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My Left Nutmeg

Ned Lamont's Mother Passes

by: BranfordBoy

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 10:26:31 AM EST

( - promoted by ctblogger)

Camille "Buz" Lamont, mother of Ned Lamont and a pretty impressive person in her own right, passed away on January 12.

I'm sure the thoughts and prayers of the entire MLN community are with the Lamont family during their time of loss.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Wednesday roundup

by: ctblogger

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 11:01:16 AM EST

Mid-week reading...
  • Throw the book at her already!
    A federal judge has postponed the sentencing of former Republican congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley in the campaign finance scandal that also led to the conviction of former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland.

    Wilson-Foley and her husband pleaded guilty last March to conspiring to hide $35,000 they paid the former Republican governor for help with Wilson-Foley's 2012 campaign in the state's 5th District.

    Wilson-Foley had been scheduled for sentencing on Tuesday, but Judge Janet Bond Arterton has agreed to push that back until next Friday.


  • GRIMALDI: Working Families Party Endorses Gomes For State Senate Special Election
    The Connecticut Working Families Party on Tuesday endorsed former State Senator Ed Gomes for his old seat in the February 24 special election to fill the vacancy of Andres Ayala, the new commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles. If Gomes wins the Democratic Party endorsement Thursday night at Testo's restaurant he'll appear on two lines. That's a big if, and East Side City Councilman Richard DeJesus says he believes he's well positioned to make a run at the endorsement.

    "We liked Ed Gomes in the State Senate," says Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the WFP "and we want him to return."


  • No love for Jerry...
    Embattled state Republican party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. survived an effort to oust him late last year but some GOP insiders still want to see him gone..

    Last week, the Republican Town Committee in Enfield unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in Labriola, who has led the party since 2011.

    Town Committee Chairman Mary Ann Turner cited "ineffective leadership, communication and coordination of the candidate campaigns" and an "inability to develop a cohesive, clear and concise plan to lead the Connecticut Republicans over the last four years,'' according to an email she sent to fellow members.

    Turner also lists what she called "the lack of Republican presence in the media, the lack of leadership in the state and the total lack of coordinated political activity on a statewide basis, which includes training, mentoring and 'lead from the front chairmanship."


  • Wall Street favorite Democrat Jim Himes strikes again
    For the second time in two months, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., plans to vote with Republicans to further roll back Dodd-Frank, the law that placed tough regulatory controls on Wall Street in the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis.

  • Kevin Lembo is doing an amazing job as State Comptroller
    Still struggling to pay its debt from the last recession, Connecticut might have avoided that emergency borrowing - and have double its current reserves - had it followed a new savings strategy unveiled Tuesday by Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo.

    [...]

    Lembo's plan would:
    •Increase the maximum savings allowed;
    •Trigger automatic deposits into the budget reserve, commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund;
    •And waive savings requirements during economic slumps and initial periods of recovery.

    "Had such a deposit formula been in place since the inception of the income tax, Connecticut would have more easily weathered the most recent recessions," Lembo wrote in a position paper submitted Tuesday to the General Assembly.


  • "Distasteful" is an understatement!
    The reaction to a mailing from the Democratic State Central Committee letting voters know they were watching who voted in the 2014 election was met with disgust by most voters.

    One of those voters filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

    Eva M. Eszterhai of Niantic felt that the DSCC mailer was trying to "strong arm/bully [her] into voting" and that the letter had an "intimidating tone."

    "Who you vote for is private, but whether or not you vote is public record," the letter reads. "We're sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote."

    There were other similar mailers regarding voting records sent by an outside group and the Republican Party, but Eszterhai's complaint only cited the one from the Democratic State Central Committee.

    [...]

    The Commissioners voted 4-0 to dismiss the complaint because they could not find that it violated any election laws, even if it was unsavory.

    SEEC Chairman Anthony J. Castagno said this "sort of campaign technique, which is really distasteful" was used in other parts of the country and was universally panned.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Wednesday roundup

by: ctblogger

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 11:01:16 AM EST

Mid-week reading...
  • Throw the book at her already!
    A federal judge has postponed the sentencing of former Republican congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley in the campaign finance scandal that also led to the conviction of former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland.

