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Headlines from Courant.com

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    The tragic shootings in Arizona show the need for an examination of mental illness because the shooter was "paranoid, most certainly,'' Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday.

    U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at point-blank range, and at least 20 people were hit by 31 shots from a Glock semi-automatic pistol in the shooting on Saturday, officials said. 

    "The Congresswoman and I developed a relationship, as she had with my wife,'' Malloy said, adding that he knows Giffords through the national Democratic Leadership Council.

    Malloy's wife, Cathy, and Giffords had both attended the Women's Campaign School at Yale University in New Haven - a long-running program for women considering careers in politics. Giffords has served on the school's board of directors.

    "It should offer us an opportunity to reflect on our dialogue. It also should offer us an opportunity to reflect on whether or not we are meeting the needs of the individuals in our community who suffer from mental illness,'' Malloy told reporters Monday at the state Capitol. "Quite clearly, from the writings of this individual that we've been exposed to so far, he was delusional, probably; paranoid, most certainly and other diagnosed conditions that cause me to wonder whether we're doing enough in our society for the mentally ill.''


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    U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal issued his first public statement on Saturday's shooting in Arizona, calling it an "assault on our democracy."

    As he embarks on his first "listening tour" of the state as a U.S. Senator, Blumenthal also expressed his commitment to "being open an accessible to the people of Connecticut."

    "First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers continue to be with Congresswoman Giffords, the other victims of this unspeakable tragedy, and their families," Blumenthal said. "This was an act of senseless, deranged violence that was not only an assault on those in Arizona, but an assault on our democracy.

    "The hallmark of our democracy is the right of citizens to have access to their elected representatives without fear of violence or intimidation. As I begin a two week listening tour of the state, I remain committed to being open and accessible to the people of Connecticut as I always have been. The safety of my constituents and my staff remains my top priority, and I will work closely with law enforcement to ensure they are protected."


     


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    Like newly elected U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who is conducting his first listening tour since the election, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes is holding a series of brown-bag lunches with constituents this week.

    Himes intends to remain accessible to constituents despite the shooting in Arizona during a supermarket meet-and-greet with U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.

    Himes has received death threats during the health care debate, but such incidents "are not a regular occurrence," said Himes spokeswoman Elizabeth Kerr. "We have received them and we contacted the appropriate authorities."  

    In the aftermath of the shootings, U.S. Capitol police urged members of Congress to take "reasonable and prudent" safety precautions.

    Kerr said Himes usually contacts local mayors and first selectmen before he visits a community to discuss logistics and whether security is needed.  


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    "My husband Stan and I are shocked by the tragic loss of our dear friend and colleague, Ashley Turton,'' Rosa DeLauro said in a statement issued this afternoon.

    "She was special. She was special as a pioneering chief-of-staff who knew how to make the House of Representatives work for people. She was a leader and comrade in arms to so many staff. She was a member of our family, and we mourn her. My heart goes out to her family, especially her husband Dan and their three young children. This is truly a terrible week for our Congressional family."


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    HARTFORD -- Connecticut state government has twice as many managers as the national average, and a hand-picked group of advisers told Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday that must end.

    Malloy has decried a top-heavy state government since he was a Democratic candidate for governor, and now he has pledged to do something about it after taking the oath of office less than one week ago.

    Malloy received the recommendation as part of more than 1,800 pages of policies and priorities for his new administration. Some recommendations will be included in Malloy's budget proposal next month, but others are long-term proposals that would be enacted over the next four years.

    The report by Malloy's transition team covered 12 areas, including taxes, transportation, energy and housing. The section on the performance of state government said that it "is excessively hierarchical with multiple layers of management.''

    While Connecticut has one supervisor or manager for every six front-line employees, the national average of state governments is one supervisor for 12 workers. Those statistics were gleaned from a bipartisan commission that recently studied state government.

    "The need to move to a flatter organizational structure with more authority vested in front-line workers must be addressed,'' the transition team's report said.

    More than 35 members of Malloy's transition team gathered at the state Capitol to review the reports, and Malloy himself carried the thick reports in two boxes down to his office after the session ended. He told reporters that the layers of management would be reduced over a number of years.

    "I didn't know until relatively recently -- earlier than today -- how out of whack we were with other states,'' Malloy said, adding that state government is "too top-heavy, too top-down.''

    When asked by a reporter if any of the managers could be reassigned to other positions, Malloy responded, "Any openings in journalism?''


