Party, a conversation that was going to end after the Republican State Convention in May has continued.

Stalking Craigslist

Last Updated: 12:24 AM, September 8, 2010
Posted: 11:55 PM, September 7, 2010

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal may never have served in Vietnam (despite his recollections to the contrary), but he is a hero in the war on prostitution. Armed with nothing but sternly worded letters, indignant press releases and a seemingly inexhaustible store of self-righteousness, Blumenthal played a key role in pressuring Craigslist to shut down its "adult services" section, which he called a "blatant Internet brothel."

On Friday night, the online classified ad service replaced the hyperlink to the controversial section with a black rectangle labeled "censored." If Blumenthal has anything to say about it (and you know he will), no one will ever pay for sex again.

Strictly speaking, prostitution is none of Blumenthal's business -- and not just because consensual sex between adults, whether or not money changes hands, is beyond the proper scope of government. As Connecticut's Division of Criminal Justice explains on its Web site, the state's attorney general "has no jurisdiction whatsoever over criminal matters and no authority to prosecute criminal violations of the law."

Although fighting prostitution is not part of Blumenthal's portfolio as attorney general, it is part of his campaign for the US Senate, in which he portrays himself as a crusader who is unafraid to challenge "the biggest special interests." With an estimated $122 million in revenue this year, Craigslist is not all that big, but it dominates the online classified-ad business and runs one of the country's most popular Web sites.

Conflating prostitution with slavery and child rape, Blumenthal accused Craigslist of profiting from horrendous crimes. "We recognize that Craigslist may lose the considerable revenue generated by the Adult Services ads" if it closes the section, Blumenthal and 16 other state attorneys general wrote in an Aug. 24 letter to the company. "No amount of money, however, can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution, and the suffering of the women and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by Craigslist."

Blumenthal ignores both the law's role in fostering coercion and violence by driving the business underground and the protection that services like Craigslist can provide by allowing prostitutes to screen customers and avoid walking the streets. But to fully appreciate the audacity of his charge that money blinded Craigslist to the suffering of sex slaves, note that the company started charging for adult service ads in 2008 at the behest of law-enforcement officials. The idea was that fees would thin the section, while requiring a credit card and a valid phone number would deter criminal activity.

Craigslist also hired dozens of lawyers to screen ads for compliance with the company's terms of use, which prohibit "offer or solicitation of illegal prostitution." Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster reports that "more than 700,000 ads were rejected by those attorneys in the year following implementation of manual screening" in May 2009, while Village Voice Media's (where the ads are far more explicit) saw a big increase in business.

No doubt many of the masseuses, companions and erotic dancers advertising on Craigslist were still selling sex, but they were a little more subtle about it, which is all that the law requires of such ads. Look up "massage," "escorts" or "entertainment, adult" in a big-city phone book, and you will see ample evidence that Blumenthal's crusade is really a matter of taste.

As an "interactive computer service," Craigslist had no obligation to screen ads -- under federal law, posters are exclusively responsible for such content. By taking precautions that were bound to be less than completely effective, the company invited further demands from bullying busybodies like Blumenthal, who deemed last week's capitulation merely a "step in the right direction."

The ads that offended Blumenthal already have begun migrating to other Craigslist sections (which are unscreened and generally free) or to less fastidious competitors. As company founder Craig Newmark remarked about a CNN ambush interview aimed at revealing him as a virtual pimp, "The point was what?"


Coyote killed in Rye Brook confirmed rabid

Debra Friedman, Staff Writer
Published: 11:03 p.m., Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A coyote shot and killed by Rye Brook police in New York Monday was confirmed rabid Wednesday by the Westchester County Department of Health. It is the first report of a rabid coyote in Westchester County, officials said.

Police shot the coyote after it became aggressive toward a police officer and a coyote trapper who were trying to capture the animal following three coyote attacks on human that occurred Sunday. In one of the Sunday night attacks, a sick looking coyote lunged at a 2-year-old before her father, Jared Zuckerman, 28, of Greenwich, pulled her away and was bit in the back of his leg by the animal. A 14-year-old boy was also scratched by the coyote an hour earlier in Rye Brook, but scared the coyote away by hitting it in the face.

It was not clear Wednesday if the coyote killed was the animal involved in the attacks, but police said the coyote was similar in description and behavior. All three attack victims were treated in the hospital following the incidents and received rabies vaccines.

When administered early enough and before symptoms develop, rabies treatment is 100 percent effective, according to health officials. Once symptoms occur, in humans or animals, it is fatal.

Westchester County officials urge anyone who may have had contact with the rabid animal to contact the health department and seek immediate treatment. Officials said if residents notice any unusual or aggressive behavior of wild animals, they should contact their police department.

Greenwich father and daughter shaken after N.Y. coyote attack
Debra Friedman, Greenwich TIME
Published: 09:54 p.m., Tuesday, September 7, 2010

While authorities in Rye Brook, N.Y., believe they killed the coyote that attacked three people over the weekend, a Greenwich man who saved his daughter from the aggressive animal is still not sure how to feel about the turn of events.

"I don't know if I am relieved," said Jared Zuckerman, when asked how he felt that the animal was killed. "We've been told we are sharing nature and sharing spaces. I don't know what was going on out there."

It was around 8 p.m. Sunday night when Zuckerman took his two-year-old daughter outside to play on his father's driveway on Hillandale Road in Rye Brook.

"We were sitting outside at the bottom of the driveway of my father's house, kind of just playing and hanging out, when I caught something in corner of my eye," Zuckerman said. "By the time I turned around to look at (my daughter), it was lunging with its teeth (showing)."

Zuckerman said he grabbed his daughter, putting her underneath his arm and turned as the coyote growled and bit the back of his leg causing a superficial wound.

Zuckerman continued slowly backing away while making loud noises until he approached his father's garage and the coyote retreated to the backyard.

"It definitely shook me up," Zuckerman said. "I think it is unfortunate that any of it had to happen. You always want to feel safe in your own home. It is one of those things that definitely makes you more aware of what is going on."

Zuckerman and his daughter were two of three people attacked by the aggressive coyote Sunday night, according to Rye Brook police. A 14-year-old boy was also lunged at while he was playing at Eagles Bluff around 6:50 p.m., but scared the coyote away after striking it in the head.

The coyote believed to be responsible for both attacks was found Monday morning behind 257 North Ridge St. As police and a trapper attempted to catch the coyote, the animal displayed aggressive behavior and charged the officer, leading him to shoot the animal, police said.

The coyote appeared to be similar to the animal involved in Sunday's attacks, police said. The animal will be tested by the Westchester County Department of Health to determine if it is rabid, according to police.

The attacks took place three days after a Glenville resident reported encountering an aggressive coyote while running in her neighborhood. Donna Gaudioso-Zeale, director of the Greenwich Hospital's Center for Healthy Living, said a coyote came out of the woods and began following her on Thursday night. In defense, Gaudioso-Zeale started barking, growling and running after the coyote, which she said seemed to stop it from following her. The incident was reported to Greenwich Animal Control.

Lt. Kraig Gray, spokesman for the Greenwich Police Department, said he understood that the coyote problem in nearby towns could cause concern among town residents, but urged people not to panic, especially now that the coyote causing the trouble is dead.

"Coyotes are part of the natural landscape here, but people should continue to be aware of any out of the ordinary behavior," said Gray.

Animal Control officers said it is extremely rare for coyotes to act aggressively toward humans. The best way to avoid contact with coyotes is to keep food and small pets out of yards in the evening, police said.

Police first began issuing warnings about coyotes in June after two girls from Rye were attacked by a coyote during separate incidents. Neither girl was seriously injured, but the incidents prompted the city to start a trapping program.

Rye Police Commissioner William Connors said there is no way of knowing if the coyote killed Monday was responsible for the June attacks in his jurisdiction.

Connors said his department will continue to stay vigilant and he urged residents to do the same. "We've continued our trapping program," Connors said. "We urge people to exercise caution and take all the standard actions we've recommended in the past."

Gray said Greenwich residents should also follow previously released guidelines and never hesitate to call police or animal control to report aggressive behavior. "It is reasonable for people to be extra vigilant," Gray said. "If there are any sightings or issues, people should continue to call police."

Greenwich road runner bests wily coyote
Lisa Chamoff, Stamford ADVOCATE
Published: 08:42 p.m., Friday, September 3, 2010

GREENWICH -- When Glenville resident Donna Gaudioso-Zeale went out for a run in her neighborhood Thursday night, she got more than just exercise.

Gaudioso-Zeale, director of the Greenwich Hospital's Center for Healthy Living, found herself faced with a menacing coyote.

While Gaudioso-Zeale often hears and sees coyotes in her neighborhood, she said the one that came out of the woods on Glen Ridge Road near the Merritt Parkway seemed ready to attack.

Gaudioso-Zeale said she was concerned, especially after coyotes attacked two young girls in two separate instances in nearby Rye, N.Y., this past June, and because there's a bus stop on Glen Ridge.

With each step Gaudioso-Zeale took, the coyote followed. "When I backed up, it got more aggressive and I knew I couldn't outrun it," she said.

In defense, Gaudioso-Zeale started barking, growling and running after the coyote, which she said seemed to stop it from following her. Luckily, just as the showdown got intense, a motorist pulled up and Gaudioso-Zeale jumped into the car.

Gaudioso-Zeale later reported the incident to Greenwich police and animal control. Police spokesman Lt. Kraig Gray said area patrols likely will be informed.

Paul Rego, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the incident was "unusual, but not unheard of."

"Very often, it's cases where the people have a dog with them, and it seems like the coyotes are interested in the dog in particular."

There have been reports in recent years of dogs being attacked by coyotes in Greenwich. In 2003, three dogs in Riverside were killed by coyotes, including a bichon frise owned by pro football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford and his wife, Kathie Lee. Attacks on humans are rare, police officials have said.

Rego said there has been a gradual increase in the state's coyote population. "There may be a gradual change in coyote behavior where they're more habituated to developed areas," Rego said.

Police advise residents to call 911 if they witness a coyote attack. All other concerns can be reported to Greenwich Animal Control or the DEP's hot line at 860-424-3333.

"Why didn't Eliot Spitzer run for the U.S. Senate?"  Because he only wanted an excuse to go to D.C.  Or maybe there was no seat available in New York (r)?

Amid Nasty Campaign, Politicians Take A Respite At Crocodile Club

September 1, 2010

BRISTOL — Because Connecticut politics this year has become especially nasty, politicians welcomed a brief respite Tuesday with the restart of a light-hearted political roast.

The event was the 129th meeting of the Crocodile Club — a long-running luncheon that has traditionally attracted the top politicians in the state.

The club has been dormant since 2003, but politicians said that this year was the right time to resume the tradition because many insiders believe it is the most exciting political year in Connecticut since 1970 — which featured a three-way battle for the U.S. Senate and an open seat for governor when incumbent Democrat John Dempsey did not seek re-election.

The luncheon Tuesday drew about 400 people to the ballroom at the Lake Compounce amusement park, and they dined on the trademark menu — right down to the watermelon.

In an event similar to the famed Al Smith Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City that attracts presidential contenders, some of the state's top politicians sat on the stage and delivered speeches that were limited to five minutes. The two gubernatorial contenders — Republican Tom Foley of Greenwich and Democrat Dannel Malloy of Stamford — delivered remarks, along with their respective running mates, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and state Comptroller Nancy Wyman.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who has attended the luncheon dating to the late 1980s when he served in the state legislature, worked the crowd before delivering jokes and offering self-deprecating humor later in the program.

"I'm here without subpoenas,'' Blumenthal told the crowd. "I noticed a few of you were not laughing.''

"When I left my house today, I told my wife, Cynthia, that I was coming here and that I was going to be funny,'' said Blumenthal, who is often known for his formal nature. "She started laughing hysterically, and my bet is that she is still laughing.''

Known also for his long hours, Blumenthal mentioned that he has been campaigning everywhere for the U.S. Senate — at fairs, parades, senior centers and other venues.

"Just this week, I went to two job openings, three can openings and four garage openings,'' Blumenthal said.

"I just want to say that of all the places I have been, I have to confess that I have never been invited to a professional wrestling match,'' Blumenthal said as the crowd laughed. "And I thought for sure I would get an invitation this year. But, oh well, it's not really my cup of tea, anyways.''

Blumenthal then sat down and listened to his opponent — Republican Linda McMahon, who had been seated next to him in the front row on the dais.

McMahon, a former World Wrestling Entertainment executive, stepped to the lectern and said that Blumenthal could attend "any WWE event any time'' that he chooses.

"You don't have to be invited,'' McMahon told Blumenthal. "You just have to purchase a ticket.''

McMahon then said that she had been reading recently about what Republicans had been saying about President Barack Obama.

"They said his popularity is dropping,'' McMahon told the crowd. "They said he was political kryptonite for Democrats. They said they never wanted to see him set foot in this state. Oh, I'm sorry, these were the John Droney notes.''

That was a reference to the former state Democratic chairman who had said recently that Obama has been damaged politically and should not come to the state as the headliner at a fundraiser for Democrats.

She continued by saying, "As was mentioned, I am Linda McMahon, and some of you might have seen some of the mailers that I have sent out. But contrary to popular opinion, I am not running for postmaster general. I am running for United States Senate.''

"I've spent so much money on this campaign that Ned Lamont told me I should be governor,'' McMahon said as the crowd laughed.

McMahon added that it was fitting that the attendees had gathered to raise money for the carousel museum on Riverside Avenue in Bristol.

"I love carousels. Don't you?'' McMahon asked. "They remind me of Democrats — just going round and round and round and never seeming to get anywhere.''

McMahon said she was surprised to see Blumenthal on the stage.

"Howdy, stranger,'' she said. "When I looked around and saw Dick sitting here today, I thought, this must be the political equivalent of Groundhog Day — except that Dick came out of his bunker, saw his shadow and we've got eight more weeks of campaigning.''

The annual Crocodile Club meeting had been dormant due to the retirement and eventual death at age 86 of the longtime organizer, J. Harwood "Stretch'' Norton, but organizers resumed the event Tuesday with the permission of Norton's family.

State Republican Chairman Christopher Healy, who was sitting on the dais, said in an interview that it was a fine idea to restart the Yankee tradition.

"We need more of these collective events in which we can have a few jokes at our own expense,'' Healy said. "Politics should be more fun than it is. It's a small state, after all.''

The emcee was radio personality Ray Dunaway, who first attended the luncheon back in the early 1990s.

"People just like tradition in this state,'' Dunaway said. "It's been eight years. Stretch really was the event. It was all about Stretch.''

Stretch Norton was the great-grandson of the original founder, Gad Norton, who started the club in 1875 in an effort to thank lawmakers who had passed legislation to change the boundary line between Southington and Bristol. That maneuver placed Norton's property in Bristol and allowed him to vote there, which prompted a long-running dispute between the towns and caused some Southington officials to boycott the Crocodile luncheon even 100 years later.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

Abortion Issue Runs Through Some Key Connecticut Campaigns
8:34 PM EDT, August 22, 2010

Abortion is a surprising subtext in a number of key political campaigns in Connecticut this year.

No one expects the outcome of any race to turn solely on the issue, especially in an election cycle dominated by the economy. Yet the success of several candidates who oppose legalized abortion in this reliably blue state has galvanized activists on both sides of the divide.

The shift is most visible within the Republican Party, where traditional Yankee moderation on social issues has not held sway with a number of GOP candidates on the issue of abortion. Among those clear about their anti-abortion stance are Martha Dean, a candidate for attorney general, and Mark Boughton, the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor. Dean and Boughton both beat primary opponents who support abortion rights. (On the Democratic side, abortion foe Michael Jarjura lost his party's nomination for state comptroller to Kevin Lembo, who was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut.)

"'In Connecticut, traditionally the Republican voter has been pro-choice,'' said Jillian Gilchrest, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, "but this is a different kind of campaign and a different kind of election year.''

The success of Dean and Boughton prompted Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, to call 2010 "a breakthrough year for the pro-life movement'' in the state.

"Connecticut is not going to elect a Henry Hyde or a Rick Santorum in the next year or two,'' Wolfgang said, citing two widely known anti-abortion advocates on the national level. "But there is movement in our direction. … Below that veneer of New England Republican enlightenment, there is still a wellspring of pro-lifers to be found."

'Not A Side Issue'

Dean handily beat back a challenge from her fellow Republican, the NARAL-endorsed Ross Garber, to win the party primary earlier this month. She said she does not expect her anti-abortion stance to play a major role in her race against Democrat George Jepsen, who favors abortion rights.

"This is not an issue for the attorney general's office,'' Dean said. "Abortion policy is under the exclusive purview of the legislature.''

But, she added, it's not a side issue, either. "I would never characterize life as a side issue,'' Dean said. "I think voters want to know who candidates are as individuals. They want to know about their personal beliefs. I've been very open about who I am out of respect for the voters. I've been open about a variety of issues I have no impact over as attorney general. It gives voters an insight into your character, it gives them some insight as to the thinking process you go through."

Although Dean's stance is clear, others walk a more delicate line. Republican Linda McMahon, a political newcomer running for U.S. Senate, defines herself as "pro-choice, with a caveat." She supports requiring minors to obtain parental consent before undergoing an abortion and also favors a ban on a medical procedure known as "partial-birth abortion."

McMahon has been lobbied by both opponents and supporters of abortion rights. Woody Bliss, chairman of the Connecticut chapter of the Republican Majority for Choice, has spoken with her several times and plans to meet with her again soon. The group had donated to the campaign of her now-vanquished GOP opponent, Rob Simmons, a strong advocate of abortion rights.

Whenever Bliss meets with a candidate, he says, he tells that candidate that more than 70 percent of state residents define themselves as "pro-choice.''

"I counsel them: 'You may have religious convictions or [whatever] but that dog doesn't hunt in Connecticut,' '' Bliss said. "We try and sit down and talk to them, especially newly running candidates, and become a source of information to them [and] educate them.''

Wolfgang, too, has met with McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. "She may be a harbinger of things to come in the abortion issue,'' Wolfgang said. "Simmons staked out a position so extreme on abortion that all Linda McMahon had to do was be a little to the right of him.''

Yet Wolfgang said he is in "watch and see mode" when it comes to McMahon's candidacy. "She reached out to me early and often and she's running one of the most professional campaigns I've seen,'' he said. "The questions that linger have to do with the WWE and its effect on the popular culture."

NARAL called McMahon "an untested wild card" and has embraced her Democratic opponent, Richard Blumenthal.

Himes-Debicella Race

The abortion debate is likely to resonate strongly in the state's 4th Congressional District, home to an affluent base of voters who tend to favor fiscally conservative, socially moderate candidates. Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, who favored abortion rights but also opposed "partial-birth abortions," represented the district for more than two decades before losing to Jim Himes in 2008.

Both Himes and his current GOP opponent, Dan Debicella, identify themselves as "pro-choice." But the Himes campaign senses softness in Debicella's support for abortion rights. When he served in the state Senate, Debicella was one of three senators to vote against a bill requiring all hospitals, even those run by the Catholic church, to offer emergency contraception to rape victims.

"I think the Himes campaign will want to highlight that vote,'' said Gilchrest of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut.

Himes is doing just that.

"Dan Debicella's vote against making emergency contraception available to rape victims is radical and wrong,'' said Himes' campaign manager, Mark Henson. "The economy is our main focus, but that's not the only area where Debicella is wrong for southwest Connecticut: he votes against the environment, he votes against consumers, he's against Wall Street reform, and he votes against the interests of women and families."

Suburban women are a key voting bloc in Connecticut, and a new group affiliated with the Himes campaign aims to capture their support. Himes "is also a firm believer that women should have complete control over their reproductive rights, without interference from politicians or government,'' states a press release announcing the creation of the group, Women for Himes.

Debicella's campaign manager, Jason Perillo, accused the Himes camp of misrepresenting Debicella's views.

"Jim Himes is trying to draw a distinction between himself and Dan Debicella that doesn't exist in order to distract voters from his failures on the economy,'' Perillo said. "Dan Debicella has been a strong advocate for women. He co-sponsored laws that help police departments convict rapists and that double the minimum sentence for abusive spouses. He is pro-choice. He proposed legislation to increase funding for rape crisis centers and increase breast cancer care funding.''

Debicella won kind words, if not the endorsement, of the Family Institute's Wolfgang.

In Wolfgang's view, Debicella isn't the perfect candidate. But the Family Institute's goal is "to build a bench of serious candidates who are pro-life, or open to the pro-life message, who can eventually get to Congress,'' he said, citing as examples Debicella and Republican Sam Caligiuri, running for Congress from the 5th District.

Wolfgang said he is aware of the realities facing Connecticut candidates who run on a platform that opposes rights to an abortion.

"A sure-loser, pro-life candidate who says all the right things then goes down to noble defeat won't save a single unborn life,'' Wolfgang said. "But a Caligiuri victory, even a Debicella victory, can. That's why 2010 is such a breakthrough year for the pro-life movement in Connecticut.''

Silly season about to start: Polls are tight, campaign funds uncertain in Conn. races

New Haven Register
By Mary E. O’Leary, Register Topics Editor
Sunday, August 22, 2010

Enjoy the cessation of telephone robo-calls, campaign literature overflowing your mailbox and diving for the mute button to block out those endless television ads.  The peace and quiet is not likely to last long, now that the contenders for the governor’s race and U.S. Senate contest are lined up at the starting gate.  The voters eventually will tune in and, unlike the intraparty fights, there are real difference between the candidates who want to lead the state and those eager to replace U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd in Washington.

Less than a quarter of the eligible Democrats bothered to participate in the primary voting earlier this month, and just under one-third of the Republicans did. Taken together, those 309,283 residents are only about 15 percent of registered voters, but they determined the main contenders in the fall.  As expected, Republican Linda McMahon easily beat two GOP opponents, while former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy soundly defeated his Democratic opponent, Ned Lamont, by surging from behind in the last few weeks of the campaign.

The only unknown is how much money will flow to Connecticut in attempts to sway the electorate. The U.S. Senate race, in particular, is being projected as possibly the most expensive in the nation’s history.  It is also the first Connecticut race unfolding after the Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which gave corporations the same status as individuals, allowing them to support issues directly from their coffers.

“The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee will be weighing in, just as the National Republican Senatorial Committee,, the whole circus is going to be here,” predicted Scott McLean, chairman of the political science department at Quinnipiac University.

McMahon already has put $24 million of her own money into her campaign. She is willing to increase that to $50 million. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic candidate, has raised some $3.5 million, $483,000 of it from political action committees, and is only beginning to campaign seriously.

McMahon can be expected to keep hammering at misstatements by Blumenthal on his service during the Vietnam War and his decision to take PAC money, which he avoided as attorney general.  The Democrats will have things to say about McMahon’s leadership at World Wrestling Entertainment, the misogynistic themes it is said to have promoted and the steroid investigations into the business.  National pundits such as Charlie Cook and Chuck Todd are predicting a close Senate race here and a heavy investment in the expensive New York media market, which McMahon entered during the primary.

The latest Rasmussen Report has Blumenthal at 47 percent to 40 percent for McMahon. It has the race in the leaning Democratic column, dropping it from a solidly Democratic win.

“Our opponent is trying to buy herself a Senate seat, spending a record-breaking $50 million for a negative campaign,” said Mindy Myers, Blumenthal’s campaign manager. “People want more than the politics as usual she’s offering.

“All the money in the world can’t hide the fact that she made her millions at the expense of the health and safety of her workers and by peddling violence and sex to children.

“We expect to be outspent in a tight race, but we’re not going to be outworked. Dick Blumenthal has a record of standing up for the people of Connecticut against even the most powerful special interests, and people know they can count on him to stand up for them in Washington. That’s going to make the difference.”

Shawn McCoy, deputy communications director for McMahon, put the campaign in a different light.

“Connecticut voters are deeply worried about the economy, and they are looking for a senator who knows how to put people back to work. Dick Blumenthal has rapidly dropped in the polls because he’s admitted he doesn’t understand why unemployment is so high, he’s never created a job and he thinks lawsuits create jobs.

“Linda is a proven job creator who has the real-life business experience we need to get our economy moving,” McCoy said.

In the governor’s race, Malloy now is guaranteed $6 million to spend in a little over 10 weeks, up from the $3 million basic grant he qualified for in the general election under the Citizens Election Program.

The General Assembly, controlled by Democrats, made the change Aug. 13, overriding Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s veto, after the courts threw out a trigger mechanism tied to high spending by candidates not in the election program. Under the original program, Malloy counted on getting up to $6 million in increments, depending on the amount raised by Foley, who decided not to participate in the program.  Malloy got $2.5 million in public campaign financing for the primary after raising $250,000 in contributions of no more than $100. The Citizens Election Program is an attempt to end special interest contributions, encourage grass-roots involvement in elections and level the playing field for those challenging wealthy candidates.

Foley, a multimillionaire from Greenwich, lent his primary campaign $3 million and raised $799,354, with individual contributions of up to $3,500, to win in the three-way primary contest.  He recently said he will spend what it takes to get his message across by Nov. 2, but there is an unanswered proposal that both candidates keep the spending to $3 million if they agree not to run negative ads.  A major fundraiser for President George W. Bush — he raised at least $100,000 for the president — Foley is not expected to have any problems gathering the money he needs, which leaves open the question of how expensive the governor’s race will get.

In the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Rell spent $4 million at a time when she already had high name recognition and was extremely popular. She easily beat her Democratic opponent, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., who spent $4.7 million.  Republican John G. Rowland, with Rell as his running mate, spent $6.6 million in the 2002 election and $6.9 million in 1998.

It is not know if direct corporate spending will play a role, in addition to traditional PACs and other independent campaign spending by interest groups. 

Dave Levinthal, communication director for the Center for Responsive Politics, said there has been little in the way of outside groups weighing in, “but that doesn’t mean they won’t come in September and October.”

Having a lot of personal money to put into a campaign doesn’t always guarantee success. The prime local example is millionaire Lamont, who outspent Malloy in the Democratic primary 4-to-1, with $8.6 million of it his personal money, and yet lost by 16 percentage points. 

Tyler Evilsizer, lead researcher at the National Institute of Money in State Politics, said an institute study found that self-funders had an extremely poor success rate: Only about 11 percent won races from 2000 to 2009. Based on data collected prior to May 2010, that trend appears to be continuing.

Incumbents usually win 92 percent of the time, but if they are self-funders that drops to 73 percent, according to the study. The institute said self-funders bet on themselves to the tune of $925.1 million in the last decade, representing about 12 percent of campaign spending.  Those who provided the majority of the money for their campaigns represented only 8 percent of candidates.

Beth Rotman, head of the Citizens Election Program, said there were almost no expenditures by independent groups in 2008, and only a handful in the last governor’s race, in 2006.  But, given all the open seats this year, “if we are going to see them play a healthy role, we’d see it now,” Rotman said. She said it’s good that, in the governor’s race, Foley and Malloy should be on an equal footing.

McLean agreed that, in Connecticut, “money isn’t everything,” noting McMahon had to spend $24 million to get 49 percent of the primary vote when only 30 percent of eligible Republicans showed up at the polls — an expensive endeavor.  He foresees the national Democratic Party coming to the assistance of Blumenthal to help against McMahon. “Blumenthal and Malloy are going to have more than enough to run competitive campaigns,” he predicted.

Jennifer Duffy, however, in her analysis in the Cook Report, said that given the size of McMahon’s financial resources, the Democratic Party will be limited in what it can send Blumenthal’s way, balancing it against other candidates’ needs in this important midterm election.

“It’s possible that an outside group could get involved on Blumenthal’s behalf, but there are no signs of that yet. Blumenthal is personally wealthy, but he has shown no interest in spending his own money on the race at this point. Ultimately, he may not have a choice, if Democrats can’t or aren’t willing to make a significant investment here,” Duffy wrote.

NOTE:  No tie on Tom Foley a week later!
Odd couple on Republican ticket covering new ground
Published: 01:16 p.m., Friday, August 13, 2010

Here are some thoughts while waiting for the primary losers to cart off their lawn signs, so we can reclaim partial vistas of our summer flora.

Who said that the (so-very-male) pretenders to political glory in Congress and the governor's office have to wear ties, as if they were on job interviews?

Yeah, they are kind of looking for employment, or at least job titles.

But wasn't it decided a long time ago that voters identify more with people who look like themselves? Doesn't that explain the whole Linda McMahon-as-viable-candidate scenario?

Do the image makers -- you know them as the people who have softened McMahon, the zillionaire crotch-kicking P.T. Barnum of our time, into a thoughtful grandma so very concerned about our futures -- really think we want to see our top-of-the-ticket candidates wearing ties on the hottest days of the year?

Pity the poor, perspiring Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, saying howdy to the line workers at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford after their shift last Wednesday afternoon.

If it wasn't 100 degrees, it was close enough for government-contract work and there's the one-time anointed Democrat, the master of one-minute receiving-line schmooze, wearing a tie.

It was such a long distance from last January, back when there were ice floes on the Connecticut River down past his backyard and Chris Dodd announced he was retiring from the U.S. Senate.

Blumenthal trumped him in the same news cycle, proclaiming he would seek the seat he had coveted for so long, back more than 20 years, when Sen. Joe Lieberman proved the state attorney general's office was a stepping stone to the Senate.

Dodd's proclamation broke up such a huge log jam of Connecticut Democrats, for a while, but they and their lawn signs are littering Connecticut's Boulevard of Broken Political Dreams.

Ned Lamont, now a four-time elective-office loser, wore a tie in his concession speech when he lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz was hoist with her own petard, an old phrase from Shakespeare that, by the way, means blown up with your own small bomb.

Desiring of Lieberman's anticipated 2012 vacancy -- surely he's unelectable now and ready to make big bucks on K Street -- via Blumenthal's attorney general job opening, Bysiewicz was flummoxed when the state Supreme Court said she failed to meet the required years of legal practice.

By then, she couldn't even fight for her current job, because House Majority Leader Denise Merrill, sensing that the state budget crisis is going to be so very gnarly next year, bailed out of the Legislature and is running for secretary of the state.

Blumenthal, who's been in recovery mode for months since McMahon fed The New York Times that video of him remembering someone else's Vietnam experience, just couldn't loosen up and join his blue-collar Pratt brothers and sisters with an open shirt.

Sheesh. Who can I blame? Those high-price image consultants who have only 13 weeks now to make Blumenthal more electable, while McMahon, with nothing to lose but 50 million bucks, romps throughout the state, spreading campaign cash like fairy dust.

I guess it's time to say that both McMahon and Blumenthal -- and Lamont, for that matter -- are from Greenwich.

Dannel Malloy, the former 14-year Stamford mayor who won the Democratic gubernatorial primary, was another one who resorted to the suit and tie the morning after his victory. And he keeps wearing the same green ties, over and over and over.

The day after winning the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Tom Foley, the zillionaire corporate takeover artist from, yes, Greenwich, showed up at O'Rourke's Diner in Middletown Wednesday lunchtime wearing, yep, a suit and tie, as Brian O'Rourke himself was flipping eggs-over-easy on the blazing sidewalk.

Foley, showing signs of the inexperienced politician, didn't have a public schedule the day after defeating Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele of Stamford by a fragile 3 points.

Foley's booby prize is Fedele's running mate, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who, like Fedele and indeed, Malloy, participated in the voluntary public-financing program.

Foley, who has written personal checks to his campaign totaling at least $3 million, is now in the position to continue dissing the funding program that got him his running mate.

Since this is the first time that the governor's race has used the financing program of 2005, much new regulatory ground needs to be broken. It seems to me that Boughton may not even be able to show up at Foley fund-raising events, because the public-financing law prohibits it.

Maybe Foley can get Boughton working for him behind the bar at his next cocktail fundraiser, or planting "Foley-Boughton" lawns signs in the hinterlands. But he'll have to wear a tie.

UNITED STATES SENATOR:  Linda McMahon v. Dick Blumenthal

In this contest, there is no incumbent, only millionaires.  Hey, after the dollar is worth zip, we'll all be millionaires!

Check this out!
Blumenthal joins the ranks of self-funded candidates
Deirdre Shesgreen, CT MIRROR
April 28, 2011

Sen. Richard Blumenthal has joined the ranks of self-funded candidates--those who use their own money for all or a substantial portion of their campaign treasury--albeit unintentionally, according to his latest campaign finance report.

Blumenthal lent his 2010 Senate campaign slightly more than $2.5 million, of some $8 million spent. He was forced to reclassify most of that as a contribution, however, by a federal law that requires repayment of candidate loans within 20 days of the election. Only $250,000 is exempt from the law, and is still on the campaign's books as a debt.

"Quite honestly, there were efforts to raise money during that [20-day] period but it wasn't enough to pay the loan off," said Michael Cacace, Blumenthal's campaign chairman in the 2010 contest.

Asked if Blumenthal realized that was a potential outcome, he said, "We knew what the law was and we were hopeful that we would raise the money to repay him." He said Blumenthal will try to raise donations to repay himself the rest of the loan--the $250,000 that he's allowed to carry over--in the next several months.

Blumenthal's staff said he was unavailable Thursday.

Connecticut's 2010 Senate campaign drew national attention over the self-funding issue, but not because of Blumenthal's loan. Republican candidate Linda McMahon, co-founder of the WWE wrestling entertainment empire, poured $50 million of her own cash into the race, making it the most expensive Senate contest in the nation last year.

Even as McMahon pumped her own millions into the race, Connecticut Republicans raised questions about Blumenthal's loans because the total amount he put up was more than his reported net worth. The total value of Blumenthal's assets, according to his financial disclosure form, was between $599,000 to $1.36 million.

Blumenthal's wife Cynthia, a member of the wealthy Malkin family, reported assets of between $55 million to $107 million. But she was limited, like any other individual donor, to giving her husband only $4,800 for the election.

Republicans raised questions about whether Blumenthal had lied on his financial disclosure forms or was somehow illegally funding his campaign--an assertion Blumenthal's aides sharply dismissed.

They noted that the financial disclosure forms don't take into account certain assets, such as a candidate's home. And Maura Downes, Blumenthal's campaign spokeswoman, later said he had borrowed against the value of his house.

Cacace elaborated on that for the first time Thursday, saying Blumenthal transferred his interest in the Greenwich house that he and Cynthia own to his wife. She then paid him the value of that share, which he pumped into the campaign.

"He transferred his interest in the marital home to his wife, who paid him his share of the house," Cacace said. That allowed him to make the loan.

"It in point of fact was very much the lion's share of his net worth," Cacace said.

Scott Brown campaigns for McMahon
Scott Brown comes to Milford as living proof that Senate hopes of longtime AG can be dashed
By Ted Mann, New London Day Staff Writer
Article published Oct 10, 2010

Milford - U.S. Sen. Scott Brown told several hundred supporters of Linda McMahon at a midday rally in front of City Hall Saturday that they have a "great chance" of replicating his feat: defeating a Democratic attorney general to gain a Republican seat in the Senate.

"She's right here," he said to a crowd of roughly 250 supporters, pointing back at McMahon, the Republican who is waging a tough campaign against Democrat Richard Blumenthal.

Brought to Connecticut to invigorate Republican voters and independents, Brown held rallies with both McMahon and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tom Foley on Saturday, and he did his best to amp up the crowd.

"I'm ready to get down and do 50 (pushups) right here," Brown exclaimed, after he and McMahon entered the rally as a disc jockey played the theme from the movie "The Natural." "I am pumped."

McMahon is attempting a reprise of the coup Brown pulled off in a special election in January: upsetting a once-favored, longtime Democratic attorney general for election to the Senate.

McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, is facing off with Blumenthal, while Brown knocked off Martha Coakley, the attorney general in Massachusetts, to win the seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy.  McMahon told the crowd that she had been written off in the early going, after the popular Blumenthal jumped into the race when Sen. Chris Dodd announced he wouldn't seek re-election.

"He was a shoo-in, and nobody even gave the state of Connecticut a second thought," she said. "Well, look what's happened."

McMahon has closed Blumenthal's once wide lead into a dead heat in some public polling, though a series of recent polls released in the last several weeks showed Blumenthal maintaining a nearly double-digit advantage.

McMahon's campaign staff, however, was brimming with confidence before the rally began, and have said they expect a tough fight to the finish on Nov. 2.  McMahon emphasized her background in a brief speech, declaring, as Brown did in winning his election in Massachusetts, common cause with average voters.

"I connect with the people of Connecticut," McMahon said. "I've walked in your shoes."

Her backers must not be "complacent," she added, urging those at the rally to vote for her, and to tell 10 friends each to do the same.

"We need to take control of our country and our government again," she said.

Cheers and chants

The crowd was spirited as they listened to an array of warm-up speakers, capped by a plea for participation from David Cappiello, a former state senator who is McMahon's campaign manager.

When McMahon and Brown emerged from the City Hall doors and approached the podium, there were loud cheers and chants of her first name, while a smaller group of Blumenthal supporters in the back of the crowd booed.

The rally was remarkably brief. While supporters were already beginning to gather two hours before the candidate appeared, Brown spoke for just five minutes, and McMahon for only seven.

The crowd also heard from Jim Beringer, a Vietnam veteran who said he was motivated to volunteer for McMahon after reports that Blumenthal has at least several times stated that he served in Vietnam during the war. Blumenthal was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve; he did not serve overseas.  Blumenthal has apologized for those remarks, which he characterized as rare and isolated misstatements.

"There is no confusion in my mind about where I was in that tour," Beringer said of his experience in Vietnam. "And I have never misspoken about my military service."

There were counter-protesters, too, including union carpenters holding a "Carpenters for Blumenthal" sign, and others who held signs denouncing McMahon's record as an employer and the tea party movement.
"Tea Party = racism," one sign said, while another alluded to the steroid scandals that have plagued the WWE. "Steroids ain't vitamins," it read.

But the vast majority of the crowd was made up of McMahon supporters such as Benigno Deju, who stood with a blue "Linda" sign held high over his head. Deju is a native of Cuba, he said, who returned to the country as a believer in Fidel Castro's revolution, but fled two years later, dispirited by life under Communism.  Like others at the rally, he said he believed that the Obama administration's efforts to reform health care and the financial sector represented a move in the direction of socialism.

"I vote for freedom, and anything to stop the destruction of this country that's happening now," he said. "I would be for anyone who is against what this president is trying to do."

Tom Scott, a former state senator and radio host, took aim at Obama, but also at Blumenthal. He compared the attorney general to the small plastic man atop a wedding cake.  Blumenthal is like "a plastic figurine, a phony," Scott said. To re-elect him, he declared, would bring on "six long years of Chris Dodd II."

The crowd booed.

Sen. Scott Brown to campaign for McMahon
Ted Mann, New London DAY
Article published Oct 1, 2010

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., will campaign for Republican Linda McMahon later this month as she seeks to duplicate his feat: knocking off a formidable Democratic attorney general in a race for the Senate.

The McMahon campaign announced Friday that Brown would campaign with McMahon in Milford on Oct. 9. Brown had already announced plans to campaign in the state for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tom Foley.  McMahon is facing off in a tight Senate contest with Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

Brown defeated Massachusetts A.G. Martha Coakley in January in a special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of longtime Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Climate change: Candidates differ on causes, vague on cures
Deirdre Shesgreen, CT MIRROR
September 27, 2010

WASHINGTON--Linda McMahon and Richard Blumenthal differ sharply on a range of environmental issues, starting with the big one: climate change. But neither of the U.S. Senate candidates has a strong position on what should be done about it.

Their differences begin with the basic question of what causes global warming, a phenomenon that many scientists say is linked in large part to the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Such pollution is caused by, for example, the burning of fossil fuels such as coal.

McMahon, the Republican nominee and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, says the "science is mixed" on what has caused global warming, although she does not dispute that the climate is indeed changing.

"I just don't think we have the answers as to why it changes," she said. "I'm not a scientist, so I couldn't pretend to understand all the reasons. But the bottom line is we really don't know."

Blumenthal's take? "The science is irrefutable," said the state's Democratic attorney general. "And we would be irresponsible to ignore it."

When it comes to possible solutions, things get murkier. Congress tried, unsuccessfully, to tackle this issue last year with a broad climate and energy bill that included a controversial cap-and trade system. The House-passed legislation aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by setting caps on emissions and outlining a regulatory framework that would allow companies to buy and sell pollution "allowances."

The goal of the bill, which included many other energy-related provisions, was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 83 percent (using 2005 levels) by 2050.

Soon after the House passed that legislation, Blumenthal joined with other attorneys general in signing a letter that called the House bill a "strong foundation" for legislative action and calling on the Senate pass its own climate bill. The letter mostly urged the Senate not to pre-empt stronger state laws limiting greenhouse gas emissions and addressed other state implications, but it also generally calls for an aggressive approach to the issue.

The cap-and-trade legislation, and other scaled-back versions with weaker approaches to reducing greenhouse gases, has completely stalled in the Senate.

McMahon said she strongly opposes any cap-and-trade bill and argues that Blumenthal's expressed support is tantamount to backing a national "energy tax." That's shorthand for the GOP's contention that the proposal would result in increased utility bills and other energy expenses, as companies seek to cover the costs of a new regulatory system, such as purchasing pollution permits or implementing new technologies to reduce their emissions.

The Congressional Budget Office concluded the House bill would cost the average household $175 a year by 2020, but some critics have suggested that is a low-ball estimate that doesn't take into account more aggressive caps in the legislation's later years.

"I don't believe at this time, given where we are with our economy, that cap-and-trade is the right thing," McMahon said. But she was vague about what steps she would favor, suggesting only that she might support offering government incentives, such as tax deductions, for companies that voluntarily purchase and install the technology to reduce emissions.

Blumenthal sharply rejected McMahon's suggestion that he supported an energy tax. "She is using phony numbers concocted by right-wing think tanks designed to scare people and protect the special interests," he said, referring to the conservative Heritage Foundation's analysis of the House-passed bill.

But when asked whether he still supports the climate change bill, Blumenthal said: "We should avoid a false debate about legislation that is dead."

He said he would support "reasonable and sensible measures to stop the pollution that causes climate disruption" but declined to say what kind of control on carbon emissions he would support.

Blumenthal instead said he would push for a comprehensive energy policy that promotes "green energy jobs and technology, as well as making polluters pay." He said in particular he would promote a legislative approach that rewards Connecticut for its reliance on cleaner energy sources, such as nuclear power and natural gas.

Ambiguities notwithstanding, the two candidates' positions on climate change reflects a broader split in their outlook on the environment.

As attorney general, Blumenthal has a track record of suing corporations and government agencies to win strict enforcement of environmental laws. He clearly supports an aggressive federal and state regulatory system.

McMahon, by contrast, recently identified the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy as two agencies that might be bloated and in need of scaling back. And in her economic platform, she calls for the "review and repeal" of all federal regulations that "inhibit growth," although she doesn't identify any specific rule she'd like to see repealed.

These big-picture differences play out on a host of environmental policy questions.

Blumenthal and McMahon, for example, sharply diverge on the question of offshore drilling. Blumenthal said he supports the current moratorium on deepwater drilling, put in place by the Obama Administration in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He noted that it's not a permanent ban, just a temporary halt until "we determine what caused the BP disaster, so we can learn from it and avoid making the same mistake again."

McMahon said she opposed the moratorium, arguing that it's "stopping any and all production and taking jobs."

Recent news reports have suggested the economic impact of the moratorium has been limited so far, but Gulf Coast officials fear continuing it until its scheduled Nov. 30 expiration could increase the toll.

Asked what steps might be taken to avoid a similar mishap, McMahon said the drilling rigs should be "re-inspected and re-certified to make sure they're not cutting corners on safety issues" and then allowed to get back to work.

Furthermore, McMahon said, the government should allow a significant expansion of offshore drilling and energy exploration in other parts of the U.S. "I believe that as part of a national energy policy, as well as energy independence, we should as a country explore our natural resources in an environmentally responsible way," she said.

That includes, for example, drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which foes argue would destroy a pristine wildlife habitat and supporters say would provide an immense oil boon without environmental damage.

Blumenthal said the idea of opening ANWR for oil exploration "reflects a looking-backward approach" to energy policy. "There are no jobs for Connecticut in ANWR," he said. "There are jobs for Connecticut" in new technologies, such as fuel cells and renewable energy sources, like wind and solar.

More generally, Blumenthal said his support for offshore drilling would depend on "where, how, and what would be done." He called for better federal oversight of any such drilling efforts, noting that the Interior Department's failings helped in part to pave the way for the BP disaster.

There are at least two environmental issues where Blumenthal and McMahon's positions converge: nuclear power and renewable energy. Both say the federal government should foster an expansion of these two energy sources, favoring, for example, loan guarantees to help the nuclear energy industry construct new plants.

On the politically and logistically difficult question of how to dispose of the nation's nuclear waste, McMahon said she is "not an expert" and isn't sure of the best solution. Blumenthal said he would support sending nuclear waste to the federal repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, although that project has been long stalled and may well be dead. (The current Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, is from Nevada and opposes it, as do many other lawmakers who would see nuclear waste being transported through their states on the way to the Nevada site.)

If the federal government finds a more suitable site, "so much the better," said Blumenthal. "But right now, Connecticut is bearing the cost and ... the risk of storing casks of waste at Millstone."

On renewable energy, McMahon said the federal tax code should be "aggressively supporting" innovation in this field. Similarly, Blumenthal says he would push for "clean energy business zones," that provide tax credits, grants and other assistance to clean-energy companies.

No matter who wins in November, these issues are likely to be at the top of the 112th Congress's agenda, since lawmakers have punted and stalled on everything from a climate change bill to renewable energy proposals to a BP oil spill response in this Congress.

Blumenthal as outsider: Running away from Obama, congressional Democrats
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
August 17, 2010

Richard Blumenthal distanced himself Monday from the Obama administration and the state's Democratic congressional delegation with a forceful denunciation of Washington in a speech to the Connecticut AFL-CIO in Hartford.  The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate was cheered as he arrived, but his anti-Washington theme drew little applause from a labor audience that had warmly greeted the man Blumenthal hopes to succeed, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd.

"People just think Washington isn't working for them," Blumenthal said. "It's preoccupied with the special interests. It's gridlocked by partisan acrimony. Washington isn't listening, and Washington isn't working for ordinary people."

In January, Blumenthal entered the Senate race hours after Dodd's retirement announcement by offering a testimonial to the five-term senator. But on Monday he did not mention Dodd, who spoke to the AFL-CIO delegates earlier in the day.

"If there were awards for being duplicitous, Dick Blumenthal would be a gold medalist," said Chris Healy, the GOP state chairman, who says Dodd has "afforded Blumenthal every courtesy and political consideration."

Blumenthal's remarks were a continuation of a theme he's been sounding in recent days.  Dodd said he wasn't bothered by Blumenthal's criticism of Washington and, by implication, of him as the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and a key player in helping pass President Obama's legislative agenda.

"No, I understand politics," Dodd said. "I just think there is a danger in all of that, because you've got to get a vote out. You've got to get your base out."

Dodd said Obama gets too little credit for the passage of landmark legislation, such as the health-care and financial-services reform bills, or helping stabilize the economy with stimulus spending that helped Connecticut balance its budget.

"An awful of worthwhile things have happened in the past 20 months, and I'm not sure anybody knows about it," Dodd said. "And if you don't talk about it, don't count of the other side talking about it."

Dodd said that Democrats in this year's mid-term election cannot count on anything close to the turnout that Obama generated in 2008, when Democrats won all five U.S. House seats in Connecticut.

Blumenthal did not soften his rhetoric when told of Dodd's cautionary remarks.

"Sen. Dodd and I agree on many things, but we also disagree on many things," Blumenthal told reporters. "I'm not reluctant to say that I've never been a part of Washington. I've never been an insider. And I'm happy to be running to stand up for ordinary people."

Blumenthal is trying to follow Joseph I. Lieberman's example of using a record as an activist attorney general as a springboard to the U.S. Senate.  Lieberman served six years as the state's first full-time attorney general before ousting Lowell P. Weicker Jr. from the Senate in 1988.  Blumenthal was elected as attorney general in 1990, ramping up the profile of the office with an aggressive approach to class-action lawsuits and public relations.

"Connecticut is a small state, but we've led national battles, because I've boxed above my weight by reaching out to members of other parties and to independents, as well as to Democrats," Blumenthal said. "That is my persona. That's in my DNA. And I m going to remain a fighter for the people of Connecticut, first, last and always."

He is opposed by Republican Linda McMahon, whose $22 million budget to win the GOP nomination was more than Dodd has spent on campaigns in his Senate career. McMahon did not speak to the AFL-CIO, whose leaders say they invited her by letter and email. McMahon's staff say they could not find an invitation.

Ed Patru, the communication director for McMahon, said even before Blumenthal's AFL-CIO speech that he was pandering by casting himself as a political outsider.

"Ever get the sense that Dick Blumenthal is willing to say just about anything to get elected - no matter how absurd and unbelievable?" Patru said in an email to reporters, calling him a "big-government liberal" suddenly trying to sound like a conservative Republican.

Healy was sharper in his criticism after reading of Blumenthal's remarks.

"Dick Blumenthal believes if he just counts to three and says, 'I am not a career politician, I am not a career politician, I am not a career politician,' he will be delivered as a freshly scrubbed populist who is fed up with the partisan politics and grid-lock of Washington, D.C.," Healy said.

Blumenthal says he would have opposed the Trouble Asset Relief Program that bailed out Wall Street. He also objects to the stimulus package as doing too little to help the middle-class.

"I believe that the stimulus was wrongly structured, because it failed to provide jobs and paychecks to ordinary Americans. It unfortunately was inadequately designed to invest in infrastructure, in roads and bridges and schools," Blumenthal said.

Asked how the state could have balanced its budget given the influx of stimulus money for Medicaid, education and other programs, Blumenthal said, "That's an entirely separate question. I would have opposed the stimulus as it was structured."

Connecticut is ready to rumble

Last Updated: 5:10 AM, August 15, 2010
Posted: 1:10 AM, August 15, 2010

Of this season’s crazy, contentious, wide-open Senate races — in Ohio, Florida, California, Arizona, Nevada — none is as wild as what’s going on in Connecticut. In one corner: Democrat Richard Blumenthal, 64, state attorney general since 1991 and favored to win, up by over 40 points in the polls until this spring, when he was caught lying about having served in Vietnam. In the opposing corner: Republican Linda McMahon, 61, until last fall the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), billionaire and political neophyte.

Since spending $22 million of her fortune, McMahon beat out GOP contenders Peter Schiff (campaign slogan: “Schiff Happens” — seriously) and former congressman and decorated Vietnam vet Rob Simmons, who’d been drafted by the party to run. Ultimately, he lost the party’s backing — to McMahon — for the primary. Simmons suspended his cash-poor campaign in May, then re-entered a few weeks ago, showing up at Connecticut commuter hubs and passing out potholders, a sadly literal example that, for him, there was no issue “too hot to handle.”

McMahon won Tuesday’s primary with 49% of the vote and has since shrunk Blumenthal’s formerly capacious lead to 7 points. She spent three hours on Wednesday morning, beginning at 6 a.m., sitting in front of a camera, doing interviews via satellite with outlets nationwide. She has suddenly become a political supernova, one to watch, and she has done it by positioning herself as the quintessential outsider, sick of politics as usual, quid-pro-quos, the ever-expanding reach of the federal government.

And mailers. Lots of mailers.

“I got interested after getting 20 or 30 of them,” says Rick Wagner, a middle-aged independent. He and his wife Carole, a Republican, have come to hear McMahon address a small group of voters and businesspeople at the Chamber of Commerce in Simsbury, a suburb of West Hartford in which everything — from law offices to Starbucks — is housed in gut-renovated, centuries-old white clapboard houses. Except for a vagrant by the side of the road asking drivers to “pull over to impeach Obama!” everything is eerily orderly. The men are well-moisturized, the women well-manicured, the 50-something hostess in a headband and “Mad Men”-style sundress. Yet the 12 or so people in this basement office — stuffy despite two softly whirring fans on the floor — are very concerned.

What does Linda think about health-care reform? “I’d like to repeal it,” she says.

Illegal immigration? “I don’t believe in amnesty, but you can’t deport everyone,” she says. She’d like to see stricter fines and penalties for employers, maybe make illegals carry electronic key cards with them everywhere.

What’s the key difference between her and Blumenthal? “He’s clearly liberal big-government,” she says. “I’m clearly conservative small-government. It’s a real clear choice in that regard.”

On what committees would she like to serve? “Health, education,” she says. But what she’d really like is “to be involved with defense.”

She stands in the center of the room for nearly 40 minutes, in her sleeveless green watercolor-print dress, gold metallic flats, chunky stone necklace and expensively highlighted hair. She does not perspire, politely declines repeated offers of a glass of water. She is on-message.

“I hate the old, ‘I’ll do you a favor, you do me a favor,’ ” she tells the rapt group. “It should really be about: What’s the right thing to do?”

Linda McMahon and her husband, WWE founder Vince McMahon, live in Greenwich. Born and raised in North Carolina (she still speaks with a southern drawl), she met Vince when she was just 13; he was 16. By the time she was 18, they were married. Vince went to work with his father, a wrestling promoter, in Maryland, and Linda worked as a receptionist in a law firm. They had a son, Shane, in 1970. In 1976, when Linda was pregnant with daughter Stephanie, the McMahons filed for bankruptcy.

“We were just starting our wrestling promotion business,” she says today. “Our house was auctioned off. I used food stamps for one week. I said, ‘I’ll find some other work.’ We rented a house and had a couple of friends who loaned us their credit cards. We just sucked it up. It built character. It taught us lessons that we never forgot.”

More than 30 years later, she is said to be buying herself a Senate seat.

“When I’m being outspent 9 to 1, it’s out of control,” says her former challenger Rob Simmons, a few days after the primary. “We’re only 3 million people in Connecticut. Spending $24 million to get to the primary — nobody has ever spent that amount of money on any race here.”

Simmons raised $3 million in all, and says he was told by party bosses that they were backing “self-funders” such as McMahon because “they didn’t want to overtax their voters” for contributions. Connecticut hasn’t had a Republican in the Senate since 1988, and Chris Dodd’s announcement that he was retiring, coupled with Blumenthal’s Vietnam blunder, suddenly put the seat in play. “I’ve always felt the primary qualification for the Senate,” Simmons says of his ex-opponent’s abilities, “is to get elected.”

There is much in common between McMahon and Blumenthal: personal wealth, political connections, the attempt to come across as a renegade operating outside the system, ready to make entrenched pols on the Hill hear the American people and heed their demands.

Yet Blumenthal began working in DC in 1969 for the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He later clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. His wife comes from wealth that rivals McMahon’s, her family has real estate holdings that include the Empire State Building. As of this week, however, he said that he would not be using personal money to fund his campaign.

Nor is McMahon the outsider she proclaims to be. Along with her husband, she has donated to candidates of both parties, but their biggest donation, for $15,000, was to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Such donations, she says, were born “primarily of relationships you have with — for instance, part of my Democratic donations were to [White House Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel, whose brother Ari is the president of William Morris Endeavor Agency in California. He has represented the WWE for years and years and years. So Ari would call and say, ‘My brother’s running for office. Would you mind making a contribution?’ Fine. Or, ‘My brother’s going to be in town, would you sit down with him?’ So it was a personal, business relationship there.”

The McMahons’ closeness to various lawmakers came under scrutiny when the WWE was the subject of a congressional investigation after wrestler Chris Benoit killed his family, then himself, in 2007. The investigation focused on the use of steroids, drugs and on general safety practices within the organization, which is unregulated. Two years later, the committee said that the WWE hadn’t taken proper measures regarding steroid use, but there was no substantial fallout.

“Linda pats herself on the back for having deregulated the industry,” Mike Benoit, Chris’ father, told The Post. “The thing is, Linda’s the CEO of a company that’s got the worst health-care record in North America.”

“The relationships they built with Congress saved them,” says Chris Nowinski, a former WWE wrestler and friend of Benoit’s. It was Nowinski who convinced Mike Benoit to have his son’s brain tissue tested. The coroner found that Benoit had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy — also common in boxers and football players, in which repeated head trauma results in progressive degeneration of the area of the brain that governs impulse control.

“Many other athletes who have been diagnosed with this disease have committed suicide or become violent,” Nowinski says. Those in the WWE, he says, are further jeopardized by the company’s employment practices: Every single wrestler, from the $500-a-week cub to a WrestleMania superstar, is hired as an independent contractor. That means no health insurance, no eligibility for unemployment or Medicaid or worker’s comp. The McMahons pay for in-the-ring injuries — they covered Nowinksi’s $20,000 operation to put his nose back together — but sick wrestlers often find themselves dropped from the organization.

“When I sat down with Linda — she’s a nice person,” Nowinski says. “But given the decisions they’ve made with workplace safety, it’s hard to believe that they care.”

As for culture-war stuff — the opposition going after the WWE for its admittedly salacious, sometimes offensive content — McMahon has the ultimate rejoinder: Even Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigned on televised WWE events.

Campaign-wise, McMahon has learned from both Clinton and Obama. Just as Clinton did during her initial run for Senate, McMahon has embarked on what she calls her “listening tour,” popping into local shops and speaking at intimate events, soliciting the concerns and feedback of the electorate. Her website and its operations are nearly identical to Obama’s in 2008: she even has a URL,, that echoes Obama’s

As Obama was, she is fond of saying her tour will allow voters to “kick the tires a little bit,” see what she’s about, and that this campaign will be won as a “grass-roots effort” with “boots on the ground” and volunteers going online, downloading scripts and voter phone numbers, making campaign calls from their homes.

Perhaps most like Obama, she is seen as a candidate whose ambitions outstrip her experience, who is buoyed by charisma and confidence, who is vague on the issues and needs to study up. She supported Obama’s policy in Afghanistan, she says, “but I don’t get the briefings. I’m still not sure.” She thinks the health-care bill should be repealed but also that “there is a group of people who don’t have access to health care, and we should look at how to provide that without totally recreating our health-care system.” McMahon remains a staunch supporter of off-shore drilling, but we should “make sure that safety measures are in place, make sure that companies are not going to be cutting any corners.”

McMahon says that she and Blumenthal have so far agreed to three debates, but that he has not yet responded to an invitation to appear with her on “Meet the Press.” The Connecticut Senate race is one of a handful that the venerable Sunday show would like to highlight, given its weird, tumultuous course. There is also the very real chance that the Connecticut race — like those in Nevada, California, Ohio, Florida and several others — turn control of the Senate back to the Republicans. (More likely, however, is the Republicans gaining control of the House — though loss of such key Senate seats and the ouster of majority leader Harry Reid would be a direct rebuke to the president and the Democratic Party.)

Though McMahon very likely could become the junior senator from Connecticut, it’s hard to discern what’s animating her decision to enter politics now. She doesn’t speak of political heroes, or moments of change or unrest that altered her political consciousness, or thinkers that she agrees or disagrees with, or a specific policy or injustice that she feels compelled to try and change. Her children are grown; her husband absent the night she won the primary, “in California producing his TV show, where he is every week.” Perhaps she is bored after decades running the WWE; perhaps she is running because, based on name-recognition and finances, she just can.

When McMahon first thought about running, she says, she never considered a state seat. Why not run first for, say, the House of Representatives, which will likely go to the Republicans this year anyway? “Well . . . I think that . . .” She pauses. “The Senate is where I want to be,” she says. “I’ve done business all over the country and several parts of the world. The Senate is the place I would prefer to be.”

U.S. CONGRESS, 4TH DISTRICT:  Dan Debicella v. Jim Himes

4th Congressional District Debate Oct. 24, 4-5:30pm at Wilton High School - issues
In this contest, Jim Himes is the incumbent - however, his opponent, Dan Debicella got to the Lunch Box first!  Remember the independent thinker former Congressman Chris Shays? Mr. Shays was defeated last time by Mr. Himes.  At left, Chris Shays.

Himes, Debicella square off again in Fourth District
Posted on 10/24/2010
By TOM EVANS, Hour Staff Writer


Domestic issues were on the table on Sunday afternoon in a candidates' debate at Wilton High School as Republican Dan Debicella continues to challenge Rep. Jim Himes, the Democratic incumbent, for his seat in the 4th Congressional District.

Sunday's debate, held at the Clune Performing Arts Center, was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Wilton, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport, Bridgeport Area, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Redding and Ridgefield.

Kay Maxwell, currently the executive director of the World Affairs Forum in Stamford, served as moderator Sunday. Maxwell, who served as the 16th president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, read questions from the LWV as well from the roughly 200 people who gathered Sunday.

A couple of dozen sign-carrying supporters from both camps engaged in verbal jousting outside the building before the debate. Democrats chanted "keep Jim Himes" while Republicans shouted over the "keep" with "heave."

Social Security was the first topic on the agenda, and Himes said there is "tough work to do," especially when dealing with $80 trillion in unfunded liabilities in Social Security, and another $40 trillion in unfunded liabilities in the Medicare system.

"Seniors rely on this money, and we rely on the promise of a Social Security system that will have money when we retire," Himes said. "Personally I will look at the retirement age because we live longer. People who are wealthy and live on a high income may be asked to scale back their Social Security payments. One . . .
of the things Dan and I agree on is that there should be no privatization of Social Security."

