Monthly Archives: May 2012

Malloy, others press Donovan for answers

“I want to commend the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI for their diligence in the investigation and the speed in which they’ve taken action.  Law enforcement is in many ways the first and last line of defense for our taxpayers, and when an announcement like this happens, we should all be grateful for their work. “These allegations are despicable. While I am encouraged that the Speaker is cooperating with the investigation, his position requires that he give our residents a full explanation of what he knows. “Allegations like this not only damage a campaign or a candidate, they also undermine citizen’s belief in their government’s ability to carry out its responsibilities.”
— Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

“These allegations against Mr. Donovan’s campaign staff are very serious and we are sure the FBI will investigate this matter thoroughly.  Our campaign does not wish to inflame any issues surrounding the investigation.” — Dan Roberti, a Democratic candidate for Congress
“I am and every other citizen of Connecticut should be deeply troubled by the serious and unsettling allegations revealed today in connection with the arrest of Robert Braddock Jr. Speaker Donovan owes it to all in our state to make himself available promptly to fully answer all questions relating to his involvement in the alleged criminal activity. Continue Reading →

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FBI arrests Chris Donovan’s congressional fundraiser

The finance director for House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan’s congressional campaign was arrested Wednesday by FBI agents and charged with illegally concealing the source of two $10,000 contributions for his campaign, authorities said Thursday. Donovan fired the fundraiser, Robert Braddock Jr., and his campaign manager, Josh Nassi, and hired Tom Swan of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group to take over his campaign just 10 weeks from the Democratic primary on Aug. 14. Braddock, 33, of Meriden, was arrested at his apartment on a criminal complaint that says he conspired with others to hide contributions from a person who wanted to kill a tobacco tax bill before the General Assembly. Nassi was not charged, but an unnamed campaign aide was implicated by the authorities. Continue Reading →

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New Haven center funding: Bad precedent or community support?

Republican legislators opposed to state-funded improvements to a New Haven community center that houses a Communist newspaper conceded Thursday that Connecticut likely has funded many community projects with some degree of political ties over the years. Sen. Andrew W. Roraback of Goshen and Rep. Sean J. Williams of Watertown insisted the $300,000 earmarked for the New Haven People’s Center still is a bad idea. But one of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s chief advisers charged the GOP lawmakers with employing “cheap” politics and warned they’re employing a dangerous standard that could be applied to other projects that provide many community benefits. “We do not believe that political organizations, those that are partisan in nature or very political, should receive taxpayer dollars,” Williams said during a late morning news conference in the Legislative Office Building. “The question we have to ask ourselves is: Should this be the way we do business?” Continue Reading →

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McMahon says she was unaware of WWE’s libel threat

West Hartford — Linda McMahon was on message Wednesday, briskly talking about business, jobs and the economy. But her old company, World Wrestling Entertainment, intruded with the persistence of a colorful relative. With a litigation threat against a newspaper columnist who likened its programming to pornography, the company her husband still controls succeeded where her rivals for the U.S. Senate have failed: It focused the media, at least briefly, on WWE’s racy past. McMahon, the former chief executive officer of the company she co-founded with her husband, Vince McMahon, insisted that the subject of WWE’s litigation threat over an unflattering column has not come up at their Greenwich home. Linda (l) and Vince McMahon (r) and family at the GOP convention. Continue Reading →

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Finding the right mix to observe teachers

Bridgeport science teacher Christine O’Neil yearns for more feedback on how to become a better teacher, but her principal rarely has the time to observe her more than twice a year. Bridgeport science teacher Christine O’Neil talks observations with the state’s consultant for teacher evaluations
“I would love to have a dozen pop-in visits each year so my evaluation isn’t done in isolation,” said O’Neil, a middle school teacher on the panel charged with creating the state model to evaluate teachers. “From the teachers I’ve talked to, principals don’t pop in very often.” The issue was the subject of a meeting Tuesday of the Teacher Evaluation Committee, part of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council. Statewide, there is no requirement regarding how often a public school teacher should be evaluated or how long a teacher should be observed, and the practice varies by district. Continue Reading →

