November 30, 2009

Foley sounds like a gubernatorial candidate

Speaking to the city's Republican Town Committee tonight, former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley sounded every bit like he's made up his mind to run for governor next year.
Foley said he "can make more of a difference" as a governor than he can as a U.S. senator.
Though he declared he would announce this week whether he'll drop his Senate candidacy in favor of seeking the governorship, Foley left everyone with little doubt he'd already made up his mind.
As an outsider, Foley said, he could "come in and shake it up" in Hartford and "knock down the status quo" that has the state teetering on the brink of financial collapse.
"I can make a difference," Foley said.
Foley is one of three millionaires vying for the right to represent the GOP in the 2010 Senate race against vulnerable Democratic incumbent Chris Dodd. One of the others, Linda McMahon, also spoke to the GOP committee this evening.
Foley said if he drops out of the Senate race, he's sure that McMahon or former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons can beat Dodd. Peter Schiff is also in the running.
"He probably can't win unless something changes dramatically in the world," Foley said, because so many people are angry at his alleged ethical lapses, his absence during the presidential race and his lack of oversight over the bankers and financiers whose greed helped trigger the recession.
At this point, Foley said, he hopes Dodd "will stay in the race" so the GOP can win a crucial Senate seat.
Foley said he began to think of switching races after Gov. Jodi Rell announced she would not seek reelection next year.
He said if he'd known that six months ago, he would have set his sights on succeeding Rell from day one.
Now, he said, he's getting strong support for making the gubernatorial run. The other major contender on the Republican side is Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele.
A number of Democrats are also eyeing the governor's mansion, including Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, state Sen. Gary LeBeau, former House Speaker James Amann, former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, state Healthcare Advocate Kevin Lembo and former U.S. Senate hopeful Ned Lamont.
Electing a Democrat as governor, Foley said, would send Connecticut "off a financial cliff" because the majority party has proven itself unable to control costs or hold government accountable.
It's shaping up to be a fascinating political year in 2010.
Really, though, after being ambassador to Ireland, isn't everything else downhill?

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

Watch the busway vs. rail hearing in Hartford

If you want to understand the busway issue, watch this (but be ready to lose three hours of your life in the process):

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

City upset at possible cut in state aid

The prospect of losing as much as $1.5 million in aid from state budget cuts put on the table by Gov. Jodi Rell has city leaders up in arms.
“Municipal aid cuts would be disastrous for our city,” second-term city Councilor Cliff Block said Monday.
Mayor Art Ward postponed plans for a municipal budget kickoff meeting this week pending more information about the possible mid-year reduction in state aid that would leave Bristol short of assistance it’s already counting on.
City Councilor Ken Cockayne said, “It is awful that we are at the mercy of the state.”
City officials said the state could lift some of its costly mandates so that cities and towns could get by with less money, but given the cold shoulder that mandate relief has received in Hartford this year officials hold out little hope for help.
Rell has called a special legislative session for December 15 to close an anticipated $466 million budget cap. Among the measures she’s calling for is to slice municipal aid by 3 percent, a move she called “the most difficult cut of all.”
“In good times, municipalities shared in the state’s largesse,” the governor said. “In this economy, they must be part of the solution and so it is important they are represented at the table to help us make these difficult choices.”
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, which launched a radio campaign against the move Monday, said, “Cutting more state aid in mid-year wouldn’t be a savings. It would merely shift more of the state budget deficit onto local governments and local property taxpayers.”
It said cutting municipal aid means higher property taxes across the state.
City Comptroller Glenn Klocko said there is “so much hardship that’s coming” that it’s bound to hurt.
He said it is like somebody standing on the beach where things are pretty calm but seeing a wave building way out at sea – and rolling toward the short.
“You know it’s coming,” Klocko said, and the impact will be severe.
City Councilor Kate Matthews said that mandate relief is crucial.
“It is time for our State lawmakers to get serious about granting municipalities like Bristol relief from unfunded state legislative mandates. If they did this, Bristol would be better able to bear a 3% decrease in state funds,” Matthews said.
“Our state legislature should now fight for relief of unfunded mandates, which will not cost the state any moneys,” Block said. “This the only way our city could absorb these cuts.”
“For over two years ourmMayor,City Council, and the Board of Education have been pressuring our state legislators to pursue these mandates but to no avail. This is the wakeup call,” Block said.
Cockayne said he doesn’t blame Rell for proposing the cut since “our state seems to be hemorrhaging money. We have been borrowing to balance the budget and it was just a matter of time for cuts like this to happen.”
He said he hopes the curtailing mandates could be part of the answer.
Without mandate relief, a 3 percent cut “will likely result in cuts to city services that our residents cannot afford to lose,” Matthews said.
Cockayne said the city “must continue to be vigilant in addressing our own spending and we must look for other ways to balance our own budget.”
Ward said he guarantees a “vigilant, diligent and responsible means of addressing only the most essential services” in trying to cope with aid cuts.
“Nothing will be considered to be exempt from consideration,” the mayor said.
“The delivery of services other than those of absolute necessity will be curtailed or eliminated while others will experience extreme cutbacks,” Ward said.
Klocko said the Board of Finance “has a very difficult task before them. I don’t envy their position.”

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
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City may another budget deficit

As state officials scramble to close a large deficit by possibly cutting aid to cities, Bristol itself is eyeing a possible second straight budget shortfall.
City Comptroller Glenn Klocko said the city will likely report a deficit when it finishes its fiscal year report in a couple of weeks.
He said that Bristol will probably also have another deficit during the fiscal year that ends in June.
Klocko said neither figure is available yet.
Klocko said the city did the best it could dealing with the recession, but nobody expected it to go on so long or to reach so deep.
“You just couldn’t plan,” the comptroller said, especially with state lawmakers delaying until September the passage of this year’s budget.
Klocko said it is easy to say Bristol didn’t budget prudently, but if it had nailed the numbers better then property taxes would likely have risen as much as 2.25 mills over past two years.
“If we did a better job, taxes would have gone up,” Klocko said. “So basically we were delaying the inevitable.”

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

Two new issues of The Tattoo online now

Composers Row: (from left to right) Gerald Shapiro, Robert Carl, Neely Bruce and Ken Steen at the Mitchell College performance of Bruce's "The Bill of Rights: Ten Amendments in Eight Motets." Shapiro is a professor of music at Brown University, where he is chair of the music department. Carl is chair of the composition department at The Hartt School, University of Hartford. Bruce is a professor music at Wesleyan University. Steen is an associate professor of composition and music theory at The Hartt School. (Photo by Kiernan Majerus-Collins/

We've got not one, but two new issues at that I should let you know about. We're moving so fast we can barely keep up.
That just means there's more great stuff for you to read from the talented young writers at Youth Journalism International.
Today's issue focuses mostly on American Composers, a group that probably doesn't get its share of ink. YJI Senior Reporter Kienan Majerus-Collins has a package of stories that include pieces on Wesleyan composer Neely Bruce, Hartt School composer Robert Carl and one describing what it was like to play in the band for a world premiere of a new piece of music from the Hartt School's David Macbride. There's also a story about Bruce's fascinating decision to put the Bill of Rights to music, an idea that any journalist has to love.
Also in today's issue is a story from Mumbai, India about how the city is coping one year after the terrible terrorist attack that left 170 people dead and many others wounded. It's the first piece by YJI newcomer Shagorika Ghosh.
Let's not forget last week's issue either.
Limerick, Ireland teen Marese Heffernan, a YJI veteran, wrote about the lingering memory of writer Frank McCourt in the byways of her old city. She also took some pretty good pictures, which is always welcome.
We also have a couple of stories from the first-ever Lego Kidsfest in Hartford, Connecticut that a team of YJI reporters turned out on deadline. Check out the stories and photos by Clare Hern, Kiernan Majerus-Collins, Francis Byrne, Mary Majerus-Collins and Yelena Samofalova.
We also encourage you to poke around on The Tattoo's website, where there are at least 1,500 stories stretching back over 15 years. Collectively, they easily represent the best teen journalism in the world. There is some wonderful stuff.
We're always eager for suggestions, tips, constructive criticism and any other help anyone can offer. Youth Journalism International's application to the IRS for nonprofit status remains pending, by the way. We'll keep you updated on any news about it.
Thanks for reading and thanks for your support of these great young writers from across the globe.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

Goldwasser one of many on unemployment lines

Mickey Goldwasser, a familiar figure around town, is among the many middle class professionals who have landed on the unemployment lines due to the recession. I wrote about him here.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

State's unemployment fund goes broke

Good story at about the state's unemployment fund going belly up. It needs to borrow $1 billion to pay claims for the next two years. The story is here.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 27, 2009

Bristol courthouse closure eyed for March 2011

The state court system aims to close the Bristol courthouse by March a, 2011 in order to save $150,000 in lease and operating expenses, according to the chief court administrator.

Judge Barbara M. Quinn recently told the legislature’s appropriations committee that three courthouses – in Bristol, Willamantic and Norwalk – can be shut down “without significant cost to the state” because they have leases that can be cancelled within the next year.

In the case of the Willamantic and Norwalk courthouses, which each serve juveniles, Quinn said the courts will close next year.

But to shutter the Bristol courthouse, she said, the courts will need “the concurrence of the legislature.”

Though Quinn didn’t expand on the reason, lawmakers have said that a statute on the books requires court to be held in Bristol for at least 40 weeks a year.

Closing the courthouse, and moving its cases to New Britain, would violate the law, legislators said, so it can’t be done without their blessing.

Bristol’s lawmakers vowed last month to fight any effort to repeal the statute that guarantees the city’s courthouse will remain open.
State Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat and former mayor, promisedhe would “fight tooth and nail to keep that law on the books. I’m going to protect our city as much as I can.”

Court officials said they don’t necessarily want to close courthouses. They said they are being forced to slash where they can to reduce spending to levels authorized by the legislature and Gov. Jodi Rell.

We must remember that the Judicial Branch does not determine on its own the

locations where court will be held or the scope and size of the programs and services that

we will provide to the citizens of the state,” Quinn told the Nov. 18 public hearing of the appropriations panel.

“Adequate funding is essential to carry out the will of the legislature and provide the services expected of a statewide court system,” she said. “It is disheartening and frustrating to see an ever-widening chasm between the programmatic responsibilities and mandates given to the Judicial Branch by the legislature and the funds that are ultimately available to meet those critical and core duties.”

“Responsibilities and mandates only seem to grow and expand while resources continue to shrink,” Quinn said, adding that the situation “cannot continue.”

“If adequate funding is unavailable and if unilateral budget reductions continue to be imposed by the executive branch, we have no choice but to curtail what we do and where we do it,” Quinn said.

She said that given the “unavoidable and unfortunate situation” related to judicial finances, she has to take action “to narrow the gap as much as possible between available funding and expenses.”

Quinn said that none of the actions she is recommending are one she would otherwise choose, but something has to be done.

Quinn also said tat because “this is a very fluid situation,” her recommendations, including the closure of Bristol’s courthouse, are “merely the first steps in what promises to be a long and painful process.”

Quinn’s entire testimony is available here.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

It's a good thing to have more to give thanks for than I can possibly list here, but a couple come to mind right away.
I'm deeply thankful that somebody donated a liver that made it possible for my friend Neal, whose own liver was riddled with disease, to get a new one. He returned from the hospital this week, on the mend and ready for many more years with his four children and his wonderful wife, Jeanne. It's hard to top that.
I urge anyone who hasn't filled in an organ donor card to do it -- and to make sure those around you know what you want if the worst should befall you. Let some good come out of even the worst moments.
I also want to express my thanks once again to the many people who offered help of one sort or another a year ago, when the future of the Press looked dim. We saw the kindness of the community up close and remain forever grateful for it.
Now let's take a break from smearing politicians with anonymous slurs - fun as that can be -- and simply enjoy a nice holiday with family and friends.
If you're going to the big game today, have a blast.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 25, 2009

A little brook without a name

On one level, there isn’t much to say about the 2,000-foot-long, unnamed brook that begins somewhere in the storm drains above El Toro Drive and flows into the mushy ground at the base of Nelson’s Field.

It’s just one of scores of tiny rivulets that meander through the hills of Bristol before pouring into slightly larger streams that somebody bothered to name.

But the brook carries more than just water.

Sometimes, it carries little things that Robert LaBelle’s boys throw in it. Other times, it carries a soothing summertime sound that pours in the windows of Bob McMahon’s house.

It also carries a hefty price tag for taxpayers, who are shelling out $1.2 million so it can flow through a new culvert under Burlington Avenue.

City records don’t shed much light on the creek. It shows up on maps as a thin blue line that begins somewhere northwest of Pine Meadow Drive.

But the water uphill from there is all vented into storm drains, eventually dumping out from a large concrete pipe just west of Pine Meadow.

It dumps into a little pond, barely the width of a minivan, that’s got a tangle of vines spilling down to the foamy surface.

Then the water starts to flow downhill, a steady trickle that neighbors say runs continuously day in and day out, all year long.

“I love it. It’s a nice brook,” said LaBelle, who lives at 81 Peacedale St., where the stream reaches the surface.

Both LaBelle and McMahon said they call it “the brook” and don’t know of any other name. City records don’t show a name for it.

LaBelle said he’s always wondered where the brook begins and where it ends up.

Most of the time, he said, he loves it.

His two boys enjoy tossing rocks in it, LaBelle said, and plunking around on the banks as boys have always done.

However, there are times that tree limbs and other debris get caught up by the culvert that carries the creek beneath his driveway. It takes some work to haul them out, LaBelle said.

The creek has some history, too.

LaBelle said he was reading his deed recently and discovered some old language from a 1907 transaction that afforded him special rights as the owner of the brook.

“I have permission to do my laundry in the brook,” LaBelle said.

So far, though, he hasn’t jumped at the opportunity.

But, he said, there must have been a time that people did.

Now he wonders if the provision might give him the right to hook up some kind of waterwheel that would generate electricity that could help hold down his household utility bills.

McMahon said his dog enjoys frolicking in the water, but it was pretty clear from his tone that the dog’s owner wasn’t quite as thrilled.

He said that he and his wife love to leave their windows open for as much of the year as possible so they can listen to “the soothing sound” of the stream as it bubbles through the rocks.

“We really enjoy the sound of it,” McMahon said.

The brook splashes through trees and rocks as it meanders down to Cindy Lane, providing a winding wood that borders the banks on both sides.

A canopy of trees holds sway overhead, a mix of pines, oaks and more that isn’t exactly magnificent but at least offers a little touch of wilderness as it slices through the suburban homes erected alongside it during the past several decades.

At Burlington Avenue, where the state has restricted traffic to a single lane between Cindy Lane and Glendale Drive, crews are busy replacing a crumbling old culvert with a new one that should allow the stream access for a long while to come.

The new culvert should be in by the middle of next week, state officials said, but the project won’t be finished until April.

Derrita Construction Co. of Middletown is doing the work on the $1.2 million project for the state Department of Transportation.

Once the brook crosses under Burlington Avenue, it vanishes into swampy ground where it basically flows into Polkville Brook, a little more substantial waterway.

Polkville Brook flows into Copper Mine Brook, which empties into the Pequabuck River just southeast of Frederick Street..


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
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November 24, 2009

Still no progress on Pequabuck pedestrian bridge

Though seven years have passed since the city bought a former Wonder Bread outlet on Riverside Avenue in order to build a new parking lot and pedestrian bridge to Memorial Boulevard, nothing has yet happened to make the plan a reality.
“We really need to follow up,” Mayor Art Ward said.
The holdup is twofold, officials: a lack of city money and the lack of a permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Meanwhile, there’s nearly $100,000 left over from a state grant for the Veterans Park that state Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat, snagged five years ago. That money can still be tapped if the city get moving, officials said.
The city aims to erect an 80-foot long pedestrian bridge that would span the river between the city-owned parking lot on Riverside Avenue and the boulevard. It would not actually touch the water, officials said, and shouldn’t have any impact on the river.
The prefabricated bridge walkway would be more than 3 feet higher than the expected flood crest of the worst storm in a century, according to permit paperwork.
Beside the parking lot is a small, vacant store included in the property the city bought for $179,000 in 2002. For years, it housed Hubbard’s Florist, but Wonder Bread was its last tenant.
The city hasn’t found a use for the structure yet, but officials have suggested it could be used one day for meeting space for veterans and or community organizations.
Potential purchasers have occasionally inquired about buying the property for private use, but because Bristol used grant money for the project, selling it may be difficult.
City Councilor Ken Cockayne said the Real Estate Committee is taking a hard look at the property to see what might be done.
Ward said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a permit to allow the bridge. He said the DEP is the only obstacle remaining aside from money.
The city put the project on the shelf this year because of the lack of funding. But it could be included in future capital project lists.
The city used downtown revitalization money to acquire the Riverside Avenue property for $179,000 during Mayor Frank Nicastro’s tenure in 2002.
It tapped Community Development Block Grant aid to pay the $43,000 demolition fee to knock down the old Hubbard & Co. Feeds & Fertilizer barn there in 2003. That was Mayor Gerard Couture’s first act after taking office.
Since then, however, there’s been nothing done on the site.
Both Jonathan Rosenthal, the city’s economic development director, and Public Works Director Walter Veselka are likely to report on the project’s status at the December 8 City Council meeting.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 23, 2009