Debicella said one of the benefits of Democracy is making a choice every two years "and I think I've got better solutions."

"Two things I would rule out when dealing with Social Security are privatization and raising taxes," Debicella said. "We don't need to slash Social Security benefits. In 1983, both parties came together for moderate changes. We can't divert Social Security money. We have to make the promise of Social Security one that continues to be kept."

Debicella took the first crack at a question about cap and trade as a means to reduce pollution.

"The cap and trade act is an energy tax," Debicella said. "Companies will sell the energy at higher prices to you. We have to get off foreign oil. The government is not good at picking winners or predicting the future. Solar (energy), fuel cells can all help us get off foreign oil and help the environment."

Himes was quick to point out that "nowhere is the gap between Chris Shays (whom Himes defeated for the 4th seat in 2008) and Dan Debicella wider than on the environment.

"Dan Debicella has the single worst record of any congressman the last 10 years," Himes said. "I believe our reliance on foreign oil is one of the most significant threats to our security. (Debicella) is someone who says climate change is irrelevant."

Despite distinct differences, the two candidates have some common ground, including a woman's right  to choose.

"I grew up with a single mom, and I've seen up close the challenges women face," Himes said. "I've watched friends and family struggle with the (abortion) decision, and that's a decision that should be made by a woman facing that crisis, not by white men in suits."

Debicella clarified his position on rape contraception, saying he would not require any Catholic hospital to carry the kits, nor would he force any Catholic doctor to go against his faith in performing an abortion.

"I believe every woman has the right to do with her body what she will," Debicella said. "I believe everyone has the right to emergency contraception. I don't want the government telling women what to do with their bodies."

While Debicella does not support a military draft, and he is in favor of troop draw-downs in Afghanistan to follow those in Iraq, he wants to be sure Al-Qaeda camps have been dismantled and the Taliban cannot again rise to power.

"I want no nation building in Afghanistan," Debicella said. "But we must make sure Al-Qaeda is not re-forming in failed states like Yemen and Somalia and Pakistan."

Himes also does not favor a draft, but said he is "intrigued by the idea" of his congressional colleagues having to make military deployment decisions when their sons or daughters are among the troops.

"What if we all had a stake in going to war?" Himes mused. "Maybe all those decision-makers would not have been so quick to go to war in Iraq if their children (were drafted). Afghanistan is a complicated and antiquated society, and we need just enough presence there to go after Al-Qaeda. We can use the money to Afghanistan for nation-building right here."

On the "don't ask, don't tell" policy of sexual orientation in the military, both candidates said the lifestyles of these heroic men and women should not be an issue and the discriminatory policy should be removed.

Debicella was first up to handle a question about "WikiLeaks," where possibly sensitive military information, including troop movements, has been released to the public.

"This kind of leaking is abhorrent," Debicella said. "A responsible press corps that has information that puts troops at risk doesn't release it. If they do release this information, they can and should be prosecuted."

Himes' response was "ditto."

Himes-Debicella: Much to agree on, but lots of room for debate
Uma Ramiah, CT MIRROR
October 24, 2010

It wasn't so much the issues that divided Jim Himes and Dan Debicella at their Sunday night debate. Instead, the two 4th District Congressional candidates took shots at each others' voting history, campaigns and even integrity.

"Let's mark 15 minutes as the first time Jim Himes has lied to you today," said Debicella, in response to the claim that the League of Conservation Voters had rated his environmental record the worst of any state senator in Connecticut in past ten years.

"Our national energy policy should be the same as our national environmental policy, which is we need to get off of foreign oil," said Debicella, a state senator and the Republican nominee. Instead, he would encourage government incentives for research into alternative energy, whether natural gas, fuel cells, solar.

"Dan is trying to wear the coat of Chris Shays," said Democratic incumbent Himes, referring to his moderate Republican predecessor. "Shays was an environmental hero," he said, and Debicella is the opposite end of the spectrum.

But Himes also supported government investment in solar and alternative energies as a method of job creation.  As the campaign has unfolded, Himes and Debicella have disagreed strongly on issues including health care and the stimulus. Himes defends the health care bill, though with reservations, while Debicella calls for its repeal. Debicella calls the stimulus, which Himes supported, ineffective and "pork-filled."

But on Sunday night, the candidates actually agreed on a variety of issues.  Both candidates called for transparency in political advertising. Funding sources should be disclosed, they said.

"We are now seeing hundreds of millions being spent by shadowy groups," said Himes, who said recent Supreme Court rulings on campaign finance were a step back for the country.

Debicella agreed. "We shouldn't have anonymous ads attacking him or me or anyone else."

But then it was back to the ring.

"Jim doesn't need it, he does a great job of attacking me all on his own. He doesn't need a third party coming in and doing it." Debicella continued, saying Himes had received donations from both Wall Street and what he called "Big Labor."

"Dan, if you're going to climb into the mud pit, and we both agree that it's a mud pit, don't try to stand up and say you're a little bit cleaner," said Himes in response. "Is it true that you got thousands of dollars from Exxon Mobil?"

"Yes it is," said Debicella.

"Thank you," came the swift reply.

Though League of Women Voters moderator Kay Maxwell was strict with the "hold your applause" rule, cheers broke out on this and other occasions - typically after a direct attack.  The candidates generally agreed on abortion, each one supporting a woman's right to choose.

"The decision should be made by the woman in question and not by white guys in suits on Capitol Hill," said Himes, to another unsanctioned burst of applause.

"I don't want government telling women what to do with their bodies, and I don't want government telling faiths what they should do either," said Debicella.

"Don't ask, don't tell," the U.S. policy towards gays serving in the military, was up next. It, too, was a non-issue.

"It is utterly inconsistent with what this country is," said Himes.

"Fully agree. Anybody who wants to serve in our military; gay, straight, black, white man or woman, you are a hero, period," said Debicella. "'Don't ask, don't tell' is discriminatory and it should be removed."

This wholehearted agreement, without caveat, was met with roaring applause and a friendly handshake between the two candidates. Even Maxwell was impressed.

"Equal applause on that one, I'll let that slide," she said.

And on the issue of Wikileaks, the candidates were again in complete agreement.

"This kind of leaking is absolutely abhorrent," said Debicella. "Anything that puts our troops at risk should not be leaked to the general public. Wikileaks, which is now completely unaccountable, is now leaking this info," he said.

"We live in an open society but that society has limits when you put people in danger," he finished.

The response from Himes was short: "Ditto."

The candidates also agreed on the basics of how to fix education and immigration.  Both touted the example of charter schools and praised "Race to the Top," the most recent attempt at public school reform which rewards achievement with funding.  Throughout the night, Himes agreed that government doesn't always get it right, but pointed out ways in which it has spurred economic growth and helped stem the recession - from the development of the Internet to the recent finance regulation bill.

But Debicella disagreed. "The government can't pick winners," he said.

"The government is not good at predicting the future," he continued, referring to investment in energy, technology and even job creation. This was a common refrain and a point of disagreement throughout the night.

"The difference between us," said Debicella, "is that you think the government creates jobs, and I think private sector does."

After otherwise unremarkable closing statements, a personal note:

"I want to break a couple of rules here, " said Himes. "Tonight is Dan Debicella's birthday and I'd like to ask for a round of applause for him."

The audience cheered. Debicella turned 35 on Sunday.

"What a way to spend your birthday," said Himes, shaking Debicella's hand.

Security issues dominate debate

Elizabeth Kim, Greenwich TIME Staff Writer
Published: 10:20 p.m., Thursday, October 21, 2010

STAMFORD -- Though the debate centered on foreign policy, the real sparring between two candidates for the Fourth Congressional District was on the economy, stimulus and personal character.  On questions related to Mexican drug cartels and China, Republican challenger state Sen. Dan Debicella, R-21, managed to squeeze in his criticism of Democratic incumbent Jim Himes for his support of the administration's stimulus program, while Himes sought to stress signs of recovery and associate his opponent with the failed policies of Republican President George W. Bush.

"If you believe we are getting it right, then Jim Himes is your man," Debicella told the Holiday Inn audience of several hundred spectators Thursday night.

Sponsored by the World Affairs Forum, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, the debate between Himes and Debicella lasted roughly 90 minutes and featured a relatively loose format intended to foster a debate on global issues. The questions came from forum and audience members.  But beginning with the opening question, it became clear that both contestants were more focused on articulating their domestic agendas.

Asked about the recent clash along the Mexican border that resulted in the death of an American, Himes began by noting consecutive growth in jobs as well as GDP.  Similarly, given his first chance to rebut Himes, Debicella returned to his refrain of calling Himes a "rubber stamp" politician and saying the stimulus had not worked.  Debicella has instead proposed lowering spending as well as cutting the payroll tax in half.

Himes said the stimulus had not solved the recession but had been "part of turning the economy around," adding, "You don't fix that in 20 months." He also warned that the magnitude of spending cuts suggested by Debicella would affect the funding of Medicare.

On matters of foreign policy, the candidates were generally in agreement with some minor differences in approach. Both agreed the United States should start to renew its relations with Cuba and continue to engage China as well as tap into its market.  One topic where the two differed was the war in Afghanistan, with Debicella arguing for a "slow and measured drawdown" along with the defeat of Al Qaeda.

In a break from President Barack Obama, Himes, who traveled to Afghanistan last year, said, "Our mission there is wrong. The Taliban are not the enemy. The enemy is Al Qaeda and they are in Pakistan."

On the issue of immigration, Debicella broke ranks with members of his own party.

"My party gets this wrong a lot," he said.

Citing the experience of his in-laws from Argentina, he said, "It is too hard to come to this country."

He added: "You need to make legal immigration easy for the people who want to come here and live the American dream.  Toward the end, the attacks seem to turn personal, with Himes taking issue with Debicella's alleged misuse of facts. He took strong offense at the suggestion by Debicella that he was not a strong supporter of Israel.

"Frankly it says something about your character," Himes said.

For the most part, the audience seemed to enjoy the barbs. During the course of the evening, the moderator several times reprimanded them for clapping and cheering.

In 4th CD, a two-sided debate over health care reform
Deirdre Shesgreen and Uma Ramiah
October 1, 2010

With the public still deeply divided over health care reform and some pundits saying it's politically toxic, it's hard to find any Democrat in a competitive re-election race who is talking up the new law. Except, that is, in Connecticut's 4th Congressional District.

Rep. Jim Himes, the Democratic incumbent facing state Sen. Dan Debicella, R-Shelton, has not shied away from his vote in favor of health care reform. Himes mentioned it, albeit obliquely, in one of his early TV ads, and last week the freshman congressman sought to draw attention to Debicella's call for repeal of the health care overhaul.

Debicella, too, seems to be taking a slightly different tack on the health reform than some his Republican counterparts. While he has embraced the GOP's vow to repeal the law, Debicella has a few caveats that go with that campaign pledge.

To be clear, neither candidate is making health care reform the No. 1 issue of the campaign. Both say they talk about jobs and the economy far more often. But health care is still playing a significant role, as voters sort out the impact of the law and as Himes and Debicella seek to define each other in the final weeks of the campaign.

In other contested House and Senate campaigns around the country, the only Democrats talking about the health reform law are those who voted "No," proudly touting their opposition to a key Democratic accomplishment. Republicans, meanwhile, have sought to make the health overhaul symbol of Democrats' "Big Government" agenda, labeling the law "Obamacare."

"Few Democrats are talking about health care reform proactively, even in the muted way that Congressman Himes is doing," said Frederick Yang, a Democratic pollster who is working for congressional candidates across the Midwest and the South this election.  "I think especially this year, Democrats are trying to run localized campaigns, and this is clearly a national issue."

But across the 4th District's politically and economically diverse terrain, voters are still talking and thinking about the overhaul.

Katherine Homberger, of Norwalk, says she'll vote Republican this midterm election because the health care bill seems unreasonable to her. "I think it's too expensive," she said. "How are they going to pay for it?"

Another Norwalk resident, Edward Olius, said he backs the law unequivocally. "I have insurance, but [other] people don't. How can we not help these people, who can't even get in to see doctors?"

Debicella said it's usually the second or third issue to come up in his conversations on the campaign trail. For his part, Himes said he has raised it in part because many voters are still so uncertain of what was in the health care bill, and how it will affect them.

Even so, both candidates seem to be treading carefully on health care, while accusing each other of distorting the real impact of the law.

Himes, for example, does not offer a full-throated endorsement. While the law's provisions to expand coverage to the uninsured and to crack down on insurance industry abuses are very strong, Himes said, he's not sure how well the cost-containment measures will work.

"I have always been very upfront with my critiques of the plan, and there's lots of uncertainty," Himes said. "It's going to be up to us to implement the cost-savings measures over time."

But whatever the law's flaws, Himes said, he thinks his constituents would rather see Congress improve the law than repeal it.

And his campaign clearly saw a political advantage in focusing on the more immediate elements of health care law last week, when several of the insurance industry reforms went into effect. Those included a ban on insurance companies' ability to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, allowing young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26, and a prohibition on life-time caps on insurance coverage.

"Dan Debicella wants to REPEAL those reforms," blared an email from the Himes campaign.

Debicella says that's not true. Yes, he supports scrapping much of the health care law, but not all of it. He specifically supports keeping those new protections, which he said Democrats timed to go on the books just before the election.

The elements Debicella opposes would not come into play, for the most part, until 2014. Those include the mandate that individuals purchase insurance, the federal subsidies to help cover the cost, and the new health exchanges where people will be able to shop for their insurance plans.

Debicella argues that the subsidies and other measures will hurt the vast majority of Americans who already have private insurance, just to help the few who do not--an argument Himes' sharply rejects.

"The biggest thing I hear [from voters] is that they don't like the law because they don't think it's going to help them, and these are middle class folks," Debicella said. "There's a better way to focus on cost reduction."

Debicella said he would fully back Republican efforts to de-fund implementation of the law and block regulations that he sees as harmful. But, he added, "I prefer the word replace," not repeal, when explaining his position. His substitute proposals include a tax credit to individuals to encourage the use of preventive medicine; tort reform to rein in the cost of medical malpractice insurance for doctors; and more use of low-cost programs like Connecticut's Charter Oak Plan.

How voters sort out these differences, and how  much weight they give health care in this election, remains to be seen. Polls show an intensely partisan and deep split on law, along with a significant dose of confusion.

Yang, the pollster, said Himes's strategy of proactively raising the issue could help gin up the Democratic base in his district. But, he added, given the strong association between health reform and President Barack Obama, along with Obama's sinking popularity, it's not without risk.

Will Rep. Himes appear at the Lunch Box Tuesday September 7?  How many at "Brown Bag" lunch?

Rep. Jim Himes joins Weston first selectman for brown bag lunch tomorrow
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Monday, 06 September 2010 00:00

Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th) will join weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein for a brown bag lunch at Weston Town tomorrow, following a "tour" of businesses at Weston Center.

Brown bag lunches with the first selectman are usually held at noon on the first Monday of each month. But because of the Labor Day holiday on Monday, Sept. 6, Ms. Weinstein has scheduled the September brown bag lunch for Tuesday, Sept. 7, at noon in the Weston Town Hall Meeting Room.

The lunch is open to any Westonite who has a comment, question, or issue they would like to discuss with the first selectman, or with Mr. Himes. It is an opportunity to share ideas and thoughts in an informal setting.

Participants are encouraged to bring lunch.

Himes tries to use Shays' old playbook
Deirdre Shesgreen, CT MIRROR
August 25, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Chris Shays is not on the ballot in Connecticut's 4th Congressional District this year, but one of the candidates in the race is channeling the former Republican congressman's persona.

It's the Democrat who ousted Shays two years ago, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes. He is adopting his vanquished predecessor's sales pitch, proclaiming himself as New England's new maverick in Congress.

Himes' campaign has released a TV ad that portrays him as a moderate and the winner of the Aug. 10 Republican primary, state Sen. Dan Debicella of Shelton, as an extremist.

"After just two years, Jim Himes is New England's most independent Congressman," the ad's narrator says, touting Himes' support for budget cuts and health care reform before launching into a sharp critique of Debicella's voting record in the state legislature.

Political observers say Himes' strategy is no surprise -- though Shays finds it a stretch.

"This election will come down to Chris Shays' old voters," said David Wasserman, who tracks House races for the non-partisan Cook Political Report. And a key question, Wasserman said, is whether those voters "like the course Democrats are taking or whether they are wary of one party-control" in Washington.

Gary Rose, chairman of the government and politics department at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, noted that nearly 40 percent of the 4th District's voters are unaffiliated, the largest bloc.

"This election cannot be won by emphasizing one's partisanship," Rose said. The political middle "is where all the action is."

So it's no wonder that Debicella ran an ad in the primary, juxtaposing a photo of Himes next to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and saying he votes with "party insiders" too much. Or that Himes responded in the dog days of August with the current spot that tries to starkly define both himself and Debicella. The battle lines have been drawn.

"The sweet spot of the 4th District is socially progressive, business-oriented, and fiscally responsible, and I think that describes me," Himes said. "It's an interesting question, if you put Chris Shays between me and Dan Debicella, who he would be closer to."

Indeed, just as Himes is eager to tout his record bucking the House leadership on federal spending and ethics issues, Debicella is also vying for a centrist label.

"I'm pro-choice, I'm pro-stem cell research, I'm pro-civil unions," Debicella said in an interview Wednesday, as he sought to counter Himes' ad calling him "reckless, radical and wrong for Connecticut."

The Himes ad cites Debicella's vote in the state Senate against extending certain health benefits, such as hearing aids for deaf children, but Debicella said he voted no because he opposed mandating insurance coverage, not because he was against those particular benefits.

"The whole question in this race is, are people happy with what's going on in Washington, D.C.?" Debicella said. "And if the answer is yes, then Jim Himes is your guy. On every single vote, he has been in lock-step with the Democratic leadership."

Himes says this is no replay of the 2008 race, where he narrowly beat a well-respected incumbent with a clear moderate voting record.

In the 2008 race, Himes said he found himself wooing Democrats who said they supported Shays because of his strong environmental record, his support for universal health care, and other such issues. This time, he doesn't expect to have that problem.

"Having run against Chris Shays ... I am gratified the Republicans have nominated an extremist," Himes said.

Clearly, "extremist" is not a moniker that Himes ever could have used against Shays. But Shays, for his part, said he doesn't think Himes can credibly claim his old maverick mantra.

"This doesn't even meet the laugh test," Shays said.

The source for Himes' ad is a Washington Post votes database, which shows that Himes voted with his party 94 percent of the time during the current Congress. That is indeed lower than other lawmakers in New England. (The next closest New England lawmaker is Rep. Paul Hodes, of New Hampshire, who has voted with his party 94.7 percent of the time in the 111th Congress.)

But, as Shays noted, every other House member from New England is now a Democrat, and 94 percent is still pretty high.

"That is not independence," Shays said, pointing to his own record of voting with his party about 70 percent of the time or less. (See this story for more on the Washington Post vote tally.)

Shays said he had been trying to stay mum about Himes' record, but now that he is using the New England moderate label, he plans to weigh in more forcefully in the contest. He is supporting Debicella.

Whatever Shays' role, the race is intensifying and will be closely watched.

Rose notes that in 2010, Himes won with considerable help from the coattails of Barack Obama, who drew thousands of extra voters to the polls, especially in the district's largest city, Bridgeport. Without him on the ticket, Himes is expected to be more vulnerable.

The Cook Report currently has the seat listed as likely to stay in Democratic hands, but the report's Wasserman said it will probably move into a more competitive category in the coming weeks.

"The noise level in this race has increased," generating more buzz at the national party committees, he said. "I still give Himes the edge, but I do think it's closer than a lot of people realize ... This is one of those next-tier races that could turn a big Republican year into a gigantic Republican year."

Tom Marsh, Independent Party v.  Dan Malloy, Democrat  v. Tom Foley, Republican

Click on Gubernatorial Candidate to read CT MIRROR interview.  In 2010 contest there is no incumbent.  Underticket news here.

All over now!  In case you missed it, play-by-play below, courtesy of the Hartford Courant
Dannel Malloy And Tom Foley Clash In Third Televised Debate; Final TV Debate Is Next Tuesday Night
By Christopher Keating  on October 19, 2010 3:27 PM

In their third televised debate, Democrat Dannel Malloy and Republican Tom Foley clashed Tuesday in their race for governor over the state budget, binding arbitration and who was telling the truth about Foley's health care plan.  With only two weeks left in the race, Malloy and Foley have been battling bitterly in negative television commercials and in debates around the state.  In the first question, Channel 3 television anchor Dennis House asked how the candidates would close the state's projected deficit of $3.4 billion in the 2012 fiscal year, which will be facing the new governor as soon as he takes over on January 5 at the state Capitol.

"We're going to change direction by, first of all, changing the rules,'' Malloy said. "We're going to play it straight on the budget. ... We're going to have a plan to get out of and overcome the difficult times we're in.''

Foley, a longtime business executive, said he will solve the budget deficit by reducing spending, not increasing state taxes. He said he constantly hears "tales of woe'' from employers who complain about how long it takes the state Department of Environmental Protection to grant approval for various projects, which he said slows down economic development.

"We're considered one of the most business-unfriendly states in the nation,'' Foley said. "We need to solve our looming budget deficit.''

Foley responded that the state-employee unions "have had too much influence over policy'' in Hartford, and he pledged that that would change that influence if he wins on November 2.

Malloy, the Stamford mayor for 14 years, countered by saying that Republican governors have overseen Connecticut's policies for the past 16 years. Foley, though, placed the blame on the Democratic-controlled legislature for the state's policies over the same period.  Regarding the debate's second question on health care, Foley said the new federal healthcare plan that was passed this year by the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama "will put tremendous burdens on states, including Connecticut.''

Healthcare spending in Connecticut is about $30 billion annually, including about $7 billion of the state budget for everything from prescriptions for prison inmates to nursing home costs, according to Foley.

Malloy countered that premiums for health care have gone up consistently over the past four years, adding that profits should be limited for the private-sector companies that handle various contracts for the state government. "This is a big difference between my opponent and myself. I think you need to root out excess profits,'' Malloy said.  As he has said in the past, Malloy said he would never push for the removal of any mandates regarding health care, such as prostate screening. He attacked Foley's "core-needs'' health plan that has been featured recently in negative commercials by Malloy.

"Dan, as you know, I have not proposed anything that would remove health care coverage from anybody who has it in Connecticut,'' Foley responded. "You need to stick to the truth here.''

"You may have forgotten your healthcare plan, but I haven't,'' Malloy responded regarding Foley's plan that would be exempt from various mandates.

On the third question, Malloy offered a spirited defense of the state's binding arbitration system, saying that it has avoided strikes by police and firefighters.

"Dan's starting to sound like a union representative,'' Foley said, adding that he has not met any union leaders this year who want changes in the current arbitration system. "The people who are suffering from mandatory binding arbitration are the citizens of Connecticut.''

"Tom doesn't like mandates in health care and he doesn't like mandates'' in binding arbitration, Malloy said.

Foley then asked Malloy if he could prove that he had been untruthful about Foley's health plan "Would you apologize to the people of Connecticut for your untruthfulness?''

After Malloy started answering, Foley interrupted and said, "Dan, I asked you a simple question.''

The exchange eventually ended without a resolution, and the co-moderators moved on to the next question.  The debate was held in a theatre at the Regina Quick Center For the Arts on the campus of Fairfield University.

The first two televised debates were major battles - dubbed by Foley as "the brawl at The Bushnell'' in Hartford and "the grapple at The Garde'' in New London. In between those two TV debates, the candidates clashed during a tourism forum in Hartford over which candidate had changed a bedpan more recently. Foley had criticized Malloy for walking a picket line with the District 1199 union members on primary day in August, and Malloy responded that he was trying to help women who change bedpans for $12 per hour.

Concerning privatization of state services, Malloy said, "I'm not a guy who runs to privatization.''

Foley said the state could save $25 million through the privatization of services at the much-criticized Riverview Hospital, which is run by state employees and costs more than $900,000 per student per year. Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield and Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein have both said publicly that Riverview costs too much.

"Dan has no significant proposals to reduce spending. He is going to raise your taxes,'' Foley said.

But Malloy said that many services are already privatized across state government.

"You know what Tom's plan is - to raise your property taxes,'' Malloy said.

During exchanges on education, the candidates outlined their views. Malloy touted his record in Stamford for pushing for universal pre-K education.

"Dan's leaving out an important fact and that is that Stamford has the largest achievement gap of any city in the state,'' Foley said.

"In 30 seconds, Tom made more misstatements about my record in Stamford than I care to count,'' Malloy said. "We need to make real changes, and I'm prepared to do it.''

Concerning high salaries at the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut State University system, Malloy said, "I think leadership begins at the governor's office. ... The idea that we would pay two presidents at the same time at the same university makes no sense. ... I support UConn. I support the four universities - Eastern, Western, Southern, and Central.''

Regarding excessive salaries and pensions of public employees, Foley charged that the Stamford fire chief retired with a pension of $264,000 per year.

"Actually, I'm dumbfounded. I don't know what fire chief he's talking about,'' Malloy said. "The fire chief I appointed is still on the job.''

Concerning massive traffic congestion that has clogged lower Fairfield County for decades, both candidates said that the state needs a better transportation plan.

"We've been kicking it around for years and doing precious little,'' said Malloy, whose city's office towers loom over the congested Interstate 95. After Grand Central Station in Manhattan, the main Stamford station is the second busiest in the Metro-North Commuter Railroad system.

"We need to clear accidents much more rapidly,'' Malloy said. "We need to develop more stations and more parking along those stations. .. We need to invest in the New Haven to Hartford to Vermont line. ... We absolutely need more parking spaces for those who would opt off I-95.''

He added that the equivalent of 1 million truck trips are avoided on Interstate 95 through the use of state ports.

Regarding three specific cuts, Malloy said the state should switch to generic drugs, cut electricity costs by $60, streamline school building projects to save hundreds of millions of dollars, and combine state departments and agencies. The state should also cut 15 percent of the estimated 600 positions that the governor controls. He also complained about the privatization of work at the Department of Transportation, which has been a huge bone of contention for years for union employees in CSEA/SEIU Local 2001.

"What I've said is I'll cut everything except the safety net,'' Malloy said.

"I'll put on a hiring freeze,'' Foley said, adding that it could save $100 million. "We will eliminate waste and duplication. ... We will use outside contractors wherever it is less expensive'' and quality is maintained.

The state could save as much as $600 million by moving patients from nursing homes to lower-cost, community-based services, Foley said.

The final question covered the Notre Dame football team's refusal to play in the 40,000-seat Rentschler Field in East Hartford against the UConn Huskies. UConn agreed to play in larger venues, such as the new Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey and the Patriots stadium in Massachusetts.

"I actually wasn't familiar with that decision,'' Foley said. "I think Connecticut is a great state. I don't know why they'd rather be in New Jersey than in Connecticut.''

But Malloy said he would have pulled the plug on the Notre Dame - UConn series if Notre Dame continued to refuse to play at UConn's relatively small stadium. Notre Dame consistently sells out its home field in South Bend, Indiana with 80,000 fans and a national television audience for every game.

"If I had been governor at the time, I would have pulled the UConn folks aside and said, let's find somebody else to play,'' Malloy said.

In his closing statement, Foley said, "Connecticut should be doing well, but we aren't. ... I'm an outsider. I'm a problem solver. ... I believe I can get employers to start hiring again. ... I will not raise your taxes. My opponent has no plan to reduce spending, and he will raise your taxes. ... I will come to Harvard, Hartford, excuse me, with no commitments. ... I am someone you can trust. I am not a career politician who will say anything to get elected.''

Malloy, in his closing, said, "I do fear that Tom wants to raise your property taxes, and that's his plan. ... I stayed at Boston College, where I met my wife, Cathy, who runs a rape crisis center. ... My mom was a nurse, and my dad sold insurance. ... I'm asking you for your vote. I'm asking you for your confidence.''

Conn. gov hopefuls spar over death penalty, TV ads
5 October 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. — The two major-party nominees for governor took aim at each other's resumes in a televised debate Tuesday and sparred over issues ranging from the state's death penalty to the looming budget deficit.

The live debate was held the day a man was convicted of the 2007 home invasion killings of a woman and her two daughters. The first question of the debate was about where Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dan Malloy stood on the state's death penalty, which some lawmakers have been pushing to repeal.

Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford, said he supports abolishing executions in Connecticut only for future crimes. He said that wouldn't benefit Steven Hayes, who faces possible execution for the July 2007 slayings in Cheshire.

Foley, a Greenwich businessman and former ambassador to Ireland, said Hayes and his co-defendant, who's awaiting trial, likely would be successful in appealing death sentences if the state's death penalty law were scrapped because they could use it in their appeals.

"It's almost certain that Steven Hayes and his accomplice in this crime will not be put to death (if Malloy is elected governor)," Foley said.

Malloy said the longest-serving death row inmate in Connecticut has been facing his possible execution for 22 years. He said the state doesn't have "a workable" death penalty, and he told Foley "you can't assure anything is going to happen."

Hayes' attorneys have said they'll argue for a life sentence.

Tuesday's debate came as a recent Quinnipiac University poll gave Malloy a slight lead in the race to replace Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who isn't seeking re-election. An independent candidate, Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh, wasn't invited to participate in the debate, which was held at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and was sponsored by FoxCT and the Hartford Courant.

As with Monday's Senate debate, both major-party candidates were shown each other's recent critical TV ads. Malloy's spot accuses Foley of laying off workers and bankrupting a Georgia textile mill he once owned while receiving $20 million — accusations also made during the Republican primary.

Foley again vehemently denied the charges. He said his management company and its employees received compensation but he didn't know how much.

"You're misrepresenting what is happening," Foley said to Malloy in one of their many spirited exchanges. "Why don't you be truthful with the voters?"

"Tom, release the papers, that's all you have to do," Malloy shot back, adding how it was unfair of Foley "to walk away with $20 million when people lost their pensions."

Throughout the debate, Malloy tried to paint himself as an experienced, successful problem-solver who's well-versed in public policy. He accused Foley of being a rich CEO who's short on facts and unfamiliar with the problems middle-class families face.

Foley also tried to portray himself as a successful problem-solver with a proven record of turning around troubled companies. Given the difficult fiscal times, he said, Connecticut needs someone with his experience and skills. He frequently accused Malloy of being a career politician who has exaggerated his successes.

Foley accused Malloy of being too cozy with state employee unions, making it difficult for him to solve the state's budget deficit problems. Connecticut's projected $19.1 billion general fund budget for 2012 is predicted to be $3.4 billion short.

Foley said it's widely believed Malloy has made commitments to the unions not to lay off workers, a charge Malloy denied.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

A glimpse of policies to come in Hartford?
Malloy proposes $50 million for development of ports. 
Candidate takes tour of harbors in New London, New Haven, Bridgeport
By Ted Mann New London Day Staff Writer
Article published Sep 22, 2010

New London - From the second-level cabin of the Cross Sound Ferry Co.'s high-speed SeaJet ferry, Democrat Dan Malloy looked out at the industrial banks of the Thames River.

The green petroleum tanks of the Hess Corp. The glittering office campus of Pfizer, soon to be occupied by workers for Electric Boat, the massive submarine manufacturer across the river. Past the bridge, the drydocks of the Thames River Shipyard, still protected on their upriver side by the wooden skeletons of old schooner hulls, there to break the momentum of ice floes that don't come rushing down the river anymore.
And right in the center of it all, the State Pier, the central infrastructure of the deepest of Connecticut's three commercial ports, which Malloy says he can help revitalize if voters make him the state's first Democratic governor in a generation.

Malloy, with running mate Nancy Wyman and local politicians and business owners in tow, bounced from Bridgeport to New Haven to New London Tuesday, brandishing a new proposed port development plan that would redirect $50 million in already authorized state borrowing to fund infrastructure improvements and partnerships with private enterprise to spur development in the port cities.

And the plan would do so without any new spending, Malloy claims, using unpaid appointees and existing staff in the Department of Transportation and Economic and Community Development. That was a nod to the political reality of his race with Republican Tom Foley, in which each campaign must emphasize its determination to cut a $3.4 billion state deficit while increasing economic activity and employment, and also cutting back on unnecessary state spending.

"It's time to stop talking about it," Malloy said, standing on a platform amid weekday recreational fisherman and union laborers on the Tomlinson Bridge, which spans the tank-lined harbor of New Haven. "It's time to get going."

Malloy's plan is not the first from a gubernatorial candidate pledging to achieve multiple goals by reviving commercial shipping in Connecticut, among them creating jobs for port workers, removing freight traffic from clogged highways with improved ship-to-rail connections, and supporting existing maritime industry.

Standing next to Malloy on the bridge in New Haven was the man who defeated him for the Democratic nomination for governor four years earlier, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., and who spoke repeatedly of port improvements in a losing electoral battle with Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

Before Rell, former Gov. John G. Rowland's administration invested millions in redevelopment at State Pier in New London, including some upgrades to rail infrastructure and the pier itself.
"Listen, John Rowland hasn't been governor for a long time, and I want to rejuvenate this effort very substantially," Malloy said.

Malloy's plan would create a State Port Authority that would coordinate efforts of local port administrators but not usurp them. That division of responsibilities brought favorable comment from local leaders like John S. Johnson, who said local marine trade leaders feel they're "under the thumb of the DOT," and urged him to include industry representatives among the unpaid appointees to the new authority.
"I see government as a junior partner," Malloy told him.

"Connecticut doesn't need more government, we need more jobs," Foley said in a written response to Malloy's plan. "He says his new authority won't have any fiscal impact and then says he will allocate up to $50 million in previously authorized Special Tax Obligation bonds to pay for it. Did I hear that right? Does he mean that it isn't really spending if it has already been authorized or if we are borrowing the money? This is the same tricky accounting from Hartford that got us into this mess."

Malloy argues the bigger problem is not following through on proposals to find new industries to fill the pier in New London with goods, or dredge existing harbors like Bridgeport's, which was last dredged in 1964.
"The problem with Connecticut is we don't set priorities, things are momentarily a priority so we'll see a spate of work done on it, without the execution of a long-term vision and mission," Malloy said.

Marsh on health care: A personal view
Arielle Levin Becker, CT MIRROR
September 27, 2010

Third in a series

Tom Marsh draws from personal experience when he talks about health care.

The Republican-turned-Independent Party candidate for governor speaks of having no health insurance just two months before his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, giving him an understanding of the pitfalls faced by people who can't afford insurance.

He recalls caring for his parents and mother-in-law at home at the end of their lives, experiences that fuel a goal of making it easier to keep seniors out of institutional care.

And he speaks of the challenges of finding health insurance when he started a small business and says that, despite his tendency to favor less government, he would consider funding a public health insurance option if state residents want it.

If Marsh's opponents, Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dan Malloy, occupy two ends of a spectrum in their health care views, Marsh falls toward the side of his fellow Republican, if a bit closer to the center.

Marsh, the first selectman of Chester, supports incentives to get people on public insurance programs to make behavioral changes like quitting smoking and wants to make it easier for seniors remain at home. They're the right things to do, he says, and they can also save the state money.

But Marsh acknowledges that the savings won't come immediately, and the state's massive budget deficit will likely mean making choices in health and social service spending.

Marsh would not cite specific items to cut or consolidate, saying that, "in the realm of social services, everything seems important." But he said some state programs are "wants" more than needs, and said he would give lower priority to those that focus on workplace or societal rights and special interest advocacy.

He also has faith that some money-saving changes, like getting people to take a more proactive approach to their health, can pay off quickly. And he said the state must begin to make more long-term changes that pay off later.

"The other option of continuing what we're doing now and just doing it with less money, it doesn't work," Marsh said. "And we don't have any more money."

Crisis to Intervention

Marsh speaks frequently about changing the way government works, making it function better, not just on more or less money.

In health care, the country has a "sick care system, not a health care system," he says. Changing that means moving from crisis to intervention, treating problems before they become worse and more costly.

A big part of that shift, Marsh believes, is focusing on wellness.

Marsh wants to offer wellness training to people on state programs, and supports requiring people receiving state assistance to take classes - on topics that could include nutrition, lifestyle management, parenting skills or how to create a resume. He also favors financial incentives for people to make behavioral changes.

"Why not get people together and say, you know what, if you stop smoking, we're probably going to save a whole lot of money later on, so here's the program, and we're going to pay you $50, $100," he said. "And if you complete the cessation program, you're going to be rewarded for that."

Marsh acknowledged that wellness efforts are not likely to produce immediate savings, although he believes they will ultimately pay off.

Rigorous research on wellness programs has been limited, although the experiences of some employers have suggested that the programs could save money over time. Much of the research focuses on companies and voluntary programs, which could be difficult to generalize to a broader population or for required programs.

Marsh believes the state could test wellness approaches through focused pilot programs, which he calls "charter agencies." The idea would be to identify an outcome, pursue it with more leeway to avoid red tape than state agencies typically have, then expand or reduce the program based on how it turns out.

Marsh would also consider reimbursing preventive care at higher rates, giving providers incentives to accept patients with public insurance. Many providers do not accept Medicaid because of the relatively low rates it pays, although even people with higher-paying commercial insurance can struggle to find primary-care providers to treat them, part of a shortage of providers that is expected to get worse.


When talking about making budget choices, Marsh points to Oregon, where the amount of services covered by Medicaid can fluctuate.

Oregon uses a prioritized list of health services to cover its Medicaid recipients, and the legislature can decide how much of the list to include in the budget, although changes must be approved by the federal government.

Even without a list, Connecticut will need to start prioritizing its services if money is limited, Marsh said.

"To me, you look at your children and your elderly first to make sure that they're well covered, and then in the middle, you start looking at how can we best spend the money," he said.

Marsh suggested flexibility with cuts - if the state can't cover all dental work for adults, for example, what about one annual check-up?

"All of that stuff has to be on the table," he said. "We have to have basic health care for our most needy and then have a discussion once we take care of that population, who comes next, and then what comes next for those services."

Aging at Home

One way to save money, Marsh believes, is to shift the way long-term care is provided from institutional care to care based at home or in the community. Marsh's motives are not just financial.

Over about a decade, Marsh's parents and his wife's mother lived at the Marshs' home before they died. Marsh observed changes in the long-term care industry, and said he was struck by the difficulty of arranging for home care, even though doing so cost less than a nursing home.

"I just thought, who wants to be sitting in the nursing home and why is it so difficult to have competent care, or at least assistance if you're trying to do what we thought was the right thing anyway and keep them at home?" he said.

Marsh wants to make it easier for people to choose to stay at home as they age, a concept called "aging in place."

Long-term care is a major piece of the state budget - the state is budgeted to spend $1.3 billion in Medicaid funds for nursing homes this fiscal year, although at least half gets reimbursed by the federal government.

Just over half of the state residents whose long-term care is covered by Medicaid receive care at home or through community-based services. The state's Long-Term Care Plan calls for increasing that to 75 percent by 2025, a move that one study suggests could save up to $900 million a year.

Marsh said he would begin tackling the issue during the first week of the next legislative session.

"What we as a state need to do is to say, 'the default should go to how can we keep you at home as long as possible, not how can we get you out of your house as soon as possible?'" he said.

Getting there would likely require other actions, such as making sure there are enough workers trained in the appropriate skills to keep up with the demand, Marsh said.

Researchers have noted other challenges. To receive Medicaid funding for home and community-based services, people must fit into one of the state's many waivers or pilot programs, which are narrowly defined. The governance structure for long-term care in the state is fractured between multiple state departments and agencies, and it can be difficult for consumers to learn even basic information about their options.

Saving on Coverage

To save money, Marsh would also seek to change the way state employees' health care coverage is managed, using a model from Chester. The town, which provides health insurance to 15 employees, uses a high-deductible health plan and pays the deductible for its workers. The model, referred to as a health reimbursement account, saves money because having a higher deductible comes with lower premiums, Marsh said.

Marsh believes it could be expanded to state employees as part of negotiations for the next labor agreement. The current one runs out in 2017.

But Matt O'Connor, a spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, said that model would not be better than what state employees have now. Unionized workers with similar plans have not found them to be better for their families, he said.

O'Connor said it could also be difficult to translate something that works for Chester's 15 employees to the state's health insurance plan, which covers about 200,000 workers, retirees and their dependents.

It would be a simplistic analysis, he said, "to say, 'well, if it works in Chester, it will work for the whole state's workforce."

Marsh sees virtue in the state offering a viable way for people to get health insurance, something that could take place through the SustiNet plan. SustiNet grew out of an effort to establish universal health care coverage in the state with a public option. The version that ultimately became law was scaled-back, and its future is not clear, although a board is developing a health plan that supporters hope will be offered to state workers, Medicaid recipients and the public.

"From a default level, I like less government," he said. "But good government comes from providing what constituency wants and doing it while providing them a good value. So if the state as a whole felt that it was a worthwhile investment to provide for the common good, that we were going to buy down the rates on things like that, I'm OK with that. I'm not OK with saying we have to subsidize it because we don't do it very well."

Malloy: 'Find the balance' between healthcare and the budget
Arielle Levin Becker, CT MIRROR
September 20, 2010

Dan Malloy is fond of saying that he's not running for governor "to balance the budget on the backs of those who are most dependent on the government for their health and support."

Second in a series

He says the state must keep nursing homes from closing as the population ages and ensure that a comprehensive mental health system exists. And he considers many previously proposed cuts to safety net programs like Medicaid "penny wise, pound foolish."

"We may have to expend additional dollars in the short run to save far more dollars in the long run," the former Stamford mayor said during a recent interview.

But there is a budget to balance, one in which Medicaid and the health care costs of state employees and retirees account for one in four dollars spent. There's also a budget deficit that is effectively the largest in state history, raising questions about the feasibility of even maintaining existing levels of health care spending.

Malloy is vague on how he would balance the competing demands of health spending and budget cutting.

He would not identify specific health programs that he would consider cutting. He said he would look to savings and efficiencies in existing programs and seek federal money before cutting programs.

To find savings, Malloy said he would conduct a "top to bottom review" of all state programs, which he believes will identify programs that are not producing results. He believes the state can save money in existing programs - as an example, he cited a 2009 audit showing that the state could save nearly $50 million by paying lower rates to the managed care companies in the HUSKY program.

The state has failed to go after millions of dollars in federal money, he said, and he plans to pursue it aggressively. Other potential savings could come from the use of electronic medical records - something Connecticut providers have been slow to take up - and ensuring that patients have alternatives to emergency rooms to receive non-emergency care.

After that?

"Then we'll have to make other decisions," he said. "We're going to have to put our financial house in order. I'm committed to that."

Although he would not say what health care programs would be considered for cuts, Malloy was clear about what programs he does not plan to cut: Programs that serve people who most rely on the government for their health care.

"That's what you're electing a governor for is to find the right balance between the necessity of maintaining a program for a specific group of individuals and the necessity of bringing the state's financial house in order," he said, citing his record as Stamford mayor. "That's what I do. That's what leadership is."

Expanding Coverage

Malloy wants as many state residents covered by health insurance as possible, and he wants to do it in a way that accesses as much federal funding as possible. When people receive health care that they cannot pay for, the state ultimately sees some of the bill, he said.

"Getting to the point that we wring out as much of the unreimbursed expense is going to be terribly important," he said. "I do think that a universal system ultimately becomes less expensive, but there is probably a run-up in expense as you build it."

As mayor of Stamford, Malloy developed a program to use schools, which already collect medical information about pupils, to identify children who are uninsured but eligible for the state's HUSKY insurance program, then help their families access it. He wants to do the same statewide.

Malloy supported a proposal last year that would have established universal health coverage in the state with a public insurance option, called SustiNet. A scaled-back version became law, and a board is working to create a SustiNet plan, intended to be offered as an insurance option for state employees, Medicaid recipients and the public. Malloy said he expects SustiNet will play a lead role in extending health care coverage to the uninsured.

The state can also make health insurance more affordable by using its purchasing power to benefit municipalities, non-profits and other employers, Malloy believes. State legislators passed bills in 2008 and 2009 that would have opened the state employee health insurance pool to other groups, but Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed them, citing concerns that widening the pool to an unknown risk group could increase insurance rates.

Malloy believes expanding the state employees' pool would lower costs for "a substantial number of communities," and he wants to take the idea a step further: Offering multiple plans to make coverage available to employers that could not afford the standard state employee package.

"What you're doing is you're harnessing the purchasing power," he said. "Spreading that around doesn't bother me at all."

Rethinking the System

Having more people with health insurance also means more patients in a health care system already struggling with capacity issues. Malloy believes the state must "rethink" the health care system. And he wants to place particular emphasis on community health centers.

The state's 13 federally qualified health centers focus on delivering primary care and dental and behavioral health services. Their patient base consists largely of people with Medicaid or no insurance. Last year, 65 percent of the nearly 213,000 patients treated in community health centers fell below the poverty level.

Community health centers are expected to absorb many of the the millions of people who gain coverage as federal health reform rolls out. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes $11 billion for community health centers nationwide, intended to help them keep up with an increase in patient volume. Health centers in Connecticut have also upgraded and expanded their facilities using $25.8 million in bonding money Rell authorized for them.

Malloy said he would put substantially more emphasis on the community health center model. He also wants to see a closer relationship between them and hospitals.

"To the best of my knowledge, there's no one in the current administration who's sitting down with the CHC providers and the hospitals and saying how do we build a better system?" Malloy said. "There's competition, there's resentment from one to the other."

As a better model to pursue, Malloy cited an example from his hometown, where Stamford Hospital in 2007 turned over its four primary care clinics to Optimus Health Care, a Bridgeport-based community health center.

Demand at the clinics had been increasing, Stamford Hospital spokesman Scott Orstad said. It posed a financial challenge, since many of the clinics' patients were uninsured or covered by Medicaid, which typically pays less than the cost of care.

As a community health center, Optimus was eligible to receive more federal funding to treat the same patients, making it easier, financially, to run the clinics.

When the plan was first announced, Malloy remembered thinking, "Gee, this is a terrible thing, the hospital's going to get out of this business."

Now Malloy says it is a model worth pursuing.

"We've got to be brave enough and bold enough to rethink our system of care," he said. "We talk about continuum of care along disciplines, mental health, aging. What we need to think about continuum of care is along broader lines. How do we make sure that everybody gets the level of service that's most appropriate to them? Sometimes it's going to be in a hospital, sometimes it's going to be in a doctor's office, sometimes it's going to be with a public health nurse, sometimes it's going to be at a CHC facility. Ok, let's build that system."

"The Aging Tsunami"

Malloy is keenly interested in nursing homes. Stamford has a city-run nursing home, and Malloy speaks about learning from it as mayor. He won the endorsement of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, an industry group, and has walked picket lines with striking nursing home workers.

He worries about the financial conditions nursing homes face. The state will have a problem, Malloy said, if it loses nursing home beds as it approaches what he called "the aging tsunami." Over the next 15 years, the number of people over 65 is expected to rise by 40 percent, while the population under 65 declines.

Malloy believes the state needs to raise the Medicaid rates it pays nursing homes - not at full operational expense, but enough to guarantee that facilities can stay in business. Medicaid covered 69 percent of the patients in Connecticut nursing homes, but paid, on average, less than 65 percent of what private payers did per patient during the 2009 fiscal year, according to the Connecticut Commission on Aging.

"Right now we set Medicaid rates and we don't care whether the place stays open or not," Malloy said. "In fact, I would argue that we've been on a pretty active campaign to close nursing homes for a long period of time."

In some ways, Malloy is going against the tide on an issue with significant budgetary impact. This fiscal year, the state is expected to spend $1.3 billion in Medicaid costs for people in institutional care, although the federal government reimburses the state for at least half of its Medicaid costs.

Research commissioned by an alliance of public, private and institutional leaders has suggested that the state could save up to $900 million a year by changing how Medicaid long-term care is delivered. Currently, 53 percent of people covered by Medicaid receive home or community-based care. The state's Long-Term Care Plan calls for raising that to 75 percent by 2025. That could reduce the need for nursing home beds by close to 25 percent by 2030, according to projections by the University of Connecticut Center on Aging.

Home and community-based care tends to cost less than institutional care, and research suggests people would prefer it. With the state facing a massive budget deficit, lawmakers have started embracing the idea with greater urgency.

Malloy is skeptical.

"I just don't think that that's true," he said of the projected $600 million to $900 million savings. "And if we do that, what we end up with is a dramatic shortage of nursing home beds to fill the void."

He wants to make it easier for people to access hospice care. There will be a need for multiple types of care, he believes, as the population ages and lives longer, in more compromised health.

"I want to maintain this system, and then I want to invest wisely in alternatives to that system, understanding that those alternatives may cover a period of time of treatment," he said.

"Penny wise, Pound foolish"

Malloy believes the state can save money by eliminating duplicate services and bureaucracy, including in social service programs. He said he will use data to examine what programs are effective, and eliminate those that are not.

"I don't think all the moneys that we're spending are wisely spent and I have a very large suspicion that the management-level bureaucracy has grown too fast, too big too fast and is not justified," he said.

With a cost of nearly $5 billion, Medicaid has been targeted for cuts in recent years, although the legislature has resisted some that Rell proposed.

Connecticut covers services under Medicaid that are not required by the federal government, including dental care for adults, which Rell proposed cutting. Asked if he would consider such programs for budget cuts, Malloy said, "I hope not. I hope things aren't so bad that that has to be considered."

"That's one of those penny wise, pound foolish tradeoffs," he said. "You have short-term gain for a long-term greater expense. And it's my hope that I won't run the state that way."

Foley: Health care costs can be cut 15% with no benefit loss
Arielle Levin Becker, CT MIRROR
September 13, 2010

First in a series

Tom Foley doesn't like the federal health reform law--he'd rather see it repealed and replaced with something that cuts costs. He believes the state budget needs to shrink by at least 10 percent. And in health care, which accounts for nearly a third of state spending, he sees a plum source for savings.

"It wouldn't take that much to reduce health care costs in Connecticut by 15 percent," the Republican nominee for governor said during a recent interview.

Foley believes the savings - up to $1 billion - could be achieved through wellness programs, electronic record keeping, changes to the medical malpractice system, reducing unnecessary emergency room visits, allowing less-expensive out-of-state health plans into Connecticut, and increasing the use of community-based care for elderly and disabled people.

Doing so wouldn't require reducing benefits, Foley said.

But it would represent a significant reversal in spending trends at a time when health care costs continue to rise and demand for state medical assistance grows.

While Foley believes much of the savings can come from wellness programs designed to impact behaviors, evidence of their effects on health care costs is limited, and some research suggests that clear-cut, short-term savings are hard to demonstrate. Programs aimed at preventing conditions like obesity might be cost-effective--producing health benefits that justify their costs--but not cost-saving, some experts say.

And Foley wants to increase one area of state health care spending: the rates paid to health care providers who treat Medicaid patients. He sees it as a way to lower health care costs for the private sector, ultimately making it less expensive to employ workers in Connecticut.

"Anything that drives down health care costs in Connecticut is something I'd be in favor of," Foley said.

Revising Reform

That's one of the reasons he opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Foley believes it will raise costs and drive private insurers out of the market, ultimately producing a single-payer system.

The law is "a bad deal for Connecticut," Foley said. Because the state has a relatively low rate of uninsured residents - 10 percent in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau - people here won't see much expansion of coverage for the added cost, he said.

"Connecticut residents are going to be paying for this program, and there's no benefit to anyone in Connecticut because people are already covered," he said.

But as governor, Foley said, he would do what is required to implement the law.

"I'm not somebody who says 'hey, we're going to completely reject this,'" he said. "I think we need to be responsible and do what we are required to do, but I would be very diligent about making sure that Obamacare doesn't burden us with any more costs than are absolutely necessary."

Foley does support certain changes in the reform law, such as eliminating the ability of insurers to exclude people with pre-existing conditions. But he said he does not support any changes to the health care delivery system that reduce people's choice.

Finding $1 Billion

The idea of saving 15 percent on state health care costs stems from the federal health reform debate. Projections for an earlier reform plan suggested such savings were possible, Foley said.

"I would assume in Connecticut, because we have such a high-cost system, there may be more opportunities for reducing costs," he said.

Much of the savings can come from wellness programs aimed at reducing obesity, drug and alcohol use, and promoting healthier lifestyles, he said.

"If you can provide incentives and encourage people to take better care of themselves, we could do a lot to bring down health care costs," he said.

Wellness programs have gained popularity among employers in recent years, although research suggests that cost savings can be difficult to achieve in the first few years and experts have expressed skepticism about their usefulness as a quick way to save money. Behavioral changes like quitting smoking or losing weight can take time to achieve, while large-scale prevention efforts that involve screening large groups of people can cost more than the savings from preventing disease in the smaller number of people who would have gotten sick.

Some studies have found savings from wellness programs, although many of them use methods that researchers consider limited, such as comparing outcomes for people who choose to participate to people who did not without accounting for other differences between the two groups.

The bulk of state health care money goes to medical assistance programs like Medicaid. In his calculations for finding $1 billion in health care savings, Foley also includes health care costs for current and retired state workers, which are expected to run the state an estimated $1.13 billion this fiscal year.

But it's not clear how much additional savings are achievable there. State workers already receive wellness programs as part of their health plans, including a smoking cessation program and discounts for weight loss programs and gym memberships.

"That has been done," said Matt O'Connor, spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition. "It's an ongoing process that's been in place."

As for the prospect of cost-cutting in state employee health care, O'Connor noted that state workers agreed to changes last year including increased premiums, limits on eligibility for retiree health benefits for workers with less than 10 years of state service, and requiring workers with less than 5 years of state employment to contribute to a trust fund for retiree health care.

"Part of what we're looking for in this next administration is a different approach," O'Connor said. "We've been there, done that, so now it's a matter of looking at other ways in which savings can be achieved and are out there."

Foley sees another source of savings in shifting much of the state's long-term care from nursing homes to community or home-based care.

The state spends nearly $2.5 billion in Medicaid long-term care costs for about 40,000 people. Forty-seven percent of them live in nursing homes, which tend to cost more than receiving care at home.

Research has suggested that the state could save between $600 million to $900 million a year by "rebalancing" the way long-term care is delivered - that is, delivering 75 percent of the long-term care in home and community-based settings, with the remaining 25 percent in nursing homes, by 2025.

Some industry experts are skeptical about the prospects of making such a large shift. Foley acknowledged that the state does not yet have the capacity to make such a sizable move toward community-based care and must build it. He said one hitch in making changes has been the unions representing nursing home workers.

"The unions are very powerful in nursing homes and they don't want the Medicaid patients moving out of nursing homes," Foley said. "But it's far less expensive to care for the elderly in community-based care and it's better for them, they do better, they live longer. So that's a pretty easy one for me."

"Stealth Tax"

The state's other Medicaid programs have been growing steadily in recent years, with more than 500,000 state residents now receiving the public coverage. The federal government reimburses the states for at least 50 percent of Medicaid costs and has been providing a higher level of matching funds since the federal stimulus program began.

Increasing the rates paid to health care providers who treat Medicaid patients could reduce private-sector health care costs, Foley believes.

The existing Medicaid rates pay doctors and other health care providers less than the cost of delivering care. Providers typically make up the difference by charging commercial insurance plans more, a cost-shift that Foley said raises the price of private insurance.

Foley said the government should instead pay the full cost of care for Medicaid patients, "and let the taxpayers decide whether or not the expense of that is something they want to cover." He acknowledged that it would mean an increase in state spending, but said the alternative is a "stealth tax" on people with private insurance.

"I'm against the government imposing costs on citizens that they can't see," he said.

Changes to the medical malpractice system could also save money, Foley believes. Many physician groups believe malpractice issues account for considerable health care costs, although some studies suggest it has a more modest effect on expenses.

A few changes could cut costs without requiring comprehensive reform, Foley said. He supports a $250,000 cap on awards for non-economic damages, similar to what California has, and cited other options including using special courts to handle malpractice cases, employing a non-adversarial process, and providing guidelines for compensation for medical errors and malpractice.

Trimming Government

But even with $1 billion in health care savings, Foley said, the state would have a long way to go toward fiscal stability. He supports privatizing state institutions if the private sector can provide the same or better service for less money.

His philosophy for making cuts to health and social service programs?

Start with ones that have no negative impact. The $1 billion in savings he believes is possible would fall in that category, he says, providing the same benefits at a lower cost.

After that: "You look at things that have some adverse impact on people but they're not devastating," Foley said. "Where people can adjust and people are adjusting to the new reality in the private the public sector, though, people haven't really adjusted to the new reality. That's going to happen one way or the other."

One cut Foley would be happy to see: The SustiNet Health Partnership.

"I'd like to see it go away," he said.

SustiNet grew out of an effort to achieve universal health coverage in the state with a public health insurance plan. The plan that legislators ultimately passed - and later resurrected after a veto - was a scaled-down version, with no funding attached. More than 150 people are now developing a plan, which they hope will ultimately be offered as a coverage option for state employees, Medicaid enrollees and the public.

"It was created for a purpose that no longer is needed," Foley said. "The people involved are trying to find a role for it. We don't need new costly things looking for a purpose."

Foley also has reservations about using state money to fund stem cell research, although he said it is not something he has examined closely. Lawmakers in 2005 committed the state to funding $100 million in grants for stem cell research over 10 years. The money comes from a tobacco trust fund, but last year, Gov. M. Jodi Rell proposed putting off the stem cell grants and using the money to help offset the budget deficit.

"That's what the private sector's for, if you're talking about coming up with new technologies and innovation. Governments aren't good at that," Foley said. "I'm not sure why Connecticut is subsidizing it, because I think the private sector would pay for it if they were left free to do it."

Independent Candidate Calls For Tax Changes: Marsh Says Those Who Pay No State Income Tax Need To Start Kicking In
7:37 PM EDT, September 12, 2010

At least a third of all Connecticut tax filers pay no state income tax at all, and Tom Marsh says that needs to end.

Marsh, the Independent Party candidate on the ballot for governor, says "everybody who is receiving a paycheck'' should pay into the state coffers — even if it is only $100 per year — in order to close the state's projected budget deficit of $3.4 billion for the next fiscal year.

"Everybody needs to have a little skin in the game,'' said Marsh, now in his third term as the first selectman of Chester. "People need a reason to be engaged in the government.''

Marsh's two opponents — Republican Tom Foley of Greenwich and Democrat Dannel Malloy of Stamford —rejected his views on the state income tax.

"We shouldn't increase any taxes in Connecticut as a means of solving the looming budget deficit,'' Foley said in an interview. "I'm surprised. Tom Marsh has been traveling around the state a lot. I'm shocked.''

He said Marsh should realize that Connecticut voters are not in the mood — "and don't have the ability'' — to pay more taxes in Connecticut.

Roy Occhiogrosso, the chief strategist for Malloy, said the state needs to create more jobs, rather than collect more taxes from those with the lowest incomes.

"You're talking about people who are not making a lot of money,'' Occhiogrosso said. "A couple hundred bucks might not sound like a lot of money to some people, but it is to them. ... No way.''

Marsh rejected the views of those who say it is bad tax policy to impose a tax on the poorest residents. He pointed out that the state legislature has raised the cigarette tax multiple times — to the current level of $3 per pack — even though many poor people are smokers and are forced to pay the tax. The poor also pay gasoline taxes, Social Security taxes, sales taxes and other taxes.

"It's a false argument to say you're taking advantage of those who can least afford it,'' said Marsh, who represents an affluent, riverfront town of about 4,000 residents in Middlesex County.

Under the state tax law, married couples who file jointly with an adjusted gross income of $24,000 or less pay no state income tax. But with the maximum property tax credit of $500 for automobiles or real estate, couples earning as high as $43,600 do not owe any state income tax if they claim the credit.

With various exemptions and credits, thousands of Connecticut residents currently pay nothing at all. Even though Connecticut is a wealthy state, nearly 40 percent of all filers earned $35,000 or less in 2007, according to public tax records. Under the state's progressive income tax, which exempts those at low incomes, the filers below $35,000 paid a combined total of 1.3 percent of the income taxes. At the upper end, the top 20 percent of earners paid about 80 percent of the overall state income tax that was collected, and the top 1.3 percent paid 35 percent of the income tax.

In trying to determine tax policy, state legislators have offered various estimates through the years of the number of filers who pay no state income tax. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue Services, however, said the state does not officially calculate that number.

Marsh, who turns 51 next week, started his campaign for governor as a Republican and later dropped out to run as an independent. He collected the necessary 7,500 signatures to receive a spot on the ballot under the Independent Party.

With large deficits on the horizon, Marsh says that examining the tax structure is necessary.

"I see the freight train that is coming down the tracks and the absolute dysfunction that the legislative and executive branches have shown in the last couple of sessions,'' Marsh said. "We've already maxed out our borrowing capability.''

Besides changes in the income tax, Marsh said, the state also needs to examine the numerous exemptions to the state's sales tax. The exemptions have been added at various times through the years at the behest of lobbyists and legislators, prompting some legislators to call for a comprehensive review of the various tax credits that have been inserted into the tax code over time.

Marsh is calling for an immediate end to the sales tax exemptions on carwashes and tax preparation services, which are currently tax free.

