If Pelto indeed decides to seek the endorsesment of the Working Families Party, people in Malloy's camp would be wise to be concerned...very concerned.
In 2010, Tom Foley received more votes for governor on the Republican line than Dan Malloy received on the Democratic line. The 20,000-vote difference was the Connecticut Working Families Party line where Malloy's name also appeared for an extra 26,308 votes. Combined with his Democratic vote haul, Malloy was elected governor by roughly 6,000 votes following a grueling election-day ballot shortage in Bridgeport that created chaos and made national headlines. Four years later, there's angst in the ranks of the Working Families Party over some of Malloy's policies including teacher standards and what students are expected to know at various grade levels under the Common Core curriculum-angst fanned by former State Rep. Jonathan Pelto, who's been a stick in Malloy's eye for the better part of his term, from Pelto's blog perch.
Pelto, a political and communications strategist, is considering a run for governor. Even at this late stage if he decides to get in the game he's a relevant player for no other reason than a threat to poach the Working Families Party endorsement from Malloy, or perhaps become enough of an ideological wedge for the WFP to forgo an endorsement. The WFP has become a force on the Bridgeport Board of Education through its coalition control with the Democratic bloc.
Pelto, a former five-term Democratic member of the State House, is an old-time liberal's liberal mostly simpatico with Working Families Party battle cry aligned with state employee unions and bread-and-butter issues such as education, jobs, health care and increasing the minimum wage.
"We stand up for the everyday families that make Connecticut what it is-not the Wall Street banks, the lobbyists and the CEOs," declares language on the WFP website.
Malloy and the WFP, heavily financed by labor unions, are in synch on several likewise concerns such as the increase in the minimum wage the governor has signed into law. But on other issues they part company.
The mighty Connecticut Education Association that represents unionized teachers is among the vocal voices criticizing the governor's education policies. Malloy supporters argue privately, "If you think our education policy is tough, just imagine what it would be like under Governor Foley."
Pelto, from his website, has taken long and hard positions against Malloy betraying progressive sensibilities such as his embrace of Common Core and supporting the state takeover of Bridgeport schools that was eventually overturned by the Connecticut Supreme Court. Malloy political operatives counter Pelto's on a liberal jihad because he was not brought in as a player at Malloy's strategic table.
Whatever the reasons, Pelto could become an even bigger pain in the ass if he pursues the Working Families Party endorsement. He tells OIB he will at least discuss the possibility of an endorsement. But could even the threat of an endorsement move Malloy back to left of center in the general election where he'll need major support of unionized workers to win another term?
Given the fact that Malloy won the 2010 election by only 6,000 coming from Bridgeport, the possibility of Pelto throwing his hat into the race for governor should be taken seriously...you've been warned.
Thanks to Governor Malloy and Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor you can hear the wild cheering from the corporate education reform industry as millions of dollars in taxpayer funds continue to flow to out-of-state companies so that they can come here to tell Connecticut's teachers, administrators and public schools how to implement the Common Core and how to "improve."
A partial list of Malloy's Education Reform "winners" include;
Cost to taxpayers: $1,513,500
Task: The Washington D.C. company is being paid $1.5 million by the Malloy administration to "Design and deliver professional learning for the implementation of the Common Core Standards (CCSS)."
Cost to taxpayers: $1,238,000
Task: The California company was paid $1.2 million by the Malloy administration to provide "Strategic Initiatives Related to CT Educator Evaluation and Support system." The contract, which was funneled through the Connecticut Association of Schools, was supposed to be completed in 2013. It is unclear whether the contract was extended.
Cost to taxpayers: $1.8 million and growing
Task: The Massachusetts company is being paid $1.8 million by the Malloy administration to "Develop the state's turnaround strategy and improve the most struggling schools." The contract was supposed to end on January 31, 2014, but on the day AFTER the contract ended, it was officially extended for another year, while doubling in cost.
And meanwhile, as parents and teachers know, Connecticut's public schools are being turned into Common Core testing factories where the focus has now become preparing students for this inappropriate Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Test.
But the "less learning, more testing" mantra shouldn't come as a surprise since it was Governor Malloy himself who said that he didn't mind having teachers and schools teach to the test as long as test scores went up.
They want to take charge of the state government and its $22 billion annual budget, but they haven't been able to pay some of their own personal bills - including state or federal taxes.
