State Senator Toni Boucher told Farmington Republicans Wednesday night that Republicans need to unite behind a candidate for governor. Since that unifying candidate is not the energetic Boucher, the Wilton Republican will soon leave the crowded field of hopefuls. Boucher let Farmington Republicans know that she expects to make an announcement in the next week.
A Southbury lawyer has apologized and agreed to pay $750 over her accusations that town officials in Woodbury and Bethlehem were engaged in fraud in a fight over a high school renovation referendum.
Deborah Stevenson faced a motion for sanctions. She read a statement in court on Wednesday withdrawing remarks accusing town officials and their attorneys of fraud and apologizing to a state marshal who had served the lawsuit on her clients' behalf.
The Republican-American reports that lawyers for the towns of Woodbury and Bethlehem asked for sanctions against Stevenson for what they said was slanderous and inflammatory language.
She accused them of perpetrating a fraud on the court for violating an agreement after a Board of Education committee announced plans in December to proceed with the nearly $64 million renovation project.
Q. Because Mayor Harp served as the state senator for the 10th district for 21 years, people say you have big shoes to fill. Does that affect you - how do you plan on filling those shoes?
A. I replaced [former State Rep. William] Dyson as representative for the 94th district. He was there for 32 years. He was a legend. When I replaced him, people would say to me, 'oh sorry that you replaced Bill Dyson; no one will know you for ten years.' It didn't turn out that way. I didn't focus on replacing Bill Dyson - I focused on doing a good job. I'm not focused on how I can come in and do what [Harp] did. I'm focused on, 'Can I do a good job and work harder than the people around me?' All of that being said, she was a phenomenal state senator. Anybody who would tell you anything different didn't know what Toni Harp did. She made sure that the things that are supposed to come back to her district did. It's something to strive toward.
The state's largest teachers union announced Thursday that it no longer supports the teacher evaluation method it participated in creating two years ago.
Sheila Cohen, president of the Connecticut Education Association, said she was not a member of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council that made the recommendations regarding the evaluation system to the state Education Board. She pointed out that none of her current colleagues were on the PEAC council in 2012, either.
Former CEA Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine was a member of PEAC and so was Sharon Palmer, the former head of the second largest teacher's union, who now heads the Labor Department.
"It is my understanding that what happened there was not necessarily so much of a percentage, as the fact that we had an ideal and we set forth guidelines," Cohen said. She explained that between drafting the guidelines and meeting for the last time that summer what the state Education Department put in place "was the interpretation of the state department rather than what was strictly according to the guidelines."
Fitch Ratings maintained its AA rating for Connecticut bonds in anticipation of the sale of $400 million in general obligation bonds later this month. That's the good news. The bad news is that Fitch also maintained its negative outlook of the state based on "budget vulnerability."
Fitch Ratings lowered the outlook for Connecticut's bonds from stable to negative in July 2013.
In its recent report, Fitch stated that the negative outlook "reflects the state's reduced fiscal flexibility at a time of lingering economic and revenue uncertainty."
Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, stressed that the rating remains unchanged from last year and that the state is making progress putting money aside and paying down its debt.
"We have a surplus, and we are making payments to address the state's long-term debt," Doba said. "In fact, the governor has reduced the state's overall debt by more than $11.5 billion. The fact that it takes a long time to fix what took a long time to create should be surprising to absolutely no one."
Today, Quinnipiac University Polling Institute covered a multitude of topics in the latest poll on the state of affairs in Connecticut.
Connecticut voters support 61 - 32 percent, with support from all age, party and gender groups, allowing doctors to legally prescribe lethal drugs to help terminally ill patients end their own lives, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Support is 63 - 31 percent among men, 58 - 33 percent among women, 51 - 42 percent among Republicans, 66 - 28 percent among Democrats and 63 - 31 percent among independent voters, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Voters 18 to 29 years old support it 63 - 28 percent, with support at 54 - 37 percent among voters over 65.
Voters are closely divided on whether they would ask a doctor to help them take their own life, as 39 percent say no in all cases, while 33 percent say they would if they were terminally ill, and another 12 percent would if they were terminally ill and in pain.
