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Tuesday roundup

by: ctblogger

Tue Jun 30, 2015 at 10:31:31 AM EDT


Photo via CTNJ

The latest.

  • Warren!
    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke about trickle-down economics and also offered her thoughts on some of the Republican presidential candidates Monday to about 1,300 Democrats at the party's largest fundraiser of the year.

    A special legislative session prevented Democratic lawmakers from attending the dinner at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, but it was still the biggest turnout the party has had since 2006 when then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama headlined the Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey dinner.

    Warren, who was introduced by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of New Haven, was described as someone who speaks truth to power.

    [...]

    As far as the Republican presidential candidates were concerned, Warren had some choice words for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

    "Jeb Bush, if you believe the next president's job is to privatize Social Security, then I believe it is our job to make sure you aren't president," Warren said to a cheering crowd.

    She said Cruz is running on a platform of repealing Obamacare and implementing a flat tax.

    "Ted Cruz, if you believe the next president's job is to cut taxes for billionaires and then say there's no money for healthcare for our families, then I believe it is our job to make sure you aren't president," Warren said.


  • The minority leader shows off her WWE skills by uttering a disgusting remark.
    An organization with the goal of stopping domestic violence has criticized the House of Representatives' minority leader for comparing Democrats to "a battered spouse support group.".

    State Rep. Themis Klarides, a Republican who represents Woodbridge, Orange and Derby, was quoted in a recent Danbury News Times story about how the state's budget problems have strained the relationship between Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Democratic legislators.

    The story by reporter Neil Vigdor quotes Klarides as saying, "Every Democrat up there distanced himself from the governor the whole session. And then the governor tried to distance himself from the legislature. It's like a battered spouse support group."

    The comment is insensitive, Karen Jarmoc, chief executive officer of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said Thursday.

    "To compare a political body that is divisively debating a budget to a domestic violence support group completely negates the effectiveness of this element of service, which helps thousands of victims in shelters and communities across the state," Jarmoc said.

    Denise Gamache, director of the national Battered Women's Justice Project, said the comment is "insulting to women struggling with the reality of ongoing violence in their lives - some of whom face the threat of homicide - and not worthy of a public servant."


  • Speaking about STUPID Republicans, lets see if New Britain's party girl mayor's choice for GOP State Party chairman learned anything regarding his ill-advised decision to fly the racist Confederate flag at his house.

    Lets take a look at a comment from a supporter of Veley that he approved...

    Thomas Ruocco Scott - looks like the folks on the left don;t like a lesson in civil disobedience - let alone free speech. I guess flying the confederate flag is considered a violent way to protest PC. Maybe they should take a close look at themselves - while they burn down businesses, riot in the streets and kill cops.

    Yup...Veley didn't learn a thing...which, given his history, is not shocking.

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CT's Legislative Democrats set to make a bad budget worse

by: ctblogger

Mon Jun 29, 2015 at 13:29:29 PM EDT

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

Governor Dannel Malloy must have been singing the children's song "Roll Over, Roll Over," because it appears that Democrats in the Connecticut State Senate and House of Representatives will return to Hartford today to "fix" a bad state budget by making it worse.

As the CT Mirror reported on Friday,

"The House and Senate will return Monday at 10 a.m. for what the leaders hope will be a one-day special session to pass budget revisions and implementer bills, a bond package and two criminal justice measures."

In an effort to appease big business, the changes to the budget include another $25 million in health care cuts to Connecticut's poorest residents and a $25 million in cuts from an "undisclosed list" of government services and programs.

Among the most bizarre maneuvers is an effort to screw state employees by predetermining the outcome of next year's state contract negotiations, unless of course, it is just a ruse to make it look like a cut when, in fact, they intend to put the money back in to the budget in the 2017.

As CT Mirror explained,

"House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said the bill also would reduce salary reserve funding in the second year of the biennium, a nudge to the administration to obtain concessions in coming contract negotiations.

