Monthly Archives: January 2011

Malloy gives blood, and a word of advice

With more than 1,800 blood donations canceled in Connecticut because of recent severe weather, American Red Cross officials called the governor’s office, hoping Gov. Dannel P. Malloy could help spread the word about the need for donors. “He said, ‘I can do you one better,'” Paul T. Sullivan, CEO of the American Red Cross Connecticut Blood Services Region, said Monday. The donor-in-chief urges residents to give blood
The governor was on his way to donate a pint. “Seems like he’s a very hands on governor,” Sullivan said. Soon after, Malloy stepped into the reading room of the UConn School of Law’s William F. Starr Hall, scene of the campus blood drive and the latest gubernatorial public service announcement. Continue Reading →

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If ‘demography is destiny,’ Connecticut’s future is grim

Connecticut’s leaders are understandably obsessing over the state’s fiscal crisis, but a prominent economist warned Monday that the bigger and more difficult challenge to its long-term economic health is anemic population growth and an aging workforce. Barry Bluestone of Northeastern University told a Hartford audience that the state must continue smart-growth zoning policies that encourage denser, less expensive housing–a key factor in attracting a younger workforce. While politicians often focus on taxes and a regulatory environment, a chronic labor shortage is ultimately more destructive to a region’s business climate and its fiscal stability, Bluestone said. “Demography is destiny,” he told a forum organized by the Partnership for Strong Communities: “How the States Will Fight for Young Workers and Economic Growth.” Connecticut’s population is projected to grow by just 2.7 percent over the rest of the decade, only 30 percent as much as the United States. Continue Reading →

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DeLauro holds a front-line position in coming budget battles

WASHINGTON–Rep. Rosa DeLauro has snagged one of the most coveted committee assignments for the coming Congress. But it couldn’t have come at a worse time. She will be the top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees labor, health, education, and myriad other federal programs. The panel is charged with divvying up billions of dollars for some of the Democrats’ most cherished initiatives–from Head Start to Pell Grants to low-income heating assistance and the National Institutes for Health. “This committee has some of the nation’s highest priorities and moral obligations–providing health care services, educating kids, fighting disease, strengthening job training,” the 3rd District Democrat said. But she is taking the ranking-member slot at a time when those programs are directly in the sights of the new House Republican majority. Continue Reading →

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Towns, unions headed for a showdown over prevailing wage

For nearly two decades, state-mandated wage levels for public construction projects have been a topic of heated debate between municipalities and labor unions. Now, with Connecticut facing a record-setting budget deficit and 9 percent unemployment, both sides are hopeful that economic factors will push the debate in their favor. Town leaders say the current system imposes millions of dollars in unaffordable labor charges on property taxpayers whenever communities want to renovate a firehouse or construct a public works facility. Labor leaders counter that this system is one of Connecticut’s most effective safeguards against a growing number of unscrupulous contractors who rely on undocumented workers and illegal wage practices to exploit labor and undercut honest companies. “We know we have to look at this very seriously this year,” Sen. Edith G. Prague, D-Columbia, co-chairwoman of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, said. Continue Reading →

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The Reagan centennial: Assessing the Gipper

Ronald Reagan was born 100 years ago next Sunday, and the upcoming centennial–as well as tributes from President Obama and other unlikely sources–is generating much commentary. A sample:
Reagan had less to do with the fall of Communism than his devotees believe today, Walter Shapiro says at Politics Daily, and conservatives have conveniently airbrushed his “tax-code apostasy.” Still, he was and remains a compelling figure. “What Reagan conveyed — especially when talking about Communism — was a moral earnestness that no other modern politician could match.” Much of what has been written about the parallels between Reagan and Obama has focused the similarity of their first two years in office–historic recessions, deep unemployment and humbling losses in their first midterm elections, John Tierney says at The Atlantic. Continue Reading →

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Jepsen lets assistant AGs into the sunlight

Attorney General George Jepsen is taking pains not to criticize his predecessor and fellow Democrat, Richard Blumenthal, but he is quickly showing some stylistic differences in his first month in office. For one thing, Jepsen is acknowledging the work of his subordinates. As was the case in today’s announcement of a $4.25 million antitrust settlement with two reinsurance brokers, Guy Carpenter & Company and Excess Reinsurance Company,  a common element of press releases from his office is a mention of the assistant attorneys general who worked on the case at hand:
“Jepsen said the settlement was the result of exemplary work by Assistant Attorneys General Joseph Nielsen, Gary Becker and paralegal Holly MacDonald who investigated and litigated the case under the direction of Assistant Attorney General Michael Cole, chief of the Antitrust Department.”   Continue Reading →

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In tough times, states and unions face off

As governors all over the country prepare to deal with huge budget deficits, public employee union contracts and benefits are coming under increasing scrutiny, Melissa Maynard reports at Stateline.org. Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy won election last year with strong union support, but he also has promised to seek $2 billion in cuts to the state budget. Connecticut ranks 2nd in the nation in union membership of public-sector employees–64.4 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.   Continue Reading →

