Monthly Archives: February 2012

Senate sends FOI fix to Malloy’s desk

An emergency fix to Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law — crafted without a public hearing or committee review — was headed to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s desk following Wednesday’s unanimous Senate vote. The measure, designed to clear legal obstacles blocking the release of voter lists and other omnibus public registries, has been criticized by right-to-know advocates who argue that it offers little security to the protected public employees it is designed to safeguard. “This bill attempts to strike a balance” between the public’s right to know and government’s efforts to safeguard police officers, prison guards and other employees in sensitive roles, said Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, co-chairwoman of the Government Administration and Elections Committee. The measure, which the House adopted 120-11 last week, was crafted in response to last June’s state Supreme Court ruling, which held that a statute barring disclosure of home addresses of protected employees applied to the motor vehicle registration lists that communities use to prepare property tax bills. Based on that ruling, legislators said it became clear that the statute also would apply to other common governmental databases, including voter registration lists. Continue Reading →

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Republicans recoil at emergency zoning bill for Milford

The Senate voted 22 to 12 on Wednesday for final passage of emergency legislation that negates a court decision involving a Milford project and restores local zoning control over solid-waste facilities. Overcoming a general aversion to curtailing home-rule, every Republican senator voted no except Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, and Sen. Michael McLachlan, R-Danbury, whose city is fighting a proposal for a second waste-transfer station. “It affects a case in Danbury,” McLachlan said, succinctly explaining his break with the GOP caucus. “Having said that, I’m not at all comfortable with the process.” The bill sped to a vote in the House last week and the Senate Wednesday without review by any legislative committee or being subjected to a public hearing, a rush designed to stop final permitting of the expansion of Milford recycling facility. Continue Reading →

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After cold shoulder from Malloy, ICE announces arrests of 40 criminal aliens in Connecticut

Days after a public disagreement with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration over enforcement issues, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 40 criminal aliens in Connecticut, the agency announced Wednesday. But the administration is making no claims of retaliation like those that dogged ICE in 2007, when agents rounded up illegal immigrants in New Haven soon after the administration of Mayor John DeStefano issued them identification cards. In fact, the federal government recently paid $350,000 to 11 people arrested in those New Haven raids in 2007. The defendants complained that agents forcibly entered their homes without warrants. ICE announced Wednesday that it arrested 45 aliens in Connecticut and Massachusetts in a four-day operation that ended Monday. Continue Reading →

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Mission of Mercy dental clinic coming to Danbury in March

This year’s Connecticut Mission of Mercy, the annual free dental clinic that draws thousands of state residents seeking oral health care, will be held March 23 and 24 in Danbury. The clinic will begin at 6 a.m. each day and will be held at the O’Neill Center at Western Connecticut State University’s West Side Campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension. Care will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The Mission of Mercy dental clinics, now held in more than a dozen states, are intended to provide care to people who need it and to raise awareness of the need for better access to dental care. Continue Reading →

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Fail: standardized tests landing too many students in college remedial courses

Questions are being raised about the validity of the standardized tests that land 70 percent of the state’s community college students in non-credit remedial courses before they can start taking courses that will count toward their degree. “There has been relatively little research whether such exams are valid,” researchers from Columbia University’s Teachers College wrote in a report released Tuesday. “Placement tests do not yield strong predictions of how students will perform in college”
These findings come as Connecticut’s Higher Education Committee considers a bill that would prevent the state’s community colleges and Connecticut state universities from forcing students to first take these non-credit remedial courses. The cost to the state to have these remedial courses is steep: $84 million a year, according to the New England Board of Higher Education. Continue Reading →

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CEO’s price for a ‘boorish’ night out: Six million bucks

TicketNetwork jumped out of the First Five program as it was about to be pushed. As a consequence of the arrest of CEO Donald Vaccaro, the company announced today it was withdrawing from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s signature economic development program at a loss of more than $6 million in state aid. “TicketNetwork is regrettably withdrawing from the state’s First Five program,” said Andra Mazur, the company’s counsel. “Due to the personal incident involving our CEO Don Vaccaro, we feel that it is necessary to respectfully withdraw from the FirstFive program in an earnest attempt at preserving our future relationship with the state.” Vaccaro issued a statement yesterday saying he was stepping down and seeking alcohol counseling after his drunken arrest at a chartiy party, where he is accused of groping women, but it came a little late. Continue Reading →

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Malloy, Donovan, Williams circle on minimum wage

Witnesses presented data, charts and white papers Tuesday about the impact of a proposal that could give Connecticut the nation’s highest minimum wage, but the fate of the bill rests on a three-way conversation that hasn’t happened yet. House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, the sponsor of the politically charged bill, has yet to open negotiations with two fellow Democrats: a publicly reticent Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr.
“At some point, there will be a meeting, and a decision on this will be made,” said Rep. Joseph Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, a deputy speaker. House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan
Malloy and Williams are openly skeptical about raising the minimum wage a year after the legislature approved two key benefits for low-wage workers: an earned-income tax credit and the first-in-the-nation state mandate for paid sick days. But the minimum wage is Donovan’s marquee issue in his last year as speaker, a session that he hopes will be a springboard to his winning a Democratic primary for Congress in the 5th District in August. Malloy could use a friend in the speaker’s office as he tries to win passage of what he hopes will be his signature achievement for 2012: education reforms that include limits on tenure, a decidedly unwelcome election-year issue for many Democrats. Continue Reading →

