12. Connecticut (D): The rematch between Gov. Dan Malloy (D) and Republican former ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley has thus far been pretty quiet. Foley gets points for losing by slightly more than 6,000 votes in 2010, but that was a good GOP year, this is a Democratic state, and Malloy is a modestly popular incumbent, which means the Democrat is the favorite. (Previous ranking: 12)
While it remains to be seen if Foley will capture the GOP nomination, if the election was held today, then it's fair to say that the WashPost comment is pretty accurate...for now.
Following hours of behind the scenes negotiations, the House voted early Friday morning to approve a watered down version of legislation concerning the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms.
The bill passed on a 114-7 vote with 29 lawmakers either abstaining or not voting. On a voice vote, House lawmakers adopted significant changes to the legislation which the Senate passed earlier this week.
The Senate legislation would have required that all genetically engineered foods to be labeled as such by July 1, 2015, assuming that at least three nearby states pass similar legislation. If other states in the region failed to adopt labeling statutes, Connecticut's requirement would go into effect on its own in 2016 through what lawmakers described as a "stand-alone" provision.
In a strike-all amendment, the House scrapped the bill's "stand-alone" provision and increased the number of states needed to trigger Connecticut's labeling requirement to five. In order to apply, at least two of those states would need to be near Connecticut and the combined population total of states participating would have to equal at least 25 million people.
The changes come as a result of negotiations between House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, the governor's office, and House Republicans, all of whom have voiced concerns about placing Connecticut businesses at an unfair disadvantage by making it possible for it to be the only state in 2016 to require labeling.
However, the modifications to the bill were not popular with advocates like the Fairfield-based group GMO Free CT, which emailed lawmakers early Friday morning, urging them to oppose the House version of the bill.
"Dear Legislators, the advocates of the GMO Labeling bill do not support Speaker Sharkey's amendments. Please do not support the bill with amendments," the email said.
New Haven's mayoral campaign had its first celebrity sighting Thursday, as actor Danny Glover endorsed Henry Fernandez-and warned against school reform that puts too much emphasis on standardized tests.
The Lethal Weapon star endorsed Fernandez's campaign for the Democratic mayoral nomination at a press conference in the basement of Beulah Heights Pentecostal Church on Orchard Street. The pair planned to continue campaigning in Westville and Dixwell during the day, then convene an evening town meeting at the Dixwell Congregational Church.
A small victory for the immigrant-rights movement who oppose the Homeland Security's Secure Communities program.
Three days after the feds arrested Josemaria Islas and began the process of sending him back to Mexico, the New Havener secured "a minor triumph."
Islas (pictured), an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, has become a cause celebre for immigrant advocates as he fights deportation stemming from what he calls a wrongful arrest based on a mistaken identity. He won temporary relief Thursday, when federal immigration judge Philip Verrillo issued a temporary stay on deportation proceedings against him.
Verrillo is now considering a last-minute motion by Islas's lawyer, Danielle Briand, to stay deportation and reopen the case. Her argument, which she described as "novel," is that the punishment of deportation is not proportionate to the crime of entering the country "without lawful admission."
Islas' case started with a July 2, 2012, arrest in Hamden on robbery charges. Islas and his supporters say he was wrongfully arrested, a victim of mistaken identity. The case against him was very weak and he took a deal to walk free after months in jail awaiting a decision. But before he could leave, judicial marshals handed him over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which had issued a request to detain him under its controversial Secure Communities program.
According to ICE, Secure Communities targets immigrants who are a clear threat to public safety-terrorists, violent criminals, gang members. Critics of the program say it's used unfairly and undermines relations between immigrants and local law enforcement.
Islas had no criminal record, but ICE says he is a repeat offender of immigration laws, having been caught several times trying to cross into the United States.
Islas' detention by ICE became a rallying point for immigration activists. He received support from local and federal elected officials who petitioned the head of ICE to reconsider his case.
