Monthly Archives: September 2012

Paul Ryan in Connecticut: big bucks, low profile

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan hit Connecticut campaign ATMs in West Hartford, Darien and Greenwich on Sunday. He had no public events, and press access was limited to pool coverage of the event in Darien, which was expected to generate $800,000 for the Romney-Ryan ticket. Tickets were $1,000 for general reception, $5,000 for a photo, and $10,000 to attend a roundtable talk at the Woodway Country Club. The other events were at the homes of Arnold Chase in West Hartford and state Sen. L. Scott Frantz in Greenwich. The Romney campaign gave no estimate on revenue expected from the three events, but a former Republican state senator, Jamie McLaughlin, gave a pool reporter the $800,000 estimate for the Darien party. Continue Reading →

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Over two campaigns, a vagueness trails McMahon

Linda McMahon’s fuzziness on the minimum wage allowed Democrats to put her on the defensive late in her first campaign for U.S. Senate in 2010, casting the Republican millionaire as tone deaf on a poverty issue.Democrat Chris Murphy tried a similar tack this week on a far more explosive issue, arguing to the media and voters that McMahon has made a far more significant gaffe with her ambiguous call for a “sunset” review of Social Security.Murphy’s interpretation seems a stretch: He translated McMahon’s comments as a stunning proposal to phase out the only income many Americans can expect in retirement — in other words, an act of political suicide.”Clearly, I am not looking in any way to phase out Social Security,” McMahon said.But over two campaigns for U.S. Senate in 2010 and 2012, it is not always clear what McMahon means when talking about Social Security, Medicare, or other fiscal issues, including her take on Paul Ryan’s controversial approach to federal spending.McMahon flirts with a wide range of approaches toward solvency for Medicare and Social Security, a stance she says would allow her to participate in bipartisan negotiations if elected to succeed Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman. (To be fair to McMahon, President Obama has displayed a similar flexibility.)But she ultimately shrinks from specific plans, especially when they bring controversy. In interviews Thursday and Friday, McMahon and her communication director, Todd Abrajano, were more emphatic about what McMahon doesn’t mean than what she does.”I think we have to put everything on the table and take a look at it,” McMahon said of GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s controversial ideas about controlling federal spending, including privatizing Medicare.Abrajano, in a separate interview, said that doesn’t mean McMahon is open to transforming Medicare into a voucher program that would give seniors to money to buy their own health coverage. Her willingness to put them “on the table” only signified that everyone should be free to offer their ideas, he said.Her defense of her Social Security sunset remarks make clear that she opposes killing Social Security, but they raise other questions about her grasp of the threats to the program’s solvency.In McMahon’s view, as expressed during the candidate’s forum five months ago and again this week, one of the problems with Social Security is that the program is not subjected to a rigorous review.”We cannot continue doing things the way we are doing with Social Security. We’re just simply going to be bankrupt,” McMahon said in April. Continue Reading →

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State Democrats bash McMahon, Roraback on senior issues

Hartford — There’s evidence President Obama is gaining ground on Mitt Romney by bashing GOP Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system. Local Democrats are using the same attack on GOP candidates Linda McMahon and Andrew Roraback. In a telephone press conference Friday, U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Chris Murphy, D-5th District, said Ryan, who will visit Connecticut on Sunday to host three fundraisers,  “is coming with a clear message for America’s seniors” — an end to Medicare as we know it. Murphy said Ryan’s plan to give seniors vouchers to buy private insurance or a traditional Medicare plan would force them to pay more than $6,000 out of pocket to cover all of their medical expenses.  He tied McMahon, his Republican rival for a U.S. Senate seat, to Ryan’s controversial plan. Continue Reading →

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Responding to commuters, Malloy and DOT create ‘advisory panel’ for garage

Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce in his hometown of Stamford yesterday, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced that the state Department of Transportation would form an “advisory panel” to counsel the agency on plans to replace an aging parking garage at the city’s train station, the state’s busiest. “The goal of this project is to provide the commuters of the Stamford region with a state-of-the-art parking structure that will deliver more parking, accessibility for commuters and travelers of all modes,” Malloy said in a statement. The announcement follows a story Thursday on The Mirror’s website. The story reported heavy criticism from commuters, state legislators and Stamford officials, all of whom felt pushed aside as the DOT prepares to accept proposals from developers who will not be named, and whose proposals will remain a secret, until a final one is picked at the end of the year. Because the state owns and operates the train station, the DOT is leading the project. Continue Reading →

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Esty raises money from old friends; Roraback looks for new ones

Democratic congressional candidate Elizabeth Esty’s resume is a road map to much of her fundraising, but her rival for the 5th District seat, Andrew Roraback, is taking a different path that includes reaching out to a powerful state organization. Former colleagues at Harvard and Yale law school have given Esty campaign money. So have fellow lawyers she’s worked with and friends and neighbors in her hometown of Cheshire. As of July 25, for instance, more than 30 employees of Washington, D.C., law firm Sidley Austin contributed a total of nearly $26,000 to Esty’s campaign, making the law firm one of Esty’s top sources of money. Esty worked briefly for Sidley Austin in the late 1980s. Continue Reading →

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McCain to campaign Monday with McMahon

You won’t see her with Paul Ryan, the 2012 vice presidential nominee on his visit to Connecticut this weekend, but Linda McMahon is campaigning Monday with Sen. John McMain, the 2008 presidential nominee. McMahon and McCain will campaign in Danbury at noon at the Disabled American Veterans Hall, then at the Norwalk Inn and Conference Center. McCain, who defeated Mitt Romney in the 2008 GOP primary in Connecticut, is the third GOP senator to visit on McMahon’s behalf. Continue Reading →

