The legislature's Black and Puerto Rican Caucus wrote Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday to ask him to reconsider his decision denying the federal government's request to house some of the thousands of immigrant children fleeing Central America.
Rep. Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven, said they understand the Southbury Training School, which houses developmentally disabled adults, may not be suitable but urged the governor to find another location in Connecticut.
"While the rhetoric of blame for the current situation of these innocent children rises, we ask you to reconsider your refusal to provide assistance to the federal government in alleviating this humanitarian emergency," the caucus wrote in their letter to Malloy.
It's shameful that Gov. Malloy is turning his back on the immigrant community for political purposes but this is the same governor who stood in solidarity with rank and file union members and teachers when it suited his purpose only to stabbed the groups in the back once his transformation from Dan to Dannel was complete.
Letter from the Black and Latino caucus to Gov. Malloy is below.
Latino advocates are reacting with disappointment, dismay and anger over the Malloy administration's decision to reject a federal request to house up to 2,000 immigrant children from Central America at the Southbury Training School.
"This is a humanitarian crisis and we are saddened that this was a missed opportunity to take a leadership position to help people seeking refuge," said Werner Oyanadel of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission.
For the Democratic party, the full-throttled support of teachers' unions in Connecticut is a given rule-like "I before E, except after C." But now, when topics such as Common Core, teacher evaluations, charter schools and the "achievement gap" are added, Gov. Dan Malloy risks becoming that "after C" exception.
Malloy must claw his way to a second term. He is tied with Republican candidate Tom Foley in the most recent (May 9) Quinnipiac University poll of this year's governor's race. He barely beat Foley in the 2010 governor's race, and now faces a challenge from his left flank as former Mansfield state representative Jonathan Pelto is running as a third-party candidate focused almost entirely on the education issue.
The race for the State Senate race in the 2nd district heats up.
City Council President Shawn Wooden charged Wednesday that state Sen. Eric Coleman, D-2nd District, improperly used a taxpayer-funded newsletter for political purposes.
Wooden is challenging Coleman in an Aug. 12 primary. The 2nd District includes Hartford, Bloomfield and Windsor.
"Instead of blindly embracing a $60 million giveaway to out-of-town businessmen to build a sports stadium, I've fought to help local small businesses grow jobs in our neighborhoods with the Small Business Express program," Coleman wrote.
"After 31 years in office, Senator Coleman should know better than to improperly use state resources on a political campaign," Wooden said in a statement. "This mailing is, at worst, illegal and violates state election law. At best, it is an unethical, gross abuse of taxpayers' funds.
Coleman said Wednesday that the mailing complied with state law.
"I think the Wooden campaign is feeling a little desperate at this point," Coleman said. "They can't find any other issue, so they seized on this. It's a tactic of questionable judgment."
A state trooper, caught on his own dashboard camera stealing a dying motorist's cash and gold crucifix, is facing up to a year and a half in prison.
Aaron "AJ" Huntsman, a 19-year veteran of the state police, pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon under the Alford Doctrine to third-degree larceny and tampering with evidence - both felonies.
Although Huntsman, 45, could have faced up to 10 years in prison on the two charges, Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin said he would impose a term in prison of 16 months, followed by five years of probation.
Huntsman's lawyer, Ryan McGuigan, does have the right to argue for a lesser term when Huntsman is sentenced Oct. 3
Huntsman walked out of the courtroom with a big smile on his face following the hearing. He declined comment.
In an effort of fairness, Jon Pelto requested to publish a repsonse to today's guest post...here it is.
While reasonable people can debate whether Governor Dannel "Dan" Malloy deserves another four years in office, the discussion about my challenge to Malloy's policies and his re-election aspirations took another odd turn with the publication of a commentary piece written for the blog, My Left Nutmeg, by the Political Director of the Eastern States Conference of Machinists.
My Left Nutmeg is Connecticut's premier blog when it comes to presenting a platform for discussions about the ongoing efforts to further a liberal or progressive agenda in Connecticut so it comes as no surprise that Connecticut labor leaders would seek to use the blog to defend Malloy and belittle the challenge being mounted by the Pelto/Murphy 2014 campaign.