The long lament has been the unaccountability of prosecutors in the criminal justice system: they are given broad powers and responsibilities and then shielded at every turn from being held accountable for the myriad, tiny abuses that are committed on a fairly regular basis. Just last week we were all mourning the ineffectual Brady v. Maryland. We all screamed when Connick was announced, holding that prosecutors weren't financially liable for misconduct impropriety. We all rolled our eyes when they changed misconduct to impropriety. We all roll our eyes when courts point out impropriety but refuse to name the prosecutors who committed that misconduct. But what isn't at dispute is that prosecutors have a special role to play in the criminal justice system; their responsibilities are elevated and the standards they should be held to are higher.
Questions about whether a serious challenge to Governor Malloy could develop during next year's gubernatorial election have been coming in on an almost a daily basis.
Readers have asked for some additional background on Connecticut's election law.
When it comes to a potential challenge, there are two key issues. One is the law related to getting on the election ballot. The other is the law related to public financing of campaigns. Here is a quick response to the ballot question.
Running for governor in 2014;
One possibility is that a challenger takes on Governor Malloy for the nomination of the Democratic Party. That candidate would need to receive the support of 15 percent of the delegates to next spring's Democratic State Convention or collect a sufficient number of petition signatures (of registered Democrats) to force an August primary. Considering the power of incumbency, it is difficult to imagine that such a challenge would be successful. That said, since Governor Malloy and his Administration have consistently alienated many of the most important constituencies within the Democratic Party, a successful challenge for the Democratic nomination is not inconceivable.
The second possibility is that a challenger seeks to get the support of one of the existing minor parties. Each minor party has its own nomination rules. Assuming the challenger comes from the more liberal or progressive side of the political spectrum, the most likely existing vehicle for a challenger would be to try and utilize the Connecticut Working Families Party. The Working Families Party is closely associated with the leadership of a number of unions in Connecticut, a reality that might facilitate or serve as a barrier to a serious effort to challenge Governor Malloy.
Finally, a challenger to Governor Malloy could seek to petition onto the 2014 gubernatorial ballot. Such a challenger could not begin collecting signatures until January 1, 2014 and would need to submit a complete petition no later than 90 days before the election. The number of signatures needed to run for governor in Connecticut would be (1) One percent of the votes cast for the same office at the last preceding election, or (2) seven thousand five hundred, whichever is less. In this case, the 1% figure would amount to about 11,600 so the lower number of 7,500 would be needed.
Considering past voting patterns, we'd expect around $1.2 million voters to participate in the 2014 election meaning a candidate would need in the range of 450,000 votes +/- win. Of course, both Lowell Weicker (A CT Party) and John Rowland (Republican Party) were elected in three-way races for governor.
What do readers think would be the best course of action for Connecticut voters?
Run a candidate to challenge Governor Malloy for the Democratic nomination
Run a candidate on an existing minor party line such as the Working Families Party
Run a candidate as a "petitioning candidate" by collecting 7,500 signatures
UPDATE 9:50 AM PRESS RELEASE FROM STATE HOUSE SPEAKER BRENDAN SHARKEY:
Amidst strong Republican opposition, legislation (HB6495) touted by Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) that would allow undocumented residents to get Connecticut drivers licenses was approved by the House of Representatives.
Sharkey said the measure will make our roads and families safer, is good for the economy, and is the right thing to do.
"There is a stark contrast here," Sharkey said. "There are 54,000 untrained, unlicensed, and uninsured drivers on our roads. We believe we should deal with this reality now, while those opposed simply want another study. "
The purpose of a drivers license is to establish minimum qualifications and skill standards and make us all safer as we travel our state's roads. Drivers without a valid license are nearly three times more likely to cause a deadly crash.
"We are talking about people who contribute to our communities and our economy every day," Sharkey said. "They are our neighbors, our fellow taxpayers, and our friends."
Uninsured undocumented resident drivers in Connecticut are estimated to cost insured drivers about $20 million in annual uninsured motorist insurance premiums, while towns lose millions more in uncollectable property tax revenue on unregistered vehicles.
The bill, which now goes to the Senate for consideration, takes effect January 1, 2015.
Connecticut voters may not be ready, but that didn't stop the House from pushing forward with a vote on a bill that would give undocumented immigrants the ability to obtain a driver's license.