Industrial park entrance project may be delayed

Work on the Middle Street entrance to the city’s new industrial park may not be on time, city officials said.
Though development officials had hoped the $728,000 state project might be done before winter, it’s looking increasingly likely it may not be finished before the April 15 deadline set by the state when it awarded the contract last summer to Brook field-based J. Iapaluccio, Inc.
“It probably won’t be done until mid-May,” Assistant City Engineer Ray Rogozinski told the Bristol Development Authority on Monday.
The project aims to widen the northbound roadway to allow for the addition of a left turn lane into Business Park Drive, which cuts through the new Southeast Bristol Industrial Park.
The spruced-up entry is considered crucial to the industrial park’s success, officials said.
City Councilor Ken Cockayne said he’s also taken a look around at the project site and doubts it can be finished on time.
Cockayne said he’s also worried about the sharp drop on the east side of the road where the old curbs have been stripped away but new ones haven’t been installed. He said that winter conditions could easily find drivers slipping off the road.
Rogozinski said the drop is as deep as a foot and a half. He said the contractor plans to put construction barrels alongside the road to try to keep traffic away from the drop.
But, Rogozinski said, when the snow falls and the plows go through, there are likely to be problems. Because it’s a state road, any liability falls on the state, he said, not the city.
Rogozinski said the contractor has said since summer that it would complete the work before winter, but with asphalt plants closing by mid-December, it doesn’t appear possible any longer.
He said he is “very concerned” the work won’t be done on schedule.
The contract includes a $1,200 a day fine for every day the project remains unfinished after April 15, officials said.
Rogozinski said that the contractor is aiming to keep working into December – which is considered winter for construction purposes – but it isn’t clear it will be able to gear up for renewed work before April. That depends on weather, he said.
Mayor Art Ward said he’d like to see the contractor prodded to move faster.
Rogozinski said the city’s engineers are pushing daily, but there’s only so much they can do. The state controls the project, he said, and the contractor knows the terms of the deal it has with the transportation department.
Mickey Goldwasser, a BDA commissioner, said he wants to ensure that nothing happens to shortchange the quality of the work.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 20, 2009

UConn-Hartford Hospital deal is dead

The Hartford Courant's Chris Keating has an email that indicates the proposal for a partnership between the UConn medical school and Hartford Hospital is kaput.
Bristol Hospital officials are no doubt thrilled, having warned that a new hospital in Farmington, paid for by taxpayers, could cripple Bristol's own hospital.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

City to drop local emergency planning position

The city plans to eliminate the part-time local emergency planning coordinator position it created 15 years ago.
Its functions will be shifted to the Capitol Region Emergency Planning Committee beginning in January.
The former chairman of the city’s Salary Committee, Frank Nicastro, said the move is part of the ongoing effort by the city to look at the regionalization of services.
“We’re transitioning this position to the state,” Nicastro said, adding that nobody was doing it in order to dump Ed Luczkow from the job at City Hall.
The two part-time city workers who handle emergency planning -- Emergency Management Director Richard Ladisky and Luczkow – together earn a bit more than $20,000 annually.
The emergency management post held by Ladisky won’t be touched.
City councilors unanimously approved the change last month – after debating what to do for at least seven years -- and established the switchover will take place January 1.
Mayor Art Ward said it makes sense “to utilize the services of the state” where possible and putting the LEPC function in the hands of the regional planning committee makes sense.
He said that the regional committee can take “a coordinated effort” to take care of issues raised.
At least 28 municipalities in the Hartford area have signed on with regional planning committee since its inception a decade ago.
The city’s fire department is already heavily involved in emergency planning with the regional committee.
The city created the part-time planning coordinator position in the first months of Nicastro’s term as mayor, with the primary responsibility of organizing and making useful the federally-mandated chemical disclosure forms filed by city businesses and other entities.
The forms disclose which companies are using potentially toxic chemicals and provide a sense of the scale of the use as well.
Only two people have held the job – Robley Newton, whom Nicastro said did “a fantastic job,” and Luczkow. Nicastro said Luczkow did “an outstanding job.”

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

Bristol Mums owner dead at 63

The owner of Bristol Mums - Jerry Heresko -- has died at age 63. It's a real loss to the community.
Here's what reporter Jackie Majerus wrote about him back in 2007:

Jerry Heresko knows his mums.

Owner of Bristol Mums Inc., he oversees the cultivation of hundreds of thousands of the city's namesake flower every year, shipping them across the country and into Canada as well as selling to friends and neighbors around town.

About 200,000 tiny mums – with and without roots – are sent out by mail every spring, said Heresko.

They're about three or four inches tall, said Heresko, who said he packs them into boxes of 500 plants each.

"We do another 30,000 flowering plants in the fall," said Heresko.

Many of them go to landscapers, Heresko said, but there's also a steady stream of homeowners who come to buy the popular fall flowers.

