Friday, June 29, 2007


The 2nd Quarter officially comes to a close at midnight Saturday, and the 2008 candidates, congressional as well as presidential are making a last minute dash to fatten their war chest.

There are some suggestions that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson might out preform former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards this quarter - which would certainly be interesting and could push Richardson a bit closer to the top tier on the Democratic side of the presidential sweepstakes. Our own Chris Dodd had hoped to be the top money maker of the second tier candidates during the first quarter, but fell short. He definitely needs to bounce back this quarter.

On the GOP side, former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to again be on top, even if he has to dip into his own pockets to do so. Arizona Sen. John McCain will likely disappoint again, but he is denying any thought of dropping out of the race this early. I still think he's gone by the Fall.

On the local scene, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, set an all-time record during the first quarter of the non-election year and will likely show another strong effort when he releases his FEC filing in two weeks. His presumptive GOP challenger, former Groton Submarine Base commander Sean Sullivan, hasn't come close to anything that Courtney has already. More on that in this Sunday's Norwich Bulletin.

Have a great weekend. It's suppose to be a good one weather-wise (if they got it right this time.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pay raises...

The U.S. House of Representatives voted themselves a $4,400 pay raise last night, which would, if it goes through, bring a congressman's salary up near $170,000.

For the record, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, voted against the idea.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Just super duper...

It's now official. Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed legislation yesterday officially moving Connecticut's presidential primary to Feb. 5 - thus joining with more than two dozen other states on what is being called Super Duper Tuesday."

Another thought, Saturday is the deadline for the second quarter fundraising efforts of candidates in the 2008 elections. The actual FEC reports are not due to be filed until July 15. Presidential campaigns will likely report how well they've done over the last three months well before the filing deadline. Our congressional candidates - incumbent Democrat Joe Courtney and GOP challenger Sean Sullivan - will likely wait to close to that time to release their numbers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

And I thought they didn't like the name...

During the 2006 U.S. Senate election between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont I wrote a column in the Norwich Bulletin criticizing the "progressive" Democratic bloggers and their attacks on anyone who didn't agree with exactly what they wanted people to agree with. In my criticism, I referred to them and what they were doing as "vigilante journalism" - a phrase that quite a few of them took offense at.

But apparently not as much as an offense when it comes to making a buck. The owners of Connecticut Local Politics, a blog page that I do read often, is trying to raise some money to enhance their operation by selling various items, including these new items - a t-shirt and tote bag with the name "vigilante journalist."

I'm flattered...and they do give credit to me on the page as the one who coined the phrase

But I might add, just for the record, my column in the newspaper is copywrited - and maybe they needed my permission before using it.

Budget blues...

My eyes are growing weary trying to navigate through the recently enacted state budget, looking for what is and is not included. So far, i find very little in there to like.

I've mentioned the cigarette tax - soon to be $2 a pack.

No relief from rising gasoline prices. On the contrary, we'll see the price inch up another 2-cents per gallon thanks to the legislature.

No real property tax relief - despite on the clamoring about it being a priority.

And no relief from rising electric rates.

Not a banner year for Hartford lawmakers at all.

But ordinary folks, the only good news is that they're just about done - which means they can do us no more harm for another six months.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Star power...

U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd is getting a little help from his friends...

Paul Simon, Grammy Award winning singer/song writer, will be touring with Dodd in Iowa over the Fourth of July week. The Dodd campaign announced the pairing in press release.

Simon will join Dodd and his family for part of Dodd's "River to River" bus tour, making campaign stops July 6th and 7t - including informal performances to Dodd's events.

"I am thrilled that Paul will be joining Jackie, our daughters, and me in Iowa," said Senator Dodd. "Paul is a long-time friend and one of the most important voices in American music, and he has been tireless in his service to the greater good of people throughout our country and the world.

"His music and his commitment to bettering our world reflect the leadership and optimism that my campaign is all about."

Who knows...if it goes well, we might get a Simon & Dodd album out of it.

And on the Democratic side...

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will deliver a keynote address in Hartford Saturday at the 50th anniv ersary celebration of the United Church of Christ. Obama apparently was invited to be a speaker at the event - a five-day affair being held at the Hartford Civic Center - before jumping into the presidential race.

It's Obama's first appearance in Connecticut since he was the keynote speaker at the Democratic JJB Dinner back last year.

Connecticut's entry in the Demmocratic presidential sweepstakes, our own Chris Dodd, will be spending this weekend in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Gas tax....

I guess we can file this under the category heading, If it sounds too good to be true, it must be.

Despite all the political grandstanding in the final days of the legislative session about wanting to help out the poor working residents of Connecticut by suspending the state's gasoline tax for the summer, it appears it was just that - political grandstanding.

The recently reached budget compromise does not include that proposal.

More evidence of Romney surge...

In my column last Sunday I suggested that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may be the candidate to watch in the 2008 presidential sweepstakes - even though in national polling he is running third or fourth behind the "front-runners."

More evidence today that you can't look at national polling to gauge strength. Three new polls out show Romney now leading the pack in New Hampshire, Iowa an d Nevada - three of the first four states to hold primaries or caucuses next year. If he were to pull off those first three victories, he'd most certainly have enough momentum to carry his candidacy all the way to the nomination.

