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Headlines from Courant.com

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    In a pair of speeches today, Gov. Dannel Malloy alluded to all the great luminaries of Connecticut history: Harriett Beecher Stowe, Prudence Crandall, Mark Twain, Ella Grasso and Abraham Davenport.

    Abraham Davenport? Malloy plucked the obscure 18th Century legislator from Stamford from the dustbin of history by name-checking him this afternoon.

    "Perhaps nowhere was our character better defined than by Abraham Davenport of my hometown of Stamford when he spoke about The Dark Day in 1780,'' Malloy said during his inaugural address. "He was a public servant in Hartford when a mysterious episode brought darkness to the daytime skies throughout New England. 

    "There was a prevailing belief that Judgment Day was upon the land, threatening a shutdown of the Legislature, when Davenport stood and said: 'I am against an adjournment. The Day of Judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.'''

    Today, Malloy said, "we could use a few candles.  Because as most people in Connecticut know, ours is not a pretty picture."

    So who was Abraham Davenport and what was The Dark Day?

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  • 01/05/11--14:10: The 2012 election begins now
  • Actually, it probably began on Nov. 3, 2010.

    But the rhetoric escalated sharply today, as the new Congress began its work.

    "Jim Himes Disregards American People, Votes to Maintain Job-Killing Agenda by Voting for Pelosi for Speaker,'' trumpets the headline on a National Republican Campaign Committee press release, issued just hours after U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, began his second term. 

    "With this first vote, Himes' constituents can clearly foresee that he will continue to support the same job-killing and big-spending policies rejected by the American people at the ballot box,'' NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay said in the release. "Instead of learning from the midterm elections and listening to voters, Democrats have rehired the one person who may be most responsible for the reckless agenda that has left middle-class families with fewer jobs and mountains of debt."

    The NRCC issued an identical release attacking 5th District Democrat Chris Murphy. (By the way, why Democrats John Larson, Joe Courtney and Rosa DeLauro get a pass?)

     


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    HARTFORD -- On the historic day of his inauguration as Connecticut's first Democratic governor in two decades, Dannel Patrick Malloy issued a call for shared sacrifice and optimism as the state faces one of the largest budget deficits in its history.

    In a day filled with pomp and pageantry as the state legislature opened its 2011 session, lawmakers gave Malloy the benefit of the doubt as they await the details next month on his plans for closing a projected budget deficit of $3.5 billion for the next fiscal year.

    In a 21-minute State of the State Address that was interrupted by applause more than 15 times, Malloy did not mention any details about raising taxes or cutting spending. Instead, he said the state is facing "a crisis of historic proportions'' that places the state at the "crossroads of crisis and opportunity.'' 

    "I believe that Connecticut's best days are ahead -- if we join together in what must be a shared, emerging movement for rational, honest, achievable change,'' Malloy told the crowd of more than 2,000 people at the state Armory in Hartford after being sworn in at 2:40 p.m. "A movement that restores economic vitality, creates jobs, and returns Connecticut to fiscal solvency by establishing our means and living within them."

    In an inaugural speech that sounded many of the same themes Malloy would address less than two hours later in an address to the full legislature, Malloy said: "Today I see an economic crisis and an employment crisis, both fueled by an unfriendly employer environment, a lack of educational resources, a deteriorating transportation system, and an enormous budget crisis of historic proportions. All coddled by a habit of political sugarcoating that has passed our problems onto the next generation.''

    Malloy added, "Well, ladies and gentlemen, the next generation is here.''

    The crowd applauded.

    Senate Republican leader John McKinney said flatly that Malloy was correct that the legislature has sugarcoated the problems and pushed off important decisions into the future.

    But House Speaker Chris Donovan, a Democrat who has led the House chamber for the past two years, did not agree that the Democratic-controlled legislature has been "sugarcoating'' the state's fiscal problems with one-shot revenues, accounting maneuvers, and budgetary gimmicks that masked the true problems.

    "I don't care about sugarcoating,'' Donovan told reporters after Malloy's speech. "I don't want to answer about sugarcoating. I don't even know what sugarcoating means. Well, actually I do. We used to put sugar on our cereal. We don't do that any more. That's rhetoric people use. We balanced the budget. We used our rainy day fund We used federal funds. ... I'm proud of our budget. I don't care about words that people say. I'm caring about what we need to do moving forward.''


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    The highly controversial nomination of Judge Robert Chatigny to a prestigious federal appeals court in New York City has been withdrawn.