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Malloy stirs up feds with immigration policy

Washington — Gov. Dannel Malloy’s announcement that he will decide whether to turn over detained immigrants to federal authorities has landed with a thud in Washington. “We expect all local law enforcement to honor all of our detainers,” said Ross Feinstein, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Malloy has joined a few other Democratic governors, including Massachusetts’ Deval Patrick and Illinois’ Pat Quinn, who are trying to resist an Obama administration policy called Secure Communities. State and local law enforcement agencies submit fingerprints of those arrested to the FBI. Secure Communities allows the FBI to share that arrest information with ICE and other federal agencies wiith the aim of finding iillegal immigrants the fedeal government wants to deport. Continue Reading →

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Key lawmaker says retroactive fix to Bridgeport school takeover unlikely

Following the Supreme Court’s rejection of the state’s takeover of Bridgeport’s Board of Education, the leader of the legislature’s education committee said the chances for a retroactive fix is unlikely. “I have serious doubts whether I or other legislators will continue such language. The matter has been dealt with and it’s closed. The Supreme Court has ruled,” state Rep. Andy Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, said. The Supreme Court ruled late Tuesday that the State Board of Education violated the law when it ousted the elected Bridgeport board last July. Continue Reading →

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Malloy calls liquor price controls “ghastly, unfair”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today strongly defended his revised liquor reforms as a big step toward increasing competition in an industry now sheltered by state law to a degree that is “quite un-American.” As hundreds gathered in the adjacent Legislative Office Building for a public hearing on the proposal, Malloy told reporters that the state’s strict controls on price and competition are anti-consumer and drive business across the borders. “For Connecticut’s citizens to be as badly punished as they have been as a result of this minimum pricing structure is ghastly, unfair and has driven business from our state, causing us to lose jobs.” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy
Since the day he announced his proposal a month ago, Malloy said its focus was price and competition, not another aspect that immediately drew public attention: the end of a ban on Sunday liquor sales. “I want to be very clear,” he said today. Continue Reading →

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Sunday liquor sales debate evolves into competing visions of prosperity and despair

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that two states, including Connecticut, ban Sunday liquor sales.  In fact, 13 states, including Connecticut, have such a ban  — Editor
 
The battle to legalize Sunday liquor sales completed its evolution Tuesday into conflicting visions of prosperity and despair. On one side, liquor wholesalers, major retailers, new groups looking to sell beer, wine and spirits, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration told a legislative panel that proposed changes would bolster the economy and drive down some of the highest liquor costs in the country. On the other side, the long-standing chief lobbyist for Connecticut’s package stores predicted that changes offered by the Malloy administration — not the institution of Sunday sales but rather measures expanding competition — would eventually eliminate more than 8,000 small business jobs. While calling alcohol a “unique product” subject to “complex and long-standing” regulatory laws, Malloy wrote in testimony to the General Law Committee that the status quo no longer reflects “modern-day realities.” Continue Reading →

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Malloy plans forums on education — and messaging

A day after a compromise meant to neutralize liquor reforms as an issue, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will try today to further focus the press, public and legislature on education reforms that are his top priority in 2012. Malloy has overcome his staff’s resistance and intends to announce a series of free-wheeling education forums modeled after last year’s 17 town-hall style budget meetings that took him to every community with a daily newspaper. “He is his own best sales person,” said Roy Occhiogrosso, his senior adviser. “To not maximize that natural ability he has to engage with people is just insane.” His announcement is a tacit admission that education reform, including changes in teacher tenure that are setting up a clash between a Democratic governor and unions, has not dominated the news the way the administration had hoped. Continue Reading →

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Malloy offers plan to shield judges’ salaries from political debates

Connecticut’s judges, who have been trying for the last five years to remove their salaries from the political arena, might have their best chance to do so now through legislation offered by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Although the governor’s bill still allows legislators to block raises, a new, appointed Commission on Judicial Compensation would have chief responsibility for ordering pay increases. “The objective under this law is to de-politicize the manner in which judicial compensation is considered by the legislature,” said Andrew J. McDonald, the governor’s general counsel. State judges, whose pay last increased in 2007, have no fixed schedule or system for raises, which are granted at the discretion of the General Assembly. The legislature receives an annual report from the Commission on Compensation for Elected State Officials and Judges. Continue Reading →

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Leapin’ Leo! Canty is running for the state House

Leo Canty, the longtime union leader and Windsor Democratic Town Committee chairman, has jumped into the race for the newly drawn 5th Assembly District, even though he is white and the new district is one of just seven state House districts that are at least 50 percent black. Canty pushed hard to get a Windsor-based district in the redistricting finalized in November, but he seemed to suggest then that the victory would not prompt him to run again. He ran against Rep. David Baram, D-Bloomfield, in 2010. But he’s got a website and a plea for small-dollar campaign cash. His mottos: “A Democrat for the 99 percent” and “Leap Forward with Leo!”   Continue Reading →

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