And...just for the noted in my Sunday column...former Tenn. Sen. and TV actor Fred Thompson appears to be the surging challenger to Romney running away with the nomination. In the fourth of the four early contest states - South Carolina - Thompson is on top.

It looks John McCain and Rudy Guiliani are falling fast.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Back to work...

My two week stint as acting city editor is now over, and now I can get back to doing what I enjoy....reporting.

In my new weekly radio guest spot on WXLM in New London yesterday, I suggested that we would likely see some movement towards reaching a budget compromise in Hartford by the end of the week. I was wrong. It seems a tentative agreement was reached last night. No word yet when a special session might be called to ratify the new deal...but if something more than "tentative" is reached today, it could come as early as the end of the week. I'm betting it's more likely to be scheduled next week.,

Not a lot of details regarding the agreement have been released yet. It does appear, however, that all the talk about providing some relief to taxpayers was sacrificed as negotiators couldn't resist adding to state spending. More as it becomes available.

Friday, June 08, 2007

End of week 1...

My apologies again for the lack of updates here while I continue my two-week stint playing city editor. Today, and pretty yesterday as well, was exceptionally busy coordinating our coverage of the funeral of Army 1st Lt. Keith Heidtman of Norwich. I thought reporters and photographers did a very good - very respectful - job of covering the story.

Week one is now over, and week two starts on Monday. I hope next week I can also get back here a bit more often.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

On the desk...

Updates, unfortunately, be a bit slow in coming over the next couple of days. As of yesterday I have been recruited to serve on the city desk, playing the part of city editor while the normal editor is on vacation. I use to be the city editor here for six years, so when they need someone to fill in, I usually get tagged for the spot. (I waqs city editor from 1994-2000, deciding to give myself a 50th birthday present and demoting myself back to the ranks of reporter - which I enjoy much more.)

I'll try and add a little something each day, or every other day during this period.

But please...feel free to add your own thoughts on what's going on.

Monday, June 04, 2007


A busy weekend to say the least...

The General Assembly adopted an energy bill, that doesn't really do a lot for the average consumer. It's been sent to the governor for her signature, and it appears she will sign it.

The more controversial proposal that would allow illegal immigrants to attend state colleges and universities at the in-state tuition cost passed the legislature, and it, too, is headed to the governor for her signature. Not sure how she'll deal with that one.

The governor also sent out the first olive branch in the stalemated budget negotiations, saying that she would consider "some" of the proposals being offered Democrats. Now the negotiations get started again with some real effort in trying to hammer out an agreement within the next 48 hours.

I thought Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd did a very good job of not letting his frustrations show during the nationally televised presidential debate from New Hampshire last night. No one was really a "winner," but I didn't think Dodd lost anything either.

And a new feature - each Monday morning I'll be making a guest appearance on the Lee Elci radio talk show (102.3 FM Radio station WXLM). This morning was the first. It's a short and quick, and done by phone. I'll be a regular around 7:50 a.m. every Monday.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Rest up for the mad dash...

Saturday should be a rather nice day weather-wise, and one to enjoy before the political activity hits high gear on Sunday.

The eight Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination gather in New Hampshire for a nationally televised debate on CNN beginning at 7 p.m. More on that in my Sunday column in the Norwich Bulletin.

Do you plan to watch? Did you watch? What did you think?

On Monday, the clock at the state Capitol hits the 72 hour mark. That's what will be left to finish up this year's business before the session comes to a close at midnight Wednesday. We still have no budget deal.

Also on Monday, Congressman Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, will hold a Town Meeting at the Otis Library in Norwich to discuss his recent trip to Iraq and the Middle East. It begins at 6:30 p.m.

On Tuesday (probably still without a state budget deal), Republican presidential hopefuls will be in New Hampshire for their debate - also televised nationally on CNN at 7 p.m.

And then on Wednesday (will we have a state budget deal or not???) the General Assembly will gather in Hartford for the final dash to the closing bell. The good news, once the session ends, we can sleep comfortably because they can't do anymore harm - at least not this year.

Have a great weekend...

As expected...

Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed the Democratic tax plan.

Democratic leaders in the House and Senate quickly jumped on it, criticizing her for not wanting to help lower the tax burden on 95 percent of the state's population. But, despite the much ballyhooed "override majority" in both chambers, Democratic leaders have thrown in the towel and won't even try to override her veto. (Thier tax plan passed both the House and Senate, but not by the margin needed to override the veto.)

The governor's office wasted no time by resurecting a couple of quotes House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, offered to the media immediately after she delivered her budget address calling for a 10-percent across the board tax increase in the income tax. This was their response:

"NOTE: Speaker James Amann himself said the day after the Governor M. Jodi Rell's budget speech that the surplus meant Connecticut did not have to raise taxes. This was before it was learned that revenues would
outpace expectations by $1.2 billion.
Feb. 8, 2007 - House Speaker James A. Amann, D-Milford, also was
critical of the proposed income-tax hike. "That was the head-scratcher
of the day," he said. "It's quite unheard of for her to put that on the
table when we have a budget surplus."

Meanwhile, Republican legislative leaders r took exception to the Democratic critism of the governor's veto by producing an Office of Fiscal Analysis report claiming only 58 percent of the state's residents would see a reduction in taxes.

As noted here yesterday, it's just the opening posturing for the best seat at the negotiating tables when the real work of hammering out a compromise state budget gets started. The question is...when?