What is surprising is that Connecticut labor leaders would use MLN to continue their effort to mislead their members and Connecticut's progressive community into believing that Malloy's very likely loss in November will mean that Connecticut will became the next Wisconsin - and that we will see a successful Koch Brothers effort to destroy Connecticut's collective bargaining laws and undermine the existence of the state's public employees and public services.
In the piece entitled, JON PELTO AND THE CHALLENGE TO THE CONNECTICUT LEFT, the Machinists' political director and his colleague write,
"Foley enters this crisis masquerading as a moderate, just as did George W, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Does anyone doubt that if elected he would immediately attack the unions, layoff state employees, slash social services, cozy up to the gun lobby, and try to drag Connecticut into the whole Koch-led national right-wing insurgency?
But of course, the authors fail to reveal that Wisconsin Tea-bag Republican Scott Walker achieved his goals thanks to the support of Tea-bag Republican majorities in both the Wisconsin State Senate and State Assembly.
Scott Walker's anti-union legislation, known as 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, passed because the ultra-right controlled the Wisconsin State Senate by a margin of 19-14 and the Wisconsin Assembly by a margin of 51 to 45.
The truth is that regardless of who becomes Connecticut's next governor, as a result of the legislative re-districting of 1990, 2000 and 2010, the Connecticut State Senate and Connecticut House of Representatives will remain safely in the hands of the Democratic Party.
While few really know what a Tom Foley administration would be like, one thing we can be sure of is that an effort to repeal collective bargaining in Connecticut would not receive the legislative support necessary to become law.
We can also safely say that Connecticut has already witnessed a "Wisconsin moment."
It occurred in February 2011 when Governor Dannel Malloy become the ONLY DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR in the country to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for unionized teachers in so-called "turnaround" schools.
In response to Malloy's historic, unfair and unwarranted attack on teachers, the Connecticut General Assembly stripped out those two provisions, before unfortunately passing the remainder of Malloy's inappropriate corporate education reform imitative.
But as if their claim about Connecticut becoming Wisconsin wasn't misleading enough, the labor leaders use their commentary piece to mock our ongoing effort to push back the corporate education reform industry and re-take control of our system of public education.
The authors claim,
"Despite heroic attempts by parents, educators, and well-meaning political leaders, lack of progress in poor people's education has opened the door to charlatans. The exposure of this element of the crisis has been Jon Pelto's main issue, although he has offered no solution to the underlying economic gap.
Offered no solutions?
Such a statement is so absurd, that it doesn't even deserve a response but I'd urge the labor leaders to take the time to read through the 1,636 Wait, what? posts that I've written on these subjects over the past 3 ½ years
Finally, as to whether a "left candidate" has a right to run, the Malloy apologists opine,
"In a safe Congressional district [we would not] be threatened by a left candidate who runs on, say, Fair Trade. In other times, and with electoral reform, we can envision an even greater role for third parties...But not in the 2014 Connecticut Governor race. The stakes are too high; the differences in the candidates too stark. If there is a repeat of the tight 2010 race, a Pelto candidacy could usher in a Foley victory, a la Ralph Nader in Florida, 2000."
And they conclude their attack on our fundamental right to stand up and speak out by actually writing,
These times call for a Center-Left alliance. In an even more dangerous time, Europe in the 1930's, the left failed to understand this necessity, with disastrous results. "
So let us truly understand what these Connecticut's labor leaders are telling their members and the majority of citizens who oppose Malloy's re-election.
They appear to be suggesting that my candidacy in opposition of Malloy's effort to undermine state employees and teachers, destroy public education, coddle the rich, place an unfair tax burden on the middle class and institute a record breaking system of corporate welfare in which scarce public funds are being diverted from vital services to support multi-million dollar corporations is not only inappropriate but nothing short of a precursor to the events that led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the 3rd Reich.
Let no one be mistaken, these are, in fact, dark times.
However, the growing array of people who are willing to stand up and demand change are not the problem. The problem is that some insiders, including some in leadership positions, remain committed to the notion that the "left" can best serve our nation by shutting up and sitting down.
If there was ever an effective argument for why I decided to create the Education and Democracy Party and run for governor in 2014, the new commentary piece submitted by the leadership of the Machinists Union is that treatise.