That's true of two of the seven candidates for governor in the November election, a Government Watch examination of public records shows:
Republican candidate Martha Dean, one of six contenders for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, has two federal tax liens on her Avon home, filed in late 2011 when she owed the IRS $181,100.
Joe Visconti of West Hartford, one of her rivals for the state GOP's gubernatorial nomination in the November election, has liens for more than $80,000 on his West Hartford home including a state tax lien for $4,064 that he has owed the Department of Revenue Services since 2007.
Jonathan Pelto, a relentless opponent of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's education agenda and former state representative, is entertaining a run for the state's highest office, Hearst Connecticut Newspapers has learned.
The 53-year-old from Storrs, who has expended significant bandwith on his "progressive" blog and on Facebook railing against Malloy, could run either as a Democrat or a third party candidate, a person familiar with Pelto's thinking told the newspaper.
"We are looking at a variety of options," Pelto told Hearst by email Friday afternoon.
As I write this, you're sitting in solitary in York, the adult women's prison in Niantic. Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz has said there was no other choice. Apparently you got into a fight with staff at your last placement; your lawyers and Katz disagree about how serious that was. But that is why you're in an adult prison, according to Katz.
"This young lady is going to have to learn coping skills that don't involve hurting other people," Katz said, before she will consider moving you again.
You wrote eloquently about your experiences of rape, abuse, and trauma in your affidavit to the court. Some of this was from family, some from clients during your time as a sex worker, but some was from DCF staff and other residents in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Please permit me to quote you (and this is a trigger warning for others reading):
"At about age 12 I was placed by DCF at a residential facility in Eagleton School in Massachusetts, where a worker [name redacted] used to show the other children pornographic magazines, and on two occasions I was in his office and he had me perform oral sex on him."
You also described a staff member at Connecticut Children's Place who took you and another transgender girl out to movies and, afterward, made you perform sexual acts on him.
These are heartbreaking, shocking, and infuriating violations of trust, and are just some of the most direct ways in which DCF failed you. And now they have placed you in solitary confinement "22 to 23 hours per day," you have "no contact" with people your own age, and you can constantly hear other inmates "screaming, banging, and crying."
"I have no family," you wrote. "I have no friends. Everyone is always looking at me like I'm an alien because I want to be the female that I am . . . I need to be given treatment and services specific to my needs. I need to deal with the trauma I've experienced in my life. This prison cannot do that for me."
I've been thinking for days about what I could say to you.
You and I are very different people. I'm middle class, white, and I live a pretty safe, sheltered life. Maybe the only thing we share is that I'm a transgender woman, too. I admit, that's what drew my attention to you in the first place. I do feel that they're treating you differently because you're trans, and it's obvious that a lot of the abuse you've suffered is because of that.
But the more I read, the more I understand that this is about more than that. This is a case where, according to what you told the court, DCF is the direct cause of some of the trauma you've experienced, and is indirectly responsible for a lot of the rest.
But now they expect you to learn "coping skills" while stuck in the mental torture of solitary confinement - they otherwise seem to be washing their hands of you.
I know, it looks pretty bleak.
But . . . and I mean this with all sincerity, please take heart.
Several residents' complaints about aggressive panhandlers in New Milford have sparked a response.
A public hearing is set for May 12 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall about a possible panhandling control ordinance. The ordinance was drafted by Town Attorney Randy DiBella to give the New Milford Police Department a tool to use in dealing with aggressive panhandlers.
I'll be making my return to the small screen in Danbury today to talk about the latest developments in dishonest Mayor Mark Boughton's race for governor. I'll post the video of my TV appearance tomorrow.
In order to balance the budget, Republicans propose eliminating about $336.8 million of what they described as gimmicks in the Democratic budgets. They said one of those "gimmicks" is the $155 million in surplus funds Malloy wants to give back to taxpayers. Malloy proposed giving $55 checks to about 2.7 million taxpayers with surplus funds from this year's budget. The legislature's two budget writing committees kept the proposal in their budgets.
If Republicans had a say they would eliminate the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which was established in 2011. The budget allocates about $120 million a year toward the credit that goes back to the working poor, who don't necessarily pay income taxes.
Ben Barnes, Malloy's budget director, said the most "troubling" aspect of the Republican proposal is the elimination of the Earned Income Tax Credit. He said Ronald Reagan called the program "the best antipoverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress."