    Chatigny, who performed the wedding ceremony for U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd, had been nominated for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit at Foley Square. Dodd had backed Chatigny's nomination, but Dodd did not seek reelection and was replaced Wednesday by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.

    Chatigny - pronounced Shot Knee - will remain as a federal judge.


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    The Hartford Courant's Java columnist was asked to leave a $2,500-per-person fundraiser Wednesday night for the Democratic State Central Committee.

    Java's MaryEllen Fillo had an agreement with Democratic state party chairwoman Nancy DiNardo to attend the fundraiser in a public building at the Old State House in downtown Hartford, but it didn't work out that way as she was asked to leave by a security guard.

    Columnist Rick Green has the details at http://blogs.courant.com/rick_green/2011/01/transparency-java-tossed-out-o.html


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    House Republican leader Larry Cafero and Senate Republican leader John McKinney will address a town meeting Saturday reviewing the 2010 election and charting a future course for the party.

    The gathering, hosted by the House Republican Campaign Committee, will be held from 9 a.m. to noon in the Constitution Room at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. Participants are asked to bring ideas and feedback and to "please check your ego at the door." To reserve a seat, email gopspeakout@gmail.com

       


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    Newly installed Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is hosting a forum tomorrow on what went wrong during the 2010 election and what the legislature might do to address some of those problems.

    The forum will be held tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Room 310 of the Capitol. Merrill has invited town clerks and registrars of voters from across the state in addition to voting rights advocates and members of the public.

       


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    Just hours after he was sworn in as a U.S. Senator, Richard Blumenthal boarded a plane to come back to Connecticut.

    The journey will soon become very familiar to Blumenthal: He intends to travel home a lot. Neither the senator's wife, Cynthia, nor his children are moving to D.C., says his spokesman, Ty Matsdorf, and Blumenthal plans to come home almost every weekend.

    "Blumenthal and his family will continue to live in CT,'' Matsdorf says via email, though he adds that the senator did rent a "small apartment" in Washington so he has somewhere to stay when the Senate is in session.

    Blumenthal's commuter lifestyle has more in common with the ways of the anti-establishment Republicans serving in Congress than it does with the Washington roots set down by his predecessor, Christopher Dodd. 

    In the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican, told members of his caucus that they are expected to be back in their districts for five days each month, as well as most weekends "to visit with employers, employees, seniors, veterans, and other constituent groups." Cantor unveiled a new congressional calendar in December to accommodate members who are constantly shuttling home.

    Republicans and other advocates of a commuter Congress say coming home often helps members retain a strong connection to their districts and guards against an inside-the-beltway mentality.

     

     


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    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has repeatedly talked about the shared sacrifice of everyone in the state to help pull Connecticut out of its projected $3.5 billion budget deficit.

    But in his first full day in office, Malloy said Thursday that he hopes that cities and towns can avoid any cuts in educational cost-sharing funds from the state.

    "It is my desire to do that - to hold communities harmless,'' Malloy told reporters in his Capitol office. "That's a goal that I have in preparing a budget to send to the legislature. ... There are many goals I have. We're going to try to accommodate all of them. That's a very important one.''

    The state currently sends more than $2.5 billion annually to cities and towns, and the biggest single grant is the educational cost-sharing money that is allocated to all 169 municipalities.

    "It is a big nut. It's a high priority,'' Malloy said. "We're looking at it. I'm going to do everything in my reasonable power to do that.''

    But Malloy did not rule out other potential cuts in other categories of state funds for cities and towns. 

    "I haven't said they will be held harmless of any cuts,'' Malloy said. "Everything is on the table. Everyone is invited to the table.''

    Malloy has opposed cutting education money to the cities and towns for months, but now he has the power to help stop it after being sworn in Wednesday afternoon as the state's 88th governor. He spent four hours Monday - before the inauguration - with his budget team and is starting to make the decisions that will be unveiled February 16 in his budget address. He stressed, though, that the key decisions have not been made and the evolving budget is "a work in progress.''

    Malloy did not reveal the nuts and bolts about potential tax increases and budget cuts that are expected.

    "We're just not ready to answer in greater detail what shared sacrifice means,'' he said.


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    Sgt. Robert Koistenen has been charged with interfering with the investigation of a fatal accident in Windsor Locks that involved his son, a police officer.

    The case has become the most high-profile police case in the state in recent months. His son, Michael Koistenen, had been arrested previously in the death of a 15-year-old boy who had been riding his bicycle late at night.