Upon reading their piece, one can't help remember the wise words of Woody Guthrie who wrote, "Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen."
In an effort to have a discussion regarding Jon Pelto and the potential his candidacy could have on the race for governor, Bill Shortell, Political Director Eastern States Conference of Machinists and Carol Lambiase, International Rep, UE, retired, wrote the following guest post.
Jon Pelto and running mate Ebony Murphy
The biggest trend in US politics today is the growth of the Right: the flood of right-wing big money into elections at every level; right-wing populism in the form of the Tea Party; the broad attack on the unions; the explosion of the reactionary firearms obsession; the proliferation of small white supremacist groups; the domination of neo-cons in the State Dept....all fed by a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. In Europe there is a dangerous reassertion of fascism.
This is not to say that the left is dead, especially in places like Connecticut, but given our defensive posture, we must be carefully strategic in the allocation of our slender resources.
Lately a key battleground has been the schools. The "achievement gap," and the absence of a root cause analysis, has opened the door for privatization and teacher-bashing. It is a fundamental principle that there will be no equality in educational achievement in the face of drastic economic inequality. In Connecticut especially, the contrast between the poverty of the cities and the wealth of the suburbs is shocking.
Despite heroic attempts by parents, educators, and well-meaning political leaders, lack of progress in poor people's education has opened the door to charlatans. The exposure of this element of the crisis has been Jon Pelto's main issue, although he has offered no solution to the underlying economic gap. Neither can the governor of a small state, of course. In spite of Dan Malloy's best efforts, the lingering Great Recession, and the pre-existing desolation of post-industrial cities, is a national, even an international crisis of capitalism.
THE DANGER OF TOM FOLEY
Foley enters this crisis masquerading as a moderate, just as did George W, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Does anyone doubt that if elected he would immediately attack the unions, layoff state employees, slash social services, cozy up to the gun lobby, and try to drag Connecticut into the whole Koch-led national right-wing insurgency?
Pelto's candidacy, and the support he is getting from the left, is a sign of frustration. We have no strong independent voice, and are rarely able to make policy. Nationally, hamstrung by a Republican majority in the House, the Dems are unable to implement even the narrow jobs program they espouse.
There is room, even in these dangerous times for 3rd party candidacies. The minority party representation statute has been successfully used by Working Families in the cities. The Dems, who today have a comfortable majority in the General Assembly, cannot complain if 3rd parties run against right-wing legislators. In a safe Congressional district they would not be threatened by a left candidate who runs on, say, Fair Trade. In other times, and with electoral reform, we can envision an even greater role for third parties.
But not in the 2014 Connecticut Governor race. The stakes are too high; the differences in the candidates too stark. If there is a repeat of the tight 2010 race, a Pelto candidacy could usher in a Foley victory, a la Ralph Nader in Florida, 2000. The participants in this quixotic mission may find that they have earned the contempt of the very people they are trying to influence, both for them as people, and for our ideas.
These times call for a Center-Left alliance. In an even more dangerous time, Europe in the 1930's, the left failed to understand this necessity, with disastrous results. Malloy is trying hard to correct the mistakes he made in education. Let's not forget all the national pressure there has been for this misguided "ed reform," including among some inner-city people, who cannot wait for an end to the entire achievement gap to find a path out of joblessness.
This is a period for those of us on the left, to work within mass organizations, like the unions and the Democratic Party. We need to build our numbers and hone our ideology before grasping for a ring as heavy as a governorship.
The internal war among Democrats over education policy escalated another notch this weekend at the annual convention of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union in Los Angeles. Delegates savaged the "education reform" agenda as a corporate-led threat to "everything we hold dear." And three high-profile party stalwarts announced the formation of Democrats for Public Education, to contest the reform agenda with a public-centered alternative. We're likely to see proxy fights between these opposing forces for years to come.
...AFT announced the formation of Democrats for Public Education, co-chaired by former governors Ted Strickland (Ohio) and Jennifer Granholm (Michigan), along with DNC vice-chair and frequent commentator Donna Brazile, who addressed the convention Sunday. "I am ashamed of some of Democrats in my own party," said Brazile in a feisty speech that received multiple standing ovations. "We're not going to be silent while you are being attacked."
