Monthly Archives: March 2010

Rell names Judge Stuart Bear to Appellate Court

Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced today she is nominating Superior Judge Stuart D. Bear to the Appellate Court
Bear, 65, a trial judge since 2003, was a lawyer at Zeldes, Needle & Cooper for 30 years. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard, graduating with honors. He will succeed Chief Judge Joseph P. Flynn, who is taking senior status. “Judge Bear will make an outstanding addition to the Appellate Court,” Rell said. “His extensive experience as an attorney and his years on our Superior Court bench have given him a depth of knowledge and a strong sense of the law’s role in society – key strengths that will enable him to deal fairly and wisely with the range of issues that come before the appeals court. I am pleased to nominate Judge Bear for this position and I look forward to his confirmation.” Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Campaigning takes a back seat to fundraising as candidates strive for pre-convention credibility

As his gubernatorial rivals focus on last-minute fund-raising, Ned Lamont is visiting a Hamden metal finisher today, continuing the low-key rollout of his economic development plan that began with events Tuesday in Hartford and Bridgeport. The Democratic frontrunner, a wealthy businessman who is expected to pay for most of his run himself, was one of the few candidates who could afford to campaign Tuesday and today, the last two days of the fundraising quarter. Gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont in Hartford Tuesday (Mark Pazniokas)
Others scrambled to boost their first-quarter financial reports, trying to demonstrate they will have the resources to compete in crowded Democratic and Republican fields for governor. “That’s the reality,” said Juan Figueroa, another Democratic candidate. The first-quarter reports will be the last before candidates seek the endorsement of their parties’ nominating conventions in May. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Newspapers retain revenue as towns lose fight for legal ad ‘mandate’ relief

On an issue pitting struggling newspapers against financially-strapped towns, the General Assembly has come down on the side of the press–at least for this year. The state’s newspapers held on to an important source of revenue as the legislature rejected pleas from municipalities to relax the rules on legal advertising and allow them to post official notices on their websites rather than in print. Municipal officials say the state laws requiring them to advertise meetings, bid solicitations and other official actions in newspapers constitute an unfunded mandate that they can’t afford, and that is unnecessary in the Internet age. “Should we really be paying all this money when we have our own financial problems? I don’t think so,” said Melody Curry, the mayor of East Hartford. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Dealing with the deficit: Governor and legislators take aim at a moving target

Trying to follow state government’s budget surpluses and deficits is confusing enough in normal times. Spending and revenue trends are tracked for the current year and as far off as five years down the road – and three different agencies study some or all of them. Given that the past 18 months have produced more red ink than a bankruptcy audit, it’s easy to miss the small bits of good fiscal news that lowered the current deficit by about 30 percent over the past month. But state government also is facing two rapidly-approaching benchmarks that could determine whether the governor and legislature will have a manageable 2010 deficit to debate or whether Connecticut will put hundreds of millions of dollars in operating costs on its credit card for the second year in a row. Nearly $157 million was lopped off this year’s $518.4 million deficit in recent weeks thanks to an emergency clause in the last year’s union concession deal, some good news regarding federal aid, and about $12 million in new and other savings ordered by Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Newington mayor bows out of governor’s race, will run for treasurer

Newington Mayor Jeffrey Wright ended his bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination this afternoon, adding he will endorse the early GOP frontrunner, Greenwich businessman Thomas Foley, in the next few days. Wright, 38, who has been mayor since 2007, also announced he still wants to be on the GOP’s ticket this fall, and will launch a campaign for state treasurer later this week or early next. “It’s obviously a very crowded field,” Wright said, referring to the six remaining Republican gubernatorial contenders. Besides Foley, that field includes: Lt. Gov. Michael C. Fedele of Stamford, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, business leader Oz Griebel of Simsbury,  Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh, former Congressman Larry DeNardis of Hamden and Christopher Duffy Acevedo of Branford. “We all have a very similar message,” Wright said, adding that Foley “has the financial resources to best bring his message to the people. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Campaign promise? First, raise your right hand

Ever wonder what it would be like if politicians had to swear to tell the truth before talking about their qualifications for office? Susan Bysiewicz is about to find out. On Wednesday, the Democratic secretary of the state will be questioned under oath, probably on video, about whether she is qualified to run for attorney general. It’s unlikely to become a trend. Bysiewicz is giving a deposition in the lawsuit she brought seeking a declaratory ruling that she meets the minimum statutory requirements for attorney general. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Race to the Top: Connecticut gets a C competing for federal education funds

Connecticut’s school reform plans got a mediocre grade in the federal Race to the Top competition, the Obama administration reported Monday, putting new pressure on state lawmakers to pass legislation to revamp the state’s public school system. Out of 40 states and the District of Columbia, Connecticut ranked 25th, well out of the running in the first round of competition for the awards earmarked for school reform. Nevertheless, state officials expressed hope as Connecticut began gearing up for a second round of awards after only two states – Tennessee and Delaware – were picked from 16 finalists for the first awards. Tennessee won $500 million, Delaware $100 million. In Race to the Top, the Obama administration is dangling more than $4.3 billion in incentives to spur education reforms. With state budgets suffering through the nation’s slumping economy, states are making aggressive efforts to compete for the money. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