    Wilson-Foley and her husband pleaded guilty last March to conspiring to hide $35,000 they paid the former Republican governor for help with Wilson-Foley's 2012 campaign in the state's 5th District.

    Wilson-Foley had been scheduled for sentencing on Tuesday, but Judge Janet Bond Arterton has agreed to push that back until next Friday.


  • GRIMALDI: Working Families Party Endorses Gomes For State Senate Special Election
    The Connecticut Working Families Party on Tuesday endorsed former State Senator Ed Gomes for his old seat in the February 24 special election to fill the vacancy of Andres Ayala, the new commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles. If Gomes wins the Democratic Party endorsement Thursday night at Testo's restaurant he'll appear on two lines. That's a big if, and East Side City Councilman Richard DeJesus says he believes he's well positioned to make a run at the endorsement.

    "We liked Ed Gomes in the State Senate," says Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the WFP "and we want him to return."


  • No love for Jerry...
    Embattled state Republican party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. survived an effort to oust him late last year but some GOP insiders still want to see him gone..

    Last week, the Republican Town Committee in Enfield unanimously passed a vote of no confidence in Labriola, who has led the party since 2011.

    Town Committee Chairman Mary Ann Turner cited "ineffective leadership, communication and coordination of the candidate campaigns" and an "inability to develop a cohesive, clear and concise plan to lead the Connecticut Republicans over the last four years,'' according to an email she sent to fellow members.

    Turner also lists what she called "the lack of Republican presence in the media, the lack of leadership in the state and the total lack of coordinated political activity on a statewide basis, which includes training, mentoring and 'lead from the front chairmanship."


  • Wall Street favorite Democrat Jim Himes strikes again
    For the second time in two months, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., plans to vote with Republicans to further roll back Dodd-Frank, the law that placed tough regulatory controls on Wall Street in the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis.

  • Kevin Lembo is doing an amazing job as State Comptroller
    Still struggling to pay its debt from the last recession, Connecticut might have avoided that emergency borrowing - and have double its current reserves - had it followed a new savings strategy unveiled Tuesday by Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo.

    [...]

    Lembo's plan would:
    •Increase the maximum savings allowed;
    •Trigger automatic deposits into the budget reserve, commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund;
    •And waive savings requirements during economic slumps and initial periods of recovery.

    "Had such a deposit formula been in place since the inception of the income tax, Connecticut would have more easily weathered the most recent recessions," Lembo wrote in a position paper submitted Tuesday to the General Assembly.


  • "Distasteful" is an understatement!
    The reaction to a mailing from the Democratic State Central Committee letting voters know they were watching who voted in the 2014 election was met with disgust by most voters.

    One of those voters filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

    Eva M. Eszterhai of Niantic felt that the DSCC mailer was trying to "strong arm/bully [her] into voting" and that the letter had an "intimidating tone."

    "Who you vote for is private, but whether or not you vote is public record," the letter reads. "We're sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote."

    There were other similar mailers regarding voting records sent by an outside group and the Republican Party, but Eszterhai's complaint only cited the one from the Democratic State Central Committee.

    [...]

    The Commissioners voted 4-0 to dismiss the complaint because they could not find that it violated any election laws, even if it was unsavory.

    SEEC Chairman Anthony J. Castagno said this "sort of campaign technique, which is really distasteful" was used in other parts of the country and was universally panned.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

CT Teachers Union against charter schools, except when the vote counts

by: ctblogger

Tue Jan 13, 2015 at 14:16:59 PM EST

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

Less than twelve hours after Governor Dannel Malloy took the stage to declare victory on Election Night 2014, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and Malloy's political appointees on the State Board of Education met to unanimously endorse a proposal to open eight new charter schools in Connecticut.

A CT Mirror article at the time entitled "State education board wants to open eight new charter schools" reported that while the State of Connecticut faces a $1.4 billion projected budget deficit for next year, "The State Board of Education is asking the state for $11 million to fund eight new charter schools to open over the next two school years...The request, put forward by Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and approved unanimously by the state board..."

The CT Mirror added that, "Allan B. Taylor, chairman of the 13-member state panel, said expanding school choice for students makes sense."