The group intends to champion additional funds to make quality public education available to everyone, and reject what Brazile called "market-driven" reforms that undermine the learning environment. "We have done a poor job educating people about education," Brazile told delegates. "Only when we have clarified that, can we talk about how best to achieve it."
This group has some pretty good Democrats in it. I will be interesting to see if they get any air time to counter the corporate charter school proponents.
Because the GOP is non-existant in this state senate district, this is one primary that's worth watching...
Two Democratic candidates vying for a state senate seat representing Hartford, Bloomfield, and Windsor received their public grants Thursday from the State Elections Enforcement Commission.
Sen. Eric Coleman and his challenger, Hartford Town Council President Shawn Wooden, will each receive $83,000 for the Aug. 12 primary. Another Democrat, Len Walker of Windsor, has not received a grant yet for the race. He has until July 18 to raise the necessary $15,000 in order to qualify for the full grant amount, but as of Thursday reported that he has not raised in excess of $1,000.
The Democratic primary in Hartford, Bloomfield, and Windsor is thought of as the election because generally there are no Republican candidates to challenge the winner of the contest in November.
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy is shrugging off any suggestion of controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton's paid speaking gig at UConn in April, saying it's getting attention only because she may run for president.
Malloy, a fellow Democrat, said the media "made a lot of " the fee controversy but that the speech was a "successful event."
"I don't think it would be a controversy if she wasn't a likely candidate for president," Malloy said in Nashville, where he was attending a meeting of the National Governors Association.
Mayor Erin Stewart's Instagram photo from a July 4th barbecue and a brief Facebook update in June - both posted on her personal - have made their way into the public forum.
Courant columnist Kevin Rennie, a former Republican state senator, posted both on his "Daily Ructions" blog, along with criticisms of the city's 27-year-old mayor.
"Erin Stewart wraps herself in a flag. Spare a thought for New Britain," Rennie wrote above Stewart's Instagram photo of herself draped in what looks at first like a very thin flag. "Poor New Britain. This may not be what they expected last November."
Stewart on Wednesday said she sees nothing objectionable. She said it was a flag-patterned Riverberry scarf.
"I was at a July 4th barbecue like millions of other Americans" and sent the photo to friends through a restricted, personal Instagram account, she said Wednesday. "I'm a little confused as to why a scarf would be making such a stir. I won't be taking this [picture] down."
Oh please Stewart!
It's not about the scarf but rather the fact you thought it was okay to take a not-so-falttering photo (complete with dissheveled hair and a BUSCH mirror in the background) after it looks like you've been nursing whatever was in your red Solo cup all day.
Based on her appearance, I think it's safe to say that Stewart was the Queen of beer pong at that party.
State GOP Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. stood by the decision to invite Christie to Connecticut.
"The Democrats will say anything to divert attention away from the day-to-day struggles folks are facing under the Obama-Malloy economy, including politicizing the Newtown tragedy," Labriola said. "The purpose of Gov. Christie's visit is straightforward. It is to raise money to defeat Dan Malloy so we can pull Connecticut's economy out of last place. That's what this election is about, and what the Democrats want you to forget."
The president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information is blasting an embattled Hartford charter school group for refusing to release information to the public about its taxpayer-funded operations - adding that the Malloy administration should push the group harder to obey FOI laws.
Officials in the Malloy administration have said that they are not sure how the FOI laws apply to charter school organizations and that they need to study the issue further. But Jim Smith, head of the nonprofit group that advocates for laws protecting the public's right to know, is unequivocal in his belief that the laws do apply.
"Charter schools are certainly one solution of the problems in education in Connecticut and in America. There are things in education that are properly private, like academic records," Smith said. "But if the charter schools [receive]... public moneys, then charter school officials who refuse to divulge information are breaking the Freedom of Information law."
Smith was referring, in an interview Friday, to the charter management group FUSE, as well as the Jumoke Academy charter schools in Hartford that FUSE managed.
Both organizations have failed to provide information requested by The Courant during recent weeks of turmoil including the resignation of FUSE's CEO, Michael Sharpe, after it was disclosed that he served time in federal prison and falsely claimed to have a doctorate. The state has provided $53 million to the charter operation since the 1997 founding of Jumoke, and the formation of FUSE as its management unit in more recent years.