"We are setting a direction to the governor as to what we'd like to see in terms of concessions, so to speak, in year two when he negotiates those contracts," Sharkey said."

According to the CT Mirror,

"With these changes, overall tax hikes in the new, two-year budget would drop from $1.5 billion to just over $1.3 billion. The new budget also cancels close to $500 million in previously approved tax cuts that were supposed to be implemented in the coming biennium."

Under both the "old" and "new" budget plan, the state will continue to implement record budget cuts to a variety of vital state programs and services.

In addition, although the legislature's original tax plan added a minor bump in the income tax rate for the super-rich; both the original and revised versions of the state budget continue Governor Malloy's long-standing commitment to coddle Connecticut's wealthiest taxpayers by refusing to require them to pay their fair share in income taxes.

On another front, the "new" state budget continues to send the vast majority of the new money for nursing home care to those facilities that are unionized rather than the long-standing approach which treated residents of long-term care facilities the same - regardless of whether they are living in unionized or non-unionized nursing homes.

The decision to favor the unionized facilities raises serious legal issues which are being reported by CT Newsjunkie in an article entitled, Association Says Nursing Home Allocation Violates Federal Law.

The state's largest association of skilled nursing facilities says the way lawmakers are planning to distribute funds to nursing homes violates federal law.

The Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities warned Sunday night in a statement that distributing $9 million to raise wages in 60 unionized nursing homes and only $4 million to 170 non-unionized skilled nursing facilities is "blatantly unfair and discriminatory to the non-union workers who do the exact same work as the union workers with the same Connecticut taxpayer money."

Matthew Barrett, executive vice president of the association, said nursing homes in Connecticut are overwhelmingly non-union with only 30 percent associated with organized labor.

That means non-union workers would see overall wages increase 0.75 percent, while unionized nursing homes would receive a 5.5 percent increase. According to Barrett this amounts to a 10 cent raise for non-union workers, and an 80 cent raise for union workers - eight times the increase non-union workers would receive.

Barrett warned that if lawmakers approve the allocation they are putting at risk federal matching funds for $1.2 billion in Medicaid nursing home expenditures.

Legislative leaders Friday said they put an additional $1 million into the budget for non-union homes, bringing the wage increase funding for those homes up to $4 million.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said Friday that they were giving an additional $1 million to the non-union homes to "provide a little bit more equity."

[...]

Barrett said there's well-established case law that doesn't allow for this type of inequity to exist between union and non-union homes.

For more about the "new" state budget read;

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Of Course It's Time To Change the Name of JJB -- This Is What It Should Be Changed To

by: abg22

Thu Jun 25, 2015 at 22:58:58 PM EDT

( - promoted by ctblogger)

Of course it's time to change the name of the Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner (or "JJB" as it is now almost universally known), which is taking place next Monday. Like the removal of the confederate battle flag from the South Carolina statehouse, this is a glaringly overdue step that should have been taken decades ago. And like removing the confederate flag, the reasons for doing so have as much to do with correcting historical amnesia as they do with bowing to political correctness.

The Connecticut Democratic Party released a statement this week saying that the full name of the  Party's annual dinner would be "re-evaluated." The statement didn't make any specific commitments or outline a specific time-frame for doing so. But there's no reason for foot-dragging. Aside from Jim Webb, there's no real constituency in the current Democratic coalition (the so-called "Obama coalition") that would object, strenuously or otherwise, to dropping the names of the third and seventh presidents.

Many other state and local party organizations aroud the country have already changed the name of their Jefferson Jackson Day dinners, even before the current public debate about the appropriateness of public displays of the Confederate flag and calls to remove Jackson's image from the $20 bill. A few years ago the Florida Democratic Party renamed their annual dinner "Leadership Blue Gala," which is insipid but accomplishes the important feat of not pissing anyone off. Both the Wisconsin Democratic Party and Minnesota Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party have renamed their annual dinners the "Founders' Day Gala." Sometimes 'boring but inoffensive' is the right way to go.