On another emotional issue, Connecticut voters favor the death penalty 57 - 34 percent when asked a simple "favor or oppose" question.
But voters are divided 47 - 47 percent on whether they approve or disapprove of a 2012 law that replaces the death penalty with life in prison with no chance of parole. Women approve the new law 50 - 43 percent while men disapprove 52 - 43 percent.
"Public support for allowing assisted dying in Connecticut is a very personal issue, crossing partisan, gender and age lines," said Douglas Schwartz, PhD, director of the Quinnipiac University poll.
"Support for the death penalty has dropped 10 points in three years, from a high of 67 percent to a low of 57 percent. Perhaps this is a case of opinion following policy, as Connecticut abolished the death penalty in 2012," Dr. Schwartz added. "As we've seen in our past polls on the death penalty, when voters are given the choice of the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole, support for the death penalty drops. When asked the question this way, voters are evenly divided."
Gov. Dannel Malloy's proposal to use $155 million of Connecticut's surplus to mail tax refund checks of up to $110 per household is a political gimmick, not good public policy, voters say 63 - 23 percent. Calling the idea a gimmick are Republicans, 83 - 9 percent, and independent voters, 71 - 19 percent. Democrats are divided as 41 percent call it a gimmick and 39 percent say it's good public policy. Gov. Malloy's Approval Rating for Priority Issues
In an open-ended question, allowing for any answer, 36 percent of voters say the economy/jobs should be the top priority for Gov. Malloy and the State Legislature, with 14 percent saying taxes, 11 percent for education and 8 percent saying budget/government spending.
Voters approve 86 - 10 percent, including 84 - 10 percent among Republicans, of the way Malloy is handling this winter's snowstorms. But he gets failing grades on other issues:
Negative 33 - 60 percent for his handling of the top voter priority, the economy and jobs;
Negative 29 - 63 percent for handling another top priority, taxes;
A divided 41 - 43 percent for handling education, the third priority;
Negative 37 - 53 percent on the budget, the fourth priority;
Positive 47 - 43 percent for handling gun policy, a priority for only 2 percent;
Positive 37 - 30 percent for handling the death penalty, which no one listed as a priority.
"Gov. Dannel Malloy gets great marks for his handling of the snowstorms, but low marks for voter priorities, the economy and jobs, taxes, education and the budget," Dr. Schwartz said.
Keno should not be allowed in restaurants, bars or convenience stores, voters say 65 - 29 percent. Voters 18 to 29 years old back Keno 62 - 29 percent, the only group to support it.
Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy's Commissioner of Education, has sent out a new memo to public school superintendents instructing them that Connecticut parents don't have the right to opt their children out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test scheduled to take place from March through June of this year.
Pryor's memo is by far the most incredible and inappropriate move yet in the Malloy administration's on-going campaign to intimidate and threaten Connecticut public school parents.
In his new March 3, 2014 memo, Commissioner Stefan Pryor not only distorts the interpretation of federal and state laws but contradicts his own legal department and agency documents.
Although it absolutely clear that the State of Connecticut CANNOT PUNISH parents or children for opting out of the standardized testing frenzy, Pryor's new State Department of Education memo tells superintendents that,
"Participation in state assessments is required by federal and state law; there is no legal provision for parents to opt their children out of taking the state assessments."
Pryor's claim is an abusive, disgusting attempt to bully parents into thinking that the Malloy administration is in a position to undermine the the fundamental rights of parents.
If Pryor truly believe that he has the power to prohibit parents from opting their children out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Field Test then he should immediately seek a legal opinion from Attorney General George Jepsen.
Pryor's on-going attempts to bully school administrators, teachers and parents proves that he is incapable of leading Connecticut's Department of Education.
This latest outrage is proof that Pryor should resign and turn the State Department of Education over to someone willing to support and protect students, parents, teachers, school administrators and public schools rather than use public funds to do the dirty work for the corporate education reform industry.
Mr. Pryor, it is time to resign.
And if you truly believe your abusive behavior is legal, then get Attorney General Jepsen to immediately provide you with a legal ruling so that Connecticut's know exactly who is trying to destroy our public schools and their parental rights.
