Nearly one year ago, CT News Junkie contributor Jason Paul suggested that state Democrats "lost" the decade's redistricting process. In retrospect, Mr. Paul's piece seems prophetic. Redistricting modestly strengthened the hand of state Republicans and helped them hold their margins in each chamber of the General Assembly.
State voters maintained the status quo in Hartford, returning a 22-14 Democratic majority to the State Senate and a 99-52 Democratic majority to the State House. In a year when the Republican Presidential nominee lost by 18 points in Connecticut and the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate lost by 12 points, maintaining the status quo was an accomplishment for Republicans.
As Mr. Paul predicted, redistricting played a significant role in the process. Since 1996, the GOP has lost ground in the State Senate, for example, in every Presidential cycle. The net no change in the partisan breakdown of the Senate is the best showing for Republicans in a Presidential year since 1992.
For 31 years, students at Bridgeport's Bassick High School have been participating in the high school's indoor track program. That was until Team Vallas, under the direction of John Fabrizi, recently eliminated the program this fall.
When Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas blew into town with his $229,000 salary and his team of out-of-state consultants (most of whom worked for his private consulting company, The Vallas Group), former Bridgeport mayor John Fabrizi, whose tenure in office ended in 2007 following a drug scandal, was serving as the Director of Adult Services.
Today, Fabrizi is one of the most powerful players in Vallas' "education reform" operation.
According to a recent Connecticut Post article, apparently one of Fabrizi's newest duties is to be "in charge of helping rebuild a middle school sports program for the district."
So, without the input of the Bridgeport Board of Education, Fabrizi eliminated the high school's historic in-door track team and transferred the money to supplement the Bridgeport Parks and Recreation's Middle School Basketball program.
As quoted in the CT Post, Frabrizi said, "Part of the thinking is to rebuild a solid foundation by creating a feeder program for high school sports." And no doubt, creating "a solid foundation by creating a feeder program for high school sports" is definitely a laudable and important goal.
But what about the destruction of the in-door track program.
The state Capitol found a little bit of holiday bipartisanship this week as legislative leaders from both sides called for quick action to reduce the $365 million deficit in the current budget.
Leaders of the Senate's Democratic majority also endorsed Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's pledge to close the gap without raising taxes -- a position Republican legislative leaders insisted upon even before the latest shortfall was reported.
"We are committed to making the tough choices and cutting spending in order to balance the state's budget," Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, and Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, wrote in a statement Wednesday. "We agree with Governor Malloy, it is imperative that we act quickly to address the situation. Earlier this month we discussed with our caucus the need to take action before the end of this calendar year."
Preliminary cleanup costs and estimates of damage to public roads and buildings don't reflect it yet, but state officials expects super storm Sandy to cost Connecticut more than Tropical Storm Irene, which did nearly $50 million in damage last year.
The expected high cost of Sandy has raised concern in all levels of state government and Connecticut's congressional delegation, which has urged President Obama to ask for more money for Sandy recovery when Congress returns to its lame duck session next week.
"Congress has an obligation to move quickly just as it has in other disasters," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. "The devastation in some parts of Connecticut is catastrophic."
Irene cost municipalities and the state government $49.2 million. Seventy-five percent of that cost, or about $37 million, was reimbursed to state and local governments by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Public Assistance program.
After 14 years on the beat, New Haven's best-sourced crime reporter is moving to the other side of the desk.
Bill Kaempffer (pictured recording rapper Wiley Don complaining to the mayor about the cops on Kensington Street), who reports on police and fire for the New Haven Register, has landed a job as the spokesman for the Bridgeport police department.
His last day reporting for the Register will be Dec. 7, he said.
Kaempffer, who's 44, got hired at the Register in 1998 after covering a police beat in Pittsburgh for six years. Over the years, he became an omnipresence at major crime scenes and developed a regional reputation as the hardest-working and best informed reporter on the beat.
Becoming the voice of a police department was a logical move, he said.
"It's pretty safe to say that I've been a police reporter for most of my adult life. Making this transition, it seems kind of natural. This is all I've really ever done," he said.
Kaempffer will continue to live in New Haven.
"I'm going to miss the Register terribly," he said. "It's been a very important and time-consuming part of my life."