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Headlines from Courant.com

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    Today's ruling by a federal judge in Virgina that certain provisions in the health care overhaul are unconstititional provked a strong reaction from U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, a staunch supporter of the effort.

    Murphy, a Democrat from the 5th District, posted the following on Twitter:

    Chris Murphy ChrisMurphyCT

    A long time ago, in galaxy far, far away, Republicans used to complain about "activist" judges like Henry Hudson. Remember that?

    Reply

    Retweet


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    A civil lawsuit has been filed against state Rep. Matthew J. Conway and his daughter following a fatal car crash in which Amanda Conway was driving.

    Amanda Conway, 18, has been charged in the August accident in Enfield with second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol by a person under 21, possession of alcohol in a vehicle by a minor, negligent homicide with a motor vehicle, travelling too fast for conditions, and failure to carry an insurance card. The accident occurred at about 2:30 a.m. on Interstate 91 in a Jeep Cherokee that had been registered to Matthew Conway.

    A 17-year-old passenger, Alexa Crosby, was killed in the accident.

    Matthew Conway, a former Suffield police commissioner who was endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties, represents the 61st District, which covers East Granby, Suffield and Windsor. Conway holds a Ph.D. degree in educational administration, policy and research from the University of Massachusetts and was elected to the legislature in November 2008.


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    In case anyone thought Linda McMahon's political aspirations had been quenched by her $50 million losing bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010, this ought to clarify things.


    The former head of World Wrestling Entertainment will travel to Washington to meet with National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn.

    "I don't know what her message is going to be, but I sort of suspect she isn't finished," Cornyn told Roll Call, which broke the story. 

    The newspaper says the meeting is expected after the new year.


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    Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele has surprised many by deciding to run again for his job.

    Steele has been the subject of widespread criticism, including from Connecticut's GOP chairman, Christopher Healy. That criticism came despite a huge Republican tidal wave in November's election, which swept the GOP back into control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Some insiders said that the wave had nothing to do with Steele, and he should not receive much of the credit.

    Healy had initially considered running for RNC chair himself, but he has decided against making a formal run. Instead, he is supporting Gentry Collins, who had previously worked with Steele as the party's political director.


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    Beltway insiders on both sides of the aisle are rubbing their hands with glee at the possibility of Joe Lieberman running for 5th term in 2012. 

    Sen. Orrin Hatch, a conservative Republican from Utah, told Politico's Manu Raju that he'd be thrilled if Lieberman ran as a Republican. And Sen. Patty Murray,who leads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, also praised Lieberman, telling Raju he's "a great member of our caucus,'' though she refrained from saying whether or not the party would back him.

    But back in Connecticut, far from the cozy confines of the U.S. Senate, Joementum is getting a more tepid reaction. State GOP Chairman Chris Healy told Politico that Lieberman will have to renounce his liberal views on tax and spending matters if he hopes to get anywhere with the Republican party.

    State Democratic Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo was also lukewarm. Lieberman's decision to endorse Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential race "is definitely going to have an impact on Democratic support,'' she said in an interview this morning.

    DiNardo said countless Democrats have approached her about Lieberman as she traveled around the state. "They were angry that he went to the convention and spoke on [McCain's] behalf,'' she said.

     


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    For 11 years, state officials and ESPN have been talking about the company's plans to help downtown Hartford.

    Through the years, some sports fans believed that the Bristol-based company would open an ESPN Zone restaurant downtown.

    Now, ESPN is donating $5 million to the Front Street project, but will not be opening a restaurant.


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    In a surprise to many, Charles Buck was found not guilty Wednesday by a three-judge panel in the high-profile death of his wife.

    Buck's wife, Leslie, was found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their home in a case that received widespread publicity in southeastern Connecticut since her death in May 2002.

    She had been kidnapped and assaulted soon before her death by a Ledyard handyman, but she escaped and eventually returned to the family's home on Masons Island Road in Mystic. Just days after the kidnapping, she was found dead.

    A series of doctors could not agree on the cause of her death, and the three-judge panel found her husband not guilty.


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    Former Vice President Al Gore, , former Secretary of State Colin Powell and thousands of teenagers from around the world will come to Connecticut next summer for the fifth World Scholar-Athlete Games and the first World Youth Peace Summit.

    The athletic competition and summit are run by the Institute of International Sport, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit group. Its executive director, West Hartford resident Dan Doyle, spoke at the Capitol Tuesday about the event, which will mark the institute's 25th anniversary.

    In May, will be a peace walk that will start in West Hartford and end in downtown Hartford. The Rev. Desmond Tutu will bless the walk, one of thousands like it that will be held across the world on either May 21 and May 22. The peace walk in Connecticut will be on one of those days but the exact date has not yet been set.