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    The legislature's Select Committee on Aging will now be known as simply the Committee on Aging.

    The change is more than semantic: It signifies a higher profile and a greater policy-making role for the panel.

    "We will be able to develop legislation and get it out for a vote,'' said Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, the committee chairwoman, said during a Capitol press conference this morning. As a select committee, the panel was prohibited from referring bills directly to the House and Senate floor; they had to be approved a second committee, a cumbersome process that resulted in some legislation dying before it could be presented.

    Prague said Sen. President Donald Williams approved the committee's upgrade after reviewing whether it would cost any extra money "and it doesn't,'' she said.


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    photo.jpg1.jpgThe new governor, Dannel P. Malloy, says he has a message for state residents regarding the upcoming storm: "Get prepared.''

    After a briefing from top state officials, Malloy said the state is preparing for storms of wide ranges, depending on the track of the storm that is expected to start at midnight.

    "We have a big range,'' Malloy told reporters early Tuesday afternoon. "We've got to be prepared.''

    He added, "Let's be very clear. If we get 20 inches of snow, it's going to be a mess. If we get 20 inches of snow, people are going to complain. They're going to be unhappy.''

    Malloy cautioned drivers to stay off the roads between 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday. The state is trying to avoid a repeat of the problems along Interstate 84 from Newtown through Danbury last week that was caused by an accident on the New York State side of the border - causing backups into Connecticut.

    "We're going to have people stranded because people do silly things,'' Malloy predicted at the state armory in Hartford. "If you're not on the highway, I can guarantee you won't be stranded on it.''

    Malloy is awaiting an important weather update at 4 p.m., which will help state officials determine the exact track of the storm. At that point, Malloy will make some decisions regarding whether non-essential state employees should stay home on Wednesday.

    At its worst, the snow could be as heavy as 4 inches per hour. In anticipation, the state's emergency operations center at the armory will be open at full speed at 10 p.m. tonight. A new shift of workers will arrive at 7 a.m. Wednesday.


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    A former school bus driver and pizza restaurant chef, hired into the state's permanent civil-service workforce as an agricultural inspector last July by the Republican administration of then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell over higher-rated candidates, was told Tuesday that she will lose her $61,664-a-year job a few days short of completing her six-month probationary period, officials said.

    Debra Hinman, 55, of Burlington, had been hired last July 16 by F. Philip Prelli, Rell's appointee as commissioner at the state Department of Agriculture. Hinman is the mother of Jamie Hinman, who worked several years ago in the governor's office as an aide to Rell's powerful chief of staff, M. Lisa Moody. But both Moody and Prelli now are gone - and the newly inaugurated Democratic governor, Dannel Malloy, has named his own commissioner, Steven K. Reviczky, who is on the job while awaiting legislative confirmation.

    Malloy had criticized the Hinman hiring after the Courant first reported about it in late September, and he said that, if elected, he would have his agency heads look into such cases. Monday's action is the apparent result.


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    malloy-presser.jpgGov. Dannel P. Malloy has made no major decisions regarding the snow storm - waiting for the latest weather updates and planning to make an announcement at 9 p.m.

    "There are some disagreements about whether it's shifting left or right,'' Malloy told reporters at a briefing in his state Capitol office. "If it shifts right, we could see a lot of snow in central Connecticut. If it shifts left, we could see lots and lots and lots of snow over the entirety of Connecticut. Most of the state appears to be in a 15 to 25-inch band.''

    Malloy has not made any decisions about potentially declaring a state of emergency.

    "If the storm is delayed in beginning, and it could be delayed based on what is happening over the water, then we could be talking about a lot less snow,'' Malloy said. "Let's expect a lot of snow - 15 to 25 inches.''


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    Remember when veteran political writer Stuart Rothenberg dubbed broker and U.S. Senate candidate Peter Schiff of Connecticut the "cockiest candidate" of the 2010 election cycle?

    Well, Schiff is striking back in a lengthy op-ed piece published in tomorrow's edition of the Washington Times.

    Rothenbeg produces the respected political journal, The Rothenberg Report, which Schiff dismisses as "a classic 'inside-the-beltway' publication targeted at those whose lives and livelihoods revolve around national politics."

    More interesting than his squabble with Rotherberg are Schiff's observations about the American political system and where its headed. He was the quintessential outsider whose message of hard times  stood in sharp contrast to the tightly scripted optimism espoused by most consultant-driven campaigns.