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    Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams will speak about the state budget this Sunday on "The Real Story'' with host Laurie Perez on Fox CT.

    Williams appears in the first segment regarding the new administration of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state's projected deficit of $3.5 billion for the fiscal year that starts in July. State officials have announced that the budget is essentially a break-even proposition in the current fiscal year - with a surplus of about $1 million.

    Well-known economist Peter Gioia of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association appears in the second segment on the issues of job growth and the state budget.


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    Only two days into the new administration, Governor Dannel P. Malloy and his budget chief, Ben Barnes, are looking for new ideas from state employees for cost savings.

    Barnes sent an e-mail, obtained by Capitol Watch, that seeks ideas from both unionized and non-unionized employees.

    The e-mail is as follows: 

    January 7, 2011

    Dear State Employee:

    As a follow-up to Governor Malloy's January 5th message to you, I would like to inform
    you that we have established a process whereby you can share your cost-effective and
    cost saving solutions with him. The Governor would like to include as many of these
    ideas as possible in the development of his first budget. As the budget must be
    presented to the legislature on February 16th, the time is very short for this process. For
    this reason, we have established a second phase which will take place over a longer
    period of time so that ideas that may take more time to develop and refine can be
    explored and evaluated. With respect to represented employees, this process has been
    established as a result of meetings with Union leaders.

    Phase One. Deadline for ideas: January 20th. All employees are encouraged to submit
    their cost savings ideas to the Governor. Ideas of non-represented employees should be
    emailed to Alison.newman@ct.gov. Unionized employees may present their ideas to
    their bargaining unit representative(s). The unions may have meetings where their
    members can share their ideas. You will be notified by your union ifthey are planning
    to utilize this approach.

    Phase Two. This will be a process over the next six (6) months and perhaps continuing
    well beyond. In addition to the continuation of the sharing of ideas as outlined under
    Phase One, there will be a process established within agencies where employees can
    share their ideas with other employees, their agency heads and management through
    agency committees. This longer term process will allow for the exchange of more
    complex ideas and the development of better solutions in a collaborative manner. For
    represented employees, the process will involve appropriate labor/management
    structures and committees and will be worked out through their elected union
    representatives. There will also be an element of centralized assistance, coordination,
    and support. More details will be provided over the next few weeks.


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    HARTFORD - In his first speech to a business audience since being sworn in as governor, Democrat Dannel Malloy told nearly 600 executives Friday that he supports paid sick leave for employees - a key issue that business lobbyists have been fighting against for years.

    Liberal legislators have been pushing for Connecticut to become the first state in the nation to mandate paid sick days for employees. The bill has passed in the House of Representatives and Senate at different times, but the issue has never reached the governor's desk.

    The Connecticut Business and Industry Association, which sponsored the event where Malloy spoke Friday, has been leading the charge against paid sick days by saying it would be a costly and unnecessary mandate on businesses.

    "I want to remind you. I'm a Democrat,'' Malloy told the crowd in a downtown Hartford hotel ballroom. "And I believe in appropriate regulation. ... We're not always going to agree. That's a simple truth. We're going to have disagreements.''

    He then talked about the workers at the hotel who served coffee Friday morning and could come into contact with those at the event.

    "I hope none of them were sick and came to work today because they feared that, if they didn't, they would lose their job,'' Malloy said. "Some of you have children that you dropped off at a day-care center today. I hope none of your children were dropped off at a day care center where people came to work with the flu or with a cold or some other malady because they feared they would lose their job if they didn't show up today.''

    Businesses, though, have fought bitterly against paid sick days - led by the CBIA lobbyists who patrol the hallways at the Capitol.

    Joseph Brennan, the chief lobbyist for CBIA, said after Malloy's inaugural address this week that CBIA is not resigned that paid sick leave will become the law - despite the new governor's support. The issue has essentially been tied in the 36-member Senate in recent years, and three Democratic incumbents were not sworn in this week. As such, the Democrats currently hold an advantage of 20 to 13 with three special elections coming up on Tuesday, February 22. The announcement of the special elections was made late Friday afternoon.

    "We have five months ahead of us to have those debates both in the legislature and with the governor,'' Brennan said. "It's been an extremely tight vote in the Senate over the last couple of years, and that's why the bill hasn't gone forward. We've got a lot of turnover in the Senate.''

    He added, "There's no way we would concede on that. ... No, there's no way in the world that we would concede that, given the fact that we still don't have a full complement of senators or House members at this point.''