Is it necessary to remove both Jefferson and Jackson? Andrew Jackson was a fascinating and seminal historical figure, the first Westerner and non-aristocrat to rise to the presidency. But he was also a white supremacist, slaveowner, and an unrepentant perpetrator of genocide against Native Americans. Ending the practice of ennobling him as an icon of the Democratic Party is a no-brainer.

What about Jefferson? While Jackson's reputation has suffered considerably in recent years, Jefferson is a more ambiguous figure still held in reverence for his brilliance and statesmanship. The problem with naming a Democratic Party dinner after the third President is that he had nothing to do with the modern Democratic Party. When he ran for the presidency in 1800, Jefferson essentially made up a party, the Democratic-Republicans, as a vehicle for challenging the Federalists led by John Adams. (This inter-party competition in the early republic is known by historians as the First Party System, to distinguish it from later party formations.) There is a tenuous genealogical relationship, and no ideological one, between Jefferson's party and the modern Democratic Party which took shape under FDR. Aside from the confusing similarity of the names, the modern Democratic Party has about as much a relationship to the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans as it does to the Connecticut For Lieberman Party. Is the Democratic Party so devoid of accomplishment and neurotically insecure that it cannot find someone who was actually a member of the party to name its annual dinner after?

Long before he was US Senator, Joe Lieberman actually wrote a book about legendary party boss John Moran Bailey, whose name was added to the Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner after his death in 1975. Bailey was a colorful and capable figure whose name is worth retaining. Bailey is no longer well-known, but neither is Prescott Bush, whose name graces the Connecticut GOP's annual dinner.

Some good names to replace Jefferson and Jackson would be Ella Grasso, Connecticut's first female governor, and Boce Barlow, Connecticut's first African-American judge and state senator. Both were proud Democrats.

Personally I think the Grasso-Barlow-Bailey Dinner has a nice ring to it.  

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"Our silence has made us complicit in these murders"

by: ctblogger

Wed Jun 24, 2015 at 13:54:20 PM EDT

Earlier today, US Senator Chris Murphy delivered a heartfelt speech in which he called upon Congress to take action to curb gun violence.

Press release:

Today, during a speech delivered on the floor of the U.S. Senate, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called on Congress to take meaningful action on commonsense legislation to curb gun violence across the nation. During his speech, Murphy laid out clear evidence that anti-gun violence policies can stop perpetrators of violence without affecting law-abiding gun owners. He also paid tribute to the nine men and women who were tragically shot and killed at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week.

So proud that we have Murphy as our Senator as opposed to Joe LIEberman.

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Malloy - A Governor intent on undermining public education

by: ctblogger

Mon Jun 22, 2015 at 14:14:45 PM EDT

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

Public Education advocate and columnist Wendy Lecker had yet another "MUST READ" piece in the Stamford Advocate about Governor Dannel Malloy's un-paralleled attack on public education and his unending commitment to divert scarce public taxpayer dollars to privately owned, but publicly funded charter school operators.  The strategy may result in more campaign donations for Malloy, but it comes at a terrible price for Connecticut's public school students, parents, teachers and the state's taxpayers.

Wendy Lecker's original piece can be found at: Governor intent to undermine public education.

Lecker writes:

   Governors, being politicians, spout a lot of rhetoric. However, during budget time, their true priorities emerge. Looking at three real-life situations from this year's budget season, try to guess who the Democratic governor of Connecticut is.

   One governor announced a 2-billion dollar increase in public K-12 funding, a relatively modest increase because it is spread over the next decade; but he publicly acknowledged the need to fund public schools before reforming them. The second, incensed that the legislature would not increase public school K-12 funding to adequate levels, nor adequately fund pre-K, threatened to hold up the budget. The third slashed funding for social programs, gave no increase for public K-12 education, despite a pending lawsuit alleging that the state owes almost 2 billion dollars to its public schools, and threatened to veto the state budget unless the legislature agreed to fund two charter schools in communities that vehemently opposed them.