    "Mr. Rothenberg knows how the game works, but what he didn't know then and still doesn't know is that the rules of the game are changing,'' Schiff said. 

    "Though I admit that my campaign skills were less than formidable, I managed to do far better than he would have predicted in his wildest dreams. Despite being matched against far better funded and better known rivals (outspent 10 to 1 in the Republican primary), hamstrung by a low 50 percent name recognition on Election Day in a state that largely missed the Tea Party flood, and ignored by both the local and national political media, I still managed to get more than 23 percent of the vote in a three-way Republican primary. In addition, I won the support of all three Connecticut Tea Party groups, most of the other grass-roots political organizations within the state and had more individual donors than both my opponents combined.

    "Could it be that unpolished honesty has a place in politics?"


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    Gov. Dannel Malloy, on his one-week anniversary in office, will be holding a news conference at 12 noon today on the latest on the huge snowstorm that has descended upon Connecticut.

    Malloy has been busy on a series of conference calls in recent days. He participated in a conference call Tuesday at the state armory with about 250 state and local officials before he briefed the media. At that news conference, he said he would have updated weather information at 4 p.m. When reporters arrived at his state Capitol office at 4:30 p.m., staffers were still monitoring the weather, and Malloy announced that he would have another update at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

    Later, he announced an update at 6 a.m. Wednesday - after the snow had started accumulating - and the latest update, as mentioned above, will be at 12 noon today.

    He has been meeting regularly with his inner circle - including Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and chief of staff Tim Bannon - on the preparations for the storm and the cleanup.


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    On his one-week anniversary in office, new Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is showing a different, hands-on style that is exemplified by his handling of a historic snowstorm that hit Connecticut.

    Malloy held constant briefings for the news media, and appeared on live television broadcasts three times Wednesday. That came on top of three briefings on Tuesday, in which he talked about the "news cycles'' and the need to spread the message through the news media about the approaching and then-arriving storm.

    While Gov. M. Jodi Rell also held emergency meetings at the state armory during storms, she never met as frequently with the media as Malloy did during a 30-hour period.

    In answering questions, Malloy constantly referred to his 14 years as mayor of Stamford as a way to explain his preparation for the storm that dumped more than 24 inches in some parts of the state.

    "When you're mayor, you have to be out there in the community and be the face of government,'' said Democratic operative Matthew Hennessy, who handled storms and crises as the former chief of staff to then-Hartford mayor Eddie Perez. "Dan is bringing that approach to being governor. This is just the beginning of Dan stepping up to the front. You bring that ethos that 'I've got to be out in front of the situation' in a hands-on, accountability model.''

     For more than 24 hours, Malloy was on a whirlwind of conference calls and press conferences as the storm approached and then did its damage. He participated in a conference call Tuesday at the state armory with about 250 state and local officials before he briefed the media. At that news conference, he said he would have updated weather information at 4 p.m. Tuesday. When reporters arrived at his state Capitol office at 4:30 p.m., staffers were still monitoring the weather, and Malloy announced that he would have yet another update at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

    Later, his press office announced another update for 6 a.m. Wednesday - after the snow had started accumulating - and then at 12 noon. The noon conference was carried live on Channel 3, 8, and 61 as snow-bound citizens watched the update from the comfort of their homes.

    At 6 p.m., all four local network affiliates - CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX - broadcast some portion of Malloy's press briefing. Fox CT broke into its regular programming to carry Malloy's remarks before returning to the program at about 6:12 p.m. 


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    THE WHITE HOUSE

    Office of the Press Secretary

    _______________________________________________________________________________________

    EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY

    January 12, 2011

     

     

    Remarks of President Barack Obama - As Prepared for Delivery

    At a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona

    University of Arizona, McKale Memorial Center

    Tucson, Arizona

    January 12, 2011

     

    As Prepared for Delivery--

     

    To the families of those we've lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants gathered tonight, and the people of Tucson and Arizona:  I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.

     

    There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts.  But know this: the hopes of a nation are here tonight.  We mourn with you for the fallen.  We join you in your grief.  And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy pull through.

     

    As Scripture tells us:

     

    There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

    the holy place where the Most High dwells.

    God is within her, she will not fall;

    God will help her at break of day.

     

    On Saturday morning, Gabby, her staff, and many of her constituents gathered outside a supermarket to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and free speech.  They were fulfilling a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders - representatives of the people answering to their constituents, so as to carry their concerns to our nation's capital.  Gabby called it "Congress on Your Corner" - just an updated version of government of and by and for the people.