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    A former city employee in Stamford has pleaded guilty and agreed to be sentenced to five years in prison in connection with stealing more than $300,000 from the city during the administration of then-Mayor Dannel P. Malloy.

    Fred Manfredonia was one of three Stamford employees in different departments who were arrested last year in alleged embezzlement cases that were uncovered by the new Republican administration that took office in December 2009.

    Manfredonia's arrest became an issue during the gubernatorial election campaign when Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele - a Stamford resident for 50 years - criticized Malloy in late July for a lack of management control after the three employees were charged with stealing more than $400,000 from the city.

    Two of the three workers had been named "employee of the month'' during the Malloy years, and one of them - Manfredonia - was photographed with Malloy as they smiled during the employee of the month ceremony in June 2005. He was nominated to be employee of the month by Ben Barnes, a longtime colleague of Manfredonia's who is now Malloy's state budget director.

    Manfredonia was fired last year amid the embezzlement controversy.

    "The question is: who was watching the store when all of this was going on?'' Fedele asked at the time. "What management controls were in place and who was watching when all this took place?''

    Fedele was running in the Republican gubernatorial primary at the time, and Malloy was running in the Democratic primary. Malloy's opponent, Ned Lamont of Greenwich, declined to criticize Malloy on the issue.

    Malloy emphasized at the time that he was no longer the mayor and did not have additional details on the arrests beyond what he read in the newspaper.

    "Obviously, you do your best to set up systems'' of financial controls, Malloy said. "The city's books are audited on a regular basis. Two of those individuals were caught very quickly, and one was not. It's hard to protect people from dishonesty. ... You have systems. No system is foolproof.''

    "Let's be fair. None of these people were direct reports to me,'' Malloy said.

    Manfredonia's attorney, Philip Russell of Greenwich, told Capitol Watch on Friday that his client will be formally sentenced on March 3 under the plea agreement. He said that Manfredonia is trying to avoid any protracted civil cases with the city over potential restitution.

    "His pension has been forfeited,'' Russell said. "He's making no claim for pension benefits.'' 

    Knowing that a prison sentence was likely in the case, Manfredonia agreed to be incarcerated in advance of his sentencing and has been serving time since September 20, Russell said.

    Until Manfredonia's arrest, he had been deemed as a good employee as the human resources director, Russell said.

    "He was a go-to guy in city government because he was trusted and he was good at solving problems,'' Russell said. "He was a trusted city employee, and the city leaders appropriately feel betrayed.''

    A former New York City prosecutor who handled homicides and assaults, Russell now practices in a two-attorney Greenwich firm with Stamford resident Kathleen O. Malloy - the new governor's niece.


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    U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal will conduct a two-week "listening tour" of the state. He plans to crisscross Connecticut, with stops from Groton to Danbury; Stamford to Winsted.

    "The listening tour will be an opportunity for Blumenthal to travel from town to town, meeting with small business owners, workers, community leaders, veterans, local elected officials, and other residents to listen to their ideas about creating jobs and rebuilding the economy,'' spokesman Ty Matsdorf said in an email announcing the tour. "Blumenthal plans to visit Main Streets, small businesses, economic development centers, diners, senior centers, and downtown areas."

    The tour will begin on Monday with a tour of the Old Town Hall and Stamford Innovation Center.

    The full schedule is listed below:  

     


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    U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman issued a statement condemning the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Judge John M. Roll and several others in Arizona today.

    I'm deeply saddened by the tragic events that took place today in Tucson, Arizona and strongly condemn this senseless act of violence,'' Lieberman said. "We cannot tolerate threats or violence against our public servants or those who are simply engaging in our democracy.  I am heartened by reports that Congresswoman Giffords will pull through and am hopeful for her recovery, as well as those who are still fighting their injuries.  My and Hadassah's thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, those at the scene--including Judge Roll and those who were injured or killed, and their families."

     At the very same moment gunfire erupted outside an Arizona supermarket where Giffords was meeting with constituents, Connecticut's new governor was holding his own meet-and-greet with citizens.


    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said by email this afternoon that he and his wife Cathy "send their thoughts and prayers to our friend, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, her family, staff and others who were involved in this horrific incident."

    "Those of us who serve in public life know there are risks, but precious few of us ever realize them firsthand,'' Malloy added. "Rep. Giffords was doing her job- talking to Arizona residents about their concerns and ideas- when this happened. It is unfathomable to me that there are people who believe this is how best to be heard."