"Everybody in or out,'' Marsh said, adding that the list of exemptions needs to be simplified. "This is an excellent opportunity to revisit what we've done.''

In the same way that they rejected Marsh's views on the income tax, both Foley and Occhiogrosso disagreed with his views on the sales tax.

As a third-party candidate with less than $100,000 for his campaign, Marsh has been trying to spread the word about his race for governor. He is not broadcasting any television commercials because he lacks the millions of dollars that will be spent by his rivals, Foley and Malloy.

"We're not going to get into big media,'' Marsh said.

Foley looks to build up GOP in Conn. Legislature
New London DAY
By SUSAN HAIGH, AP Political Writer
Sep 5, 12:08 PM EDT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- When Republican Tom Foley talks to voters about his candidacy for Connecticut governor, he often makes a pitch for his GOP colleagues running for the General Assembly.

Eliminating Democrats' veto-proof majority, Foley argues, is the key to turning around the state's financial condition.

"Voters feel that there should be more of a balance in Hartford," the Greenwich businessman said. "They've seen in Washington what happens with an overwhelming Democratic Congress and a Democratic executive."

Democrats control the state Senate by a 24-12 margin and the House of Representatives by a 114-37 spread - enough votes to overturn a gubernatorial veto. Democrats would lose their veto power if the GOP were to pick up 13 seats in the House or one seat in the Senate.

During her six years in office, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell has seen 17 of her vetoes overridden. Earlier this month, when lawmakers overrode her veto of a campaign financing bill, she tied independent former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. for the most vetoes annulled during the past 70 years in Connecticut.

Foley thinks Rell could have been more effective had there been more Republicans in the Legislature. He hopes the party can pick up 15 to 20 seats in the House and two or three in the Senate.

"That much of a change in the margin will force the Democrats to deal with the moderates in the Legislature and the Republicans," Foley said. "With such an overwhelming majority of Democrats in the House and the Senate, the president pro tem and the speaker, they can get the votes they need just dealing with the liberals in their caucus."

Dan Malloy, the Democratic candidate for governor, scoffs at Foley's claims that it would be detrimental to the state if Democrats controlled both the governor's office and held a veto-proof majority in the Legislature.

"It hasn't worked well," Malloy said of the years when a Republican held the governorship and Democrats controlled the Legislature. "It's been a disaster. What you need is leadership. Leadership comes from the governor's office."

Besides talking about the need for more Republicans in the General Assembly, Foley said he actively encouraged potential candidates to run, organized a candidate-training session and has accompanied candidates when they've knocked on voters' doors.  He has assisted candidates by calling voters and urging them to come to the polls, and he has provided volunteers to help out the GOP hopefuls.  He also helped GOP candidates raise campaign contributions, including the small donations they need to qualify for the state's public financing program - a system he opposes for gubernatorial candidates.

"It's the most coordinated effort we've had in a long time," said Chris Healy, chairman of the state Republicans. He acknowledged that the campaign in the 2006 statewide elections, when Rell was running and Democrats gained their veto-proof majority by winning some more House seats, "wasn't as coordinated as well as it could have been, obviously."

Healy said the GOP also is united on its message: fundamental change is needed to alter state spending trends and reduce the size of state government.

"We believe that a Republican team in the Legislature and in the governor's office really is the best hope we have in turning this state around," he said.

Malloy said it's important to note that there will be diversity of opinion among Democrats, even if the party retains its hold of the Legislature and gets control of the governor's office for the first time since the late William O'Neill left office in early 1991.

"It's not a monolithic party by any stretch of the imagination," Malloy said.

Malloy said he would support any fellow Democrats in this year's election who back the issues he's running on: establishing a transparent government, adopting standardized accounting rules to better control state budgets and ending "the game-playing" in Hartford.

"I'm going to run an election which is a referendum on who is going to be governor and let the House and Senate take care of itself," he said.

Mike Vitale, a Republican candidate for the House from Wallingford, recently knocked on doors with Foley. Democratic Rep. Mary Mushinsky has held the seat he's seeking since 1981.  Vitale said Foley's message of changing the partisan makeup of the Legislature is resonating with voters.

"People view what's going on in Hartford simply as a mess," he said. "They're starting to hold the people they keep sending up there over and over accountable for this."

Foley, Boughton say integration ‘seamless’
Greenwich TIME, AP
Saturday, August 21, 2010

HARTFORD — After a primary race filled with negative advertising and disputes over campaign financing, the Republican nominees for governor and lieutenant governor believe they are on the same page heading into the general election.

Gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley and running mate Mark Boughton made their first joint appearance Friday on the campaign trail in Danbury. More than one week ago, they were on opposing tickets.

Foley and Boughton said their more than 10-year friendship has helped them begin work as a team. “It’s been pretty seamless,” Boughton said. “We’ve been able to integrate the campaigns pretty quickly, and I think it helps that Tom and I have known each other for so long.”

Boughton, who is mayor of Danbury, was originally one of Foley’s gubernatorial opponents before dropping out and focusing on the lieutenant governor’s race. Just before the GOP convention in May, Boughton chose to run with Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, who lost the GOP nomination for governor to Foley in the primary.

Foley, a former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, chose not to name a running mate for the primary. In the Connecticut primary, voters can select lieutenant governor candidates independently of their running mates.

Leading up to the primary, Foley challenged Boughton and Fedele’s public campaign financing.

Foley, who is self-financing his campaign, claimed his opponents did not properly qualify for more than $2 million in public grants and filed several court injunctions to try and stop Boughton and Fedele from receiving funds. Foley was unsuccessful in his attempts.

“Candidates agree on a lot of things and don’t agree on a lot of things,” Foley said. “Mark and I took different routes there, but now that we are running together as a ticket, we’re not using public financing and we’re moving forward.”

Fedele ran television ads accusing Foley of running a large Georgia textile mill out of business in 1998 and challenged Foley’s credibility citing two prior arrests. Foley joked that he believed Boughton was in another room when those decisions were made.

The GOP candidates said they are ready to face Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy and his running mate, Nancy Wyman, in the Nov. 2 general election.

They said they are confident voters will elect another Republican governor despite the state’s budget deficit.

“The problem has not been a Republican governor, the problem has been the Democratic super-majority in the legislature,” said Boughton. “The reality is that the voters are going to want somebody who has the keys to the safe and has the checkbook in their pocket and keeps it away from the legislature, who will spend every nickel the state has into oblivion on every wacky program they possibly can come up with.”

Lessons From Primary Night: Of Polls, Prosperity, Political Attack Ads
8:34 PM EDT, August 14, 2010

In the year 2060, older political junkies in Connecticut may look back half a century and say they never saw a wilder primary election than last week's. They may still talk of how Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dan Malloy won bruising races for their parties' gubernatorial nominations — and maybe they'll even remember some of the lessons learned or reaffirmed on primary day, last Tuesday.

Among the lessons:

•Attempts to predict the future in politics lead again and again to glaring examples of how impossible it is. The avidly followed Quinnipiac University Poll showed Ned Lamont 3 percentage points ahead of Malloy. Malloy buried Lamont by 16 points a day later.

•Money can buy the advice of consultants and can import a staff of youthful campaign operatives who wield a Washington-schooled certitude beyond their experience, but it can't guarantee success. Lamont, a wealthy cable TV entrepreneur from Greenwich, still lost the primary, and perhaps his political future, after spending about $9 million of his own fortune — more than three times as much as Malloy spent out of what he received under the state's public campaign funding system.

•For all the controversy over political attack ads, issues still count. For example, Malloy will face campaign questions about his ties with state employee labor unions at a time when many cash-strapped citizens are angry about those employees' generous salaries and benefits. And Foley, a multimillionaire businessman from Greenwich who served as President George W. Bush's ambassador to Ireland, probably will need to confront issues that his intra-party primary opponents raised about arrests in his past and the loss of jobs at a company he once owned that went bankrupt.

Last week's Republican and Democratic primaries were remarkable not only for their large number of credible contenders, but also their contentiousness, as evidenced by some brutal TV attack ads. It happened largely because of an unusual combination of circumstances not seen in Connecticut in many decades: Both Gov. M. Jodi Rell and U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd decided not to seek re-election, which means those seats are up for grabs in the same election year.

It's apparently the first time this has happened since the 1940s, the secretary of the state's office said early this year. Both the Senate and governor's seats were open in 1970, and neither party nominated an incumbent for either — but then-incumbent U.S. Sen. Thomas Dodd, who was denied the Democratic nomination, ran as an independent and lost a three-way race to Lowell P. Weicker Jr.

Candidates rushed this year for the rare opportunity of not having to unseat an incumbent. Three Republicans contended in the primary for U.S. Senate to oppose the Democrats' consensus nominee, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Five candidates — three Republicans and two Democrats — battled in Tuesday's primary for governor.

In the end, former professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon emerged as the GOP's nominee to oppose Blumenthal, while Malloy and Foley were left standing for election as governor.

While there was drama in the Senate primary, the primaries for governor were much more hotly contested.

The 'Q-Poll'

Probably the most electrifying event last Tuesday was a come-from-behind victory by Malloy, the former 14-year mayor of Stamford. The Quinnipiac poll gave Lamont a lead of 17 percentage points in late May after the Democratic state convention. Lamont was helped by the visibility and good will he gained from many liberal Democrats in 2006, when he defeated incumbent U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in a primary but lost the November election.

But by the week before the primary Lamont's lead was down to 5 points, then 3 in an unusually late, primary-eve Quinnipiac poll released Monday. Poll Director Doug Schwartz called the race a dead heat at that point because the 3 points were within the margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 points. He noted that there were many undecided voters, that many voters who expressed a preference said they still might change their minds, and that the trend of support was running toward Malloy. In other words, he said, Malloy was coming on and could win.

But Malloy won on Tuesday by 58 percent to 42 — a blowout.

How could the poll have missed by so much?

Malloy's chief campaign adviser, Roy Occhiogrosso, said he thought it was partly because the voter turnout in the primary was so low — about 25 percent — hurting the poll's sample. Such a low turnout indicates that a number of registered voters stayed home Tuesday after having told Quinnipiac phone-callers that they planned to vote, Occhiogrosso said.

"It's very difficult to capture a snapshot of the actual universe of voters that comes out in a primary, especially when the turnout is so low," he said. "The people you're talking to on the phone are not representative of the electorate that will turn out. … Polling primaries is notoriously inaccurate — not because there's anything wrong with the poll. They had Dan down by 3 points just before the primary, and he won by 16. Was there a 19-point turnaround in a few days? Obviously not."

Schwartz, the poll director, agreed with Occhiogrosso and added this for himself: "People who said that they were going to vote for Lamont apparently didn't feel strongly enough to show up and vote, while Malloy's voters were more committed."

Schwartz pointed out that in the last poll just before the primary, "we did emphasize that there was a high level of voter uncertainty in there" — that about 12 percent were still undecided and about 30 percent "said they could still change their mind."

"A lot of the late-deciders apparently broke for Malloy. … We did catch the trend; we did say the movement was towards Malloy, and we did say there was a lot of room for movement. … We said it was too close to call.

"A lot of times we've nailed it right. … We nailed it with McMahon," Schwartz said. "We report the results, and we try to report them in a fair and balanced way, and we try to highlight it when we see a lot of uncertainty."

Malloy, by the way, had a quip to explain the shocking margin of victory that eluded the pollsters: "I'm the youngest of eight children, and all of my relatives voted for me."

Time For Issues

The primaries behind them, both freshly nominated gubernatorial contenders went out and campaigned in a manner much calmer than in the weeks preceding their showdowns with intra-party rivals. Foley and Malloy spent the second half of the week meeting with reporters and voters and talking much more quietly about what their messages will be for the November election.

At a 20-minute press conference in Hartford, Malloy hit one theme repeatedly: "The vast majority of voters are going to be making a decision about who do they trust to lead them, who has the experience and who has the values. I think that message resonates with independent voters."

He found a way to mention it no matter what the question. For example, Malloy was asked how he would respond to Foley's pitch to voters as an "outsider" — that is, a businessman skilled in management who never served in Connecticut government, and thus can't be blamed for the current fiscal mess, which, Foley says, he is better qualified to resolve.

"We're both outsiders," Malloy said. "We both come from a different perspective. I ran a half-billion-dollar corporation called the city of Stamford for 14 years. … I'm not a Hartford-based politician. I've never served in the legislature. … Ultimately, people are going to decide who they trust, who has the values, and who has the experience to lead them."

Asked if he would play hardball with the state employee unions who have supported him — buy considering layoffs, for example — Malloy said, "everything is on the table" and everyone, including the unions, are invited to bring cost-cutting ideas to that table.

"I've said that [with] the part of state government that I most directly control. on Day One it has to be shrunk by 15 percent. … I've said that we have 220 or so state agencies, [and] they have to be reduced by a third. … We know that we have to balance this budget."

Part of Foley's message during the week was that he's got more credibility in confronting such fiscal issues. "I can see why he's being vague," Foley said of Malloy in an interview. "He doesn't want to alienate the special interests that are backing him."

Foley talked more bluntly about how well-off he thinks government employees now are. He said things have shifted drastically from decades ago — when the pay for state work was low compared with the private sector, and when people went into state employment for the stability and good benefits, such as health insurance and pensions. Now, Foley said, not only are their benefits and pensions better than those of their counterparts in the private sector, but their pay is, too.

"Now they have the best of both worlds. That's great, but we can't afford it," Foley said. "We simply have to bring that back in line."

The state's contract with the employee unions for benefits doesn't expire until 2017, Foley said, adding: "We have to reopen that 2017 contract. If we can't reopen that contract and it becomes unaffordable, people are going to have to be laid off. I think we can get the state workforce down to acceptable levels with attrition," but the unions need to cooperate.

Foley said he would never agree to a "no-layoff" provision, even a temporary one such as Rell approved. "That has to remain an option," he said.

Malloy said, "Every time I hear people who are worth hundreds of millions of dollars talk about Connecticut's middle class that way, it makes my day."

Foley says "the class warfare stuff" won't work. He said voters don't want politicians "pitting people against each other. They want somebody to lead them out of these problems."


Merrill: Once An Attorney, Always An Attorney?
Hartford Courant
Jon Lender,
Government Watch
October 10, 2010

A campaign brochure for Denise Merrill, the Democrats' nominee for secretary of the state in the Nov. 2 election, says: "A mother, teacher, attorney and new grandmother, Denise brought her real-world experience to the Legislature, where she was eventually elected by her colleagues to serve as Majority Leader."

Her majority leader's biography on the state House Democrats' Internet website said she is "an attorney and a former high school teacher."

This might give the impression that Merrill, of Mansfield, carries a briefcase from Capitol to courthouse, flashing between legislating and lawyering while attending to her family roles as mother and grandmother.  But that's not exactly the picture. The fact is that Merrill does not practice law, and has not done so since obtaining a California license 30 years ago that now is designated as "inactive." She obtained it via a procedure available in California, then her home state, in which you work as an apprentice in a law firm and take the state bar exam without needing to graduate from law school.

Merrill has never been licensed to practice law Connecticut, which has a law saying that if a person hasn't been admitted to the state's bar, he or she can't "assume, use, or advertise the title of lawyer, attorney and counselor-at-law ... or an equivalent term, in such a manner as to convey the impression that he is a legal practitioner of law."

When Merrill was asked about this last week, she said that calling herself a lawyer is a fair and accurate description, not resume puffery. "I am a lawyer. ... I have been a lawyer all these years," she said, even though she didn't use her California license to establish a practice and never got a law license here.

"It's just like a doctor is a doctor," no matter whether she is licensed in the state where she now lives, Merrill said.

Merrill said there's no requirement that a person be a lawyer to become secretary of the state, which is the top elected official in charge of running elections and registering corporations. Her Republican opponent, state consumer protection commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr., is an attorney licensed in Connecticut.  Not everyone agrees with Merrill's interpretation that it's fine to call herself a lawyer.

First there's Mark DuBois, the state Judicial Branch's chief disciplinary counsel, who enforces the state law that says people can't act as lawyers without proper credentials. Without commenting specifically about Merrill, DuBois said you can't call yourself an attorney if you're not licensed in Connecticut — even on a website that doesn't offer legal services or solicit clients. "You can't hold yourself out to be an attorney if you don't have the licensure," he said.

What happens if somebody does that? "I send them an enforcement letter" telling them to "cease and desist," DuBois said.

If you aren't Connecticut-licensed as an attorney but have been admitted to the bar in another state, you need to clarify your listing, DuBois said, adding: "You can put in an asterisk that says something like 'admitted only in Vermont.'"

The Courant first talked to Merrill about this issue on Thursday. She did some checking on her own, and on Friday, she said she had an asterisk put into her biography on her campaign website. It now says: "Before I ran for the House of Representatives I worked as an attorney* and high school teacher." At the bottom it said: "(*Licensed to practice in California)."

Also on Friday, the biography on her House Democrats website was updated to say she is "an attorney (licensed in CA only) and a former high school teacher."

Merrill said that she clarified the listings after talking with people, including someone in DuBois' office; she said that person didn't make it all sound quite so strict. Still, Merrill said, she made the changes "in the interest of being absolutely sure" that no one gets the wrong impression.

"I certainly never intended to mislead anyone," she said, adding that she has been "very careful" when talking to people during this year's campaign to specify that she doesn't actively practice law, and was never licensed in Connecticut, but only in California.  When a Courant reporter researched Merrill's background during the summer and asked about her status as a lawyer, she explained the California situation, and the newspaper published this accurate description: "Education: UConn, studied at San Francisco Law School, admitted to California bar."

There's an entry for Merrill on the State Bar of California website, where she is listed, with "Bar Number 85368' by her name, along with her current Connecticut address in Mansfield Center and an "inactive" status designation. The website says that Merrill was admitted to the California bar May 1, 1979, at age 30, and that her status went "inactive" on Jan. 1, 1980.

Merrill said she "moved back East" to Vermont "and never went back." She said, "I could have joined the bar in Vermont" — where she taught private school — "but then I started having kids." Merrill got her bachelor's degree from UConn in 1988.  (Is this a typo?)

A California law licensee can return an "inactive" status to "active," although Merrill acknowledged that if she wanted to do that now — which she doesn't — she might have to "jump through some hoops," such as continuing education courses. It would take years for a person in such circumstances to qualify for a Connecticut law license, DuBois said.  This all may sound technical to some, but it gets magnified by Merrill's un-asterisked use of the word attorney for months on websites, in campaign literature, although she said her current literature doesn't mention experience as an attorney.

It also is a political year to be careful not to overestimate your credentials: Democrat Susan Bysiewicz, the present secretary of the state, was ruled ineligible in May to run for attorney general after the state Supreme Court rejected her claim of sufficient experience in the "active practice" of law; and Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has been criticized in his U.S. Senate campaign over past statements — unintentional, he says — indicating that he served in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine.

Asked about Merrill's situation, Republican State Chairman Chris Healy said, "It amazes me that someone of such high public office would lie about her professional accomplishments, and continue to lie up until the time it was exposed as a lie" — that is, when The Courant brought it up to her. "It seems to fit the Democratic prototype this year, with Susan Bysiewicz saying she's been actively practicing law for more than 20 years, and Dick Blumenthal as Rambo fighting the Viet Cong."

Healy also said Merrill and the other majority Democrats who control the legislature haven't been truthful in their state budget solutions. "She's used to lying, so why not claim she's a lawyer? I'm surprised she doesn't claim she's an astronaut."

As to the asterisk in her biography, Healy said: "Who is she — Roger Maris?"

(Maris was the New York Yankee who in 1961 hit 61 home runs to break Babe Ruth's long-sacred single-season record of 60. An asterisk was placed in the record book because Maris accomplished the feat in a 162-game season; Ruth did it in a 154-game schedule in 1927.)

After hearing Healy's comments recited to her on the phone, Merrill remarked that the GOP chief is "always tempered" in his views. "I have one thing to say about that," she added. "I am a lawyer. How can he call me a liar, if I am a lawyer? That's crazy."

Jon Lender is a reporter on The Courant's investigative desk, with a focus on government and politics. Contact him at, 860-241-6524, or c/o The Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115.

Jepsen, Dean spar over guns, schools -- and Blumenthal
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
September 23, 2010

Technically, Thursday's debate at the University of Connecticut Law School was between state attorney general candidates Martha Dean and George Jepsen.

But given Dean's relentless attacks on outgoing Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Jepsen's efforts to defend his fellow Democrat, the hour-long forum seemed at many times more like a three-way contest.

The two candidates also sparred over gun control, states' rights, education and the Connecticut economy.

"It's about ending the job-killing practices of the current attorney general," Dean, a Republican lawyer from Avon, said of this year's campaign. "There is no room for politics."

Dean charged that Blumenthal, a five-term attorney general who is now the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, converted his job into a political self-promotion machine through frivolous lawsuits against businesses, unnecessary press conferences, and excessive involvement in state legislative affairs.

"I really think our legislature, which is supposed to be part-time, is really too active," she said, adding she expected to play a much smaller role than Blumenthal has when it comes to recommending new laws. Dean added she would "advise quietly when I think they are going to enact laws that are unconstitutional, or truly job-killing proposals."

But Jepsen, a former state Senate majority leader with 16 years of experience in the legislature, responded that Blumenthal effectively used the office to protect state government, businesses and consumers, and that in a slumping economy, an activist attorney general is essential.

"When times are tougher the odds grow longer," he said. "To make things right, the public needs not another voice. It needs a true legal advocate."

Jepsen noted the state Supreme Court arguments over the minimum educational standard that must be provided in Connecticut public schools likely will be played out over the next four to seven years. As attorney general, he said, he would take an active role in seeking a solution that closes the gap between urban and suburban schools, a problem, "that threatens our economic future."

But Dean said that while education "has to be one of the highest values of our free society," as attorney general she also would "vigorously defend the state taxpayers' pocket books."

The ongoing court battle over the quality of Connecticut's urban schools is a struggle over determining the minimum standards set in the state Constitution, she said, and not over equalizing educational opportunities in every public school. "We're not talking about the ideal schools," Dean added. "We're not talking about the best schools. We're talking about the constitutional standard, which is a minimum."

The Avon Republican also charged both Jepsen and Blumenthal with failing to adequately protect law-abiding citizens' rights under the U.S. Constitution to bear arms.

"I don't believe there has been a stronger anti-gun advocate in the legislature than my opponent," Dean said.

Jepsen, who oversaw passage of many of the state's current gun control laws while in the Senate, said only "guns that have no purpose other than to kill people" were banned, and that weapons used by hunters and other sportsmen remain available.

"None of these laws take guns away from law-abiding citizens, but they do keep our streets safer," Jepsen said, adding that he was proud of the "F-minus" rating he received as a legislator from the National Rifle Association.

At one point in the debate, when candidates were allowed to ask questions of each other, Dean asked Jepsen how "as a longtime career politician in Hartford," he could have participated in one of the largest budget and tax increases in state history -- a reference to the 2003 legislative session, which closed a nearly $1 billion budget gap with several measures, including a roughly 10 percent income tax hike.

Jepsen fired back that this solution to the state's fiscal crisis seven years ago was developed in consultation with several of Dean's fellow Republicans, including then-Gov. John G. Rowland.

"I've always had a strong working relationship with the other party," Jepsen said.

Jepsen began his legal career working as general counsel to a carpenter's union in Norwalk and continues to enjoy strong labor support, prompting Dean to charge her opponent would continue an anti-business trend in the attorney general's office.

But Jepsen noted that he continues to take heat from organized labor for his decision to cancel arbitrated pay raises for state prison guards while tackling a budget crisis in the Senate in 1996.

"I'm a proud Democrat," he said. "But when I think my party's wrong, I'm not afraid to say so."

The Ridgefield Democrat went on the offensive a few times himself during the debate, accusing Dean of hypocrisy when she said that, if elected, she would sue the federal government to challenge future requirements of national health care legislation that force some citizens to buy coverage. At the same time, Jepsen added, Dean has been criticizing Blumenthal for his own challenges of federal authority.

"I think some of Dick's best work has been in challenging the federal government," he said, citing efforts to gain more education funding for states complying with No Child Left Behind requirements. Dean "brings her own agenda," Jepsen added, "and it's an activist agenda like everybody else."

Dean and Jepsen did find some common ground during Thursday's debate.

Both agreed they would support Connecticut's existing death penalty statute.

And they also agreed that if Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez's corruption conviction is upheld after his appeal is heard, the attorney general should use authority granted under state law to seek revocation of Perez's publicly funded pension.

Dan Malloy (l)  and Tom Foley (r) - what do they have in common, besides winning?  Luck?  The State of Connecticut needs some right now!!!

Director Of Citizens' Election Program On Way Out.  Rotman To Resign For Family Reasons

9:43 PM EDT, August 18, 2010


Beth Rotman, director of the Citizens' Election Program, which is at the center of a storm over public financing of campaigns in the state, will resign by early 2011.

But the resignation isn't over the ongoing public-financing controversy, but because she'll be moving to Israel early next year with her family.

It was the second announcement within a week about a top-level departure affecting the State Elections Enforcement Commission. Last Thursday, the agency's director of enforcement, Joan Andrews, was laid off. The agency's director, Albert P. Lenge, said the layoff was part of a consolidation to increase efficiency, but Andrews called it evidence of a trend toward softening the agency's enforcement of election laws.

That was a big public controversy, but Rotman's case was different. She said it's a matter of her home life: Her partner is taking "an amazing opportunity" to work in Israel, she said, and she is going also.

Rotman's profile at the 50-employee agency has risen lately as the four-year-old Citizens' Election Program has been playing a multimillion-dollar role in awarding taxpayer funds to candidates in this year's gubernatorial election and other statewide campaigns.

Rotman said Wednesday night: "I am very proud to have worked with state leaders on key legislative and fiscal changes that enabled the successful operation of the program for statewide and legislative elections.

"I am extremely proud to have played a role in encouraging program participation by creating the infrastructure necessary to oversee and encourage candidate participation in a voluntary program, while ensuring that the appropriate safeguards are in place to conduct the oversight necessary for a program that allocates public money.

"The fact that the majority of candidates are participating in the program and are thus free from the influence of special interest money during their election process should restore voters' faith that in Connecticut our elected officials will make decisions based on facts and figures and their assessment of what is best for the state and her citizens, not on the basis of who gave them the most money and to which special interest they feel indebted."

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

Final numbers show tepid August primary voter turnout
Ken Dixon, Greenwich TIMES
Published: 08:56 p.m., Monday, August 16, 2010

Predictions of a robust turnout for last week's primaries apparently melted in the heat, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz reported Monday.

Stamford had one of the highest percentages of voter participation, with both Democrats and Republicans supporting local candidates for governor, but even those totals were well below projections.

Heading into the Aug. 10 intraparty contests, Bysiewicz predicted that as many as half of the eligible 740,542 Democrats and 409,233 Republicans would cast ballots for the high-profile governor, Congress and U.S. Senate races.

But with town clerks reporting from the state's 169 towns and cities, only 24.76 percent of Democrats and 29.48 percent of Republicans bothered to vote. In terms of sheer numbers, 182,098 Democrats and 125,808 Republicans voted.

Bridgeport Democrats were among the lowest in turnout, with less than 15 percent participating. Democrats in Stratford and New Fairfield also had a paltry showing.

In Southwestern Connecticut, only two communities -- Stamford and Trumbull -- had turnouts above 30 percent from both Democrats and Republicans.

Stamford had two favorite sons -- Dannel Malloy, the Democratic former city mayor, and Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele -- seeking gubernatorial nominations against a duo of Greenwich residents, Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Tom Foley.

Malloy defeated Lamont by 16 percentage points and Foley beat Fedele by three points.

Republicans had 30 percent-plus turnout in Shelton, Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, Newtown, New Milford, Redding and Ridgefield. Woodbridge Democrats topped 30 percent as well.

Party leaders said the turnout was typically well below the 2006 Democratic primaries for governor and U.S. Senate, which drew 43 percent of eligible voters.

"The turnout for the Aug. 10 primary is less than what the secretary expected, but if you look at other years where there were mid-term primaries, such as the 1994 open seat for governor when there were primaries on both sides, the turnout was nearly identical," said Av Harris, spokesman for Bysiewicz, who was on vacation Monday.

This year was the second quadrennial statewide primary to be held in early August and not in September, when voters are supposedly more attuned to the coming fall political season than they are during summer vacation time.

Chris Healy, chairman of the Republican State Central Committee, noted Monday that GOP turnout was slightly higher than Democrats. "Interest in the election favored our party," Healy said, noting that the Republicans also had a U.S. Senate primary, won by Linda McMahon of Greenwich.

"Many Republicans vote, whether it's hot or if frogs are falling from the sky," Healy said, calling the turnout "fairly good." Nonetheless, he said, he favored a return to the traditional September primary that was abandoned by the General Assembly after a court decision.

Nancy DiNardo of Trumbull, chairwoman of the Democratic State Central Committee, said Monday she believes Republicans had a higher percentage of turnout because there was a big contrast between Fedele, a former legislator and incumbent lieutenant governor, and Foley, who is running for his first elective office.

House vote looms large for gubernatorial hopeful Malloy
Democrat's financial clout rests on fate of campaign finance law veto
By Ted Mann Day Staff Writer
Article published Aug 12, 2010

Hartford - Dan Malloy's victory in the gubernatorial primary was a critical first test for Connecticut's public campaign financing system.

It was the first time a candidate used the Citizens Election Program to run for a gubernatorial nomination, and also the first time it did what its boosters always hoped it would.

The guy who spent roughly $10 million to try to seal up the Democratic nomination, former U.S. Senate nominee Ned Lamont, was defeated by the candidate who stuck to spending limits and used $2.5 million in public grants to run his campaign.

But a new, perhaps larger test looms, and its first section isn't up to Malloy or the Citizens Election Program.

The House of Representatives will convene in special session Friday to consider overriding Gov. M. Jodi Rell's veto of the legislature's proposal to fix constitutional problems with the campaign finance law identified by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

If the override is successful, Malloy will get a $6 million campaign grant for his general election campaign against Republican Tom Foley, a multimillionaire who is not participating in the program and could spend freely on direct mail and television.

If the override fails, Malloy will be stuck to the existing base grant amount - $3 million - but will not get the supplemental grants that candidates under the original law receive if they are outspent by an opponent. Those supplemental payments were ruled unconstitutional by the Second Circuit.

In the afterglow of his primary win, however, Malloy deflected a question on the subject.

"I haven't even thought about it," he said.

Malloy wins in a landslide
Ken Dixon And Michael P. Mayko, CT POST Staff Writers
Published: 01:11 a.m., Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dannel P. Malloy is Connecticut's newest comeback kid.

Four years after losing a primary for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and two months after falling behind Ned Lamont by 17 points, Malloy easily secured a place on the November ballot for the office he has long coveted.  A landslide win over Lamont Tuesday night set Malloy up for a battle against another Greenwich multi-millionaire, as Tom Foley won the Republican nod with a victory over Malloy's fellow Stamford resident, Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele.

With 81 percent of precinct's reporting, Malloy had captured 58 percent of the vote, compared with Lamont's 42 percent.

Malloy will be the party's standard-bearer this fall, as Democrats try to regain the governor's office for the first time since William A. O'Neill completed his term in January 1991. Malloy, 55, a former mayor of Stamford, will continue his campaign with his choice for lieutenant governor, Nancy Wyman.  Though the campaigns of both Malloy and Lamont became increasingly bitter as the primary grew near, Malloy pledged they would work together to "make sure the next governor of the state of Connecticut is a Democrat."

"We have got to unite Democrats, independents and Republicans to change Connecticut," Malloy told his supporters during his victory party at City Steam Brewery in Hartford.

Of his own political future, Lamont said "tonight is not a good night to ask that question ... maybe I'm not a natural-born politician."

Still, he said "tomorrow is a new day." He said he will meet with his advisers to "talk and start healing."

Malloy called on Democrats throughout the state to come together and "re-create the state of Connecticut."

"The next administration begins by telling the truth to the people of Connecticut," Malloy said to hundreds of cheering supporters. "For too long Connecticut's leadership has failed to inform the public, to bring them in and make them partners. That's going to change. It is the hallmark of the new Malloy administration."

Malloy said the difference between this year and 2006, when he lost to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., is that his campaign has stayed intact.

"I've worked really hard. We've had wonderful support across the board, across the state," Malloy said. "We split labor support, but I think I got the hardest workers. What really is the difference is that our team never came apart from four years ago. It always stuck together and it only got larger. I went from winning a convention by one vote to winning a convention by 2-to-1. Our team never broke apart."

Lamont became a two-time statewide political loser, adding the gubernatorial primary campaign to his 2006 loss in the U.S. Senate election to Joe Lieberman. He caught lightning in a bottle in the primary four years ago, using his opposition to the war in Iraq as a wedge to defeat the incumbent, who then won the November election as an independent.

The mood at Testo's, a large ballroom restaurant and catering hall owned by Mario Testa, the Bridgeport Democratic town chairman, was never charged with pending victory Tuesday. Returns never showed Lamont in the lead and the crowd of supporters never numbered more than 300.  Lamont and his running mate, Mary Messina Glassman, appeared just before 10 p.m. and tried to put on their best faces, urging supporters to join the Malloy-Wyman camp.

"So we're driving over here and my cell phone goes off," Lamont began in his concession speech. "And my daughter in the back seat says `Oh God, I hope is not another of those Ned Lamont robo-calls.' "

"You have to keep a sense of humor about this," he said.

Lamont pledged his support to Malloy and began chanting "Don't look back, look forward."

"That's the way you win and that's the way Dan will win -- by telling the truth."

Lamont said the Democrats need to show voters they can deliver an honest, balanced budget and create the first new jobs Connecticut has seen in more than 20 years.  Nancy DiNardo, of Trumbull, chairwoman of the Democratic State Central Committee, said earlier Tuesday night that she expected the loser to work for the winner during the remainder of the campaign.

"As I've traveled around the state, both our gubernatorial candidates were saying come Aug. 11, we have to come back as one," DiNardo told reporters at City Steam Brewery while Lamont was publicly conceding in Bridgeport at 9:45 p.m.

When asked if he thought it was worth dropping $9 million of his own fortune on the gubernatorial run, Lamont quipped "You had to remind me" before adding "it was an honor to run for governor" and try to get to Hartford "with no strings attached ... I'm proud to have invested in a campaign to change Connecticut."

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch extended congratulations to Malloy and said he and DeStefano would support him in the November election "so we can take back the governor's mansion."

Outside Black Rock School in Bridgeport, Robert Palkl, an 82-year-old retired toolmaker for the former Remington Arms plant, said he voted for Malloy because taxes and schools were the big issues for him.

"I felt that he did a great job in Stamford," Palkl said.

Bridgeport councilwoman Evette Brantley sat in a lawn chair under a maple tree near Bassick High School in Bridgeport Tuesday, where she was stumping for Lamont.

"It has been slow here all day. I hear it's like this throughout (Bridgeport). The most precious thing we have is our right to vote, and the sad part is people are losing sight of this. People have died to preserve our right to vote."

Malloy, a 55-year-old lawyer who served 14 years as mayor of Stamford, used $2.5 million in the state's voluntary public financing program to defeat Lamont, a cable TV executive.

Malloy held his own in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford, despite the endorsements of local Democratic leaders for Lamont.  While Malloy was the party-endorsed candidate during the May convention, Lamont, using support from some unions and legislative leaders -- pressed for the primary.  The campaign was marked by dueling Lamont and Malloy TV and radio ads, in which the latter charged that Lamont laid off 70 percent of his workers. Lamont's ads suggested there was something shady about Malloy's home renovations and said Malloy's claims of creating 5,000 jobs while mayor were erroneous.

Lamont claimed employees of a division he sold off were placed in other jobs, while the former chief state's attorney who investigated the work on Malloy's home has said no wrongdoing was found in a year-long investigation.  Lamont made the concession phone call to Malloy's fifth-floor suite at the Residence Inn in Hartford at about 9:15 p.m.

"It was pretty moving," Malloy said in an interview. "I've won a primary and I've lost a primary. Winning is better."

Dannel Malloy's Victory Speech In Hartford
By Christopher Keating  on August 11, 2010 12:42 AM

The Hartford Courant's Matthew Kauffman reports:

Shortly after 9:45 p.m., the crowd erupted in cheers as the image of Lamont appeared on television screens for his concession speech.
"I called up Dan a few minutes ago and I congratulated him," Lamont said, and from there, the howls from the crowd at Malloy's party drowned out the television speakers.
The volume then grew to a deafening roar as Malloy and Wyman arrived.
"Let me start by saying if I had known it was going to turn out this way, I would have gotten a bigger room," a smiling Malloy told the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd.
Malloy said he would work to unite Democrats and attract independents and Republicans, calling on voters to join him "if you believe that we can recreate our state, that we can grow jobs, that we can do battle with electric rates, that we can make sure that Connecticut becomes the success that we all dream it can be."

Primary Voter Turnout: 'Sad Sad Sad'

Hartford Courant
Helen Ubiñas
6:00 AM EDT, August 11, 2010

Looks like Connecticut voters missed the memo – not to mention the big money ads – about this being one of the most important primaries in years.

Early in the day, crickets seemed to be the resounding sound at some polling places.  And as the day wore on, it didn't get much better at some sites.  Three hours before polls closed, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, reported an average turnout of about 20 percent.

Bysiewicz had originally projected a higher turnout than the 43 percent in the August 2006 primary between Democrats Ned Lamont and Joseph I. Lieberman. But candidates realized early on that that wasn't going to happen.

"When you consider the state-wide primaries and all the money spent, it's surprising," said Hartford Councilman Matt Ritter, who was running against state House of Representative Ken Green.  Over at Kennelly School, state Rep. Hector Robles sometimes looked downright lonely as he waited to greet phantom voters in his run against opponent Alyssa Peterson.  Only 304 Democratic voters at Kennelly, tweeted Hartford resident Emily Gianquinto. "Sad sad sad," said Gianquinto, who took an early morning flight back from San Franciso just to vote in the primary.

And outside Hartford Seminary, some young campaign workers were trying to figure out how to get an abundance of candidate literature into voter's hands.

But candidate disappointment over low voter turnout was nothing compared to the frustration – make that anger – expressed by campaign workers for gubernatorial hopeful Ned Lamont.  Outside United Methodist Church of Hartford, Kimberly Byrd and other Lamont campaign workers were steaming mad when they learned they'd be paid with debit cards instead of cash.

"You see this man right here," Byrd said, pointing to Lamont's name on the T-shirt she'd just taken off in disgust. "He tricked us."

Justine Sessions, a spokesperson for Lamont, said she has no idea where workers would have gotten the impression that they'd be paid in cash.

"Reimbursing volunteers with debit cards has been our policy since the beginning of campaign," Sessions said. Most campaigns, she added, use the cards.

But campaign workers weren't hearing it. They insisted they were duped.  Byrd said she was depending on the "cash" money for bills.

"I can't pay any light bill with this card," she said.

"You can bet he's not getting my vote now," she added. "No way. He's a liar."


Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

WINNING DEMOCRATS:  Dan Malloy, Nancy Wyman, Denise Merrill, Kevin Lembo

WINNING REPUBLICANS:  Tom Foley, Mark Boughton, Linda McMahon, Dan Debicella, Martha Dean

NOT A WALK IN THE PARK FOR NEXT CT GOVERNOR;  Reflections, illusions - U.S. House of Representatives & U.S. Senate.  Rob Simmons still on the ballot - story here.

Quinnipiac: Lamont up by 3, Foley by 8, McMahon by 22
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
August 9, 2010

Ned Lamont's lead over Dan Malloy in the Democratic race for governor is just three percentage points, while Republican Tom Foley's lead over Michael Fedele is 8 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

In the race for the Republican Senate nomination, Linda McMahon has opened a 22-point lead over Rob Simmons, 50 percent to 28 percent, with Peter Schiff at 15 percent.

Lamont leads Malloy, 45 percent to 42 percent. Foley leads Fedele, 38 percent to 30 percent, with Oz Griebel at 17 percentage points.

For the first time in three polls of likely Democratic primary voters, Malloy is within the poll's margin of error. And Fedele has cut Foley's lead to single digits for the first time.

The primaries are tomorrow. The poll was conducted over six days, beginning Aug. 3 and ending Sunday, meaning it might not fully reflect any late movement, especially in the more volatile Republican race for governor.

Fedele has been quickly eroding Foley's lead since airing television commercials. Among likely primary voters, Fedele has closed from 35 points down on July 15 to 15 points last week to 8 in the new survey. Fedele claimed Sunday that his polling gives him a narrow lead.

"The Democratic governor's race between Ned Lamont and Dan Malloy is too close to call and the Republican governor's race between Tom Foley and Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele could produce a surprise," said Douglas Schwartz, the poll's director.

The Democratic race has steadily tightened, with Malloy closing from 9 points down on July 15 to five points a week ago to 3 points in the new poll. To stem the losses, Lamont increased his television buy by nearly $1.3 million as Quinnipiac began the new survey, bringing his TV spending to nearly $5 million, compared to about $2 million for Malloy.

A week ago, Lamont led Malloy, 45 percent to 40 percent with 14 percent undecided. Foley led Fedele, 41 percent to 26 percent, with 13 percent for Griebel and 21 percent undecided.

In the new survey, the undecided vote among Republicans is 14 percent, with nearly half of all voters who expressed a preference saying they may yet change their minds. The undecided vote among Democrats is 12 percent, with 30 percent of those who with a preference saying they might change.

The Malloy campaign claimed the late momentum in a statement by Dan Kelly, Malloy's campaign manager.

“The poll reflects what we’re seeing and hearing every day on the campaign trail: Dan’s got the momentum.  People increasingly see him as the better qualified candidate, and the person best able to provide the leadership this state desperately needs.  People are rejecting Ned’s sleazy and untrue attacks on Dan, and they’re rejecting Ned’s attempt to buy this election.”

Over the weekend, Lamont said he thought his lead had stabilized.

"Democrats know that Ned is the only one in this race with a positive vision for our state, the experience to create jobs, and the ability to beat the Republicans in November," Justine Sessions, his communication director, said today. "When they go to the polls tomorrow, we're confident that they'll choose Ned."

In the Senate race, McMahon opened some distance on her GOP opponents, reaching 50 percent among likely primary voters for the first time. A week ago, it was McMahon with 47 percent, Simmons 30 percent and Schiff 14 percent.

Quinnipiac released the poll 90 minutes later than its usual release of 6:30 a.m., leaving campaign staffs and journalists hovering by their computers for the last snapshot of voter preferences a day before the polls open.

It had no explanation for the delay in a statement.

The poll is based on surveys of 664 likely Republican primary voters and 464 likely Democratic primary voters. The GOP survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. The Democratic margin of error is 4.6 points.

Ned Lamont Leads By 5 Points In Latest Quinnipiac Poll; Tom Foley Up By 15 Points Among Likely Voters
Hartford Courant
By Christopher Keating
August 5, 2010 6:59 AM

With only days remaining before Tuesday's primaries, Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Tom Foley still remain in the lead in races that are getting steadily closer.

Lamont is leading former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy by 5 percentage points among likely Democratic voters, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll. Foley is up by 15 points over Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele and 28 points over longtime business executive Oz Griebel of Simsbury.

"Lamont still has the edge, but with 14 percent of the votes undecided and 43 percent who still could change their mind, it is close enough that Malloy could pull it off,'' said Douglas Schwartz, the poll's director.

Malloy is deploying a come-from-behind strategy as he pulls closer to the front-running Lamont, who has led in the polls for about six months. The two combatants have been broadcasting a series of negative campaign commercials since Malloy started the slugfest on Friday, July 23.

Lamont did not initially respond on television to Malloy's sharp charges, and he has admitted that lack of action - for nearly a week - cost him in the polls. Some of Lamont's supporters believed that the latest Quinnipiac Poll would show essentially a dead heat as the race moved toward its finale. Lamont, however, began responding on television starting last Thursday in an effort to combat Malloy's surge, and he has continued the response with a steady stream of commercials.

Malloy has repeatedly shown ads that charge that Lamont reduced the workforce in his cable television company by 70 percent while taking a salary of more than $500,000. But Lamont counters that the company sold off a portion of the business, and those workers largely gained new employment with the cable outfit that purchased the business.

U.S. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman raised the same charges about Lamont's business during the 2006 campaign, and Lamont's then-campaign chairman, former Stamford state Senator George Jepsen - the former chairman of the state Democratic Party - said it was a distortion of Lamont's business career that was false.

"Despite a two-week barrage of Dan Malloy's false, negative ads and his repetition of four-year-old lies about Ned and his company, Connecticut voters still know that Ned Lamont has the best experience to create jobs and help their families,'' Justine Sessions, a spokeswoman for Lamont, said in a statement.

She added, "While Dan's campaign grows more desperate and erratic every day, we're sticking to our strategy and talking to the people of Connecticut about the issue that they care most about: jobs. We've got a robust field operation that will turn out our voters on election day, and with just five days to go, the only poll that matters to us is next Tuesday.''

Malloy's campaign manager, Dan Kelly, said, "This race is tightening because as people really begin making up their minds, they're moving to Dan. They know he turned around a city, and they think he can turn around a state. They know Dan Malloy has the right kind of experience to be governor.''

He added that Lamont "is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars a day into this race - about $8 million so far - and people are beginning to reject it.''

Malloy is financing his campaign with public funds under the state's landmark campaign law, and he has received $2.5 million for the primary.

The Lamont campaign says that Malloy has been distorting Lamont's jobs record at the same time that he has been distorting his own jobs record, too. Malloy has repeatedly said that he helped create 5,000 jobs in Stamford, but state labor statistics show that the city has lost more than 13,000 jobs since reaching the peak employment level in 2000. The unemployment rate increased by more than 58 percent in Stamford during Malloy's 14 years as mayor.

Some progressive Democrats say Malloy has been misrepresenting his jobs record for years - dating back to complaints during the 2006 campaign by New Haven Mayor John DeStefano about Malloy's statements about creating 5,000 jobs.

Lamont has also questioned Malloy's ethics, noting that the then-Stamford mayor underwent a criminal investigation for 17 months by 8 investigators regarding city contractors who worked on his home in the affluent Shippan section of Stamford. Malloy, however, was never charged in the case, which concluded in 2005. He received a letter from the chief state's attorney that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on his part. Lamont, though, says that he would never let state contractors work on his house if he becomes governor - and that it is an issue of ethics, not legality.

Foley has also been involved in a major clash with Fedele in a campaign that features blistering attacks on the airwaves. Foley has been criticized repeatedly for his former ownership of The Bibb Company, which operated a textile mill in Georgia before it was closed. The commercials are a constant presence on Connecticut television, and Foley has countered with an equal number of ads that criticize "tax-and-spend Mike Fedele.'' Fedele, though, says he cannot be blamed for the state's huge projected budget deficit and for the loss of more than 100,000 jobs during the recent recession.

"Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele is coming on very strong in these final weeks, but it may not be enough to overcome Tom Foley's huge early lead,'' Schwartz said in a statement. "In just three weeks, Fedele has cut Foley's lead from 35 points to 15 points. Foley's negatives have risen, probably due in part to Fedele's TV ads. There is still a lot of voter uncertainty in this race, but with less than a week to go, there isn't much time left for Fedele.''

In the Democratic race, Lt. Gov.-candidate Mary Glassman has started her own TV commercials, mentioning that she has teamed up with Lamont in their effort to lead the state.

The margin of error in both polls of the Democratic and Republican likely primary voters is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The poll also shows that both Lamont and Malloy would defeat any of the three Republican candidates by anywhere from 13 to 25 points, depending which candidates are in the race.

Lamont reconsiders, will debate Malloy next week on TV, radio
By Mark Pazniokas and Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
July 29, 2010

To defuse the escalating back-and-forth of negative ads in the Democratic race for governor, Ned Lamont said today he has reconsidered and now intends to debate Dan Malloy next week on WFSB, Channel 3 and WNPR radio.

"This has gone south fast," Lamont said of the tone of the campaign for the Democratic nomination, which will be settled in an Aug. 10 primary.

Lamont said in a telephone interview that he thinks that a debate Aug. 3 that would be simulcast by Channel 3 and WNPR would be the best way to clear the air, rather than spend the next week responding to ads and counter ads.

"I think that the best place to do it is during a debate," Lamont said.

After a forum today in Storrs, Lamont said for the first time he was reconsidering his refusal to participate in another televised debate. Less than an hour later, he said during an interview he had decided to go head with the forum sponsored by WFSB and WNPR.

"I hope Ned will agree to a wide open format that allows us to engage each other directly in a real conversation," Malloy said. "Ned himself has said he doesn't like the '1 minute canned response format.' I couldn't agree more. So let's not do that."

Details have yet to be released about the format.

WFSB and WNPR were going ahead with a one-hour Democratic forum with or without Lamont, leaving an open invitation to Lamont to attend and turn it into a true debate. The stations are hosting a Republican debate the next day.

Lamont said the last week has been dispiriting.

Malloy hit him Friday with ad attacking his record as a businessman, recycling a spot Sen. Joseph Lieberman used four years ago in their Senate race, accusing Lamont of cutting his workforce at Lamont Digital while paying himself a big salary.

Most of the job losses were attributed to the sale of a subsidiary that provides cable television to private residential communities, he said. The jobs went with the cable systems, he said.

Yesterday, Lamont aired a piece talking about a culture of corruption during Malloy's time as mayor of Stamford, referring to an investigation that ended with Malloy's exoneration.

Malloy aired a second negative ad, highlighting a commercial featuring a headline about a racial discrimination lawsuit.The spot offered no other information about the suit, which was filed by one employee and settled in 2003.

"It was one employee. It ended amicably," Lamont said, calling the suit the only one of its kind in 25 years in business.

"This is what politics has come to?" he asked.

Malloy said last night the commercial was intended to pose reasonable questions about Lamont's ability as a businessman, which is central to his campaign.

Today, when he heard Lamont was reconsidering, Malloy said,  "Let's call Channel 8 right now."

Malloy originally had expected to debate Lamont at The Garde Arts Center in New London on Wednesday. The event, which Lamont declined to attend, was to be televised on an affiliate of WTNH TV-8 in New Haven.

Malloy, who answered questions this morning following a gubernatorial forum at the Nathan Hale Inn on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs, said he believes Lamont is feeling the pressure of new campaign ads attacking him for avoiding a second debate.

"Rich guys are used to trying to make their own rules. ... There's a lot of heat in the kitchen and I think he wants to be let out," Malloy said at UConn.

Lamont used $17 million of his personal wealth four years ago in U.S. Senate campaign.

WFSB and WNPR will broadcast a debate of the Democrats on Aug. 3, followed a day later by a debate with the three Republican candidates for governor, Michael Fedele, Tom Foley and Oz Griebel.

The debates will be simulcast live at 3 p.m. on WFSB, Channel 3 and WNPR radio, then rebroadcast at 8 p.m. on CPTV and WNPR. WFSB also will replay the debates at 7 p.m. on its digital cable channel, Eyewitness News Now.

Weston RTC endorsed Oz Griebel (r).

No love for the Rell record at GOP debate
By Mark Pazniokas
July 29, 2010

Tom Foley and Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele frequently sparred Thursday night, ignoring the underfunded Oz Griebel during a televised debate of the Republican candidates for governor.  But Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell took the most punches as Foley blamed her administration for the fiscal crisis. And Fedele worked from the opening bell to distance himself from his boss.

"The lieutenant governor does not have an ability to propose a budget. The governor does. Does not have an ability to veto a budget. The governor does," Fedele said.

It was a night when Fedele seemed grateful that Rell never got around to endorsing his candidacy, given how sharply she was faulted for job losses and failing to veto a Democratic budget last year.

"I don't see how you can separate yourself from what the Rell administration has done," Griebel told Fedele

If so, he wasn't watching very closely.

"I did not agree with the administration in many cases," Fedele said, adding that the governor should have taken a tougher stand against some of the fiscal "shell games" played at the Capitol.

Someone stumbling upon the debate on television would have been surprised to learn that Rell actually is reasonably popular, with an approval rating of 60 percent.  She is not seeking re-election after six years as governor, a job she inherited in 2004 from a predecessor of his way to prison. She was elected to a full term by a landslide in 2006.  On Thursday on the stage of the Garde Arts Center in New London, she was merely a lame duck who is expected to leave behind a deficit of more than $3 billion for her successor.

But she has remained on the sidelines in the run to the Aug. 10 GOP primary, expressing some affection for Fedele and Griebel, the president of a business group, the Metro Hartford Alliance.

Foley is the front runner for the GOP nomination. He is the first candidate for governor endorsed by the Republican State Convention without holding elective office.  A businessman whose stewardship of a Georgia textile company is harshly attacked in a Fedele ad, Foley holds out his lack of experience as a virtue in this political season.

“People are angry,” Foley said. “They are upset at our current office holders for getting us in the mess we’re in, and they don’t trust people who are currently serving in office to lead us out from where we are.”

Fedele, a successful businessman and former state senator, tried to make the case, albeit awkwardly, that a little political experience must be useful to the new governor.

“If you believe the next governor, because of the issues that this state faces needs to be and know the personalities and egos and the process in government, I’m the only candidate that has that,” Fedele said.

Foley said experience, while valued in other endeavor, was less important than boldness and courage.

“I will make the courageous decisions that need to be made to turn this state around,” Foley said. “I make a commitment to you tonight that I will reduce the size and cost of state government. I will close the budget deficit without raising your taxes.”

The boldness and courage to name actual cuts apparently will have to wait until after the election.  Foley and Fedele pledged no new taxes, a promise that fiscal analysts believe is impossible, as the size of the projected deficit approximates the entire state payroll.

Griebel said he would consider one source of new revenue: electronic tolls to maintain the state’s crumbling transportation infrastructure.  He said the election is about vision, ideas and execution.

“It’s about prioritizing those services that only the state can provide, but saying no to those we can’t afford and don’t have real value,” Griebel said.

Greibel, who has not raised sufficient funds to advertise on television in the closing weeks, was left out of the Fedele-Foley cross fire over the financing of their campaigns.  Foley, a Greenwich businessman who owns a 100-foot yacht, is relying on personal wealth and donations. Fedele has qualified for public financing of $2.5 million.

Fedele said Foley’s only objection to public financing that is he now has competition. Foley said that Fedele, who was videotaped driving his Ferrari to a charity event, is not exactly a pauper. A critic posted the video on You Tube.

Looney backs Malloy in governor’s bid
By Mary E. O’Leary, Register Topics Editor
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

NEW HAVEN — State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, has praised both Democrats running for governor in the fast-approaching primary, but said Dan Malloy, with his experience as the longtime mayor of a major city, makes him the better candidate.

New Haven’s large delegation at the May Democratic convention gave its votes to Ned Lamont, who won the party endorsement, but the city’s loyalty is expected to be divided in the Aug. 10 primary.

Many of the dozens crammed into Malloy’s city headquarters Sunday, from some aldermen to past city officials, have been at odds with New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., who beat Malloy four years ago in the Democratic primary for governor — a fight that continues to leave hard feelings between them.

DeStefano and the big city mayors in Connecticut came out early for Lamont, as have state House Speaker Christopher Donovan, D-Meriden, and state Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, but Looney is the latest among leadership to back Malloy in what is expected to be a tight race.

Calling the 2010 elections the most important and toughest year to lead since Democrat Wilbur Cross was elected governor during the Great Depression, Looney said the party is fortunate to have two candidates who are “accomplished, honorable men” who want to do the best for Connecticut.

But the majority leader said Malloy’s experience as Stamford mayor for 14 years dealing with difficult issues of education, job creation, economic development, housing and public finance give him the edge, as do his years as a prosecutor and defense attorney.

Democrats are desperate to take back the statehouse for the first time since Gov. William A. O’Neill left office in 1991.

Looney said Malloy realizes painful cuts will have to be made as the state grapples with a $3.4 billion deficit, but he will support a more progressive revenue system with an earned income tax credit for the working poor.

“Dan Malloy can hit the ground running. We have big problems and we just don’t have time for on-the-job training,” said state Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, of Malloy. Also in attendance were state Sens. Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, and Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, and state Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven.

Looney said the mayors’ support for Lamont rests on the millionaire’s ability to match the personal spending of Republican candidate Tom Foley, also a wealthy Greenwich resident, if Foley wins the GOP primary.

The latest Quinnipiac Poll shows Lamont continuing to lead against Malloy. Among likely voters, that lead is nine percentage points, and both Lamont and Malloy beat their three Republican contenders, Foley, R. Nelson “Oz” Griebel and Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele.

Malloy made a pitch to the urban crowd that he would advance policies that will ease the property tax burden, improve schools and lower crime.

“We cannot tolerate failure rates in our school system as we have tolerated over the last 20 years … It is not good enough to say that we give opportunity, we got to start guaranteeing some results in this state,” Malloy said.

Those who lined the walls of the converted garage space on Whalley Avenue that serves as Malloy’s New Haven headquarters included former Westville Alderwoman Elaine Braffman and former Redevelopment Director Bill Donohue, Aldermen Darnell Goldson, D-30, Alphonse Paolillo Jr., D-17, Jackie James-Evans, D-3, Michael Smart, D-8, and Andrea Jackson-Brooks, D-4.

Malloy, Lamont Battle Over Discrimination Lawsuit
Hartford Courant
July 27, 2010

Democratic gubernatorial rivals Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont savaged each other Monday in their increasingly bitter campaign for the Aug. 10 party primary, over a discrimination lawsuit filed against Lamont's cable TV company in 2002 by an African American former employee.

Their fight bled into other areas and bared the two camps' obvious dislike of, and paranoia about, each other.

It all started with The Courant's publication of a story Monday that said Lamont, a Greenwich multimillionaire, was sued in 2002 by a former executive — who had worked in Lamont's cable TV company's Delaware office and claimed he'd been mistreated on the basis of race.

Lamont denied the allegations in court filings and the case was settled in September 2003. Lamont's campaign manager, Joe Abbey, said in Monday's story that the "one-time personnel matter" was "settled privately" under an agreement by "both parties … to keep the details confidential."

However, Abbey went further in his reaction – and blamed the Malloy camp for instigating the story in which The Courant quoted from online public court files. Malloy campaign adviser Roy Occhiogrosso called that a "ridiculous allegation."

That didn't stop another Lamont campaign aide from even seeing the invisible hand of Malloy behind a reference in The Courant's story to an earlier incident, four years ago, when the issue of possible racial discrimination arose while Lamont was running unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. The story recalled that during the 2006 Democratic Senate primary campaign, Lamont was criticized by his opponent, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, for having once belonged to a Greenwich country club "not known for its diversity'' – a criticism Lamont dismissed as "sad."

A Lamont press aide wrote The Courant an e-mail saying, "It strikes me as odd that you would mention [that 2006 episode] when the only apparent connection is that this is another Lieberman attack the Malloy camp is regurgitating." On Friday, Malloy had begun running a TV ad containing criticism similar to another charge Lieberman made against Lamont in 2006 — that he was making lots of money as some of his employees lost their jobs. Lamont says that charge also is unfounded.

About midday Monday, Malloy issued a statement headlined: "Malloy Says Courant Story Raises Questions Lamont Should Answer" — asking why Lamont had settled the dscrimination lawsuit in a way that barred public discussion, and saying "government doesn't work when it's secretive."

Malloy also asked: "Why is the statement confidential? What did he or his company acknowledge doing? … How much money was the employee paid in order to keep quiet? Why does a Connecticut-based company have a corporate headquarters in the State of Delaware? Is there a tax benefit to doing so? What happened to all of Ned's employees? He's said numerous times that he hired 'hundreds and hundreds' of people, yet the company today has only 36 employees, including just eight in Connecticut."

Malloy, in his statement, even tried to anticipate Lamont's response and knock it down in advance. "I know what Ned will say in response: 'This is an unfair, desperate attack.' That's wrong." Then he needled Lamont for declining to debate one-on-one before the Aug. 10 primary. "I think Ned should answer these questions," he said, "and I'd prefer that he do that in a debate with me."

Hours later, Abbey issued a response, parodying the Malloy headline with this one: "Lamont Campaign says Courant Story Raises Questions Malloy Should Answer." Abbey also said: "I understand why Dan was so defensive in his statement saying, 'I know what Ned will say in response: 'This is an unfair, desperate attack.' That's exactly what it was."

Abbey asked Malloy his own series of questions, including: "How many of … 55 civil rights complaints and 37 federal lawsuits [against the city] were filed by employees reporting directly to you, or to your senior staff members? … When did you first learn that three of your employees, two of whom you named employee of the month, were embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city on your watch, as reported by the Courant? … Why do you continue to advance claims about your record on jobs that have been fully debunked by the Courant?" He also asked if Malloy still accepts campaign contributions from "companies that either held contracts with the city or aspired to do so."

Lamont Declines Debate; Malloy To Be Alone
McMahon Using Same Front-Runner's Strategy In Skipping GOP Debate
July 25, 2010

What if they held a debate and only one person showed up?

That looks like the case next week — Democratic gubernatorial contender Dannel Malloy may receive one hour of free television time because his opponent, Ned Lamont, says he will not be debating.