     

    That is the quintessentially American scene that was shattered by a gunman's bullets.  And the six people who lost their lives on Saturday - they too represented what is best in America.

     

    Judge John Roll served our legal system for nearly 40 years.  A graduate of this university and its law school, Judge Roll was recommended for the federal bench by John McCain twenty years ago, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, and rose to become Arizona's chief federal judge.  His colleagues described him as the hardest-working judge within the Ninth Circuit.  He was on his way back from attending Mass, as he did every day, when he decided to stop by and say hi to his Representative.  John is survived by his loving wife, Maureen, his three sons, and his five grandchildren.

     

    George and Dorothy Morris - "Dot" to her friends - were high school sweethearts who got married and had two daughters.  They did everything together, traveling the open road in their RV, enjoying what their friends called a 50-year honeymoon.  Saturday morning, they went by the Safeway to hear what their Congresswoman had to say.  When gunfire rang out, George, a former Marine, instinctively tried to shield his wife.  Both were shot.  Dot passed away.

     

    A New Jersey native, Phyllis Schneck retired to Tucson to beat the snow. But in the summer, she would return East, where her world revolved around her 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 2 year-old great-granddaughter.  A gifted quilter, she'd often work under her favorite tree, or sometimes sew aprons with the logos of the Jets and the Giants to give out at the church where she volunteered.  A Republican, she took a liking to Gabby, and wanted to get to know her better.

     

    Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard grew up in Tucson together - about seventy years ago. They moved apart and started their own respective families, but after both were widowed they found their way back here, to, as one of Mavy's daughters put it, "be boyfriend and girlfriend again." When they weren't out on the road in their motor home, you could find them just up the road, helping folks in need at the Mountain Avenue Church of Christ.  A retired construction worker, Dorwan spent his spare time fixing up the church along with their dog, Tux.  His final act of selflessness was to dive on top of his wife, sacrificing his life for hers.

     

    Everything Gabe Zimmerman did, he did with passion - but his true passion was people.  As Gabby's outreach director, he made the cares of thousands of her constituents his own, seeing to it that seniors got the Medicare benefits they had earned, that veterans got the medals and care they deserved, that government was working for ordinary folks.  He died doing what he loved - talking with people and seeing how he could help.  Gabe is survived by his parents, Ross and Emily, his brother, Ben, and his fiancée, Kelly, who he planned to marry next year.

     

    And then there is nine year-old Christina Taylor Green.  Christina was an A student, a dancer, a gymnast, and a swimmer.  She often proclaimed that she wanted to be the first woman to play in the major leagues, and as the only girl on her Little League team, no one put it past her.  She showed an appreciation for life uncommon for a girl her age, and would remind her mother, "We are so blessed.  We have the best life."  And she'd pay those blessings back by participating in a charity that helped children who were less fortunate.

     

    Our hearts are broken by their sudden passing.  Our hearts are broken - and yet, our hearts also have reason for fullness.

     

    Our hearts are full of hope and thanks for the 13 Americans who survived the shooting, including the congresswoman many of them went to see on Saturday.  I have just come from the University Medical Center, just a mile from here, where our friend Gabby courageously fights to recover even as we speak.  And I can tell you this - she knows we're here and she knows we love her and she knows that we will be rooting for her throughout what will be a difficult journey.

     

    And our hearts are full of gratitude for those who saved others.  We are grateful for Daniel Hernandez, a volunteer in Gabby's office who ran through the chaos to minister to his boss, tending to her wounds to keep her alive.  We are grateful for the men who tackled the gunman as he stopped to reload.  We are grateful for a petite 61 year-old, Patricia Maisch, who wrestled away the killer's ammunition, undoubtedly saving some lives.  And we are grateful for the doctors and nurses and emergency medics who worked wonders to heal those who'd been hurt.

     

    These men and women remind us that heroism is found not only on the fields of battle.  They remind us that heroism does not require special training or physical strength.  Heroism is here, all around us, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens, just waiting to be summoned - as it was on Saturday morning.

     

    Their actions, their selflessness, also pose a challenge to each of us.  It raises the question of what, beyond the prayers and expressions of concern, is required of us going forward.  How can we honor the fallen?  How can we be true to their memory?