    Local politicians offered their reaction to the shooting throughout the afternoon. U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney called Giffords "one of the smartest, most caring members of Congress I know.

    "We entered Congress the same year and have served together on the Armed Services Committee, where she has distinguished herself as a strong supporter of the Air Force and military families. I am praying for her and the other victims of today's shooting. I condemn this dastardly attack on her and our democracy."

    Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy posted the following statement on his Twitter page. Murphy is no stranger to the type of supermarket meet-and-greet that U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was holding when the shooting occurred; he frequently sets up a card table at a local Stop & Shop to chat with constituents.

  • Chris Murphy ChrisMurphyCT My God. Our prayers are all with Gabby and her family right now. I can't stop shaking in disbelief. This is awful beyond words.

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    U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy was sworn in to Congress the same day as Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. They are about the same age and they each were married during their freshman term. And they are both Democrats with similar centerist political viewpoints.


    "She's a good friend,'' Murphy said in a brief phone interview Saturday, just hours after learning that Giffords had been shot in the head while meeting with constituents at a supermarket just north of Tucson. "She's someone I've leaned on for counsel and advice."

    Murphy and Giffords share something else in common: Like several other newer members of Congress they place a premium on public accessibility. Murphy, who represents Connecticut's 5th District, routinely holds "Congress in Your Corner" events at supermarkets across his district -- similar to the one Giffords was holding at the time of the shooting.

    "Gabby and I have talked about it being really important to us to go to where our constituents are,'' Murphy said. "Gabby was doing what she loved to do, which is reaching out and talking to her constituents."

    Those meetings aren't always present for members of Congress: Murphy hosted a raucous gathering at Stop and Shop in Simsbury during the summer of 2009, when he was repeatedly and loudly criticized for supporting President Obama's health care overhaul.

    In the aftermath of the shooting, does Murphy think such public meetings are still a good idea? "I don't think anyone can draw any lessons yet from today,'' he said. But, he added, "I don't think there's anything you can do to shield yourself from one very disturbed person.'' 

    h\t to Dudchik for tracking down the video

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    About 200 people turned out on a snowbound Saturday to greet the new governor during an open house at the state Capitol.

    Call it the people's inaugural ball.

    Instead of ball gowns and tuxes, they came in sweaters, boots and jackets. Each visitor had a few minutes to chat with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, and each had a particular reason for coming.

    Brenda Colon brought her 6-year-old son, Jalen Bowen, because "he needs to know who's running our state," she said.

    The boy, a first-grader at John F. Kennedy School in Windsor, thoroughly charmed Malloy.

    "You have a good handshake and you know how to make eye contact," Malloy told Jalen before noting that he could have a future in politics.

    Fourteen-year-old Trianna Gutzman of Bethel came seeking support for her cause: She is advocating for a new state law that would permit children age 12 and older to speak directly to a judge in a parental custody dispute.

    Malloy, a lawyer by training, expressed support for the concept and said he'd have his legal counsel look into it further.



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    "Oddballs and misfits" are part of politics, says state Republican Chairman Chris Healy.

    "When I worked for Congressman Gary Franks in the early 1990's, there was a fellow from Newtown who would write and call all the time about his theories on the International Monetary Fund, the Notch Babies and currency manipulation," Healy writes on his blog, Make Blue Red.

    More recently, Linda McMahon had a visitor who would stop by her West Hartford headquarters shouting profanities "and other incoherent rantings against the candidate,'' Healy said.

    Most of the time, Healy notes, these folks are merely harmless pests, annoyances that are part of a free and open society. "The risks of a representative democracy are of little solace here,'' he writes. "But it is the way it is as long as we treasure freedom of speech and assemble. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, an exercise in civics turned into an afternoon of terror."

     "In the meantime,'' he concludes, "say a prayer tonight for Giffords and the rest of those who fell on an afternoon in Tucson doing their jobs." 



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    U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro's former chief of staff, Ashley Turton, has died in a car fire in Washington, D.C.

    After the fire in the BMW at her family's garage was extinguished, firefighters on the scene found Turton's body.

    An energy lobbyist who was well known in Washington political circles, she had previously worked as an aide to U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt, a Democrat who ran for president in 2004 against former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, U.S. Senators John Kerry and Joseph I. Lieberman, and former U.S. John Edwards.

    Turton, whose husband is a well-known liaison in President Barack Obama's White House, was the mother of three young children under the age of 5.

    The incident happened before 5 a.m., and Turton had apparently been planning to drive to the airport for a morning flight.


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