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Hartford to host international multiple sclerosis symposium

Hartford will become the stage for an international symposium on Multiple Sclerosis next weekend as clinicians, researchers, educators and philanthropists from around the world gather to look for ways to collaborate on research, improve care and advocate for patients. Thirty speakers, including researchers from Belgium and Canada, will give presentations during the three-day event Oct. 4-6 at the Connecticut Convention Center. Topics covered will include rehabilitation research, multiple sclerosis epidemiology, genetics, repair and regenerative science, diet, symptom management and personal financial management. The conference is being sponsored by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care & Neuroscience Research at Mount Sinai Hospital. Continue Reading →

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GAO on climate change and power grid case

The Government Accountability Office has been called on by Congress to have a look at the how well the nation’s energy infrastructure can handle the ramifications of climate change. The Senate Environment and Public Works committee’s Oversight Subcommittee and the Senate Finance Committee requested the work, according to a letter sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission a week ago. It was one of eight sent to various agencies and offices including the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The request comes on the heels of record heat and drought through much of the country this summer that stressed many water-based cooling systems used at nearly all U.S. power plants. Most notably – Connecticut’s Millstone Nuclear Power Station’s Unit 2 shut down for 12 days because of higher than allowed intake-water temperatures in Long Island Sound. Continue Reading →

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Ryan coming to Connecticut to collect checks, not votes

The Romney-Ryan team loves Connecticut Republicans — for their money. They just don’t want to spend any time in public with them. Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan has at least three events in Connecticut on Sunday, but they all are private fundraisers. Jerry Labriola, the state GOP chairman, declined comment when asked about any disappointment over Ryan staying under the radar as he sprints from West Hartford to Darien to Greenwich collecting checks. Ryan will start the day at the home of Arnold Chase atop Avon Mountain and work his way south to the Greenwich home of state Sen. Scott Frantz, Labriola said. Continue Reading →

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Murphy: McMahon would ‘phase out Social Security’

Hartford — Democrat Chris Murphy pounced Thursday on a video of Republican Linda McMahon saying five months ago she believed in “sunset provisions” and periodic reviews for major programs like Social Security. “This morning we learned that Linda McMahon wants to phase out Social Security,” Murphy told an audience at a senior center in the city’s North End, a talking point Democrats are certain to pursue in the U.S. Senate campaign. McMahon’s campaign said their candidate only proposed a periodic review of Social Security, not subjecting it to an actual sunset provision: a deadline for its expiration, unless reauthorized by Congress. “She didn’t mean sunset in terms of what most people typically think of a sunset provision of a bill,” said Todd Abrajano, her communication director. McMahon made her comment during a public forum sponsored by the tea party in April before an audience of 80 in Waterford Town Hall. Continue Reading →

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Rant & Rail

I’m fed up with driving. I’m fed up with congestion, with traffic lights, with jaywalkers, with gas prices. So on this page, I’ll be chronicling my experiences using anything but a car to get from here to there. I’ll try to get myself to the train or bus station; then I’ll try to read the tiny print on those endlessly changing transit schedules. I’ll walk if I can, and I might even try to lug my bike on the train. Continue Reading →

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Report: Many nonprofits that help the needy near fiscal cliff

One in six nonprofit organizations that care for foster children, the elderly and those with disabilities has drained its rainy day funds, a situation that the Governor’s Cabinet on Nonprofit Health and Human Services reports is worsening every year. Additionally, 72 percent of the state’s providers that serve thousands of residents report that any unexpected costs — a large spike in energy prices, for example — would force them out of business. The situation has forced many providers to cut their workers’ wages so much that many employees of nonprofit groups qualify for state assistance. “Providers have seen a significant change in their financial position,” says the report, which was approved unanimously by the cabinet this week. (Read the report: Part 1 and Part 2.) The panel includes a mix of state agency commissioners and leaders of nonprofit groups. Continue Reading →

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As government funding dwindles, so may public disclosure

As Connecticut struggles to maintain and upgrade its aging infrastructure, residents may be faced with a choice:
* To pay less for expensive public works projects, and know very little about who’s building them or what they will look like;
* Or, to know more about how they’re being built and who’s building them, but pay more. In this day of tighter budgets and less federal help, they may not be able to have both. As state and local coffers have dwindled, public officials nationwide have embraced the “public-private partnership” — often referred to as P3 — where a public agency involves the private sector in designing and putting up the financing for public projects. P3s have been touted as a way to save money and get things done in an era of raging deficits and public distaste for government spending. Connecticut has just started to dabble in them. Continue Reading →

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Himes says he’ll roll out the red carpet for Paul Ryan

Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan is the featured guest at several Connecticut fundraisers Sunday that aim to raise money for the Romney-Ryan campaign and the national Republican Party. Two fundraisers will be in Fairfield County. But Democrat Rep. Jim Himes, who is running for re-election in Fairfield County, the 4th Congressional District, is not concerned about the visit of the Republican heavy-hitter to the heart of his district. In fact, Himes said, he’ll roll out the red carpet for him. “Having Ryan come here and talk about his budget is the best thing that could happen to Democrats in the state,” Himes said. Continue Reading →

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If Malloy had a magic wand…

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told school superintendents Thursday that before some of them come knocking at his door for more state funding, they should first be asking their local leaders for more support. “Yes, I would like to see more money, but I don’t have a magic wand,” he told a roomful of superintendents at their annual conference in Plantsville. “You know some of the school districts represented in this room will point to the state and say, ‘We are not getting as much money as we should.’ But then I can point out to you that your mill rates… are a lot smaller than other districts in the state. Continue Reading →

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