The contest is scheduled to be broadcast at 3 p.m. on Aug. 3 on WFSB, Channel 3, and on WNPR radio, along with rebroadcasts later that night.

Lamont can always change his mind during the next week, but he says he has already participated in more than 30 joint appearances during the past several months around the state. He intends to participate with other gubernatorial candidates in a breakfast forum Thursday, sponsored by the Windham Region Chamber of Commerce, at a hotel on the UConn campus in Storrs.

The debate has become a hot issue after Malloy released a negative television commercial Friday night that criticized Lamont — without mentioning his name — for failing to debate and for his business record.

The 30-second commercial was the first negative ad of the Democratic primary, setting off charges and countercharges between the campaigns. The Malloy campaign said Lamont reduced the number of employees in his cable television business by more than 70 percent; Lamont responded that many employees left because pieces of the business were sold.

Regarding the debates, Lamont said in an interview that he prefers a detailed discussion of important issues rather than the 30-second or 60-second responses that are traditionally required in televised debates.

"You end up with a lot of talking points,'' Lamont said. "I like the sort of unlimited give-and-take, which is what I do in these town forums. … It's a real conversation. It's not one- or two-minute answers. I love mixing it up.''

Meanwhile, Lamont is not alone in apparently avoiding the verbal fisticuffs on the debate stage. Linda McMahon, who leads the polls in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, is expected to duck a debate with her opponents Tuesday night at Trinity College in Hartford.

Malloy, though, said he hopes that Lamont changes his mind and shows up in the Channel 3 studio in Rocky Hill, where the debate organizers will have a lectern ready up until the event starts.

"Most politicians would love to have an hour of TV time to themselves. I would not,'' Malloy said in an interview. "I would want Ned to be there. I would prefer that he be on the stage.''

Malloy said the failure to debate on television will "backfire'' on Lamont and cost him votes in the Aug. 10 primary.

Lamont's spokeswoman, Justine Sessions, said, "It might take Dan a full hour to explain how 5,000 jobs created, minus 13,000 jobs lost, equals 5,000 jobs created.''

The remark was a reference to a weekslong dispute over exactly how many jobs were created during Malloy's 14 years as Stamford's mayor. Malloy has run campaign advertisements that say he created 5,000 jobs, but state labor statistics also show that Stamford has lost more than 13,000 jobs since reaching its peak employment in 2000. Stamford lost more than 5,000 jobs in the period from June 2008 to June 2009, pushing up the city's office vacancy rate. Lamont says Malloy has been misrepresenting his jobs record — the same charge that New Haven Mayor John DeStefano made against Malloy during the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Lamont, who is leading in the polls, has been operating a front-runner's strategy, deciding which events to participate in. McMahon has conducted a similar strategy in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, and her opponents expect that she will not attend the debate at Trinity College. Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons and Weston investor Peter Schiff, along with candidates John Mertens and Warren Mosler, are expected to attend.

"It's too bad Linda won't be joining Rob and I at the Federation of Connecticut Taxpayers debate on Tuesday, July 27,'' Schiff said in a statement. "It appears she is only comfortable in the scripted confines of the wrestling ring, but when she's unscripted she can't handle it. I'll tell you what, if it makes her more comfortable on Tuesday, I'll agree to put the three podiums inside a ring.''

McMahon's spokesman, Ed Patru, responded, "Peter and Linda appeared together many times in forums and debates over the past nine months, including one that was televised. Republicans are familiar with the differences between them, and the reason Linda has the support of most Republicans is because she's made a concerted effort to meet with voters across this state, interact with them and listen to them.''

As a fervent debater, House Republican leader Lawrence Cafero said he did not initially grasp Lamont's views on debating.

"I don't personally understand it, but he must think it's an advantage not to debate,'' Cafero said. "I don't understand it because he's not an incompetent man to speak.''

But Cafero says Lamont's statements about participating in more than 30 joint appearances around the state might be sufficient.

"I think he can get away with that,'' Cafero said. "It passes the smirk test. I get it.''

Malloy commercial hits Lamont for refusal to debate
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
July 23, 2010

Trailing in the polls, Dan Malloy aired a television commercial Friday afternoon that tweaks Ned Lamont for his refusal to debate in the closing weeks of their campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

As attack ads go, it is a relatively gentle spot. Malloy appears on the camera for the entire commercial, contrasting his record as mayor with Lamont's as the founder and former chief executive of a small cable-television company. He never mentions Lamont by name.

"My opponent refuses to debate so here are the facts," says Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford. "I have a proven record of creating jobs, lowering crime, cleaning up government. And I have a real plan to put people back to work."

"My opponent doesn't have that experience. In fact, he reduced his employees by more than 70 percent, while paying himself a huge salary. Don't you think CEOs behaving that way is what messed up our economy in the first place?"

Malloy is referring to job losses at Lamont Digital, which built cable-television systems on college campuses and private residential communities. Lamont has said that many of the job losses were caused by the sale of the private residential systems.

The spot coincidentally debuts the same day that Republican Michael C. Fedele aired a scathing critique of the business record of the Republican front runner, Tom Foley. The trailing candidates in both races now are trying to drive down their opponent's numbers over their business backgrounds.

There is a symmetry to the two races: Malloy and Fedele are high school classmates from Stamford, waging publicly financed campaigns. Lamont and Foley are Greenwich businessmen, relying on private donations and their own considerable wealth to underwrite their races.

Malloy's staff cast the spot as a reaction to Lamont's refusal to debate in the closing weeks.

"Dan would have been happy to have this discussion at the debate in New London," said Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy's media adviser. "We have no other choice, no other way to do it."

Lamont is refusing to participate in a debate at the Garde Arts Center in London on July 27. He also has declined an invitation to debate Aug. 4 on WFSB, Channel and Connecticut Public Broadcasting.

He did debate Malloy in June on NBC30 and has agreed to appear at a forum next week with Malloy and the three Republican candidates for governor.

Justine Sessions, the communication director for Lamont, noted that Malloy told The Mirror a week ago his positive commercials were working.

"They must be nervous," she said. "They don't feel like Dan's positive message is resonating. He's not connecting with voters."

She declined to say if Lamont was ready with a piece attacking Malloy's record. They previously have challenged Malloy's claims about creating jobs in Stamford, saying the jobs created were offset by later job losses.

Sessions, who had not seen the Malloy commercial, said Lamont assisted his former employees with outplacement packages and, in some cases, helped them become independent contractors who still do work for Lamont Digital.

The Malloy commercial was not yet available on line. It went on the air late this afternoon.

In 2006, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman ran a tougher version against Lamont in the Senate race. His advertising consultant, Knickerbocker, is the firm behind Malloy's commercials.

"We knew this day was coming, but that doesn't lessen our disappointment," Lamont's campaign manager Joe Abbey, said in an email Friday night. "Connecticut families deserve better than false negative attacks that were debunked four years ago. Just like his misleading claims about job creation, this is another example of Dan Malloy saying anything to win an election, no matter how untrue."

That email prompted a response from Malloy's camp.

"The facts speak for themselves: Dan Malloy turned a city around, while Ned Lamont was acting like a typical Wall Street CEO that drove middle class families into the ditch," Occhiogrosso said.

Lamont view on sick leave bill unclear
By Ted Mann Day Staff Writer
Article published Jul 24, 2010

Voters who closely follow the Democratic primary for governor will likely know that Ned Lamont opposes the legislature's paid sick leave bill: the proposal to mandate that employers with 50 workers or more provide them paid time off when they're ill.

But Lamont's position, a key policy difference with his intra-party rival Dan Malloy, is not as clear-cut as it has sometimes sounded.

In response to a questionnaire from the Working Families Party, the key backers of the bill for the past several years, Lamont said that he would sign one version of the sick leave proposal, the one that limited the mandate to "service workers."

But in many public appearances and interviews, Lamont has seemed to suggest categorical rejection of a state law mandating sick leave for workers, while saying he could support a federal version of the law, which he believes would provide the sick leave without creating competitive disadvantages among individual states.

When a listener called in to ask about the topic during Lamont's Friday morning appearance on WNPR's "Where We Live," the candidate said he'd support a mandate "at the national level."

"I support what Rosa and Chris Dodd are trying to do," Lamont said, referring to U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, and the state's senior senator, "not something that puts Connecticut at a disadvantage with the first state in the country to have a mandate like this."

After a follow-up question, Lamont said: "Again, on a national level I think it makes a fair amount of sense. To do it right now in the middle of this knee-knocking recession when small businesses are hardly keeping their head above water … is it a priority for me? No."

Lamont had a more forceful answer in an interview with the Connecticut Mirror in February, as he jumped into the governor's race.

"I think we deal with sick leave just fine at the small-business level where I live," Lamont told the Mirror. "I'm not sure I need the government stepping in and putting another mandate on businesses like mine."

But on the Working Families Party questionnaire, Lamont checked a box saying he "would sign this legislation," adding a line to specify that he would only sign a version that mirrors a version put forward by state Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, during the last legislative session.

That version would apply the mandate for sick leave only to service sector workers and only for companies with more than 50 employees.

Lamont has said repeatedly that "if something like what Edith Prague put forward came across his desk, he wouldn't veto it," said Justine Sessions, a spokeswoman for the Lamont campaign.
But if Lamont's support has been there, it hasn't seemed very vocal to leaders of the Working Families Party, which has worked for several years to try to convince a deeply opposed business lobby that mandating sick leave for workers will improve worker health and productivity, and that it won't prove an onerous burden on employers.

Hours after Lamont's WNPR appearance on Friday, Jon Green, the party's state director, e-mailed some party members about the answer Lamont gave. In the e-mail, obtained by The Day, Green wrote, "Unfortunately, Ned's public statements still differ fairly dramatically with the position he articulated to the WFP on his questionnaire."

Green suggested that the party conduct a conference call this week "to discuss what to do about this."

Ted Kennedy Jr. endorses Lamont, cuts an ad
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
July 22, 2010

Ned Lamont rolled out a new television ad today in which he is endorsed by Ted Kennedy Jr.

The son of the late U.S. senator, Kennedy is a long-time Connecticut resident who has been mentioned as a potential candidate for public office. His father endorsed Lamont in his 2006 race for U.S. Senate.

In the commercial, Kennedy refers to Lamont and his wife, Annie, as good friends.

"What makes Connecticut so special to me are the people that I've met here, people like Ned and Annie," Kennedy says in the spot. "Over the years, I've been lucky enough to become good friends with them and I know they share the same values I believe in - the values of hard work and giving back.  I've seen Ned in action.  I know he has what it takes to bring people together and move Connecticut forward, and that's why I'll be voting for him on August 10."

The 60-second commercial will begin airing Friday. A 30-second version will go up next week.  Lamont's campaign was unsure if Kennedy, who has kept a relatively low profile since settling in Connecticut after college, will do any campaigning for Lamont.

In a statement, Lamont recalled Senator Kennedy's campaigning with him in Bridgeport.

"I'll never forget standing beside Ted's father singing 'When Irish Eyes Are Smiling' when he came to campaign for me in 2006," Lamont said. "Senator Kennedy always believed that our best days were ahead of us, a belief that Ted Jr. and I share for the state of Connecticut.  As governor, I will work every day to create jobs and make Connecticut a place where every family has the opportunity to achieve their own American dream."

The younger Kennedy has an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan, a master's from Yale and a law degree from the University of Connecticut. He lives in Branford with his wife, Kiki, who is on the faculty of the Yale School of Medicine.

"Empty Chair" debate coming?
Debate to go on, with or without Lamont
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
July 21, 2010

WFSB and Connecticut Public Broadcasting are going ahead with plans for a Democratic gubernatorial debate on Aug. 3 - with or without Ned Lamont.

All three Republican candidates have accepted an invitation to debate Aug. 4 at WFSB's studios in Rocky Hill, but Dan Malloy is the only Democrat willing to appear on the 3rd.

"We're apparently going to do it with or without Lamont," Dennis House, the WFSB anchorman, said Tuesday night.

"I really, really hope he takes part," said John Dankosky, the news director of WNPR, the radio affiliate of Connecticut Public Broadcasting.

WFSB has informed Lamont they will keep two lecterns on their set until 12:55 p.m. on the day of the debate, House said. After that, they will reconfigure the studio for a solo appearance by Malloy. House and Dankosky will pose questions.

The decision by WFSB and Connecticut Public Broadcasting keeps alive an awkward episode for Lamont, who had a 9-percentage point lead last week in a Quinnipiac University poll of likely Democratic primary voters.

Dankosky said that WNPR and WFSB are committed to offer voters an opportunity to hear from the candidates, and it is inappropriate to let one candidate force a cancellation.

"I think it's important for both us and 'FSB to offer this," Dankosky said.

"Our feeling is it's unfair to viewers to just give them the Republicans," House said.

On Aug. 3 and 4, the debates will be simulcast live at 3 p.m. on WFSB, Channel 3 and WNPR radio, then rebroadcast at 8 p.m. on CPTV and WNPR. WFSB also will replay the debates at 7 p.m. on its digital cable channel, Eyewitness News Now.

On WFSB's "Face the State," the station's Sunday interview show, Lamont said he would consider participating, but his staff said after the show that the campaign's decision was final.

Lamont debated Malloy on NBC30 a month ago, but he has refused additional televised debates closer to the primary.

"We hope Ned will change his mind," said Roy Occhiogrosso, a media adviser to Malloy. "Democrats have a real choice to make. The best way to make that choice is to see the candidates side by side."

Justine Sessions, the communication director for Lamont, did not return a phone seeking comment Tuesday night. Instead, she emailed a one-line jab at Malloy's disputed claims about job creation during his 14 years as mayor of Stamford:

"Dan may need the full hour to explain how 5,000 jobs created minus 13,000 jobs lost equals 5,000 jobs created."

Lamont's non-participation prompted the cancellation of a televised debate scheduled for July 27 at the Garde Arts Center in New London. Republicans Tom Foley, Michael C. Fedele and Oz Griebel will debate at the Garde on July 28. It will be televised on a sister station of WTNH, Channel 8.

Lamont has agreed to appear Friday at 9 a.m. on "Where We LIve," Dankosky's one-hour daily interview show on WNPR.

Judge rejects Jarjura's effort to block public funding for Lembo
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
July 27, 2010

A Superior Court judge today rejected Michael Jarjura's effort to block Kevin Lembo from using public financing in their Democratic contest for state comptroller.

The terse order by Judge James T. Graham frees Lembo to begin spending the $375,000 awarded to him last week for his Aug. 10 primary with Jarjura, the mayor of Waterbury.

“Does the timing complicate? Of, course it does," Lembo said. "We’re two weeks out from the primary at this point, but I’m convinced that we’ll be able to mount the campaign that we had planned.”

Jarjura, who also has received $375,000 in public financing, said he will not appeal.

"I've taken this as far as I'm going to take it," Jarjura said. "I feel good that we tried to right a wrong."

Jarjura filed suit last week, claiming that elections officials improperly approved public financing for Lembo, the endorsed Democratic candidate.

When Jarjura's campaign challenged some of Lembo's qualifying contributions, the State Elections Enforcement Commission allowed him to raise additional funds after the July 16 application deadline.

"The deadline is not discretionary, your honor, it's mandatory," said Howard K. Levine, Jarjura's attorney

To qualify for public financing, Lembo had to raise $75,000 in donations of no more than $100.

Robert W.  Clark, an assistant attorney general, told the judge that the commission was acting within its discretion.

Nothing in the law bars the commission from giving Lembo more time, rather than resolve Jarjura's last-minute challenge of some of Lembo's qualifying contributions, he said.

"The statute is silent on the issue," Clark said.

The judge seemed skeptical in questioning Levine, who argued that Jarjura would be unfairly disadvantaged if Lembo was granted public financing.

Graham noted that the legislature created the Citizens' Election Program to level the playing field for candidates without access to significant campaign funds.

"How does granting an injunction here level the playing field?" he asked.

The burden was on Jarjura to show the commission clearly acted outside its authority and that he would be irreparably harmed if Lembo was allowed to spend the money.

Lawyers for the state and Lembo argued that Lembo clearly would suffer the greater harm by being stripped of all funding two weeks before the primary.

Daniel E. Livingston, a lawyer for Lembo, told the judge that an injunction would "effectively decide an election" in Jarjura's favor.

"It would have been extraordinary" to win the injunction, Jarjura said. "The judge was between a rock and a hard place."

The legal challenge is the second of two attempts by Jarjura to deny public financing to Lembo, the state's health-care advocate and a former policy adviser to Comptroller Nancy Wyman.

Jarjura first filed a complaint demanding that the commission disallow some qualifying contributions Lembo raised through an exploratory committee.

He claimed that Lembo actually had become a de facto candidate for lieutenant governor while he was raising money as an exploratory candidate. If so, no funds could be transferred to another race.

Using discretion it says the law allows, the commission advised Lembo to raise additional qualifying funds to render moot the status of the exploratory funds. He continued raising money for three days.

Jarjura then sued in Superior Court, saying that the commission had no authority to give Lembo the time to raise the additional funds.

"Deadlines are deadlines," Jarjura said Monday evening.

The case is the third filed this year with the potential to settle a nomination for statewide office. Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz had to abandon a run for attorney general after the Supreme Court concluded she did not have the requisite legal experience.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley unsuccessfully tried to block a rival, Michael C. Fedele, from obtaining public financing.

After exploring a run for lieutenant governor, Lembo declared his candidacy for comptroller after Wyman accepted Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy's invitation to be his running mate.

Jarjura, who explored a run for governor and lieutenant governor, finally declared as a candidate for comptroller. He qualified for primary by winning more than 15 percent of the delegate vote at the nominating convention.

Knowing that Democratic primary voters tend to be liberal, Lembo's campaign was quick to highlight Jarjura's political liabilities in June.

He is a cultural conservative who opposes abortion rights and is an adviser to the Family Institute of Connecticut, which opposes gay marriage. He also backed the hiring of John Rowland, the disgraced former Republican governor, in an economic development job partly funded with city money.

"I think they started it off," Jarjura said. "Every campaign will tell you, 'No, they did it.' It was bizarre, to say the least."

Over the weekend, Jarjura sent a mailer to registered Democrats, accusing Lembo of being a secret conservative who has misrepresented his resume and his work running the Office of Healthcare Advocate. The mailer directed Democrats to a web site created by Jarjura's campaign,

“Some of my opponents’ claims are just bizarre.  But let me be clear – I have never ever lied to the people of Connecticut or distorted my record," Lembo said.

One of the claims was that Lembo, a protege of Wyman and the first openly gay candidate to qualify for a statewide primary, was a closet conservative, because he once worked in New York in the office of Betsy McCaughey, a Republican lieutenant governor who later became a Democrat.

"I didn’t (and still don’t) agree with every policy position Betsy takes," Lembo said in a written statement. "But for the record, she is probably less conservative than the Mayor of Waterbury; she actually supports a woman’s right to choose."

Jarjura also suggested in the mailer and on that Lembo, who frequently clashes with health insurers, actually was beholden to the insurance industry.

"Lembo forgot to tell us that his "Health Care Advocate" salary is paid for by the insurance industry," the web site says.

That is true, but the funding is hardly voluntary or evidence of a cozy relationship with the industry. The state funds the Office of Healthcare Advocate by imposing a special tax on insurers, just as it pays for banking regulators by assessing the banking industry.

This what is being attacked...

Jarjura challenging campaign funds awarded to rival for comptroller post
By Mary E. O’Leary, Register Topics Editor
Saturday, July 24, 2010

HARTFORD — Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura, a Democratic candidate for comptroller, is the latest candidate for statewide office to take the State Elections Enforcement Commission to court, as he challenges its decision to award a grant to his opponent, Kevin Lembo.

Beth Rotman, director of the Citizens’ Election Program, was summoned to Hartford Superior Court Friday, as Jarjura sought a temporary injunction to keep Lembo, who received his $375,000 grant Friday morning, from spending any of it until the court hears the merits of the case.

By Friday afternoon, there was an agreement that Lembo could spend up to $30,000 over the weekend, with a court hearing on the main issue set for 2 p.m. Monday.

Jarjura said he is challenging the extra buffer money raised by Lembo after he submitted his application to the SEEC for a primary grant on July 16, the final day for submission.

He had raised $75,300 by that point, but because he had such a small cushion, Lembo said Rotman suggested he continue to raise funds over the weekend to increase his buffer.

“We feel strongly that deadlines are deadlines,” Jarjura said. The mayor said he could not find any ruling on this published by the SEEC, whose initial grants were awarded under the CEP in 2008. This is the first year it was available to candidates for statewide office.

Rotman felt confident the SEEC will be upheld.

With less than two weeks to the Aug. 10 primary, Lembo, the state’s health care advocate, said his campaign had just signed off on final proofs of a mailing Thursday night in anticipation of funds being available Friday.

“The harm is significant,” said Lembo, if any court resolution goes beyond Monday, as he has expenses that have to be satisfied Monday and Tuesday in order to stay on schedule.

Rotman said after candidates submit their paperwork for a grant, they have several days to “cure” any defects. “Lembo got the same benefit as others before him,” she said.

“It’s routine that people have to make cures,” Rotman said. She said, generally speaking, other common things that need to be fixed include different addresses on a contributor form and disclosure statement or checks written on a business, rather than personal, account.

She said applicants have to make a “good faith effort” to get all paperwork in order by the Friday before checks are issued the following Thursday, as the SEEC needs time to review requests. In Lembo’s case, he was up against a final deadline for candidates in a primary.

Not everything is expressly outlined in the statutes, Rotman said. “We have read in some appropriate allowances for human nature,” she said.

Lembo was originally going to use the $12,000 he had raised in an exploratory committee before declaring his candidacy for comptroller as his buffer. Jarjura, however, charged Lembo had declared himself a candidate for lieutenant governor in May and should have filed a candidate committee, which then could not be counted toward his $75,000 qualifying funds.

Lembo said the charges are “baseless,” and that a video of the Jackson Jefferson Bailey Democratic fundraiser cited by Jarjura proves it. Lembo said ultimately, they did not count any of the money raised in their exploratory committee toward the $75,000.

Lembo’s lawyer, William Bloss, said Jarjura is mistaken in his interpretation of the rules, but in any event, the money raised in Lembo’s exploratory committee makes any questions about him qualifying moot.

Three more Connecticut candidates receive public grants
New London DAY
Associated Press
Article published Jul 21, 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Three more Connecticut candidates for statewide offices have been approved for public campaign financing.

Democrats George Jepsen, candidate for attorney general; Mary Glassman, candidate for lieutenant governor, and Kevin Lembo, candidate for comptroller, were all approved Wednesday for $375,000 public grants by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Lembo's request for public funding was challenged this week by his primary opponent Mike Jarjura, who claimed Lembo used a portion of donations raised from an abandoned run for lieutenant governor toward the $75,000 needed to qualify for public funds in the comptroller race. A Citizens Election Program official said Wednesday that Lembo qualified without the prior contributions.

The primary election is Aug. 10.

For Aug. 10 primary: Polling place changed to Weston Intermediate School GYM
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Monday, 19 July 2010 15:07

NEWS ALERT: Weston’s regular polling place will change for the Aug. 10 primary elections because of construction and asbestos abatement at Weston Middle School.

Voting will take place in the gymnasium at the town’s newest school, Weston Intermediate School.

Town officials learned from school officials last week that the roof replacement project at the middle school — where elections normally take place — might make it necessary to move the polls from the gymnasium to the cafeteria.

But, Laura Smits, the Democratic registrar of voters, said when she and other officials did a walk-through of the building on Friday, July 16, they then learned that in addition to the roof replacement construction, asbestos abatement is also taking place at the middle school.

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said that by law, no one under the age of 18 is allowed on a site when asbestos abatement is taking place. Although most voters are over 18 (17-year-olds who will be 18 by the general election Nov. 2 may also vote in their party’s primary), Ms. Weinstein said she did not want to disenfranchise any parents who might bring young children to the polls.

“We decided it’s not worth taking any chance with asbestos,” the first selectman added. She also did not want to ask the schools to hold off on the abatement, as that might cause costly delays to the construction project.

Dan Clarke, director of facilities for the school district, said the intermediate school could be used instead.

Although she said she wishes the town had been notified earlier, “Dan Clarke has been very gracious and willing to do whatever it takes to make this work,” Ms. Weinstein said.

Because a legal notice stating the polls would be at the middle school has already been published, and because it is less than 30 days before the election, the registrars asked for and received an emergency waiver from the secretary of the state in order to move the location of the polling place.

Signs will be posted along School Road the day of the primaries, and security officers will be posted at the middle school, directing voters who might be unaware of the change to the intermediate school.

“We want to make sure people know where the polls are,” Ms. Weinstein said. “We want it to be as easy and to cause the least amount of confusion as possible.”

Parking is available in the two lots in front of the intermediate school, as well as in a rear lot near the tennis courts and playground.

Polls will be open at the intermediate school gym for the primary elections Tuesday, Aug. 10, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Only registered Republicans and registered Democrats may vote in their respective party primaries; those registered as unaffiliated may not vote in a primary.

For the first time, 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by the Nov. 2 general election may vote in their party’s primary.

Voters may register to vote any weekday between 9 and 4:30 at Weston Town Hall.

The registrars of voters will hold a special session at Weston Town Hall next Tuesday, July 27, from noon to 2 for the purpose of registering electors eligible to vote in the upcoming primary.

Mail-in registration forms are available from the registrars’ office at town hall, as well as online on the secretary of the state’s Web site,, and on the town of Weston Web site,

Mail-in applications for new voters must be postmarked by Aug. 5, and received no later than noon Aug. 9.

The last day to register in person for new voters and for unaffiliated voters to declare a party is noon on Aug. 9 at the registrar’s office in town hall.

Absentee ballots for those who will not be in Weston between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Aug. 10 are available.

Absentee ballots may be obtained in the town clerk’s office. Absentee ballot applications may be downloaded from the secretary of the state’s Web site,

For more information, call the Weston registrars of voters at 203-222-2686.

Statewide Candidates Meet Filing Deadline for Public Funds
by Christine Stuart | Jul 16, 2010 5:33pm

Today’s 5 p.m. deadline to apply for public campaign funds has come and gone for candidates waging primary battles for statewide offices.

Officials for the State Elections Enforcement Commission confirmed that Secretary of the State candidate Gerry Garcia filed his application Friday.

Garcia, a former New Haven alderman, was one of a few candidates seeking donations right up until Friday’s deadline. Late Thursday afternoon, the Garcia campaign sent an email blast to its supporters saying the campaign was $3,000 away from the $75,000 threshold it needs to leverage $375,000 in public funds.

The State Elections Enforcement Commission will meet Wednesday, July 21 to approve or deny applications.

Garcia’s opponent, Majority Leader Denise Merrill, applied for the grant on July 1 and already has received the $375,000 in state funds.

Also filing on the last day were lieutenant governor candidate Mary Glassman and state comptroller candidate Kevin Lembo. Glassman’s opponent, Nancy Wyman, already qualified for the $375,000 in public funds, along with Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura, who is running against Lembo in the Democratic primary.

George Jepsen, the lone Democratic candidate for attorney general, also filed his application even though he doesn’t have a primary. Jepsen’s application was approved last week by the commission. Jepsen is the only candidate for attorney general participating in the program.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton’s joint application to the commission was approved more than a week ago. The approval of the application filed with Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele’s campaign for governor is being challenged in court by Republican frontrunner Tom Foley.

The state Supreme Court will hear argument about a lower court decision to allow Fedele and Boughton to keep the supplemental grant triggered by Foley’s spending in the campaign.

It’s unclear how this week’s U.S. Second Circuit Court decision   banning these trigger provisions — which it said impedes the free speech of the wealthier candidates — will play out when briefs on that decision are filed in the state Supreme Court.

The state Supreme Court has asked lawyers involved in the Foley v. SEEC lawsuit to file briefs on the U.S. Second Circuit Court decision. Foley is challenging a lower court’s decision to deny his injunction and stop the transfer of supplemental funds to one of his opponents.

In addition to Fedele, Democrat Dan Malloy also qualified for the program and has already received the $2.5 million for use in his gubernatorial campaign.

Gubernatorial Debate
L to R:  Foley, Malloy, Fedele, Lamont, Griebel.  Reported in several papers that candidate Malloy and former Gov. Weicker agree - Lamont should debate in New London!

Once again, a statewide political campaign moves into a courtroom
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
July 12, 2010

First, it was Susan Bysiewicz. Now, it's Michael C. Fedele. For the second time this year, the fate of a major candidate for statewide office is in the hands of a Hartford Superior Court judge.

Judge Julia L. Aurigemma will hear arguments at 2 p.m. today on an effort by Tom Foley to deny $2.18 million in public financing to Fedele, a rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. 
If Foley is successful, he will deny Fedele the resources necessary to launch a television advertising campaign at a crucial juncture: the last four weeks before the GOP primary on Aug. 10.

At the very least, Foley will use the courts to score political points over Fedele's status as the only Republican candidate for governor to seek public financing under a program believed to be unpopular among Republican voters.  Justin Clark, Foley's campaign manager, suggested impropriety by the State Elections Enforcement Commission and the Fedele campaign.

With the commission's approval, Fedele and his running mate, Mark D. Boughton, pooled their contributions to qualify Fedele for public financing.  To qualify, Fedele needed to raise $250,000 in donations of no more than $100. By pooling, Boughton now has foregone a chance to obtain public financing for his primary with Lisa Wilson-Foley.  The Foley campaign says that was improper.

"Only Hartford insiders like Mike Fedele and the bureaucrats at the SEEC could take clear language and make it say something completely different," Clark said.

Beth Rotman, the director of the commission's Citizens' Election Program, does not appreciate her agency getting caught in a political cross-fire.

"It is unacceptable the agency is being attacked in a very direct way," Rotman said. "If anything, the agency is a model of integrity."

The commission unanimously approved a basic grant of $1.25 million and a supplemental grant of $937,500 for Fedele late Thursday afternoon. The supplemental grant was triggered by Foley's spending.  Watching from the back row was Daniel J. Krisch, one of the lawyers who represented Bysiewicz, the Democratic secretary of the state, in her unsuccessful litigation to prove she had the requisite experience to run for attorney general. He declined to say why he was there.

On Friday, Krisch filed a lawsuit on behalf of Foley, the Republican front runner, seeking an injunction blocking state officials from processing the grants for Fedele, the lieutenant governor.

At an emergency hearing hours later, Judge Grant H. Miller refused to block the State Elections Enforcement Commission or the comptroller's office from transferring the money to Fedele, who has agreed not to spend any of the funds until after the hearing today. He was unlikely to have access to the money before Tuesday, officials said.

The Foley campaign claimed that the elections commission had inappropriately allowed Fedele and Boughton to pool their qualifying contributions, but the commission noted that Foley had failed to formally object to an advisory opinion cleared the way for Fedele and  Boughton to join their finances.

The Fedele campaign reacted angrily to the lawsuit, accusing Foley of using the courts in an effort to hamper a challenger's campaign. Without the public financing, Foley is unlikely at this late date to raise sufficient funds to compete in the primary with Foley and Oz Griebel, the president of the MetroHartford Alliance.

"It seems if he can't win by campaigning, he's trying to win by suing," said Chris Cooper, a spokesman for Fedele.

Foley's objections to his Republican opponent's participation in the Citizens' Election Program are three-fold.  First, Clark says about 10 percent of the $250,000 in donations raised between Fedele and Boughton should not be counted.  The donation limit is $100 to a campaign to qualify for public financing, but Clark says $24,000 was raised by Fedele and Boughton by each of them receiving the maximum donation from the same people.

"This violates the letter and spirit of the law," he said.

Another question being raised is whether non-party endorsed candidates are allowed to team with endorsed candidates to receive public grants as a team. Boughton is the endorsed candidate for lieutenant governor, while Foley was endorsed by the GOP convention for governor.

"It's unclear if they are even allowed to have a joint fundraising committee," he said.

The final objection is whether Fedele should qualify a supplemental grant, since Clark says the law says only spending after the party's nominating convention is to be counted towards these grants.  Clark says Foley has not spent enough money since the May convention to qualify Fedele-Boughton for the almost $1 million additional grant.

We think this may be a set up for another candidate to say he'll be the second coming of Lowell P. Weicker...

How about this issue, debaters?  (Spelled out by the Independent candidate second from left photo above.)

Fedele is definite about no tax hikes, but less certain on how to cut deficit
Keith M. Phaneuf
July 19, 2010

Michael C. Fedele has no problem drawing a line in the fiscal sand.

For the Republican gubernatorial contender from Stamford, that means the enormous deficit looming over state government has to be closed without higher taxes, higher fees, or additional borrowing. There are no loopholes.

"I don't think this legislature gets any more revenue," Fedele, who has been lieutenant governor under M. Jodi Rell since 2007, said during a recent interview in his West Hartford campaign headquarters. "We clearly have been spending more than we have been taking in, but the new norm is that things are not going to be like they were."

Fedele isn't alone in insisting that tax hikes aren't the solution to what effectively amounts to the largest budget deficit in state history, though he insists his GOP rivals - Greenwich businessman Tom Foley and former Greater Hartford Metro Alliance President Oz Griebel - aren't as thorough as he is when it comes to keeping new revenue sources out of the General Assembly's hands.

But critics say his plan lacks details and fiscal reality, and ultimately can't be achieved.

And as certain as Fedele is about how he wouldn't cut the deficit, he isn't as decisive about how he would eliminate the $3.37 billion budget gap within his first six months in office. That gap equals 18 percent of current spending and is more than three times the size of the largest budget cut achieved by any administration and legislature up to this point.

Nearly half of this fiscal year's $19.01 billion budget is dedicated to state employee salaries and benefits, payments to the teachers' retirement fund, or municipal aid. And much of the latter is tied to teachers' and other municipal employees' compensation.

Like the entire gubernatorial field, Fedele also said public-sector workers have to sacrifice to help balance the next budget. But how deeply?

"I don't have an exact number," he said. When asked for any perspective on the role cuts in personnel spending would play, Fedele added. "I don't have an exact proportion." After several additional clarifying questions he conceded, "They could be a major piece."

The lieutenant governor said he would do things somewhat differently than Rell did when she reached a concession deal in May 2009 with the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition.

Rell forfeited her ability to impose layoffs on most of state government in exchange for a package now estimated to be worth just over $900 million, with most of that total savings spread equally across this fiscal year and last.

But nearly half of that $900 million, two-year total, didn't come out of unionized worker's pockets. Instead $314.5 million in required payments to the state employees' pension fund were deferred, though the actual benefits the state must pay out were not reduced. And another $125 million in immediate savings came from offering extra incentives to encourage more than 3,800 workers to retire.

But these incentive programs rob pension funds earlier than planned of dollars that otherwise would be invested and earning returns.

A new report received last month by a state commission studying post-employment benefits shows the state's annual contribution to the pension fund must increase by at least $217 million next fiscal year to offset these recent losses suffered by the fund.

"Governor Rell got the best deal that she could," Fedele said, adding that she also relied on "some economic assumptions that were too rosy. I think you have to be pretty sure about what the economy looks like before you sign that right (to order layoffs) away."

Fedele said he's hoping layoffs don't have to be part of his budget solution, though he concedes that downsizing through other means, namely annual attrition, is all but certain.

The lieutenant governor said he also would consider several temporary and long-term measures proposed by cities and towns to help them control labor costs. These include a short-term suspension of binding arbitration as well as long-term changes such as revising how a community's ability to afford municipal wage increases is calculated.

"Try it. Let's see how it works," said Fedele, who led a 2008 state task force that studying fiscal burdens on cities and towns. "We can always go back and change the law."

Rell took considerable heat in 2009 for proposing a wide array of cuts to Connecticut's health care and social safety set net for the poor. Fedele said he believes Connecticut still is far more generous than other states, and cutbacks can be made in this area without abandoning the most vulnerable in society.

"I think the citizens of our state can accept that," he said. "When times were great, we did a lot of things. Times have changed."

But Fedele said he also believes much of the safety net can be retained and run more cost-effectively by turning to the private sector. "If we can't do something most cost-effectively than the private sector, maybe we have to ask ourselves, 'Should we be in that business?'" he said. "I think we're at that point."

State government already is expected to spend more than $1.1 billion this fiscal year to deliver the majority of its social services through contracts with community-based, private, nonprofit social service agencies.

But Connecticut still relies heavily on state employees in some areas, including services to the mentally ill and those with developmental disabilities.

Besides asking the private sector to take a larger role in these areas, state government should invest more in community-based programs that help the elderly stay longer at home - at out of nursing homes - through assisted living programs, the lieutenant governor said.

Nearly 7 percent of the entire state budget, about $1.3 billion this fiscal year, will be spent on one-half of 1 percent of the population, or about 17,300 elderly patients whose nursing home care is covered through the Medicaid program. Fedele said he believes state government could save $100 million in the first year, and as much as $500 million annually five or six years down the road, with a dramatic new commitment to home care.

But advocates for the elderly say home care often is mistaken as an alternative to nursing home care, when - in most cases - it only defers admission. It has value, but only enough to lessen inevitable increases Connecticut and other states face over the next two decades as more of the Baby Boomer generation retires.

A study released in March by the Connecticut Regional Institute for the 21st Century - alliance of public, private and institutional leaders - echoed that position. That report projected that a dramatic shift toward non-institutional care would save $900 million between now and 2025. But that would offset only about one-quarter of the $3.4 billion increase in annual costs Connecticut faces between now and then.

Fedele said he believes the private sector also can help state government chop into a Correction Department budget that topped $650 million this fiscal year by rehabilitating more non-violent offenders in community settings rather than in prison.

That has been a common assertion among many gubernatorial candidates.

But while Connecticut's inmate population has receded from the record mark of nearly 20,000 two years ago, research from criminal justice planners in the Rell administration says the number of prisoners the state must house, feed, guard and care for will remain relatively stable over the next two years.

"Without major changes in existing sentencing trends and guidelines, prison admits and the mean-length-of-stay of inmates should remain relatively constant," the state Office of Policy and Management's Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division wrote in its 2010 inmate population forecast.

Rep. John Geragosian, D-New Britain, co-chairman of the legislature's Appropriations Committee, said that while Fedele isn't alone in decrying tax hikes as part of an overall solution, that approach simply isn't realistic.

"I don't think it's possible and I think it's irresponsible," Geragosian said. "Mike Fedele knows better than all of the other candidates out there what the options are."

Geragosian and his committee attempted in March 2009 to identify nearly $1.4 billion in potential annual budget cuts. That exercise was launched after lawmakers reacted angrily to a new, two-year budget proposal from Rell that would have been more than $2.7 billion out of balance based on nonpartisan legislative analysts' estimates.

The committee's report would have closed six community colleges, two regional campuses for the University of Connecticut and two prisons. It also would have chopped between 10 and 20 percent in payments to cities and towns, nursing homes and social service agencies and cut funding for hospitals, child welfare programs, and mental health treatment facilities.

Geragosian said the report, which wasn't recommended by his committee, would have been rejected by the legislature, and if Fedele tried to impose deep cuts on the poor and disabled, he would face similar opposition.

No legislature and governor effectively have cut even $1 billion from the annual projected cost of maintaining current programs.

Legislators pointed with pride in the fall of 2009 to the $18.64 billion budget they adopted after an eight-month battle with Rell - a package that cut $1.15 billion off the current services projection for the General Fund.

But that plan also hinged on state government setting new records in achieving mid-year savings, and it ultimately spent $190 million more than the $18.64 billion bottom line, effectively pushing the net reduction back under $1 billion.

Fedele remained adamant not only he could save more than three times the level ever achieved before, but he could begin reversing state government's use of fuel tax revenue to support non-transportation spending.

In a report issued earlier this year, the Transportation Department projected a $926.4 million gap between the cost of planned highway, bridge and transit projects for the next five years, and the level of anticipated funding available.

But nearly 60 percent of the roughly $1.5 billion state government has collected from the wholesale fuel tax since the 2005-06 fiscal year has been spent outside of the Special Transportation Fund, according to budget records.

The legislature's nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis projected in a May that the fund - a $1.1 billion component within an overall state budget - would fall more than $40 million into deficit by the 2011-12 fiscal year.

"You need fiscal discipline," Fedele said, adding that while the siphoning of fuel revenues for non-transportation purposes wouldn't end immediately, state government could begin to move in the other direction. "The first thing we have to do is stop raiding it. We have to keep our hands off of it."

Fedele pledged to be a more active governor than Rell was in terms of fighting for more federal transportation aid in Washington, D.C.

But Donald J. Shubert, spokesman for Keep CT Moving, a transportation advocacy coalition comprised of labor and business groups, said that while a strong Connecticut voice on Capitol Hill would help, it would be a mistake to count on major federal funding for the next two years.

"All signals are Congress is not going to pass a major authorization bill for about 25 months," he said, adding that new projects centered on mass transit and supporting urban development stand the best chance of winning federal assistance.

Fedele said he is comfortable with the state's current income tax system, which taxes most income at 5 percent, though it levies a 6.5 percent rate on earnings above $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for couples. A personal exemption and a 3 percent rate levied on the first $10,000 each individual earns also ensure most households with incomes below $35,000 pay little or no income taxes.

"Is it balanced? Is it fair? Yes," he said, disagreeing with those who argue it is not progressive enough and that it overburdens middle-income households.

The lieutenant governor said he is open to tax reform when it comes to the nearly $5.3 billion in credits, exemptions and other breaks Connecticut has on the books covering its entire tax network.

Though Fedele insisted he isn't looking to raise new revenue, if a tax break isn't creating or preserving new jobs, or serving another vital government purpose, it could be eliminated and the revenue used to offer a new one that does. "Anything we do has to provide a return on our investment," he said.

Further complicating Fedele's task, the lieutenant governor said he also wouldn't use another tool his current boss has relied on: the state's credit card.

Rell and the legislature authorized nearly $990 million in bonding, to be paid off largely through a surcharge on utility bills, to help balance this year's budget. That borrowing to cover ongoing expenses was one of the factors cited last month when a major Wall Street credit rating house lowered Connecticut's bond rating.

"We've done too much borrowing in this state," Fedele said. "In my administration, discipline is the operative word."

Lamont budget plan lacks certainty on major pieces of the puzzle
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
July 12, 2010

The biggest danger posed by the massive state budget deficit looming just 12 months away, according to Ned Lamont, is the uncertainty.

Fear over what's to come paralyzes businesses, municipal governments, and even households.

Facing the budget: Fifth in a series.

But when it comes to some of the largest pieces of the budget puzzle - particularly income taxes and public-sector wages and benefits - the Democratic gubernatorial contender lacks the very certainty he says Connecticut's economy craves.

Lamont prefers to focus his budget strategy on pledges of achieving efficiencies: lowering the cost of delivering services rather than cutting programs; offering incentives rather than pressing for concessions to move state employees into leaner health insurance plans; and finding ways to acquire health care services at a cheaper price rather than trimming social service programs.

But can Lamont eliminate what effectively represents the largest deficit in state history without addressing its largest source of revenue, or by - according to his critics - nibbling at rather than cutting into its largest expenditure?

"Anything business hates is uncertainty, and this is a state that has been, you know, a big guessing game for a long time." Lamont said. "The business guys that I deal with sometimes ... are less anxious about exactly the mix of spending or taxes. 'Just solve it so I know what the state's going to look like a year from now so I can plan accordingly.'"

So will tax hikes be part of that mix if Lamont is elected?

"I don't think we've earned the right to raise anybody's taxes," he said, taking care not to make any pledge against tax hikes. It's just not the time to talk about them, he said, arguing budget savings and cuts must be explored first.

"You don't get any 'read my lips' pledges from me just because I don't quite know - I don't think state government quite knows - what it's going to be like" one year from now, Lamont added, referring to former President George H.W. Bush's infamous 1988 campaign pledge not to raise taxes - a pledge that wasn't kept.

What has been a constant, since its enactment in 1991, is the income tax. Specifically, it has been state government's single-largest source of annual revenue, and it's expected to provide $6.7 billion, or 35 percent, of this fiscal year's $19.01 billion overall budget.

And given that the projected shortfall for 2011-12 - the first budget Connecticut's next governor must craft - is nearly $3.4 billion, or just over half the income tax's annual yield, many Democrats including Lamont's chief competitor, former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, have said it has to play a major role in any budget-balancing solution.

Malloy, echoing the sentiments of many Democrats statewide, has said the current income tax system, which taxes most income at 5 percent, but levies a 6.5 percent rate on earnings above $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for couples, unfairly burdens the middle class.

If Lamont is not ready to discuss tax hikes, what are his thoughts on the basic fairness of the system?

Lamont tried a different approach.

"I think you want to have an income tax structure, more broadly speaking a tax structure, that does everything you can to give entrepreneurs an incentive to be here," he said.

But are you comfortable with the income tax system or not?

"I want to have a tax system that reflects our values and I want to have a tax system that promotes economic growth."

But is the tax fundamentally unfair to middle-income households, as Malloy suggests?

"I think that politicians spend the whole time shifting the burden, moving the pieces of pie around and not focusing on a tax strategy, an economic development strategy," Lamont offered.

So does that last answer mean you prefer the existing rate structure?

"I like my solution, which is to do everything we can to grow jobs," particularly among small businesses, he added. "At the end of the day we're going to have a balanced budget and everybody is going to be part of the solution."

Lamont did address one component of the income tax system, saying he supports the personal exemption and 3 percent rate applied to the first $10,000 taxed on each individual - two factors that enable households earning less than $35,000 to pay little or no income taxes. "I think it makes an awful lot of sense," he said, adding these households already struggle just to pay property and sales taxes.

Though Lamont limited his comments on the income tax debate, most Connecticut residents and particularly the candidate's fellow Democrats, have fairly well-defined feelings on that tax, Douglas Schwartz, director of the polling institute at Quinnipiac University, said Friday.

"People do support wealthier residents paying a higher income tax, and there's even more support among Democrats," Schwartz said.

The poll results bear Schwartz out.

A May 9, 2007 poll found 69 percent support "making Connecticut's income tax more graduated, in which those who earn more money would pay at higher rates," compared to 26 percent who were opposed. Among Democrats the split was even more decisive in favor of a more progressive tax, 82 to 13 percent.

That survey was taken two years before the Democrat-controlled legislature and Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell added the 6.5 percent rate on high-earners. But another Quinnipiac poll taken seven weeks before that new rate was added found 71 percent of voters backed a legislative proposal to impose higher tax rates at an even lower level than the benchmark Rell accepted - specifically, $265,000 for individuals and $500,000 for couples. Democrats who were polled favored that plan 90 to 9 percent.

Mansfield political consultant Jonathan Pelto, a former state representative and former strategist for the Connecticut Democratic Party, said Lamont isn't alone in not wanting to discuss tax hikes. But the debate over income tax fairness is one that Democratic primary voters in particular and most Connecticut voters in general want to hear about.

"The income tax is now the fundamental taxing mechanism in Connecticut and it's been around for 19 years," Pelto said, adding it's been many years since voters believed candidates who said it still might be repealed. "There is nobody left except for an ignorant fringe that thinks that."

Pelto, who is assisting neither Lamont nor Malloy in the race, said "it appears Ned is wary of the politically charged atmosphere," deflecting issues "that are part of the mainstream debate."

Lamont did weigh in on a few other areas of tax policy.

The Greenwich cable company owner said he favors what is commonly called the "combined reporting" bill, a controversial measure hailed by advocates as the key to stopping corporate tax cheats from hiding earnings out of state and panned by critics as the surest way to drive businesses out of Connecticut.

The legislation, which died on the Senate calendar last year, would require any company within a corporate group with at least one member subject to Connecticut taxes to determine its corporate tax bill based on the entire group's net income. Legislative fiscal analysts estimated it would raise an extra $88 million annually.

Lamont said backing that change would enable him to eliminate the business entity tax, a $250 annual registration charge paid largely by small and mid-sized businesses.

The Greenwich Democrat also said his administration would look at the more than $5.3 billion worth of exemptions, credits and other tax breaks Connecticut has on its books, including more than $3 billion on its sales tax alone.

Those that aren't helping to create or preserve jobs would be phased out, Lamont said, adding that over the short-term the savings would help close the budget deficit, though eventually it could be used to lower sales tax and other rates.

But given Lamont's unclear plans for the income tax, or for any tax hikes, what can he do to shrink the deficit that's nearly one-fifth of this year's entire budget with spending reductions?

Lamont said asking which agencies or services to cut or eliminate is "the wrong question."

"I think that the politicians going through line item by line item, citing this is a service we need, this is of secondary importance will get us, maybe, 10 percent of the way home," he added. "I think the other 90 percent of the way home is fundamentally reforming how we deliver those services."

About 30 percent of the state budget is tied to state employee salaries and benefits. Roughly another 20 percent involves either municipal aid - much of which supports city and town workers' pay and benefits - or state payments into the teachers' retirement fund.

Lamont acknowledged public-sector wages and benefits, along with health care and other social services, are among Connecticut's biggest expenditures, and "you're not going to deal with a deficit the scale that we're talking about unless you focus on those big pieces of pie."

Like several other gubernatorial candidates, Lamont said he doesn't believe layoffs are unavoidable. Reducing jobs through attrition is likely, but that will be a gradual process spread out over years, he said.

"We have to have some flexibility to move people around, to make sure we're running this as effectively as possible, so we don't simply have early retirements, we don't simply have attrition and we end up with empty desks that aren't getting the job done," Lamont said. "In government, there's more for us to do in a recession. Unemployment, health care, Medicaid, crime - demand is up for our services, so to speak."

Lamont did pledge to follow state unions' suggestions and trim management layers, particularly in the departments of Social Services and Children and Families.

The Greenwich businessman said he believes he is the candidate labor trusts the most, and therefore he is most likely to get concessions on a level that past governors could not. "There's a sense that we're in this together," he said. "I think I have the confidence of these folks."

But Lamont also said he won't seek changes to retirees' benefits. "You keep faith in these people," he said. "You give them confidence that the money is going to be there, because they've earned it."

And Lamont won't try to force existing employees out of health insurance plans that critics have called generous. As an alternative, he said, current workers might be enticed by leaner health plans if they are allowed to keep a portion of the savings.

Future state employees likely could face reduced pay or wages, but given the low attrition rates normally associated with a sluggish economy, state government isn't likely to hire many new workers in the next governor's first year.

Lamont also said he is comfortable with the existing binding arbitration system. The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities tried unsuccessfully to get state legislators this year to suspend the system or to consider other changes to limit raises in new contract awards and help communities control costs.

"I'm comfortable with it," he said. "I don't want to go to war. I want to sit down with people and work this out."

Lamont said he would support town leaders' call for more relief from unfunded state mandates and would find ways to help local governments save funds through regionalization.

But James Finley, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said though town leaders want this type of relief, they also would need Lamont to spare municipal aid from any significant cuts if they won't get state cooperation in controlling municipal wages, particularly in local schools.

"Teachers, with few exceptions, have refused to come to the bargaining table and make concessions," Finley said, adding that just under 70 percent of local budgets, on average, is tied to the schools.

If Lamont's goal is to avoid layoffs for public-sector workers, but also to preserve the existing binding arbitration system, that could take the option of municipal grant cuts as a means of eliminating the deficit, off the table.

One option Rell and the current legislature used to balance the current budget was to borrow nearly $1 billion and pay off that debt over the next eight years primarily with a surcharge of consumers' monthly electric bills.

Lamont said employing borrowing instead of permanent fiscal solutions "is a cheap political game and everybody knows it."

Would the Lamont administration rule out borrowing to balance the next budget?

"I think so," he said. "I hope so. I will certainly try."

Marsh finds independence liberating when trying to solve Connecticut's budget crisis

Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
July 5, 2010

Waging an independent campaign for governor, Tom Marsh doesn't have access to the funding, volunteers and other resources routinely available to major party candidates.

But the Chester first selectman, who abandoned his bid for the GOP nomination three months ago, said there's one advantage to not having to woo party insiders: He can tell voters the truth about the largest budget deficit in state history.

"You have to adhere to the party rhetoric in order to get the attention of the rabid followers, and that's who makes up the town committees," Marsh said in an interview last week. "I don't think the solutions to the state's problems are going to be found in either party's rhetoric, yet that's the system we have here."

For Marsh, running as the candidate of the Independent Party of Connecticut frees him to talk about solutions he's convinced will infuriate hard-core Democrats or Republicans - and in a few cases both.

It means a higher tax burden, including higher rates for the rich and a modest new contribution from the poor, as well a repeal of some of the myriad tax credits and exemptions for special interests.

It also means continued downsizing of state government, and wage freezes at the state and municipal levels, while still preserving local control over the most important decisions.

Most importantly, Marsh said, it requires a governor willing to use the bully pulpit as never before, exposing legislators, unions, special interest groups or any others trying to shield sacred fiscal cows to severe public scrutiny.

"I was getting more and more uncomfortable in presenting my positions to town committees" before mid-April, Marsh said, referring to the time he was still seeking the GOP nomination. That meant repeating the mantra Republican contenders like Tom Foley and Michael Fedele continue to offer: namely that a deficit equal to almost 20 percent of this fiscal year's $19.01 billion budget can be closed without tax hikes.

Similarly frustrating, Marsh said, is the way Democratic contenders Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont speak in general terms of seeking labor concessions, without telling the public sector or the voters what type of savings they realistically hope to achieve as governor.

"Failure is pre-ordained," he said, for "anybody who is arguing for the status quo."

What isn't status quo is the $3.37 billion deficit that nonpartisan legislative analysts say is built into the 2011-12 budget, the first financial plan that Connecticut's next governor must begin crafting shortly after taking office in January.

That projected shortfall is the largest in state history, both in terms of sheer dollars and as a percentage of current expenditures. On paper, the $4 billion deficit that Gov.M. Jodi Rell and the legislature closed last September on the way to adopting last fiscal year's $18.64 billion budget was larger. But just under half of that gap was closed with budget reserve and emergency federal stimulus grants, two resources that will be exhausted before July 2011.

Rell and the 2009 legislature also employed $952 million in new tax and fee revenue to balance this fiscal year's finances.

Unlike most Republicans, Marsh concedes tax hikes would be part of his solution, and unlike candidates from either party, the Chester first selectman, will even estimate how much in new revenue he would need.

Though Marsh said his first goal, like all candidates, is to exhaust efforts to cut spending first before looking at extra taxes, he said a fair guess on his ratio would be 60 percent spending cuts and 40 percent new revenue.

"I think everybody in Connecticut, at least for the short-term, is going to be paying more," he said. "You want to call that a tax increase or revenue restructuring, whatever - there it is."

It's there, Marsh continued "because we've committed ourselves to obligations that whether we like it or not we have to fund."

But the third-party candidate was quick to add that doesn't mean any segments of his budget are beyond spending cuts. Just the opposite: the Marsh administration would take aim at areas that Rell and others have shied away from because they were deemed too politically risky.

About 50 percent of this fiscal year's budget is tied to two areas: state employee salaries and benefits, and municipal grants. There's no way to dramatically reduce spending without affecting state and municipal employees, Marsh said.

"They are going to share, I'll say, a significant amount of the burden" of closing a nearly $3.4 billion deficit. "I think it's probably going to be somewhere shy of $1 billion."

Marsh concedes that can't be done without approaching state employee unions for concessions.

It also can't be done without calling upon municipal unions, both general government workers and public school teachers, to make contract concessions. But Marsh doesn't like the position Republicans like Foley and Oz Griebel have taken, offering to support a suspension of binding arbitration, -- not because it wouldn't help towns, but because there's almost no chance of pushing it through a legislature likely to remain under Democratic control.

"We're not going to get rid of binding arbitration and anybody who's coming to the table with that attitude is not going to have any credibility" in labor talks, he said.

The real solution, Marsh said, lies with the governor three steps:

    * Asking the legislature to reduce municipal aid.
    * Instructing town leaders to seek the same concessions from teachers and general government workers that Marsh would seek from state employees.
    * And making a direct appeal to the public to put pressure on anyone who won't cooperate.

"The key to success for any of my ideas is a strong bully pulpit, holding the legislature and anybody who's opposing this publicly accountable," Marsh said.

But former state House Speaker James A. Amann, D-Milford, who was House majority leader in 2003 when Connecticut's last across-the-board income tax hike was enacted, said a strong bully pulpit approach only goes so far. Former Govs. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., who secured adoption of an income tax in 1991, and John G. Rowland, who signed the 2003 increase, both knew how to work with legislative leaders.

"You've got to be able to build a coalition of support and sometimes it just comes down to leadership," said Amann.

Though the former Milford lawmaker voted against the income tax in 1991, he said "you've got to give Weicker credit for having the guts to go forward." Only by first establishing a base of support through negosiations with the Democratic majority was the third-party governor "able then to pick off the other individuals he needed to get the votes for the income tax," Amann said.

And in 2003, Democrats wanted an income tax hike aimed primarily at the wealthy while Republicans opposed any increase. Rowland, a Republican, "still had the credibility" to convince leaders from both parties to keep the tax largely flat, and boost the main rate on nearly all income from 4.5 to 5 percent, Amann said. "People still felt at that time he could put a deal together, and he did," he added.

Though Marsh wouldn't rule out the possibility of layoffs in his administration, he also said he believes many public-sector workers want to make concessions because they know the alternative is dramatic downsizing. "The rank-and-file is not particularly excited about the specter of big layoffs," if there are no givebacks. "And we're not talking about 5 percent. We're talking maybe 15 percent."

"There's public support for the premise that if nobody else is getting a raise - in fact most people (in the private sector) are getting a cut or at best a freeze - that this should be the same for our public employees," he added. "There's going to be a reduction in municipal aid in the coming years. So whether I'm telling you to freeze your wages at the local level or not, you're not going to have the money from the state to continue the status quo."

But one union official who works with both state and municipal bargaining units, said the Chester first selectman should know town budgets already have been stretched thin by a decade that saw state aid, on average, grow at a very modest pace.

"He ought to understand that what municipalities need is more support from Hartford and from Washington, not less," said Matt O'Connor, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Employees Association/Service Employees International Union. The organization represents more than 6,000 city and town hall workers, public works crewmen, engineers, road maintenance workers and school paraprofessionals across Connecticut.

O'Connor predicted any dramatic drop in state aid would spark outrage from overburdened town governments. "You make a bad situation far worse, " he said.

But Marsh isn't looking to tighten costs only on labor.

Though candidates are leery to discuss social service cutbacks, Marsh said that portion of the state budget is too large to spare entire from the fiscal knife. Medicaid-programs alone represent nearly $4 billion in spending this fiscal year, or 21 percent of the total budget.

Those programs where health care or other benefits far exceed those levels provided in other states have to be subject for review, Marsh said, adding the Connecticut also might need to privatize more programs to control costs.

"For me it all comes down to the best value," he said.

Consolidation also is an effective tool to save money, but state government has to look beyond simply merging agencies - an option that sometimes creates more bureaucracy than actual savings, Marsh said.

Rather, he added, the next administration should look to merge or share common functions and services provided by related agencies - particularly those involving social services, education and health care. "There's a lot of opportunity for synergy, consolidation and savings there," Marsh said, regardless of whether two entire agencies end up under one heading when all is done.

But no matter how many consolidations are achieved and labor concessions are granted, the next governor will be trying to reverse two decades of spending that generally has outstripped inflation, Marsh said, adding the budget can't be balanced without new revenues - and every candidate knows it.

When it comes to the income tax, the single-largest revenue source in the state budget at $6.7 billion this year, Marsh is prepared to infuriate politicians across the political spectrum. He wants more from the wealthy and the poor, and doesn't rule out asking the middle-class to chip in extra as well - just not all in the same proportion.

"I do believe with the quality of life Connecticut offers we can be a little more progressive in our taxation," he said. "I don't buy into the premise that if we raise it a little bit we are going to lose all of our affluent tax-paying base." The income tax currently levies a rate of 5 percent on most income, though earnings above $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for couples are taxed at 6.5 percent.

Similarly, because of a small personal exemption and a 3 percent rate charged on the first $10,000 of taxable income, most households earning less than $35,000 pay little or no state income tax. Marsh--like Republican candidate Griebel-- said he would impose a marginal tax that would make a big difference in terms of fairness.

"It has to be a much broader base, which is certainly going to crank up the whole Democratic side" of the legislature, he said, adding that asking low-income families to contribute even $5 per week would help wealthier households contributing far more to feel better. "Everybody has to have some skin in the game."

Another thing that may help residents and businesses grudgingly accept tax hikes, Marsh said, would be the repeal of many of the dozens of credits, exemptions and other tax breaks on the books.

Connecticut has more than $5.3 billion worth of these breaks, including more than $3 billion on its sales tax alone, according to the 2010 Tax Expenditure Report, a biennial assessment prepared by the legislature's nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

Some breaks, such as basic sales tax exemptions on groceries and prescription medications, would be preserved, Marsh said, but many others would go. "We may see some lower rates, but on more items and with more people paying." he said.

Though cities and towns would be asked to help balance the next budget, they also should benefit from any state tax reform, Marsh said. That means that while there would be an overall increase in state taxes, he also would favor carving out new revenue-sharing programs, giving towns a portion of the sales or even income taxes collected in their borders.