"After months of grandstanding, Republicans in the legislature have once again failed to produce an actual budget proposal, instead choosing to issue a political document that's heavy on rhetoric, but devoid of any actual detail," Barnes said in a statement. It "contains $54.8 million in phantom spending cuts that are not detailed anywhere. Finally, it does all this and yet their bottom line spending is less than 0.1 percent different from the governor's proposed budget. So much for cutting spending."
To those who remember the days of Camelot - that relatively contemporary one of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy rather than that of King Arthur - the modern version was launched when Kennedy wrote a book called "Profiles of Courage." He told of political figures who were prepared to sacrifice immediate personal gain for principle - something rarely found in political wars today.
Recently Connecticut was treated to a perfect example of the opposite of a politician showing a profile of courage. Mark Boughton, mayor of Danbury and a Republican candidate for governor, has renounced his former membership in Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization dedicated to a reasonable kind of gun control exactly as listed in our Second Amendment, which calls for a "well-regulated militia."
But Boughton, who said all the proper things when the Newtown massacre took place, has decided that "well-regulated" gun control is something he cannot support. He probably is catering to gun addicts who oppose anyone who has the temerity to say that "well-regulated" means any regulation at all.
Boughton may think he has gained support from the pro-gun lobby but he may be surprised to learn that there are Connecticut voters who believe consistency is a virtue and expediency is not what they are looking for in an elected official.
Boughton may find that his lack of courage - his refusal to stand up for his convictions after the Newtown massacre - may well redound to his detriment at the polls. Even his own party may look askance at someone whose retreat from principle is so apparent.
Connecticut's unemployment rate remained steady at 7 percent in March and the state added 4,900 jobs, according to a Connecticut Labor Department report.
"March showed some solid signs of a return to previous job growth trends," Andy Condon, director of the Office of Research, said Thursday.
Some of those positive signs included a "third month in a row of an expanding labor force and employment/population ratio, growing manufacturing employment, and positive movements in private-sector hours and earnings," Condon said. "Recovery trend employment growth appears to be returning following the volatile winter."
The 800 jobs the state added in February were adjusted upward by 600 jobs for a total of 1,400. In March, the state added 4,100 private-sector jobs and 800 government jobs.
To date, the state has regained 54.6 percent or about 65,000 of the 119,100 jobs lost during the recession. With the 4,900 jobs added in March, the report shows 9,400 jobs gained year-over-year.
In March, the national economy had recovered all jobs lost during the March 2008-February 2010 economic downturn, according to Peter Gioia, an economist with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.
"Even though both of these factors lag the U.S. recovery, it does seem to be picking up some steam," Gioia said Thursday.
It's been a week since the House, in a rare move, defeated a bill that would have banned genetically modified grass seed just one day after the Senate passed it.
The bill was a priority for outgoing Senate President Donald Williams, who believes he must stop the modified grass seed before it gets to market. But he failed to communicate that to House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, who had concerns about taking such a drastic step. Sharkey said he was never consulted by Williams about the bill.
Instead of waiting, Sharkey put the issue out of its misery quickly last Thursday when the House voted down the measure by a 103-37 vote.
Asked about the relationship Thursday, Williams said "I'm not going to comment on that."
Pressed on if the Senate would take up House bills or if he was concerned about Senate bills that needed to make it through the House, William said "I'm not going to speculate on that either."
So there's no tension between you and Sharkey?
"I'm not going to comment on that as well," Williams said.
Asked the same question, Sharkey said they both recognize there's important work to do "and that we're going to move in a positive direction to make that happen."
"I don't see any reason why we wouldn't be able to get done everything we need to get done this year," Sharkey said.
A legislative committee approved a controversial first contract Tuesday between the state and the union representing nearly 11,000 personal care attendants who help the elderly and disabled remain in their homes.
The workers, who originally gained bargaining rights through an executive order by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, receive hourly raises ranging from 40 to 50 cents in 2014, and from 35 to 50 cents in 2015.
The agreement provides funds for worker training and orientation and limited paid time off. Though rules governing the latter still must be negotiated, workers could be eligible for limited stipends - but not full pay - when taking scheduled time off.
Unless the full legislature votes to reject the agreement before the regular 2014 session adjourns May 7, the deal automatically would be ratified.
Surprise, surprise... An out-of-State charter school advocacy group has started an advertising campaign to support the Malloy administration's decision to give Steve Perry his own privately run, but taxpayer funded, charter school in Bridgeport.