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Leader to address ‘dysfunction’ on energy committee

At least four major components of the omnibus energy bill that never made it to the floor of either chamber of the General Assembly in the just-completed annual legislative session are likely to make their way into the special session in two weeks. While the move is expected to rectify some key issues — in particular, the extension of funding to provide low-cost energy audits for oil-heated homes — many view it as mop-up for a failure that could have been avoided. Nardello and Fonfara consulting in 2010 during a thaw in their relationship. The situation speaks to what legislators and lobbyists characterize as dysfunction in the Energy and Technology Committee and ongoing tension between Democratic co-chairs, Sen. John W. Fonfara of Hartford and Rep. Vickie O. Nardello of Prospect. The 11th hour failure of the energy bill is prompting an unusual public recognition of a problem that for years was the subject of private griping and gossip at the State Capitol. Continue Reading →

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Former allies on Mass. health reform split on cost controls

If Massachusetts is any guide, finding agreement on how to provide health insurance to more people could be far easier than consensus on how to make it affordable, according to The Boston Globe. Reporter Chelsea Conaboy details disagreements among business and consumer groups that previously came together to support the state’s 2006 health reform law, which expanded insurance coverage in the Bay State. Now state lawmakers are working on ways to contain health care costs, and those alliances — within both the business and consumer communities — have fractured. “We’re talking about revenues in the health care system,” Richard C. Lord, president of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which represents about 6,000 businesses, told Conaboy. “Every dollar in the system is somebody’s income stream. Continue Reading →

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A federal boost for Connecticut’s education reforms

When it came time for U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to decide where he would make the announcement on which states landed an exemption to the federal No Child Left Behind requirements, he said Connecticut was the obvious choice. “Connecticut is absolutely a winner,” Duncan told a beaming Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a crowded function room Tuesday at the state Capitol. “Of the 26 applications we received this round, Connecticut’s was amongst the strongest, most creative and most innovative.” Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The waiver to NCLB signals that the federal government has confidence in the state’s reform efforts to turn around low-performing schools, improve the teaching profession and hold schools more accountable for student progress. Continue Reading →

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Is Connecticut getting the federal dollars it deserves?

An openly skeptical legislative panel, the Program Review and Investigations Committee, launched an inquiry Tuesday into whether Connecticut gets its fair share of federal funding. The committee also approved new studies into the state’s Medicaid program, as well as the availability of substance abuse treatment for youth covered by private insurance. The studies, which will be conducted by Program Review staff during the summer and fall, with findings presented in December, could lead to new legislative proposals in the 2013 General Assembly session that starts in January. Program Review is one of only two legislative panels that have bipartisan leadership, and members said Tuesday that the challenges state government faces accessing federal funding transcend partisan politics or any single administration. “There’s billions of dollars out there” that states compete for — some well and some poorly, said Sen. Stephen T. Cassano, D-Manchester. Continue Reading →

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State wins waiver to No Child Left Behind law

Connecticut has won its bid for a waiver to the federal No Child Left Behind requirements, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced in a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon on his way to the state Capitol to meet with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Connecticut joins 18 other states that have also received a waiver to the requirements, which includes that 100 percent of students be proficient in reading and math in three school years. Almost half of the schools in Connecticut this year failed to reach the NCLB benchmarks. “These states are getting more flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB’s one-size-fits-all federal mandate,” Duncan said. The waivers were awarded to states that have plans to strengthen teachers and principals, keep accountability measures and have a college-career ready standards. Continue Reading →

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State to hear today on No Child Left Behind waiver