   The first governor is Republican Doug Ducey of Arizona. The second governor is a Democrat,Mark Dayton of Minnesota. The third? You guessed it - Dan Malloy of Connecticut.

   Governor Malloy's tenure has been characterized by denigrating teachers, vigorously opposing adequate funding of public schools and vastly increasing financial support for privately run charter schools which fail to serve the state's neediest children, including English Language Learners and students with disabilities, have disturbingly harsh disciplinary policies, increase racial isolation, drain public money from needy public schools and have even been implicated in fraud and theft.

   Why would Malloy favor these questionable privately run schools over underfunded public schools? One answer lies in an article reported on by the Hartford Courant, piggy-backing off the years of reporting blogger Jonathan Pelto has done on this issue.

   The Courant reported that this year, unprecedented amounts of money were spent to push the charter agenda by ConnCAN, the charter lobby; Northeast Charter Network, another charter lobby founded by disgraced Jumoke leader Michael Sharpe and others; and a newer group operating in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts: Families for Excellent Schools (FES).

   The Courant further noted that the same millionaires and billionaires who copiously donated to Malloy's campaigns are also major donors to charters and charter lobbyists. This list includes Greenwich millionaire Jonathan Sackler, the founder of ConnCAN and original board member of the Achievement First charter chain; Greenwich hedge funder Steve Mandel, who funded the players behind the illegal takeover of the Bridgeport Board of Education; embattled SAC Capital chief Steven Cohen and his wife; ConnCAN board members Arthur Reimers and Andrew Boas; Andrew Stone, a board member at Success Academy charter chain, a close ally of FES; and ConnCAN donor Marianna McCall. FES even hired two public relations firms that employ Malloy's recently departed top aides: Roy Occhiogrosso and Andrew Doba.

   The web of charter money is so thick it must have blinded Malloy to the needs and wishes of constituents from Stamford and Bridgeport.

   The local opposition to these charters, by both local officials and parents, is well-documented. Malloy's State Board of Education rubber-stamped the charters' authorization in April 2014, ignoring local opposition and the fact that the legislature had not appropriated the funds for them.

   Despite warnings by legislators that these schools might not be funded, the charter operators, Steve Perry for Bridgeport and a Bronx charter operator for Stamford, advertised widely for students in order to pressure the state to fund them.

   Stamford and Bridgeport officials and residents opposed any appropriations for these schools they did not want. Bridgeport grassroots activists traveled to Hartford every week to show their opposition. Stamford residents wrote to every legislator imploring each not to fund these schools when public schools were being starved.

   On the other side, the Malloy-connected, billionaire-backed charter lobbyists bused in demonstrators from Massachusetts and New York to stage demonstrations in Hartford in support of these two unwanted charters.

   Legislators assured Bridgeport and Stamford residents that they were not swayed by the charter lobbying and they would not fund these schools.

   But then Malloy threatened to veto the budget unless his pet charters were funded and the legislature caved. They received, as a token consolation prize, an insignificant increase in state school funding.

   Connecticut has a governor intent on undermining public education and a spineless legislature that collapses when the governor so much as sneezes. Unless our citizenry elects some leaders with principles, who actually care about our public institutions rather than wealthy donors, things are looking grim for the over 95 percent of Connecticut's children who attend our public schools.

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Friday roundup

by: ctblogger

Fri Jun 19, 2015 at 09:19:51 AM EDT

Because it's been a while...
  • Robbing the poor to give to the rich.
    To offset new taxes that have rankled business groups, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed trimming up to 1.5 percent of discretionary spending in the new state budget. But the administration's proposal shows the bulk of the cuts would be likely to fall on education, municipal aid, health care and social services.

    And a key legislator has warned that most of those areas could face even deeper cuts once the new fiscal year is underway. That's because the new budget relies much more heavily than past budgets on undefined savings - making it likely that the governor will need to order midyear cuts.


  • Shame...
    Rep. Jim Himes on Thursday was the only Connecticut lawmaker to vote for a bill that would give President Obama "fast-track" authority to negotiate a trade pact with 11 other Pacific Rim nations. He had cast a similar vote last week, but this time it counted.