According to a reports from the CT Mirror and Hartford Courant, Families for Excellent Schools, Inc., a charter school advocacy group based in New York, has begun a Connecticut radio advertising campaign in support of the Malloy administration's decision to approve two new charter schools in Bridgeport.
Families for Excellent Schools, Inc. is running the radio spots to defend Commissioner Stefan Pryor and State Board of Education's underhanded effort to approve the proposed charter schools. One of the charter schools will be run by the out-of-state Great Oaks charter school chain while the other is Steve Perry's Capitol Preparatory Harbor school.
The advocacy and lobbying group is also behind the multi-million dollar advertising campaign to undermine New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision to make New York City's public schools a high priority compared to the Bloomberg administration's approach that diverted tens of millions in public resources away from the public schools and to the city's privately run charter schools. In New York, the Families for Excellent Schools, Inc. campaign pushed to allow privately run charter schools virtually unlimited and free access to public school space.
The group's New York advertising campaign is designed to help New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Like Malloy, Cuomo has received more than $100,000 in campaign donations from charter-school supporters in recent months.
Families for Excellent Schools, Inc. was formed by corporate education reform industry allies in 2011 and has recently expanded into Connecticut. Four of the organization's five founding board members are Wall Street hedge fund executives. The group also shares space in New York City with the New York chapter of Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst, Inc.
As one would expect, the corporate education reform industry has been dumping millions of dollars into Families for Excellent Schools, Inc.
Among its biggest donors is the Walton Family Foundation (the Wal-Mart Family's Foundation) which has given the charter school group more than $700,000 in start-up funds. The organization has also received at least $200,000 from the Eli Broad Foundation during that same period.
Here in Connecticut, the Wal-Mart Political Action Committee gave Governor Malloy's political operation a check for $5,000 and Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad chipped in another $8,000 for Malloy.
One of the other foundations that have given Families for Excellent Schools, Inc. is none other than the Ray Dalio Family Foundation.
As Forbes Magazine explains, Ray Dalio is the "king of the rich hedge fund industry." Forbes adds that Dalio, "lords over the world's biggest hedge fund firm, Bridgewater Associates, with about $150 billion in assets."
Ray Dalio is the individual who was paid $2.3 billion last year.
Ray Dalio's Bridgewater Associates is the company that Governor Dan Malloy rewarded with more than $120 million in Connecticut taxpayer funded tax breaks in return for moving Bridgewater's "world headquarters" from Westport to Stamford.
In addition to giving money to the charter school advocacy group now running advertisements in Connecticut, Dalio's foundation is also a major donor to Teach for America.
For public school teachers, parents and advocates it is becoming even clear is that with the 2014 gubernatorial election less than seven months away, Dannel "Dan" Malloy is using every opportunity to show his unending support for expanding charter schools at the expense of Connecticut's public schools.
McKinney told The Mirror Wednesday that his answer to a hypothetical question about a GOP takeover of the legislature and passage of a repeal bill was not a retreat from his support for the gun-control law.
CT Dems chairwoman Nancy DiNardo had this to say about McKinney's remarkable statement.
"Senator McKinney's response is tortured, at best. And, actually, painful to read. Last night he said if the Legislature sent him a bill repealing the gun control law he voted for last year he would sign it. Pretty straightforward, right? Not if you're John McKinney. When called out today on it for what it is -- political pandering -- Senator McKinney dug the hole he created last night even deeper. He now claims he was addressing a hypothetical that won't occur. So that gives him license to backtrack on a big vote and pander to the crowd he's in front of? Senator McKinney is right about one thing- people are disgusted by politics as usual: the kind of politics he exhibited last night, and then today."
It's amazing how the Republican candidates for governor easily pander to the fringe element of their base for political points.
Last night at the Quiet Corner Tea Party Patriots meeting, John McKinney said that if he were governor, he would sign legislation to repeal the gun control bill "SB 1160" if the legislature sent it to him.
"It is unbelievable that John McKinney, who voted for the gun control bill "SB 1160," now says if he were governor and the legislature sent him a bill repealing the legislation, he would sign it," said Nancy DiNardo, Connecticut Democratic Party Chairwoman. "This is political pandering at its worst."
Questioner: I have a few questions here from your constituents. Because one of them was, that got sent me, is if Republicans took over the General Assembly [McKinney: Right] and if they put forward a repeal of SB 1160 [McKinney: Yep], if you were elected governor, would you sign that?
McKinney: If the legislature repeals something, I think the governor owes a great deference to what the legislature does, and I would.