The health reform battle comes home

The battle to pass health-care reform is over. The campaign to explain, defend and sell reform to voters in the run-up to the 2010 election is under way. Home for the spring recess, members of Connecticut’s Democratic congressional delegation are on the road, led by a senior member who has given up on his own re-election, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd. Dodd, who was given the fifth of the 22 commemorative pens President Obama used to sign the bill into law last week, headlined a rally in Hartford on Monday and will appear in Groton today and Milford on Wednesday. “Beginning this year, you cannot preclude a child in Connecticut from getting health-care coverage because of a pre-existing condition,” Dodd said in an appearance with 1st District U.S. Rep. John B. Larson at Capital Community College. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Proposal to end time limits on child sex abuse cases is expanded to include state

The Judiciary Committee approved a bill Monday that will remove the statute of limitations for those accusing state employees of child sexual assault — a move several committee members worry could put the state’s finances at-risk. “Without question, this increases the state’s exposure to suit,” said Sen. John A. Kissel,R-Enfield, the Senate ranking Republican on the committee. The bill originally was introduced to allow dozens of victims of the late Dr. George Reardon to sue the private hospital where he worked, even though his assaults against them occurred before the 30-year statute of limitations currently applied to such cases. Moments before the vote, the bill was amended to eliminate the one-year statute of limitations that applies to similar cases against the state. The bill then passed by in a close 23-20 vote. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Williams tries to revive deficit bill

Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr. spent much of Monday trying to extricate himself from between a fiscal rock and a hard place–better known as Gov. M. Jodi Rell and House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan of Meriden. The vacationing Republican governor’s staunch defense of a $70 million annual tax break for residents inheriting multi-million-dollar estates helped thwart Williams’ efforts Saturday to balance this year’s state budget. Williams, a Democrat from Brooklyn, couldn’t get Rell to return his telephone calls on Monday. Williams at least got to sit down and talk with Donovan, a fellow Democrat. But the 90-minute meeting Monday yielded little progress, as the speaker said he won’t consider the Senate’s cuts to the social safety net while Rell continues to shield the wealthy. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Bill to streamline death penalty dies in committee

The appeals process that slows down putting someone to death in Connecticut will not be sped up this legislative session, as the bill failed to make it out of the Judiciary Committee today. Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, D-East Haven, said he did not bring the bill before the committee for a vote because “it wasn’t on anyone’s priority list.” The bill would have placed a limit on appeals and a deadline, a change he said he supports as co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “There comes a point that unless you are alleging actual innocence, enough is enough,” Lawlor said. During a public hearing earlier this month, Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the 2007 Cheshire home invasion, told the committee there are 1,000 pending appeals in Connecticut’s courts and is frustrated with the slow process to convict. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

New chief judge for appellate court

Judge Alexandra D. DiPentima is the new chief judge of the Appellate Court, effective immediately, Supreme Court Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers announced today. DiPentima will succeed Judge Joseph P. Flynn, who took senior status effective March 26, 2010. The appointment was announced in this statement released by the court:
“Judge DiPentima is an excellent jurist, and will be an effective and energetic chief judge of the Appellate Court. She has been a judge since 1993 and her experience on the bench will serve the state of Connecticut well,” Chief Justice Rogers said. Judge DiPentima is currently the chairperson of the Public Service and Trust Commission, which developed the Judicial Branch’s first-ever strategic plan. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Big-time frustrations lead small-town pols to join the race for governor

Tom Marsh oversees a workforce of 20, not counting teachers, and a budget of a little more than $12 million as first selectman of Chester, population 3,842. He is looking to move up, take on a workforce of 55,000, a budget of $18.6 billion and a constituency of 3.5 million. Marsh wants to be your governor. “It’s tilting at windmills, I understand,” Marsh said. He is one of three first selectmen and three mayors running for governor on a common theme: We deliver services, always paying attention to costs. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

With large short-term problems, will modest long-term ideas be heard?

While leaders of the General Assembly struggle–so far unsuccessfully-to close a half-billion dollar gap in this year’s state budget, a small group composed mainly of legislators has come up with a series of more modest proposals that could mean long-term savings for the state. Now the question is whether the legislature will take the time to act on them while facing nine- and ten-digit deficits over the next several years. “We’ll see if anything happens,” said Sen. Gayle S. Slossberg, admitting that several of the proposals have failed in previous years. Holding a list of 51 budget-saving proposals crafted by the Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes, Slossberg said, “Many of these are ready to go now. Let’s pass some of these as soon as possible. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

‘Education gap’ panel also faces a confidence gap

As businessman Steven Simmons tries to fix what’s wrong with Connecticut’s public schools, he hopes to win the help of skeptics such as parent activist Gwen Samuel. Simmons has built an impressive résumé as a college professor, children’s book author and cable TV entrepreneur, but his recent appointment by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to head a state commission on low-performing schools perplexed Samuel. What, she asked, do business leaders, including those from towns such as upscale Greenwich, know about schools in the state’s poorest cities? Steven Simmons
Rell named Simmons and 10 other prominent business leaders and professionals to tackle the achievement gap – the chronic problem of lagging achievement among low-income and minority children. “I’m just concerned with the makeup of the commission,” said Samuel, founder of the State of Black Connecticut Alliance, an advocacy group that has made the achievement gap a key issue. Continue Reading →

Filed under: