Thursday, September 29, 2011

New ConnCAN report analyzes Connecticut graduation rate data

The ConnCAN media release is below. Click on the actual report (see link below) to find your own town's standings. ConnCAN relies on a methodology much more accurate than that used by Connecticut State Board of Education number crunchers. The chart that records reporting differences between the state and the more accurate figures  is itself an eye opener. ConnCAN, here and elsewhere, shows itself to be the primary educational watchdog in the state.

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Massive racial gaps persist; substantial economic impact on state

NEW HAVEN—Today, ConnCAN released a new issue brief, “Connecticut Graduation Rates.” Using data from the Class of 2008 (the most recent year for which numbers are available), the brief analyzes graduation rates by race and gender, in Connecticut and nationally. The brief also discusses the economic and social impact of not graduating from high school prepared for college and careers.

Click here to read the "Connecticut Graduation Rates" report:


Key points include:

The statewide graduation rate has not improved since 2003: every year, 9,000 Connecticut high schoolers do not graduate – nearly enough students to fill UConn’s Gampel Pavilion.

The graduation rate gap between Hispanic and white (non-Hispanic) students is 31.8 points; the gap between African-American and white students is 22.5 points.

Dropouts from the Class of 2008 will lose more than $2.5 billion in lifetime earnings because they lack a high school diploma.

The State of Connecticut spends $84 million a year on college remediation in basic subjects because 65-72 percent of state college and university students enter college ill-prepared for the work.

As in previous years, this analysis also draws attention to the differences in graduation rates calculated by the Connecticut State Department of Education and Education Week’s Diplomas Count report, which uses a much more accurate “cohort-based” methodology for calculating graduation rates. Last year, the State Department of Education announced that it will begin to use the same methodology to generate more accurate graduation rates beginning with data from the Class of 2009.

“This brief emphasizes yet again the need for fundamental change in Connecticut’s public education system,” said Alex Johnston, ConnCAN’s CEO. “We cannot afford to lose 9,000 students every year. We cannot continue to spend so much time and money in remediation classes for the students who enter college unprepared for post-secondary work. Only by pursuing structural reforms, including policies to guarantee all public school students fair funding for their education and a great teacher every year, will Connecticut be able to graduate all its students equipped for the challenges of college and careers.”


The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) is an advocacy organization building a movement of concerned Connecticut citizens working to create fundamental change in our education system. To learn more, visit: http://www.conncan.org/.

CONTACT:


Jennifer Alexander, Director of Research & Policy

jennifer.alexander@conncan.org


Mobile: (202) 423-5590

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

McMahon’s Second Throw Of The Dice

Linda McMahon having thrown her hat once again into the political ring, the question arises: What are her chances? Mrs. McMahon will run for Senator Joe Lieberman’s soon to be vacant seat in the U.S. Congress.

On the left, the media once again is preparing to draw their long knives from their scabbards. Mrs. McMahon’s background as CEO of World Wide Wrestling, since renamed World Wide Entertainment (WWE), has freed much of the left of the necessity of thinking seriously about her positions, such as they are and will be, on important issues of the day. In lieu of reasoned criticism, Video clips of Man Mountain Indian wrestler Dalip Singh Rana hoisting a victim over his shoulders and slamming him to the mat may be deployed against her, as was the case in her last campaign.

The cast of characters this time around will be different: Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has moved up in the world into the U.S. Senate. He was a formidable opponent for a number of reasons. The Attorney General’s reputation as the St. George of Connecticut politics was difficult for any Republican candidate to overcome. His popularity, larger in Connecticut and more expansive than that of Dalip Singh Rana, much of which was self-generated in a twenty year series of seemingly endless, self-absorbed press releases, tends to clot the analytical synapses of voters’ brains. Going in, Mr. Blumenthal, trailing behind himself a cloud of military murk, enjoyed what turned out to be an insuperable advantage. Mr. Blumenthal lied, several times, concerning his service in the military. He said he had served in Vietnam when he had not and was called out by the New York Times and others. The imposture did him no good, but Mr. Blumenthal squirreled himself away from media stalkers and survived the ordeal un-decapitated. When as a newly minted senator Mr. Blumenthal applied for a position on a committee overseeing veterans, none of his comrades in the congress so much as blinked.

But Mr. Blumenthal is, as is said in the Icelandic sagas, “now out of the story.” And whatever may be said of Democrats vying for Lieberman’s seat, neither U.S. Rep Chris Murphy or his likely primary opponents are Mr. Blumenthal, including former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, whose rubberized reputation easily rebounds from blows that would shatter Mr. Dalip Singh Rana.

The 2012 campaign script is likely to be different as well.

President Barack Obama, the lodestone of the last presidential election, has, according to polls even in bluer than blue Connecticut, fallen out of favor. Mr. Obama’s positives have crashed along with the economy, and no one in Connecticut expects the economy to improve any time soon. The state was ten years recovering from the post-Lowell Weicker recession. The Obama recession will be deeper, longer and more intractable. As jobs go, so goes the presidency. Some so called “moderate” Democrats in the congressional delegation have put a three foot pole between themselves and their Democratic leader; as the economy continues to go sour, the pole, like Pinocchio’s nose, will elongate.

There are differences of strategy between Republicans and Democrats that easily could be exploited by Mrs. McMahon.

Democrats, as a general rule, are concerned with creating jobs, preferably stamped “made in Washington,” for they are not interested in fostering for example energy jobs tied to non-green producers they wish to discredit. Republicans generally busy themselves with increasing prosperity – not the same thing -- and continued prosperity depends to a large extent on an interrupted supply of developed and available energy products. Democrats want to regulate everything but government. Republicans are interested in regulating and reducing targeted rather than general governmental regulations they perceive as binding down a no longer competitive bound Gulliver, the private economy. Democratic programs of a “made in Washington” variety privatize the rewards of companies too big to fail, while at the same time socializing debt, which is assumed by taxpayers. Taxpayers thus bear the costs incurred by failed “too big to fail” companies, while earned profits, including taxpayer subsidies, are parceled out to failed CEOs and somnolent boards of directors.

In the next election, Republicans will be attempting to convert the above paragraph to an easily digestible bumper sticker?

The McMahon campaign must discover some means of corralling women’s votes. Mrs. McMahon very easily could surprise those in the legacy media who suppose her upcoming campaign will be a reprise of her previous losing battle by, for instance, unreeling three or four major speeches on topics of general interest that will satisfy the media’s lust for intellectual probity, not considered to be her strong suit. Those who know Mrs. McMahon well know she is a very quick study passionately committed to certain conservative propositions that just might surprise the state’s blue media. The bump on her – that there is no political there there – is a wildly exaggerated piece of Democratic campaign propaganda.

Monday, September 26, 2011

September Notes On A Failed State

People on the right and left tend to be interested in categorical clarity. The Democratic left dearly wants Democratic Party to means something different than the Republican Party, an ambition shared by those on the right. When the revolution finally arrives, so called moderates – protean shape shifters in both parties who are sometimes this, sometimes that – will all go to the wall should either group have its way.