(The intolerance party lose again... - promoted by ctblogger)
The predictable and humiliating defeat of perennial GOP candidate Steve Mullins last week was yet another loss for the morality crusaders of the Family Institute of Connecticut, which had endorsed Mullins in his bid to replace Toni Harp in the Connecticut state senate. Citing State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield's support for the "Bathroom Bill" of 2011, a trans-gender rights piece of legislation vehemently opposed by social conservatives, the Family Institute strongly backed Mullins, helping him to raise funds and recruit volunteers. The Family Institute declared on facebook that Mullins's victory would be the "biggest pro-family victory" since Len Suzio won a state senate special election in 2011. Mullins's bizarre and misleading mailer accusing Holder-Winfield of enabling sexual predators by supporting trans-gender rights hinted at how the extremist influence of the Family Institute had infiltrated his campaign.
The last few years have been a demoralizing time for the Family Institute, which consists of a 501c3 "educational" nonprofit as well as a 501c4 lobbying arm and a political action committee. Not only has the group conspicuously failed to derail legalization of same-sex marriage and passage of trans-gender rights legislation, but virtually all of the candidates they have supported in high-profile races have been defeated, some by astonishing margins. One of their favorite Democrats, former Waterbury Mayor Mike Jarjura, was crushed in a 2010 Democratic primary for state comptroller against Kevin Lembo, who is openly gay. In 2010, Sam Caligiuri, a congressional candidate strongly backed by the Family Institute, lost to Chris Murphy despite the national tea party wave. Tom Foley won the GOP nomination for governor despite fierce opposition from social conservatives. Suzio was defeated in 2012 by Democrat Dante Bartolomeo after one term.
Worst of all, under Dan Malloy, gay marriages have started taking place at the governor's official residence. Oh, the depravity!
The one bright spot currently for the Family Institute is in the fifth congressional district, where wealthy real estate developer Mark Greenberg, who has called supporters of women's reproductive rights "pro-death," is running again for the third time. When they endorsed Greenberg in the crowded GOP primary two years ago, the Family Institute called Greenberg a "consistent champion of pro-life and pro-family values... he has never equivocated in his advocacy." Despite spending several million dollars of his own money, Greenberg finished third in the primary behind Andrew Roraback, who subsequently lost to Eliabeth Esty in the general. In 2014, due to a massive GOP recruiting failure, Greenberg appears to be sailing to the GOP nomination, though Family Institute Executive Director Peter Wolfgang has fretted about "anti-Mark Greenberg forces within the GOP" trying to "kneecap him" by throwing "a liberal Republican into his race at the last minute." (In a sense Wolfgang's fears were correct: the GOP establishment unsuccessfully tried to recruit Cheshire home invasion survivor Dr. William Petit into the race, knowing that Greenberg is probably too extreme to win the general.)
The Family Institute's strong embrace of Greenberg is music to the ears of Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who will use her ample war-chest to highlight Greenberg's extreme stances on social issues. Esty should be a vulnerable freshman given the lingering unpopularity of Obamacare and her penchant for alienating the Democratic base, but because of Greenberg's extreme views and associations with the tea party, Esty's seat is rated "Safe Democrat" by congressional handicapper Stu Rothenberg.
The backing of the Family Institute will also be a liability for Democratic State Rep. Bruce Morris of Norwalk, who is being challenged in the Democratic primary this August by former councilman Warren Pena. Morris will have to explain to primary voters why he opposes a position -- support for marriage equality -- that is backed by 72% of Democrats, according to a Washington Post poll last year.
It is hard to think of another group that is so completely irrelevant in the shaping of legislation in Hartford and whose endorsement is so toxic in a Democratic primary or general election. Just how far has the Family Institute sunk? As Mark Pazniokas reported recently, the Family Institute's political action committee reported having only $702 last summer, and hasn't spent more than $2,500 in any year since 2009.
Given the organization's dismal track record, you might wonder how it is possible that Wolfgang pulled in $133,000 last year in total compensation. You would think that, of all people, penny-pinching conservatives would want to see better results for that kind of spending, but for the morality crusaders of the fundamentalist right-wing, being on the wrong side of history is priceless.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 5, 2014
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO THE TRAVELING PRESS
New Britain, Connecticut
THE PRESIDENT: I'll have a chance to talk to everybody a little bit later, but obviously part of the reason that we're here is because we've got a group of outstanding Democratic governors here in the Northwest [sic] that are committed to making sure that work pays.