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    ruben-bradford.jpgFormer state police major Reuben Bradford has been nominated to oversee the state police as the first African American to become the state's commissioner of public safety.

    Bradford will not join the department until after the Super Bowl because he has obligations in his current job as the senior director of security for the National Football League. At the age of 64, Bradford said he had been expecting to retire soon - but he changed his plans when he received the offer from Malloy.

    Bradford said he would take a "significant pay cut'' to return to state service, but he said that his current salary with the NFL is not public information.

    The current public safety commissioner, James "Skip'' Thomas, will remain in the office until Bradford takes over in February.

    While Bradford is the first African American to be nominated as commissioner, an African American had previously served in the number 2 position of commander of the state police. Lt. Col. Joseph A. Perry had served as the commander under Commissioner Nicholas Cioffi in the early 1990s under then-Governor Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.

    Bradford, who lives in South Glastonbury with his wife, has been away from the department for about 15 years, but is now coming back to the agency where he got his start in law enforcement.

    "It's not often that you get a chance to come full circle,'' Bradford said during a news conference.

    Governor-elect Dan Malloy said that Bradford was "recognized for his talent as a major'' before his retirement from the state police.

    "Reuben is an exceptional individual,'' Malloy said. "He has a great understanding of the needs of the department. He has been an insider and an outsider and is prepared to be an extraordinary commissioner for this department.''

    Regarding the Super Bowl, Malloy said, "He'll be there. I won't.''


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    The Hartford Courant's Don Stacom reports:

    After last week's surprise setback, Gov. M. Jodi Rell is going to take another swing at getting approval to borrow about $22 million for park upgrades, building repairs and other work in about a dozen towns and cities.

    But her hope to line up $81 million to buy new trains for the Metro-North Commuter Railroad is dead.

    Last Friday was supposed to be the last Bond Commission meeting of Rell's administration, and she put forward more than $150 million worth of requests. All 30 or so items on her agenda got more "yes" than "no" votes, but when the meeting was over there was confusion about what had happened. Rules require six "yes" votes for an item to pass; lawyers and staff analyzed tapes of the voice votes and concluded that nine items, including the train purchase, had gotten only five votes, and thus had failed.

    The 10-member commission was shorthanded because Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Comptroller Nancy Wyman chose to skip it. Both are Democrats, and both said they didn't think it was right to commit the state to large-scale borrowing in the final weeks of the Rell administration.


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    Phoenix is not right around the corner, and the costs of bringing the entire team and an entourage to the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day can be quite expensive.

    Still, the University of Connecticut's battle against highly ranked Oklahoma has generated plenty of excitement in the Connecticut sports world.


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    Veteran state Rep. Robert Godfrey has been named the national chairman of the Council of State Governments, a nonpartisan group of legislators, governors, and others that covers all 50 states.

    A Danbury Democrat, Godfrey has served as a deputy speaker for the past six years and served as a deputy majority leader for 10 years before that.

    Through those years, he has spent part of his spare time with the nonprofit council.

    "I like to describe it as the chamber of commerce for state governments,'' Godfrey told Capitol Watch. "It's a gateway organization.''

    CSG is filled with policy wonks who are interested in a wide variety of issues, and it is often ahead of the curve on important topics. Recently, the lawmakers looked at the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's national healthcare law - the exact topic that gained widespread publicity when a judge in Virginia ruled that a portion of the law was unconstitutional.

    As he has moved up in the leadership ranks, Godfrey has been able to meet important leaders whom he says he would never have met otherwise.

    At a recent national meeting in Providence, he found himself at breakfast "sitting right next to David Gergen,'' Godfrey said of the nationally known political adviser. "Now I understand why he advises presidents. He's just an amazing person.''

    At another small dinner that was attended by only four people, Godfrey ate with the governors of Vermont and Montana. He described Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas as an "old Rockefeller, Prescott Bush Republican with a dollop of Green Mountain folksiness.''

    Now in a position of influence within the organization, Godfrey will be hosting a four-day session for about 500 CSG members at the Mohegan Sun in late March. Called the Growth and Prosperity Summit, the seminars will focus on job growth and retention - and will bring hundreds of visitors who would not otherwise have come to Connecticut.


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    David Lavine, a longtime Democratic state lawmaker who served nine terms in the General Assembly and penned landmark legislation regulating wetlands, died this week in Rhode Island. He was 82.

    A New York City native, Lavine always loved the outdoors and moved to rural Durham, Connecticut in the late 1960s. In 1970, he ran for state representative. "I had written about pollitics but I had never really considered running,'' Lavine told the Courant in 1988. After a quick conversation with his wife, he decided to go for it.

    He represented the 100th House District for nine terms, rising to co-chairman of the powerful finance committee. He left office in 1992.

    But Lavine, who also served as deputy House speaker, is best known for helping to craft environmental policy. As chairman of the legislature's energy and public utilities committee, he ushered through laws capping the cost of building nuclear plants, promoting solar energy and recycling phone books. One of his signature accomplishments was the 1972 Inland Wetlands Act, which gave municipalities the tools to regulate developments in wetlands.

    "He's probably the most knowledgeable person in the state or the country on energy issues,'' John Larson told the Courant in 1987. Larson, who was then senate president and is now a congressman, said at the time that he considered Lavine his political mentor.  


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    Two of Democrat Dan Malloy's closest confidantes - state Sen. Andrew McDonald and political strategist Roy Occhiogrosso - will be joining the new administration.

    McDonald will step down as a state senator in order to become legal counsel for Malloy in a repeat of the days when he served as corporation counsel for the city of Stamford when Malloy was mayor.

    Occhiogrosso, who worked for Malloy in his gubernatorial campaigns in 2006 and 2010, will serve as senior advisor - handling communications and political strategy.

    They are both currently serving as members of Malloy's transition team, and McDonald's prominence was shown in the first transition meeting when he was sitting next to chief of staff Timothy Bannon - two seats from Malloy - in a large room with about 45 members of the transition team. They will both report directly to Malloy.

    Occhiogrosso, who lived in the village of Rockville Centre on Long Island and graduated from public high school in Queens, N.Y. before attending UConn, is one of the most loyal fans of the New York Jets football team in all of Connecticut. He rarely misses a game and will even travel out of state to see his beloved team.

    Malloy and Occhiogrosso are so close that Malloy performed his friend's wedding ceremony to Erin M. Ryan on August 26, 2006. Malloy had just finished a bitter gubernatorial primary campaign against New Haven Mayor John DeStefano and had run numerous television commercials in which the candidates are required to say they approved.

    At the end of Occhiogrosso's wedding, Malloy said, "I'm Dan Malloy, and I approve this marriage.''


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    The legislature's judiciary committee will undergo drastic changes next year as both longtime co-chairmen are taking jobs in the new Malloy administration.

    Rep. Michael P. Lawlor and State Sen. Andrew McDonald - the leaders in the thick of the battle on controversial issues like same-sex civil unions, gay marriage, and the death penalty - will both step down from their legislative seats to work for Democrat Dannel Malloy.

    Lawlor is taking a job in the governor's budget office, while McDonald will be Malloy's chief legal counsel.

    Lawlor is the longest-serving co-chairman of the judiciary committee, even surpassing "King Richard'' Tulisano - the outspoken orator who ruled the committee with an iron fist in his heyday. Lawlor was one of the chief proponents of changing the statute of limitations in civil sexual abuse cases, which is directly related to the high-profile charges against the late Dr. George Reardon, who treated patients at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford before his death more than a decade ago.

     

     


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    Dr. Jewel Marie Mullen, an acclaimed doctor in Massachusetts, will be named as Connecticut's new state health director, officials said Friday.

    Mullen's appointment will be announced Tuesday, according to the incoming Malloy administration.

    Mullen currently works for the Boston-based state Department of Public Health in Massachusetts, serving as the director of the Bureau of Community Health and Prevention, as well as the director of chronic diseases.

    She has a sterling resume from some of the top universities in the country. Mullen has strong ties to Connecticut as she received both bachelor's and master's degrees from Yale University in New Haven. She also held a post-doctoral fellowship at the university, where she has been a lecturer in epidemiology at the Yale medical school.


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  • 12/18/10--18:22: Joe Lieberman on DADT
  • Sen. Joseph Lieberman released this statement today following the Senate's vote to repeal the military's controversial Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy regarding gays in the armed forces.

    '"Repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is the right thing to do whether you're liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican, or independent,'' Lieberman said. "It is the right thing to do for our military and the right thing to do for our country. The sixty-five Senators who voted to correct this injustice showed that we're still able to come together in a bipartisan way to fight for America's best interests."


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    Bristol Mayor Art Ward, who had been in intensive care for about two weeks after choking on a piece of steak, has been released from the hospital.

    Citizens in Bristol have been highly concerned because Ward had lost consciousness and had been in the hospital for an extended period of time.


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    Susan Herbst has been chosen as the new president of the University of Connecticut.

    She will replace Michael Hogan, a controversial president who left to become president of the University of Illinois. State officials were stunned when Hogan left after only three years at the university's helm.


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    NBA basketball player Ryan Gomes has been interviewed in the ongoing probe of Waterbury State's Attorney John Connelly.

    The probe of Connelly - a former state public safety commissioner - has been heating up as federal authorities increase their scrutiny on one of the state's best-known figures in law enforcement. Connelly is the longtime prosecutor who returned to the courthouse after a brief stint overseeing the state police.


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