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Malloy: Raise kindergarten age even without expanded pre-school

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday the state should move to increase the minimum age for kindergarten, without waiting until it can afford expanded pre-school for low-income students whose public education is delayed. “I think we should be setting the age based on what we know about the likelihood of success, or increased opportunities for success, based on appropriately aged and grouping students,” he said in an interview. The proposal, made originally by former Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan, is now incorporated in proposed bills that will have a public hearing sometime in February. The idea is to narrow the age range for students in kindergarten, which now includes children from 4 to almost 7 years old. Malloy and other education officials said such a wide developmental range makes it difficult to meet the needs of all the children in the class. Continue Reading →

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New D.C. power structure on display at Hartford rail forum

The new realities of Washington politics came to Hartford today as rail advocates and congressional Democrats publicly courted a Republican critic of Amtrak and President Obama’s vision of a national rail network. The GOP takeover of the House means that a key railroad subcommittee now is in the hands of U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., who believes that Amtrak should shed unprofitable routes and that Obama must focus his mass-transit goals. U.S. Rep. John Larson introduces U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa. The good news for Connecticut is that Shuster sees the Northeast Corridor stretching from Washington through New England as exactly where investing federal infrastructure dollars on rail makes sense. “It’s essential we have a success story,” said Shuster, the featured guest at a high-speed rail forum organized by U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District. Continue Reading →

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In attack on health reform, Republicans target Medicare advisory board

WASHINGTON–When it comes to political targets, the Independent Payment Advisory Board has a lot to offer. Sure, it might sound like a benign, obscure federal panel, a backwater of health care reform that almost no one has heard of. But it’s bureaucratic. It’s unelected. And it has a lot of power-or it will, anyway, when its members are actually appointed and it gets up and running. Continue Reading →

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Did uprising of junior Democrats benefit Blumenthal?

Junior Senate Democrats waged a behind-the-scenes campaign to shake up the committee assignment process and snag some plum seats on panels ordinarily dominated by veterans, Ryan Grim reports at Huffington Post. Their goal was to free up spots on what are termed the “Super-A” committees: Appropriations, Finance, Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Commerce. These committees not only handle important legislation, but they also have jurisdiction over major industries that do business before Congress–a plus when it comes to campaign fund-raising. The effort succeeded to a degree, with assignments shuffled to give Super-A seats to newer members–including freshman Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who landed on the Armed Services Committee. Continue Reading →

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Jepsen, Google and Data Privacy Day

What are you doing for Data Privacy Day? Attorney General George Jepsen marked the day — Friday, Jan. 28 — by joining Jerry Farrell, the consumer protection consumer, in reaching a settlement with Google regarding information the internet giant must provide about its privacy breach. The deal resolves Google’s objection to a civil investigative demand,  the equivalent of subpoena, issued by the state in its continuing investigation into the company’s collection of data from unsecured wireless networks in 2008 and 2009. Google now acknowledges that it collected the data, including emails, as its specially equipped cars roamed through neighborhoods taking photographs for its “Street View” mapping site. Continue Reading →

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Malloy cuts three posts held by former Rell staffers

State agencies dismissed three more holdovers this week from former Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s administration. But unlike some earlier dismissals, this week’s firings did not question the applicants’ credentials, but rather cited ongoing efforts to eliminate positions. Nora Duncan, 37, of Manchester, was let go as legislative program manager for the Department of Public Works. “It has been determined that the position of legislative program manager at the department … will not be filled at this time,” the agency wrote in its dismissal letter. Continue Reading →

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Malloy: CSU’s Krapek may have read ‘the writing on the wall’

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday he did not seek the resignation of the chairman of Connecticut State University System’s Board of Trustees, but said he wasn’t surprised by Karl Krapek’s decision in light of CSU’s “real tough year.” “I can certainly understand given the trials and trepidations of that board and some of the decisions they’ve made in the last year that he opted to resign,” Malloy said. “I think everyone is capable of reading the writing on the wall, and sometimes that writing doesn’t exist but maybe they’re just ahead of it.” Malloy said he did ask for resumes of members of various boards, including CSU’s, with an eye to eventual reorganization. “How that got interpreted, or what people thought of that, I cannot control,” he said. Continue Reading →

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Budget crisis could impact higher ed’s fiscal autonomy

With state officials staring at the worst deficit in Connecticut history, and public colleges and universities still reeling from a series of public fiscal embarrassments, the broad budgetary flexibility higher education has enjoyed for more than two decades could begin to shrink–but not without a fight. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said this week that his new administration won’t have time before his Feb. 16 budget plan is due to thoroughly analyze the system that allows higher ed units to manage three-quarters of the $2.9 billion they control outside of the state appropriation process. But the governor and his budget director, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, said that given the scope of the state’s fiscal crisis, the legislature and the administration should take a closer look at all of these dollars before the 2011 session ends in June. “I think we need to have some pretty close scrutiny over every section of government,” Barnes said following a Capitol budget forum. Continue Reading →

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