Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A big switch....

Just wondering if Democrats here in Connecticut are feeling differently now that Republican Sen. Arlen Specter has decided to swtich parties -- different in the sense that they are relieved that efforts to strip Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman of his decision to continue to caucus with Democrats and his chairmanship in the Senate didn't succeed last year?

With Specter's switch, and assuming that Democrat Al Franken emerges victorious in the Minnesota Senate battle against Republican Norm Coleman, Democrats will now have the 60 votes in the Senate to end debate and block filibusters -- thanks to Lieberman's decision to continue caucusing with Democrats.

Speaking of Lieberman....this is what he had to say about Specter's decision to jump parties:

“I enthusiastically welcome my good friend Arlen Specter into the Democratic caucus. It will be very good to have the company of yet another independent minded Democrat in the caucus!

“I have always admired Arlen as a man of deep principle who has been a bridge builder to get things done in the Senate. Arlen understands that we get things accomplished when we listen to the vital center of American politics. I know that Arlen will continue to make a major contribution to the Senate and the nation as an effective independent leader and problem solver.”

Monday, April 27, 2009

Election time....

There's a special City Council election in Norwich tomorrow to fill a vacancy on the council. Next week, there are borough elections being held across the state. It's localelection time, so I thought, for anyone who might have missed it, it would be worthwhile to post a copy of my column from yesterday's Norwich Bulletin.

I've discussed this particular issue in the past, but it’s worth repeating this morning.

Question: When was the last time the President of the United States wanted to rezone property in your neighborhood for a commercial development?

Or ordered the extension of a sewer line down your street — and you get the bill whether you wanted it or not?

Or decided to eliminate three police officer positions while at the same time approving the construction of a new $30 million police headquarters — that you’ll pay for over the next 20 years?

Answer: Never.

That’s because those are local issues decided by local government. And yet, every four years 80 percent of the registered voters in our communities vote in presidential elections while every two years we’re lucky to see 30 percent turnout for municipal elections. And it’s those municipal contests that have the most immediate impact on our lives.

There’s a special election being held in Norwich Tuesday to fill a vacancy on the Norwich City Council. The expectation is that maybe 10 percent of the city’s registered voters will participate — if we’re lucky. At a candidates forum Wednesday night, only 15 residents came to hear what the two candidates had to say.

This special election is not attracting a lot of interest or generating much excitement. Part of the reason for that are the two candidates themselves.

To put it bluntly, neither is a ball of fire.

If they were interviewing for a job as a motivational speaker, neither would be hired. I do applaud their willingness to serve, but I have to admit, at the candidates’ forum Wednesday there wasn’t a moment where I suddenly had any urge to leap to my feet and applaud.

But that’s not the point, and it certainly isn’t a reason not to be concerned or ignore the contest.
Because they’re not interviewing for a job to be a motivation speaker.

What they hope to claim Tuesday is the position of local policy maker. They want to have the authority to decide what neighborhood will be rezoned to allow commercial development, what streets will get that new sewer line and whether it’s three police officers or three teachers who will be laid off next year.
They want to be part of that very select group of seven whose every decision potentially affects your life.

And one of them will win that right on Tuesday. The question is, which one?

Anyone who has read this column in the past is already aware of my feelings towards giving voters a choice at election time. Too often, voters have no choice. Two years ago in the city’s municipal election, nine candidates ran for the Board of Education. None of them could lose. Each one was guaranteed victory. It was the same situation two years earlier. Your vote didn’t count.

Four years ago, two Republicans ran for City Council. They couldn’t lose. Their election was guaranteed. It didn’t matter what you thought.

That’s not the case this time. There is a choice.

On Tuesday, one will win and join the City Council — and one will not.

The choice of who wins is a decision to be made by Norwich voters. The question is, are you going to make it, or will you be satisfied to let someone else make it for you?

Friday, April 24, 2009


I've been told that I am now twittering. I'm not 100 percent sure exactly what that mean (Remember I still use dial-up at home with Windows 98), but apparently each time I add to this blog, somehow those who sign up to follow me on Twitter (why?) will be notified. Okay...

There's a special election in Norwich Tuesday to fill a vacancy on the City Council, the unexpired term of state Rep. Christopher Coutu. Because of minority representation, no Democrat is eligible to run (Dems already hold five of the seven seats). Former state rep and alderman Peter Nystrom is the Republican in the contest and unaffiliated voter Jay Gelfond, a petitioning candidate are vying for the spot. Neither is one that might be described as a ball of fire, and as such, the election isn't generating any excitement or interest. Too bad....too often the races in the city offer no choice to voters, and finally one with a choice comes along and most voters will likely miss it.