That change, coupled with a concerted effort to end many of the unfunded mandates passed onto towns by state government, would help communities plan their own routes toward eventual fiscal stability, he said.

Marsh said he couldn't pledge to leave untouched arguably the most popular tax break on the state's books, an income tax credit worth up to $500 for middle-income households to offset local property taxes.

"We're all in this mess, we've all go to get out of it," he said. "Otherwise you're going to find yourself back in the same cauldron of discontent that is going to have everybody up and screaming and nobody working in the same direction."

Candidates' job claims come up short
Ken Dixon, Staff Writer
Published: 10:28 p.m., Thursday, July 1, 2010

Most of the state's six gubernatorial candidates offer personal experience creating jobs and navigating the marketplace as reasons to become the next governor, especially the millionaire businessmen Tom Foley, Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele.

But while business success has put them into expensive homes in Greenwich and Stamford, their modest corporate offices and job-creation histories don't hint at it.

Their outfits are small and, in the case of Lamont and Fedele, most of their workers are out of state.

Dannel Malloy, the former seven-term Stamford mayor, doesn't take direct credit for the more than 5,000 jobs, most in financial services, which located in Stamford during his tenure.

But he likes to say he created a business-friendly climate to attract them and local business advocates agree.

Foley's NTC Group, a private investment company, once had upwards of 6,000 employees in a Georgia textile complex, when he made $4 million a year in management fees. Then the bottom dropped out of the market for American-made towels and linens.

Foley walked away with tens of millions of dollars as the company went bankrupt in the mid-1990s. Foley still retains an unrelated aircraft maintenance and repair operation based in Greenville, S.C., with dozens of employees in several states.

Foley's Connecticut office, which once occupied a suite on Greenwich's posh East Putnam Avenue, has actually operated out of his home since he became ambassador to Ireland in the last years of President George W. Bush's administration.

Lamont's third-floor office in a glass-and-steel downtown Greenwich building is shared by a pair of lawyers. A reporter's visit there last week found several empty offices on Lamont's side and an abandoned reception desk. There seemed to be only one office occupied on Lamont's side of the suite.

Fedele's national headquarters for his Pinnacle Group, an information-technology firm, occupies the second and third floors of a landmark 1855 Victorian home on Stamford's Richmond Hill, where four employees work.

Last week, a second-floor ceiling was ripped open, exposing rough original beams, following a water-heater malfunction on the third floor.

Since Fedele, Foley and Lamont's companies are privately held, there's not much public information available on them.

Manta, a business-research company, estimates that Foley's 25-year-old firm has two employees and annual sales of about $230,000.

The seven-year-old Lamont Digital Systems has between 20 and 49 employees and between $20 million and $50 million in annual sales. Fedele's Pinnacle Group, which began 17 years ago, has an estimated 99 employees and sales of between $10 million and $20 million, according to Manta.

"I acquired businesses that ultimately ended up employing 6,000 people under my ownership," Foley recently told the editorial board of the Connecticut Post. "I didn't create those jobs, because a lot of those jobs existed when I bought the business."

Foley said his 1985 purchase of the Bibb Corp. in Macon, Ga., was a good buy at the time, but the domestic fabric industry (NTC was also known as National Textile Corp.) quickly changed and the company went bankrupt 11 years later.

"Well, the textile business is a business that I think you have to look at relative performance," Foley said. "Virtually all that business in the last 25 years has moved offshore."

He said running Bibb gave him the management experience needed to run a large organization such as the State of Connecticut, with its 55,000 employees.

Fedele and Lamont said that the vast majority of their employees work outside Connecticut, selling information-technology equipment in Pinnacle's case and wiring college campuses for cable television for Lamont's Digital Systems and related companies.

Lamont said he has about 40 full-time workers, including seven or eight in Connecticut.

"Over the last 25 years it has changed a bit, depending on how many systems we're building," Lamont said recently, estimating that his firm has installed about 200 TV systems, mostly on college campuses, where he discovered a niche in being able to undercut local cable-TV providers.

"We found that college systems were extraordinarily unique," Lamont said. "In the old days, a cable-TV operator looked at a college as if it was just like a residential town, but we had a different model and provide cable service like a utility, so everybody got it with a substantial discount, including foreign languages and distance learning."

Fedele said his historic building with its slate roof and first floor rented out to haircutters is not an unlikely location, since he grew up in the former solidly Italian neighborhood of Stamford's West Side, after his parents emigrated from Italy when he was a small boy.

Now, the section is occupied primarily by residents of Central American and South American descent.

"It's a natural place for a high-tech company," Fedele said in a recent interview. He said that in all, Pinnacle has about 50 employees, most of whom sell services to consolidate computer systems and provide computer security.

"We have people who sit, watching systems and fix them while not going on site," said Fedele, who went to grade school in the neighborhood, but now lives in North Stamford.

"I would say over the years we've had hundreds of employees," Fedele said, adding that Pinnacle has 13 active offices across the country, including Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado.

Malloy, endorsed last month during the statewide Democratic convention, routinely estimates that 5,000 private sector jobs were created during his 14 years managing the city's 1,000 employees.

"The reality is, in new jobs we created more than 5,000 jobs but I always stuck with a conservative number," Malloy said during a recent interview, acknowledging that when the recession hit, Stamford employment totals fell like most places in the state. During his tenure, Malloy cut the city workforce by 107 jobs, more than 8 percent.

"We created an environment attractive for job creation and retention," Malloy said. "I'm not sure that there's another city that built three hotels, consolidated the financial industry and lowered crime during the term of one mayor."

Malloy and Lamont were involved with a campaign-related controversy this week when the Greenwich millionaire's gubernatorial campaign asked that Malloy stop referring in TV commercials to the 5,000 jobs because of the subsequent job losses in the recession. Malloy, who didn't run for re-election last fall, refuses to stop the campaign ad.

Joseph J. McGee, vice president for public policy and programs at the Business Council of Fairfield County, said this week that Malloy's claims are, if anything, understated.

He said that while UBS' interest in the city began under the previous mayor, Malloy closed the deal. Malloy's administration was in place when RBS moved to Stamford.

"He was very involved in making it work," McGee said. "Those two companies alone are 7,000 jobs. That's indisputable."

McGee said that since the recession, Stamford now has a 25-percent vacancy rate in office buildings. "I think Dan worked very well with business," he said. "He reaches out to business."

R. Nelson "Oz" Griebel, a former banker on leave from the MetroHartford Alliance, which represents dozens of towns and cities in the north-central region of the state, said he routinely works to bring new companies to the region.

As CEO of BankBoston Connecticut, Griebel estimates that about 1,200 employees worked under him in this state and western Massachusetts. As chief operating officer of the Waterbury-based MacDermid Inc., he had 2,500 employees worldwide, including 500 in Waterbury.

"I don't want to come across and say I had responsibility for 500 people," he said. "It's different than creating a company."

At the MetroHartford Alliance, which Griebel has led since 2001, there are two dozen employees. "What the alliance does is the recruiting of companies to stay here, so we interface at the Capitol and with municipalities on a lot of policy-oriented things," Griebel said recently.

Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh, who's running an independent petition campaign to get on the November statewide ballot, has experienced ups and downs with the cleaning company he owns, but says as town leader he has brought dozens of new jobs to his town on the west bank of the Connecticut River.

His commercial cleaning company reached a high of 17, mostly part-time employees, plus a management staff of three with benefits.

As town leader, Marsh says he's proud that the town no longer has a reputation for being unfriendly to business.

"Downtown's vibrant and has a 100-percent occupancy rate," Marsh said this week, adding that recent activity in a nearby industrial park include two new entities, although others lost jobs.

Gubernatorial contenders spar on jobs, roads, taxes

Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
June 30, 2010

Let it not be said that Connecticut Democrats and Republicans can't agree on anything.  It took about five minutes for the three Republicans and two Democrats running for governor to agree during Tuesday's debate that Connecticut is a poor place in which to do business.  And about the only thing harder than trying to grow a business in the state, they further agreed, was trying to drive in it.

What the five major party candidates who squared off at the Stamford Plaza Hotel couldn't find consensus on was the role tax increases should play in resolving the largest budget deficit in state history.

Tom Foley and Michael Fedele insisted they can close the $3.4 billion gap built into 2011-12 -- a shortfall equal to nearly 20 percent of the current budget -- without any tax hikes. Dan Malloy disagreed. Oz Griebel wouldn't rule them out.  And then there was Ned Lamont, who focused more on his pledge to remain independent of party politics -- despite his Democratic affiliation -- than on declaring his position on tax issues.

"It's an anti-private sector, anti-business, anti-jobs attitude in this state," said Griebel, who is on leave from his post as president of the Greater Hartford Metro Alliance. He said state government spending and taxes, combined with inadequate investment in transportation, job training and higher education, has left Connecticut unprepared to compete with other states for business.

Engaged in a three-way primary battle with Foley and Fedele for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Griebel added that Connecticut has to be prepared to upgrade its transportation system now, and without much help from a federal government plagued with its own budget problems. "If Connecticut is serious," he said, "we are going to have to bear more of the cost."

"Investing in transportation infrastructure is critical toward keeping the private sector fully engaged and getting people back to work," he said.

"I talk on the road about Connecticut having spent too much and invested too little," said Foley, a Greenwich businessman who has never held elected office. He said state government has "repeatedly raided" fuel tax revenues to prop-up non-transportation programs. "One of the reasons this has been permitted is we have not been working toward a long-term economic plan. Without it, it's hard to make choices," he said.

One of two home-towners at Tuesday's debate, Malloy, who was mayor of Stamford for 14 years, said Connecticut has to assess its state and local tax policies against those in neighboring states, particularly New York, if it hopes to win back some of the jobs and businesses it has lost over the past two decades.

"We need to make sure we're not shooting ourselves in our own toes in terms of job production," said Malloy, who also has said the wealthy and larger corporations should bear a greater share of any new tax burdens as opposed to middle-income families and small businesses. Malloy and Lamont face off in the Aug. 10 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Connecticut also must end its practice of borrowing to close general fund deficits, Malloy said, adding it is using up too much of the state's credit and leaving too little borrowing capacity for financing that helps the economy.

"One of the problems is that we go to Wall Street to borrow money for operating expenses," the former mayor said, adding that research shows 22,000 new construction jobs can be created for every $1 billion spent on transportation and other capital projects.

Fedele, a former state representative from Stamford who has been lieutenant governor under retiring Gov. M. Jodi Rell since 2006, placed the blame for state government's fiscal woes on the Democrat-controlled legislature.  Though all of the candidates insisted tax hikes should be kept to a minimum, Fedele disagreed with Malloy's assertion that they have to be part of the solution.

"Let us not stand here and tell you that these challenges are going to be fixed overnight," he said, adding that unless the next governor forces the legislature to dramatically cut spending before taxes are debated, real change will not occur. "The more (revenue) we give them, the more they spend," he said. "There are the right opportunities to do things before we look at taxes."

Lamont, a cable television executive from Greenwich, said his administration's economic development policies would focus on small- and mid-sized businesses, adding that if each business in Connecticut added one or two new employees, "It would dramatically change the economy." And though he didn't offer many thoughts about tax hikes, he did say that "I don't want to do anything in this budget that hurts job creation."

The Democratic frontrunner according to a late May poll from Quinnipiac University, Lamont continued a theme he launched in a television ad this past weekend, comparing himself to Lowell P. Weicker Jr., Connecticut's former third-party governor who led the state through a recession in the early 1990s.

Lamont said he is "not afraid to shake things up, not afraid to take on the Democrats and the Republicans." And though he talked about the need to "fundamentally reform" how state health care programs are purchased and delivered, he didn't address the single-largest factor that impacts costs -- the level of health benefits provided to public employees and to low- and middle-income families.

Foley was quick to point out that Weicker pledged in the 1990 gubernatorial campaign not to seek a state income tax in his first term, and then proposed one two months after taking office -- and signed it into law in August 1991.

"I can promise you in a Foley administration, what you hear from me now, you will get," he said. "We can solve this budget deficit without any new taxes."

Malloy outlines education plans--but where's the money?
Robert A. Frahm, CT MIRROR
June 29, 2010

If Dan Malloy is to win support for his ambitious plan to revitalize Connecticut's education system, he will have to persuade some doubters.

The Democratic candidate for governor outlined ideas such as expanding preschool classes, promoting innovation and increasing college graduation rates, but the 15-page education plan released Monday is likely to face steep challenges.

The biggest challenge is how to pay for it.

Many educators remain fearful that the state budget crisis and the end of federal stimulus funds will mean more layoffs, larger class sizes and additional school closings, but Malloy pledged to work to stabilize school budgets.

"I remain committed to building a different way, a fairer way of supporting education in the state of Connecticut," Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford, said at a press conference in Hartford.

Alongside his running mate, state Comptroller Nancy Wyman, Malloy talked about restoring stability in education funding by finding savings in other parts of the state budget, limiting administrative costs in schools and reforming the property tax system.

One of Malloy's key proposals is to begin raising the level of state funding for schools toward a longstanding goal of 50-50 share of school costs with local districts, but that will be a daunting task as the state projects a $3.4 billion deficit by 2012. Last year, the state covered about 42 percent of school costs while local districts paid more than 52 percent, with the remainder coming from other sources.

Lawmakers avoided decreasing state aid to local schools this year by using about $270 million in federal stimulus money to plug a hole in the state's main education grant, but those funds are expected to dry up in 2011.

Officials say the state share for the 2009-10 school year has not yet been calculated but is expected to slip lower.

"I am, quite frankly, embarrassed . . . that we've become a state that is even more dependent on property taxes to pay for education," Malloy said. "What we need to do is tackle that issue."

Robert Rader, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, said, "If he can get [the state share] to 50 percent, school districts would be very pleased about that. It would take a considerable amount of money off of local property taxpayers."

But, Rader said, "where are we going to go for money? . . . None of [the candidates] have real answers. I don't see it."

Bringing the state's share of funding to a 50-50 level would require more than $1 billion in additional school spending, something not expected to happen anytime soon.

"I'd love to see us at 50-50," said Sharon Palmer, head of the American Federation of Teachers - Connecticut teachers' union.  "We got close in 1989. It went downhill from there. We've got a long way to go."

"It won't happen overnight," Malloy said later Monday. "It's a sizeable hole we're in. It's going to be tough, and there is a cost in dollars, but the alternative is unacceptable."

As a start, Malloy said he would produce a budget that fills the gap left when federal stimulus money runs out. Stimulus funds accounted for about 14 percent of this year's Education Cost Sharing grant, the state's largest grant to local municipalities.

"We're not going to allow that 14 percent cut," he said.

Malloy called for innovation in schools, including a voluntary testing program that would allow high school juniors to measure their readiness for college level math and English and to design a senior year curriculum to make up for any deficiencies.

"We are graduating far too many students from Connecticut schools who . . . are required to take remedial courses" in college, he said.

Malloy called for stronger connections between high schools and colleges and recommended allowing some community colleges to begin offering four-year degrees.

Malloy also proposed:

    * Expanding preschool programs to make them "available to all children in the state of Connecticut who otherwise could not afford it." When Malloy was mayor of Stamford, the city became the first in Connecticut to offer preschool classes to all four-year-olds, he said. "There is no doubt that this will cost money, but I also believe that . . .  it's perhaps the most cost effective way to lower the achievement gap that exists in the state of Connecticut."
    * Maintaining the state's commitment to college scholarships for needy students in public and private colleges.
    * Creating more opportunities for involving parents in schools, including release time from work for school-related activities.
    * Improving teacher evaluation systems through programs such as one being tried in New Haven, where the teachers' union and school district have agreed to develop a system in which schools will use student progress as a factor in judging teachers.
    * Creating more experimental public charter schools as a means of fostering innovation.
    * Reducing administrative costs in higher education. He said national studies indicate that administrative costs "have been increasing faster than the investment in instruction." He cited the example of Maryland, where educators and state officials gained national attention for a cost-cutting program that began several years ago and helped the University System of Maryland and Morgan State University freeze tuition for four years.

Despite the ambitious education plan, Malloy did not win the endorsement of the Connecticut Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union. The 40,000-member CEA endorsed Ned Lamont, Malloy's opponent in the Democratic primary election Aug. 10.

Nevertheless, Malloy said Monday, "What I believe is, if you showed our plan to most teachers, most administrators . . . they would be supportive of it."

Malloy says it's time for a 'grown up' debate on the state's budget crisis
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
June 28, 2010

Dan Malloy says it's time for the gubernatorial candidates to have a grown-up conversation about the state's budget crisis.

"I'll say what every other politician is saying, that taxes need to be a last resort," Malloy said. "But I think somebody's got to be the big guy in the room, the big boy in the room, and say: 'You know, this is a pretty desperate situation.'"

That means no more pretending a looming deficit equal to about one-fifth of all current spending can be solved solely with spending cuts. The same goes for talking about job growth - an important long-term solution to the crisis - as an immediate savior.

What it does mean, the former Stamford mayor said during an interview last week in his Hartford campaign headquarters, is an unpleasant-but-necessary mix of tax hikes, labor concessions, program cuts - and maybe even more borrowing.

Malloy estimates he could solve about one-third of the crisis by reducing spending from the level needed to maintain current services- a feat which, if achieved, would be the largest reduction in state history.

But Malloy, who is trailing Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont in the Democratic gubernatorial primary race according to one poll, also is wary of drastic cuts in big-ticket items that also are traditional Democratic priorities: public-sector labor, health care and social services.

"We live in an anti-tax society which is bipolar in the sense that it is a pro-service society," he said, quickly adding people would accept a "grown-up discussion" about program cuts and tax hikes if they are part of a larger plan "to rapidly make Connecticut's government more efficient."

Having run one of the state's largest cities for 14 years through 2009, Malloy said he understands the largest deficit in state history is the product of years of poor management decisions, and may not be corrected entirely in one four-year term, let alone a biennial state budget cycle.

Fond of calling the $3.4 billion deficit looming over state finances 12 months from now a "fiscal train wreck," Malloy said the worst part is "the train wreck didn't need to be nearly as bad as it's going to end up being, if people had only told the truth, done the right thing, began the process of realigning our spending commitments with our willingness to tax commitments."

Malloy said "outlandish" budget proposals from Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who is not seeking re-election, and from the legislature's Democratic majority - employing borrowing, using billions of dollars worth of one-time revenue sources to maintain ongoing spending, and deferring employee pension payments - all pushed their fiscal problems, plus hundreds of millions of dollars in interest, into the next term.

Reversing that trend will require a heavy dose of reality, something other candidates are slow to embrace, the former mayor said. For example, he called GOP gubernatorial contender Tom Foley's statement that regaining the 100,000 jobs lost in the last recession would provide an extra $1.5 billion in added revenues "outrageous," saying Connecticut would be lucky to regain one-quarter of those jobs before the next governor must deal with the deficit.

Since taxes are likely to enter the equation, Malloy does offer a few hints as to where he would look.

"You can't look at income taxes in the state of Connecticut without recognizing that the middle class pays a substantially higher percentage of their total earnings to state and local government than do the wealthy."

A 2008 study by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy found the top 1 percent of Connecticut households, those earning more than $1.36 million, pay about 4.9 percent of their annual earnings to state income and sales and municipal property taxes after federal income tax deductions are taken into account. By comparison, households earning between $75,000 and $302,000 pay between 8.5 and 9.6 percent.

But in terms of total taxes paid, about half of the state's roughly $6.7 billion in annual income tax receipts comes from households that earn more than $500,000. And though most income is taxed at 5 percent, Connecticut did add a new 6.5 percent rate in 2009 for earnings above $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for couples.

Malloy said he begins with the presumption that the system still favors the wealthy, but added it's important that any increases be tempered to ensure Connecticut remains competitive with key three neighboring states: New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. The top rate rates in those states range from 8.97 percent to 12 percent. New York City also levies an income tax rate as high as 3.6 percent.

But even if Connecticut households' income tax payments grew by 50 percent, that wouldn't solve more than half of the state's budget crisis, and likely would push the top income tax rates close to or beyond those in New York and New Jersey.

Malloy said the state's largest businesses also could be asked to contribute more.

He pointed to a 2008 study by Ernst & Young, one of the four largest professional auditing firms in the world, that concluded Connecticut has one of the most favorable business tax climates in the nation, when state and local taxes levied are weighed as a percentage of gross state product.

"Does that give us some room" to consider business tax increases? Malloy said. "My presumption is it does." But he was quick to add that while tax hikes on larger corporations would be considered, those on small businesses would be avoided at all costs.

But Connecticut Business and Industry Association Senior Vice President Joseph F. Brennan challenged Malloy's assessment of the business climate, saying the Ernst and Young study weighs taxes against productivity, but doesn't adequately assess the high cost outside of taxes that Connecticut businesses face.

"We have to be productive here because we're a very high-cost state," Brennan said.

Further complicating matters, the corporation tax represents less than 4 percent of the entire state revenue stream--a projected $663 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Malloy said he also plans to revisit the more than $5.3 billion worth of exemptions, credits and other tax breaks on the state's books, including more than $3 billion on its sales tax alone.

Maybe Connecticut still needs to exempt winter boat storage from the sales tax, Malloy said as an example, but maybe the break for boat repairs could go. The litmus test for many of the tax breaks not tied to basic needs, such as the sales tax exemption for groceries, is whether they protect or create new jobs, he said.

Despite the fiscal crisis, Malloy said he also hopes to reform the state's tax system, mitigating the need for municipal property taxes to some extent by allowing cities and towns to share in a portion of state taxes, possibly sales, hotel or even utility. The latter, Malloy added, could be particularly helpful because it would reward regions that are Connecticut's employment centers, since businesses typically use more energy than residences, and pay more in utility taxes.

Malloy didn't rule out borrowing to balance his first budget, though he said he hoped to avoid it. He criticized Rell and the legislature for borrowing nearly $1 billion to balance the 2010-11 budget. "I can't take anything off the table," he said. "I won't take anything off the table."

Tax expenditures and regional tax-sharing aside, Malloy's positions on the income and corporate tax structure are strongly aligned with those espoused in recent years both by the Democratic majority in the state legislature and by state employee unions.

A late May poll from Quinnipiac University found Lamont leading Malloy 41 percent to 27 percent, though 30 percent of Connecticut's Democrats remain undecided.

Republican State Chairman Christopher Healy said Malloy's reliance on the standard Connecticut Democratic Party playbook might help in a primary, but would come back to haunt Malloy in the general election.

"He is trying to say, 'Well if we just better manage the bureaucracy, if we consolidate it and weed out these duplicative functions, and if the national buoyancy of the economy comes back, we'll be fine,'" Healy said.

But the GOP chairman said voters and businesses don't want tax hikes to preserve a government structure they believe to be bloated.  Malloy insists there definitely will be cuts in his administration, though he also concedes he wants to protect some of the largest segments of the state budget.

"It is not my intention to balance the budgets on the backs of those who are least among us," he said.

And though he promises to shield no group entirely from cuts, Malloy has pledged to treat the state's nursing homes, and its private, nonprofit social service network, as two of his top priorities, 
Nursing home care is about one-third of a $3.9 billion state Medicaid budget that also funds health insurance for poor families and for single adults without children on state welfare. Medicaid-funded programs and nonprofit social services together represent more than $5 billion, or about one-quarter of the entire, $19.01 billion state budget for 2010-11.

The former mayor has said he plans to ask state employees to consider another round of concessions.  State workers' salaries and benefits represent about 30 percent of the budget. Municipal grants, which largely support personnel costs for cities and towns represent another 20 percent.

But Malloy said that while he is prepared to consider most proposals, he largely is comfortable with the binding arbitration system, and would oppose any suspension of it. And while he said he favors more accountability in state government, he hasn't developed a position on the state legislature's practice of effectively approving state employee raises without voting on them. Current law requires the legislature to vote only if it wants to reject an arbitration award for workers, while those awards can be approved simply by taking no action.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities called for a suspension of binding arbitration says it's time forthis year to help control municipal labor costs, particularly in the school systems.

CCM Executive Director James Finley said the coalition still supports a suspension, and other long-term changes to arbitration rules, including prohibiting arbiters from counting a town's emergency reserves as part of its ability to pay raises.

"We just want to require arbitrators to have a better sense of what 'ability to pay,' from the municipal perspective, means," Finley said, adding that without more flexibility, public schools likely will be forced to press for greater concessions than they have received in the past - or order more layoffs. Local school boards "don't want to lose the less-experienced-but-more-energetic teachers. But when it comes to concessions or layoffs, the unions throw them under the bus."

Malloy said his approach will be a departure from the practice of recent Republican governors in that he will work in cooperation with labor leaders, employing some of their suggestions for reducing costs, such as reducing a "top heavy" administration in most state agencies.

"You have departments where there's a commissioner and then a deputy commissioner and then there's a director and then there's somebody else," he said.

The Department of Economic and Community Development and two-quasi-public state development agencies likely could be merged into one entity, he added.

The concession deal Rell negotiated with labor in 2009 depended in part on deferring pension fund payments that only exacerbated the state's budget crisis, Malloy said, adding both the governor and labor have made mistakes over the past year. The difference under his administration, he said, would be that labor would respond to a leader willing to make an honest assessment of the solutions needed to fix state government.

"I believe," Malloy added, "when presented with real leadership the people of Connecticut will respond."

Oz Griebel Is Hungry To Be Governor:  Lagging In Polls, But Still Fighting
July 29, 2010

Oz Griebel is hungry.

And he says Connecticut needs to be hungry, too, in tough economic times if it is to resurrect its sluggish economy and close a gaping state budget deficit that is projected at more than $3 billion in fiscal 2012.

If the state does not have a hungry governor, he says, then there are 49 states that are prepared to eat Connecticut's lunch.

R. Nelson "Oz" Griebel, 61, is running for governor because he wants to change what he bluntly describes as "an anti-business, anti-private sector attitude'' that has taken over the state and the legislature.

"I don't see anybody who has thrown their hat into the ring — which is why I did — who is willing to change the attitude toward the private sector or to take the steps necessary to get ourselves on fiscal stability,'' Griebel said. "The two things are linked.''

Griebel has taken a leave of absence as the CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance, the regional chamber of commerce that pushes for economic development. Having never held public office, Griebel is running as an "outsider'' — even though he has held high-profile positions as chairman of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, the Bushnell Center For The Performing Arts, Riverfront Recapture, and the state's Transportation Strategy Board. In a recent debate, Republican front-runner Tom Foley of Greenwich called Griebel a member of "the Hartford establishment,'' but Griebel said he has never viewed himself that way.

Griebel lacks name recognition among the general public and has fallen far behind in the Quinnipiac University Poll. He dropped to as low as 2 percent in a poll in June and then 7 percent in the latest poll. He placed third at the Republican state convention —behind Foley and Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele of Stamford — just surpassing the minimum 15 percent threshold of delegates to qualify for the Aug. 10 primary.

Griebel, whose campaign has less money than his two rivals', has been unable to launch an aggressive TV advertising campaign, thus keeping his name recognition at a low level statewide.

Tolls, Pensions, Vouchers

Following his campaign motto to think big, talk straight and take decisive action, Griebel does not shy away from controversial topics.

Unlike most candidates, Griebel says the state should consider reinstalling tolls on Connecticut highways — but only if the money can be guaranteed to be earmarked for transportation improvements. In addition, he did not receive any endorsements from the state employee unions after he said the state should consider ending lucrative pensions for new state employees and instead install a 401(k)-style plan that is common in the private sector.

Regarding improvements in education, Griebel says he would "look very seriously at a voucher system'' that would provide scholarships to allow children in failing public schools to enroll in private schools.

He also speaks strongly against using public money for political campaigns, despite the widespread use of the campaign finance system by both Democrats and Republicans in legislative races.

He says individual package stores and supermarkets should have the authority to decide whether to sell alcohol on Sundays, rather than having the legislature continue the state-imposed ban that currently prohibits the sales.

Care Of The 'Goose'

Griebel blames the Democratic-controlled legislature for helping to create the state's anti-business attitude with bills such as one that would make Connecticut the first state in the nation to force employers to provide paid sick days to their workers. The bill has failed several times, and it was dropped this year without a vote in either the House of Representatives or Senate.

"If the private sector and the business sector is the golden goose that creates the jobs and the tax revenue that allows us to do what we want,'' Griebel says, "the legislature, generally, is focused more on how you eat the eggs than how you take care of the health of the goose.''

When asked how he could change attitudes in the Democratic legislature when a highly popular, moderate governor — Republican M. Jodi Rell — could not, Griebel said he's ready to deliver on a new attitude.

"I think, first and foremost, you almost put the legislature off to the side and say, 'I am the chief executive of this state, and this is the kind of attitude that we're bringing to the table to the private sector,' '' Griebel said. "Leadership does start at the top. Attitudinal changes start at the top. You have to go over the heads of legislators and go to the electorate. … The governor has to be campaigning all the time to keep the electorate fully engaged in this process. We didn't get into this mess in two years. We're not going to get out of it in two years.''

Said Griebel, "If you're not talking to the Louis Cheneverts and the three-person machine shop down in Naugatuck to understand what their needs are, those jobs are ultimately going to go away.'' Chenevert is chairman of Hartford-based United Technologies Corp.

Pitcher To CEO

Born in New Jersey, Griebel moved often in his early years as his father received various business promotions and eventually became president of the corporation that sold Ballantine beer.

A longtime coach and sports fan, Griebel was an accomplished pitcher who made it as far as the minor leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals. For the previous four years, he had played on the Dartmouth College baseball team, including the 1970 squad that made it to the College World Series.

An aspiring baseball coach at the college level, Griebel became an English teacher and a coach at Worcester (Mass.) Academy before attending law school and starting on a financial career at Bank of Boston. He arrived in Hartford and in his new hometown of Simsbury 18 years ago when he was named CEO and president of BankBoston Connecticut. Griebel soon became a respected figure in the Hartford business community, being named "Business Person of the Year'' by The Courant in 1995. He was among the key players who brought a 1996 presidential debate to The Bushnell.

At different times, he has been chairman of the board of directors at CBIA, Riverfront Recapture, and Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford.

Former U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson, who served in Congress for more than 20 years, threw her support early to Griebel, immediately lending credibility among Republican insiders. She delivered one of two nominating speeches for Griebel at this year's convention.

"He is a natural, forceful leader,'' Johnson said. "I know leadership when I see it. … Oz has earned his credibility. He is a skilled negotiator. He has the fire in his belly. Let's put him at the head of Connecticut's government.''

Senate Republican leader John McKinney, another key supporter, said, "This is a defining moment for our state. Oz Griebel will stand up to the Democrats and say, 'You won't raise taxes, and I won't let you do it.' … Oz Griebel is the Democrats' worst nightmare.''

Four of the five major-party gubernatorial candidates — Foley, Fedele, Griebel and Democrat Ned Lamont — have all touted their experience as business leaders in the private sector. But Griebel does not want to be pigeonholed.

"My view is I'm a leader, not a business guy,'' Griebel said. "I've demonstrated I'm a leader in multiple capacities. … As a result of all these jobs, I've had to work in the public arena.''

While being a leader, Griebel knows the state budget deficit can be reduced only through a collaborative effort.

"No one person is going to solve this problem,'' Griebel said. "I know what my limitations are. The governor is not a chief executive the same way he is in business. You can't tell people to do X or you're fired. That's not the system we have. You have to work with the legislature, and you've got to work with broad constituency groups.

"I believe the relationships that I've grown over 18 years are going to be critical to the way this state is governed successfully in the four years ahead. And that's the way I distinguish myself.''

Griebel's first budget: Dip into 'big buckets'
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
June 21, 2010

Though neither Gov. M. Jodi Rell nor the legislature did much to reduce the record-setting deficit bearing down on Connecticut 12 months from now, there's no great mystery about how to solve it, according to Oz Griebel.

Griebel, who is fighting for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in the Aug 10 primary, says Medicaid-funded health care programs and public employee wages and benefits are obvious choices for cuts -- not necessarily because they are the most deserving targets, but rather because they represent anywhere from half to two-thirds of all state spending.

The Simsbury resident and former president of the Greater Hartford Metro Alliance, on leave for his campaign, said his first budget also would feature some hope for the future with modest investments in key neglected areas like transportation and economic development. But at the top of the agenda would be unpleasant choices.

About 30 percent of the $19.01 billion state budget that takes effect on July 1 is dedicated for state employee salaries and benefits. Add about $2.8 billion in grants to cities and towns -- much of which is used to cover municipal labor costs -- and payments  into the statewide teachers' pension fund, and the share of the overall budget tops 50 percent.

With a projected $3.4 billion budget gap for the 2011-12 fiscal year that equals nearly 20 percent of that budget, and Griebel said the budget-balancing math only works if public-sector workers accept a reduction in their standard of living.

If that seems unfair, Griebel is quick to note that private-sector workers statewide have faced that, in the form of wage freezes and cuts, reductions in retirement plan contributions, increased health insurance costs or loss of jobs for the past three years. And the general public is getting tired of waiting for Hartford to correct the imbalance, he said.

"This isn't just an inside baseball game anymore," he said in an interview last week. "There are more people aware of the shift, the dramatic shift, in total compensation for public employees -- federal, state and municipal -- over the public sector."

This public buzz, he added, is not aimed at scape-goating public employees. "I don't think it's just anger," he said. "They're saying, 'Wait a minute. Can we sustain this?'"

Griebel said he's not convinced state government needs to impose any layoffs, though he also insists he won't sign away his right as governor to eliminate jobs, as Rell did as part of a concession deal with unions.

But it will be necessary to ask unionized state workers for concessions, and pressing a legislature expected to remain under Democratic control to suspend or modify binding arbitration rules to help cities and towns better control their own labor costs.

Though Griebel insists layoffs are not a forgone conclusion, he notes that streamlining government, consolidating agencies and trimming staff through attrition is.

Predicting his first budget would offer "a shock to the body politic," Griebel said "It's not like we'll close one DMV office or eliminate three jobs in the Executive Branch. This is going to be dramatic stuff."

That likely will mean privatizing more state services, Griebel said, a move that would put his administration on a collision course with some who argue the private sector plus public dollars often equals corruption.

Matt O'Connor, a spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, said Griebel's philosophy runs opposite of the direction Rell and the legislature took in 2007 when they enacted the so-called "Clean Contracting" statute.

The legislation takes several steps to safeguard hundreds of millions of dollars worth of annual contract awards, including prohibiting outsourcing of "core government functions," and requiring cost-analysis studies before other services are turned over to the private sector.

It was developed largely in response to the contracting-related scandal that drove Rell's predecessor, ex-Gov. John G. Rowland, from office amid an impeachment inquiry. Rowland served 10 months in federal prison after admitting he accepted about $100,000 in gifts from state contractors and from his staff.

"We have a law on the books, a landmark piece of legislation, that helps protect consumers, businesses and taxpayers from waste, fraud and abuse that is often the result of privatization," O'Connor said, predicting both legislators and the public would oppose a return to a system that Rowland exploited. "You need to look at more than just that low bid you may get from a private company for that first year of service.

Griebel said he also hopes to find savings by targeting the nearly $4 billion Medicaid account in the state budget.

Medicaid is a cooperative federal program that provides states with matching funds to assist with various health care programs for low- and low-to-moderate-income individuals. In Connecticut it helps support nursing home care, basic health coverage for  families, and health care offered through the state's welfare program for single adults without children.

Reducing costs here could involve some difficult choices in tightening benefits for low-income families, but Griebel said savings also could be found by investing significantly more state resources on less costly assisted living home care for seniors who otherwise would turn to nursing homes.

Though he calls the $3.4 billion deficit he stands to inherit imposing, Griebel said it appears somewhat less imposing once it's accepted that the shortfall -- and the problems that created it -- will not be reversed in one year, or possibly one term.

Still, several Democratic legislators have criticized the Republican gubernatorial field for refusing to concede that the problem cannot be solved without significant tax hikes.

Unlike his GOP competitors, Greenwich businessman Tom Foley, the endorsed candidate, and Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele of Stamford, Griebel will not rule out proposing tax hikes.

"Trying to find $3.5 billion worth of cuts, that's daunting," he said, adding that if he pledged to close it entirely with cuts, "I don't know if I could look at myself in the mirror."

But Griebel declined to identify which taxes he would be more apt to increase, saying his initial focus would be solely on reducing spending.

"If you raise taxes too high, you are going to drive people out," he said. "The people who have the very most are the very same people who could most leave.

But numbers from the state's tax agency showed the wealthy stayed put and posted record-setting earnings after the last income tax hike.

Department of Revenue Services tax data show adjusted gross incomes for households reporting annual earnings beyond $1 million shot upward by more than 230 percent between 2002 and 2007. Even after 2008, the worst year of the last recession, filers earning more than $1 million were 140 percent ahead of 2002.

The same tax data shows households earning less than $1 million finished 2008 just 21 percent wealthier than they were in 2002 during the last recession.

Griebel said he is comfortable with the current state income tax structure, with one exception.

Most income currently is taxed at 5 percent, though earnings above $500,000 for singles and above $1 million for couples are taxed at 6.5 percent. But it's not income tax rate at the top end of the scale that Griebel finds objectionable.

Rather it's two small exemption programs and the 3 percent rate levied against the first $10,000 to $20,000 earned that combine to ensure nearly all households earning less than $35,000 pay little or no income taxes.

Griebel said if he were even to consider asking more of the rich and of the middle-class, Connecticut's low income families must pay some income tax as well.

"I think when people don't pay taxes, they don't play in the game," he said. "They don't have the same stake in the game that everybody else does. ... I am someone who believes in some progressivity in the income tax. If we're going downstream as well as upstream, I could be convinced there's some validity in that."

State Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, one of the legislature's most vocal advocates for an earned income credit on the state income tax to help working poor families, predicted any tax changes aimed largely or exclusively at the low-income households would face overwhelming opposition.

"We're the only state in the Northeast that doesn't offer an earned income credit, which we know is very significant in helping low-income working families pay for the transportation, clothing, day-care and other necessities they need. It's one of the best things we can do to reduce the poverty gap," he said.

Looney called Griebel's position "short-sighted" and said it would "absolutely exacerbate the problem" of trying to help poor families stay off government assistance.

Griebel also would not pledge to forgo borrowing, though he placed it in the same last-resort-category as tax increases when it came to budget solutions.

Rell and the legislature's decision to balance their last budget with nearly $1 billion in borrowing has been challenged by critics as dancing around a fiscal restriction in Article 28 to the amendments the state Constitution that requires a balanced budget.

State officials argued the revenue bonds they used to support the current budget don't violate that provision, since they would be paid off by a special revenue stream -- a new surcharge on utility bills -- and not from tax dollars received by the General Fund.

But former East Hartford Mayor Susan Kniep, president of the Connecticut Federation of Taxpayer Associations, said if Griebel turns to similar borrowing, he might escape a court battle since most grassroots taxpayer organizations lack the funds to wage one, but he would lose public support.

"Until someone can afford to actually take this to court, and goes beyond the court of public opinion, it probably won't be resolved," she said. "But I think most people think what they have done is not only illegal, it's unethical."

Griebel added there no doubt would be frustration voiced by many groups to any solution to the largest deficit in state history, but unlike current leadership at the Capitol, he won't shrink from making tough choices -- or explaining the reasons behind them to the public.

"This problem we're facing in the state belongs to everybody," he said. "I think that means there has to be an ongoing campaign of communication with the public. The bully pulpit has to be used. I think you have to be candid with the people."

Foley: He'll balance budget without tax hikes

Keith M. Phaneuf
June 14, 2010

Tom Foley insists he can eliminate what effectively amounts to the largest state budget deficit in Connecticut history without raising taxes.

To get there, he concedes, will require breaking some new political ground, a polite way of describing what others would call long-shots: repealing binding arbitration; getting employee unions to accept concessions for both current and retired workers; and moving huge government programs, such as road maintenance and social services, into the private sector.

And those are the easy parts. Other components of the Greenwich Republican's budget strategy are even more challenging than winning uphill battles with state labor unions or a Democrat-controlled General Assembly.

"I have no illusions about solving this problem with additional revenues," Foley during an interview, referring to the $3.4 billion deficit that nonpartisan legislative analysts estimate the next governor will inherit.

That deficit, built into the 2011-12 fiscal year, equals 18 percent of the current budget and more than half of the annual receipts from the income tax, the state's single-largest revenue source.

On paper, the $4 billion deficit that Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the legislature closed last September on the way to adopting this year's $18.64 billion budget was larger. But just under half of that gap was closed with budget reserve and emergency federal stimulus grants, two resources that will be exhausted before July 2011.

And Rell and the 2009 legislature also employed $952 million in new tax and fee revenue to balance this fiscal year's finances.

Foley stopped just short of pledging to veto any tax hike, but said "if the motive for raising taxes is that we need more revenues to solve this budget deficit, I'm going to say 'no.'"

He left himself a little political wiggle room, saying that increases included in a larger tax reform package - such as boosting one levy while lowering another - might be acceptable. "If you say 'absolutely no new taxes,' that might require that you not sign legislation that overall made sense," he said.

So how does Foley close a $3.4 billion gap equal to about three times the cuts to program levels ordered this year by Rell and the legislature?

One of the biggest sources the GOP gubernatorial frontrunner is counting on is the economy. Foley estimates that once Connecticut regains the 100,000 jobs it lost in the last recession, it can expect another $1.5 billion in new revenue.

But there are two big problems with that.

For one thing, state fiscal analysts already assumed much of that growth when they issued their last revenue forecast back on April 30. Specifically, they estimated state income tax revenues will jump almost $500 million, or 8.6 percent, in the 2011-12 fiscal year. In other words, state government needs $500 million in income tax growth just for the $3.4 billion deficit forecast not to get any larger.

Further complicating matters, not everyone agrees Connecticut's economy will even reach that benchmark, let alone the number Foley is talking about.

The state has recovered about 6,000 of the 100,000 jobs lost so far, and University of Connecticut economist Fred V. Carstensen, who heads the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, said there's no question about whether the remaining jobs will return in time to bail out Foley's potential first budget. "They won't be," Carstensen said. "I can guarantee it as much as any forecaster can guarantee anything. We won't recover all of those jobs before 2015, and that is optimistic."

Carstensen added that given instability in the global market and a continued sluggish recovery at home, counting on any revenue growth behind the increases legislative analysts already have assumed as part of their $3.4 billion deficit forecast is "extremely problematic."

Revenue growth isn't the only component of Foley's deficit-eradication strategy.

The first candidate to win the Republican State Convention endorsement for governor without previously holding elective office, Foley has amassed great wealth by acquiring and overhauling companies.

"I'm not convinced when I hear the other candidates that they actually believe they can get the job done," said Foley, who said he believes even with revenue growth he must find a minimum of $2 billion in spending cuts to current state services. "I'm not somebody who is bound by the status quo or afraid of... upsetting the applecart a little bit and goring a few sacred cows."

"You're not hearing that from Michael Fedele or Oz Griebel or Ned Lamont or Dan Malloy," Foley added, referring to his major party gubernatorial rivals. Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh, a Republican, also is running for governor as a petitioning candidate.

Foley said he's prepared to look for savings everywhere, regardless of whether it involves big dollars, or whether it attracts political heat.

For example, state government is approved to spend just under $1.9 million total in the fiscal year that begins July 1 on six agencies whose primary responsibility is to advocate for the interests of seniors, women, children or racial or ethnic minority groups. Their combined cost represents roughly 1/100th of 1 percent of the entire $19.01 billion budget, a savings that many legislators have said is too modest to risk the political heat offending voters across the demographic spectrum.

But Foley said he "absolutely" would consider reducing or eliminating funding for any agency not found to perform a vital service. "I personally don't understand why the government should be paying for, essentially, advocacy groups for discrete constituencies," he said, adding he doesn't believe the huge backlash some officials believe this would generate is likely to occur. "Career politicians are over-sensitized to the impact of their actions on voters."

Still,  there are only so many coins Foley can find in state government's couch cushions.

A March analysis prepared by a coalition of public sector labor unions and social service advocacy groups, and overseen by former state budget director William J. Cibes Jr. - a Democrat who served under Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. from 1991 through 1994 - projected no more than $1 billion likely could be cut without eliminating basic education, public safety, health care and road maintenance services.

Out of nearly 70 state agencies and departments in total, abolishing the 53 with the smallest budgets would save $451 million out of this fiscal year's total budget.

Not dismayed, Foley said he's prepared to go after the big agencies as well.

The Department of Transportation is one of the largest and most expensive, spending more than $490 million this fiscal year. An even larger one, the Department of Developmental Services, which spends double that of DOT, also is a target for savings.

The key, Foley said, is to move major tasks performed by state government's roughly 50,000 unionized workers - such as road maintenance and social services - even more into the private sector.

"There are probably big opportunities to save money by outsourcing," he said, acknowledging this would put him on a collision court with both the unions and a legislature that has long been under Democrat control.

Former state Rep. William Dyson, D-New Haven, who retired in 2008 from a 32-year-career in the legislature that included 16 as co-chairman of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee, questioned whether Foley is prepared for how legislators from both parties would react to proposed cuts of that magnitude.

"What he's talking about, that's going to be real hard to do," Dyson said, adding it could take years to gradually reduce government as Foley has proposed. "It's going to cause an uproar. If they hear about things they haven't thought about before, the response is going to be: 'No, no, no, I can't do that.'"

Charging Rell with achieving too little in savings in a 2009 concession deal with labor, Foley also said he wouldn't sign away his right to impose layoffs without major givebacks. "I'll not only preserve it, I'll use it if I don't get the cooperation of the unions that we need," he said.

Foley said that could mean wage and benefit concessions for existing employees and benefit givebacks for retired workers - the latter being new ground in the history of state labor relations.

"The benefit levels for retirees are very generous," he said. "They can be reduced. They can be brought in line with what people have in very generous plans in the private sector without people suffering."

But a spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, Matt O'Connor, said Foley's budget formula - no tax hikes, concessions from workers and retirees, and privatization of state services on a major scale - adds up to a stalemate. "We have to be part of a comprehensive solution where we're not the only answer, the only source of relief," O'Connor said. "There have got to be some revenues and they have to be fair."

Foley was a little less specific when it came to whether Connecticut's income tax is fair.

Union leaders and many Democratic legislators argue the system, which taxes most income at either 5 or 6.5 percent, is overly burdensome on middle-income families.

Does Foley believe the tax should be more graduated, or remain largely flat?

"I don't really have an opinion" on that subject, he said, adding he is more focused on Connecticut keeping its top tax rate well below those in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. "I think we need to look very carefully at making sure whatever our tax policy is, it is not one that drives high income people out of our state," he said. "We need to make sure we remain competitive."

Wyman raises qualifying funds for public financing
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
June 18, 2010

Comptroller Nancy S. Wyman, the endorsed Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, said today she has raised the $75,000 in qualifying funds necessary to obtain $375,000 in public financing for her primary with Mary Glassman.

"I am overwhelmed by the support I have received from people across the state since I announced my candidacy for lieutenant governor," Wyman said. 'This has been a grueling and hectic process, and I am thankful for the enthusiasm that has carried us to this very important goal."

Wyman raised the $75,000 in just five weeks. Her campaign said many of the donations came from donors who had previously contributed to $60,000 to her campaign for re-election as comptroller. Those unexpended funds had to be returned and could not be applied to her new campaign for lieutenant governor.

If her application is approved by the State Elections Enforcement Commission, Wyman will join her running mate, gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy, as the only candidates for statewide office to qualify for public financing under the Citizens' Election Program.

The commission must certify that Wyman has raised the threshold amount in contributions of no more than $100. Malloy had to raise $250,000 to obtain a basic grant of $1.25 million, plus a supplemental grant of nearly $1 million to match spending by his primary challenger, Ned Lamont.

Wyman said she will file her application next week. She could receive her grant as soon as the following week.

Glassman also hopes to qualify for public financing. Lamont has opted out of the voluntary program.

Wall Street Firm Downgrades State
9:09 PM EDT, June 4, 2010

In another sign of the state's fiscal woes, a Wall Street agency downgraded the state's bond rating Friday in reaction to fiscal maneuvers that have temporarily closed huge holes in the state's budget.

The decision by Fitch Ratings follows moves by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the Democratic-controlled state legislature to borrow money for operating expenses and to balance the state budget with "one-shot'' revenues that cannot be used in the future.

Although the state has borrowed money for operating expenses in past fiscal crises, the legislature made the extremely rare move this year of borrowing money even before the fiscal year started. Without the borrowing, the state would have a projected deficit of about $1 billion in the 2011 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Although bond ratings can change when the economy improves, a downgrade can eventually lead to higher borrowing costs for the state.

Fitch is only one of three Wall Street agencies and does not have the final say on the state's fiscal outlook.

But all five major-party candidates for governor complained loudly Friday about the downgrade, saying that it was indicative of a combination of bad decisions and a fear of making tough choices at the state Capitol. The next governor, who will take office in January, will be facing one of the largest deficits in state history — currently projected at more than $3 billion for fiscal 2012.

Plenty of blame was being assigned to both Republicans and Democrats. Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, a fiscally conservative Republican who is running for governor, blamed the Democratic-controlled legislature. Longtime business executive R. Nelson "Oz" Griebel, who is facing Fedele and Tom Foley of Greenwich in the Aug. 10 Republican primary for governor, blamed both the Rell-Fedele administration and the legislature. Some Democrats blamed the Republican governor.

Republicans have complained for more than a year that Democratic legislators have not cut state spending enough, while Democrats have rejected many of Rell's proposed cuts by saying that they would shred the state's social safety net. Fedele described the downgrade as "a wake-up call'' for both legislators and the general public as the state continues to face deficits.

"For too long, the state has failed to take meaningful action to address its growing fiscal crisis,'' Fedele said. "And that is what it is, a crisis. In order to avoid making hard decisions, the Democratically controlled General Assembly has resorted to borrowing and fiscal gimmicks to supposedly close the budget gap. In reality, all they have done is to postpone the day of reckoning while the state's fiscal condition continues to weaken."

Griebel, though, said the move should come as no surprise to those who have been watching the state's fiscal woes.

"This is much more than a wake-up call,'' Griebel said. "This is the proverbial truck being driven off the cliff and headed towards bankruptcy. … What do the Rell-Fedele administration and Democrat-controlled legislature expect?"

'We Knew It Was Coming'

In addition to the varied political views, there was disagreement over the exact effect of the downgrade. In a worst-case scenario, a lower bond rating traditionally means higher interest rates for the state when it borrows money through the sale of bonds.

State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier, a Democrat, said in a statement, "While Fitch's decision is disappointing, we do not anticipate that it will have much impact, if any, on the state's cost of debt given that the state's general obligation bonds still carry three solid 'AA' credit ratings — all with stable outlooks.''

The official action was that Fitch downgraded the state's general obligation bonds from AA+ with a negative outlook to AA with a stable outlook.

The downgrade, Nappier said, now makes the Fitch rating "comparable to the state's credit ratings from the other two credit-rating agencies: Moody's Investors Service rates the state's GO [general obligation] bonds at Aa2 with a stable outlook, and Standard and Poor's rates the state's GO at AA with a stable outlook.''

The Fitch report mentioned several times that Connecticut has the nation's highest per-capita income, and the state's wealth will allow it to pay back the bonds. Nappier said the rating was last changed only two months ago, and the latest rating is earmarked for an upcoming bond sale.

The state treasurer's office had received a heads-up on the rating change more than a week ago, Rell said Friday.

"We knew it was coming,'' Rell said. "There is good news and bad news in this. The bad news, of course, is they lowered it by one point. But the good news is we've gone from a negative rating to a stable rating."

Noting that the economy is getting slightly better, Nappier questioned the downgrade. Although the economy is still not operating at peak capacity, it has improved from the depths of the Wall Street collapse that started with the bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers investment banking firm in September 2008 and the subsequent bailouts of major financial companies.

Despite questioning the rate, Nappier acknowledged that the downgrade is "a veritable caution sign about the perils of relying too heavily on debt to balance the budget.''

Besides complaining about the much-criticized use of borrowing for operating expenses, Fitch also criticized the state's practice of using "one-shot revenues'' to balance the budget in a particular year with no chance of using that money in the future. In addition, the Fitch report mentioned the "structural deficits'' in the future that will be tackled after Rell leaves office and a new governor takes over in January.

Former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, who is battling in the Democratic primary against Greenwich cable TV entrepreneur Ned Lamont, blamed both Republicans and Democrats for the downgrade. He has described the problems at the state Capitol as a "bipartisan train wreck'' that needs to be fixed.

"The issues that Fitch pointed to in making their decision are not cyclical, not primarily the result of the recession, and not revenue-driven,'' Malloy said. "The downgrade is the result of an ongoing, systemic failure to make tough choices and take ownership of our problems. It's the cumulative result of long-term spending increases, underfunded liabilities and borrowing, plus a state government that is top-heavy and too top-down. In other words, it's the result of a lot of bad decisions that were made over a long period of time by both parties, who chose to build structural deficits into our budgets rather than make tough choices.''

Lamont, the former chairman of the council that oversees the pension fund, said: "This downgrade proves that we can't just ride this recession out and hope for better days. Connecticut's budget crisis is the result of decades of gimmick-laden budgets and irresponsible management in Hartford, and all of this has culminated in a downgraded bond rating that will make government more expensive.''

Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield said that the state deserves the poor grade that it received.

"I hope the people of Connecticut, the administration and the legislature see these lowered bond ratings for what they are: failing grades for an irresponsible budget solution that borrows too much, taxes too much and does too little to reduce government spending," McKinney said in a statement.

House Speaker Christopher Donovan, a key player in the state budget talks for the past two years, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The Fitch analysts said the practice of borrowing for operating expenses comes on top of an already high debt burden that the state is carrying. For years, Connecticut has ranked at or near the top of all 50 states for the highest bonded indebtedness.

"The downgrade reflects the state's reduced financial flexibility,'' the report said, "illustrated by its reliance on sizable debt issuances during the current biennium to close operating gaps in the context of already high liabilities.''

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

"About Town" interviewed the former Congressman earlier this year, when he was the only person seeking to challenge Senator Dodd

Rob Simmons: 'I am running' -
Senate campaign acknowledged at debate
New London DAY
By SUSAN HAIGH AP Political Writer
Article published Jul 28, 2010

Hartford - Rob Simmons acknowledged Tuesday that he is actively campaigning for the GOP nomination in the Connecticut Senate race, putting an end to questions about whether he's truly back in the hunt.

Simmons said the words "I am running for the United States Senate" during opening remarks at a debate held at Trinity College in Hartford.

Asked about the remark afterward, the former Republican congressman smiled and said, "I said that. I guess I did."

Simmons once led the race to fill the seat now held by U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, according to public opinion polls. But after Dodd announced plans to retire, former wrestling executive Linda McMahon's campaign began to generate momentum and McMahon, who has pledged to spend as much as $50 million of her own money on the race, managed to wrest the state Republican endorsement at the May convention from Simmons.

Simmons has since vacillated about whether he's in or out of the race. After announcing he had "curtailed" his campaign and released his staff in May, Simmons last weekend began running a TV advertisement to remind primary voters he's still on the Aug. 10 ballot. Simmons denied he was restarting his campaign and called the ad a public service announcement.

Besides Simmons and McMahon, Fairfield County money manager Peter Schiff is also seeking the party's nomination.

Schiff said he believes it was Simmons' strategy all along to leave his name on the ballot and eventually get back into the race.

"We'll see if it works," he said. "But he had a very well-financed opponent and it's difficult to combat her. I'm in the same predicament."

Even though Simmons' former staff are now working on other campaigns, he said he'll spend the remaining weeks traveling the state. His wife Heidi and daughter Jane are handling his arrangements.

Schiff calls for another summer TV rerun
July 23, 2010 at 3:44 pm by Jonathan Lucas, CT POST

Press release issued by Schiff campaign on Friday:

Schiff Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is
Candidate Makes Plea to Event Sponsors: Help Educate Voters, Replay March Debate!

MILFORD, CT – Expert economist and candidate for the U.S. Senate, Peter Schiff today released the following statement requesting Fox 61 and the Hartford Courant replay the only debate the three candidates on the August 10th ballot participated in:
“If Linda is too afraid to debate Rob and me, then Fox 61 and the Hartford Courant should reply the debate the three of us participated in back in March.
“Voters deserve to hear from all the candidates, and if replaying the debate is the only way that can happen, then those news organizations should give the voters what they deserve. I pledge $10,000 from my campaign to help pay for the airtime to replay the debate.”

McMahon: I'm focusing on the general election
Senatorial candidate speaks at Pomfret luncheon

Norwich Bulletin
Posted Jul 22, 2010 @ 02:11 PM

Pomfret, Conn. —

In her first public appearance in Northeast Connecticut, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon told reporters that the sudden re-entry of challenger Rob Simmons, the former eastern Connecticut Congressman, into the primary race won't affect her campaign much.

Simmons suspended his primary campaign after McMahon defeated him at the  Republican convention in May, but remains on the Aug. 10 primary ballot. His campaign announced Wednesday that he would be running television ads to remind voters that he is still on the ballot.

McMahon told reporters that she hadn’t heard much chatter from the party about Simmons’ re-entry into the race — a power outage in her Greenwich neighborhood caused by Wednesday night’s thunderstorms literally kept her in the dark, she said.

The re-entry of Simmons will not affect her campaign much, she said. While she isn't taking the prmary for granted, she said her focus is down the road.

“I’m focusing on the general election,” McMahon said in response to questions about not attending a debate with fellow GOP senatorial candidate Peter Schiff. “I’m ready to debate Richard Blumenthal.”

McMahon was in the area for a Northeastern Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Harvest Restaurant in Pomfret, where she made her pitch about creating jobs, balancing the budget and running the state much like the business owners gathered there run their businesses and households.

Is Simmons back on the campaign trail for Senate seat?
He says no, but $350,000 TV ad suggests otherwise - Rob Simmons' U.S. Senate candidacy might not be so over after all.
By Ted Mann Day Staff Writer
Article published Jul 22, 2010

The former congressman announced Wednesday that he will begin running a television ad this weekend "in the nature of a public service announcement" that urges primary voters to consider small business, national security and trust when choosing among Simmons, Peter Schiff and Linda McMahon in the Aug. 10 Republican primary.

Since he formally suspended his campaign in May, Simmons has publicly toyed with the notion of resuming his candidacy, but the TV ad would be the boldest move yet toward reviving a campaign and contesting the nomination that now appears to be McMahon's to lose.

"In a way, I think that it's my responsibility to let my Republican friends and neighbors know that I'm still on the ballot and they have a choice," Simmons said Wednesday, in a phone interview from New York.

Simmons said he has kept to his word since his announcement that he would halt his active campaigning in May.

"I scaled it back," he said. "I stopped campaigning; I stopped raising money. But as we come close to the primary, I think it's fair to let people know they have a choice."

Simmons has not hired new staff, a spokesman said, and doesn't plan to resume "proactive campaigning," but he will attend events when he is invited.

The candidate is due to appear on WNPR radio's "Where We Live" on Aug. 3, as part of its "Where We Vote" series, and will appear Tuesday at a debate sponsored by the Federation of Connecticut Taxpayer Organizations at Trinity College in Hartford. Simmons and Schiff will appear, but McMahon will not.

The Simmons ad, which is still being edited, will run on cable and broadcast TV statewide, beginning later this week. A spokesman for Cashman and Katz, the public relations agency that produced the ad and is handling Simmons' media buy, said the campaign would spend about $350,000 on the spot.

In a statement, a spokesman for McMahon scoffed at Simmons' wavering on whether or not he would resume his campaign.

"For eight months, Rob Simmons promised Connecticut Republicans that he would not primary if he lost the convention," said the spokesman, Ed Patru. "He lost the convention, then immediately announced he would primary. Hours later, he dismissed his staff and announced he wouldn't primary. Over the past two months, he's been engaged in a very strange and erratic effort to reconcile his promise not to run with his desire to return to Washington. Today, we are as confused as everyone else."

The McMahon campaign will be prepared if Simmons launches a full-scale campaign, Patru said, adding, "until that happens, following Rob Simmons' on-again, off-again campaign is a little like trying to keep up with an Abbott and Costello routine … Who's on first?"

McMahon's camp wasn't the only one expressing confusion about Simmons' move. Even some of his earliest supporters said they were confounded by the decision.

"My question has always been what happens on Aug. 11," said Rep. Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., the Republican leader in the state House of Representatives, who served in the legislature with Simmons and endorsed him before either McMahon or Schiff entered the Senate race.

"If he were to win (the primary), when he has no campaign staff, and hasn't raised any more money, then how does he expect to win in the general election?" Cafero said.

"From my perspective as a Connecticut Republican who believes the state would be better served with a Republican in the Senate, if the end result will be that we lose because the person who is running suspended their campaign and has no money to run against a formidable candidate, then what's the point?"

Cafero said he had shared his doubts about Simmons' strategy with the candidate after Simmons called to let him know he'd be suspending his campaign in May.

"I guess I don't quite get this," Cafero said.