The city buys about 1,000 mum plants each year, said Heresko, and ESPN buys almost that many. Chippanee Golf Club and housing developments are among the many others who use his mums to beautify their grounds, he said.

Bristol Mums, at 50 Pinehurst Road, used to be part of Bristol Nurseries, said Heresko, who has owned Bristol Mums since 1987 but has worked at the company for 42 years.

Bristol Mums offers more than the basic yellow, purple and white flowers.

"We catalog about 75 to 80" varieties, said Heresko, who created some of them himself.

One of them, he said, is named Vampire.

"It's a bright red," he said. "It's a late flowering one."

He named another variety Carousel. That one, a spider mum, was developed by Roderick Cumming, the son of one of the company's two founders.

Heresko said the breeding and research work he does to develop new varieties is what he likes best as a farmer, but misses most as a business owner because he doesn't have time for it.

Trying to keep the business thriving leaves less time for growing plants, according to Heresko.

"Small business and farming is on the wane in this state," said Heresko.

Bristol Mums has four acres of growing space – two inside greenhouses and two acres of outdoor land for the container-grown plants.

"The original hardy mum was started in Bristol," said Heresko, who remembers when the land across the street was a field of mums. "We used to have bus tours and everything."

In addition to mums, the company grows thousands of geraniums, New Guinea Impatiens, and other plants for hanging baskets. At Christmas, there are poinsettias for sale.

Shoppers looking for Bristol Mums have to go to the source, said Heresko, who said it is "not likely" that any mums at local stores came from his farm, though he said Wojtusik's Nursery and Garden Center does sell them.

At Bristol Mums, the signature plants sell for $2 to $17 each, depending on the size.

Heresko said the popular favorites change from year to year.

"Generally, yellow's the most popular," said Heresko. "This year, red has been fantastically popular."

His own favorite of those he's developed, Heresko said, are the Sombrero, a bright yellow football mum, with blooms that measure four or five inches across.

Some of them are planted in Longwood Gardens, botanical gardens in Pennsylvania, he said.

As for his own yard, Heresko said he's got some mums planted.

"Not as much as people think I do," he said. "I'm never home!"

Bristol Mums is open year round, Heresko said, but there isn't a lot of action in the early part of the year. That's when he's growing the young mums to mail out in the spring, he said.

The spring is the busiest time, said Heresko, with about 10 people working at the company. Fall is plenty busy, too, but the staff then numbers about five, he said.

The secret of mums

Want to keep your mums happy and bring them back year after year?

Jerry Heresko, owner of Bristol Mums Inc., said it's all about the dirt.

"Mums like well-drained, loose soil," said Heresko.

Generally, mums don't freeze, he said.

"They'll rot out first," said Heresko.

Don't toss the snow onto the sleeping mums, Heresko advised.

"The biggest thing is the drainage," said Heresko. "They don't like to be soggy wet."

Wet and muddy soil is deathly for mums, according to Heresko.

"That's the curse," he said.

Mums also appreciate their space, according to Heresko.

"They do not compete very well with other plants, including weeds," said Heresko.

Many homeowners, Heresko said, tuck mums in with green shrubs, but the plants don't do well there.

It's best to give them room, he said.

Mums also like full sun, said Heresko, and

Mums are hungry, too, according to Heresko, and love fertilizer. He said they like a neutral soil and respond well to slow release fertilizer.

"They like a lot of food," said Heresko.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 19, 2009

Memorial service for Deschaine on Saturday

A memorial service hosted by a Washington, D.C. city council member will be held Saturday in the nation’s capital to honor Desi Deschaine, a Bristol native who drowned last summer in a boating accident.
Deschaine, 30, made such a mark in politics in Washington that the Gertrude Stein Democrat Club recently found a way to perpetuate his memory with the creation of the Desi Deschaine Young Democrat of the Year Award to honor young activists who share his infectious enthusiasm and energy.
The District of Columbia’s city council approved a resolution for presentation at Saturday’s service taking note of Deschaine’s activism in everything from gay rights to presidential politics.
The resolution called Deschaine, a 1997 Bristol Eastern High School graduate, “an active and proud member of the gay community” in Washington who “became an activist Democrat in the year that George W. Bush declared that gays and lesbians would not legally have the same marital rights as straight couples.”
“Desi was truly a special person,” said J’aime Huret, his boyfriend at the time of his death.
Huret said that Deschaine’s friends are looking forward to “remembering his good spirit and good works” during Saturday’s memorial service at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Washington.
The service is sponsored by Jack Evans, a council member who employed Deschaine as his communications director.
Sally Albright, a friend of Deschaine’s, said he was “known for his enthusiasm and charm, Desi could coax people into anything. He was a social creature with ties to many D.C. communities.”
Deschaine drowned in Baltimore harbor after vanishing from a marina sometime after 10:30 p.m. on July 12. His body was found, fully clothed, the next morning.
In high school in Bristol, Deschaine was active in politics locally, though at the time he was involved with GOP candidates.
After leaving Bristol, he attended Catholic University, where he graduated in 2001 with a degree in international politics.
Deschaine worked on several campaigns and in a number of jobs, including head of external relations for the Washington Opera.
He was on the national committee for the Young Democrats, a member of the Democratic State Committee in Washington, vice president of the Logan Circle Community Association and much more.