The Hartford Courant covered the story as well noting;

Of the eight new charters proposed to open over the 2015-16 and 2016-17 fiscal years, two proposals were approved by the board at a lengthy meeting in April amid much testimony for and against new charter schools.

The charters already approved to open in 2015-16 include Stamford Charter School for Excellence and Capital Prep Harbor School in Bridgeport. Those proposals, however, are contingent on the availability of funding.


After funding for Steve Perry's proposed Bridgeport charter school, along with money for seven others charter schools won the full support of the State Board of Education, Melodie Peters, the President of the Connecticut Federation of Teachers, submitted a hard-hitting commentary piece to the CT Mirror entitled, "Plan for more charter schools flawed in many ways."

Peters, one of Malloy's biggest supporters began her article by saying, "The state education department commissioner's proposal last week to hand over more public education resources to privately managed charter schools deserves an 'F' as both 'incomplete' and tone deaf."

Peters added,

"Now is not the time to ask taxpayers for another $21 million on an experiment whose record of ensuring a quality education for all has yet to be demonstrated.

It has been just six months since the scandal involving the charter management outfit Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE) and the schools it operated in Hartford and Bridgeport made headlines. Recall that the extent of the alleged corruption and nepotism quickly led to a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of FUSE and its affiliated Jumoke schools that today is still ongoing."


Having told members that Lt., Governor Nancy Wyman would be Malloy's point person on education in Malloy's second term, Peters added,
"In August, the Malloy-Wyman Administration rightly responded to the crisis by ordering a thorough review of the department of education's policies governing charter management companies. The department quickly agreed to changes that echo what parents, educators, and advocates have been urging for years: charters should be held accountable to the same standard as traditional public schools."

The AFT CT President went on to blast Pryor's decision to seek funding for eight more charter school saying, "The state should not greenlight more charters or expand their reach without first verifying that education department oversight of charters has actually improved.

Of the various issues associated with President Peters' "blistering attack" on the decision to approve Pryor's proposal for eight more charter schools, perhaps the most interesting is that Peters completely and utterly failed to mention that the newest member of the State Board of Education, Meriden Federation of Teachers President Erin Benham, voted IN FAVOR of the resolution to fund eight new charter schools.

In a political move to reward the AFT-CT for ramming through an endorsement of Dan Malloy, without even granting the other candidates [like myself] to fill out a candidate questionnaire, meet with the AFT-CT PAC or address the AFT-CT Board of Directors, Malloy announced on August 21, 2014 that he was taking the unprecedented step of appointing Meriden AFT President Erin Benham to a four year position on the State Board of Education.

As the time, Peters wrote,

"We applaud the administration of Governor Dannel Malloy and Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman for selecting Erin Benham to serve on the State Board of Education. They have appointed a committed classroom educator and trusted labor leader with a long, successful record of direct engagement in grassroots efforts to improve schools in Meriden and across Connecticut.

"The SBOE, as well as the state's education department, will greatly benefit from Erin's experience in Meriden Public Schools. There, she and her fellow educators have proven that collaboration - not confrontation - is the way to form a productive working partnership with their district's administration.

"Erin will bring tremendous value to the board with real-world teacher-student, educator-parent and labor-management experience. I have seen firsthand Erin's passion for her vocation, and I have no doubt she will make a significant contribution to the board's mission.

"We expect Erin to ensure that the voices of educators are heard and respected, and to play a role in helping to shape policy in all our state's schools.

"We congratulate Erin on her appointment and look forward to her service on the SBOE throughout her four-year term."


Two weeks later, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten came to Connecticut to endorse Governor Dannel Malloy for re-election, despite the fact that Malloy was, and is, the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and unilaterally repealing collective bargaining rights for teachers in the poorest school districts in Connecticut, including some of the teachers who worked in Meriden.

And to drive home the special relationship between the AFT and Malloy - and Malloy and the AFT - AFT President Weingarten, AFT-CT President Peters and Malloy started their day with a tour and press conference at a Meriden public school, with non-other-than the newest member of the State Board of Education, Meriden AFT President Erin Benham.