Simmons' move came as a surprise on Wednesday, but it was foreshadowed in the way he "suspended" his campaign on May 25, days after losing the party endorsement to McMahon.
At the time, Simmons said that remaining in the race without the backing of the party and facing off against McMahon's pledge to bankroll her campaign with $50 million from her personal fortune would "equate to Pickett's Charge."

But Simmons also pointedly noted that day that his name would remain on the Republican ballot, allowing his remaining supporters to express their support for him on Aug. 10.

In the intervening weeks, some town committees, including in New London and in Simmons' hometown of Stonington, have voted to renew their endorsements of his candidacy.

And after the surprise announcement on Wednesday, there were notes of support from some other Republicans, including Janet Peckinpaugh, one of three primary candidates hoping to retake his old congressional seat, now held by Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney.

"I believe that Rob Simmons is the Republican Party's best hope to capture the U.S. Senate seat this fall, as well as help Connecticut Republicans regain congressional seats," Peckinpaugh said in a press release. "It is my hope, as it is the hope of thousands of people across Connecticut, that Rob will win the Republican primary and help lead our nation, and our state, back to greatness."

Schiff enlists paid consulting firm to help collect signatures
Neil Vigdor, Greenwich Time Staff Writer
Published: 09:54 p.m., Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The ACORN doesn't fall far from the tree.

Critical of Linda McMahon's rival Senate campaign for dangling a $5 bounty in front of college students as part of a Republican voter registration drive that was scrapped, Peter Schiff is paying a GOP political consulting firm to help him collect signatures required for a primary.

A spokeswoman for Schiff, who called the short-lived ploy by the McMahon campaign "ACORN-ish" in reference to voter fraud by ACORN employees, said the circumstances of the petition drive are much different.

ACORN stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

"Peter hired a firm to supplement volunteer signature-gathering efforts to ensure grassroots Republicans have a choice on Aug. 10," said Jennifer Millikin of the Schiff campaign.

Millikin identified the consulting firm as Lincoln Strategy Group, which has offices in Phoenix and Albuquerque, N.M. A menu of services listed on the firm's website says it can help candidates manage "get-out-the-vote" efforts and run their campaigns.  The Schiff campaign would not disclose how much it is paying the firm, which it says is consistent with its practice of not releasing details about contracts with vendors.

Under Connecticut election law, those circulating nominating petitions must be "an enrolled member of the party holding the primary, in any town in this state."

Millikin said the Schiff's campaign is playing by the rules.

"Our volunteers and the firm are following all rules and regulations applicable for petition-signature gathering set forth by the Connecticut secretary of the state," Millikin said.

A spokesman for McMahon, who was endorsed by Republicans at the state GOP convention May 21, took a swipe at Schiff's efforts to secure a spot on the primary ballot.

"A couple of Schiff petition circulators were here in West Hartford for a few hours Tuesday," said Ed Patru of the McMahon campaign. "They dropped by our headquarters to say hello, and they wanted to know more about Linda so we gave them some literature. Assuming they're registered voters, we'd love to have their support."

McMahon abandoned a plan in April to pay college Republicans at the University of Connecticut $10 an hour for a campus voter drive, plus a $5 bounty for each name added to the GOP rolls, after several state officials frowned upon the ploy.  Schiff, who fell short of the 15 percent total of convention delegates required to appear on the primary ballot, needs to collect signatures from 8,268 registered Republicans by June 8 to force a contest with McMahon.

Garnering just 44 votes to McMahon's 737 and 632 for former Rep. Rob Simmons, who suspended his campaign, Schiff insists that he had more supporters going into the convention and encouraged them to back Simmons.

Millikin said the plan is to gather double the number of required signatures.

"Linda doesn't want us on the ballot and likely will have a bastion of attorneys going through petitions with a fine-tooth comb to challenge validity," Millikin said.

Simmons stops campaigning, gains in poll and press
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
June 11, 2010

He's picked up 6 points in a new poll. Ann Coulter is openly pining for him. To get this attention, all Rob Simmons had to do to was quit campaigning for the U.S. Senate.

"This is marvelous," Simmons said Thursday night. "Maybe if I took a long trip to China, I might move out front. I think there is a lot to say about not bothering the voters."

Simmons said he is enjoying the attention that escaped him while he was an active candidate, but not so much that he is tempted to reactivate his campaign for the Republican nomination.

"I've had numerous people call, not just today or yesterday, but over the last week. I am flattered," Simmons said. "But my position remains the same. Yes, I am on the ballot. No, I am not actively campaigning."

On Thursday, Simmons was treated to a Quinnipiac University poll that showed him moving from 23 percent to 29 percent in a Republican primary with Linda McMahon. She was favored by 45 percent, down from 49--a net gain of 10 percentage points for Simmons.

Coulter, the lawyer and conservative commentator who grew up in New Canaan, posted a column on the Human Events web site, arguing that only Simmons can beat the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

She urged Sarah Palin, whose endorsed candidates did well in primaries across the country Tuesday, to back Simmons.

"Otherwise, Republicans can kiss the possibility of a major upset in Connecticut goodbye," Coulter wrote.

Simmons, 67, a decorated Vietnam veteran and former three-term congressman, exited the race after losing the Republican State Convention endorsement to McMahon, the former chief executive officer of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Without the party's backing, Simmons compared running against McMahon's money - she's put $16 million into the campaign and promises to reach $50 million -- to the futility of Pickett's Charge during the Civil War.

Simmons had warned Republicans for months that the WWE's history of racy story lines and steroid abuse eventually would catch up to McMahon. Now, Coulter is picking up the same argument.

"Running a professional wrestler in the richest, most highly educated state in the nation is going to force voters to hold their noses and vote for the Democrat," Coulter wrote.

Simmons said he was shocked and flattered by the column.

Previously, Rich Lowry of the National Review wrote that WWE was to popular culture what BP is to the Gulf of Mexico, "a relentless gusher of pollution." As for McMahon, she is "a schlock merchant of the first order."

Ed Patru, McMahon's communication director, said his candidate cannot be so easily caricatured, despite the literary efforts of Lowry and Coulter.

"When people meet her, they come away convinced that she is a strong fiscal conservative with precisely the kind of real world business experience that is needed in Washington. She has growing momentum in Connecticut because voters here recognize she's authentic and they believe she can win, and frankly Linda isn't running to represent the professional commentators in Washington and New York," Patru said.

The national attention comes after the seemingly invincible Blumenthal was forced to apologize for misstating his Vietnam era military record last month. Two polls have found that a majority of voters believe he misspoke, not lied. But his numbers are now in the mid-50s, not north of 60 percent as they had been.

Simmons thought the Vietnam story had clinched the GOP nomination for him. His rationale was that a strong Republican could now compete with a wounded Blumenthal without megabucks, and a Vietnam vet would provide a compelling contrast.

mcmahon-simmons favorability 6-11-11

"The only thing I couldn't bring to the table was a $30 million checkbook, and my party decided at their party convention that the checkbook was the qualification they really wanted," Simmons said. "I can't compete with that. That's their decision."

The new Quinnipiac poll showed that voters still have a favorable view of Simmons: 36 percent have a favorable opinion, while  13 percent view him unfavorably and 50 percent knew too little to express an opinion.

By comparison, McMahon's was viewed favorably by 38 percent and unfavorably by 35 percent. A quarter said they didn't know enough to say.

Only 34 percent of voters said McMahon has the right experience to be a senator, while 52 percent said she does not. And 51 percent said they prefer someone with political experience, versus 38 percent who want an outsider. By a margin of 36 percent to 16 percent, voters said her association with WWE makes them less likely to vote for her.

Does any of that make Simmons feel vindicated?

"Next question," he said.

Simmons said he is comfortable with his decision to stand down.

"I had a party over the weekend for my staff," he said. "Some have already secured positions with other campaigns. That was the point."

And he loves the idea of rising in the polls after leaving the field.

"I have to say, when you curtail your campaign and you surge ahead, that's an interesting phenomenon," Simmons said, laughing. "I have to give it a lot of thought."

Bill Curry offers his take...
Republican hopefuls no longer deferring to convention delegates' decision
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
June 1, 2010

He was the party-endorsed candidate in 10 previous races for public office, and Rob Simmons ultimately couldn't bring himself to wage an 11th as a challenger in a Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

When it was noted at last week's farewell press conference that Connecticut Democrats had long ago lost their inhibitions about primaries, Simmons just smiled and said, "I'm a Republican."

But other Republicans are overcoming what has seemed to be a hard-wired aversion to challenging the choices of delegates at nominating conventions.

Convention-endorsed Republicans began this week with potential primaries for U.S. Senate, governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and four of the state's five congressional seats.
simmons withdraws 2

Rob Simmons drops plans to primary for GOP Senate nomination (Mark Pazniokas)

Even in the 1st Congressional District of Greater Hartford, where a Republican has not won since the Eisenhower administration, there is a primary fight for the privilege of facing six-term U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, who won with 72 percent of the vote in 2008.

Republican State Chairman Chris Healy said some candidates clearly are imbued with a heady sense that 2010 may be a watershed year for Republicans.

By the end of the week, candidates who qualified for a primary by winning 15 percent of the convention vote have to decide if they will pursue a challenge. Financial realities may yet discourage some challengers.

Others, such as U.S. Senate candidate Peter Schiff, and several candidates in the 4th Congressional District, failed to qualify at conventions and are trying to force a primary through petitions. They have until June 8.

Healy is skeptical that the sudden primary mania signals a deeper change in the personality of a Republican Party that still is badly outnumbered by Democrats in Connecticut.

"There are less of us," Healy said. "We don't have the luxury yet of having the huge bandwidth of activism they have on the Democratic side."

It is different with Democrats. In 2006, the convention-endorsed candidates for governor and U.S. Senate each lost primaries to opponents with greater grass roots or organized labor support.

Even in the 1980s, when moderate Democrat William A. O'Neill was governor, he faced challenges from liberals for the Democratic nomination in 1982 and 1986. He was facing yet another challenge in 1990, when he decided to retire.

O'Neill blocked House Speaker Ernest Abate in 1982 and former Congressman Toby Moffett in 1986 from qualifying for a primary, which used to require 20 percent of the delegate vote.

In 2006, U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman lost a Democratic primary to Ned Lamont over ideology: Democrats rejected Lieberman's support for the Bush administration's foreign policy, particularly the war in Iraq. Lieberman was re-elected as an independent.

"Philosophically, we are pretty much a more homogenous group" than the Democrats are, Healy said. "We understand how these things can sap resources and hurt our chances in the fall. There is a realization of that."

When ideological splits have arisen, the GOP has chosen pragmatism, quashing a challenge from the right of U.S. Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. in 1982. Prescott Bush Jr., the brother of the vice president and son of a former U.S. senator, was dissuaded from a primary against Weicker.

The consensus was that Bush might have won the primary, but was certain to lose in the fall to the Democratic nominee: Moffett, then a popular young congressman.

Simmons, 67, a former state legislator and three-term congressman, said last week the major reason he is not pursuing a primary against Linda McMahon was her money. She is pledging to spend $50 million.  But another reason was that as a challenger he would lose too much institutional support.

"That inhibits my ability to raise money, and it removes many members of my party from the ground game," Simmons said.

Bill Curry, a Democratic challenger who won a primary for governor in 1994 and also was the party's endorsed candidate in 2002, said he understands Simmons' analysis.

"That answer of his is kind of an honest answer and not a dumb answer," Curry said. "What Republicans probably said to Rob Simmons was that he shouldn't count on any general election money from them."

The GOP hardly was showing a rebellious streak in nominating McMahon for U.S. Senate and Tom Foley for governor, Curry said.

"The Republicans nominated two strangers for their top two positions, basically because strategists said it was the smart move," Curry said.

McMahon, the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, and Foley, a Greenwich businessman, each had been heavily advertising on television for months before the Republican State Convention.

"They both had money, and that's what the party decided to do," Curry said. "Their convention pretty much existed to ratify the money primary, which Foley and McMahon won pretty much by entering the race."

Losing the convention was a blow for institutional candidates like Simmons and Lt. Gov. Michael C. Fedele, who finished second to Foley for governor.

But Oz Griebel, the Hartford-area business leader who finished third, seemed thrilled to just to qualify for a primary. He had no expectations of winning, and none of his supporters see a primary as something to be avoided, said his manager, Ashley Maagero.

"We actually have not met with any resistance in terms of a primary," she said. "They welcome the primary."

Breaking news from the FORUM:  Schiff in in the game for August 10 Republican Primany
Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz announced Monday that U.S. Senate candidate Peter Schiff of Weston has qualified for the Republican primary on Aug. 10 by collecting the required 8,268 petition signatures from registered Republicans in Connecticut.

Fate of Schiff's Senate candidacy in hands of local registrars
Neil Vigdor, Greenwich TIME Staff Writer
Published: 09:56 p.m., Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Up against a deadline to get signatures from 8,268 registered Connecticut Republicans to force an August Senate primary against Linda McMahon, Peter Schiff expressed concerns Tuesday that highway congestion prevented some of his volunteers from turning in petitions in time to election officials.

"Unfortunately they told me there was a big traffic jam on (Interstate) 91 that kept a lot of the petitions from being turned in," Schiff told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers shortly after the 4 p.m. deadline. "It would be a shame that because there was a lot of traffic today it keeps me off the ballot."

Schiff wavered on how many signatures his campaign collected, first throwing out 12,000 as an estimate, but conceding that it could be far less if the names are disqualified or the petitions weren't turned in to the registrars of voters.

"It shows you the problems with this system and how it's so stacked against a grass-roots candidate like me," Schiff said.

The money manager from Weston, and financial commentator was cautiously optimistic that he did what was necessary to qualify for the primary, however.

"We do have a cushion, but I want the cushion to be as big as possible," Schiff said.

Schiff set an initial goal of collecting twice as many signatures -- 16,000 -- than the state requires, bracing for the prospect of legal challenges of the names by the McMahon campaign and its lawyers.

A spokesman for McMahon, who won the GOP endorsement outright over Rob Simmons and Schiff at last month's party convention, spurned such speculation.

"We are collecting data that is being sent to us by the registrars," said Ed Patru of the McMahon campaign. "But we have no intention of challenging any of the petitions. We have full confidence in the ability of the local registrars to do their job, and the same applies for the state."

Schiff was forced to petition his way onto the primary ballot after falling short of the required 15 percent total of convention delegates. Simmons suspended his campaign but garnered enough delegates to appear on the ballot.

In the towns where Republicans signed Schiff's petitions, the registrars have until June 15 to certify the names and report the number to Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz's office, which is expected to take less than a week to tally the final numbers.

Signers must print their name and list their address to be counted, according to a spokesman for Bysiewicz, who said they are also strongly encouraged to give their date of birth for verification purposes.

But individual names are not vetted by the secretary of the state's office, leaving just two avenues for McMahon's campaign to mount a challenge.

"They could talk to the registrars, and they could also file a complaint with the state Elections Enforcement Commission," said Av Harris, a spokesman for Bysiewicz.

Schiff said he was heartened to hear the McMahon campaign's pledge to let the process play itself out.

"I'd rather not have to get into a big legal battle with the McMahon campaign," Schiff said.

At a Tuesday afternoon news conference where he accepted the endorsement of state Sen. John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, Schiff discounted a complaint being investigated by the State Elections Enforcement Commission that his campaign used out-of-state residents to collect signatures in apparent violation of state law.

A former member of the Hartford Tea Party filed a complaint this week alleging that petition circulators from as far away as Montana were working for Schiff's candidacy, violating a rule that they be state residents.

Schiff's campaign confirmed it hired the GOP consulting firm Lincoln Strategy Group, which has offices in Phoenix and Albuquerque, N.M., to help with the process.

"They guaranteed that they would abide by the rules in Connecticut and are professional," Schiff said in an interview later in the day. "As far I know, we've done everything by the book, yet the book was deliberately written to make it difficult."

Peter Schiff tackling McMahon momentum; 
Tea party favorite making petition run at Republican primary
By Ted Mann Day Staff Writer
Article published May 28, 2010

Stratford - The Gadsden flags - the ones that say "Don't Tread on Me" - are out and waving at the corner of Barnum Avenue and Main Street when Peter Schiff arrives for the weekly demonstration of the Stratford Tea Party Patriots.

Striding to the crowd of a little less than two dozen people gathered at the busy corner, Schiff's fiancee, Martha O'Brien, stops for a moment and drags the long-shot Republican Senate nominee back a few paces to admire the three identical bumper stickers on the back of a blue SUV.

"Schiff Happens," they say. O'Brien, who came up with the slogan, requests a photo.

Schiff is trying to gather by the June 8 deadline the 8,268 petition signatures he needs to force a primary with Linda McMahon, the former pro-wrestling executive who is the Republican Party's endorsed candidate to challenge Democrat Richard Blumenthal for the U.S. Senate.

Schiff's also got a taping of WFSB-TV's "Face the State" to attend to, and he walks like a man on a schedule.

If the inside of the Connecticut Convention Center last Friday was McMahon's home court - and as delegates shifted her way to roars from a friendly crowd, it sure felt like it - the strip of grass here by the fast-food restaurant, the gas station, the shopping complex and the bank seems to be Schiff's.

Cars speed by, but a surprisingly steady stream of them beep their horns and emit shouts of solidarity. A tractor-trailer gives a blatting blast. A woman making the left off of Barnum up onto Main careens perilously close to the curb, steering with one hand while raising her own small Gadsden flag up through the sunroof of the black Mercedes SUV.

"Too bad we can't get these cars that are going by to sign our petitions," Schiff says with a chuckle.

Asked how the signature-gathering is going, he remarks that the campaign is "bringing in some professionals" from out of state to finish the job by the deadline.

"It's hard to even hire people," Schiff says. "Figured it'd be easy with all these unemployed people. They'd just as soon collect unemployment benefits, I guess."

By the reckoning of seemingly everyone who hasn't slapped on a "Schiff Happens" bumper sticker, written a pro-Schiff letter to the editor, or forwarded a YouTube clip of Schiff anticipating - against the derision of his questioners - the eventual collapse of the housing market on cable financial shows, Linda McMahon will face Richard Blumenthal in November to decide who will succeed Sen. Chris Dodd in the Senate.

McMahon's strongest rival, former Rep. Rob Simmons of Stonington, left the race this week, leaving behind a core of frustrated backers who believe, like Simmons himself, that Republican delegates and power brokers chose the free-spending self-funder McMahon over the candidate with a track record of public service and a resume that compares well to the popular Blumenthal, especially after Blumenthal's misstatements of his Vietnam-era service record.

But Schiff and his supporters insist that only he has a chance of beating Blumenthal in the fall. McMahon's experience as the chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, the source of her fortune and of what controversies have so far visited her campaign, is more liability than asset, Schiff said in an interview. He noted the finding in a new Quinnipiac University poll that more voters looked unfavorably on McMahon (39 percent) than favorably (32 percent) in the May 27 poll.

"She spent $16 million, and Blumenthal's still beating her by 25 points, even with the lies about Vietnam," Schiff said, referring to the results of the Quinnipiac poll. "So I don't think she can win."

No previous political experience

Schiff, who runs the investment company Euro-Pacific Capital and like McMahon has no previous political experience, concedes the finding that a whopping 78 percent of voters don't know enough about him to make a judgment. But if he can succeed in reducing that name-recognition deficit, Schiff contends the small, fervent minority who do like him could swell into a force large enough to defeat Blumenthal, who for years has been one of the most popular public officials in the state.

"If I can increase my name recognition, and I get the same kind of favorables-to-unfavorables with the new people that meet me, then I've got a chance to beat Dick Blumenthal," he said. "The problem is, she's already had her chance, she's spent the money, everybody knows who she is, and they still don't support her."

A McMahon spokesman declined, via e-mail, to address Schiff's remarks.

The Schiff fans in attendance were adamant that their candidate could win.

"I believe with enough exposure, he could," said Eino Hautala of Milford, an interior trim-carpentry contractor who said he was involving himself in a political race for the first time. "Of course, it's a big challenge, Blumenthal's got the name recognition, big-time name recognition, so that's going to be a big hurdle for that reason."

Would Schiff really stand a better chance of beating Blumenthal than McMahon?

"Absolutely," Hautala said. "I don't think McMahon has a chance."

"People ask me how best to describe Peter Schiff," said Palin Smith, whose business card identified him as the state liaison and videographer of the Hartford Tea Party Patriots.

(He politely corrected a reporter who suggested that his first name must be a hit at Tea Party rallies: "To some people," Smith said of the name he shares with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, "it's not as popular as it used to be.")

Of Schiff, Smith said he asked questioners, "Do you know who Abraham Lincoln was? Do you know who Ronald Reagan was? Do you know who Albert Einstein was?"

"A lot of people don't remember that one, but some of them do," he said, referring to Einstein. "And I say 'Well you take all those three, put 'em in a 47-year-old man's body, you've got Peter Schiff.' Smartest man I've ever met."

But will he be on the ballot?

Despite his stated need for name recognition, Schiff notably would not say he plans to turn to television advertising to raise his profile.

"Not right this second," he said. "Right now we've got to get on the ballot. Let's get on the ballot first, and then I'm going to map out a strategy for TV, depending on how much money I have."

Until that point, Schiff is relying on the premise that voters who go to the Republican polls will not resemble the Republican die-hards who attended and voted in the party convention, many of whom switched votes from Schiff, and Simmons, to McMahon to secure her the endorsement and the inside track to the nomination.

"Since I dont think she's going to win anyway, and the money might work against her, why not go with me?" he said. "At least go down swinging. At least put up the candidate you believe in, and give the Republicans somebody to vote for, instead of just somebody to vote against. It's all going to be 'Let's vote for Linda to block Blumy.' How about 'Let's vote for Peter, because we want to'?"

Recent History of U.S. Senate CT Republican Candidates :  Brook Johnson, 1992; Jerry Labriola, 1994;  Gary Franks in 1998; Philip A. Giordano, 2000.  Jack Orchulli in 2004;  Alan R. Schlessinger, 2006.
Who Wants to Elect a Millionaire?
May 26, 2010

Today, let’s play Political Kingmaker.

Pretend you’re the Republican leadership in a smallish state with an open United States Senate seat. The opposition is running a popular, longtime officeholder whose sense of inevitability was shaken by recent revelations that he had referred to himself as a Vietnam War veteran when he isn’t one.

Your own options are:

A) A well regarded former congressman who is a decorated Vietnam War veteran.

B) A political novice who made her fortune building up an entertainment business that specialized in blood, seminaked women and scripted subplots featuring rape, adultery and familial violence. In which the candidate, her husband and children played themselves. Also, the family yacht is named Sexy Bitch.

Well, obviously, you go for the yacht owner.

Yes, this week the Connecticut Republican Party chose Linda McMahon, the former C.E.O. of World Wrestling Entertainment, to be their Senate candidate. Her main opponent, the former Representative Rob Simmons, packed up his war medals and went home.

“You can’t argue with arithmetic,” he told The New London Day.

The math in question is $50 million, the amount McMahon claimed she was prepared to spend on her campaign. Connecticut has just under two million registered voters, so maybe she’ll just invite everybody in the state to a nice dinner at Red Lobster.

So far this season, the Republicans have offered two new models of their future. One is the Tea Party vision, in which outsiders full of spirit and excitement overthrow the old order. In North Carolina, there was so much spirit and excitement that voters gave the top spot in a Congressional primary to a former drug addict who, according to court documents, once referred to the United States government as the Antichrist and claimed to have personally located the Ark of the Covenant.

Meanwhile in Kentucky, primary voters nominated Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist, for the Senate, ignoring the pleas of party leaders to go for somebody less spirited and exciting. Paul promptly got into trouble over his lack of enthusiasm for requiring restaurants to serve black people and his criticism of Barack Obama for being disrespectful of oil-drilling companies.

The other model is the one on view in Connecticut: richest bidder wins. For governor, the Republican convention endorsed Tom Foley, a longtime party fund-raiser who was once George W. Bush’s ambassador to Ireland. Foley, whose 100-foot yacht makes the McMahons’ 47-footer look like a dinghy, instantly identified himself as an “outsider.”

Both Foley and McMahon are what political pros like to call “self-financers.” And while McMahon doesn’t dwell on her willingness to pay all the campaign freight, her sales pitch is all about financial success.

“People call Linda McMahon a C.E.O., job creator, business leader. But I just call her Mom,” says daughter Stephanie in a much, much repeated TV ad. W.W.E. fans all remember Stephanie from the day she slugged Mom in a spat over the Wrestlemania fight card, but we are not going there anymore. In fact, the McMahon organization has been busily scrubbing the Internet of every embarrassing clip it can claim a copyright on.

The McMahons made a mint off the formerly seedy, small-town entertainment known as professional wrestling by adding heavy doses of sex, more spectacular violence and a raw tone that bordered on pornography. Linda McMahon now likes to brag that she’s “created a product that is one of America’s greatest exports,” as if there’s no question that bringing half-naked women wrestling in pudding to 145 countries was one of America’s greater accomplishments.

You can overlook a lot of sleaze for $50 million. Simmons distributed a video of Vince McMahon, Linda’s husband, standing in the ring and telling a weeping female wrestler to take off her clothes, get down on her knees and “dammit, bark like a dog.” Nobody paid attention.

On the plus side, ever since Linda McMahon developed political ambitions, the W.W.E. has attempted to clean up the more outrageous elements in its act, sparing millions of impressionable children from the old hints of necrophilia, the abundance of gore and the side stories in which Stephanie lost her blouse in the ring, Vince ran off with a floozy and Linda was sexually assaulted by a competing promoter.

“One good thing has come from her run: Vince McMahon putting out an edict that there will no longer be any cutting of your foreheads with razor blades,” said Superstar Billy Graham, a retired wrestler who contracted hepatitis from a bloody competitor. “He has actually stopped wrestlers from cutting their heads with razor blades. This is a big deal!”

We take progress anywhere we can get it.

Race for comptroller: One Democrat drops out, Lembo and Jarjura remain
Jacqueline Rabe, CT MIRROR
May 25, 2010

Democratic state Rep. Tom Reynolds of Ledyard announced today he would not force a primary for the nomination for state comptroller.

Reynolds received 24 percent of delegate votes at Saturday's Democrat convention, well above the 15 percent minimum needed to guarantee a spot on the Democratic Aug. 10 primary ballot.

"I have concluded that the interests of the state, the party, and my family are best served by declining such an opportunity," he said in an e-mailed statement.

Kevin Lembo, who worked in the state's comptroller office before becoming the state's health care advocate, captured the Democratic endorsement with 55 percent of delegate votes.

Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura also received enough votes for a spot on the primary ballot, but has said he will decide by the end of the week if he will force a primary.

On the Republican ticket for comptroller, Darien businessman Jack Orchulli was unanimously approved to become the Republican nominee during their Saturday convention.

Lieutenant governor race: GOP will have a primary
Jacqueline Rabe, CT MIRROR
May 25, 2010

Lisa Wilson-Foley, a Simsbury businesswoman, said today she will pursue a Republican primary for the nomination for lieutenant governor.

"I am ready for a primary so the voters can decide," she said during a phone interview. "I think once you get out of the cozy relationships people have at the convention things can change."

Without any affiliation with a gubernatorial candidate, Wilson-Foley captured 25 percent of the votes at Saturday's Republican State Convention, enough to claim a spot on the Aug. 10 Republican primary ballot.

Danbury Mayor Mark D. Boughton picked up two-thirds of the vote and the Republican convention endorsement. He is the running mate of Michael C. Fedele.

Comptroller Nancy Wyman, the running mate of Dan Malloy, captured the Democratic endorsement for lieutenant governor. Simsbury first selectwoman Marry Glassman, the running mate of Ned Lamont, has said she will force a primary.

Simmons effectively shutting down Senate campaign
Ted Mann, DAY
Article published May 25, 2010

New London - Republican Rob Simmons called an end to his campaign for the U.S. Senate this morning, saying he could no longer hope to win his party's nomination after losing the convention endorsement to newcomer Linda McMahon.

To stay in the race without it, he said this morning, would "equate to Pickett's Charge."

In an interview in the parking lot outside New London's WXLM-FM radio, where Simmons first announced his decision to "scale back" his Senate campaign, the candidate said he was disappointed that convention delegates awarded the party endorsement to McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. who has pledged to spend as much as $50 million of her own money on the Senate race.

Simmons, who led the Republican primary race just a few months ago, said he needed the party endorsement - and the organizational aid and assistance with fundraising that goes along with it - to remain competitive with McMahon in the run-up to the Aug. 10 primary.

"You can't argue with arithmetic," Simmons said, as he stood in the mostly empty parking lot outside the station with his wife Heidi, daughter Jane, and campaign manager Jim Barnett. "And my party made the decision not to give me their support at the convention. That was my party's decision to do that. They knew that I needed that support. They knew that the only way I could combat tens of milions of dollars was to have the support of the party, but they were not willing to provide that, or at least a slim majority were not willing to give me that chance."

Simmons flatly rejected speculation he might jump into the 2nd District Congressional race, in an effort to reclaim his old seat.

"Negative," he said, shaking his head.

The Simmons campaign is effectively at an end, the candidate and his staff said. Staff will be laid off and allowed to seek work on other races, and Simmons will not continue campaigning. The candidate will remain on the August primary ballot, for which he qualified by securing well more than the threshold of 15 percent of the delegates at the convention.

Remaining on the ballot enables the Simmons campaign greater leeway in resolving its finances. It also means Simmons would still be available should McMahon's candidacy falter over the summer, though an individual familiar with the Simmons campaign said the candidate was not expecting such a possibility.

A Republican primary was virtually assured even without Simmons' decision to stay on the ballot, since there are contested primary contests for governor and attorney general.

Simmons' remarks to WXLM host Lee Elci, and later in the parking lot, included more than a tinge of regret that party delegates had - in the view of Simmons and his supporters - chosen McMahon and her money over his long record of public service, which includes tours in Vietnam with the U.S. Army and the Central Intelligence Agency, 10 years in the state legislature and three terms in Congress representing the 2nd District in eastern Connecticut.

In his radio appearance, Simmons said some delegates had decided to "bail" on his candidacy during Friday's Republican convention, and also criticized what he said was a failure to take the implications of the endorsement "seriously."

As for McMahon and her personal fortune, Simmons said: "That, I think, has just twisted people into thinking that the money is going to buy the race. So what the heck, let's just shut it down."

Moments later, Simmons spoke of his own military service and other forms of service to the public, and said the party had decided not to support him, but instead to back McMahon for pragmatic reasons.

"It seems," he said, "that those values were set aside for money."

"We probably could have stuck it out for a few more months, but what would that have gotten us?" Simmons said. "... I'm not sure it would change things."

Simmons, who served in Congress from 2000 to 2006, entered last weekend's convention as the favorite to win the party endorsement.

The candidate announced after the convention that he would fight on to Aug. 10, but after reflection in church over the weekend and a day of conversations with campaign contributors and other supporters on Monday, Simmons had changed his mind.

"I have to think about my family, my supporters, my donors, my people who have been flat out for 16 months now proceeding without unlimited funds, without the support of the party," Simmons said. "I equate that to Pickett's Charge."

CT Governor's residence in Hartford, on Prospect Street. 
CT flag half-staff in protest over the trampling of Clean Elections Law.  Governor's Mansion a bit on the small side compared to these...

In Democratic primary race, money is a means and a message
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
May 24, 2010

Money talks in politics, and it spoke loudly over the weekend at Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, where Republicans endorsed two rich neophytes for governor and U.S. Senate.

But the Republican losers didn't complain as much about the prospect of being outspent as did a Democratic winner, Dan Malloy, who was endorsed for governor across town at his convention.

Malloy fired the first salvo in the Democratic primary by denouncing wealthy challenger, Ned Lamont, for refusing to participate in the state's voluntary program of public financing and spending limits.

"How dare - how dare - somebody blow up the clean elections program?" said Malloy, the first statewide candidate to qualify for funding under the Citizens' Election Program. To qualify, Malloy raised $250,000 in donations of no more than $100.

The public financing of campaigns long has been a goal among liberal Democratic activists, many of whom supported Lamont's anti-war candidacy in 2006 against U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman.

"It is a delicious irony for Republicans, who don't believe in this nonsense," said Chris Healy, the Republican state chairman. "You see Ned Lamont, he was the answer to the liberals' dreams four years ago, because he had the money to go after Joe Lieberman."

How many of them will be bothered that Lamont is willing to open his own checkbook again, this time for a gubernatorial campaign, when they applauded him for spending $17 million of his own money in 2006?

Lamont, a Greenwich businessman, is betting that the answer is not too many.

"You know how anxious people are. They feel very strongly the state's at a crossroads right now," Lamont said. "And they want somebody who is on their side, fighting for jobs, fighting to keep faith with education, keep faith with our kids, maintain a decent standard with health care."

House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, and Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, two of the legislature's most important backers of public financing, are supporting Lamont.

But U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District, the sponsor of a federal public-financing bill, said Malloy's reliance on public financing was one of the reasons he endorsed the former Stamford mayor a week before the nominating convention.

"It's nice to point to somebody who's led by example," Larson said.

Larson grew up in public housing in East Hartford, one of eight children. Malloy also is one of eight children

"God bless people that have a lot of money and can use it for whatever they like," Larson said. "I have nothing but respect for Ned Lamont. But being one of eight kids, if it comes down to the fact you can only be a self-funder to run for the United States Senate or governor... you have to take a step back and think long and hard about that."

Lamont endorsed passage of the public financing law and says he would fight to preserve the program, which is endangered by a court challenge and unease by some politicians about using public funds in the midst of a fiscal crisis.

But Lamont said relying on public financing would be tantamount to unilateral disarmament for Democrats, since the endorsed Republican is millionaire businessman Tom Foley of Greenwich, who already is airing television commercials.

For U.S. Senate, the Republicans endorsed Linda McMahon of Greenwich, the former WWE chief executive who plans to spend $50 million of her own money, over former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons of Stonington and Peter Schiff of Weston.

Federal candidates are not eligible for the state's public financing program. Qualifying candidates for governor are eligible for $1.25 million in a primary and $3 million in a general election. The grants will be increased to match spending by a non-participating opponent, up to double the original grants.

If everyone participated in the program, which sets voluntary spending limits in exchange for accepting the public grants, then he would have, too, Lamont said. No candidate, participating or non-participating, can accept contributions from lobbyists, state contractors or their families.

"Are you going to fight this battle with one arm tied behind your back, or are you going to get in it to win?" Lamont said. "If everybody plays by the same set of rules, and we urged everyone to do that, that's great. But they're not all playing by the same set of rules."

Malloy has made Lamont a counter-offer: Limit his spending in the primary to $2.5 million, and then spend whatever is necessary to compete in November - if he is the nominee.

"He can make his argument about not fighting this battle with his arm tied behind. I gave him a way out," Malloy said. "I said simply, 'Live with it through the primary.' What's he afraid of? What was he afraid of that he had to do what he's done, that he had to blow up a system that he has said he supported?"

Lamont and his supporters say that argument is disingenuous. Name-recognition and support established now through television advertising is a benefit that will help a candidate beyond the primary, they said.

Foley already has begun his general-election campaign, even though he faces a primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Michael C. Fedele of Stamford and business leader Oz Griebel of Simsbury. Fedele is seeking public financing. Foley and Griebel are not.

"They're already on TV, already framing the debate, already taking the Democrats on," Lamont said. "You just can't afford to wait an extra four months and give them four months of free air time to compete. It just is a losing proposition. And the stakes are too big."

Fedele, who was a classmate of Malloy's at Westhill High School in Stamford, is more subdued when discussing facing a wealthier opponent in Foley. Anyone has the right to use their own money in a campaign, he said.

"I think this election is going to be about the people and about grass roots and about taking the message to folks. And I think the CEP again, if you have a self-funder, gives us some competitiveness," he said.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who counts the Citizens' Election Program as an important element of her legacy as governor, has endorsed no one to succeed her, but she expressed admiration for those living within its limits.

"Those people who are living and working by the public financing law, more power to them," Rell said.

The governor then offered what could be seen as a dig at Lamont, Foley and McMahon.

"I remember one candidate once said to me, 'If you have to use your own money, you shouldn't be running,' ' Rell said. "I thought that was good advice, since I didn't have any, anyway."

Unconventional Times: McMahon Pushes Simmons Aside

Kevin Rennie, COURANT columnist "Now You Know"
May 23, 2010

The bombshells that exploded on Democrats last week even dazed Republicans as they met Friday night to nominate a U.S. Senate candidate to oppose the beleaguered fantasist, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. The long season of uncertainty has made them wary of events. We keep learning things we might rather not know.

Six months ago, the Republican faithful thought they'd be facing unpopular incumbent Sen. Christopher Dodd as he sought a sixth term. He scampered from the race as the year began, leaving Blumenthal to begin a stately stroll to victory in November.

Professional wrestling mogul Linda McMahon, who won the Republican nomination for the Senate on Friday night, used her fortune to tell party members things about her opponent, former Republican Congressman Rob Simmons, that party members might have preferred not to know. That fortune made it impossible for them to avert their gaze from her highlighting of Simmons' record in Congress for six years at the start of the decade.

Simmons had voted for legislation in those years that Republicans could no longer ignore in exchange for him holding a traditionally Democratic seat. A choice not an echo, echoed from the slogans of history into Republican ears. McMahon, new and rich, could make herself into her own political creation.

The Republican race became more intense with each Blumenthal stumble. He seemed tentative from the start. The only Democratic debate of the campaign found him on the back foot, trying to cope with his Lilliputian challenger, Merrick Alpert. Maybe the Republican nomination would be worth something.

Simmons, unhappy at what Republicans were learning about him in a steady barrage of mailings from McMahon, began to unravel. He was criticism turned to vitriol. Republicans began to recoil at his angry tactics. He'd started the race for the nomination as a heavy favorite, but McMahon began to seem like a legitimate alternative. The Simmons campaign obsession with her conferred legitimacy.

When the Republicans gave her a narrow convention upset Friday night, they were taking a step into the unknown. She has a pleasant demeanor, knows how to make a 30-second television spot, and knows how to deploy her vast campaign exchequer with maximum effect. She hasn't been around long enough for them to know well.

Maybe that's not possible. Everyone thought they knew the ubiquitous Blumenthal, but they discovered last week that they did not. That, too, happened with a push from McMahon. Her research team found evidence of Blumenthal's serial embellishments of his military record and kindly tipped off The New York Times that he had claimed at times to have served in Vietnam. He did not. He was in the Marine Corps Reserves, stationed in Washington, D.C., and New Haven.

A firestorm engulfed Blumenthal when the fuse lit by McMahon became an explosion created by the Times' research. Blumenthal denounced the Times' investigation at an angry event that was a combination campaign rally and press conference. He admitted only to misspeaking and using the wrong words. It was the sort of defense that Blumenthal would have used to bludgeon an opponent who offered such a preposterous explanation of clear declarative sentences.

The pattern of fabrications grew when Connecticut newspapers began reviewing their archives and finding more Blumenthal fabrications. The most devastating came from a November 2008 Stamford Advocate article in which Blumenthal was quoted as saying that he "wore the uniform in Vietnam." There was no ambiguity in the declaration. Nor was there ever a request for a correction from Blumenthal.

Blumenthal worked for decades to make integrity his brand. He won five terms as the state's chief civil law enforcement official, and yet we did not know the essential man. His ordeal last week reminded us of how detached the political class is from normal human reactions. They are distorted by malignant tribalism.

None of the state's five congressmen and two senators offered even a mild rebuke to Blumenthal. Alpert, his Democratic opponent, called Blumenthal "a liar and a coward" early in the week. He endorsed him with enthusiasm at the end. The people, however, will apply their instincts, which could also force Blumenthal from the race, raising Republican fears of an unknown replacement.

GOP has the edge in unsettled convention races
Keith M. Phaneuf  and Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
May 20, 2010

Unlike their Democratic counterparts, Republicans will open their annual state convention this afternoon with a number of pressing questions unresolved.

Will the selection of Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton as a running mate be enough to secure a GOP convention win for lieutenant governor/gubernatorial contender Michael Fedele?

Will Tom Foley, the frontrunner for the gubernatorial nomination in a March 18 Quinnipiac Poll, have as much pull with convention delegates as he does with the general public, and will his decision not to name a running mate help or hurt him this weekend?

Two other Republicans, business leader Oz Griebel of Simsbury and former Congressman Larry DeNardis of Hamden, still hope to secure enough delegates to squeeze into a gubernatorial primary. Branford financial analyst Christopher Duffy Acevedo also is seeking the nomination.

A potential four-way race for the GOP nomination for attorney general is brewing after Thursday's announcement by veteran state Rep. Arthur J. O'Neill of Southbury that he is pursuing the office.

And hovering above it all is a heated race for the U.S. Senate nomination between former Congressman Rob Simmons of Stonington, World Wrestling Entertainment co-founder Linda McMahon of Greenwich and economist Peter Schiff. Vincent Forras, a Ridgefield businessman, also is running for the nomination.

"This convention is a different type of animal," Republican State Chairman Christopher Healy said, adding that with a Senate seat long held by Democrats up for grabs and the next governor facing record-setting budget deficits, there's too much at stake to expect a mild party gathering. "The delegates are not looking for candidates simply willing to give it the old college try."

Fedele, a former state representative from Stamford who was Gov. M. Jodi Rell's running mate in their successful 2006 campaign, predicted he would win the convention's gubernatorial endorsement on the first ballot. Balloting continues round after round until one candidate secures more than half of the 1,444 delegates.

"The momentum for this campaign has been remarkable in the past three to four weeks," Fedele said, adding that recent endorsements from former 4th District Congressman Christopher Shays and by state House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk "have energized our campaign."

And Boughton's decision to abandon his own gubernatorial bid and become Fedele's running mate has provided not only additional delegate support, but enough financial backing that the campaign now expects to clear the $250,000 fund-raising threshold it must pass to qualify for public financing, Fedele campaign spokesman Christopher Cooper said.

Foley, a Greenwich businessman and former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, had the rosiest numbers in a March 18 Quinnipiac University poll. While half of the Republicans polled were still undecided, Foley - who hit the airwaves with television and radio ads long before his competitors - captured 30 percent of the party vote while no one else cleared 4 percent.

But in the contest for delegates, who usually involve long-time party activists from town committees across the state, Foley wouldn't concede anything to Fedele, but said the only big expectations rest on a political insider.

"Michael Fedele should be the winner since he is the sitting lieutenant governor," he said. "It he doesn't, I think that is a pretty big problem for him. If our conversations with the delegates are accurate, we expect to do very well. I have no stake in the status quo in Hartford. I'm not part of the problem. People want someone who is going to come in and shake things up."

Foley also is taking a gamble this weekend, opting not to name a running mate, instead pledging to run alongside whomever the party nominates. But Boughton doesn't have the race for lieutenant governor to himself. Simsbury businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley, who is not affiliated with any gubernatorial contender, also is seeking the nomination for lieutenant governor.

Foley added he is confident he will secure well over the 15 percent of the delegate vote to qualify for an August primary.

But he isn't the only one hoping to score points this weekend with a message of challenge to the political establishment at the state Capitol.

Griebel, former chairman of the Greater Hartford Metro Alliance, also hopes his political backbone will propel him into a gubernatorial primary.

"I think people looking to see who's got the toughness to get the job done," said Griebel, who is being touted by former Congresswoman Nancy Johnson as a fiscally conservative, pragmatic problem-solver who can stimulate business and streamline government. "I have absolutely no illusions about what we are facing, none whatsoever. There's a different environment out there."

By comparison, the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination is straightforward, a two-man race between Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont that will be settled by one ballot.

Malloy is acknowledged by both camps as the certain winner of the endorsement, but Lamont has stepped up efforts in recent days to secure delegate commitments, aided by urban mayors and legislative leaders.

Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez and his former chief of staff, Matt Hennessy, recently began to wrangle Hartford delegates for Lamont, even though Perez had endorsed Malloy four years ago.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch is loaning Lamont his chief of staff, Adam Wood, to manage the convention. Leslie O'Brien of the Senate Democrats' staff also joined the team this week.

Her boss, Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, was an early backer of Lamont. House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D- Meriden, and the rest of the Meriden delegation endorsed him this week.

Malloy will be helped at the convention by his popular running mate, Comptroller Nancy S. Wyman. His recent endorsements include U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District.

Lamont and Malloy are the survivors of what was a five-candidate field: Juan Figueroa and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi dropped out and Simsbury First Selectwoman Mary Glassman is Lamont's running mate.

Though the Democratic field has been thinning in recent weeks, Republicans have gained a few more candidates over the past week.

O'Neill became the third Republican this week to announce for attorney general, joining lawyers Ross Garber of Glastonnbury and Kie Westby of Thomaston. Avon attorney Martha Dean announced her interest several months ago.

The O'Neill-Garber match-up is a different re-pairing of two combatants who squared off in a difference political arena six years ago.

O'Neill co-chaired the bipartisan House Committee appointed in 2004 to consider impeachment charges against then-Gov. John G. Rowland, while Garber served at the time as chief counsel to the governor's office. Rowland announced in late June 2004 that he would resign - just days before the panel was expected to vote to recommend impeachment.

O'Neill, who has practiced law in the private sector for the past 32 years, was re-nominated last week to run in the 69th Assembly District, which he has represented for the past 22 years.

The attorney general's office has drawn increasing interest since the overwhelming front-runner in the polls, Middletown Democrat Susan Bysiewicz, was bounced from the race Tuesday. Bysiewicz, a lawyer who has served as secretary of the state since 1999, had her hopes to become attorney general dashed when the state Supreme Court ruled she lacks the required years of experience in active legal practice to serve.

The incumbent attorney general, Greenwich Democrat Richard Blumenthal, announced in January he would not seek a sixth term but instead would run for U.S. Senate. George Jepsen, the former Senate majority leader, is the only remaining Democratic candidate for attorney general.

Wyman's recent decision to run for lieutenant governor instantly made the comptroller's race more attractive. Darien Republican Jack Orchulli announced he is seeking the GOP nomination, joining Bolton Republican Stephanie Labanowski. Kevin Lembo, state Rep. Thomas Reynolds of Ledyard, Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura and Fairfield First Selectman Kenneth Flatto are contending for the Democratic nomination.

Just another day of politics in the Land of Steady Habits
Mark Pazniokas, CT MIRROR
May 19, 2010

It will be remembered as the day when the national political spotlight swung away from states with pivotal primaries to the circus that took over staid Connecticut politics.

Where to begin? With Richard Blumenthal, accused of lying about his military record, holding a nationally televised press conference aimed at righting his can't-miss candidacy for the U.S. Senate?

Or Susan Bysiewicz, whose sure-thing campaign to succeed Blumenthal as attorney general was undone hours later by the state Supreme Court, which ruled she lacked the experience to be A.G.?

No? How about this plot twist: Bysiewicz's brother-in-law, Republican Ross Garber, now is free to pursue his own dream of running for attorney general without fear of eating Thanksgiving dinner in the garage.  It was a day when grown politicians giggled, from delight, discomfort or amazement. BlackBerries endlessly chirped with the latest tidbit. The Land of Steady Habits is unhinged.

"I was afraid to leave my BlackBerry alone for a minute. Seriously. This was lighting up like a Christmas tree," said Roy Occhiogrosso, a Democratic political consultant.

"It all happens at once," said a laughing Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. of Norwalk, the leader of the Republican minority in the House. "I can't believe this."

To be sure, it was a funnier day for Republicans. Blumenthal is the Democrats' best-known and most popular candidate. Bysiewicz ranks second in name recognition behind him.

"It's like V-E Day," said Chris Healy, the jubilant Republican state chairman.

"It certainly was a whirlwind of a day," said a more subdued Nancy DiNardo, the Democratic state chairwoman. "I think even the press didn't seem to know what questions to ask me."

With the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions each beginning Friday evening, the Blumenthal-Bysiewicz double-feature meant no audience for other races.  In the contest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Oz Griebel tried to get noticed for grabbing two delegates from Ellington that had been committed to Mark Boughton, who dropped out Monday to become Michael C. Fedele's running mate.  For the record, their names are Michael and Kathleen Stupinski.

Republican Tom Foley's gubernatorial campaign thought it was a good day to share the news that he was endorsed by George Pataki.

Democrat Ned Lamont had this: He was endorsed by the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 11.   His spokeswoman, Justine Sessions, actually fielded a bunch of press calls. Most were from national reporters asking if Lamont would drop out of the race for governor, elbow Blumenthal aside and declare his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

"Ned is extremely supportive" of Blumenthal, she said.

Knocking down a story about Lamont looking at another race was not how she expected to spend the day. For that matter, she wasn't prepared for endless text messages from colleagues in Washington, where she worked for Sen. Chris Dodd, asking what the hell is going on in Connecticut.

Dan Malloy, Lamont's rival for the Democratic nomination, didn't try to get press attention.  In Malloy's camp, Occhiogrosso tried to fight off flashbacks to 2006, when Lamont actually was a candidate for U.S. Senate. Lamont fought Joseph I. Lieberman in a contest so compelling that most reporters forgot there was a race for governor.  Occhigrosso had high hopes for the run-up to the convention. Malloy recently qualified for public financing, then scored a coup by signing Comptroller Nancy S. Wyman to be his running mate. Lamont had picked Mary Glassman.

"He made his pick. We made our pick. It certainly seemed like it was going to grab a lot of attention this week," Occhiogrosso said. "There is a piece of me that remembers, not too fondly, that we couldn't get attention for the primary in 2006."

One of the few Democratic winners Tuesday was George Jepsen, the last Democrat standing in the race for attorney general. Rep. Cameron C. Staples, D-New Haven, dropped out last week.

"If I was Cam, I'd be on a ledge right now," DiNardo said.

Not so. Staples said Tuesday night he quit the race for a variety of reasons, political and personal. He said he sees no reason to jump back in.

"George is well-qualified and will do a great job as attorney general," Staples said.

Garber, a Republican who considered declaring for attorney general before Bysiewicz switched from the race for governor to A.G., acknowledged Tuesday night he once again is thinking about becoming a candidate.  He cannot think too long.

On the Democratic side, DiNardo was unsure if anyone else could jump into the contest.

"I would never say never at this point," she said. After a pause, she added, "Anything is a possibility."

OK, so who's still in the running for top office now (May 31)?
Governor's Challenge: How I Would Fix It
Hartford Courant
May 16, 2010

With the state Democratic and Republican parties convening next weekend to choose their favored candidates for governor, we asked each party's contenders this question: The next governor will spend the first six months in office trying to stave off a looming $3 billion-plus budget shortfall. Where specifically will you find the money or savings to lead the state out of the red?

REPUBLICAN: Mark Boughton (Note:  now Lt. Gov. candidate on Mike Fedele's team, according to Monday's Courant)

The next governor of Connecticut will be faced with some of the most difficult challenges to ever face any governor in the history of our state.

By acquiescence of the General Assembly and the governor, the state has failed to make the systemic changes necessary to set us on stable financial ground.

Upon taking office, I will immediately move our state from a cash accounting system to a Generally Accepted Accounting Principles system similar to the one that we use at the municipal level. This will provide our taxpayers with a true accounting of the financial challenge before us.

I will freeze all spending, and with the exception of public safety, or when overtime is affected, freeze all hiring.

I will implement a freeze on all bonding for the next five years with the exception of education and transportation projects.

I will then ask to reopen negotiations with our state employee unions to address the current level of benefits. While I recognize that there is a "lockout" on benefits until 2017, it is imperative to reorganize the salaries and benefits of our state employees.

Finally, I will implement a financial accountability system called Connstat that will analyze all spending data in all of our departments, and will require biweekly reporting to my administrative team.

Through sound financial management and solid financial reporting, we can restore faith and trust in our financial practices so that we may begin the much more important conversation about the size and scope of government in Connecticut.

•Mark Boughton is mayor of Danbury.

REPUBLICAN: Larry DeNardis (didn't get enough delegates to Primary)

The only way to address the problem is to cut every department, agency, board, commission, committee and organization in state government.

As governor I will immediately declare a state of fiscal emergency, freeze all spending, halt new borrowing, direct department heads to find 10 percent savings and devise a plan to cut the number of departments to no more than 14. I will offer to create a strategic partnership with state employee unions. If we cannot find common ground, I will act to avoid fiscal catastrophe.

State government is still operating with a 1970s top-down, heavy layers of bureaucracy mind-set, with too many programs that we cannot afford.

We must focus government on its core functions, reduce the size of government, restructure departments and reduce the size of the state employee workforce.

I will present a plan to replace the state pension plan — which is underfunded by more than $30 billion — with a defined contribution plan. In addition, I will propose health savings accounts to replace the current health insurance plans offered to employees. Both of these measures will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in the first year and billions over the long term.

Most of all, I will create a new mind-set in Connecticut that limits taxes and spending, simplifies regulations and invites private investment in new job creation. I will take the lead in making Connecticut the Innovation State once again — open to inventors, entrepreneurs, young professionals and others willing to expand our economy.

•Larry DeNardis is a former congressman and college president from Hamden.

REPUBLICAN: Christopher Duffy Acevedo (ditto - see above)

The days of balancing Connecticut's budget using such tactics as accounting tricks, borrowing and delaying payments must end. It is time for a philosophical and systemic change in how our government is structured and functions. And this change must begin on Day One.

I am proposing a number of changes that will provide immediate relief to our current budget situation as well as ensure our state's fiscal health for the years to come. Among my plans are:

1. An immediate freeze on the hiring of new state workers. We will also offer retirement incentive plans to current employees, saving the taxpayers money in the short and long term.

2. Creation of an entirely new benefit system for state workers, which will move those not near retirement into a 401K system and out of the more expensive defined benefits pension plan.

3. A "right-sizing" of state government. There are 220 departments and agencies in our state government. We need to review each agency's function to make government more efficient and cost-effective, and to eliminate the duplication of services.

4. Privatizing certain functions currently delivered by government to private and nonprofit entities.

5. An end to legislators' pet projects on both sides of the aisle.

6. Transferring certain state functions to cities and towns (with corresponding funding), thus eliminating certain elements of state bureaucracy.

Due to limited space these are just a few of my proposals. I promise Connecticut smart, effective government.

•Christopher Duffy Acevedo is a financial analyst from Branford.

REPUBLICAN: Michael Fedele (Primary candidate)

Over the past two decades, personal income in Connecticut has almost doubled — but state government spending has nearly tripled. Connecticut's government has outgrown the taxpayers' ability to pay for it. My solution is to cut spending and to shrink the size of state government, and includes these proposals:

t A four-year state employee hiring freeze — exemptions only for public health and safety.

t Bring UConn/Connecticut State University hiring practices under executive control — most new state hires since July 1 have been in higher education.

t Two-year moratorium on borrowing — Connecticut has the third highest bonded debt in the nation.

t Eliminate bonding for local pet projects.

t Restructure state employee salaries and benefits — require 401k instead of current pensions; bring work schedules, health benefits in line with private sector.

t Merge state agencies — government is too big and duplicative.

t Reform Medicaid — require cost-sharing for certain Medicaid services as allowed under federal law.

t Privatize certain state services — private providers deliver services at half the cost of state-run services, state group homes and other state facilities.

t Eliminate leased space — the state spends $60 million a year on leased space.

I will convene the leaders of the General Assembly to go through the budget line by line and to put these proposals in place with a consensus plan. I will seek an agreement on a budget plan before the legislative session begins and I will involve leaders of both parties because continuing the gridlock is not an option and is costing us lost jobs, business closures and a stagnant economy.

• Michael Fedele of Stamford is lieutenant governor.

REPUBLICAN: Tom Foley (Party endorsed)

I will work hard to restore the 100,000 jobs we have lost in the last two years. These new jobs will generate more than $1 billion of revenue to help close the budget deficit.

I will reduce waste and duplication in government by implementing the recommendations of the Thomas and Hull-Harper commissions and other opportunities to streamline. I will shift state services to outside contractors where it can be shown that equivalent service levels can be provided at less cost.

I will begin shifting our elderly Medicaid population out of nursing homes and into less-expensive and more humane community-based care, with potential savings of hundreds of millions of dollars. I will lower the cost of providing health care services to state employees and Medicaid recipients by promoting wellness programs, implementing electronic record-keeping, improving the system for compensating victims of medical malpractice, and introducing health savings accounts.

I will lower incarceration rates for offenders who pose no threat to society. I will get more money from Washington, which sends only 62 cents to Connecticut for every dollar collected here. I will reduce the size and cost of the state workforce and bring state workers' benefits in line with the private sector. If we have the cooperation of the state employee's representatives, we can reduce the size of the state workforce through attrition and not cutbacks.

Together, these actions can solve the budget crisis, but the next governor and the General Assembly will need to move cooperatively and quickly.

•Tom Foley is a businessman from Greenwich.

REPUBLICAN: Oz Griebel (Primary candidate)

Connecticut faces financial challenges we haven't seen in two decades. Come January, our next governor will face a $3.5 billion shortfall, exacerbating our structural deficits estimated at more than $50 billion.

As our state's next governor, I am committed to ending business as usual and making the tough decisions required to stop mortgaging Connecticut's future. I will take an immediate accounting of all state agencies and consolidate, eliminate and privatize government services as appropriate.

For example, the private sector lives under defined health care systems, and public employees must do the same. We must negotiate permanent savings that transition from defined benefit to defined contribution plans to make Connecticut's future secure.

More important, we must bring back 100,000 lost jobs to rejuvenate the state's revenue base. Instead of raising or increasing taxes, we must restore confidence in the private sector to spawn job growth. When I'm governor, we will create a business-friendly environment that supports employment retention and expansion, and the infusion of venture capital into Connecticut. We will consolidate and streamline business regulatory functions under a single state agency that works to lower the overall cost of doing business.

The challenges we face are real, but with proven leadership and a fresh perspective, we can return fiscal sanity to Hartford and economic prosperity across Connecticut.

•Oz Griebel of Simsbury is on leave from his job as CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance.

DEMOCRAT: Ned Lamont (Primary candidate;  Mary Glassman, Lt. Gov.)

I come from the business world, where you're measured by results, not rhetoric. Given the budget crisis, our next governor must have the experience and independence to challenge special interests and make tough decisions to deliver results for Connecticut families.

I'm running because I want to be held accountable for getting our state back on track. I'll use what I've learned over a lifetime in the IT business to make government more efficient. We can save millions by switching state telephones to cheaper Internet connections and implementing group purchasing of everything from state vehicles to pharmaceuticals. I'll find real savings by encouraging community-based alternatives to nursing homes, ridding departments of duplicative middle management, working with front-line employees to increase efficiency, and fine-tuning state regulations to maximize federal funding.

I will also review Connecticut's more than $5 billion in tax credits to make sure each benefits our economy and creates jobs. We give away millions of tax dollars in the name of economic development, but we haven't produced one net new job — we've been dead last in job creation for 20 years. I will offer incentives that spur long-term job growth, and save us hundreds of millions by cutting credits that only rent jobs temporarily.

In the long run, however, we cannot cut or tax our way out of this crisis. We must grow the economy. I'm running for governor to make the changes it will take to create jobs, grow our tax base and move Connecticut forward.

• Ned Lamont is a businessman from Greenwich.

DEMOCRAT: Dan Malloy (Party endorsed;  Nancy Wyman, Lt. Gov.)

Connecticut needs to fundamentally change its approach to government. For too long, our state government has been too big, and too top-down.

For instance, the state has 220 agencies; I'd like to see us reduce that number by a third over time. The state has three economic development agencies, yet we're dead last in job growth — how much worse could we do with just one agency? I'd also suggest freezing compensation for all political appointees, and stopping the practice of providing cars for most state employees, outside of law enforcement. I'd also like to hear more details from state employee union leaders on their ideas for saving money; to date, they haven't been given that opportunity. If the ideas will save money, we should implement them.

We also need to get more competitive on energy — the rates paid by Connecticut industries are more than double the national average, crippling our ability to be competitive. We should expand opportunities to finance and invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy by leveraging federal dollars, using the state's bonding authority, providing incentives for private investment and giving municipalities new options to finance investments.

This notion of better government isn't some unreachable ideal. As the mayor of Stamford, I proposed balanced budgets every year and created nearly 5,000 new jobs — and when I left office, there were fewer municipal employees than the day I took over. Services were better, and taxes were held to the rate of inflation. That's what more efficient management can do.

•Dan Malloy is the former mayor of Stamford.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

Sarah Palin 2010

GUBERNATORIAN CONTE$T NEW$ - Lamont, Foley and...Susan B. for AG!
Leading the pack or is it PAC?  Surprise!!!  Having practice of law credentials (technicality) questioned hasn't hurt AG to-be!

Ned Lamont, Tom Foley Maintain Leads In New Quinnipiac Poll; Bysiewicz Leads With 54 Percent In AG Primary Race
Hartford Colurant
Christopher Keating
March 18, 2010 8:22 AM

Two Greenwich millionaires - Democrat Ned Lamont and Republican Tom Foley - maintain their frontrunner status in the potential gubernatorial primaries in the latest Quinnipiac University poll that was released this morning.

Lamont, a cable television entrepreneur, leads former Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy by 28 percent to 18 percent. Simsbury first selectman Mary Glassman is in third place at 4 percent, but 44 percent of Democrats remain undecided - making the race a wide open contest.