For details about the service, including its location, click on this link.

Here's the full text of the resolution passed by the District of Columbia council:


To posthumously recognize and honor the life of Desi Philip Deschaine.

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine was born on January 27, 1979 in Bristol, Connecticut, son of Philip and Linda (Chartier) Deschaine;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine attended Bristol Public Schools, graduating from Bristol Eastern High School in 1997;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine was inspired to a life of service when he was a teenager, not only volunteering in Guatemala to assist poor and homeless children but serving in a local youth organization in his home state of Connecticut, where as a reward for their efforts were invited to meet the then Governor of Connecticut;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine, upon graduating from the Catholic University of America in 2001 with a degree in political science and committed his life to serve his new home, the District of Columbia;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine, an active and proud member of the gay community, became an activist Democrat in the year that George W. Bush declared that gays and lesbians would not legally have the same marital rights as straight couples;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine served many local civic organizations, including the DC Ward 2 Democrats, the Logan Circle Community Association, St. Mary’s Court Senior Resident Center and the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine has been in politics and a strong supporter of the Democratic Party -- working on several national campaigns, including presidential candidates: John Kerry, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine worked tirelessly on several local campaigns, including: The Honorable Anthony A. Williams, The Honorable Linda W. Cropp, The Honorable Jack Evans, The Honorable Kwame R. Brown, The Honorable Michael A. Brown, The Honorable Mary M. Cheh, The Honorable Muriel Bowser, and The Honorable Yvette M. Alexander;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine was a devoted civil servant to the residents of the District of Columbia -- working as the Director of Communications for Councilmember Jack Evans [D-Ward 2], Community Affairs Coordinator in the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs under Mayor Anthony A. Williams, and served in the Office of the Director, DC Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs under Mayor Adrian M. Fenty;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine was posthumously honored and remembered by the District of Columbia Young Democrats and The Mid-Atlantic Region of the Young Democrats of America at the National Committee on August 8, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine was posthumously honored and remembered by the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club on October 29, 2009 in Washington, DC at the Women's National Democratic Club;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine loved the quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” by Margaret Mead;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine is truly deserving of special recognition and admiration for his commitment and dedication to the citizens of the District of Columbia;

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine left an imprint on everyone he met through his infectious smile and laughter; and

WHEREAS, Desi Philip Deschaine is survived by his devoted and loving parents, Phil and Linda (Chartier), sister, Desiree, paternal grandmother, Eva Deschaine, and several aunts, uncles, and cousins. Desi was predeceased by his paternal grandfather, Emile Deschaine, and his maternal grandparents, George and Mamie Cartier.

RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this resolution may be cited as the “Desi Philip Deschaine Posthumous Recognition Resolution of 2009”.

Sec. 2. The Council of the District of Columbia posthumously honors, remembers, and recognizes Desi Philip Deschaine for his distinguished service to the residents of the District of Columbia.

Sec. 3. This resolution shall take effect immediately upon the first date of publication in the District of Columbia register.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 17, 2009

Damn flu

I'm down and out.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 16, 2009

Baldwin retires, new lawyers to be hired

The retirement of longtime city lawyer Ann Baldwin leaves a gaping hole in the city attorney’s office.

Baldwin, a 32-year veteran, was one of two full-time attorneys working for the city.

Her departure means the city has to get by without a corporation counsel – the part-timer who’s supposed to run the office – as well as half its full-time staff.

There are also two part-time assistant city attorneys – and another part-time slot that's vacant.

Mayor Art Ward said Monday he’s “looking through some of the resumes that applied previously and I hope to have some decisions made by the December City Council meeting so we can fill those positions.”

Ward said he plans to fill the slot that Baldwin has held as well as the city attorney’s position.