    "This will allow our negotiators to craft the best possible deal they can get on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and will ensure that the American public has access to the deal for months before Congress votes on it," Himes, D-4th District, said.

    But opponents of the proposed trade pact with Japan, Australia and nine other nations, including Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, said they are not prepared to give up the fight.

    "Fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership would depress American wages and send our jobs overseas, a fact that is equally as true now as it was yesterday," DeLauro said. "This agreement is still a bad deal for millions of Americans, which is why we need a new trade paradigm for modern trade agreements."

    [...]

    DeLauro, a leader of the opposition against the fast-track bill and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, voted against the TAA bill last week, as did Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, and Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. Their "no" votes were not an indication of their opposition to the TAA, but cast as a way to derail the fast-track bill.

    [...]

    Lori Pelletier, the head of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, said she would take her fight against the fast-track legislation to the Senate. Organized labor has led the opposition to the fast-track bill and the Trans-Pacific Partnership because it says the trade pact would result in job loses and lowered wages in the United States.

    "Today's vote in the House is a setback for working families in Connecticut and across the country, but the fight is not over," Pelletier said. "We applaud the representatives who took a courageous stand for workers on this important issue...We will continue the fight for workers in the U.S. Senate where Connecticut is fortunate to have two champions in Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Sen. Chris Murphy."


  • This isn't politically connected to Foley? Right...
    The same week that Republican Tom Foley raised the unlikely scenario of a recall election to remove Gov. Dannel P. Malloy from office, the manager of Foley's unsuccessful 2014 and 2010 gubernatorial campaigns launched a Facebook page and website vowing change in Connecticut.

    Coincidence?

    Foley lieutenant Justin Clark said there is no link between his former boss and Change Connecticut, which debuted last week and prominently displays the Twitter hashtag #changeiscoming.

    The West Hartford lawyer, who has moonlighted as a political consultant, said he wanted a place for people to vent over a looming $1.2 billion tax hike negotiated by Malloy and fellow Democrats in the Legislature.

    "I honestly just got really miffed at what was going on at the Capitol," Clark said. "I am not advocating on behalf of anybody or against anybody. It's not really a political vehicle."


  • Only in Bridgeport!
    Joe Ganim: "Let's build a future for Bridgeport that works for everyone." Bill Finch: "Together, we're making Bridgeport a city that works for everyone." Who's on the side of the angels for the soul of campaign slogans?

    Nothing like a little gamesmanship in city politics. As their respective campaigns for mayor heat up, it appears you'll be hearing a lot about a Bridgeport "that works for everyone" from both Joe Ganim and Bill Finch, a ubiquitous slogan that leaves no one out.

    The slogan also aired last year in the launch of the city's taxpayer-financed marketing campaign promoting the city featuring contractor Marshan Coleman who declares, "We're building a city that works for everyone." Coleman, by the way, owes $13,298 in back taxes dating back from 1999 to 2006.


  • Wait...why is she not in jail yet?
    Greenwich resident Lee Whitnum's claims her civil rights were violated by the town have been dismissed by a federal judge who ruled she did not have legal standing in her lawsuit.

    Whitnum sued Greenwich in 2011 after the town raised the Israeli flag outside of Town Hall during an event with the UJA Federation of Greenwich to mark Israeli Independence Day and then hosted a bar mitzvah inside Town Hall for a family of congregants at Greenwich Reform Synagogue.  

    She claimed her civil rights were violated because using Town Hall for a religious celebration endorsed Judaism over other religions and showed a preference toward the Israeli government.

    But United States District Court Judge Stephen Underhill dismissed Whitnum's suit Tuesday and ordered the case closed in favor of the town and First Selectman Peter Tesei, who Whitnum also sued as an individual.

    "I'm certainly grateful that the case was tossed out," Tesei said. "I believed from the beginning it was baseless, and I'm glad the judge made the ruling that he did."

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