Using the bully pulpit to urge a response to a tragedy unlike any he has faced in office, President Barack Obama comes to Hartford on Monday in a last-ditch attempt to revive Democrats' faltering efforts to pass stricter federal gun legislation.
His speech at the University of Hartford marks the second time that the president has visited the state since the Newtown shootings locked the nation's attention on gun control. Obama first came here days after the Dec. 14 massacre that killed 20 children and six women at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Obama's speech on Monday afternoon at the university's Chase Family Arena is closed to the public, but open to students, faculty, staff and guests invited by the White House. This visit is sandwiched between Connecticut's enactment of new gun restrictions and expected congressional action on federal gun laws.
Officials released the first $9,840 of what promises to be a stream of public money supporting the busiest mayoral campaign season in decades.
Justin Elicker's mayoral campaign received the check Friday afternoon from Patricia Kane, chair of the Democracy Fund, the city's clean elections program. The money goes towards a Sept. 10 Democratic Party mayoral primary, when Elicker will face state Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, former economic development director Henry Fernandez, and Newhallville plumber Sundiata Keitazulu. Hillhouse Principal Kermit Carolina and Probate Judge Jack Keyes are also expected to enter the race.
Elicker, currently an East Rock alderman, is one of three candidates who have signed contracts to participate in the program, which awards public grants to candidates who raise small donations from local voters and vow to swear off contributions from corporations and political action committees. Carolina has vowed to make use of the program as well. Only Fernandez has so far said he will not participate in the program; read about that here and here.
In short, this is the year that will test the potential and viability of New Haven's fledgling, first-in-the-state municipal public-financing system.
Connecticut legislators say a key provision that sets their tough new gun-control law apart from other states' measures is its first-in-the-nation "dangerous weapon offender registry" - which will list the names and addresses of those convicted of weapons-related offenses for five years after their release from prison.
But while the weapons-offender registry sounds similar to online sex-offender registries around the country that are open to the public, there's a big difference: This one would be off-limits to regular citizens. It is intended only for the eyes of law-enforcement personnel.
So here's a question: If state officials say Jack and Jill Citizen should have the ability to find out online if a sex offender lives in their subdivision, why shouldn't they be able to find out if one of their neighbors went to jail for shooting somebody?
The General Administration and Elections Committee on Friday grudgingly forwarded to the state Senate a bill that would reduce or diminish the clout of third parties.
The bill proposed by Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, bans cross-endorsements of candidates by third parties, like the Working Families Party or the Independent Party.
These third parties often cross-endorse Democrats and Republicans and rarely run their own candidates for office to avoid becoming a spoiler. But Williams argues that seeing a candidates' name multiple times on the ballot confuses voters and could give Super PACs an opportunity to find a way onto the ballot.
Williams said he's not looking to get rid of third parties, but he doesn't believe they should be allowed to cross endorse a candidate.
Many in his party disagree. Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, was the only Democrat to vote against the bill Friday, but many expressed concern.