After more than seven hours of debate the House passed the measure 74 to 55 around 5:45 a.m.
For some it was an issue of public safety, for others it was an indication that the federal government needs to move faster toward comprehensive immigration reform.
The bill would give undocumented immigrants living in the state for more than 90 days the ability to apply for a driver's license. The application process would include a sworn affidavit to seek U.S. citizenship. If an individual was convicted of a felony in the state of Connecticut they would not be allowed to receive a license.The license would be renewed every three years as opposed to every six years for U.S. citizens.
The Urban Dictionary defines "jive" as a "colorful form of speaking" that is "sometimes hard to follow."
In the real world here is how it works;
On August 2, 2011 Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that, in return for creating 200 new jobs over the next five years, the taxpayers of Connecticut would give ESPN $17.5 million toward the construction of a new building and at least $300,000 to train the new workers. Malloy explained, "ESPN's needs are not going to be ignored."
That corporate welfare package brought the total Connecticut taxpayer support for ESPN to over $100 million in state tax breaks and grants over the past twelve years.
Then yesterday, May 20, 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that ESPN, "was in the process of laying off a few hundred workers... a sign that the hugely profitable sports cable-TV powerhouse is responding to the rising fees it pays to air games as well as other changes in the media industry...ESPN said some of the job cuts are coming through attrition, or unfilled open positions, and didn't disclose the precise number or types of workers who are being let go."
Associated Press added, "ESPN is cutting its workforce, the latest Disney division to reduce staff...'We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs,' the sports media giant said in a statement Tuesday. 'While difficult, we are confident that it will make us more competitive, innovative and productive.'"
The AP explained that the ESPN layoffs follow 300 layoffs that occurred at LucasArts and LucasFilms after Disney acquired the companies for $4.1 billion.
As AP noted, "Still, Disney has been on a roll financially, beating or matching earnings per share estimates for the last eight quarters. After it reported a 32 percent gain in net income for its fiscal second-quarter earnings two weeks ago, more than a dozen Wall Street analysts raised their price targets on Disney stock to an average of nearly $72."
So in essence, despite being an extraordinarily financially successful subsidiarity of an extraordinarily, financially successful company that is doing extraordinarily financially well in this extraordinarily financially successful Wall Street market, ESPN accepted almost $20 million in scarce taxpayer funds and promised to create 200 jobs but is now intentionally keeping vacancies open and laying off Connecticut residents, so that it can appear even more extraordinarily financially successful.
Despite this development, according to the Hartford Courant, when asked about it, a spokesman for the Malloy administration said that ESPN will not be forced out of the First Five program as a result of its layoff plan because it is still intending to add at least 200 jobs during the period starting in August, 2011 when the Governor gave them the public funds.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut General Assembly continues to consider major cuts to some of the most significant and vital human and healthcare services.
Now if that jive is not a "colorful form of speaking" that is "sometimes hard to follow," I don't know what is.
Well said Rennie, well said...it's puzzling why the state media won't hold disgraced House Minority Leader Larry Cafero's feet to the fire over his dishonesty.
The just completed federal criminal trial of Robert Braddock, a fundraiser for former Speaker of the House Christopher Donovan's unsuccessful 2012 congressional campaign, revealed corruption at the highest levels of the General Assembly. Law enforcement officials did their job, now politicians must act.
The case revolved around an investigation last year into a scheme to kill legislation - to tax roll-your-own smoke shops - by making political contributions to Donovan's congressional bid. Spreading tens of thousands of dollars around worked. The legislation was dead until the federal investigation into the plan exploded into public view.
The tobacco tax scheme was hatched by Harry Raymond Soucy, a former corrections officer and state employee leader who was a familiar figure at the Capitol, in late 2011. The feds infiltrated the conspiracy and it progressed in a manner that probably confirmed the low opinion FBI agents have of politicians.
Cafero has not been forthcoming about his sordid role in the $5,000 Soucy, a Cafero chum, gave to House Republicans.
Cafero announced when the scandal became public: "I learned that five $1,000 checks received by House Republican caucus political action committees in April may have been made with funds that originated from a government operation. When we initially received these contributions, they all bore the indicia and appropriate certifications attendant to legitimate donations."
