Monday, June 23, 2008

Override update...

The legislature voted to override the governor'sveto on the minimum wage bill.

This is what the governor had to say: “This is a seriously short-sighted decision that – even if well-intentioned – will have long-lasting negative consequences for employers and employees alike all over Connecticut. An increase in the minimum wage will bring an increase in the costs of goods and services, the loss of jobs and unrecognized costs to employers in the form of higher Social Security, unemployment tax and workers compensation payments.

“Even as the national economic picture continues to darken, the Legislature has opted to further cloud Connecticut’s business environment. Instead of making the state more business-friendly, instead of encouraging the small businesses that are the single greatest creator of jobs, instead of positioning Connecticut to succeed when the economy once more begins to grow, the Legislature has taken a step backward.

“I have supported increases in the minimum wage in the past and would be willing to do so in the future if the economic conditions are favorable. However, vetoing this increase was the right decision then and is still the right decision today. A minimum wage increase at this time does little but hurt the families it is intended to help.”


Both chambers of the General Assembly reconvened today for the Override session....the chance for lawmakers to override the governor's veto -- or vetoes. But it doesn't appear, at least initially, it will be very productive.

First...the only veto to be put on the agenda is Rell's veto of the minimum wage bill. Lawmakers apparently have no intention of putting any of the other bills out there.

And there's a question of whethre enough lawmakers show up. The House needs 101 votes to succeed, and the question as to whether 101 lawmakers in favor of overrding the veto will make the trip to Hartford.

This special session could end up mirroring the regular session -- nothing done.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wrapping a the week....

With a peek towards what's coming up next week...

This I fascinating. Next week the Norwich Rotary Club will host its annual Native Son/Native Daughter luncheon. It's an award given to a local resident who lives the region and achieves great success. There have been many amazing people from the city who have accomplished what quite a bit, and the luncheon is always interesting.

This year the winner of the award is Michael Mathieu, a 1986 graduate of NFA and 1990 graduate of Harvard, magna cum laude. His claim to fame....among a long list of innovative computer software that he created the spell check program for Microsoft's Word documents -- the little red squiggle that appearss under a misspelled word.

The General Assembly returns to Hartford on Monday for the veto override session. The increase in minimum wage, the proposal for a cabinet to investigate the needs and resources of nonprofits and the health care polling bill opening the state health care system to municipal workers, nonprofits and small buesinesses are the biggies on the table.

And we can expect to hear more from the Dodd controversy. Last week's press conference did little to bring that to an end....and I suspect the more we hear, the less we're going to like what we're hearing. This is very disappointing. I certainly expected better.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

on Tim Russert....

I had the pleasure of meeting him once, a very brief opportunity but one I enjoyed.

It was about four years ago. I was attending a VFW conference in Washington and Russert was being honored by the organization as Journalist of the Year. I was a huge fan and the opportuity to hear him speak -- and maybe get a chance to say hello -- was something I wasn't about to pass up.

When he took the stage to accept the award, he told the crowdhow honored and humbled he was to receive it. The first thought was sure...I mean, this guy probably had a roomful of plaques.

Russert told the gathering that although he never served in the military, "Big Russ" had and was a proud member of the VFW. He said when he told his father that he was going to be honored with the Journalist of the Year award by the VFW, Big Russ was very proud. That an organization that he was a member of was recognizing his son was indeed a proud moment. And it was his father's pride that made this particular award so very special for him.

As I watched the TV shows on Sunday paying tribute to Russert, there was a lot said about the relationship between him and his father. He had written several books on the subject -- one of which I bought and gave to my own father as a birthday present.

I got the chance to meet Russert after the event. I introduce myself and watched as the award recipient immediately slip into journalist mode -- and then came the questions. He was curious why a political reporter from Connecticut had come to Washington for a VFW convention. He wanted to know what else was going on that he wasn't aware of -- and why he wasn't aware of it.

During those tributes this past weekend, those who knew him and worked with him spoke of his work ethic. He was always prepared, always doing his homework -- always asking questions.

I assured him there was nothing else. My reason for being there was VFW-related, not political. We then talked politics. He wanted to know what I knew about John Rowland, Joe Lieberman, Rob Simmons. He was working....doing his homework. For those brief moments, Russert made me a contemporary, a colleague. It felt pretty good.

When we shook hands at the end, he leaned in -- one last question on his mind. He looked me in the eye, flashed that famous grin and asked one more time if I was sure there was nothing else going on at the convention that I wasn't sharing.

He was good....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wrapping up the week...

The special session this week is being hailed -- by those who took part in it, of course -- as a great step forward for Connecticut consumers. Of course I'm referring to the measures related to gasoline prices. Trusth is, lawmakers in Hartford did nothing (something they've become accustomed to doing) in helping anyone except their own re-election. Suspending the scheduled increaase in the gross receipts tax does not lower the cost of gas at the pump, and allowing retailers to offer discounts for cash purchases won't stop the rise in gas prices.

The Ethics Reform measure adopted in the special session did at least put in place a way of stopping convicted public servants from continuing to benefit at the expense of taxpayers -- but only in the future. It's not retroactive. And speaking of the future....why October for the effective date. Are there government officials out there who need the extra time to "clean up a few things" before having their pensions potentially revoked?

Speaking of special session, no sooner than they finished (again in the wee hours of the morning out of view of most citizens) this week's special session, they now want to hold another one on June 23 to try and override the governor's veto of the minimum wage increase bill.

News out of Washington today says U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd "benefitted" from his friendship with the head of Countrywide Mortgages a few years back, getting special rates on mortgages. Dodd's office is denying any knowledge of any special consideration.

And Barack Obama has rejected John McCain's offer of 10 "town meeting" type debate this summer, offering up instead one to be held on the Fourth of July.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Holms search to begin tomorrow....

JPAC, the Joint Personnel Accounting Command in Hawaii, announced today that the search for Waterford native Arnold "Dusty" Holm will begin tomorrow.

Holm, and two crew members, were shot down over Vietnam in 1971. After several unsuccessful efforts to locate the crash site, search teams believe they found it two years ago. Th excavation of the site will take place through July 25. Any remains discovered will be returned to Hawaii for DNA testing, and hopefully identification.

It's been a long time comming.