Monday, February 23, 2009

Big week coming up...

Tomorrow is a busy day...

Preston voters will again be heading to the polls to voice their opinions on what to do about the Norwich State Hospital property -- eithre proceed with the purchase or give it back to the state. It's a tough call, with risks associated with both choices.

President Obama delivers his first State of the Union address tomorrow night. He supposedly will outline -- although briefly -- his plans for the next big project: Health carae reform.

On Wednesday, the General Assembly wil again try and tackle the current year's $1 billion revenue deficit.

And...did you happen to catch Rob Simmons on Channel 3 Sunday morning. He certainly looked and sounded like a canddiate. Although I've had my doubts about whether he would jump in and challenge Chris Dodd in the 2010 Senate race....I think he's going to do it. A decision is coming in three weeks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Which is sinking faster....

The economy, or U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-CT, ?

Dodd's latest problem is the disclose of campaign contributions from the Stanford Financial Group, whose founer is the latest player accussed of bilking investors out of billions of dollars. When asked about it, Dodd said he is donating the $27,500 he received from individsuals related to the firm to charity -- and ardently denied he was 'too friendly" with banking and investment interests.

Meanwhile, the efforts to draft former Ron Paul economic advisor Peter Schiff to challenge Dodd in next year's election is holding a "moneybomb" event this Saturday -- that's an Internet fundraising effort to collect large sums in a single day. It seems the effort is coming out of San Diego, California and spearheaded by six tech-savvy Libertarians. It is, however, gaining some attention from like-minded folks nationwidd. For his part, Schiff is saying he's not really interested and doubts that he could be convinced to run -- but not comletely rulingit out.

And eleswhere, former Republican Congressman Rob Simmons is telling folks he'll make his mind up about a possible Senate run against Dodd by mid-March. I still have doubts about whether he'll jump back in to the political arena -- but then again, a six-year term is a lot easier to deal with then having to mount a campaign every two, who knows.

As for this Sunday's Hackett on Politics column in the paper, it's all about the money and the very strange way the numbers are adding up. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Same day voting....

That was one of the highlights up at the Capitol today, a prosed bill that would allow people to register to vote at the polls on Election Day. It seems like a fairly easy concept to get your arms around -- and I am confused as to why anyone would think that's a bad idea.

I'm originally from Rhode Island. There, you can even register for one of the political parties at the poll on Primary Day. As an independent, I use to go to the poll, register as a Democrat or Republican, vote in the primary of my choosing, go back to the table after voting and re-register as an independent. It was fast, easy and I think, encourage better turnouts.

Same day registeration is a good idea. During this past election, as I was making my way around eastern Connecticut to various polling places and town clerk's office, I ran into a small number of people who said they registered at either DMV or through the mail, but somehow their registration cards were never forwarded to their hometowns. They were stuck using the presidential ballot only

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What a surprise....

There I was last night, sitting on the couch and watching ABC News -- like I do every night. Late in to the newscast, they show a series of photographs released by the White House of President Obama's "photo album" of the economic recovery week. The first photo shown is a picture of Obama serving cookies to his guests at the White House Super Bowl party....

And I couldn't believe what I saw....

Who's he serving cookies to? None other than Jimmy Sullivan of Norwich, CT....the former City Council member, Board of Public Utilities Commissioner and unsuceessful (2004) candidate for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District.

Friday, February 13, 2009


this from the political wire:

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) is writing a book on the congressional bailout of the financial services industry, titled Thirteen Days: How the Financial Crisis Changed the Politics of Washington. It will be published in June.

According to Publishers Weekly, the book "will provide an intimate look at how, over the course of 13 days last September, a financial crisis led to panic and meltdown. Dodd, the chair of the Senate banking committee, will also describe how he and others acted swiftly to try to save the American economy."

The book is obviously modeled on Robert F. Kennedy's Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I'm not sure this actually helps Connecticut's senior senator who is not as highly regarded among voters here than he once was. In fact, not a lot of folks feel like he can be believed, and I don't think this book is going to change people's minds.

The big question is....who will the Republicans throw against him in the 2010 campaign.'s seems one well-known Republican has been meeting with the head of the Republican National Senate Committee and is thinking about it. (More on that in this Sunday's newpaper column Hackett on Politics.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stimulus breakdown

Here's the latest breakdown for Connecticut in terms of what the federal economic stimulus package does:

It aims to provide or save 41,000 jobs over the next two years.
It provides a tax cut of up to $800 for 1.3 million workers and their families.
It has a college tax credit of $2,500 for four years.
Offers an additional $100 per month inunemployment insurance benefits to the 278,000 residents now out of work.
And provides funding to modernize at least 80 schools.

The state will now receive $2.8 billion in federal stimulus money, slightly higher than the $2.1 billion the governor had used in her budget proposal.

It's far from an immediate fix and the results, unclear as they may be now, will not be immediate. It is a start, however.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Budget fallout

My e-mail is flooded with press releases from just about every organization one can think of criticizing Gov. m. Jodi Rell's proposed state budget. As promised, the governor served up a proposal that would be filled with enough for everyone to find something to hate....and they have.

What few are offering, however, is an alternative -- except that we need to raise taxes.

I agree that a tax increase is necessary, but only in context with spending cuts. Personally, a one-tenth of 1 percent cut in overall state spending (the first year of her budget, followed by a 3.5 percent increase in spending the second year) doesn't come close to what needed to be done toshrinkthe size of government.

However, there are parts of her proposal that I find do atempt to address the problem

I'm most impressed with her plan to cancel $400 million in approved bonding projects -- most of them earmarks for pet projects of legislators. It was a bold move on her part to send legislation to the General Assembly to formally cancel those authorizations. She didn't have to do that because, as head of the state bonding commission, she controls the agenda and could have simply refused to put any of those projects on the agenda. But she decided to force the legislature hand, saying it is unfair to let folks "think" the funding might be coming -- cause it isn't.

More and more of the details of her proposal will surface as we dig deeper into her budget. And opposition to it will continue to grow each time another new detail is uncovered.

It will be interesting to see what kind of alternative plan the Democrats come up with.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Rell budget

In a meeting with Gov. Rell last week, she acknowledge that she's heard the criticism of not taking advantage of her political capitol and using it to push forward programs and ideas. She then reached over and grabbed her notes on her two-year budget proposal and said, "This is all my political capital."

Rell is anticipating a difficult budge battle with Democrats...and she took the airwaves Monday night to speak directly to the citizens of Connecticut in what is obviously her attempt to use her popularity to force Democrats to deal.

Tomorrow at noon, she releases her budget....

Then the dealing begins....

Monday, February 02, 2009

Dodd controversy

I just got back from Hartford where I, and a dozen other reporters, met with U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd and his wife Jackie. and they released the long-awaited loan documents related to the refinancing of their two homes back in 2003.

Dodd conceded that much of the controversy, most of it, surrounding the refinancing is own doing. That he could have -- should have -- made the documents public sooner. He then allowed reporterss to review the more than 100-pages. There was no smoking gun to be found.

He also distributed an independent review of his mortgage comission in response to questions raised by the Senate Ethics Committee. The independent auditors reviewed his mortgages and the mortgage marketplace in 2003 and determined the Dodds received no special rate that was not available to anyone else who met their same mortgage qualifications -- and the rate they did receive was compatible to what other lending institutions wer offering at that time.

Jackie acknowledge that she conducted the majority of the negotiations over the refinancing -- not surprising since she is a former banker -- and that she dealt only with loan officers and none in person.

And then the senator apologized to the people of Connecticut for not handling the matter better.