On the Republican side, Foley leads with 30 percent over Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele of Stamford and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who are both tied at 4 percent. Some insiders believe that Boughton could have enough support from his days as a state legislator and mayor to capture 15 percent of the delegates at the convention and qualify for the GOP primary. In that race, 50 percent of Republicans are undecided - giving a chance for plenty of movement in the multi-candidate field.

In potentially the biggest surprise of the day, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz maintains a huge lead in the race for attorney general, despite a barrage of negative publicity for the past two months over whether she has the necessary 10 years of "active practice'' of the law in Connecticut, which is the requirement under the law to be attorney general. Bysiewicz has the support of 54 percent of those polled, far ahead of former state Senate majority leader George Jepsen of Ridgefield at 10 percent. Overall, 31 percent of Democrats are still undecided in that race.

The candidates are battling for the support of delegates at the party conventions in May in Hartford, and then they will clash in statewide primaries on August 10.

In the Democratic race for governor, Lamont is expected to spend millions of dollars in the way that he spent nearly $17 million of his own money in the primary and general election races against U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman in 2006.

Justine Sessions, a new spokeswoman for Lamont who previously worked for five years for U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, said, "This is the third poll in a row where Ned is up by double digits over his closest challenger. Ned's business background and his focus on creating jobs are resonating with voters, and this comes before campaign season has even kicked into high gear.''

Unlike Foley, Lamont has not yet started his television blitz that is expected to arrive in the coming weeks. Lamont told Capitol Watch in an interview that he has no intention of allowing Foley to be the only candidate on the airwaves for an extended period of time.

Lamont had been ahead of Malloy by 16 points in the previous Quinnipiac poll, and he is now up by 10 points among those polled.

In a potential Republican primary for attorney general, state Sen. Andrew Roraback of Goshen leads with 13 percent to 9 percent for Martha Dean, an Avon attorney who lost in a previous race for attorney general against longtime Democrat Richard Blumenthal. Republican fundraiser John Pavia of Easton is close behind at 8 percent with 66 percent of Republicans undecided.

In the Republican race for governor, a group of candidates is fighting for name recognition and the attention of delegates. Longtime business executive Oz Griebel of Simsbury, Newington Mayor Jeff Wright, and former U.S. Rep. Larry DeNardis of Hamden are all tied at 2 percent. They are all behind the three leading candidates.

Foley has clearly pulled ahead in the GOP primary because of a heavy barrage of statewide television commercials that show him driving around the state and then standing outside of the Capitol to say that he is going to fix Hartford. Before his television blitz, Foley had little name recognition because he has never held elective office.

A friend of former President George W. Bush, Foley is the former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland - having served there until Bush left office on January 20, 2009. Before that, Foley served in an appointed position in Iraq for seven months, overseeing the privatization of previously state-owned businesses.

Since he never served in the state legislature or other elected post, Foley has been making numerous trips around the state to raise his profile. That included an appearance at the state Capitol on St. Patrick's Day for the traditional Irish Coffee Break that is held every year by the Motor Transport Association and always fills up a large, chandeliered function room on the third floor.

Foley has also advertised on the Internet and recently sent a brochure to Republican households in an attempt to reach primary voters. The expensive, stapled, eight-page brochure contains 14 color photographs and includes Foley's slogan that "Connecticut is broken and broke. Working together, we can fix it.''

Likes dogs and cats (orange cat of Rudy Marconi, former candidate for Governor on the Democrat side)...Senate candidates Blumenthal, Simmons (now "innactive"), McMahon and Westonite Schiff - Coin of the realm in CT Democrat poltiics, with Weston connections!

Blumenthal 'Active Duty' Bio Entry Is Latest Issue
Hartford Clourant
Jon Lender, Government Watch
June 13, 2010

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal provided information for a 1991 biographical listing in a national lawyers' directory that summarized his military service this way: "With USMC., active duty and reserve, 1970-1976."

This was the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee's last entry in the annual Martindale-Hubble Law Directory of attorneys at private law firms — since then he's held his government post — and it has not attracted any notice up to now. But everything that Blumenthal has said about his Vietnam-era military service has become noteworthy since his misstatements about it have become a major campaign issue.

It started with The New York Times' disclosure last month that in a videotaped 2008 speech, Blumenthal referred to "the days that I served in Vietnam." Then other misleading statements surfaced, such as when he was quoted in 2009 as saying: "When we returned from Vietnam, I remember the taunts, the verbal and even physical abuse we encountered."

The facts are that Blumenthal served from 1970 to 1976 in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, was never activated for duty overseas, and remained in this country. Blumenthal said after the Times story that "on a few occasions, I have misspoken," and later apologized. He and supporters say that he's never intended to misrepresent his military record, and that his official biography and campaign literature have always had it right.

But now there's increased scrutiny each time a new statement surfaces that he's made about his military service — and veterans interviewed by The Courant were divided in their opinions about his capsule biography in the 1991 edition of the nationally prominent Martindale-Hubble Law Directory.

Again, the listing was: "With USMC., active duty and reserve, 1970-1976."

"I think [active duty] was probably put in there to be misleading, based on all these other things," said Randall H. Collins of Waterford, who served in Vietnam in the late 1960s in the U.S. Army military intelligence division. An unaffiliated voter, Collins, 65, who is Waterford's superintendent of schools, is in the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame, established in 2005 to honor those who served honorably and "continue to serve and inspire their fellow man."

"I was repulsed by his comments" in the 2008 videotaped speech, said Collins. "I consider it a lie, not a misstatement."

As to the Martindale-Hubbell entry, he said: "I think it's both accurate and misleading: It's true that boot camp [training] is considered active duty," Collins said, "but when people think of active duty, they think of something longer than six months…. They think of a longer period of time" of "full-time" military service – not part-time reserve status in this country for six years with weekend duty once a month, and two-week drills in the summer.

"It's hard to say it's not technically accurate," Collins said. "I really think it would be insignificant if it weren't for the comments he made publicly about his duty. But when you contextualize it in a pattern, it becomes a little more suspicious. Rightly or wrongly, you read into his motivation of why he put it there."

Blumenthal, 64, voluntarily signed up for the Marine Corps Reserve in April 1970, and served six months' "active duty in training" at Parris Island, S.C., at the beginning of his six-year reserve stint, said campaign spokeswoman Marla Romash. She released a military document listing six months of "total active service" for Blumenthal as of October 1970.

The Courant had asked to interview Blumenthal, but Romash returned the call and responded to questions, saying, "He's addressed all these issues."

Before joining the reserve, Blumenthal had received student and occupational deferments during college and his work as a young staff assistant in the Nixon White House. He had drawn a relatively low number, 152, in the Dec. 1, 1969, draft lottery.

Concerning the language in the lawyers' directory, Romash said that "everything is highly condensed [but] certainly the intent was not to be anything but straightforward." She said she agrees the listing could be "confusing," but it "was not meant to communicate" that Blumenthal had seen "active combat duty." Most other lawyers who said they served in the reserves did not mention "active duty" in their listings. When asked why Blumenthal's listing did, Romash said it might have involved "something intrinsic to the form you fill out."

Collins, the former military intelligence officer from Waterford, was one of several members of the Veterans Hall of Fame who were asked by The Courant what they thought of Blumenthal's Martindale-Hubbell listing — and he was the most critical. Others were more charitable — saying that the item made no claims about Vietnam, and that it's true to say his reserve stint involved months of active duty, even though it was in the U.S.

"I don't see anything wrong with him saying that at all," said Jack Dougherty of Branford, another Veterans Hall of Fame member. Dougherty, 65, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1966 and served in Vietnam as an infantryman and squad leader. He was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded at Phou Noui.

"At that time, the reservists and the guys who were going to be there forever and ever were side by side in the same, exact boot camp," said Dougherty, who works as a mechanical engineer and is an unaffiliated voter. Dougherty said that the reservists "served their active duty for six months. The balance would be … reserve status," with periodic activities such as drills.

Asked what he thought of the recent disclosures about Blumenthal's misstatements, Doughterty said, "I'm not bent around the axle about it like some people are." He said, "I don't know if he misspoke in the past," but "my personal opinion is that he's a nice guy and does a great job in the category we find him in," as attorney general.

The 1991 volume of the who's-who-style directory of lawyers in private practice was the last of seven or so annual editions covering Blumenthal's time from 1984 to 1990 as a partner in the Stamford law firm of Silver Golub & Teitell; that was his last job before winning the 1990 election for attorney general and assuming office in January 1991. Earlier editions of the directory worded Blumenthal's military history one word differently — with the word "in" instead of "and," as follows: "With USMC., active duty in reserve, 1970-1976." Romash had no explanation for that difference.

Part of the problem for Blumenthal, said one Democratic political consultant, is that he has established an atmosphere that invites questions about credibility. "The problem facing the Blumenthal campaign is that these kinds of situations become fair game," the consultant said, referring to matters such as the Martindale-Hubbell entry, or last week's news reports that a Blumenthal subordinate said the attorney general had told him in the past that he'd served in Vietnam. Such things "might not have come forward as a news story if it hadn't been for the misstatements about Vietnam."

But one of Blumenthal's assets is the reservoir of goodwill he has built up with veterans over decades of attending their events and responding to their requests for assistance.

Another member of the Veterans Hall of Fame, Marine Corps Vietnam veteran Bob Janicki of Guilford, said that he has "struggled for years with imposters," and noted that recently he'd said after Blumenthal's apology, "I don't forgive him."

But now, Janicki, 63, a Republican voter who works for the federal Veterans Administration, said he is writing a letter to newspaper editors about a conversation he had since then with Blumenthal. Part of it says: "Mr. Blumenthal shared with me his personal feelings on what he may have said over the years, and I truly feel that he was honestly sincere, and I believe him. Personally I am not about to go back in time and review every quote presented by the media. I will never trust them, to determine if they were in context or taken out of context."

Courant Senior Information Specialist Cristina Bachetti contributed to this report.

Jon Lender is a reporter on The Courant's investigative desk, with a focus on government and politics. Contact him at, 860-241-6524, or c/o The Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

Schiff relishes role of would-be spoiler to McMahon
Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published: 09:54 p.m., Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The last obstacle standing in the away of Linda McMahon and a November duel with Richard Blumenthal, Republican Senate candidate Peter Schiff said Tuesday that he is prepared to invest more of his Wall Street winnings on the race.

"If I thought an extra million or two million could make a difference and play a key part, then I'd spend it," said Schiff, who is president of Euro Pacific Capital, a Westport-based brokerage firm.

Schiff relished the role of would-be party crasher on a day when former Congressman Rob Simmons, McMahon's main competition to represent the GOP, withdrew from the race.

"I'm the last man standing, other than Linda," Schiff said. "It's either me or her."

For a candidate who garnered just 44 votes to McMahon's 737 and Simmons' 632 at Friday's party convention in Hartford, Schiff was brimming with confidence, saying the contrasts between himself and the World Wrestling Entertainment promoter couldn't be more stark.  A frequent guest on CNBC and Fox Business Network, Schiff said he predicted the financial meltdown and has the answers to get the economy back on track, starting with cuts to government jobs and programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Endorsed by various tea party factions, Schiff said he is the anti-establishment candidate, not McMahon, who has already spent $16 million of her vast WWE fortune on the race.

"Her grass-roots campaign is as real as wrestling is. It's all fiction," Schiff said. "You can't buy your way inside and claim you're an outsider."

A spokesman for McMahon said that the momentum built up by her campaign was a result of her hard work on the message of job creation and fiscal responsibility.

"Look, Linda has said many times that the people of Connecticut can't be bought, and I think any suggestion to contrary is insulting to them," said Ed Patru of the McMahon campaign. "The support Linda has is testament to the nearly 500 meetings she's had around this state since she announced (her candidacy). People are hungry for something different."

The message coming out of the McMahon campaign Tuesday was one of party unity heading into the November general election.  There was no mention of a potential GOP primary in August, which would require Schiff to petition his way onto the ballot first.

"Our focus today and in the coming weeks will be on bringing the party together so we can win in November, so we can restore common sense in Washington and start putting people back to work," Patru said.

Schiff, who fell way short of the 15 percent total of convention delegates required to appear on the primary ballot, needs to collect signatures from 8,268 registered Republicans by June 8 to force a contest with McMahon.

"It seems like the powers that be and the establishment don't want me on the ballot," Schiff said. "What good does it do to keep my name off the ballot?"

Schiff said a number of Simmons' supporters and even some of his one-time rival's political operatives had reached out to his campaign.  State Rep. Alfred Camillo, R-151st District, a Simmons backer from Greenwich, said he was contacted Monday by McMahon's campaign manager David Cappiello about shifting his allegiances.

"I'm leaning toward supporting her," said Camillo, who represents eastern Greenwich, Riverside, North Mianus, Cos Cob and part of the downtown.

Although he has never spoken to Schiff, Camillo said he would entertain feelers from his campaign.

"Ideologically, I certainly am aligned with him," Camillo said. "But from what Linda McMahon has said, she's certainly not far off the spectrum from Peter Schiff."

Camillo said he was thanked Tuesday afternoon for his support by Simmons, who did not push him in the direction of either McMahon or Schiff.  State Rep. Lile Gibbons, R-150th District, who is also from Greenwich, immediately ruled out Schiff as an alternative, however.

"He's not a viable candidate," Gibbons said. "I'm not going to do it today, but I'm going to support the party nominee. (McMahon) made a very strong showing at the convention."

Gibbons, who represents shoreline areas and part of the downtown, suggested that there wouldn't be much to gain from a primary.

"My guess is both parties will try to avoid a primary because it will save time, money and effort," Gibbons said.

Bob MacGuffie, co-founder of the Fairfield-based political action committee Right Principles, a group affiliated with the tea party movement, said "God no" when asked if he could bring himself to support McMahon.

"He's a better candidate than Linda McMahon," MacGuffie said of Schiff. "He's a smarter person. He doesn't carry the baggage that she does. He can take it to Blumenthal and clean his clock. All Linda McMahon has is money."

If Rand Paul can win the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky and Ken Buck can take Colorado's GOP convention for Senate -- both favorites among the tea party -- MacGuffie said Schiff can do the same in Connecticut.

"The tea party represents the swing vote in America," MacGuffie said. "I think his campaign has to stand up and come alive. It appears that he hung back waiting to get to the primary phase. We're here and he needs to have an aggressive campaign and take it to McMahon."

Schiff acknowledged that he will miss having Simmons in the race as a foil to McMahon.

"I think having Linda and Rob beating each other up for a little while longer would have been good for me," Schiff said. "I liked that dynamic about the race."

But those looking for Schiff to pick up where Simmons left off attacking McMahon's promotion of professional wrestling, which her foes say is rife with sex, violence and drug use, may have to look elsewhere for kicks.

"We haven't done any kind of opposition research," Schiff said. "(But) if it comes down to her attacking me, then I'm going to obviously fight back."

Staff writer Neil Vigdor can be reached at or at 203-625-4436.

From high flyin' to free fallin'
Ken Dixon
Published: 03:11 p.m., Friday, May 21, 2010

Politicians are a needy lot in general and the higher the profile, the greater the stakes, the more likely they'll eventually fly too close to the sun and melt the wax from their wings.

Such is the free fall of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, whose 20-year run as the state's top civil lawyer is being tainted by his clinical ubiquity and pathological desire to be loved.

If we're not there melting the wax, reporters are around to cover the plummet and describe Icarus's wreckage on the ground. Blumenthal is now in the second phase, as gravity works its magic.

Vietnam, it seems, 35 years after the last American helicopter levitated off a Saigon rooftop, is the war that keeps on destroying people.

Blumenthal's two-decade, non-stop self-promotional circuits of the state and his slips of the tongue in the heat of pandering to military-themed occasions are making what would have been the once-simple operation of mopping up Republican competition for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd's seat oh-so-challenging.

Republican Linda McMahon's sexist, steroid-fueled "wrestling" empire is at least partly responsible for the decline of civilization. Yet this millionaire "businesswoman" from Greenwich is now a few "misspoken" moments in Dick Blumenthal's overexposed public career away from becoming a U.S. senator in her first election.

Yep, McMahon hasn't run for anything before.

Even Ned Lamont, the Greenwich millionaire (Do you see a theme here? Let's mention Tom Foley, the Greenwich millionaire/GOP gubernatorial hopeful/political neophyte) has a local board of selectman and tax board service on his elected resume.

I'm kind of rooting for the autumnal cage match of Blumenthal versus Rob Simmons, who was voted out of Congress after three terms representing the state's Second District, which to us in southwestern Connecticut is the unknown area to the east of the Connecticut River.

There's no doubt that Simmons was in Vietnam.

So you could have Blumenthal, who occasionally forgets that his Marine Corps Reserve service from 1970 to 1976 kept him in the United States, and Simmons, a certified vet whose tours of duty there are murky, but, he says, included 20 months in the Army followed by 20 months with the CIA.

I've covered literally hundreds of occasions over the last 15 years where Blumenthal has held news conferences or spoken during various programs. I've never heard him speak about being in Vietnam during his service. Others have and there's a growing litany of his picking occasions to claim he was.

But there he was the other day, inappropriately enough, in a Veterans of Foreign Wars' dining room in West Hartford, backed by about 20 members of the Marine Corps League in a carefully staged and choreographed attempt to save his career.

He was trying to respond to an explosive New York Times story, but with a sense of entitlement that has marred his Senate campaign from the day he upstaged U.S. Chris Dodd's retirement announcement by trumpeting his candidacy; that was plainly on display when he was snookered in a televised debate with Merrick Alpert (Merrick who? exactly) of Groton.

I kept thinking of that old Bruce Springsteen song, with the chorus that goes, "No retreat, baby, no surrender," as Blumenthal feigned camaraderie with these ex-Marines behind him.

"Dick, you said you take full responsibility, but do you think you owe people an apology for having misspoken?" I shouted from among the dozens of reporters. "No, No, No, No," came the voices from behind him.

"I regret that I misspoke and I take full responsibility," he said.

"Is that the same thing as apologizing?" I shouted back. "I... I... " Blumenthal didn't finish, turned his head and sought out another reporter, who didn't follow up on what I hope veterans ask him from now until Election Day.

I was lucky enough to be a year too young for the Vietnam draft. Too callow to be an anti-war type until I was nearly through my freshman year in college, I would have been ripe for the draft and the war.

But we in the Stamford High class of 1972 were safe, mostly because of a nationwide social battle, as well as because of the guys who went into the jungle, 58,000 of whom were killed.

The reason why I've refused to ever hold a gun is because I figured Greg and Charlie and Al and Ed and Steve and others did it for me. They put their lives on the line and were forever changed by Vietnam. I'm privileged that they are my friends.

The early stages of the campaign have shown that Blumenthal hasn't been schooled in 21st century politics, the kind that makes Linda McMahon a soft and squishy grandma type.

It's an easy thing to apologize for saying something stupid. But it's not easy at all for Dick Blumenthal, who wants the state of Connecticut to trust him and vote him into the United States Senate.

I'm sorry he has to be that way, but that's the gravity of the occasion.

Blumenthal makes appearance at Weston military ceremony
By Meg Barone
Published: 11:28 p.m., Sunday, May 23, 2010

WESTON — The town’s celebration of its Community Covenant with the Military Sunday served as Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s first appearance at an event honoring military personnel since admitting last week he mis-spoke about his own military service.

In a news conference May 18, Blumenthal offered regrets about inadvertently claiming over the years to have served in Vietnam when he didn’t. Blumenthal joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Reserves during the Vietnam era. He was one of several federal, state and local politicians who addressed the audience of about 150 people at Weston High School. They gathered to offer their commitment to servicemen and women in the U.S. military, including veterans, active duty personnel and reservists.

Blumenthal received polite applause as he was introduced and at the conclusion of his remarks, during which he made no mention of the controversy. Several people in the audience said they did not want to comment about Blumenthal and the issue of his military service saying Sunday’s event was a patriotic, not a political forum. Event Master of Ceremonies Gil Sanborn, the civilian aide to the secretary of the army for Connecticut, would say only that he has attended many events at which Blumenthal has spoken in support of the troops.

“Thank you to the town of Weston for showing what is really important about America, what is important about being an American. What you’ve done with this covenant is truly a model for our entire state and our nation,” Blumenthal said, adding that the celebration had personal meaning for him as well. “I have a son who was commissioned just a few months ago in the United States Marine Corps. Reserve and he is finishing his training, as we speak, at Quantico,” he said.

“Nothing is more important than supporting our troops and keeping faith with our veterans, and I have been a very staunch and steadfast advocate of making sure that we honor and respect the troops who are serving now and all the veterans who have served before,” Blumenthal said.

Sunday’s celebration featured a keynote speech by Col. JB Burton, who serves as executive assistant to the deputy secretary of defense in Washington, a 30-minute documentary “The Surge” and the signing of the covenant. The national anthem was sung by Jennifer Barron, of Weston, and Army Sgt. Major Caterina Veronesi, a Bridgeport native, sang “God Bless America.”

Burton, who was a combat leader in Baghdad, discussed the key role of the Dagger Brigade during the surge in Iraq and strategies that led to a turn-around in the U.S. war effort. He also talked about the impact Weston citizens had on Brigade members during their deployment in late 2006 and early 2007.

“Our troopers appreciate the support that you extend, whether it’s six tons of brownies baked by Jane (Young-Anglim), whether its soccer balls from Meg (Sanborn) and her great friends, whether it’s the adopting of the medical platoons by the EMTs. That touch of America to troopers in combat means something. I’m ever thankful that we had the opportunity to cross paths with the great town of Weston,” Burton said.

“When the military receives support from the home front it is like oxygen; it is the wind beneath our wings,” said Veronesi, who is a chief operating officer of a civil liaison team based at Fort Meade in Maryland, who served in Iraq for 18 months.

Sgt. Samuel Dolan, an Army recruiter in Danbury, said he was deployed to Iraq in 2006 but never experienced the outpouring of support that Weston provided for the Dagger Brigade. “It’s interesting to see a community come together and support a unit that they don’t even know,” Dolan said.

Preston Joffe, 10, chose to miss his fifth-grade soccer game to attend the patriotic event. “It’s not every day that you get to hear Army soldiers speak,” Preston said.

“Regardless of what you feel about any particular military action or war, the reality is that there are many men and women who are stationed around this world who left the comfort and security of their homes so we can have the comfort and security of ours, and they unequivocally, absolutely deserve our support,” said First Selectman Gayle Weinstein.

“We not only have an obligation to support our military directly. We also have an obligation to support them by being informed and active citizens,” Sanborn said.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes also attended the event and addressed the audience. The event was sponsored by the Weston Board of Selectmen and Weston Kiwanis Club.

Mr. Blumenthal’s Misdirection
NYTIMES editorial
May 18, 2010

There are few sins less forgivable in American politics than claiming unearned military valor. Richard Blumenthal, the attorney general of Connecticut, may consider his false claim to have served in Vietnam to be “a few misplaced words,” as he put it on Tuesday, but, in fact, this deception seems to have been part of a larger pattern of misleading voters.

As Raymond Hernandez reported in The Times on Tuesday, Mr. Blumenthal, a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate, said on at least one occasion in 2008 that he had served in Vietnam, and he failed to correct journalistic profiles over the years that included the claim. He was actually a member of the Marine Corps Reserve who never served overseas.

In an unsatisfying news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Blumenthal said he had meant to say that he served “during” the Vietnam War, not “in” Vietnam. He was surrounded by veterans who said he had repeatedly used that construction over the years. But even that phrase seems intended to suggest to inattentive voters that he had a greater link to the war than he actually did.

There is nothing wrong with having received multiple military deferments during the Vietnam period, as Mr. Blumenthal did, and neither those deferments nor the details of his service in the reserve have any bearing on his fitness to become a senator.

But his embellishments do. Mr. Blumenthal, who has an exemplary record as attorney general, has only a few months to demonstrate that they are an aberration and not a disqualifying character trait.

A debt of honor
Last Updated: 1:46 AM, May 19, 2010
Posted: 11:45 PM, May 18, 2010

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal yesterday booked himself a lectern at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in West Hartford, Conn. -- hoping to explain away having lied about being a veteran of a foreign war.

He wasn't terribly convincing.

The New York Times reported yesterday that Blumenthal repeatedly over the years claimed service in Vietnam with the US Marine Corps, when he actually received five academic and professional draft deferments between 1965 and 1970 -- finally enlisting in the Marine Corps Reserve and fulfilling his six-year service obligation stateside.

Faced with the facts, he finally 'fessed up -- sort of: "On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service," he said. "I regret that and take full responsibility."

Not likely. For one thing, taking "full responsibility" would have involved not trying to camouflage the facts by booking that VFW hall.

All of this matters because Blumenthal is seeking to replace another unprincipled pol, Chris Dodd, in the US Senate.

Thus, Connecticut voters will ultimately decide whether high office goes to a low-life like Blumenthal. And they've done worse -- Dodd's 30-year incumbancy being Exhibit A.

Blumenthal's principal debt of honor, however, is not payable to the people of Connecticut. Not at all.

Rather, it is due to the nearly 15,000 United States Marines whose names are chiseled into that granite wall hard by the National Mall down in Washington.

It is their sacrifice that Blumenthal sought to appropriate, and taking "full responsibility" would begin with an apology to them -- delivered alone, in the dead of night, no cameras allowed.

But it would take an honorable man to make such an act of contrition -- and an honorable man wouldn't have told such a base lie to begin with.

New York Times report says Blumenthal misrepresented Vietnam service record
Mark Pazniokas
May 17, 2010

The New York Times late Monday reported that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal falsely described himself on at least two occasions as a Vietnam veteran, instantly roiling his campaign for the U.S. Senate four days before he is set to accept the Democratic nomination at a state convention.

Blumenthal frequently and accurately refers to his stateside service as a Marine reservist during the Vietnam War, but The Times found him twice referring to having served in Vietnam and also described him as the beneficiary of hard-to-get draft deferments.

"We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam," Blumenthal told veterans and others in Norwalk in March 2008, according to The Times, which posted a video of the speech. "And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it - Afghanistan or Iraq - we owe our military men and women unconditional support."

The campaign of Republican Linda McMahon acknowledged finding and providing the video.

"We got our hands on it," said Ed Patru, McMahon's director of communications.  Patru declined to say from where the tape was obtained or when the campaign gave it to The Times.

In 2003, according to the Times, Blumenthal addressed a rally in Bridgeport, "where about 100 military families gathered to express support for American troops overseas. 'When we returned, we saw nothing like this,' Mr. Blumenthal said. 'Let us do better by this generation of men and women.' "

Blumenthal's campaign manager, Mindy Myers, called the story "an outrageous distortion of Dick Blumenthal's record of service. Unlike many of his peers, Dick Blumenthal voluntarily joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1970 and served for six months in Parris Island, S.C., and six years in the reserves. He received no special treatment from anyone.

"Dick has a long record of standing up for veterans. Tomorrow, veterans will be standing up with Dick."

Blumenthal's campaign will launch its defense with a news conference with Connecticut veterans, details to be announced.

Myers' statement did not address the two occasions when The Times says Blumenthal described himself as serving in Vietnam.

Marla Romash, a media adviser to the campaign, said later that Blumenthal simply misspoke on those occasions.

"Dick Blumenthal said today he misspoke. He has attended thousand of these events and is very careful out of respect for the veterans who served in Vietnam to talk about his service in the Marine Corps Reserve," said Romash, who was a campaign spokesman for Joseph I. Lieberman in 1988 and later worked for Vice President Al Gore.

The Times also described Blumenthal as obtaining five draft deferments, then enlisting in the Reserves only when he faced the draft: "In 1970, with his last deferment in jeopardy, he enlisted in the Marine Reserve, landing a coveted spot in a unit in Washington, which virtually guaranteed that he would not be sent to Vietnam. The unit conducted part-time drills and other exercises and focused on local projects, like fixing a campground and organizing a Toys for Tots drive."

The story was quickly circulated without comment by the campaign of McMahon, one of Republicans seeking the GOP nomination for the seat now held by U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd. In an interview, Patru acknowledged that the campaign helped generate the story with its research on Blumenthal's record.

"It has been increasingly clear to us as the weeks went on and we sifted the records that there was a troubling disconnect between the truth and his carefully cultivated image," Patru said.

Rob Simmons, a Republican candidate who served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, urged Blumenthal to quickly address the story:

"As someone who served, I respect Richard Blumenthal for wearing the uniform, but I am deeply troubled by allegations that he has misrepresented his service. Too many have sacrificed too much to have their valor stolen in this way. I hope Mr. Blumenthal steps forward and forthrightly addresses the questions that have arisen about this matter."

Simmons, the winner of two Bronze Stars during his 19 months of service in Vietnam, could be the short-term beneficiary of the story. He is struggling to win the convention endorsement in the face of McMahon's heavy media buys, part of her $50 million, self-funded campaign.

Blumenthal also faces token opposition for the Democratic nomination from Merrick Alpert, who is a former Air National Guard member who served in Bosnia.

Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo, who was unaware of the story until reached by The Mirror, had no immediate comment.

Her Republican counterpart, Chris Healy, said that Blumenthal and the Democrats have difficult questions to answer.

"I think that's for Dick Blumenthal and the Democratic Party to determine: Do they want to nominate a liar?" Healy said. "It's beyond lying. It's psychopathic. I mean that seriously."

Healy said it will be difficult for Blumenthal, an accomplished lawyer who typically chooses his words with great care, to pass off the quotes as misstatements.

One defense, however, is likely to be his long record of accurately referring to his military record. This is not, even as described by the Times, the case of a lifelong fabulist suddenly unmasked. Rather, he is accused of inaccurately describing his record at least twice and leaving a misimpression several other times.

The only reference to his military record on his campaign web site is the second-to-last sentence of his bio: "He served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, honorably discharged as sergeant."

"The best he's got is he only lied some of the time," Healy said.

Long article about Richard Blumenthal from 2004, in full, here

"...Blumenthal is hardly alone in his activist approach. Attorneys general around the nation have ramped up the scope and profile of their offices in the last decade, earning the national Association of Attorneys General the derisive nickname of "Association of Aspiring Governors."

"New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, for example, has gone after nothing less than Wall Street itself, winning enormous settlements from powerful investment firms and exposing favoritism in the $7 trillion mutual fund industry since taking office in 1999 - all while regulators complained bitterly that he had far exceeded his legal authority..."

As if to confirm the wealth story just below...
Poll: McMahon leads Simmons in GOP Senate race

Associated Press
Article published Mar 17, 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon has taken the lead among Connecticut Republicans running for the U.S. Senate, but is trailing Democrat Richard Blumenthal in the general election race, according to a poll released Wednesday.The Quinnipiac University Poll shows McMahon with the support of 44 percent of Republicans. Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons garners 34 percent while Fairfield County money manager Peter Schiff has 9 percent. Twelve percent of registered Republicans say they're undecided.

It's a blow to Simmons, who led Sen. Chris Dodd in the polls until the veteran Democrat announced his retirement in January. And while Simmons trailed Blumenthal in a Quinnipiac Poll conducted in January, he also had been ahead of McMahon.

"What explains Linda McMahon's rise in the polls? Money," said Poll Director Douglas Schwartz. "She is the only Senate candidate on TV right now. She quickly has become as well-known and well-liked among Republicans as the former front-runner."

But in a potential general election matchup, McMahon trails Blumenthal, 61 percent to 28 percent.

Blumenthal, the state attorney general, is leading Simmons, 62 to 26 percent, and Schiff, 64 to 21 percent, in other potential general election races.  Blumenthal is far ahead of his rival for the Democratic nomination, Mystic businessman Merrick Alpert, 81 to 6 percent.

From March 9 to 15, Quinnipiac interviewed 1,451 registered voters by telephone. Of those, 549 were Democrats and 387 were Republicans.  The poll has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points. For the questions asked of Republicans, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 5 percentage points. For the Democrats, it's plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.
McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, has said she's willing to spend up to $50 million of her own money on the race. She is currently running ads on television detailing her background and has peppered Republicans with mailers, many of which take aim at Simmons.

The poll showed that 46 percent of voters prefer a candidate who funds their campaign mostly with private contributions while 36 percent said they prefer a candidate who self-funds their race.
Twenty-three percent of those surveyed said they consider themselves to be supporters of the tea party movement.

The running of the rich: Is wealth changing Connecticut politics?

Published: 07:16 p.m., Sunday, March 14, 2010

Just look at the boats.

To appreciate the influx of wealth in the top political races in Connecticut, you have to go nautical. At first, you might be impressed with Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Dannel Malloy's 28-foot powerboat or with Republican Senate candidate Rob Simmons's J-22 sailboat.

But they're humble dinghies next to the 47-foot "Sexy Bitch," the sports yacht that Republican Linda McMahon's husband docks in Boca Raton, Fla. They'd be swamped in the wake from "Odalisque," Republican Tom Foley's 100-foot ship flagged under the Republic of Marshall Islands and hailing from the port of Bikini. (Odalisque, if you must know, comes from the Turkish for a slave in a harem.)

The gap between rich candidate and not-so-rich candidate is enormous in Connecticut this year. To illustrate the great divide, you could easily choose real estate, watches or cars (say Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele's wife's 2007 Maseratti Quattroporte versus Danbury Republican Mark Boughton's 1993 Chevy pickup truck).

But what does it really mean? Do you now have to be rich to be successful in big-time Connecticut politics? And can these wealthy candidates identify with the problems of just-average voters, most of whom don't have any boats at all?

Hearst Connecticut Newspapers gave 11 of the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidates a questionnaire designed less to ascertain their wealth than to get some insights into how they use it. We wanted to know the cars they drive, how much they give to charity, where they vacation, what they spend on a haircut or business attire, where they like to go out and eat.

Most candidates gave us answers. For those who did not, we tried to provide information from publicly available records to offer some insight into the candidates' lifestyles.

The power of personal wealth

For the less well-endowed contenders, Campaign 2010 already has been an eye opener. They face the very likely prospect that their well-heeled opponents will use their personal wealth to finance a barrage of TV ads, hire the best consultants, conduct exhaustive opposition research and polls and fly in popular surrogates to impress voters.

McMahon already has made it clear she will tap millions of dollars from her family's wealth -- disclosure reports show her family's assets could be as high as $335 million -- in her bid to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd. The leading candidate on the Democratic side, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, has a family fortune of his own to write checks on. Ditto for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont, the man who dumped an estimated $17 million of his own money into a just-missed U.S. Senate race four years ago, and for Tom Foley, the businessman and GOP fundraiser extraordinaire who also wants to be the governor.

Democratic Senate hopeful Rudy Marconi, who has the least income of all the candidates who responded to the Hearst survey, noted glumly that the wealthy candidates get taken more seriously just by being wealthy. Those in the rest of the field, he said, "get 15 minutes, a handshake and a cup of coffee."

MONEY vs. experience

But hold on a minute. The last two governors, Republicans M. Jodi Rell and John Rowland, were not politicians of great wealth. Nor is the retiring Dodd, whose net worth of up to $1.85 million in his last disclosure filing puts him in the back of the pack of Senate millionaires.

Dodd, Rell and Rowland worked their way up through the political system, winning lower-level electoral seats in the state Legislature or Congress before convincing voters to give them the big prize.

These days, McMahon, Foley and Lamont undoubtedly can be emboldened by the success wealthy political neophytes have had in winning elections, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Jon Corzine, the former New Jersey governor.

Scott McLean, professor of political science at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, said that for a variety of reasons, rich, untested candidates could have an edge this year.  Voters, angry at the state's stagnant economy, may be willing to accept inexperienced, well-funded outsiders, he said.

"People don't like career politicians anymore," McLean said. "Experience seems almost a disqualification."

The less-affluent candidates always can take to heart the lesson of John Connolly. The former governor of Texas who bolted parties to run for president as a Republican in 1980 was seen as a formidable and well-financed candidate by pundits from coast to coast. Well-financed Connolly undoubtedly was, but his $11 million in spending earned him a grand total of one GOP delegate to the party's national convention.

Connecting with voters

Neither party has a monopoly on wealthy candidates in Connecticut this year. Affluence doesn't seem to have a particular ideological bent, either. Certainly the views of Democratic millionaires Blumenthal and Lamont and GOP millionaires Foley and McMahon are oceans apart on the economy, health care and financial regulation.

The more important issue for voters might be whether Connecticut's crop of millionaire contenders have the leadership skills and the ideas that can make a difference in the their lives. And candidates, while making their issue pitches, also are portraying themselves as people who understand those common problems.

For instance, McMahon's TV commercials stress how she and her husband came back from financial calamity and understand what hard times are like.

Woe to the candidate who fails to see how even a momentary portrayal of being out of touch can ricochet through a campaign. George H.W. Bush's alleged unfamiliarity with checkout scanners -- a claim that was flatly erroneous -- branded him as above the struggles of his constituents. And Mario Cuomo's jibe at Republican Lew Lehrman's expensive choice of timepieces ("Nice watch,'' he observed during a 1980 New York gubernatorial debate) seemed to say volumes about Lehrman, who lost the race.

A cheap shot, some said later. Maybe. Or perhaps voters simply concluded Cuomo was a better candidate. After all, politicians with the common touch -- whether their names were Roosevelt or Kennedy or Bush -- never have let their wealth undermine their appeal.

Perhaps multimillionaire Democrat Blumenthal is familiar with fellow Greenwich resident Lehrman's brush with Cuomo.

Blumenthal's choice of timepiece? Timex.

Staff writer Neil Vigdor contributed to this report.

The profiles in this package were reported by staff writers Ken Dixon, Brian Lockhart, Robert Miller, Dirk Perrefort and Neil Vigdor.

GOP Candidates for U.S. Senate:  Peter Schiff, Rob Simmons, (dog "Bailey" - what kind of name is that for a CT GOP dog?) and Linda McMahon;  DEM Dick Blumenthal running for U.S. Senate
Schiff serves Tea Party bullion and politics

Mark Pazniokas
March 7, 2010

NORTH HAVEN - The two worlds of Peter Schiff merged over the weekend at a Holiday Inn hard by I-91, where he pitched investment advice and his U.S. Senate candidacy to Tea Party activists.  Schiff covered subjects never broached in last week's tepid debate with two rivals for the Republican nomination, things like the merits of burying gold vs. stashing it off shore.

He was invited to give two talks, one on his candidacy and the other on how to use gold as a hedge against an economic collapse that he has been predicting since 2007.  Over three hours, Schiff seamlessly mixed business and politics, telling his audience some things it wanted to hear and a few it didn't.

"Nobody in Washington thinks I can get elected," said a smiling Schiff, who preaches cutting Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits. "I have stepped on every political third rail that exists."

And then some.

Schiff is the president of the Westport brokerage firm, Euro Pacific Capital, and a frequent commentator on CNBC, CNN, Fox and Bloomberg known as "Dr. Doom" for his apocalyptic views of the U.S. economy.  He claims credit for calling the 2008 recession on the air and in print. In early 2007, he published, "Crash Proof: How to Profit from the Coming Economic Collapse."

But here's the thing: The 2008 recession is not the collapse he is talking about. If one considers Schiff a financial evangelist, then think in biblical terms of what he sees in store for the U.S. economy.  Schiff sees the U.S. economy unraveling. The debt is unsustainable, made tolerable for the moment only by interest rates kept artificially low by a meddling central bank, the Federal Reserve.  He likens the government's fiscal and monetary policies to a Ponzi scheme, destined to collapse when when China and other foreign lenders finally cut off credit.

"At some point, they are going to look at the U.S. and decide we can't pay it back," he said.

The dollar will crash. Interest rates will rise, fueling inflation that could leave currency worthless. And that's where the gold comes in.

"You have to have real money, gold and silver," Schiff said.

It was unclear if Schiff found the right demographic at the Holiday Inn for his pitch about gold or his candidacy. Organizers had to pass the hat to offset the $650 cost of the conference room, and not even Tea Party leaders like predicting where the movement's activists will show up on election day.  Tanya Bachand, one of the organizers, said she likes Schiff's economic message, but a significant portion of the movement are opposed to abortion.

"He's pro-choice, and that's difficult," she said.

Monique Thomas of Greenwich said abortion opponents are unlikely to find an ally who is a serious challenger in the mix. At some point, being against the status quo is not enough.

“You have to choose someone else,” she said.

Palin Smith of Woodbury was one of the audience members who has found it easier to oppose incumbents. He introduced himself as the originator of a dump Chris Dodd web site. With Dodd out and Richard Blumenthal in the race, Smith has shifted gears, printing buttons that say, "No Blumen Way."

He has no pro-Schiff buttons, but he may get there, Smith said.

"I like him," he said.

But Schiff is off message with elements of the Tea Party, seeing no need, for example, for tightening the borders against illegal immigrants. That bothered Philip Balestriere, a Republican town committee member from Stamford.

"We should lock our friggin' borders," he said. But he added, "Otherwise, he's a great guy."

Like most of his audience, Schiff bemoans the U.S. decision to go off the gold standard in 1971, leaving U.S. currency as paper backed only by a government drowning in debt.  Schiff recommended the Perth Mint of Western Australia as a safe place to buy and store gold bullion.

"It's a good thing to store precious metals off shore, especially if we get into confiscation," he said. Having assets off shore also is good "if things really, really get bad and if you have to leave."

He also suggested keeping some gold on hand, buried in the backyard if necessary,  Schiff said he is days or weeks from launching a new subsidiary, Euro Pacific Precious Metals.

"We're going to be selling primarily for physical delivery," he said. "We will be very competitive on price."

Schiff warned about storing gold in a bank safe-deposit box, in case the government bans the private ownership of gold.

"If you have it buried in your back yard, I don't think they will dispatch agents to your backyard with metal detectors," Schiff said.

He said that precious metals are the only safe hedge against hyper-inflation on the scale suffered by Weimar Germany after World War I. Schiff told the story of a wealthy woman whose assets were rendered worthless by inflation in a year.

"We are right there," Schiff said, holding a microphone in one hand and chopping the air with his other like a metronome. "We are right at that point right now."

(He said later that the Weimar Republic is not part of his stump speech. "This is an audience of people that want to know about why you should own gold," he said. "Normally, I am not bringing up the Weimar Republic.")

Schiff argues that the federal government has grown beyond the role envisioned by the founding fathers or authorized by the U.S. Constitution. It is a message that resonates with Tea Party adherents, who see much of the federal government as unconstitutional, including the federal income tax.

Nationally, the movement has veered off into areas that Schiff sees as foolhardy, including conspiracy theories on 9-11 and the economy.  During a Q&A period, the second question posed was about the need for a commission to resolve "unanswered questions" about 9-11.

"I'm not aware of any unanswered questions," he said. "I do know there are people out there who believe that 9-11 was somehow planed by the U.S. government. I think our government is incompetent. I don't think they are evil."

Schiff warned that talk of conspiracies will cost the movement credibility.

"We can't be led down those roads and think that everything is a result of conspiracy," Schiff said. "There are people who think I'm a double agent in this conspiracy because I'm Jewish. They think, hah, I must be in league with the bankers."

The moment seemed awkward.

"I don't believe in any of these conspiracies," Schiff said. "I don't think Elvis is alive. I don't think the government is hiding aliens in some silo in New Mexico."

His audience laughed.

The next question came from Joe Markley of Southington, a former Republican state senator who is running for state Senate again. Was there anything in Schiff's past that could haunt his candidacy?

"There are no scandals in my background," Schiff said.

His opponents can "take things out of context" and paint him as unpatriotic for advising clients to invest overseas, he said. And they can talk about his disinterest in voting for much of his adult life.

"And, of course, there's my father," he said.

His father is Irwin Schiff, an imprisoned tax protester who has insisted that the U.S. has no authority to collect a federal income tax.  After talking for nearly three hours, Peter Schiff later sat with a reporter, sipping water from a paper cup. He said he agrees with his father about the income tax, but that's not his fight.  His father tilted at that windmill for more than 30 years. For his troubles, he was convicted three times in federal court, most recently four years ago at the age of 78. He is serving 13 years in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

"It was his life," Schiff said. "He was committed to this cause. He was obsessed. He was like Captain Ahab, fighting the great white whale. And that wasn't what I wanted to do. But I have a lot of respect for what my dad did, and his willingness to put it all on the line the way he did."

A woman interrupted to compliment his performance in last week's debate. He smiled and nodded.  Peter Schiff was 5 and living in Connecticut when his parents divorced. He was raised by his mother in New York, south Florida and California.

"Always with my mom," he said. "My dad was always off doing his tax thing."

Schiff wondered if his father will become an issue.

"I did work with my dad for a couple of years when I was 19 and 20. They could try to hold that against me," Schiff said. "My name is on one of his books, 'The Great Income Tax Hoax.' "

For now, his Republican opponents, Linda McMahon and Rob Simmons, are ignoring Schiff.  Simmons, a former three-term congressman, is attacking McMahon for the off-color content of her family's business, World Wrestling Entertainment. McMahon is attacking Simmons for being a former three-term congressman.  That leaves Schiff free to preach the gospel of economic doom, a message that was ridiculed prior to 2008.

He was asked if he ever thinks his message sounds a bit paranoid, especially when he talks about possibility keeping assets off shore, in case living in the U.S. becomes untenable.

"I'm not saying this is definitely going to happen," Schiff said. "I'm just saying what will happen if we continue on our present path. I know that everything we are doing is undermining the economy further. We are laying the foundation for a greater collapse."

Senate Debate: GOP Candidates Avoid Personal Attacks, Focus On Public Policy
By DANIELA ALTIMARI, The Hartford Courant
March 3, 2010

For months, Republican U.S. Senate candidates Rob Simmons and Linda McMahon have been locked in a nasty, deeply personal clash marked by blatant attacks, stark differences of opinion and accusations of lies.

On Tuesday, the candidates met in their first debate and some surprising similarities emerged.

In fact, the hourlong forum, which also included money manager and author Peter Schiff, was largely a genteel affair that featured few fireworks and focused instead on the finer points of public policy.

The three GOP contenders found consensus on numerous issues, showing caution by hewing to their party's core philosophy. Each expressed opposition to a government-run health care plan, and government regulation in general. Each voiced support for lower taxes and efforts that help small businesses grow. And each acknowledged that they had not read the mammoth health care bill passed by the Senate last year.

It was only in the waning moments of the hourlong debate at the University of Hartford that McMahon's ties to World Wrestling Entertainment -- her family business and the subject of much criticism from the Simmons camp -- were raised. And it was McMahon herself who brought it up. She suggested one way to end gridlock in Washington would be to set up a ring in the Senate chamber for a "smack down." The line drew laughs.

Simmons, who has been churning out press releases denouncing both the WWE's treatment of its wrestlers and the spicy nature of some of its content, avoided the topic. He made a reference to character in his closing statement: "The character of our Republican Party will be conveyed by the nominee that we select. I hope that my character as a public servant will reflect their choice." He insisted to reporters afterward that it wasn't a veiled jab at McMahon.

Instead, Simmons took a swipe at Democrat Richard Blumenthal, who said in last night's Democratic debate that the many lawsuits he has filed through the years have actually helped to spur job growth.

"I would not recommend lawsuits as a way to create jobs,'' Simmons said. "What I would recommend is that we go to the fundamental value that all Americans, have which is free enterprise¡Kand in particular that we focus on small business."

Schiff noted after the debate that many people watching at home might have been surprised to see three candidates in the debate. His candidacy, fueled by passionate and energetic supporters from across the nation, has to some degree been overshadowed by the heat generated by Simmons and McMahon.

But Schiff's fans were among the loudest in the room, yelling "Peter!" as he took his place on the stage. They have come to know the Weston pundit through his frequent television appearances schooling viewers on monetary policy -- and that's largely what they got Tuesday night.

Schiff sounded like a college professor trying to convey a complex topic to a class full of undergrads, but he also showed a combative side. When asked about „©partisan„© gridlock, the other candidates voiced confidence that, if elected, they could work with their Democratic colleagues. Schiff, gesturing with hands to underscore his points, wondered why bipartisanship was viewed as such a virtue.

"A lot of people say we need bipartisanship so we can overcome gridlock,'' Schiff said. "Well, I don't want to overcome gridlock if that's the only thing standing between us and more government. I want to change what's happening in Washington. I don't want to go to Washington to compromise my positions or my principles. I want to try and persuade and educate the other members of Congress to adopt my principles. ... We've been compromising for years, and look at the mess that we're in."

And Schiff ended with a pledge: "If you send me to Washington, I promise you one thing ¡V that town will never be the same again."

Each of the candidates emphasized their life stories: Schiff spoke of how he predicted the economic meltdown. McMahon talked of her rise from bankruptcy to the head of a multimillion-dollar corporation. Simmons spoke of his many years of public service and his distinguished military career.

The stakes Tuesday night were perhaps highest for McMahon, a newcomer to politics who has indicated she could spend up to $50 million in her quest to win the seat, which is currently held by U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd. She has never debated before, not even in high school or college, and her handlers were clearly pleased with her performance.

In her closing statement, McMahon explained to voters why she is running. "I don't need a hobby,'' she said. "I'm running because I could no longer tolerate the lack of common sense and the lack of fiscal discipline I see in Washington. I wanted to shake things up. I want to offer a fresh perspective. I'm not a career politician."

The debate was sponsored by The Courant and Fox 61.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

Democratic Senate candidates square off in debate
By Brian Lockhart, CT POST Staff Writer
Published: 11:58 p.m., Monday, March 1, 2010

HARTFORD -- During Monday's Democratic U.S. Senate debate, one of the best exchanges highlighting the differences between the two candidates, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Mystic businessman Merrick Alpert, came over, of all issues, Cuba.

Alpert, the admitted underdog for his party's nomination to succeed the retiring U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, portrayed himself as a bold, decisive political outsider who would wage war on "incrementalism" in Washington.

Asked by moderator Tom Condon, of the Hartford Courant, whether the United States should normalize relations with Cuba, Alpert responded: "Tom, I would vote to do it tonight. Why wait?"

Blumenthal's answer was far more measured and involved. He talked about the need for the Castro regime, which has run the country for decades, to depart and for Cuba to adopt "more Democratic forms of government." He also said he would listen to the opinions of Cuban constituents in Connecticut.

"It will be a demanding and painstaking process," Blumenthal said, adding minutes later, "As a U.S. senator, I would hope I would be part of that process, working step by step, but maybe very quickly and maybe within the next couple of years."

The hourlong debate at the University of Hartford's Lincoln Theater provided opportunities for both candidates.

Republican candidates Linda McMahon, Rob Simmons and Peter Schiff will debate at the same location on Tuesday.

ISSUES 2010 - CT - State Aid Formula (ECS);  O.P.E.B. status;  Campaign Finance reform;  jobs recovery picture.  Other. Tea Party power?

The problem - State aid drying up;  third-party candidate Tom Marsh local sales tax plus Foley and Malloy thoughts;  Regional ideas have not been picked up yet by others.  Hartford Courant has their facts wrong today Oct. 13. 2010 - Michael Ross was executed May 13, 2005 (read article here).  It looks as if the results of the Gubernatorial Election should make Cherhire case moot (?) with leader in the race Malloy against death penalty, and the Democrat Legislature having passed a  bill against the death penalty which did not become law because Gov. Rell vetoed it...

65% Back Death Penalty In Connecticut, New Poll Shows
Courant Staff Report
7:48 AM EDT, October 13, 2010

Nearly two-thirds of Connecticut voters favor the death penalty in general, while even more favor it for the man found guilty of killing a Cheshire woman and her two daughters, a Quinnipiac University Poll released this morning shows.

The poll shows that 65 percent of those surveyed support the death penalty in general -- slightly higher than in recent years, when support has "hovered" about 60 percent, Quinnipiac says.

When asked specifically about Steven Hayes, 76 percent said they support the death penalty, the poll shows. Hayes has been convicted in the July 2007 killings in Cheshire and awaits the penalty phase of his trial, scheduled to begin Monday. He faces the death penalty on six capital-felony convictions.

Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said in a statement accompany the poll that "support for the death penalty in a specific case can be higher than support in general. This is because some voters who oppose the death penalty in general support it for a particularly heinous crime."

The death penalty divides the two major-party candidates for governor, though only 6 percent of those polled said they would cast their vote for governor based on that issue alone. Dannel Malloy, the Democrat candidate, opposes the death penalty, while his opponent, Republican Tom Foley, favors it.

Both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate voted last year in favor of abolishing the death penalty. Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed the bill.

The Quinnipiac poll of 1,721 registered voters was taken Oct. 7 to 11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

In a statement accompanying the results, Quinnipiac said the new poll shows the death penalty has more support among men, 69 percent, than among women, 62 percent. "In the specific Cheshire murder case," the statement said, "women back the death penalty 74 – 17 percent while men back it 78 – 19 percent."

Nine prisoners are currently on death row in Connecticut. The longest serving, at 21 years, is Robert Breton, who was sentenced to death in October 1989 for the beating and stabbing deaths of his ex-wife and son.
The last person executed in the state, in 1995, was Michael Ross, who strangled six young women in the 1980s.

Candidates Differ

In a recent interview with The Courant, Malloy explained his stance on the death penalty: "… we know that there is precious little connection, if any, documented between the existence of the death penalty in a state and the homicide rate.

"We know that it has been unfairly, or at least disproportionately, applied to men and women of color. And then when you consider the difference in the race of the victim of the homicide, that becomes an even larger discrepancy," Malloy said. "So, based on a number of factors, I would rather we lock people up for the rest of their lives and throw away the key.''

Said Foley, "I'm for leaving the laws as they are in Connecticut, and I think this heinous crime against three women reminds us that some crimes do warrant capital punishment."

Connecticut's Cash Crunch: Will Towns And Cities Take The Hit?

September 7, 2010

HARTFORD —When Jim Finley reviews Connecticut's fiscal projections for the next two years, his conclusion is brief but not reassuring: "This is a public-policy time bomb."

Finley, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, worries that huge state deficits projected for the next two years could create further reductions in revenue sharing with local governments, meaning bad times for local governments and taxpayers alike.

"What we don't want is for the state to balance its budget on the backs of municipalities, because that's a false savings," Finley said. "It will just shift the cost onto the property taxpayers." CCM is the main lobbying group for cities and towns.

The group this month began lobbying Dan Malloy and Tom Foley, the two major-party gubernatorial contenders. When the winner takes office in January, he will inherit what looks to be a financial quagmire. The state budget is projected to be more than $3 billion in the red in each of the next fiscal years. The $1.3 billion in "rainy day" reserves are spent, and the Obama stimulus aid that propped up state and local governments across the country is scheduled to end.

Many political leaders privately acknowledge that severe spending reductions coupled with unpopular tax increases are inevitable. But East Hartford Mayor Melody Currey, president of CCM, says cuts must not hit aid to towns and cities. Local governments already are struggling, and most — like East Hartford — exist almost entirely on a mix of state aid and property-tax receipts.

"We know the state is going to take a big hit next year. But on the local level, we've already been making cuts. We're to the point where we'd have to cut services," Currey said. "Our unions have given concessions; town workers made less in 2009 than they did the year before. I've cut jobs at the fire department, the police department. The schools lost 60 teachers."

Wealthy suburbs generally receive the least state aid, but small rural towns and big, poor cities are especially reliant on it. Communities ranging from New Haven and Meriden to Thompson and Canterbury get a third to half of all their revenue from the state.  The biggest percentage by far goes to school systems, mostly through Education Cost Sharing grants. Connecticut is spending more than $2.4 billion on local education this year, including roughly $270 million of Obama Administration stimulus grants.

"The stimulus runs out this year. So next year, the state would need to put in $270 million more just to provide level funding," Finley says. "And another $270 million the year after that."

CCM last week distributed a proposal for the next governor and the General Assembly to help towns and cities by letting them raise revenue on their own.

State law prohibits local taxes except property and conveyance taxes. CCM says more property-tax increases would hurt businesses and local residents.  Instead, it wants municipalities to have the power to levy local entertainment or even local sales taxes. Alternatively, the state could raise the 6 percent sales tax to 7 percent and split the projected $600 million in new proceeds with local governments, Finley said. In either case, municipalities need freedom to diversify from reliance on the property tax, he said.

"There are going to have to be serious discussions at the state level about raising revenue," Finley said.

Rell administration officials say that personal income and sales-tax receipts are edging up in the past few months, and that Connecticut has been able to cut back sharply on borrowing to pay its day-to-day bills. But even in best-case projections, it's likely to take four or five years — at best — before revenue returns to the level before the national financial collapse in mid-2008, they said.

House Speaker Chris Donovan said the General Assembly made good on its previous promises to protect municipal aid, and can do the same thing again. "Everybody said they were worried about '09, then about '10, then about '11. We took care of that. We were going to borrow $900 million this year, that's down to $646 million," he says.

Could Taxes Be Ripe For An Increase?  Huge Looming Deficit For Next Year Spurs Candidates To Discuss A Hike

September 5, 2010

With a huge budget deficit looming, the candidates for governor are debating whether the state needs to raise taxes to close the projected deficit of more than $3 billion in the next fiscal year.  Republican candidate Tom Foley is ruling out an increase in any taxes, saying the budget gap can be closed through spending cuts alone.  Democrat Dannel Malloy, his spokesman said, would consider tax increases only as a last resort — after first creating jobs, cutting state spending and streamlining state government.

"The notion that you can get out of this without considering revenue — nobody believes that,'' said Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy's chief strategist. "Dan believes in progressive taxation. It's a basic difference between the two.''

Malloy has not made any specific proposals about raising taxes, other than to say that various options would need to be considered.

The Democrat-controlled legislature's finance committee, however, is expected to consider whether the sales tax and other taxes need to be raised next year to close the gap. House Speaker Christopher Donovan said Friday that the finance committee analyzes the tax structure every year in an effort to strike the right balance regarding taxation. He said it is too early to predict potential tax increases in the 2012 fiscal year, which begins next July 1.

"When we have state Democrats and federal Democrats working together, we balance our budget. We'll do it again,'' Donovan said. "We did it for fiscal years ['09], '10 and '11.''

Following recent practice, any tax increases would likely come as part of a legislative package that also includes spending cuts and, potentially, borrowing for operating expenses. No final decisions will be made until next year, after the new governor and the new legislature are sworn in.

The Sales Tax

The legislature has raised the cigarette tax several times, as well as the state income tax, to close past budget gaps. The maximum rate on the state income tax was raised to 5 percent during a fiscal downturn in 2003, and then increased again for couples earning more than $1 million in an even larger downturn in 2009.

"When facing a huge deficit, no taxes were raised — just on those making $1 million,'' Donovan said.

Connecticut enjoys an advantage over the surrounding states, with a sales tax of 6 percent. Both New Jersey and Rhode Island charge sales taxes of 7 percent, while Massachusetts is at 6.25 percent. New York has a hybrid system of state and local rates that can total higher than 8.5 percent, depending on where an item is purchased.  Connecticut also has more than 100 sales-tax exemptions. There is none, for instance, on food, prescription drugs, X-rays, dental visits, oxygen, telephone equipment for the deaf and blind, diapers and cremation services.

The sales tax used to be 8 percent, but in 1991 it was dropped to 6 percent as part of an overall compromise to create the state income tax.  Foley rejects the idea that Connecticut's sales tax could be raised without much backlash simply because it would still be even with or below the rates in surrounding states.

"That's no wiggle room at all," Foley said. "If you add to the sales tax, you just make it worse."

Foley said he has not received a clear answer from Malloy on his tax plans.

"Ask Malloy. What's the plan?'' Foley said. "Whose taxes are you going to raise? So far, he's being vague. I've been very clear. I've said no new taxes.''

The budget deficit, however, is a moving target that can change quickly. Foley has said that an economic recovery could boost state collections by as much as $1 billion per year, thus slicing the deficit. In the same way, Donovan said, that the state never expected to generate a surplus of nearly $450 million in the 2010 fiscal year, which ended June 30. So, Donovan said, the problems in the 2012 fiscal year that will face the new governor might "not be as big a problem as people have projected.''

Both Foley and Republican State Chairman Christopher Healy say Malloy will have major difficulties cutting the state budget because he is supported by the major state-employee unions.

"Who in Connecticut believes that someone who is in the pocket of the unions will make the tough decisions for the state?'' Foley asked.

Occhiogrosso responded that the unions are backing Malloy because of his 14-year record as mayor of Stamford and his knowledge of how government works.

"The reason the unions are supporting Dan is they know the next governor is going to have to make some tough decisions about government,'' he said. "If this race is decided on Dan Malloy's record as mayor and Tom Foley's record as a businessman, we'll take that matchup.''

Foley's World

As a wealthy Greenwich millionaire, Foley does not understand that progressive income taxes on the affluent need to be considered as part of the mix in a difficult budget year, Occhiogrosso said.

"He lives in a fairy tale land,'' Occhiogrosso said. "Tom Foley lives in a rarefied world. Most people don't live in that world.''

He added that the no-new-taxes pledge failed when it was used in 1988 by then-candidate George Herbert Walker Bush, who became president and later signed legislation to raise taxes.

"It is a desperate pandering attempt to get votes,'' Occhiogrosso said. " Republicans make these pledges because that's what they do. It's the same old playbook. This is a purely desperate attempt for Tom Foley to grab onto an issue.''