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Moderation in New England is a failed enterprise. The last “moderate” representative in the U.S. Congress was Chris Shays. None of the members of Connecticut’s former U.S. Congressional delegation were men and women of the right. All were moderates. All have gone the way of the Pallid Beach Mouse, a darling critter native to Florida now thought to be extinct. The PBM disappeared sometime after elderly New Englanders began to flock to Florida in search of golf courses, a stable tax system, a sane regulatory environment and a non-predatory state government.

After his defeat at the hands of a “moderate” Democrat, present U.S. Rep Jim Himes, Shays shook the dust of Connecticut from his feet and moved south. The migratory instincts of the average New Englander have pushed the breed below the Mason-Dixon Line. Out of office politicians, if they are relatively young, still must put bread on the table, and there are resources to be “advantaged” near the Washington D.C. hub. When Chris Dodd, long a fixture in the U.S. Senate, finally threw in the towel, having decided he would not defend his seat against red in tooth and claw Republicans and lean and hungry Democrats, Mr. Dodd pronounced that he would never – no, never – accept a position as a lobbyist. A couple of months after this brave and uncompromising announcement, Mr. Dodd was recruited by Tinseltown to represent Hollywood before his regulatory fellows in the U.S. Senate. Instantly, he became a millionaire, exciting the envy of both Warren Beatty and U.S. Senator Harry Read.

In Connecticut, all the grey heads are gone. U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, the politician most reviled by the left in his state, will retire when his term is up, which will leave newly-minted Senator Dick (as he now prefers to be called) Blumenthal as the state’s senior senator. Mr. Blumenthal is little more than a highly decorated self-made mask.

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The state of the media in Connecticut remains what it always was, an annex of the Democratic Party. However, in our present one party state – following the successful gubernatorial election of then Dan (now Dannel) Malloy, the entire political structure of state government is owned by the Democratic Party – it becomes inconvenient for the publishers of newspapers to own up to their ideological bent and, here and there, one finds furtive attempts on the part of the media to show itself unbiased and non-partisan. These attempts usually end in farce.

A friend – let’s call him Soren -- who has written for the media for years puts it this way:

“Reporters, editors and publishers in the state, uniformly leftist, sometime plead that, while they have biases, they are capable of subduing them and writing fairly about political issues. It may be, but I think not. In any case, what is needed, in order to put before the public a balanced view of the political theatre, is an equal number of conservative actors in the media who, likewise, claim to be able to subordinate their political views. This is impossible – because the media in the state has become an ideologically incestuous club to which conservatives never have been invited. All the members of this exclusive club vote the same, think the same about political issues, sit in the same secular pew and, wearily day after day, preach the same sermon to a flock that has become hostile to their doxology. They are intellectual frauds. And they are the worst kinds of frauds – because they genuinely think themselves fair and impartial. The corrective for all this is ideological bifurcation. Forget altogether the false front of ideological disinterestedness – and just hire some conservative reporters and editors. The media in Connecticut will not do this, because those who live in a Potemkin Village prefer false fronts to quarrelsome households. At bottom, Connecticut’s media is a pretentious, autocratic fraud.”

This criticism may be a little severe, but it lies close to the nub.

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Dining with Otto. At the GoldRoc Diner in West Hartford – best sausages in the state – while eating breakfast, Otto (not his real name) leans over to me and protests in a breathless whisper, “It is important not to have an attractive waitress disturb your breakfast, especially when you are discussing political matters that demand focus.”

I agree, reluctantly. It is always fatal to discourse to disagree with Otto, because then he clams up. Best to let him jabber on. He’ll get to the point sooner or later. Sometimes there is no point. But why must pleasant conversations always end in a point?

“You must not allow Eros and politics to mix.”

“It would have been beneficial had whatshisname, the sex-texter U.S. Rep. in New York, (Anthony Weiner) followed that precept.”

Otto laughs, a rasp something between a cough and a snicker.

“Right. Weiner, perfect name.”

The waitress – not unpleasant looking, but no Hollywood knockout either – comes to take our order. She is efficient and quick.

“Just think of the fallen, and those serial divorce and marriage politicians who have given way to Eros. I’ve been reading Hesiod.”

“And you, a respected politician. Haven’t you got better things to do? The stock market collapsed again yesterday.”

“Well, you know that Hesiod was one of the oldest of all Greek sources. According to him, Eros was a primeval god, the fourth god to come into existence; he follows Chaos, Gaia and Tararus. And Parmenides, supposedly the world’s first philosopher, following Hesiod by 300 years, holds that Eros was the first of all the gods to come into existence. Such was Eros’ importance to the Greeks. Of course, the erotic idea is important for Christianity too. But our post pagan moderns don’t pay much attention to this disturber of the marital bed. You wonder: What will it take to make them pay sufficient attention, if not homage, to this ancient god.”

“Better schools? Large doses of Augustine? I don’t know.”

Just then, our breakfasts are brought to us by a Rubenesque, not unpleasant looking waitress. After she has left, Otto wonders whether she is enrolled in a weight loss class.

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Linda McMahon a few days ago threw her hat once again into the political ring. She will run for Senator Joe Lieberman’s soon to be vacant seat in the U.S. Congress. On the left, the media is once again preparing to draw their long knives out of their scabbards. Mrs. McMahon’s background as CEO of World Wide Wrestling (WWW), since renamed World Wide Entertainment (WWE), has freed much of the left of the necessity of thinking seriously about her positions, such as they are and will be, on important issues. Video clips will be deployed against her, as was the case in her last campaign, in lieu of trenchant criticism.

The cast of characters this time around will be different: Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has moved up in the world into the U.S. Senate. He was a formidable opponent for a number of reasons. The Attorney General’s reputation as the St. George of Connecticut politics was difficult for a Republican candidate to overcome. All that popularity, most of which was self-generated in a series of seemingly endless and self-absorbed press releases, tends to clot the analytical synapses of voters brains. Going in, Mr. Blumenthal, trailing behind himself a cloud of murk, enjoyed what turned out to be an insuperable advantage. Mr. Blumenthal lied, several times, concerning his service in the military. He said he had served in Vietnam when he had not and was caught out by the New York Times and others.





The imposture did him no good, but he hid out while some in the media were stalking him and survived the ordeal un-decapitated. When as a newly minted senator Mr. Blumenthal applied for a position on a committee overseeing veteran affairs, none of his comrades in the congress blinked. Mr. Blumenthal is now, as is said in the Icelandic sagas, “out of the story.” And whatever may be said of Democrats vying for Lieberman’s seat, neither of U.S. Rep Chris Murphy’s likely primary opponents, including former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, are Mr. Blumenthal.

The 2012 campaign script is likely to be different as well. President Barack Obama, the lodestone of the last presidential election, has, according to polls even in bluer than blue Connecticut, fallen out of favor. Mr. Obama’s positives have crashed along with the economy, and no one in Connecticut expects the economy to improve any time soon. As jobs go, so goes the presidency. Some so called “moderate” Democrats in the congressional delegation have put a three foot pole between themselves and their Democratic president; as the economy continues to go sour, the pole, like Pinocchio’s nose, will elongate.

___________________________


The difference between Republicans and Democrats: Democrats, as a general rule, are concerned with creating jobs, preferably stamped “made in Washington,” for they are not interested in fostering, for example, energy jobs tied to forms of energy they wish to discredit. Republicans are concerned with increasing prosperity, and continued prosperity depends to a large extent on an interrupted supply of developed energy products. Democrats want to regulate everything but government. Republicans are interested in regulating and reducing those governmental operations that they perceive as ties binding down a no longer competitive Gulliver, the private economy. Democratic programs of a “made in Washington” variety privatize the rewards of companies too big to fail, while at the same time socializing debt, which is assumed by taxpayers. Taxpayers thus bear the costs incurred by failed too big to fail companies while earned profits, including taxpayer subsidies, are parceled out to failed CEOs and somnolent boards of directors. In the next election, Republicans will be confronted with the following rhetorical conundrum: How to reduce the above paragraph to a bumper sticker?


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A Real Soldier. What follows is part of a brief biographical sketch of Justine Bernier, a Republican who is running for the U.S. Congress in Connecticut’s 5th District that compares favorably with the fictional bio of Senator Dick Blumenthal, here featured in an Australian documentary on stolen valor.
“Justin Bernier volunteered for military service after 9/11 and was commissioned in the U.S. Navy as an intelligence officer. Bernier served at the Defense Intelligence Agency and, in 2007, was mobilized for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He was stationed on the ground in Kabul and was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his service. After returning home from Afghanistan, Bernier was named Executive Director of the Office of Military Affairs by Governor M. Jodi Rell, and was unanimously confirmed by the state senate. Under Bernier’s leadership of the Office of Military Affairs, the State of Connecticut reached a historic agreement with the U.S. Navy in order to improve Submarine Base New London and avoid a future shutdown. Bernier also battled to pass legislation that would allow U.S. service members to vote electronically when deployed overseas. Bernier was Chairman of Connecticut's Military and Defense Advisory Council, an unpaid group of experts committed to helping the state's workers, veterans and military families. He also served on the state's Council on Education for Children in Military Families. Bernier is currently a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy reserve. He remains active in the veteran community as a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, an organization widely recognized for its charitable activities across Connecticut.”

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Governor Of Unions?

Governor Dannel Malloy banged the knuckles of some state unions when SEBAC, a coalition of union leaders, failed to pass what he called “Plan A,” a budget that some legislators friendly to unions thought was inordinately friendly to unions. Sen. Edith Prague, long a supporter of union interests, said at the time she thought union members who had voted down Plan A were mad to have spurned a plan so favorable to their interests.

The governor had concocted at the same time a default Plan B that simply was not a serious contractual proposal; Plan B was designed to bludgeon recalcitrant union members into voting for Plan A. Union leaders, at the behest of the governor, then unilaterally redrafted union rules so as to facilitate a favorable vote on a slightly readjusted Plan A. The intimidation, along with the compliance of union leaders, worked, and Plan A2 finally was adopted by unions months after the General Assembly, dominated by Democrats, had voted to pass Plan A.

There was some grumbling at the time among a few legislators conversant with the separation of power doctrine: They wondered whether, having voted to accept a budget that would in the near future be subject to alterations imposed on it by unions and the governor, they had in essence surrendered their constitutional obligations to an undemocratic plenipotentiary process. But their scruples were not inhibiting, and in due course a budget, thought by some to be out of balance even now, finally was set in concrete. Apparently, constitutional scruples in the constitution state are more easily disposed of now that the state has become a one party operation.

In mid-September, addressing the AFL-CIO annual convention at Foxwoods Casino Mr. Malloy sought to quell fears that the governor’s lifelong affection for unions hadf suffered a rupture. Previously, Mr. Malloy had been making cooing sounds in the direction of Connecticut’s larger business and awarding carefully selected firms millions of dollars as a part of his First Five Plan.

At the event, Mr. Malloy was praised by executive director of AFSCME Council 4 Sal Luciano for being one of the few governors in the nation that had decided to raise taxes to balance his budget. Mr. Luciano thought much of the anger over the concession agreement between unions and the governor could be traced to poor communications and pronounced himself pleased that the pro-union governor had not declared war on labor: “It’s the first time in a long time we’ve had a governor that hasn’t actively declared war on the labor movement.”

The governor was bathed in warm applause when, contrasting himself with other more brutal governors, he said the final agreement between unions and the executive office was a necessary linchpin “to making sure we did not have to take apart our higher educational system. That was a lynchpin to making sure we didn’t have to cut aid to every municipality in the state.”

Mr. Malloy “delivered” to unions recently by issuing an executive order that will pave the way for the unionization of day care workers and personal care attendants. The order, some queasy legislators say, violates an explicit separation of legislative and executive powers and may be Mr. Malloy’s way of further soothing union restiveness.

Following his soothing address before AFSCME, Mr. Malloy hopped down to Greenwich to assure hedge fund managers he was not, as they might have supposed wrongly from his address to AFSCME, antagonistic towards the captains of industry and Wall Street. The hedgies fear excessive regulation, and the governor showed up to soften their angst.

“There is too much regulation and decisions are made far too slowly,” the governor told the group in his keynote address at the Connecticut Hedge Fund Association’s Global Alpha Forum. “Let me very clear I’m not interested in more regulation. I’m trying to streamline regulation. We know the old adage that time is money… we need to move more rapidly and responsively.”

One newspaper noted that “In a further assurance to an industry that an audience member termed the state’s ‘crown jewel,’ Malloy said that he is not in favor of moving to regulate beyond federal policy.”

The governor gave no indication that he would be willing to work with Connecticut’s wall-to-wall Democratic congressional delegation to lop off the Dodd-Frank bill some regulatory hydra heads. Nor has he been asked by the legacy media whether he intends to lobby other Democrats in the U.S. Congress to pare back onerous federal regulations on behalf of his new hedgie friends. The locution – “Let me very clear I’m not interested in more…” – was last used by the governor in multiple pre-campaign speeches with reference to tax increases. As it turned out, Mr. Malloy was not unfriendly to new taxes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Will Lieberman’s Endorsement Of Shays Matter?

An endorsement by current U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman in the race for the senate seat he will vacate when his term expires just might, unlike the usual light-as-air endorsements of has-been politicians, carry some weight.

Mr. Lieberman is loathed by Democratic leftists in Connecticut. Hell hath no fury like that of a progressive scorned.

Progressive radicals, feeling their oats, were prepared to rejoice heartily and even strew a few rose petals at the senator’s feet had he yielded to them following the Lieberman-Lamont primary, which was won by progressive heartthrob Ned Lamont. Mr. Lieberman, however, was not prepared to go quietly into that good night of whipped politicians; and so, having lost the primary, he challenged Mr. Lamont in a three way general election – and won.

This was not the way to win friends and influence Connecticut progressives. If the progressive movement in Connecticut had an imam in it, a political fatwa would have been urged against Mr. Lieberman by progressives such as former Lamont campaign director Tom Swan, the head of the far left Connecticut Citizens Action Group (CCAG).

Mr. Lieberman’s political activity in the senate following his general election defeat of Mr. Lamont has only enraged the progressives further. While Mr. Lieberman, a professed Independent, has caucused with Democrats in the Senate, he has, on some issues of importance to progressives -- war and peace, for example -- gone his own way. Mr. Lieberman’s primary loss to Mr. Lamont , the senator claimed, liberated him to be his own man. In this, he has followed in the wake of another party-independent, former senator and governor, no-man-but-yours Lowell Weicker, infamous for using his party as a foil to advance his own political interests.

Now comes what may be Mr. Lieberman’s final bow-out blow – a possible endorsement of Republican Chris Shays for Mr. Lieberman’s’ soon to be open seat. According to a recent report in “The Hill,” Mr. Shays, who has announced he intends to challenge in a Republican primary former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, is a longtime friend and colleague of Mr. Lieberman.

Mr. Lieberman does carry some weight in what used to be called moderate wing of the Democratic Party, but in recent years that wing has been clipped by lean and hungry progressives, even as the moderate wing of the Republican Party has moved rightward. The political gap between Republicans and Democrats over the past couple of decades has not become deeper or wider; but as bridges continue to be burned, the gap becomes more and more unbridgeable. Friendly gestures across the political aisle are now considered treacherous displays of near treason by those in warring camps with knives in their brains. The vital center now has been cleft in two. There are two moderate centers, a remnant in New England within the Republican Party and a Southern moderate faction within the Democratic Party.

Mr. Shays is part of New England’s nearly vanished moderate Republican nub, and though he has said his eyes are fixed on the general election prize, he must get over the hump of a primary to compete in a general election. A world has changed since Mr. Shays last strutted his moderation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Losing a race to present U.S. Rep. Jim Himes in 2008, Mr. Shays, who following his defeat left Connecticut for points south, became the last Republican moderate in New England, the first time in almost 150 years that no Republican represented the New England states in the nation’s capital.

Some have accused Mr. Shays of being a carpetbagger, a foolish claim easily disposed of. The real sticking point is that, the political vectors having changed radically since Mr. Shays left the congress, time may have made of moderation a pointless exercise in futility.

Where is the point where a moderate may safely stand as Connecticut and the union both totter towards a Grecian denouement?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Clinton Stock Up, Obama Stock Down

(Inhale!) The most popular politician in the nation today is (Exhale slowly) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to a recent Bloomberg National Poll.

“Nearly two-thirds of Americans hold a favorable view of her and one-third are suffering a form of buyer’s remorse, saying the U.S. would be better off now if she had become president in 2008 instead of Barack Obama.”
The Tea Party figures are perhaps the most surprising:

“A plurality of Tea Party supporters -- 44 percent -- say the U.S. would be better off with Hillary Clinton as president, even though 59 percent of those respondents have an unfavorable impression of her.

“’She’s a more stable person who gets results,’ said Joseph Cherney, 67, a retired Republican automotive purchasing worker from Mineral Ridge, Ohio. ‘The president we have now isn’t much of a president because he really doesn’t do anything. He’s pompous and arrogant.’”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Greenberg Calls Upon Donovan To Quit Redistricting Committee

Mark Greenberg, a Republican running for the House in the 5th District, has called upon Chis Donovan, the Democratic Speaker of the state House running for the same seat, to step down from the redistricting commission that will recommend new borders for Connecticut’s five U.S. House of Representative districts.
The committee is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, and Mr. Donovan is the only member of the commission who will be seeking higher office.

Other members of the commission are:

Senator Martin Looney, (D, 11th District)
Representative Sandy Nafis, (D, Newington)
Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams, (D, 29th District)
Minority Leader Representative Lawrence Cafero, (R, 142nd District)
Senator Len Fasano, (R, 34th District)
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, (R, 28th District)
Representative Arthur O'Neill, (R, 69th District)


“Chris Donovan,” Mr. Greenberg noted in a press release, “is a declared candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 5th District and his participation on the redistricting commission is as blatant a conflict of interest as I have ever seen. In fact, I’m surprised that Chris does not see this for himself.

“A declared candidate sitting on the panel that is recommending new district boundaries gives the absolute worst appearance. Our elected officials must be committed to transparent and open government. By not stepping down, Chris Donovan is engaging in the same old back-room politics and seeking an unfair political advantage. If he refuses to step down, I believe Connecticut voters will see right through his true motives.”

Perhaps. But the true motives of any legislative mover in the General Assembly are hardly transparent. Mr. Donovan – the Speaker of the State House, a position comparable in influence to President of the Senate Don Williams, both of whom steer the business of the General Assembly – is hardly an equal among equals.

In the political barnyard, George Orwell noted in his novel “Animal Farm,” everyone is equal; but the pigs are more equal. Both the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House wield more influence than any other legislative members of the Gerrymander Commission.

So inordinate is Donovan's influence in the General Assembly that at times the Speaker has overturned the gubernatorial ambitions of both Republicans and Democrats. Last June, when SEBAC and Governor Dannel Malloy were pulling budgetary taffy, the coalition of state unions having rejected the governor’s Plan A, Mr. Malloy wanted the General Assembly (read: Mr. Donovan and Mr. Williams) to pass a bill that would calculate pension payouts without including overtime pay.

The bill passed in the Senate but met grief in the House when Mr. Donovan, long a step-and-fetch-it for unions, refused to bring it up for a vote.

Much later, after Mr. Malloy touched SEBAC with his cattle prod, forcing union leaders to accede to PlanA2, the governor was asked by Hartford Courant reporter Jon Lender what should happen now with the bill in the House.
While the SEBAC-Malloy-Donovan-Williams boosted from three to five years the pension calculation method employed for new employees hired since July, tens of thousands of employees were untouched by the more severe pension calculations – until 2022, ten years down the road.

Never mind, said Mr. Malloy, overtime in the future would be reduced through better management practices. Mr. Donovan, now running for the U.S. House in the Connecticut’s 5th District, no doubt appreciated Mr. Malloy’s accommodation. Mr. Donovan will need union support to give him an edge over his competitors in the upcoming election.


The now infamous Gerrymander – a district so shaped by influential politicians to give them an advantage they might not otherwise enjoy in a (small “d”) democratic election – was named after governor of Massachusetts Elbridge Gerry, who signed a bill that redrew state election districts, one of which was so distorted that it resembled in outline a salamander.


The Gerrymander Commission should not permit Mr. Donovan, the largest and most influential pig in the legislative barnyard, to shape a district he hopes to claim in a democratic election. Mr. Donovan is the only legislative member in the above list currently running in a U.S, Senate district that may change as a result of his participation in the committee over which he will wield, by virtue of his position as House leader, an inordinate influence.


Mr. Donovan should withdraw from the commission. Failing that, he should be booted out for the following reason: The Speaker’s participation will forever taint a process that should be non-partisan, fair and un-piggy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blumenthal’s Two Faces

A newspaper has noted in an editorial rough-up of U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal that energy costs in Connecticut are among the highest in the nation, owing in part to the former attorney general’s itchy trigger finger.


As an AG with attitude, Mr. Blumenthal, who even now understands little about how the free market works, very quickly intervened in a host of self-serving situations to prevent an increase in the supply of widely available energy products.


The easiest, quickest and most rational way to reduce the cost of a product is to increase its supply. When we have a surfeit of oranges or gas or any other consumable product, the price of the product is reduced and the consumer benefits from the abundant supply because his monthly costs are correspondingly reduced, which means he has more money to spend on products that may disappoint some politicians such as Mr. Blumenthal – say, gas guzzling cars or wine, women and song – but the trickling down to consumers of abundant low cost products is what keeps the country humming along.


When, during his successful run for the U.S. Senate, Mr. Blumenthal’s Republican opponent asked the attorney general to explain how a job was created, the poor thing, stumbling like a doe with its hoof caught in a snare, unreeled a tortuous and wrongheaded explanation. Mr. Blumenthal hobbled along on his shattered foot as best he could, but his answer suggested that all good and acceptable products would in the future be stamped “made in Washington D.C.”





As attorney general, Mr. Blumenthal’s quarrel with Connecticut’s energy suppliers centered upon the energy product itself; even now he regards some energy products – nuclear, oil derivatives and other affordable resources frowned upon by radical neo-pagan Greens – as the devil’s paw, toxic to Mother Earth and less friendly than, say, bird slaughtering wind turbines and other futuristic unaffordable and undeveloped energy sources.


If Mr. Blumenthal “was responsible for anything,” the paper observed, “it was choking off supply while demand was increasing, and that meant rising rates for families and businesses. Indeed, while he was attorney general, inflation-adjusted electric rates in the state rose almost six times faster than the national average.”


Now that Mr. Blumenthal has moved from the attorney general’s office to the U.S. Senate, he is finding it difficult to leave behind his old public persona. Old habits die hard. The new face Mr. Blumenthal will unveil as he progresses up the Beltway ladder -- a senator “who is willing to work hard for Connecticut” -- is yet in its fetal stage. The new mask is not yet in place on either of Mr. Blumenthal’s faces.


And so, when Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) intimated it might raise rates to cover losses from the recent tropical storm, an unforgiving and relentless Mr. Blumenthal dashed off one of his attorney general philippics denouncing the energy supplier.


Sure, the hurricane -- downgraded in Connecticut to a tropical storm – resulted in unusual expenditures. But now, when some householders in the state were suffering from the battering, was no time to recover costs by raising prices. Mr. Blumenthal did not in his letter suggest a more convenient time.


Mr. Blumenthal was troubled, very troubled, by a suggestion made in a state-wide newspaper that CL&P “will be considering steps to recoup financial losses from this storm by raising utility rates on the very customers who have been left without power. This suggestion for raising rates is unacceptable. I urge CL&P to immediately and publicly disavow and abandon this idea and assure the people of Connecticut that they will not be forced to bear this additional burden.”


There was no immediate disavowal forthcoming and, had Mr. Blumenthal retained his options as attorney general, his profound disappointment would have been accompanied by a threat to sue the toxic producing energy suppliers, thus reducing their obscene profit margin, thus forcing CL&P to maintain costs through attrition – worker reduction, a reliance on out of state staff and resources, annoying expedients that make it less possible for energy suppliers to respond with alacrity to occasional tropical storms that race through the state like media hungry politicians who leave in their wake shattered economies and businesses too big to fail that ultimately must be rescued by frequent transfusions of taxpayer’s blood.



And so the merry dance goes on and on, benefiting lawyers who live in regulatory webs like spiders, politicians on the make, and sundry other public nuisances – but not those consumers who ultimately bear the costs of political excess.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Shays Promises Slugfest

In a brief interview with Hartford Courant writer Rick Green, former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays has given an indication that he will pull no punches in his likely Republican Party primary with Linda McMahon.


Mr. Shays told Mr. Green that Mrs. McMahon’s record as a former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) will be an issue in his campaign.

"Her record and her conduct,” Mr. Shays said, “are an important part of the process. Everything that she's done is going to be an important part of the campaign. I'm not going to take punches. I'm not a Quaker."

Mr. Green writes that Mr. Shays “also promised to stick to his moderate Republican roots. ‘I'm not going to try to win the primary and lose the general election.’"

A possible battle between Mr. Shays and Mrs. McMahon is certain – provided Mr. Shays sticks to his script – to have a “déjà vu all over again” flavor to it, Mr. Shays serving as a double for former Rep. Rob Simmons, who lost to Mrs. McMahon in a Republican Primary and was rather peevish about his loss.

Both Mr. Simmons and Mr. Shays were “moderate” Republicans, each of whom lost to fairly moderate Democratic contenders. Mr. Shays had the distinction of being the last moderate Republican congressman in New England, the breed having died out with him.

Mr. Shays is not quite ready for a re-run. The former congressman left Connecticut for parts South after his loss and may have a little boning up to do on national issues before he takes a hammer to Mrs. McMahon’s likely run for office.

In the meantime, Mr. Shay’s Democratic opponents also will outfit themselves with brass knuckles. On the Democratic side, present U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy and former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz will be struggling for an opportunity to meet the winner of the Republican Primary on the field of battle, and neither Democratic candidate is a Quaker.

Mr. Murphy, who defeated long term U.S. Rep Nancy Johnson, also regarded as a moderate Republican, is on his way to becoming a perpetual politician. His very first job in politics was as an intern to U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, now a Hollywood mogul; he managed Charlotte Koskoff’s near upset campaign against Mrs. Johnson, and also worked for a couple of years in the late 90’s for then State Senate Majority Leader George Jepsen, now Connecticut’s Attorney General. Mr. Murphy’s work record is unblemished by any connection with the real world economy. Mrs. Bysiewicz recent political background needs no introduction, beyond noting that comparisons have been made between her and Lady Macbeth. Neither of the two Democrats are inept in exploiting the logs in the eyes of their Republican opponents, and both would be delighted to see blood on the Republican Party primary floor.

Mr. Shays’ record in office is not without blemish. One may expect Democratic operatives to make much ado about Mr. Shays’ former felonious campaign manager, Michael Sohn, who absconded with more than $250,000 in money filched from Mr. Shays’ 2008 campaign against present Rep. Jim Himes, widely regarded as more moderate than, say, the tempestuous John Larson, a U.S. 1st District Rep who will be replaced by a Republican moments after Hell freezes over.

It is not precisely accurate to say that Mr. Sohn took money from Mr. Shays. The ten most generous donors in the 2008 campaign were individuals and PACs associated with large financial firms, and the money was stolen from them. Mr. Sohn may have been, at least in sprit, a larval Democrat in supposing that the ill-gotten gains of the super-rich were in some sense his due.

There is a delicate irony associated with Mr. Shays’ troubles that is not likely to be noticed by thuggish roustabouts in both the Republican and Democratic Parties who are interested in bruising Mrs. McMahon because of her unsavory association with wrestlers or Mr. Shays because of his fatal inattention to the felonious Mr. Sohn.

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), a group whose mission it is to promote and defend citizens' First Amendment political rights of speech, assembly, and petition, noting that Shays had for well over a decade “fought tirelessly to enact greater restrictions on campaign speech, finally succeeding with the passage of the Shays-Meehan (or "McCain-Feingold") bill in 2002,” observed, following Mr. Sohn’s arrest, “…it is ironic that the Shays campaign may now face added penalties from the Federal Election Commission. It seems a bit absurd, but that's how it works when campaigns are victims of embezzlement - the embezzler is usually someone with the ability to alter campaign finance reports in order to cover his tracks, so as a result the campaign files false reports with the FEC.”

Noting that corruption inheres in corrupt individuals, CCP wondered whether Mr. Shays ever would be forced to face “the cruelest moment of all - will Mr. Sohn's actions force Mr. Shays to realize that he spent much of his political career attempting to restrict the speech of his fellow private citizens, without accomplishing much of anything having to do with public corruption?”

It is a point not likely to be pressed by Mr. Shays’ possible Democratic opponents, some of whom look upon campaign finance reform as the holy grail of politics. But there are vigorous Constitutional proponents around every corner in the Republican Party barracks for whom Mr. Shays’ ardent support of McCain-Feingold – the campaign finance bill that was supposed to eliminate corruption – remains a red flag waved before a bull’s nose. And these folks, talking a page from Barry Goldwater’s adage that moderation in the pursuit of liberty may be a vice, are not Quakers.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Nappier Incident Not Racial

We can all breathe a sigh of relief. It now appears that the Nappier flapdoodle had little to do with race.

Ms, Nappier told the Hartford Courant reporter Jon Lender that she was stopped by police after she had dropped off a friend and questioned whether being black, in a black car, in a black neighborhood at night might have aroused police suspicions.

It turns out that police were called to the scene for other reasons. According to police union Vice President Nazario Figueroa, officers were dispatched to 385 Barbour Street, a well-known narcotics outlet, for an emergency call the exact nature of which they did not know.

"The car,” Mr. Figueroa told WNPR reporter Jeff Cohen, “is going into this area where we have an unspecified incident call. Most officers need to think out of the box. So she [the female officer responsible for impounding Ms. Nappier’s car] may be thinking maybe this vehicle is related to that call. She's always thought it was kind of suspicious that the car kind of stuck out. So she runs the plate and nothing came back for the plates.

" The officer found no registry file for the plate because there was none.

 Officers on the scene then issued Ms. Nappier a summons and told her she could not drive in what appeared to be an unregistered vehicle, which is standard operating procedure. "They wouldn't do it for anyone else, quite simply. You can't just let somebody drive away in an unregistered car," Mr. Figueroa said.
According to a late Hartford Courant report
“An official involved in the state's vehicle fleet operation had said Thursday that it was a ‘mystery’ that Nappier's vehicle did not show up as registered to the state when the Hartford police ran the license plate through the computerized system. The 2011 car had been issued to Nappier in April, with all proper registration paperwork, so the information should have come up when the police did their check, said Jeffrey Beckham, a spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services, which runs the vehicle fleet. “But the registration failed to check out properly for two reasons: 
“•First, when the police asked Nappier for the registration paperwork, they were given the wrong registration packet; it was for the previous vehicle that she had been using before April, a 2007 Crown Victoria.  
“•Second, it was acknowledged Friday that the state Department of Motor Vehicles had failed to update the registration information for the new car in a computerized "master registration file," which provides the information into which police departments tap when they run license-plate checks.”
Ms. Nappier then decided to hoof it home, having told the Courant reporter that she walked the three miles home because she declined to call anyone.

According to Mr. Figueroa however, Ms. Nappier was offered a ride. "There was (sic) three officers there,” Mr. Figueroa told Mr. Cohen, “they each had offered her a ride to get home and she declined."

In a prepared statement picked up by the Hartford Courant on Saturday, September 10, Ms. Nappier denied that police officers had offered her a ride home:


 "While I expressed frustration after the vehicle's valid registration was not confirmed that evening, it was my decision to walk home. Nonetheless, the police union representative's statement, that all three officers on duty that night offered me a ride home, is a fictitious account of my understanding of the options then before me."


Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie seized upon a statement made by the female officer, since assigned to other duties, as being “potentially lethal.”

 Mr. Figueroa told Mr. Cohen in his interview, “She’s always thought (Rennie’s emphasis) it was kind of suspicious that the car kind of stuck out. So she runs the plate and nothing came back for the plates.”

Was there a single incident, or more than one incident, in which officers saw Ms. Nappier’s new car, assigned to her last April, in a lot known for drug exchanges?

Then too, if “all three officers” had offered Ms. Nappier a ride home, her recollection of the incident as told to Mr. Lender certainly lacked veritas.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Ron Paul For Governor of Connecticut


After reading a well-reasoned piece in UConn’s Daily Campus writtenby Thomas Dilling, it is difficult to avoid reaching the conclusion that presidential candidate  Ron would make a far better governor of Connecticut than present Governor Dannel Malloy.

Mr. Malloy earned 15 minutes of fame recently for calling Mr. Paul an idiot. Mr. Paul suggested doing away with FEMA and delegating its powers to states and municipalities.

“Although the governor will likely dismiss me as an idiot,” Mr. Dilling writes , “there is good reason for Connecticut to believe that FEMA should not be a federal responsibility.”

Surely, Mr. Dilling reasons, the flow of money from Connecticut to Texas should interest Connecticut’s governor: “…according to FEMA's website, Texas leads the nation in declared disasters since 1953 with 85 compared to Connecticut's 27 (47th place). Yet, despite this realization that FEMA takes money from Connecticut and spends it in Texas, Connecticut's governor not only supports FEMA, but dismisses anyone who dares to question a program with this type of structure as ‘an idiot…’


“In the absence of a federal program designed to subsidize more disaster-prone states such as Texas, the cost associated with these routine natural disasters would be paid out by the taxpayers of Texas, rather than the taxpayers of other states. Furthermore, abolishing a federal role in these routine disasters would give states and municipalities the incentive to be better prepared for when these events occur, rather than relying on federal support. The moral hazard associated with subsidizing states that are more disaster prone ought to be clear. By externalizing the costs associated with these disasters, it makes these states more attractive to people looking for places to live, putting more people in harm's way come future disasters. This hurts Connecticut's competitive standing against states like Texas who don't have to price the cost of disaster into their taxes.”

Mr. Dilling did not observe that politicians, as a general rule, bathe themselves every morning in the baptismal font of moral hazard, but if he continues to drink deep of the Pierian Spring, he may get there:

A little learning is a dangerous thing;

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:

There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,

And drinking largely sobers us again.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Cheney To Hillary -- Run


Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who said brains in the Beltway would pop on the release of his new book, “In My Time,” caused a slight kerfuffle when in an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl he encouraged present Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton to primary President Barack Obama.

“I think she’s probably the most competent person they’ve got in their– in their cabinet,” said Mr. Cheney. “And– frankly, I thought she was gonna win the nomination last time around. Maybe if– the Obama record is bad enough– and these days it’s not very good, given the shape of the economy, maybe there will be enough ferment– in the Democratic Party so that there will be a primary on their side.”

So far, Mrs. Clinton’s husband has not taken the bait.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Foster To DiNardo: Send Lawyers Quick

Jason Bartlett, the campaign Manager for Bridgeport Democratic mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster, has now written a “Dear Nancy” letter to Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo that will not likely warm the cockles of her heart.


Dear Nancy:

Per our telephone conversation earlier today, the Foster campaign respectfully requests the State Democratic Party to activate your Voter Protection Project program for the upcoming Bridgeport Democratic Mayoral primary on September 27th 2011.

Our understanding is that the State party can send attorneys and observers trained in election law to come to Bridgeport on the day of the primary and serve our City’s voters to insure a fair and just election.

The City of Bridgeport has had repeated problems and issues in recent elections. Last November, the lack of sufficient ballots delayed the Governor’s election. The inefficient and incompetent election operations amounted to breaches of fiduciary duty. A smooth, well-run, and honest administration of the election process not only protects voters in Bridgeport but insures an equal opportunity to all who participate in the political process.

Our entire slate was summarily deprived access to the ballot based on uncooperativeness and inaccurate interpretations by the Registrar of Voters of the Connecticut General statutes and the City’s charter. It took a Superior Court judge to order Mary-Jane Foster and her slate be certified and placed on the ballot.

In addition, the City of Bridgeport did not have enough ballots for its voter in the gubernatorial election and the chain the custody of ballots was brought into question. The conduct of the last mayoral primary saw a number of issues that led to a lawsuit filed by Chris Caruso against Bill Finch.

We hope we can count on your support to insure a fair execution of the democratic process in the upcoming Bridgeport primary.

Thank you for your kind and early consideration and of this request.

Sincerely,

Jason W. Bartlett

Campaign Manager, Foster for Bridgeport

Bridgeport’s Incestuous Single Party State

In a one party town such as Bridgeport, politics tends to be incestuous. There are no quarrels more vicious than family quarrels, because in a family quarrel there is no outside mediating instrument to soften manners, no coach to make sure the teams abide by the rules.

“Three weeks from today,” Lennie Grimaldi notes on his popular site Only in Bridgeport,  "the Democratic primary for mayor between Bill Finch and Mary-Jane Foster begins at 6 a.m. The road to the primary has taken a bizarre route, but what’s a Bridgeport mayoral election without a judge involved, eh? Does anyone think we’re done with controversy involving local and state election officials? Look for the Foster camp to fire off letters to city and state officials demanding accountability. What assurances can Democratic Registrar Santa Ayala and Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, the state’s chief election official, give the Foster camp that an election will be honest, clean and transparent? Don’t hold your breath. Not after the madness from the past year and personalities involved.”

Monday, September 05, 2011

Another Day Older And Deeper In Debt

The wide-awakes over at CTMirror have noticed that things in Connecticut and the nation are not peachy keen.


There is talk of a double dip national recession. Should the nation slip further into economic uncertainty, all the states in the union, Connecticut among them, will suffer. According to important indices, the nation has crawled very far out on the debt limb. A $14 trillion federal budget deficit is not pocket change, and the $14 trillion in red ink does not include unfunded liabilities.
Here in Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy hopes the state budget is in the black, but there are doubters. Mr. Malloy tapped into tax payers’ pockets to discharge nearly half of a $4 billion deficit, and the balance was extracted from union concessions and assumed savings. But here too, Connecticut’s budget deficit represents only part of the state’s financial obligations, just as the national deficit is only a small part of federal liabilities.

The unfunded liability of Connecticut’s pension system is reported at $16 billion, an amount nearly as large as the state’s entire annual budget. Other analysts compute the state’s real unfunded liability at three times this amount. It is impossible to wring money out of an empty wallet. Sober state and national governments, mindful of their budget deficits and unfunded liabilities, should realize they cannot afford to continue to support such debt levels. On both federal and state levels, however, big spenders are simply hooked on spending. The notion that federal and state governments can spend their way out of recessions is one of the undying fables of poorly remembered recessions of times past. .
The 2009 SocialSecurity and Medicare Trustees Reports indicated that the combined unfunded liability of just these two programs reached $107 trillion, about seven times the size of the U.S. economy and 10 times the size of the outstanding national debt. And times have not improved since 2009. It cannot be said often enough that these two programs draw upon current tax collections to finance both present operations and an ever growing unfunded liability. Both programs are pay as you go operations; there is no till, other than taxpayers’ pockets, from which the federal government may draw to pay down accumulated debt.
At a minimum, these liabilities suggest that while the federal government is not in a position to bail out Connecticut, neither is Connecticut in a position to be able to assume more debt. President Ronald Reagan, one of the best aphorists in the modern presidency, put it this way: “Government is like a baby: an alimentary canal with a big appetite on one end, and no responsibility on the other.”


Even though the figures are -- to put it mildly -- depressing, Panglossian optimists are everywhere. Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, Mr. Malloy’s budget director, has not battened down every hatch against the coming storm.
"I'm pretty confident,” he has said, “that the steps we've taken will allow us to sustain balance over a long period of time.”


This was offered as a sufficient answer to well-founded misgivings expressed in the CTMirror story. The concession package negotiated between SEBAC, a coalition of unionized state workers, and the Malloy administration lacks “an out-clause to cope with fiscal emergencies.” The absence of such a clause, in combination with “a four-year prohibition against union worker layoffs” and a guaranteed three year raise following a pay freeze of two years, will leave the state in a precarious position should national and state finances bend towards a double dip recession, as seems likely.

Even Mr. Malloy’s predecessor, the much derided “Snow White” governor, was not so incautious as to remove from the gubernatorial tool box a provision that would have allowed additional cost-saving measures should state revenues fall below a threshold level or should the budget dip below a manageable deficit floor. Mr. Malloy has committed himself to a no-layoff pledge and a 9 percent, three year increase for SEBAC union members who voted in favor of his revised Plan A budget. These contractual commitments could be an expensive pay off should the national and state economies continue to founder.
In a possible prevision of things to come, the iconic U.S. Postal Service announced over the weekend it is insolvent, has no cash on hand to meet its contractual obligations with unions and may shut down this Winter.


According to a New York Times report:

“…decades of contractual promises made to unionized workers, including no-layoff clauses, are increasing the post office’s costs. Labor represents 80 percent of the agency’s expenses, compared with 53 percent at United Parcel Service and 32 percent at FedEx, its two biggest private competitors. Postal workers also receive more generous health benefits than most other federal employees.”


It would be wise to make provisions against the approaching winter of our discontent. Mr. Malloy will need an armory of weapons to meet it, and optimism is a blank cartridge.

Grimaldi Nips Merrill



Lennie Grimaldi, the proprietor of Only In Bridgeport gives Secretary of State Denise Merrill a black eye:

“Hey Denise Merrill, want some cheese to go with that whine? It’s all such a matter of convenience for Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to now proclaim she is pleased with Judge Bellis’ decision after the state’s chief election official and her crack legal team voiced support for Democratic Registrar Santa Ayala who was taken to the woodshed by the judge.”

Saturday, September 03, 2011

All Unredacted Wikileaks Made Public

Spiegel is reporting that ALL the US securitized cables acquired by Julian Assange’s Wikileaks are now available on the internet to the general public – and, of course to nations unfriendly to the United States – owing to a series of errors made by Assange and his cohorts.
Previously, Wikileaks had distributed select redacted cables to major news outlets, including The New York Times, which then made them available to the general public --  and, of course to nations unfriendly to the United States.
The most recent dump includes all UNREDACTED cables in Wikileak’s possession.
Spiegel comments:
"It is possible that intelligence agencies in a number of countries have already gained access to the data. 'Any autocratic security service worth its salt' would have already done so, former US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley told news agency AP on Wednesday. Intelligence agencies that haven't already gotten their hands on the data "will have it in short order," he added.
"By Wednesday evening Crowley's prediction was confirmed. The 'Cablegate' cables are now completely public. For many people in totalitarian states this could prove life-threatening. For Wikileaks, OpenLeaks, Julian Assange, Daniel Domscheit-Berg and many 
"A chain of careless mistakes, coincidences, indiscretions and confusion now means that no potential whistleblower would feel comfortable turning to a leaking platform right now. They appear to be out of control."


Friday, September 02, 2011

The Skeletons In Blumenthal’s Closet

Very quietly – much too quietly – Attorney General George Jepsen has closed “513 of the 699 whistleblower cases he inherited from his predecessor, former Attorney general Richard Blumenthal, according to a storycirculated by The Associated Press (AP) and published in the Washington Post.

During his campaign for Attorney General, Mr. Jepsen was pressed by Republican candidate for attorney general Martha Dean quickly dispose of cases handled by Mr. Blumenthal during his 20 year tenure. Mrs. Dean ran for attorney general twice, once against the popular Mr. Blumenthal in 2002 and again in 2010. In the course of the Jepsen-Dean debates, Mr. Jepsen seemed particularly sensitive to delays in resolving such cases, and Mrs. Dean was insistent that, should she be selected as attorney general, she would immediately institute a review of Mr. Blumenthal’s crippling backlog and close cases that never should have been prosecuted, tendering apologies to those of Mr. Blumenthal’s litigation victims who were left for years to hang on hooks in the attorney general’s own private torture chambers.  A good many of Mr. Blumenthal’s suits against persons and companies were left unresolved after more than four years of litigation.

 
In virtually all his prosecutions, Mr. Blumenthal sent out press releases to most, if not all, Connecticut media outlets. The recipient of one of Mr. Blumenthal’s press releases dutifully would advertise the prosecution, occasionally printing the releases almost verbatim, as well as subsequent releases relating to the case at most stages of a long and tortuous litigation process. National outlets were also inundated with media releases that, we now discover, were unnecessarily destructive to 513 of Mr. Blumenthal’s targets.
Unfortunately, not as many news outlets as have printed press releases relating to the cases closed by Mr. Jepsen will print follow up stories concerning the vindication of the victims of Mr. Blumenthal’s unnecessary prosecutions.

Mr. Jepsen, who told the AP in an interview that many of the probes he dismissed “lacked merit,” is to be congratulated for having acted so expeditiously in his review. The number of cases dismissed in which “something meaningfully wrong is going on,” Mr. Jepsen told the AP, was small.

Matt O’Connor of SEBAC, a coalition of state employee unions, remarked that he could not recall “such a large number of whistleblower cases being closed. But because allegations of fraud or shoddy work by government agencies and contractors are protected from public release, he said there’s no way to know why Jepsen acted.”

Jepsen said he terminated several probes of companies and organizations, according to the AP report, “because he and the companies settled the dispute ‘or it may be that there’s not very much there.’”

 
Mr. Jepsen warned that public officials should tread carefully in those cases in which the regulation of business and job creation was at stake and invited a comparison between himself and Mr. Blumenthal. He said of himself, “I’m a pretty low-key person. I like to see all sides of an issue before I jump in. My background academically and professionally and politically is non-confrontational. We do plenty of litigation here but I just generally view litigation ought to be as a last resort.”
Jepsen noted that he “has been a political ally of Blumenthal’s for decades, even working as an intern for Blumenthal in 1979, and that any contrast between the two is ‘really more my own style and background’ than it is about policy differences,” according to the AP report.

Mr. Blumenthal responded to the implied charges of incompetence in the AOP story with a mixture of injured innocence and chutzpah.

Refusing to comment decision made by his successor, Mr. Blumenthal said he kept cases open even though they were not active because, according to the AOP story, “important information could always develop later. He said he had no knowledge of which cases were closed and declined to comment on differences between his and Jepsen’s approaches to the job.”

Mr. Blumenthal -- who used his accomplishments as attorney general as a springboard to higher office as a Democratic U.S. Senator – told the AP “I would say very emphatically my record speaks for itself, for my aggressive and proactive approach to law enforcement to protect business people, consumers, all the people of Connecticut.”

The AP, the recipient of thousands of Blumenthal press releases over the years, noted in its story that Mr. Jepsen’s approach “is a marked contrast to Blumenthal, who was elected to the U.S. Senate last year after 20 years as attorney general. Blumenthal sued numerous companies over allegations of consumer rip-offs, illegal dumping and violations of workers’ rights in the name of agencies such as the Department of Consumer Protection and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.”

At some point – one hopes against hope – Mr. Jepsen will post on the attorney general’s website a list of the 315 cases Mr. Blumenthal improperly prosecuted as attorney general by case name and docket number so that journalists in the state may review then in the light of Mr. Jepsen’s review and dismissals.

In connection with one case settled after much litigation, Connecticut Commentary noted that Mr. Blumenthal had been much in the habit of hanging his victims on litigation hooks for long periods of time, during which they became progressively poorer as their reputation were battered by Mr. Blumenthal’s artfully worded press releases. Those who relied on Mr. Blumenthal’s many releases, one likes to think, have some obligation in restoring the reputation and public standing of those who – in 513 of the 699 whistleblower cases Mr. Blumenthal litigated – were innocent as charged. A legislative review of the cases dismissed by Mr. Jepsen, with a view to establishing a less personalized method of prosecuting cases in the attorney general's office, would not be out of order.