And we were just talking to the owners of this establishment, who pay their employees more than the minimum wage because, as the owner put it, he knows what's it like to work all his life and understands that if people are working hard, they shouldn't be in poverty and that we should be able to do everything we can to make sure that happens.
And Dan Malloy here in Connecticut is making this a top priority. I know Pete Shumlin, Lincoln Chafee, and Deval Patrick are all -- are working with Tom Perez, our Secretary of Labor. And this is an important tool for us to help create more pathways into the middle class and make sure that if you work hard in this country, you can succeed.
There are other tools that are reflected in my budget like the Earned Income Tax Credit expansion that we've proposed that will also make a difference. But I'm just very proud of these governors for the work they're doing. So thank you.
All right, so with that, let me eat.
LAST POOL REPORT:
Motorcade arrived at Bradley Air National Guard Base.
Uneventful ride, though there were some spectators with cameras.
Air Force One is departing Hartford for a quick flight to Boston.
POTUS is traveling to Boston to attend a pair of DNC events.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is riding home on Air Force One.
We're rolling at 3:53 p.m.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro released the following statement:
"The federal minimum wage is long overdue for a raise. Its failure to keep pace with inflation continues to hurt our economy and hard-working families who have seen their incomes stagnate even as prices-on everything from gas, food, college, to health care-have increased. I am proud that Connecticut has been leading the way, with a higher minimum wage than most of the nation. But we, and the rest of the nation, must do more. Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 would lift wages for about 200,000 Connecticut residents. It is long past time to get this done and ensure everyone can make a decent paycheck for a hard day's work."
You can read more of the live blog below the fold...
Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States....
President Obama will fly to Connecticut today as part of his campaign to promote a $10.10 minimum wage. Glued to his side will be Governor Dannel Malloy, whom the President will call a champion in the effort to promote a fairer minimum wage.
This is the same Governor Malloy who failed to support a modest increase in the minimum wage just two years ago.
In January 2012, key Democratic members of the Connecticut Legislature, with strong support from Connecticut's unions, proposed raising the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.00 an hour on July 1, 2013 and then to a rate of $9.75 on July 1, 2014.
Governor Malloy was quick to throw cold water on the plan telling reporters, "I'm not slamming any doors. I'm not saying 'No' but I'll watch the debate and perhaps reach a conclusion subsequently."
Malloy's pronouncement that he would "reach a conclusion subsequently" was a death sentence for the legislation and without the Governor's support the business community, with the help of the Republicans and some Democrats, easily killed the proposal.
A year later, in February 2013, Legislators tried again to push legislation increasing the minimum wage and again Governor Malloy failed to step forward to support the proposal. However this time, late in the legislative session when it was clear that Democrats would pass the bill away, Malloy did a 180 and announced that he would support a "compromise" on a minimum wage increase.
With the 2014 election year in sight, Malloy's transformation on the issue was nearly complete.
On the last day of December 2013, Malloy held a State Capitol press conference to brag about the extraordinarily positive impact Connecticut's new minimum wage law would have when it takes effect at midnight that night.
"As the clock strikes 12 in this state, many people ... will actually lift themselves out of poverty," Malloy said during a press event and rally.
Malloy was referring to the mandated .45 cent an hour increase in the State's minimum wage that will be taking effect.
However, as some may know, the federal poverty level for a family of three in Connecticut is about $18,400. For the 70,000 to 90,000 Connecticut residents living on minimum wage, a full-time job only brings in $17,160 per year.
Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman joined Malloy in "celebrating" the raise in the minimum wage. It would, according to Wyman, mean Connecticut's minimum wage workers would make an extra $18 hours a week as long as they don't miss a single hour of work.
That increase translates into an extra $936 a year - leaving most minimum wage families still living below the poverty line.
But many politicians believe that electoral success can be achieved through rhetoric and hyperbole...
And the President of the United States is coming to Connecticut to try to bolster Malloy's political re-election dreams.
You can read more about Malloy's transformation on the minimum wage in these two Wait, What? blog posts,