But Healy, the Republican chairman, said the Democrat-controlled legislature has mishandled the state's fiscal problems, prompting the state to face a triple whammy that will lead to a fiscal tsunami.

"It's the Hurricane Earl of fiscal problems — too much debt, too much spending and a lack of economic growth,'' Healy said. "It's more than past high noon on this issue. It would be a disaster to raise taxes on sales, income or capital gains. It would be a fiscal Hurricane Earl. At some point, you reach a breaking point.''

The Revolt of the Bourgeois
Tea partiers are mad as heck, and they’re letting the world know — politely.

September 3, 2010 12:00 A.M.

The much-analyzed speeches at the Glenn Beck Lincoln Memorial rally weren’t as notable as what the estimated 300,000 attendees did: follow instructions, listen quietly to hours of speeches, and throw out their trash.

Just as stunning as the tableaux of the massive throngs lining the reflecting pool were the images of the spotless grounds afterward. If someone had told attendees they were expected to mow the grass before they left, surely some of them would have hitched flatbed trailers to their vehicles for the trip to Washington and gladly brought mowers along with them.

This was the revolt of the bourgeois, of the responsible, of the orderly, of people profoundly at peace with the traditional mores of American society. The spark that lit the tea-party movement was the rant by CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, who inveighed in early 2009 against an Obama-administration program to subsidize “the losers’ mortgages.” He was speaking for people who hadn’t borrowed beyond their means or tried to get rich quick by flipping houses, for the people who, in their thrift and enterprise, “carry the water instead of drink the water.”

The tea party’s detractors want to paint it as radical, when at bottom it represents the self-reliant, industrious heart of American life. New York Times columnist David Brooks compares the tea partiers to the New Left. But there weren’t any orgiastic displays at the Beck rally, nor any attempts to levitate the Lincoln Memorial — just speeches on God and country. It was as radical as a Lee Greenwood song.

A New York Times survey earlier this year occasioned shock when it found that “Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class.” We’re so accustomed to the notion of a revolt of the dispossessed that a revolt of the possessed (in the non-demonic sense, of course) strikes us as a strange offense against the nature of things. But it’s threatening to wash away the Democratic congressional majorities in a historic wipeout.

In extremis, Democrats and liberal commentators have dragged the debate over the tea party into the well-worn rut of elite condescension to the bourgeois, a term coined in its modern sense by Rousseau and not meant as a compliment. For more than a hundred years, the bourgeois have been accused of being insipid, greedy, and unenlightened. To the long catalogue of their offenses can now be added another: unenthralled by Barack Obama, the Romantic hero seeking to transform the nation.

The tea party represents a revolt against his revolution, and thus a restoration. If a tea-party-infused Republican party were to take Congress and manage to cut federal expenditures by a sharp one-fifth, that figure would only be back to its typical level of recent decades of roughly 20 percent of GDP. If the party were to succeed in making the federal government more mindful of its constitutional limits, it would only be a step toward the dispensation that obtained during most of the country’s history.

To be sure, the tea partiers are fiercely anti-establishment, and that produces political candidates who are exotic and unexpected. Then there’s Beck himself. As he’d probably be the first to admit, he’s an unlikely leader for the disaffected bourgeois. He’s emotionally extravagant and conspiracy-minded, an intellectual enthusiast and rollicking showman.

The last time Republicans benefited from a wave election, they had their own Beckian figure at the top in the person of House Speaker Newt Gingrich. They wallowed in their revolution and let Gingrich’s ideological grandeur define them — to their regret in the end. If the wave comes this time, Republicans should endeavor to be a sober and responsible party for sober and responsible people, resolutely cleaning up after the failed Obama revolution.

They could do much worse than to take their cue from the tea partiers at the Lincoln Memorial, who knew how to make an impression without scaring anyone or trashing the place.

Funding is key education challenge for next governor
Robert A. Frahm, CT MIRROR
September 21, 2010

The nation's largest academic achievement gap among poor children is high on the list of challenges confronting Connecticut's next governor, but another education gap poses a more immediate dilemma.

It is the $270 million shortfall that will be left in the state's education budget when federal stimulus money runs out next year.

Both major party candidates, Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dan Malloy, say they intend to plug that gap - amounting to about 14 percent of state school aid - and to preserve the current level of state support for public schools.

"I have committed to not reduce education funding," Foley said. "We need to reduce the level of spending in our state but not at the expense of our children and our educational system."

"No way around it," Malloy said. "If we were to impose a 14½ percent cut, communities like Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury, New Britain, New London would be absolutely devastated."

A third candidate, Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh, running as an independent, said he would make education "a very high priority" but that it would be impractical to fund education at its current level, given the enormity of a projected state budget deficit.

The Education Cost Sharing grant is the single largest source of state aid to local school districts, and the pledges by Malloy and Foley not to reduce it "are welcome news to towns and cities that are very nervous about that funding," said James Finley, executive director and CEO of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

But finding the money for schools will be a daunting challenge, especially as the next governor confronts an overall budget deficit projected to reach nearly $3.4 billion next year. The $270 million in education funds currently covered by the stimulus would be more than enough to pay annual state costs for a dozen state regulatory agencies, including the departments of public safety, labor and consumer protection, for example.

Across the state, school districts have already been hit hard by the economic slump, laying off teachers, cutting popular programs and even closing some schools. Educators fear next year could be worse.

"While both candidates said they will do their best to find ways . . . to keep [state school aid] as it is, we remain concerned about it," said Robert Rader, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. "It's a big gap."

Malloy has said he will use a combination of cuts in state services, labor concessions and tax hikes to attack the deficit. The task could be even more difficult for Foley, who has pledged not to raise taxes, saying the deficit can be closed through spending cuts, labor concessions and revenue from job growth.

The question of how to pay for public schools will shape the approach to other issues on the education agenda. How will the state pay for the high school reforms approved by the legislature last spring? Can it afford Malloy's plans for preschool? How will it pay for Foley's plans to expand charter schools and other choices for parents?

The State Board of Education is reviewing a complex set of formulas governing school aid, and the next governor will play a key role in the debate over financing public education.

Foley, a Greenwich businessman, says the current Education Cost Sharing grant "looks like about 15 inches of computer code." He has endorsed a controversial approach that would link school funding directly to each student, sending state aid and local tax support to whatever school the student attends - a magnet, a charter, a technical school or the local neighborhood school, for example.

The money-follows-the-student plan has been championed by charter school supporters, including the New Haven-based school reform group ConnCAN. However, the idea has drawn criticism from teacher unions, school boards and others, mainly because it would bolster aid for some schools while taking away money from others.

Critics fear it would drain money, including local tax funds, from regular public schools at a time when schools are facing worsening budget strains.

Foley, however, described the system as "a marketplace where parents are choosing, selecting schools that they think are doing the best job for their children." He said part of the problem with the existing system "is that the money gets directed to the very schools that are failing."

Foley's education plan is centered on a philosophy of making public education more accountable to market forces. It would reallocate state funds to successful schools and give parents more choices such as charter schools, magnet schools or even schools in other districts.

"We don't want to be funding failure. We want to be funding success."

Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford, has called for long-term reform of school funding. As mayor, he was part of a coalition of municipal and education officials that sued the state in 2005 over what it says is a broken and unfair system of paying for public education.

That lawsuit by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding is pending in court.

"We need to build more robust funding for education and need to end our over-reliance on property taxes," said Malloy. His plan also calls for curbing school district administrative expenses and shifting funding toward preschool and elementary grades, "where the greatest educational gains can be made."

In the current economic climate, however, one of the key pieces of Malloy's education platform - the expansion of preschool education - will take some time to achieve, Malloy said.

"I wish I could do that on Day One, and I can't," he said, "but it's a goal we will work at."

Connecticut spends about $74 million annually to subsidize preschool programs in the state's neediest school districts, but the State Department of Education estimates there is a need for about 13,000 additional slots for 3- and 4-year-olds in those districts - an expansion that would cost more than $100 million.

Marsh, the third-party candidate, said he would try to make up part of the loss of stimulus funds by working work with statewide union leaders to negotiate wage freezes for school employees "rather than having 169 towns going through their own negotiations."

He also said any debate over building support for state school aid should include discussions with labor leaders "on increasing accountability and cost control."

For the next governor, the cost of education is just one piece of a much bigger puzzle. The biggest immediate challenge will be to jump start the economy, the candidates say.

"As soon as I resolve the structural imbalance in our budget and begin work on an economic development plan that can reasonably predict producing jobs, then [education] will once again be my highest priority," Malloy said.

Foley said, "Too many people in our state are out of work or under financial stress. . . . That's a more acute problem. That's a problem people feel every day. Failing schools is more of a chronic problem. . . .

"But long-term for the state," he said, "the economic future and economic vitality of Connecticut depend on the performance in our education system."

Towns fear a sharp decline in state education assistance
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIROR
August 31, 2010

Though state government's impending fiscal woes are well-documented, a new report shows local schools also face a financial hit 10 months from now that could reverse efforts to increase education assistance.

In a briefing to candidates for state office, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities also noted that non-education programs have dwindled to to what CCM regards as dangerously low levels.  But despite town leaders' pleas to be spared, gubernatorial candidates and key lawmakers declined to offer that assurance Monday, pledging only to consider options to mitigate the fiscal pain.

"The state is going to have to supplant an unprecedented amount of money" in the next two-year budget cycle, CCM Executive Director James Finley said Monday. "The biggest fear for the cities and towns is that the state is not going to honor its funding commitment."

State government's "commitment" in this fiscal year's $19.01 billion budget involves more than $2.8 billion in municipal grants, including nearly $1.9 billion for the Education Cost Sharing program.  But the ECS grants have been supported this year and last by $271 million in annual emergency federal stimulus aid set to expire in 2011-12.  That annual figure is nearly 150 percent the size of the $182.2 million ECS increase approved for 2007-08 - the largest in Connecticut history - by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the legislature.

ECS rose another $80.1 million in 2008-09 but has remained flat since then. So if the expiring stimulus is not replaced, the 2007 education initiative - which both Rell and legislators have hailed as one of the top accomplishments of recent years - will have been entirely reversed.

"We're well aware there's a huge hole in ECS out there," Rep. John Geragosian, D-New Britain, co-chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said Monday. "But we're facing a crisis. I don't think we can guarantee anything at this point."

"It's wise for municipalities to be concerned about what will happen in the next budget. The state's revenue picture isn't really improving and we face a nearly $3.5 billion deficit," said Rep. Craig Miner of Litchfield, ranking House Republican on the Appropriations Committee, referring to the $3.37 billion shortfall nonpartisan legislative analysts are forecasting for the next fiscal year.

"I think it would be a big mistake for anyone to make promises to any group," Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said, adding cities and towns can take steps right now to safeguard against a potential cut in 2011-12.

Specifically, Connecticut schools benefited earlier this month when Congress enacted a stimulus extension measure that provided an additional $110 million to help avert teacher layoffs.  But the federal legislation gives school districts the option of spending the funds any time between now and September 2011 - a deadline that comes two months after Connecticut's 2011-12 fiscal year has begun.  In other words, school districts could hold those funds to mitigate any cut in state ECS funds they might receive 10 months from now.

East Hartford Mayor Melody Currey, a former state legislator and current president of CCM, said her community opted to sit on the extra federal aid for exactly that reason.  But Currey also said encouraging communities to save today's windfall to guard against tomorrow's fiscal rainy day won't solve the problem.  That's because cities and towns already have been facing cutbacks in state aid, though not as large as the potential hit in school funds centered in 2011-12.

State government's share of video slot revenues from Indian casinos has slipped from $430.5 million in 2007 to a projected $367.8 million this year, and the portion shared with towns has fallen from $91 million to $61.8 million over the same period, according to state budget records.  In similar fashion, grants to mitigate property tax revenues municipalities cannot collect on state land, colleges, hospitals and manufacturing equipment, have fallen from $252.2 million in 2007 to $235.8 million this year.

And while the $22 million allocated for municipal road maintenance is the same level allocated in 2007, state government had provided as much as $35 million per year for this purpose during the first half of the past decade.

"We've taken hits everywhere on the town (non-education) side of the budget," Currey said, adding that East Hartford's fire, police and town hall staff all took pay cuts last fiscal year.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy, who was Stamford's mayor for 14 years through 2009, said that while he's well aware of the fiscal challenges municipal leaders are facing, "I consider putting the state's fiscal house in order to be top priority."

And though he declined to guarantee protection for any specific grant program, Malloy said not averting at least a portion of the looming ECS cut "would be devastating. It would endanger the future of Connecticut's ability to compete with other states."

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley, who has pledged to eliminate the largest state budget deficit in Connecticut history without tax hikes, also declined through campaign spokeswoman Liz Osborn to promise to spare any municipal grant from the budget axe.

"Tom is going to look at the budget as a whole," Osborn added. "But he believes reductions should not be made at the expense of our children's future."

Both Foley and Malloy have said they are open to relieving certain mandates on cities and towns. And while Foley is willing to consider CCM's request to suspend binding arbitration to mitigate cuts in town grants, Malloy prefers to open new revenue-raising options besides the property tax to local governments.

Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh, a third-party candidate for governor, largely echoed their comments, saying that while he believes there is little hope of sparing municipal aid from any cuts and also closing a 2011-12 state budget deficit that approaches 20 percent of current spending, education aid should be touched last.

But Marsh said he also believes it's time to allow communities to retain a portion of the state taxes raised within their boundaries, particularly the sales tax.

Officials challenge study showing state's pension fund going broke
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
July 9, 2010

The Northwestern University study concluding that the pension funds of Connecticut and 19 other states will be broke by 2025 is fundamentally flawed, failing to account for future contributions to cover unfunded liabilities, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators.

And state Treasurer Denise L. Nappier said Thursday that while Connecticut's state employee pension fund has been "chronically underfunded" the state still is required through its benefits contract with worker unions to both meet annual costs and save for future liabilities.

The study, prepared by Professor Joshua D. Rauh of university's Kellogg School of Management, estimated Connecticut would be one of the first seven states to run out of funding, reaching that point by 2019.

"Rauh's financial analysis does not account for changes that have been made and undoubtedly will continue to be made, that reduce public pension liabilities and increase contributions from both employees and employers," the association wrote in its analysis of the study. "Although we share Professor Rauh's concern over the difficult financial situation that state and local governments face in the current economy, we do not believe his analysis or recommendations are helpful for addressing the situation."

The association includes retirement fund administrators from all 50 states, four territories and from the District of Columbia.

Rauh could not be reached for comment Thursday.

At the heart of the disagreement is how states manage what is commonly referred to as a pension program's "unfunded liability."

For example, Connecticut's pension fund had $19.2 billion worth of obligations, or liabilities that eventually must be paid, not only to just under 40,000 current retirees, but another 53,000 workers who also will eventually draw benefits, according to its last actuarial valuation. That report also found that fund had just under $10 billion, or an amount equal to 52 percent of its liability. Actuaries typically cite a funded liability of about 80 percent as a healthy ratio.

Annual contributions to the system are supposed to cover current retirement benefit costs and to build up a savings to gradually erase that unfunded liability over a 30-year period.

For more than two decades, governors and legislatures have routinely approved annual contributions during tough fiscal times far below the level recommended by plan analysts both to cover current retiree expenses and to offset future costs. Between May 2009 when Gov. M. Jodi Rell, state employee labor unions and the legislature approved a concession package, and the end of this fiscal year next June, $314.5 million in pension fund contributions will have been deferred.

But even with those deferrals, Connecticut's annual contributions to its fund still covered more than just that year's pension payments to current retirees.

Actuaries recommended a $944 million contribution for this fiscal year, with about $340 million going to cover current benefits. Even though the contribution was reduced per the concession deal to $844 million in the $19.01 billion overall state budget adopted in May, more than half of that appropriation would go toward future benefit costs.

"The state employees' retirement fund has indeed been chronically underfunded, but based upon a collectively bargained agreement between the state and its unions, we are on a plan to pay up, over a period of time, for the past practice of not adequately funding the retirement system," Nappier wrote in a statement released Thursday. According to a report prepared last month for a commission appointed by Rell to study the fiscal challenges facing the state's retirement benefit system, the pension system would be fully funded by 2040.

The Northwestern University study also challenged the approximately 8 percent return on investments this state and most others typically count on in their projections. This reflects about three-quarters of the historical average growth of the stock market since 1927, Rauh argued in his study.

Connecticut assumed 8.25 percent in its 2008 actuarial analysis.

If Connecticut and other states assumed a more conservative, guaranteed rate, closer to the 3 percent a U.S. Treasury security would yield, Rauh wrote, their pension savings would be even more inadequate.

But Keith Brainard, research director for the association and one of the authors of its rebuttal to the Rauh study, said public pension funds with assets beyond $1 billion have a track record of their own that supports their assumptions. These funds have enjoyed a median return on their investments of 9.25 percent over the past 25 years, he said.

In February Rell formed the Post-Employment Benefit Commission, a panel of state budget and pension experts from management and labor charged with charting a long-term strategy to improve the system's fiscal health.

Office of Policy and Management Deputy Secretary Michael J. Cicchetti, who chairs the commission, said after the Northwestern University study was released that it underscores the need to investigate a broad range of possible changes to a package of retirement benefits that critics of state government have called too generous. The changes Cicchetti asked the panel to analyze include shifting to a defined contribution system, requiring pension recipients to pay more for health care, and restricting access to health care for workers who leave state service before they reach retirement age.

Under current law, workers with 10 years of state service remain eligible for both a pension and health care even if they leave for other jobs before reaching retirement age.

Nappier cautioned in her statement against overreacting to the fiscal concerns facing the pension system.

The "Great Recession" and "uncertain recovery" will put added pressure on state and local governments to meet pension obligations, she wrote. "But the answer does not lie in reactionary policies that merely shift the financial burden from the government to individuals who have earned a benefit for a lifetime of public service."

The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, which negotiates health care and retirement benefits for all state employee unions in Connecticut, said the association analysis invalidated Rauh's study, adding that suggestions like replacing state pensions with a defined contribution plan - similar to the 401 (k) commonly found in the private sector - does not make economic sense.

"We know that when taxpayers pay into a pension fund, they get a four-to-one return back into the economy as retirement income," said veteran state union leader Salvatore Luciano, who serves both on the bargaining agent coalition and on Rell's study commission. "Pensions are good for workers and they are good for the economy. Pensions are not the problem."

Study says state employee pension fund will be broke by 2019
Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
June 30, 2010

Connecticut is one of seven states that will run out of money to pay state employee pensions over the next decade, coming up short in 2019 due to poor savings habits and generous guaranteed benefit levels, according to a recent study by Northwestern University.

And Connecticut's pension fund could become insolvent sooner than that, according to Joshua D. Rauh, an associate professor of finance at the university's Kellogg School of Management, if the 8 percent return on investments this state and most others typically count on are not realized in the near future.

The collapse also could be accelerated by retirement incentive programs and deferred annual contributions -- two fiscal shortcuts Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the General Assembly have employed over the past two years to mitigate tax hikes and programmatic spending cuts.

"States face the risk that higher inflation and low asset returns could make their systems even more vulnerable," Rauh wrote. "State governments face a choice between taking more risk today and funding the liabilities to a greater extent."

Pension woes are nothing new for Connecticut. For more than two decades, governors and legislatures have routinely approved annual contributions to pension accounts far below the level recommended by fiscal analysts to cover current retiree expenses and begin saving to offset future costs.

Connecticut, like most states, provides a defined benefit pension plan, meaning it promises its workers a specific annual payment once they retire. By comparison, the most common plans in the private sector involve defined contributions. Under these, employees save for their own retirement, making investments often matched in part or full by their employer.

According to its last, full actuarial valuation, the pension fund had $19.2 billion worth of obligations and held just under $10 billion in assets, or about 52 percent of its liability.

In February Rell formed the Post-Employment Benefit Commission, a panel of state budget and pension experts from management and labor charged with charting a long-term strategy to improve the system's fiscal health.

"This study just underscores the reason why the governor put together the commission," Office of Policy and Management Deputy Secretary Michael J. Cicchetti, who chairs the commission, said this week. "It also underscores the fact that we cannot sit back and do nothing. We have to get our arms around this and make some real changes."

Cicchetti has urged the panel to investigate a broad range of possible changes to a package of retirement benefits that critics of state government have called too generous. The changes include shifting to a defined contribution system, requiring pension recipients to pay more for health care, and restricting access to health care for workers who leave state service before they reach retirement age.

Under current law, workers with 10 years of state service remain eligible for both a pension and health care even if they leave for other jobs before reaching retirement age.

A new report submitted last week to the commission by a Kennesaw, Ga.-based actuary and health care consultant showed Connecticut's problem has worsened due in part to a 2009 retirement incentive program that saved $110 million that year. Further complicating matters, the governor and legislature have ordered $314.5 million in union-approved reductions to pension fund contributions to squeeze through tight fiscal straits over the past two years and in fiscal year that starts July 1.

Connecticut, like most states, also is vulnerable because it assumes a healthy return on what money it does invest in its pension program. Most states rely on 8 percent or more -- Connecticut assumed 8.25 percent in its 2008 actuarial analysis. This is based largely on the historical average growth of the stock market since 1927.

If Connecticut and other states assumed a more conservative, guaranteed rate, closer to the 3 percent a U.S. Treasury security would yield, Rauh wrote, their pension savings would be even more inadequate.

According to Rauh, under the current scenario Illinois would the first state to face pension-fund insolvency, going belly up in 2018. Connecticut, Indiana and New Jersey would follow one year later, followed by Hawaii, Louisiana and Oklahoma in 2020.

By 2025, 20 state funds will have run out of money, according to Rauh. By 2030, 31 state funds will be broke. And because the problem is so widespread, he added, taxpayers will find it increasingly challenging to avoid the burden simply by moving to other states.

"There seems to be a high likelihood that future generations will have to bear the substantial burden of making up pension benefits for previous generations of state employees," Rauh wrote. "While citizens of states that are particularly hard-hit by the pension crisis may be able to escape to other states, an acceleration of this demographic phenomenon would leave a dwindling taxpayer base behind in the states facing the largest liabilities."

State's job recovery picture grim;  New report predicts continuing losses at least through 2011, while recovery could be five years off

By Lee Howard Day Staff Writer
Article published Feb 10, 2010

Connecticut, which has been losing jobs for the past two years, won't start recovering them any time soon, according to a new economic report released today.  The quarterly report from the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis predicts that the state will continue losing jobs at least through the end of 2011, probably even longer.  Fred Carstensen, who directs the economic analysis center at the University of Connecticut, said Tuesday that eastern Connecticut may not see job growth for another five years or more.

"We don't have a particularly coherent economic-development strategy (in Connecticut)," Carstensen said in a phone interview. "Forty-nine states have done better (on jobs) over the last 20 years."

What's more, "no jobs recovery is in sight," according to the report by senior research fellow Peter E. Gunther, with the only good news being a predicted slowdown in the pace of decline. But an accelerating employment slump forecast at the end of 2011, which is as far out as the report goes, suggests that "job losses will continue into 2012 and perhaps beyond."

Such a sustained period of job losses would put Connecticut on a pace to exceed the 39-month recovery time required before employment figures started trending up after the 2002-03 recession.
Another recession in the early 1990s required a nearly two-year recovery period. Before the 1990s, Connecticut's recovery from recessions took 10 months or less, according to the report.

Gunther's report said the lag in jobs recovery indicates a systemic problem related to structural changes in the state's economy and increased outsourcing of work to other states and countries.
Carstensen said Connecticut appears to be more affected by outsourcing than other states. It's a phenomenon, he said, that creates the illusion of economic growth - through greater profits for companies - even as it fails to deliver more jobs.  The report said more than 55,000 jobs were lost statewide in the past decade, a period that included strong economic growth as well as two recessions.

"Even strong growth in (the economy in general) may not translate into rapid improvement in employment," the report said.

In eastern Connecticut, said Carstensen, workers can no longer count on the continual expansion of the region's two casinos and would be better served by playing off the strengths of Pfizer Inc.'s pharmaceutical research site in Groton to attract biomedical and biotech companies.

"Pfizer is a real magnet," he said.

But Carstensen said Connecticut doesn't have a particularly aggressive approach toward attracting growing businesses. Instead, the state takes an old-fashioned, "scatter-shot" approach in going after individual companies rather than certain types of businesses that can be clustered together to take advantage of common skill sets.

"Unless the state adopts policies and makes strategic investments to change this progressively deteriorating pattern, a jobs recovery may never arrive," Gunther said in his report. "To change this pattern, government investments must be more than countercyclical Band-Aids."

Gunther, in an interview Tuesday, said new businesses devoted to the knowledge economy and alternative-energy solutions should be promoted to generate long-term jobs growth. Among the businesses Connecticut should encourage, he said, are those related to stem-cell research, electric-car production and wind and solar power.

At the same time, he said, "Connecticut must pay a little attention to the firms they've (already) got." He added that the state needs to do a better job of retaining educated people with specialized skills, such as scientists laid off from Pfizer who have expertise in biotechnology.

The report said two business sectors - the finance, insurance and real estate fields as well as manufacturing - have been the bright spots in the state's economic performance. But Gunther sees a "critical weakening" in these sectors because of a rise in outsourcing.

"Neither will generate net new jobs for the state," the report said.

A state budget crisis makes this year a difficult one in which to address Connecticut's ebbing jobs growth, Gunther noted, but something needs to be done to stem the employment tide. Carstensen took heart in the likelihood that new jobs initiatives would be tackled in the coming legislative session and would be pushed by various gubernatorial candidates.

"At the very time that it is hardest to take the steps central to driving a fundamental structural change in the state's economy is exactly when, because of the unique characteristics of Connecticut's economy, it is most needed," Gunther said in his report.

COUNTERSUIT: Computer Firm Owner Awarded $18 Million In Countersuit Against State
Hartford Courant
January 30, 2010

A case that started with the attorney general promising to recoup state money from an East Hartford computer company could end up costing the state more than $18 million instead.

In a stunning verdict Friday, a jury at Superior Court in Waterbury sided with Gina Malapanis, owner of Computers Plus Center Inc., that state officials had violated her or her company's civil rights and ruined her business with false claims that she had broken her state contract.

The long-running court battle began in 2003 when the state sued Computers Plus Center Inc., seeking $1.75 million in damages. At the time, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said that, for more than 10 years, the company had been selling the state computers that lacked the proper parts.

Computers Plus had already sold the state thousands of machines when in 2003 Gregg "Rock" Regan, then head of the state Department of Information Technology, said the company sold the state 44 computers that did not work.

State officials said the proper memory chip was not installed and that generic chips were used instead. When Regan's office did an internal audit of other computers sold to the state by Computers Plus it found that the computers were missing a second network interface card.

At that point Blumenthal filed the civil lawsuit and state police began investigating the company.

Police arrested Malapanis, of Hebron, in June 2004 and charged her with first-degree larceny for allegedly bilking the state of more than $300,000.

On the day of Malapanis' arrest, Blumenthal said: "My office will continue to vigorously pursue our lawsuit against Computers Plus Center and its owner to recover money that the state alleges was wrongfully charged. I remain determined to win a full and fair recovery" of taxpayer money.

But the criminal charges were later dropped, and Malapanis filed a countersuit against Regan and the state claiming the state had denied her civil rights and ruined her business.

It was her countersuit that the jury ruled on Friday in awarding Malapanis about $18 million. The trial was before Judge Barry Stevens.

The status of the state's civil suit against Malapanis was unclear Friday.

Attorney James Wade of Hartford, who represented Malapanis, would not comment on the verdict.

Blumenthal said the state will fight the multimillion-dollar award.

"This verdict against the Department of Information Technology is wrong, inconsistent with law and evidence presented at trial," he said. "I will vigorously and aggressively fight to reverse this flawed finding. We will immediately ask the court to throw out the award and verdict as a matter of law. If the verdict stands, we will appeal."

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

MUTUALLY SHARED SERVICES FORUM:  CT Regional Economic Development
Thursday, January 15, 2010 at CCSU, discussions among municipal officials, planners (APACT), OPM, CARPO, ACIR and more organizations, we suspect (we saw CCM there).  CT-N videotaped the keynote and the opening session on affordable housing. 

OPM Secretary Bob Genuario gave that keynote address;  it was noted that the "Rainy Day" fund was appropriately emptied out ($1.4 billion) in October, similarly to the $600,000 spent in one night at a previous crisis point some years back.  The next 2-year budget will be written without any "Rainy Day" or Federal "Stimulous" money to fall back upon.  The good news is that we are in better shape than California, Michigan, Massachusetts and a host of other states - we should benefit if and when any new programs from DC come along...

"Oz" Griebel addresses planners and business persons regarding regional economic development "break-out" session panel.  "Over the next four years" Mr. Griebel suggests that policies change to encourage business;  Joint Development the only way to go, with overbearing  COG not the answer, says another presenter.  Old mills, small town revitalization also discussed.  It is pointed out that "CEDS" are in 8 areas in CT covering 138 towns, but that 30 plus other communities are not so organized.   This makes for  a fragmented-looking state and less likely, thus, to attract Federal $$ - that's the way we heard it!

Where will Dodd's money go?
David Collins
Article published Jan 8, 2010

Certainly Chris Dodd's cozy approach to landing campaign contributions from big banking interests was part of his political undoing.  And so now, in the wake of Dodd's departure from the Connecticut Senate race, the $2.1 million question is: Where will all that campaign money go?

Actually, there could be more than $2 million. That's how much the Dodd campaign had on hand at the end of the last reporting period. The new tally, including money raised and spent in the final months of 2009, won't be in until later this month.

I put a call in Thursday to the senator's press office, to ask whether any plans have been made for emptying the war chest, now that the candidate has left the battlefield.  No one responded to a message inquiring about the money. I'm sure they're busy, or maybe just no longer interested in answering calls from the press.

The former candidate has some choices in what he can legally do with the money, but none of them include keeping it for his own personal use.  He can return it, of course, but evidently that isn't done very often in these situations. It's a bookkeeping headache for one thing, especially when it gets down to the small donor level.  Some might also suggest that it is vaguely impolite, returning something that's been given to you, no matter how businesslike the arrangement might have seemed.

And, really, giving the bank back its PAC money seems almost as unseemly as taking it in the first place.  He can give it to charity.  This seems like a sensible option, almost like laundering it.
Picking the charities that would appeal to all your original donors might be challenging, though. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Dodd's top four contributors since 2005 were Citigroup, SAC Capital Partners, United Technologies and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Who do bankers usually give money to, other than politicians?

He can also give it to other candidates.  This seems reasonable, since it's money the donors intended to be used in support of a political campaign in the first place.  Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, already the pick of much of the party establishment to succeed Dodd, would be a likely recipient.  But would Blumenthal be foolish enough to take the same money that helped sink the Dodd candidacy? At best it would seem jinxed.

He can also leave it right where it is, evidently forever.  This is perhaps the most likely scenario.  It is in fact what a lot of retiring congressmen have done when they've turned to new careers in lobbying. What better way to ingratiate yourself with the old cloakroom gang than to parcel out baubles from the old campaign days?

If Dodd's press office did call back Thursday, I would have expected them to say no decisions have been made yet about what to do with the campaign money. After all, the senator did only just drop out of the race Wednesday.  Still, I don't expect any announcements about the Dodd campaign money for a long time, maybe long after people even remember how mad they once were at the chairman of the banking bailout.

3 Democrats — 2 senators, 1 governor — to retire
By LIZ SIDOTI, AP National Political Writer
January 6, 2010

WASHINGTON – With the 2010 election year barely under way, two senators and one governor — all Democrats — ditched plans to run for re-election in the latest signs of trouble for President Barack Obama's party.

Taken together, the decisions by Sens. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota as well as Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter caused another bout of heartburn for Democrats as they struggle to defend themselves in a sour political environment for incumbents, particularly the party in charge.

As 2009 ended, Democrats watched a string of their House members announce retirements and one congressman defect to the GOP.

Now, with Dodd, Dorgan and Ritter out, Republicans have even more to crow about, if not better opportunities to pick up Democratic-held seats.

Democrats, who have a 60-40 Senate majority that includes two independents who vote with them, now will have to defend four open seats in the Senate. The others are Delaware and Illinois, where Sens. Ted Kaufman, who replaced Vice President Joe Biden, and Roland Burris, who replaced Obama, aren't running for full terms.

Among governors, Democrats are seeking to maintain their 26-24 majority in a year when those elected will oversee the redrawing of congressional and legislative districts for the next decade.

Republicans and Democrats alike say they now expect competitive races for the Senate seat in North Dakota, a GOP-tilting state, and the governor's seat in Colorado, a pivotal swing state that has trended toward Democrats in recent years but may be shifting back toward Republicans.

But in Democratic-leaning Connecticut, Dodd's retirement may actually heighten the likelihood that the seat he's held for five terms will remain in Democratic hands. The party can now recruit a more popular candidate to run, bolstering the prospects of thwarting a Republican victory.

Longtime Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal told The Associated Press on Wednesday morning that he will run for Dodd's seat. Blumenthal, a Democrat, is seen as one of the state's most popular politicians. He planned to publicly announce his candidacy later Wednesday.

Considered by many insiders to be the most endangered Senate Democrat, Dodd planned to announce his retirement Wednesday, according to Democratic officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly pre-empt the senator's remarks. Dodd told Democrats of his plans late Tuesday.

Dodd, 66, is chairman of Senate Banking Committee, which was at the center of efforts to deal with the economic meltdown. And he has played a prominent role in the debate over overhauling health care, taking over for his friend Ted Kennedy during his illness and then after his death. Dodd underwent surgery for prostate cancer in August; he said it was in an early, treatable stage.

His poll standing has fallen precipitously since 2008.

Dodd ran for the Democratic presidential nomination that year, moving his family to Iowa for weeks before the caucuses and angering Connecticut constituents. He dropped out after a poor showing in Iowa.

The senator also has drawn criticism for his role in writing a bill that protected bonuses for executives at bailed-out insurer American International Group Inc. and for allegations he got favorable treatment on mortgages with Countrywide Financial Corp.

Early polling in the race showed him consistently trailing potential GOP challenger Rob Simmons, a former House member who is competing for the Republican nomination against World Wrestling Entertainment co-founder Linda McMahon.

Dorgan, the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, said Tuesday he reached his decision after discussing his future with family over the holidays.

"Although I still have a passion for public service and enjoy my work in the Senate, I have other interests and I have other things I would like to pursue outside of public life," said Dorgan, 67.

The move stunned Democrats.

They were confident heading into the new year that Dorgan, a moderate Democrat in a GOP-leaning state, would run for re-election even as rumors intensified that Republican Gov. John Hoeven would challenge him in November. Early polling showed Dorgan trailing Hoeven in a hypothetical contest, and Democrats expected a competitive race if the matchup materialized.

Hoeven has not announced a candidacy but he told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he was "very seriously" considering one.

Democrats quickly started recruiting a candidate to run in Dorgan's place. Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy may be interested as well as Heidi Heitkamp, a former state attorney general and tax commissioner who was defeated by Hoeven in the 2000 gubernatorial race.

In Colorado, Democratic officials informed Tuesday of Ritter's decision said the governor planned to announce Wednesday that he won't run for a second term in November.

Elected in 2006, Ritter was among those Democrats who helped the party make inroads into what was once a solidly Republican state. He helped pave the way for Obama to win Colorado in 2008 and had been widely considered a rising star in the Democratic Party.

Top contenders to replace Ritter on the Democratic ticket include Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. 

Two Republicans are seeking the GOP nomination: former Rep. Scott McInnis and businessman Dan Maes.

Senators Up for Election in 2010
Line Up for 2010 Senate Races

16 Democratic seats
Evan Bayh (IN)
Michael Bennett (CO)
Barbara Boxer (CA)
Christopher Dodd (CT)
Byron Dorgan (ND)
Russell Feingold (WI)
Daniel Inouye (HI)
Ted Kaufman (DE) - retiring
Patrick Leahy (VT)
Blanche Lincoln (AR)
Mikulski Barbara (MD)
Patty Murray (WA)
Harry Reid (NV)
Charles Schumer (NY)
Senator replacing Barack Obama (IL)
Senator replacing Hillary Clinton (NY)

19 Republican seats
Robert Bennett (UT)
Christopher Bond (MO) - retiring
Sam Brownback (KS) - retiring
Jim Bunning (KY)
Richard Burr (NC)
Tom Coburn (OK)
Mike Crapo (ID)
Jim DeMint (SC)
Chuck Grassley (IA)
Judd Gregg (NH)
Johnny Isakson (GA)
Mel Martinez (FL) - retiring
John McCain (AZ)
Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Richard Shelby (AL)
Arlen Specter (PA)
John Thune (SD)
David Vitter (LA)
George Voinovich (OH) - retiring

Source: Council for a Livable World

House overrides veto, adds $3 million to public funding for governor
By Mark Pazniokas and Keith M. Phaneuf, CT MIRROR
August 13, 2010

The House of Representatives voted 106 to 30 today override a veto of a bill that preserves the state's public financing of campaigns and doubles the general-election grant for gubernatorial candidates.  Today's vote means that Dan Malloy, a Democrat and the only remaining publicly financed candidate for governor, can expect to receive $6 million next week from the Citizens' Election Program, instead of $3 million.

“Today, the Legislature saw fit to preserve a system that gives candidates who aren’t wealthy a chance to compete and the ability to run a campaign that isn't funded by corporate and special interests,” Malloy said in a statement emailed to reporters.

When the bill originally passed on July 30, legislators did not know if the bill would favor a Democrat, a Republican or neither.

The only publicly financed Republican candidate for governor, Michael C. Fedele, lost the GOP primary Tuesday to Tom Foley, a Greenwich businessman who loaned his own campaign $3 million. In the Democratic primary, Malloy defeated Ned Lamont, who gave his own campaign $8.6 million.  House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, said the bill was wrongly titled as An Act Concerned Clean Elections. It should have been called "An Act Concerning Dan Malloy," Cafero said.

"In my 18 years in the House of Representatives," Cafero said, he could not recall "the House passing a bill for one man."

A unified Democratic caucus cast all 106 yea votes, five more than needed to override Gov. M. Jodi Rell's veto. The Senate voted to override last week.

Rep. Shawn W. Johnston of Thompson was the only one of the 114 House Democrats to vote against the override. Seven others were absent. All 29 Republicans present voted to uphold the override. Eight others were absent.

Eleven of the 18 Democrats who voted against the bill last month swtiched to override. They are:

Jason W. Bartlett of Bethel, Juan R. Candelaria of New Haven, Paul Davis of Orange, Kim Fawcett of Fairfield, Karen Jarmoc of Enfield, Christopher Lyddy of Newtown, Corky Mazurek of Wolcott, Steven Mikutel of Griswold, Frank N. Nicastro Sr. of Bristol, Kathleen M. Tallarita of Enfield and Elissa T. Wright of Noank.

The bill is a reaction to a court decision that otherwise limits the available public financing for governor, not the result of lobbying by the Malloy campaign.  But some Republicans intend to make Malloy pay a political price for accepting more money from the Citizens' Election Program in the midst of a fiscal crisis.

"The fact that Dan Malloy is rattling his tin cup outside the legislature is absurd. Dan Malloy should be ashamed of himself," said Chris Healy, the Republican state chairman.

Healy stood outside the chamber before the vote with a tin cup, affixed with Malloy's name and photo. It contained coins and a dollar bill.  Beth Rotman, the executive director of the Citizens' Election Program, confronted Healy, who told her he would continue to work for the abolition of the program.  Nancy DiNardo, the Democratic state chairwoman, had offered Healy a deal on limiting campaign expenses.

"If Healy really feels so strongly about limiting the amount of money going into the Citizens' Election Program, here's an idea: if he can convince Tom Foley to abide by a $3 million spending limit in the general, I'm quite certain that I can get Dan Malloy to do the same," she said. "We'll wait for his answer."

Under existing law, Malloy would have ended up with $5.5 million in public financing for the year: $2.5 million for the primary and $3 million for the general election.  Rell vetoed the bill shortly after passage, saying $3 million was sufficient for a general-election campaign. But no candidate has won with so little general-election money in recent decades. Rell spent $4 million on her 2006 campaign, while Gov. John G. Rowland spent $6.6 million in 2002 and $6.9 million in 1998.

The Senate overrode Rell's veto five days before the primary, but the House was unable to round up the 101 votes necessary for an override until this week.  The delay put the House in the position of passing a bill with a provision that benefits only Malloy.

"That perception is terrible," said Rep. John Hetherington, R-New Canaan. "The conclusions that people will draw from that are terrible."

Several of the Democrats who switched defended their votes, knowing that Republicans may use them against them in re-election campaigns.

"I wanted to make my decision based on policy," Rep. Jason W. Bartlett, D-Bethel, said afterward, explaining why he reversed his earlier position and supported the override today. Leaving publicly financed candidates with no option to counter a self-funded opponent who spends huge dollars late in the race "really hobbles anyone participating in the program."

Bartlett added that the legislation enacted today isn't perfect, ‘but time is running out. Much of my consideration was about timing and coming up with a fair process."

Another Democrat who switched positions to support the override, Frank N. Nicastro Sr. of Bristol, said he feared the entire campaign finance system enacted in 2005 to clean up state elections was in jeopardy if nothing was done.

"We needed to do this today to move this whole thing forward," he said. "We can work on it some more in the session next year."

Nicastro disagreed with Republicans who argued most voters would disagree with increasing public grants for gubernatorial candidates. "I truly did a lot of soul searching and talked to a lot of my constituents," he said, adding Bristol residents want to see the current campaign finance system preserved. "They said, ‘Frank, do what you have to do.'"

But Cafero said afterward that the Democrats' intentions will be obvious to the voters.

"I think the people are going to see it for what it was," he said. "The primary substance of this bill was an act concerning Dan Malloy, and no one else."

Two courts hand down contradictory rulings on public financing
By Mark Pazniokas and Keith M. Phaneuf
July 13, 2010

In a dizzying one-two punch of state and federal court decisions today, the public financing of campaigns in Connecticut was upheld, but key provisions that could affect the race for governor were invalidated.

A federal appeals court ruled that the state cannot give supplemental grants triggered by an opponent's spending, while a state judge separately denied a motion to bar Republican gubernatorial candidate Michael C. Fedele from receiving $2.18 million in public financing.

Fedele's grant includes money that the federal court says was inappropriately given, but there is no legal prohibition on him from spending the $2.18 million awarded to him last week by the State Elections Enforcement Commission under the Citizens' Election Program, part of sweeping campaign finance reforms passed in 2005.

Superior Court Judge Julia L. Aurigemma today denied a request by Fedele's GOP rivals, Tom Foley and Oz Griebel, for a temporary injunction stopping him from spending his public grant. Foley immediately appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

"We are disappointed in the judge's decision today, but we look forward to a trial on the merits of these issues and plan to appeal this preliminary ruling," said Justin Clark, Foley's campaign manager.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit issued two decisions today in response to a ruling nearly a year ago by U.S. District Court Judge Stefan Underhill, who declared the public financing law unconstitutional, saying it discriminated against minor parties. It overturned Underhill on several issues and returned the case to him for further action.

The appellate court found no discrimination against minor parties, but it concluded that a bar on contributions and solicitations by lobbyists and their spouses violated free-speech rights under the First Amendment.

Most significantly for candidates seeking public financing, the appellate court negated an order by Underhill that would have imposed an injunction on the program until all its constitutional defects were cured by legislative action.

"Underhill's decision would have padlocked the program completely," said Beth Rotman, director of the Citizens' Election Program.

She praised the state court and said the state will immediately seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court of the federal decision, citing the impact on statewide primaries for governor that are less than a month away.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell said the legislature should quickly alter the law to comport with the federal decision, which Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says leaves most of the public financing program intact

"Today's decisions uphold significant provisions of the Citizens Election Program and the state's ban on political contributions by state contractors, but strike down bans against lobbyist donations and solicitations of contributions. The decisions also strike the provision providing additional funding to candidates when an opponent spends beyond a publicly financed candidate's threshold," Blumenthal said.

The court decision does not affect the ability of candidates' to seek and obtain public financing, but it bars them from obtaining supplemental grants triggered by an opponent's excessive spending, a long-term complication to the campaigns of the two publicly financed candidates for governor, Fedele and Democrat Dan Malloy.

"Today's decision is just one step in a long process, a process that I am confident will result in Connecticut's public financing law remaining in place. In the short-term, the decision has no impact on the primary election I'm engaged in - I'm as confident as ever that we're going win on August 10th because this campaign represents values and experience that money can't buy," Malloy said.

The campaign of Democrat Ned Lamont, who has opted out of the voluntary public financing program to use his own wealth and privately raised funds, had no comment on either court decision.

"This was a frivolous lawsuit," Fedele said of the action initiated by Foley and joined by Griebel. "It was Tom Foley trying to silence me."

Fedele said he that tomorrow he will launch a media campaign, including television advertisements, and that he plans to spend all $2 million in public funds available to him in less than one month. The gubernatorial primaries arer Aug. 10.

"We have a plan and we are ready to go," Fedele said, predicting Foley's lawsuit and planned appeal would weaken his standing with voters. "While Tom Foley spends his time with his lawyers, I'll be spending it with the people of Connecticut."

Foley's campaign issued a statement expressing its disappointment with the federal decision. It had no immediate comment on the rejection of its request for an injunction.

The supplemental grants were not a factor in legislative races two years ago, when only one legislative candidate was given an extra grant of a few hundred dollars.

"Campaign finance is alive and well," Rell said.

But the court struck down a ban on contributions by lobbyists, a provision demanded by Rell over the warnings of lawyers that it might be unconstitutional. The court found that the state made compelling case to restrict the free-speech rights of lobbyists.

"I'm disappointed to say the least," that bans on lobbyist contributions, and on the ability of lobbyists and contractors to solicit contributions for candidates from their clients, were struck down, Rell said. "I still think that whatever we could do to keep special interests out of campaigns I would support."

House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, and Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, were reviewing their options for a special session consider legislative fixes. Still, Donovan found the overall decision good news for advocates of public financing.

"We came out on top," he said. "We kept the public financing."

The governor said she believes the legislature should act quickly in special session to resolve the lobbyist contribution issue, suggesting a $100 limit. That was the legal advice Rell rejected in 2005, when the campaign finance reforms were passed.

"I think it would be very simple for the legislature to put the same threshold in place that they put for everyone else," she said. "I think that would be an easy fix."

"I believe campaign finance reform works," she said. "I support it. I believe that the Republicans would benefit from campaign finance reform because I think it helps to level the playing field."

By late afternoon, advocates of public financing were pressing legislative leaders to act quickly.

"The enactment of Connecticut's reform was one of Connecticut's proudest moments," said Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group. "It is time for the legislature to act. This late in the election cycle it is important for the legislature to clarify the rules under which people are running in the fall. We call on the legislature to come into special session to enact a fix."

"Connecticut voters overwhelmingly support the landmark Citizens' Election Program," said Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause. "The legislature and the Governor should act quickly to amend the program to comply with the court ruling. Candidates are mid-stream and the primary is weeks away."

In the race for governor, the ability of Fedele to collect a further supplemental grant triggered by the spending of Tom Foley seems in question. The appellate court struck down that provision.

Malloy already has collected and, presumably spent, a supplemental grant of $1.25 million triggered by the spending of his opponent in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Ned Lamont. Fedele received a basic grant of $1.25 million and a supplemental grant of $937,500.

Based on Foley's continued spending, Fedele was expected to seek and receive another $312,500.

Opponents and supporters of public financing praised the mixed federal decision.

"Connecticut's so-called Citizens Election Program is fatally flawed and should be repealed. The law's perverse incentives, convoluted logic, and unconstitutional provisions have already had a shameful impact on this year's elections, regardless of which candidates ultimately are nominated and elected," said Fergus Cullen of the Yankee Institute.

But Secretary of the State Susan Bysieiwcz credited public financing for a 12-year high in the number of candidates running for General Assembly. She said public financing has encouraged that trend.

"Candidates for state office in Connecticut still need clarity on the rules for raising and spending campaign funds, and I hope we soon get the clarity we all seek," she said. "We must not forget the big picture, which is that we need to stay committed to concept of clean elections in Connecticut."

CT budget woes threaten Campaign Finance Reform here in Connecticut!
Supreme Court rolls back limits on spending by corporations in federal election campaigns
Hartford  Courant
MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer
10:19 AM EST, January 21, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for their own campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

It leaves in place a prohibition on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.

Critics of the stricter limits have argued that they amount to an unconstitutional restraint of free speech, and the court majority apparently agreed.

"The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion, joined by his four more conservative colleagues.

However, Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting from the main holding, said, "The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation."

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined Stevens' dissent, parts of which he read aloud in the courtroom.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

Advocates of strong campaign finance regulations have predicted that a court ruling against the limits would lead to a flood of corporate and union money in federal campaigns as early as this year's midterm congressional elections.

The decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, removes limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidates' campaigns.

The case also does not affect political action committees, which mushroomed after post-Watergate laws set the first limits on contributions by individuals to candidates. Corporations, unions and others may create PACs to contribute directly to candidates, but they must be funded with voluntary contributions from employees, members and other individuals, not by corporate or union treasuries.

Mass Vote Signals End of an O-ra
Last Updated: 8:56 AM, January 18, 2010
Posted: 1:17 AM, January 18, 2010

Year one of the Obama administration ends Wednesday. Another era may come to an end the day before, when Massachusetts voters choose a senator to fill the three years remaining in the term of Edward Kennedy, who held the seat for 47 years.

If Republican Scott Brown wins that election -- and he seems to have an excellent chance to do so -- that election will mean the end, after just seven months, of the Democrats' 60-seat Senate supermajority.

That era began in July, when Al Franken was seated after protracted litigation over the result in an election in which both he and incumbent Republican Norm Coleman got an underwhelming 42 percent of the votes. And Franken was the 60th Democrat only because in the preceding April Arlen Specter, in his 29th year in the Senate and facing defeat in the Republican primary, switched parties for the second time in his political career.

Going back a little further, Democrats owed their 60 seats to the victories in 2006 of Jon Tester by 3,562 votes in Montana and Jim Webb by 9,329 votes in Virginia. In the 435 House races each year, close races tend to be split evenly between the parties. But in the 30-some Senate races in each cycle, a small number of votes can make a huge difference in the balance of power in that chamber.

So the Democrats' supermajority was the result of a series of happy (or unhappy, depending on your point of view) accidents. The same was true of the 55-45 majority the GOP held three years ago.

The very real possibility that the Democrats may lose their 60th seat -- and in Massachusetts, the only state George McGovern carried in 1972 -- suggests that it was perhaps not such a happy accident for them in the end.

Barack Obama got 62 percent of the vote in Massachusetts in 2008. His percentage was lower in 42 other states. With the Massachusetts seat in jeopardy, no Senate seat in those 42 states can be considered utterly safe for Democrats in today's climate of opinion.

That climate might have been different if Democrats had never gotten that 60th seat. In that case, they would've had to bargain with Republicans to pass a health-care bill and might even have proceeded on the genuine bipartisan approach that Obama promised in his campaign.

We might have been spared the spectacle of the Louisiana purchase ($300 million for Mary Landrieu's vote) and the Cornhusker hustle (Ben Nelson got Nebraska exempted from Medicaid increases). Or at least the onus of such spectacles would fall on Republicans as well as Democrats.

But with 60 seats, the Democratic leadership took the partisan path and the Obama White House supinely went along. They ignored the abundant evidence that most voters increasingly opposed their government-directed health-care bills.

The 60th seat was a temptation, and like Oscar Wilde, the Democrats were able to resist anything except temptation.

Obama has acknowledged that the Democrats' health-care legislation is unpopular. He says the public will come to like it when it goes into effect (although some taxes kick in before the supposed benefits). Other Democrats say that once they pass it they can then persuade voters it's a good idea, as if they haven't been trying to do that for most of a year and conspicuously failing.

But their bill isn't going to pass if Brown is elected. Some Democrats are talking about delaying his swearing in and passing a bill in the meantime. Doing that in open defiance of the clearly expressed views of (Massachusetts!) voters would touch off a political firestorm unlike any we've seen since Richard Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Democrats up for re-election like Evan Bayh and Blanche Lincoln should understand that and not go along.

Obama was supposed to be a great persuader. It turns out that's only half true. He did persuade most of us that he should be president. But in Year One, he has failed to get most of us to support his major proposals. He's even moved us in the other direction. That's clear, whatever happens in Massachusetts.

NOTE:  This is not necesarily a complete or up-to-date report...DEMOCRAT or REPUBLICAN

Aerial shots of 2 gubernatorial candidates' Greenwich homes - Foley, (R) and Lamont (D).

Former State Senator from Stamford/Darien George Jepsen

Jepsen qualifies for public financing in AG's race
Keith M. Phaneuf
July 12, 2010

Democrat George C. Jepsen announced this morning he has raised the preliminary funding necessary to qualify for a $750,000 grant from the state's Citizens Election Program to support his bid for attorney general.

The former state party chairman and former state Senate majority leader submitted records today at State Elections Enforcement Commission headquarters showing he raised more than $75,000 in amounts of $100 or less from more than 1,300 individuals.

Public financing "is the key to keeping special interest money out of politics," Jepsen told reporters outside of SEEC headquarters on Trinity Street immediately after his filing.Jepsen is unopposed for the Democratic nomination, and will face the winner of the GOP primary between Avon lawyer Martha Dean and Ross Garber  of Glastonbury, former chief legal counsel to the governor's office under John G. Rowland. Both Republican candidates have said they would not use public funds to support their candidacies.

"I think that they would be unwise to be critical of those in public financing," Jepsen added. The public supports the program. The public supports keeping special interest money out of politics."

Endorsement time: Who has the weight?
Mark Pazniokas
May 14, 2010

In the race to land endorsements before next week's nominating conventions, Gov. M. Jodi Rell isn't playing hard to get. She's not playing, period.

The popular governor said Thursday she will endorse none of her would-be successors as governor, nor will she cast as vote as a super-delegate to next week's Republican nominating convention.

"I like everybody," Rell said. "I know all these people."

Others are not as reticent. From the ranks of the obscure and the influential, the has-beens and rising stars, candidates are waving testimonials as evidence of momentum and strength.

Some are bartered. Others reflect the giver's cold-eyed view of who can win, who is best for the party - or for them. Some are expressions of old friendships or grudges, without strings or subtext.

Ned Lamont trumpeted endorsements from the Democratic mayors of Bridgeport and New Haven. Michael Fedele waved a bouquet from the House Republican leader, Oz Griebel from the Senate Republican leader.

Today, Fedele is expecting an endorsement from former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, R-4th District. Dan Malloy will accept a testimonial from U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District. On Thursday, it was Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura embracing Malloy and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi endorsing Lamont as Marconi ended his own campaign.

On goes the quickening drumbeat of endorsements, all building to next week's big dances in Hartford: the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions.

Some have more value than others.

For Griebel, a Hartford business leader seeking the GOP nomination, the endorsement of an insider like Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney, R-Fairfield, probably bestowed a bit of credibility to a candidate who never has sought office.

It certainly did not hurt him when the Republican town committee in Fairfield took a straw poll: Griebel won, beating two sons of Fairfield County, businessman Tom Foley of Greenwich and Fedele, the lieutenant governor, who lives in Stamford.

Others are not surprising.

The affection House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, feels toward Fedele was well known before Cafero's public endorsement this week.

"Mike Fedele has been a personal friend of mine for over 20 years," Cafero said. "I have served with him in the state legislature, I have worked with him as lieutenant governor.  Mike Fedele possesses both the legislative and executive experience we need today in order to get the job done tomorrow."

Fedele said he was "especially proud" to receive Cafero's support, which gave him an opportunity remind reporters he has the support of 23 "super-delegates," elected officials who are convention delegates by dint of their office. But the super-delegate he'd probably most like to get -- the one he thought he had -- is Rell.

She is not seeking re-election after 26 years as a legislator, lieutenant governor and governor. Six Republicans are trying to succeed her, including Fedele, Griebel, Foley, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, former Congressman Larry DeNardis and Christopher Duffy Acevedo.

Rell said she's come in recent years to know and like Griebel, the president of the MetroHartford Alliance. Boughton is practically a neighbor to Rell, who lives in the Danbury suburb of Brookfield.

"He's a good a good candidate," Rell said of Boughton. "Mike Fedele, I chose him to be my lieutenant governor. He's a good candidate. He'd make a good governor. All of them would. I think we'll let the delegates decide."

Rell said too much often is made of endorsements.

"It really applies to each individual person who makes the endorsement," said Chris Healy, the Republican state chairman. "It's never bad to have an endorsement. What level of productivity you get from it is the next step."

The endorsement of Democrat Lamont by Mayor John DeStefano of New Haven and Mayor Bill Finch of Bridgeport carries with it the promise of help with delegates.

New Haven, which will have the largest Democratic delegation, tries to vote as a bloc. Finch is loaning Lamont his chief of staff, Adam Wood, to manage the convention.

For Malloy, the former Stamford mayor and Lamont's Democratic rival, the biggest endorsement may have come Monday from Comptroller Nancy S. Wyman. Technically, she accepted Malloy's invitation to be his running mate.

But implicit in the acceptance was Wyman's view that Malloy is a credible candidate, even though he will lack Lamont's resources. By any measure, it was an endorsement.

"Certainly some of them are probably helping delegates who are undecided," Democratic State Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said of the endorsements. "It helps at the convention, and I think for some people it may help with Democrats in the primary."

One dividend of Wyman's joining the ticket was the Larson endorsement. He has told staff he was swayed by the idea of a Malloy-Wyman ticket.

"There's endorsements, and there's endorsements," said Richard Foley, the former Republican state chairman. "A congressman brings weight. A state chair brings weight. A governor brings weight."


Musical chairs for Democrats - and the best of all - running for Comproller, the person who invested with...Bernie!
L to R:  Since Nancy Wyman is running with Dan Malloy as his Lt. Gov., Comptroller spot on under-ticket is Kevin Lembo, the Healthcare Advocate, decided to run for Comptroller (see link for other name). According to polls, prior to the news of Dick Blumenthal's move, standing atop the declared candidates for CT Gubernatorial race 2010 (Democrats) is Sec'y Bysiewicz - now running for AG (since Richard Blumenthal decided to run for the US Senate with Dodd's retirement);  former Mayor Dan Malloy, former candidate for U.S. Senate Ned Lamont, seek Gubernatorial spot.  And First Selectman Mary Glassman (Dan Malloy's choice for Lt. Gov. in 2006, who actually ran with John DeStefano, now jumps to Lt. Gov. spot with...Ned Lamont...touting New Britain roots and Italian heritage - always good in CT).  With Nancy Wyman moving up the ticket, there are some Democrats who are definitely in the race for Comptroller, and others who are possibly weighing a run.  Rudy Marconi, First Selectman of Ridgefield pulls out, throws his support to Ned Lamont, and FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JIM AMANN FIRST TO DECLARE, NOW OUT OF RACE.


Lt. Gov Fedele, and former U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor, perhaps.  And now, Ambassador Tom Foley.  Oz Griebel ("Transportation Strategy Board") declares for Governor, too.  Mayor of Danbury Mark Boughton - now on Mike Fedele's ticket and others would like to have him, too!  Check out his "Scott Brown" effect.  Let's not forget Larry Denardis, either (former Congressman).

Musical chairs for Democrats continues...

Malloy: Casino issue cost him Bridgeport endorsement
Ken Dixonand Keila Torres, Staff Writers
Published: 04:46 p.m., Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dannel P. Malloy, the Democrat running for the party's gubernatorial nomination, says he probably lost the endorsement of Bridgeport's Democratic Town Committee because of lingering resentment over the city's failed bid for a casino back in 1995.

Malloy, the former 14-year mayor of Stamford, told the editorial board of the Connecticut Post last week that Mario Testa, the powerful local party chairman, also prevented him from addressing the entire town committee earlier this year.

Malloy said Testa chose not to endorse him after Malloy pointed out major legal obstacles and a general lack of interest among Indian tribes to locate a new casino in the city.

Malloy said he was left with the impression that Ned Lamont, of Greenwich, got the town committee endorsement because he either didn't oppose a casino in the city or supported one outright.

Testa said Friday that neither Malloy nor Lamont met with the entire town committee and that Lamont -- who also won the endorsement of the New Haven Democratic Town Committee -- did not agree to back a Bridgeport casino bid.

Testa said that he asked Malloy if he would support Indian-financed slot machines in Bridgeport similar to the facility in Yonkers, N.Y. "He told me more or less, no," Testa recalled in a phone interview. "He left it open."

Testa recalled that a citywide vote prior to a special session of the General Assembly back in the fall of 1995 indicated overwhelming local support for a casino. Subsequent legislation was defeated in the state Senate, though, with solid opposition from Stamford-area lawmakers, who claimed it would cause further congestion along the Interstate 95 corridor.

"Dan had the opportunity to help the city of Bridgeport when we had the referendum on the casino," Testa said. Malloy, the longest-serving Stamford mayor, was first elected in November 1995, ab