Cafero did not tell the truth. He knew those contributions from Soucy were dirty. Before it arrived as checks, the $5,000, it is undisputed, was delivered in cash.
Soucy testified that he placed an envelope containing $5,000 in cash in the refrigerator in Cafero's office. Cafero hotly disputed that claim at the end of a day of testimony last week. Ridiculous, he thundered. Out of a bad movie.
The next day, federal prosecutors played a video of Soucy and Cafero, backs to camera, at the refrigerator. Politicians never have a reason to celebrate appearing in a poorly lit video shown at a criminal trial.
The $5,000 in cash was briefly in possession of Cafero or one of his minions before it was returned to Soucy. Then Cafero took his fatal, revealing step. The money was shortly thereafter handed over again. This time it had been transformed into five checks for $1,000 each and they were accepted by the Republicans.
It's against the law to accept a contribution of more than $100 in cash. The dirty money needed to be tidied. The five generous checks from two stooges did that. The Republicans knew the checks were tainted and happily took them. That was a big haul.
The money was not returned until the FBI swooped in late last spring. Cafero feigned surprise at the origins of the $5,000. He knew then, and he's always known. It was cash that became checks from straw donors, including Soucy's mother. (Imagine using your mom in a scheme like this. Oy, these people are bad.)
Cafero, revealed as grimy and dishonest by his acts, cannot continue as leader of the House Republicans. He should not be a member of the legislature. His compliant leadership team is also in tatters. Deputy Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, declined to acknowledge emails and a phone call seeking details on how he handled the money the committee he leads received. Silence will spare no one in this mess.
Former House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan has remained mostly silent for almost a year, saying virtually nothing as eight individuals were arrested in an FBI sting operation in a campaign finance scheme related to his race for Congress.
On Tuesday, after the closing arguments in the federal trial against his campaign finance director in New Haven, Donovan finally spoke. The following is his statement.
"Now that this case has gone to the jury, I wanted to speak with you directly.
For the past year, other than very limited comments, I've had to let others speak for me.
Whatever the jury decides in this case against Rob Braddock, I stand here to confirm what I told you a year ago: my vote was never for sale, and I was not involved in Ray Soucy's conduit contribution scheme.
That doesn't mean I didn't talk to Ray Soucy; I never denied that I did. I met with him and the Roll Your Own folks. I talk to people all the time about issues that concern them. I knew they were concerned about their small businesses, and I care about small business. But there was no quid pro quo.
So what about my conversations with Ray Soucy? Context is everything. I heard he had a heart attack and I called him. He lobbied me hard about Roll Your Own, and I was surprised about how concerned he was.
Two weeks later, he shows up - unexpectedly - at the convention. I said, "I took care of you." When somebody wins, you say, "I took care of you." When somebody loses, you say, "Sorry it didn't work out." That's just how we talk. Now, the government obviously thought that sounded bad. When I saw the tape, it did sound bad. The way it sounded is not what I meant.
And a second later when Soucy mentioned killing the bill, I corrected him - I told him no.
Ray had a script. I never had a script. I told the truth.
Donovan continued, "After a year of investigation, all you heard about me was innuendo and soundbites played out of context.
The NRA gives money. The Koch brothers give money. Unions, big businesses give money. And it is all legal. The Supreme Court ruled it's free speech.
What happened to me is a cautionary tale. Everybody running for office should be worried about what happened to me - because it could happen to you, too. Somebody you know shakes your hand, talks about something at a fundraiser and plots to take you down. It can happen anywhere - it can happen to anyone.
Who can run for office then? Only the millionaires.
That is why I am going to pick up where I left off, fighting to bring reform to campaign finance laws. I was really proud of the work I did to pass our Citizens Election Fund legislation in Connecticut. We need a federal public finance system so anyone can run for office.
That's what makes the irony of this so very bitter.
My reputation may have taken a beating over the past year, but what has gotten me though it all is the support of my family, and my close friends, and the knowledge that Ray Soucy is wrong - not all politicians are for sale. I am not and never was."