     

    You see, when a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations - to try to impose some order on the chaos, and make sense out of that which seems senseless.  Already we've seen a national conversation commence, not only about the motivations behind these killings, but about everything from the merits of gun safety laws to the adequacy of our mental health systems.  Much of this process, of debating what might be done to prevent such tragedies in the future, is an essential ingredient in our exercise of self-government.

     

    But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized - at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do - it's important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.

     

    Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding.  In the words of Job, "when I looked for light, then came darkness."  Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

     

    For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack.  None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.

     

    So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy.  We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.

     

    But what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another.  As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility.  Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.

     

    After all, that's what most of us do when we lose someone in our family - especially if the loss is unexpected.  We're shaken from our routines, and forced to look inward.  We reflect on the past.   Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder.  Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us?  Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in awhile but every single day?

     

    So sudden loss causes us to look backward - but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us.  We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives.  Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order.  We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame - but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.

     

    That process of reflection, of making sure we align our values with our actions - that, I believe, is what a tragedy like this requires.  For those who were harmed, those who were killed - they are part of our family, an American family 300 million strong.  We may not have known them personally, but we surely see ourselves in them.  In George and Dot, in Dorwan and Mavy, we sense the abiding love we have for our own husbands, our own wives, our own life partners.  Phyllis - she's our mom or grandma; Gabe our brother or son.  In Judge Roll, we recognize not only a man who prized his family and doing his job well, but also a man who embodied America's fidelity to the law.  In Gabby, we see a reflection of our public spiritedness, that desire to participate in that sometimes frustrating, sometimes contentious, but always necessary and never-ending process to form a more perfect union.

     

    And in Christina...in Christina we see all of our children.  So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic.

     

    So deserving of our love.

     

    And so deserving of our good example.  If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost.  Let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.

     

    The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives - to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents.  And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.  It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.

     

    I believe we can be better.  Those who died here, those who saved lives here - they help me believe.  We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us.  I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

     

    That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed.  Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future.  She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful.  She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model.  She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.

     

    I want us to live up to her expectations.  I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.  All of us - we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.

     

    Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called "Faces of Hope."  On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child's life.  "I hope you help those in need," read one.  "I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart.  I hope you jump in rain puddles."

     

    If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today.  And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.

     

    May God bless and keep those we've lost in restful and eternal peace.  May He love and watch over the survivors.  And may He bless the United States of America.

     

    ###


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    mccollam.jpg2.jpg

    Charles M. "Chad' McCollam Jr. of Bethel, chief of staff to Democratic governors Ella T. Grasso and William A. O'Neill -- and one of the most influential behind-the-scenes forces in Connecticut politics in the 1970s and 1980s -- died Wednesday at Danbury Hospital, a spokesman for his family said Thursday. He was 78.

    The cause of his death after a short illness has not been announced, but McCollam had diabetes for some time, friends said.

    "He was a terrific person. He was a political institution," said David McQuade, a state Capitol lobbyist, who previously served as a gubernatorial aide in O'Neill's office before succeeding McCollam as chief of staff in 1988. "Chad was a great backroom political operative, and very loyal," McQuade said.

    McCollam was a veteran Democratic office holder and party official at both the local and state levels. He served several years as a member of the state House of Representatives beginning in 1959, and 10 years later won the first of three elections for Bethel first selectman by just three votes.  He also served as the clerk of the state Senate.

    McCollam was a burly and unpretentious man who in 1977 described himself in a Courant profile as "an overweight, 44-year-old politician." He became known as a close adviser and confidant to not only Grasso and O'Neill, but also legendary Democratic state and national chairman John Bailey.


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    For days, reporters had been receiving e-mails from the office of Stamford Mayor Michael A. Pavia - who succeeded Dannel P. Malloy - about "an important public announcement'' that would be made on Thursday.

    One of the e-mails stated, "The topic of the press conference is of the utmost importance. However, it is not being announced at this time.''

    Well, the waiting is over.

    Former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine was named Thursday as Stamford's new director of public safety and public health. The apparent problem, it would seem, is that Valentine already has a fulltime job as a baseball analyst for ESPN.

    But Valentine says it will not interfere with his ESPN work because there are plenty of hours in the day.

    Valentine appeared at a news conference Thursday with Pavia at city hall, and the two leaders smiled as they talked about the position. They agreed that Valentine would be paid $10,000 per year, but Valentine says he will donate that money to Stamford charities. They told The Stamford Advocate that Valentine would oversee the city's police and fire chiefs, who would remain in charge of the day-to-day operations of their departments.