On Wednesday, President Barak Obama will hold another televised news conference....his 100th day in office. I picked this up from the PoliticWite Web page....Obama by the numbers:

President Obama will hold his 11th news conference of his presidency on Wednesday and the third one televised in prime time. NBC News notes the only modern presidents who have conducted more press conferences in their first 100 days than Obama are Harry Truman (14) and Bill Clinton (13).

By Wednesday, Obama will have given at least 10 major speeches, held eight town halls and made 14 different trips -- most of them to battleground states.

Since taking office he has signed 13 bills into law and signed 19 executive orders.

Meanwhile, Politifact says Obama has kept 27 campaign promises, broken six, and compromised on seven others.

Have a good weekend....it's going to be beautiful.

Monday, April 20, 2009

And this just in....

The Simmons for Senate campaign has hired former John McCain New Hamsphire state campaign director Jim Barrett to be campaign manager. Barrett is credited with resuscitating McCain's presidential bid at a time when it appeared the Arizona Senator was down for the count. McCain won the New Hampshire primary, and ultimately the GOP nomination.


The governor and Democratic legisaltive leaders are finally sitting down to begin -- yes begin -- budfget negotiations to addres the state's fiscal problem. It's about time.

When the legislature convened in January, the projected shortfall in revenue for the current fiscalyear was $385 million. Today, it is projected at $600 million -- at least, if not higher. (Twice as high)

When the legislature convened in January, the projected revenue shortfall for the next two years was $6 billion. Today, that projection is between $8 billion and $9 billion. (One-third higher)

There are only six weeks remaining in the legislative session. There are just 10 weeks remaining before the start of the new fiscal year.

We have word this morning that union leaders have agreed to the proposed union concessions. That deal now goes to rank and file members next week for their approval.

That's a start....but that's no where near what still needs to be done....and time is slipping away.

But what's frustrating is this sense that no one sees any need for urgency. They're all working on legislative time ... where reality is checked at the door before entering.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sen. Dodd -- good and bad news today

Two interesting news reports today regarding U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd.

In this morning's Boston Globe, a story about Dodd's troubles and the challenge it poses to his re-election bid. Included in the story is a rather strong endrosement....from the President of the United States. From the Globe story:

"I can't say it any clearer: I will be helping Chris Dodd because he deserves the help," Obama told the Globe yesterday in a phone interview from Air Force One, as he flew to Mexico on a diplomatic trip.

"Chris is going through a rough patch," Obama said. "He just has an extraordinary record of accomplishment, and I think the people in Connecticut will come to recognize that. . . . He always has his constituencies at heart, and he's somebody I'm going to be relying on and working very closely with to shepherd through the types of regulatory reforms we need."

On the not-so-good news front, the Connecticut Post has a story this morning about Dodd's recently released campaign finance report where the incumbent reported about $1 million raised during the first three months of the year -- with little of it coming from within Connecticut's borders.

According to the Post story: "The five-term incumbent reported raising just $4,250 from five Connecticut residents during the first three months of the year while raking in $604,745 from nearly 400 individuals living outside the state."

The remaining $437,000 collected came from Political Action Committees, only two of which has Connecticut roots.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea parties and TV

A busy schedule today. I'm taping a cable TV show this afternoon (Take Back Sheila Horvitz that airs on ComCast tomorrow night I believe) before heading over the marina area to catch the Norwich Tea Party.

Then tomorrow, I'll be the guest on Murray Renshaw's cable show on MetroCast at 8 p.m. That's live....and there are phone lines. I'd love to hear from you....ask me anything.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It worked....

Okay....a couple ofquick updates....

Shortly after my Sunday column ran regarding the 2nd Congressinal District race, Matthew Daly, one of two Republican challengers to U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, sent me an e-mail advising me that Richard Foley is "no longer" associated with his campaign. That after Daly loaned his committee $10,000 of which $8,000 was paid to Foley. (At least he got off cheaper than Sean Sullivan who spent $37,000 on Foley before cutting ties with him.)

Tomorrow is the "tea party" day, a national grassroots effort protesting taxes -- and commandeer by Republicans. I doubt you'll see any local Democratic legisaltors attending any of the events in the state, especially considering they're proposing a $3.3 billion increase in state taxes.

Daria Kovak, the other GOP contender in the 2nd District, is supposedly attending the tea party in Norwich. I don't much about her other than she teaches at Eastern and served as an appointee to the state department in the Reagan administration. A good opportunity to find out more about her.


I've never claimed to be a computer whiz. In fact, I still use dial up service and Windows 98 on my home computer. It works...no need to change. So...you might imaginemy surprise recently when I got a notice that this blog was potentially a "spam site" and my acess was locked until a review could be conducted to make sure that I wasn't a spammer -- like I even know how to do that.

Anyway....the review is supposedly under way, and allegedly I can't post anything until it's completed. But yet here I am....and I'm going to try and post this to see what happens. If it works....we'll resume our postings. If not....I'll find one of the IT guys (or a six year old) to see if they can help.