Yet exactly sixty-one days later, Erin Benham, the teacher who Peters promised would, "ensure that the voices of educators are heard and respected, and [who would] play a role in helping to shape policy in all our state's schools," joined Malloy's other political appointees on that day after Election Day to vote in favor of diverting millions of dollars to even more privately run, publicly funded charter schools.

In her commentary piece a week after the vote, AFT-CT Peters wrote,

"Another unanswered question is why we aren't investing education resources in community schools that will educate all children, instead of cherry-picking students to boost standardized test scores. An investigation by Reuters in 2013 found charters across the country imposing "significant barriers" that result in "skimming the most motivated, disciplined students and leaving the hardest-to-reach behind....Wouldn't we all be better served investing our tax dollars in traditional neighborhood schools that do not exclude our special education, ELLs, and children with behavioral disorders?"

And AFT President Peters concluded her commentary piece with the observation, "And until the department can demonstrate that it can, the State Board of Education should deny the outgoing commissioner's request."

Over the course of Malloy's 2014 campaign for re-election, the American Federation for Teachers Federal Political Action Committee donated $10,000 to the Committee Democratic State Central Committee "Federal Account," the fund that the Malloy campaign used to launder lobbyist, state contractor and political action committee funds into a program to assist the Malloy campaign.

In addition, the American Federation of Teachers Federal Political Action Committee threw in $600,000 to the Democratic Governor's Association's $5.7 million Independent Expenditure campaign to support Malloy's re-election.

But putting aside, for the moment, AFT President Melodie Peters's anti-charter school editorial of November 17, 2014, when the real vote on the motion to adopt the Malloy administration's proposal to fund eight more charter schools was taken, it passed the State Board of Education unanimously....with the support of AFT's representative along with Chairman Allan Taylor, Vice Chair Theresa Hopkins-Staten, Charles Jaskiewicz, Patricia Keavney-Maruca, Maria Mojica and Joseph Vrabely.

That is a lot of teacher's money for an investment that appears to be ending in disaster.

Some would even call the whole thing yet another Wait, What? moment.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Monday roundup

by: ctblogger

Mon Jan 12, 2015 at 10:44:08 AM EST

Reading material.
  • Shame...
    First the good news: A higher rate of 3- and 4-year-olds in Connecticut were enrolled in preschool than in any other state between 2011 and 2013.

    Now the bad news: Connecticut has the largest achievement gap in math and nearly the worst gap in reading between students from low-income families and their peers. And over the last 10 years, the gap on the National Assessment of Educational Progress test in reading has actually grown.

    These are just two of the highlights in the annual Quality Counts report from Education Week, a non-partisan national publication.

    The preschool analysis is based on the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey from 2011, 2012 and 2013. Participants are asked whether their children attend a preschool where there is an educational component.


  • CTNJ: "Three Special Elections To Be Held Feb. 24"
    Three special elections will be held Tuesday, Feb. 24, to fill three vacancies left by two state representatives and a state senator who didn't take the oath of office.

    State Rep. Auden Grogins of Bridgeport was nominated by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to the Superior Court bench and state Rep. David Scribner of Brookfield was nominated by the governor to a position in the Consumer Protection Department.

    Malloy also nominated Sen. Andres Ayala of Bridgeport to be his next Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner.


  • MIDDLETOWN PRESS: "Connecticut Board of Education picks interim commissioner"
    The state Board of Education is set to appoint the Department of Education's chief academic officer, Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, as interim education commissioner during its meeting Wednesday.

    Commissioner Stefan Pryor announced in August that he would be leaving office at the end of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's first term, which comes to a close Wednesday. Pryor, who was named education commissioner in 2010, has been nominated by Rhode Island Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo as secretary of commerce.


  • No details...
    Still unwilling to offer much in the way of details Thursday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy maintained that his vision for Connecticut's transportation future will be big.  It will include widening all of Interstate 95, improving bus and rail service, and making sure money raised to improve it will stay in a "lockbox."

    The question that has emerged over the past 24 hours following the governor's State of the State address is how he plans to fund the improvements and exactly how much money he will seek to widen the state's highways, at the same time as he improves bus and rail systems.

    Malloy hasn't taken instituting tolls off the table, but he also hasn't said how he plans to fund it.