Connecticut will find out today whether the Malloy administration’s bid for a waiver from the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law has been granted. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will host a conference call on the waivers this afternoon, but Duncan also is scheduled to appear at the state Capitol with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to “make an announcement.” State officials are not commenting whether the state’s application for a waiver will be granted, but chances are slim that Duncan is appearing with Malloy to give bad news. Without a waiver, Connecticut schools could face a list of repercussions if 100 percent of their students are not proficient in reading and math in three school years. Almost half of the schools in the state this year failed to reach the NCLB benchmarks. Continue Reading →

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On the front lines of change in the risky world of DCF

The call for help came from an emergency room nurse. Her patient, the mother of a young son, tried to commit suicide while the boy was home.”She was worried about the kid,” Nana-Kyi Johnson, a social worker assigned to the Department of Children and Families’ 24-hour hotline, said of the nurse. Nana-Kyi Johnson, a DCF social worker, awaits a call (Photo courtesy of Uma Ramiah) Had the call come in a few weeks earlier, an immediate investigation would have been launched, a social worker would have shown up at the mother’s hospital bed unannounced, and the boy would have been questioned.These adversarial visits by DCF social workers often begin with the parent refusing to answer questions and end with the child being removed from the home to enter the state’s highly criticized foster care system.Instead, on this Friday afternoon, Johnson began asking the nurse a list of questions.She soon found out that the boy also lives with his father and that he was home during the suicide attempt. A quick check into DCF’s database shows the father had no history of mental illness or criminal behavior and that DCF had never been called on this family.”This could wait until Monday for us to get involved. This child was in no immediate danger. He has his father,” Johnson said of her decision. Continue Reading →

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Roberti proposes a dozen debates in 10 weeks

Democratic congressional candidate Dan Roberti pitched 12 debates in a radio appearance today on WNPR. And that’s a dozen debates before the Democratic primary on Aug. 14, not the general election in November. Roberti is competing with state House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan and former state Rep. Elizabeth Esty for the Democratic nomination for the the open 5th District seat. Spokesmen for Donovan and Esty say their candidates look forward to debates, though both seemed amused at the prospect of dozen in 10 weeks. Continue Reading →

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Proposed changes to psychiatric manual could impact addiction diagnosis

What’s in a name? That’s a question that experts are wrestling with as they prepare to revise the diagnostic manual that spells out the criteria for addiction and other substance-use problems.
The catalyst for this discussion is a set of proposed changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the reference guide upon which clinicians, researchers, insurers and others rely to identify and classify psychiatric disorders. The revised guide, called DSM-5, will incorporate changes to more than a dozen categories of disorders, including those related to mood, eating and personality, as well as substance use and addiction. Developed under the auspices of the American Psychiatric Association, the revised manual is scheduled for release in May 2013. The new guidelines would do away with the diagnostic categories of “substance abuse,” which generally is defined by such short-term problems as driving drunk, and “substance dependence,” which is chronic and marked by tolerance or withdrawal, in favor of a combined “substance use and addictive disorders” category. Continue Reading →

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Teacher evaluations: Coming to a school near you?

The State Department of Education announced Tuesday which districts have applied to become a pilot district to launch the state’s new pilot teacher evaluation system for the coming school year. Thirty-five districts have applied, and the state department will announce Friday which districts will have the pilots. The districts include Portland, Cromwell, New Hartford, Suffield, Windsor, Plainville, Berlin, Odyssey Charter School, Watertown, Region 6 school district, Capitol Region Education Council, Watertown, Torrington, Monroe, Bridgeport, Norwalk, Montville, Branford, Waterbury, Bethany, Orange, Woodbridge, Sterling, Waterford, Westbrook, Cheshire, Naugatuck, Columbia, Eastford, Hebron, Windham, Region 8 school district, Sprague, Colchester, Andover, Deep River, Chester, Region 4 school district, Essex, Norwich and Franklin. An official from the state department said that the majority of the school boards have received approval from their local school board to participate, as required by state law. She added it hasn’t been an issue so far getting board approval and districts have until today to get their school board to approve. Continue Reading →

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