Friday, November 30, 2007

Checking the facts...

this little item caught my eye, and I found it amusing, so I thought I'd pass it on.

According to's review of what was said at the recent GOP presidential debate:

Mitt Romney claimed New York called its a sanctuary city for illegal alients. It didn't.

Rdy Giuliani denied New York was actually a sanctuary city, but the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has classified it as such based on the immigrant-friendly policies that Giuliani still defends.

Mike Huckabee claimed he would abolish the IRS, but failed to mention he would replace it with another big tax bureaucracy.

Huckabee also claimed he proposed to make children of illegal aliens eligible for scholarships in Arkansas if they had been in schools their entire lives - but his proposal only required three years attendance.

And the best part...

Romney claimed he had been a true suffering Red Sox fan waiting fot the team to win a World Series for the first time in 87 years -- but it actually was only 86 years they waited.

Giuliani was correct when he said while he was mayor New York snowfall was down and the New York Yankess won four World Series titles. He was making a joke of course, but it's a joke that reminds us that you can't believe all the credit a candidate claims just because things happen while they were in office.

A couple of items this morning..

First the really good news...

The planned excavation of the crash site where it is believed that Waterford native Arnie "Dusty" Holm was shot down in Vietnam back in June 1972 has been cleared of any concerns regarding Agent Orange contamination -- and the DPMO has given the recovery operation a green light for March/April 2008.

It's been 36 years...and it now appears the end is in sight.

If successful, it will take several additional months, maybe as much as a year, to positively identify any remains recovered. And the final go/no go on the search effort will not be made until 60 days before the JPAC team moves out to begin the excavation....

Hopefully, there will be no further disappointments.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back to the grind...

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, and for those of you who ventured out for those early morning Black Friday specials...good for you.

There's been a question asked about the comment posting on the Norwich Bulletin Web page, so I asked our IT folks here what's up with that. As you know, when we made the switch from Gannett to GateHouse, we needed to seperate ourselves from the Gannett Web site. Unfortunately, that meant losing the ability to allow readers to comment directly on stories that appear on

It is a priority in returning that function on the new Web page...but apparently, and I'm no whiz when it comes to how this whole Internet thing works, it's not as easily done as what one might think.

So the best answer I can give you at this poiint is that it is something that we are pursuing, with the intent to restoring that capability - and folks seem to have their fingers crossed that it can be accomplished before the end of the year.

In the meantime, feel free to post your comments here on the blog...or better yet, why not put your comments in an e-mail and send it to be as a Letter to the Editor. (That will require you to provide your full name, hometown and a daytime phone number to verify you indeed did send the letter.)

Something to think about...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Turkey Day...

It's been a busy week. The goal beginning Monday was to complete an entire week's worth of newspapers (or at least the editorial pages of those newspapers) in three days. And that's because I'm planning to take a nice long weekend over the holiday. (I never really liked working the day after Thanksgiving....not much happens and it typically turns out to be one of the slowest work days of the year.)

;Anyway...mission accomplished. Well...almost anyway. Just a few minor items yet to be done, and the effort will be successful in completing the work load so that I can enjoy the long holiday break.

So...let me put in a plug for this week's Hackett on Poltiics column in Sunday's paper as I continue my discussion with readers over the issue of citizen participation in the election process....

And wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving...and my sincere hopes that your day with your families are something worth being thankful for.

See you Monday...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Catching up...part II

Mccommas....I agree that it would be a shame if you were to leave Connecticut and not remain politically active. You and I haven't agreed on a lot....but I have always admired anyone willing to put in the effort to run for elected office. I've been on the campaign trail so I know how much time and energy is needed to run a campaign, day in and day out, for months - and in some cases even longer.

The people of Windham were fortunate that you and others were willing to do that. As noted in the previous post, there are way too many uncontested races in municipal elections that offer voters no choice at all. At least the people of Windham had a choice this year.

As for your other comment on the two subs a year issue, this is a point that you and I have agreed upon in the past. I do believe that former Congressman Rob Simmons deserves a great deal of credit in initiating the discussion about the need to increase submarine production. He set the stage, and made a compelling argument that this was more about national security than it was just about jobs -- although it is about jobs. But very special jobs by some highly-skilled and uniquely talented workers that we can not afford to lose.

In football parlance, it was Simmons who took the ball and moved it down the field.

But where I disagree with you is the argument that because of that, two subs per year was already guaranteed this year. Rob's party leadership was never behind that. The decision by the Armed Services Committee last year to "authorize" two subs per year was an election gift to help Rob. he was never able to convince even his own House colleagues on the Appropriations Committee, -- even the Approos subcommittee on Defense -- to get behind this - and they gave it no consideration. The Senate Armed Services Committee never even considered going as far as its House counterparts - and wouldn't even approve the "authorization" never mind the appropriation.

Rob never gave up....but he couldn't get that ball over the goal line.

Which I think, and feel free to disagree (which I am sure you will) makes what Courtney accomplished that much more amazing. A freshman, he comes into the game, picks up where Rob left off...and pushes the ball across the goal line.

I suspect you're going to make the argument that what Courtney got was an election gift as well. But I would argue it was more than that, because this vote to actually fund the beginning of constructing two subs per year is a major financial commitment not for just this year - but next year, and the years after. It goes from $2.4 billion last year, to $2.9 billion this year, and then $4 billion next year. (Remember, the $588 million this year only buys the reactor and other pre-oder items. They still need the other $1.5 billion to complete what they start. So that's $2 billion for the one sub program, another $500,000 for the prepurchase of the second sub, and then the remaining $1.5 billion to complete the project - each and every year after.

That's something the Republican leadership didn't want to go along with.

What Courtney got was more than just an election year boost from the Democrats.

Catching up on correspondence...

There have been a few comments posted by folks lately, and I thought it was about time I got caught up...and I thought I might do it in a series of posts rather than one long rambling piece.

Dweeb had some questions regarding the Norwich Bulletin hosted debates we held last month. There were six in total, two in Norwich and one each in Canterbury, Plainfield, Colchester and Preston. As is typical in these kinds of things, the vast majority of those who attend are usually connected to one of the campaigns...but in a couple of cases this year, it seemed there was a fairly good representation of people who came out to listen to the candidates. I think that was especially true in Canterbury, Plainfield and Preston where there aren't usually debates held.

As I've stated before, I did expect to see some surprises in this year's municipal elections, but not as many as we did see. Consider this, in the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Government, there will be nine new faces taking seats around the table, and six (out of 12) new faces at the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Government meetings. I thought, based on the debates, there might be some changes coming...but in all honesty, I never thought it would so sweeping.

I also thought that those attending the debates came to "listen," that they were there because they wanted to hear the candidates talk about very specific issues. And, I'd like to think, that we were successful in achieving that level of dialogue, and not the usual soundbites and pat answers. I found that different this year than in past years.

Turnout was low again...and unfortunate circumstance...and i'm not really sure how you go about fixing that. I do a degree....with wtfdnucsailor that part of the problem is the unknown factor. Voters don't know a lot about many of the candidates, and the candidates are somewhat limited in how much they can do in reaching out to voters.

But...I think there are some real problems in the way we approach municipal elections that can be fixed, and maybe that might help in bringing more people out to the polls.

For example: I do believe that the lack of choice on the ballots is a major problem. I don't think town committees do enough to recruit potential candidates, and are all too satisfied with taking what seats they can get and not worrying about filling every slot that is available.

I think the cross-endorsement process is a real shame, and needs to be ended. It sends a strong statement that we - the town committees - have already decided who will serve in this position and you have no say on it.

I think candidates are also at fault. They know turnouts will be low, so they target thier campaigning to those voters who have traditionally come out to vote -- and make little or no effort in reaching out to other groups. They get their copy of the voters' list from previous elections, and focus only on those voters who have demonstrated in the past that they will vote.

I think candidates get lazy. Their quite content in having the support of those around them and sit back and wait for someone to host a forum or debate and consider that "enough" to get the word out as to who they are and what they're all about. There are times when it appears candidates would prefer no publicity than getting their name in the paper. (For example...right after the nomination process....we ever hardly hear from candidates or town committees, and there is no reason why we should chase them to find out who's on the slate...not at that point. That's free advertising for them...and they don't take advantage of it.)

And, at this level, I think the municipal campaigns are far too "party-oriented." There isn't a town committee chairman anywhere in Eastern Connecticut who knows that he is going to have trouble fielding a full slate for the municipal elections long before the nominating process begins. And they do nothing about it....nothing in the sense of reaching out beyond party lines to attract unaffiliated voters.

I have long believed that if the two major parties were to do something simple like open their primaries to unaffiliated voters, they might just attract more people to the polls - and who knows, maybe to the processs itself.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Better late than never....

A pretty impressive showing this past Tuesday in the municipal elections. It would have been nice if the overall voter turnout was higher, but you have to admit that it was pretty strong as voters made their voices heard and went looking for change.

I expected to see a couple of surprises, but I didn't expect to see as many. I think the two biggest surprises may have been in Plainfield where former First Selectman Paul Sweet, running as a petitioning candidate, defeated incumbent Democrat Kevin Cunningham, and in Windham where Green Party candidate Jean de Smet ousted three term Democratic incumbent Mike Paulis. They were surprising because I don't think either Cunningham or Paulis did anything that would have warranted them losing.

Big week in Washington as well as Congress approved the 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill that includes the funding to begin construction of two submarines a year beginning in 2010 or 2011. But...that's still a good two years before the work shows up in the yard at Electric Boat. And the company will face some challengers these next two years in securing enough repair and modification work to keep the waterfront workforce busy waiting for that second sub work.

It should also be noted the Defense bill has an extra $5 million for design work, money that will begin the very preliminary design work on the next generation of Trident subs. That's just as important as the second sub. This is the first time in more than 50 years that EB hasn't had a contract for a new design for the next generation of submarines -- and those designers and engineers are very special. So this should help keep them working until that new contract comes.

And just in case anyone might be wondering....the next election around here is just about 85 days away. The presidential primaries are up next on Feb. 5.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Election Eve...

There was some comments posted in regards to my last post in terms of the criticism and negativity I've seen lately in letters to the editor relating to tomorrow's municipal elections. In one post, it was suggested that criticizing elected officials is fair game - and I don't argue that point at all.

But that criticism, I think, should be directed at their positions on issues or votes, not on them personally. And that is what I was referring to when I said too many critical letters were being mailed that brought nothing useful to the discussion. They're just nasty and unproductive - not to mention unnecessary. It's not, as someone posted, a "can't-we-all-get-along" mentality at all.

Look, no one has to agree with everyone running for elected office. I don't agree with everyone on everything, even the ones I actually end up voting for. But to lower the debate to personal attacks is just demeaning the whole process.

My opinion....

Friday, November 02, 2007

Coming up for air one more time...

A couple of responses to recent comments posted here:

Wtfdnucsailor - Every letter submitted prior to the deadline, and verified, will be printed. I agree with you that for canidates on the under ticket, it is the only real way they can get their names out in front of people, and they certainly deserve that considering they work just as hard as any other candidate on the ballot. I spent most of the morning today putting the final touches on the last of the letters that will run in Saturday and Sunday's paper.

The only unfortunate part are those letters that do nothing but criticize and take shots at opponents. You can almost see the organized effort being run to get as many of those letters in as possible. And although the temptation is strong sometimes, they get printed as well. I'm not going to set myself up as some kind of high and mighty censor determining who's letter is worthy of print and who's isn't. I think voters are smarter than me when it comes to that -- they can see what's going on and they'll make their own decisions, not one based on what some of the writers are trying to do.

Dweeb: As far as taking the trash out of the Norwich City Council election as easily as I take garbage out of my car during election season, again...I have faith in the voters. They'll choose those who they believe offer the most.

And Terri: Most of the really good contests are more likely decided in the last 24 hours of any campaign. And I'd like to believe that is probably the healthiest contests one could ever hope to have. As for the Norwich Bulletin endorsements -- they're merely recommendations on our part, not instructions on who to vote for.

I have always found that people look to newspaper endorsements, 1 - for some sense that what they already know or have decided is what others think, or 2, they obviously have a much better understanding of what going on than those editors who obviously don't have a clue.

Either way, the purpose of the endorsements is to continue to dialogue, and if we can get people talking about the issues and the candidates, all the better.

You all have a good weekend...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Coming up for air...

I've been covering elections for more than 30 years. This year's municipal election - because we hold elections every year in Connecticut - will be my 20th since joining the Norwich Bulletin. So I'm kind of use to the routine. I always joke that at this time of year I usually take more garbage out of my car than I do my condo.

But this year is different. Sitting here as the acting Editorial Page editor, I'm not out on the road with garbage building up inside the car. I'm inside the office dealing with an onslught of letters to the editor that need to run by Sunday, sitting in lengthy meetings stretched out over days discussing endorsements, planning and then hosting debates, editing columns and still searching for an editorial cartoon that makes sense - and might actually be funny.

The endorsement process has been most interesting. Like I said, hours stretched over days - with lots of discussion in trying to come to a consensus as to which candidates would earn our nod of approval. Some went quickly while others took a lot of time before a consensus was reached.

The worse part...the letters to the editor. Let's face it, the vast majority of these letters are driven by the individual campaigns supporting the candidate -- or attacking the opponent. The attacks are pretty bad...vicious in some cases...and bring no real value to the discussion about the issues communities are facing. The "support" letters also lend little value to the debate, since they are "feel good, vote for my friend, a really great guy/girl."

It's interesting....but there are moment where I'd rather be in my car, letting the garbage pile up while chasing the candidates as they campaign.