    During a tour Thursday of the new Meriden Intermodal Center, Malloy was asked about how much money he plans to spend. Malloy said he has a figure in mind, but he wasn't willing to share it publicly until Feb. 18 when he delivers his budget to the General Assembly.

    "Let's make sure there's an agreement on what we need to do, then we need to figure out how to pay for it," Malloy said.


Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Today's MUST READ PIECE - Where's the Accountability? Anyone? By Sarah Darer Littman

by: ctblogger

Sun Jan 11, 2015 at 10:46:11 AM EST

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

Quite simply it is the single best assessment of the issues surrounding the Jumoke/FUSE charter school scandal.

The article, written by Sarah Darer Littman is called, "Where's the Accountability? Anyone?" and it can be found in its entirety on the CTNewsJunkie website - http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ar...

Read it and ask yourself.... Where is the accountability?

Sarah Darer Littman open with;

   Dumping embarrassing news on the eve of a holiday is becoming a habit for the Malloy's administration - and there's been plenty of it to ring in the inauguration of his second term.

   Late last Friday it was the release of the FUSE/Jumoke investigation report, which revealed financial mismanagement, nepotism, and misuse of public funds by a charter operator lauded by the Malloy administration. But the most disturbing part of this whole affair is that it reveals how millions of our taxpayer dollars are being handed out to private entities with little or no due diligence based on the recommendation of a closed, closely entwined loop of foundations, political allies, and corporate beneficiaries.

   What investigating attorney Frederick L. Dorsey left out of his report, perhaps because he was hired by the state Department of Education, is how the department and the state Board of Education and so many others enabled Michael Sharpe in his unethical endeavors.

   Take for instance, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who appointed former FUSE Chief Operating Office Andrea Comer to the state Board of Education. Or the state Ethics Commission, which ruled that there was no conflict in having Comer, the chief operating officer of a charter management company benefiting from millions of dollars of public funds, serving on the board that grants them. Then we have our state legislators, who unanimously confirmed Comer to the position. Maybe they were too busy playing solitaire when the vote was taken.

   What about Stephen Adamowski, Paul Vallas, and the members of the Bridgeport Board of Education who voted to bring FUSE to Bridgeport as part of the Commissoner's Network? The Rev. Kenneth Moales Jr. said he was "honored" to have Sharpe and FUSE in the district. Moales, of course, has - according to education reform critic Jonathan Pelto - had his own ethical challenges when it came to overbilling the state for daycare slots.


And she then closes with;
   Last April, the state Board of Education voted to authorize the Booker T. Washington/FUSE charter school in New Haven. Perhaps they were influenced by glowing letters of recommendation from well-known political figures in the state: New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, former New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, and ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander, to name a few.

   With messaging consistency that would make Republican pollster and messaging guru Frank Luntz proud, both Mayors DeStefano and Harp opened with exactly the same phrase: "I enthusiastically support the application for the Booker T. Washington Charter School, here in New Haven, CT. The proposed school will teach our young moral character, self advocacy, and common core standards, in order to impact their success in our diverse global environment."

   Having read Attorney Dorsey's report on what took place at Jumoke Academy, there are definitely lessons to teach our young, but "moral character" isn't the one that springs to mind.

   Here's ConnCAN's Jennifer Alexander: "Two key reasons for my support for the Booker T. Washington [school] is its collaboration with a proven high-quality provider, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE) . . . FUSE has a track record of success."

   That depends on your definition of "success," doesn't it? If "success" constitutes feathering your own nest at the expense of taxpayers, behaving unethically, and acting in such a way that even the parents at your own school "have questions about accountability for the financial piece," as stated in the FUSE Board of Trustees minutes dated Oct. 10, 2013,  I guess FUSE did have that track record.

   Listening to these same enablers say that "it's for the kids" while they fleece the public purse is infuriating. But what really enrages me is knowing that there are so many fine educators in classrooms across this state trying to teach and help children day in and day out while being deprived of basic resources, while politicians are allowing our taxpayer dollars to be siphoned off by crooks.


The commentary piece written by Sarah Darer Littman is, as they say, "on point."

Go to CT Newsjunkie right now and read the complete article at http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ar...

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