    Valentine's position was held more than seven years ago by Ben Barnes, who has been named by Malloy as the state budget director.

    Known as a favorite son of Stamford, Valentine has been a major figure in the city for years. For decades, he has owned a sports bar in downtown Stamford within walking distance of Curley's Diner, an eatery that became engulfed in a major controversy when the city tried to take the diner by eminent domain. The case went to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which ruled against the city. The diner remains open today.

    Now 60, Valentine is perhaps best known as the former manager of the New York Mets from 1996 through 2002. He took the team to the playoffs in 1999 and 2000 - when the Mets lost in the hotly contested subway series against the New York Yankees. Valentine managed the Mets in the era when the team was led by its star catcher, Mike Piazza.

    After the National League championship season, Valentine went to the White House in June 2001 with Piazza, pitcher Al Leiter, third baseman Robin Ventura and other veteran players to visit with President George W. Bush, who had been his boss when Valentine was the manager of the Texas Rangers. They also received a tour of the U.S. Capitol from U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, who described Valentine as his best-known constituent in the Fourth Congressional District.

    Besides being a manager, Valentine had a .260 career batting average during his 10-year career as a player for five different teams, including the Mets. But he is known mainly for his managerial career, which included two stints in Japan.


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    U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy is widely believed to be close to announcing a bid for U.S. Senate in 2012 but at a "Congress on Your Corner" event in Simsbury today he said nothing to stoke or quell the rumors.

    "It's something I'm interested in,'' Murphy said while standing outside Fitzgerald's Foods as darkness closed in late this afternoon.

    The congressman, who has represented the 5th District since 2006, said he's talking with his family and weighing his options but also knows that, if he does take the plunge, a decision is needed fairly soon.

    "The nature of a modern Senate campaign is you can't wait too long to decide because it takes a long time to raise ridiculous amounts of money required to run for the Senate,'' he said.


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    He has apparently lost his seat on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (per CT Capitol Report.)


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    Bow and arrow hunting on Sundays, recycling of paint cans and a five-cent fee for each paper or plastic bag at a supermarket or retail shop.
     
    Those are some of the 34 proposals that could be raised by the legislature's environment committee during the current legislative session.
     
    The committee held a brief meeting Friday afternoon. More concepts could be raised when the group meets again on Jan. 28, said co-chairmen Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, and Rep. Richard Roy, D-Milford.
     
    The fee for bags at stores may prove one of the committee's more controversial measures. Roy said he expects vigorous opposition from the grocery industry.
     

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    A former police chief has been found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the high-profile trial involving the death of a young boy who was firing an Uzi submachine gun.

    The Massachusetts jury ruled that Edward Fleury was not guilty in the death of 8-year-old Christopher Bizilj, who attended the gun event with his father. The boy's accidental death was videotaped by his father, who had been watching his son as he was firing the Uzi.

    The defense maintained that the tragedy was an accident and that the former police chief, whose company co-sponsored the event, was not responsible. The testimony showed that Fleury had not been involved in picking the weapon used by Bizilj and was not directly involved in supervising Bizilj.

    Dr. Charles Bizilj, an emergency room doctor, kept his camera running during the incident, and the jury in Springfield watched the graphic videotape that he had recorded. During cross-examination on the witness stand, the doctor conceded that he could have prevented his son from shooting the weapon.


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    Joan McDonald, who rose to become an important player in the administration of Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, is leaving to return to New York State.

    She was tapped Friday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be the next commissioner of the state Department of Transportation.

    There had been much speculation in Connecticut about McDonald's possible role in the new administration of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, but now she is headed back to New York State. She served in the final years of the Rell administration as the commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, having been named in May 2007.

    Malloy was quoted in a news release from Cuomo's office about McDonald's nomination.

    "Commissioner McDonald is a talented and hardworking individual, dedicated to helping create new jobs and engaging Connecticut's business community,'' Malloy said in the statement. "I've enjoyed my working relationship with her, and we're sorry to see her go, but I know that her work ethic, her experience, and her dedication to the job will be of great service to the people of New York State."

    McDonald had generated speculation in Connecticut after she started showing up at important budget meetings at the state Capitol during the Rell years with budget director Robert Genuario. Some Capitol insiders assumed that she would become Rell's next budget chief, but that was strongly denied at the time by a key Rell official and it never came to pass.


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