So far, he said, the office has been getting by without the other part-timer so as long as money is short, the city will try to get by without filling it.

The city attorney’s job has remained vacant since June, when Dale Clift resigned from the part-time post because it was gobbling up too much of his attention and crimping his private practice.

Finding a successor to Baldwin will be tough, city officials said.

Ward said she always did her job “with the utmost professionalism.”

Former Mayor Frank Nicastro, who relied heavily on Baldwin’s advice, said that Baldwin “was right there for us” whenever an issue needed to be resolved.

He said she was the sort of lawyer who didn’t hesitate to speak up.

“I’d say, ‘Why can’t I? I’m the mayor,’” Nicastro said, and then Baldwin would carefully explain the legalities of why he couldn’t do whatever it was he wanted.

“And she was right,” Nicastro said.

Nicastro said her departure is “a great loss for the city,” but after “putting up with us” for so many years, her retirement is well-deserved.

The other full-time city lawyer, Richard Lacey, has long experience as well. Though he’s only been full-time since Mayor Gerard Couture’s administration, he served as the city attorney for years beforehand.

The two part-time lawyers are Edward Krawiecki, Jr and Tom Conlin. Krawiecki is a former city attorney. Conlin, though hired this year, has extensive experience at City Hall as a former member of the Board of Finance.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 15, 2009

Renaissance impressed New Hampshire officials

If you care about the fate of downtown, don't miss reporter Jackie Majerus' story today about the experience in Nashua, N.H. of one of the two competing developers. Click here to read it.
You should also check out her piece previewing tomorrow's Bristol Downtown Development Corp. meeting.
Figuring out what to do with Bristol's former mall property is, obviously, one of the biggest decisions the city is going to make. Learning what the choices are is criticial to picking wisely.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 13, 2009

City considers allowing committee members to participate through internet

City councilors agreed recently to consider allowing municipal board members to participate in meetings without actually attending them.

First-term city Councilor David Mills said that more people would be able to participate if they could sometimes attend through web-based meeting programs or other electronic means.

“Maybe the pool could be increased” of possible board members if the city made the change, Mills said.

At the suggestion of an assistant city attorney, Edward Krawiecki, Jr, the council voted unanimously to have the Ordinance Committee explore the idea.

The city charter requires members and alternates of every board, commission or committee to “regularly attend meetings” and mandates they be thrown off if they miss 60 percent of the regular sessions during the year or if they skip three in a row.

It doesn't define what attendance means. State law doesn't appear to resolve the issue either, though it is clear that meetings can be held over the phone.


Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

City rescinds sale of Broad Street house

City councilors recently rescinded a real estate deal approved last month to sell a decrepit house at 406 Broad St. for $55,200.
The city acquired the house in June when its former owner fell way behind on taxes. It put the house on the market a month later.
Councilors agreed in October to sell it to Michael Baillargeon on the condition that he keep it as a single-family house. Officials said he planned to restore it.
But city Councilor Kevin McCauley, who heads the Real Estate Committee, said a zoning issue arose that complicated the deal.
Mayor Art Ward said there was a misunderstanding with Baillargeon about the caveat which the city put on the sale.
The real estate panel plans to review the terms again. The city still intends to sell the property.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

City eyes trash can advertising

To raise revenue, the city is exploring the idea of putting advertising on the side of residential trash bins.

They’d be like “mini-billboards” on both sides of the wheeled receptacles the city distributes to residents to toss their trash.

The idea, which a public works committee is looking into, hasn’t been fully explored and hasn’t received the blessing of any public officials. It remains unclear how much money could be generated if the city were to try to sell advertising space on garbage cans.

“We don’t have all the details on this,” Mayor Art Ward said Friday.

The committee exploring the concept is eyeing the possibility of selling advertising space on both sides of the rubbish collection barrels that have been distributed throughout the city for use with the automated trash trucks.

The Miscellaneous Matters Committee of the Public Works Board said it would like to hear particulars about the proposal before considering whether to proceed with it or not. Its recommendation would be sent to the public works panel.

While many cities around the country have sold advertising space on public waste barrels on downtown streets, the idea of selling advertising space on residential barrels is at least unusual.

Ward said the city agreed to investigate the concept after someone suggested the idea.

He said that officials “entertain ideas and suggestions from the public” and unless they’re way out there, they take seriously the responsibility to check into the proposals.

People need to know, he said, that if they come forward with concepts, city leaders will treat them respectfully and that the proposals “will be looked into and scrutinized” to see if the city can benefit from trying it.

“People have to understand that these are ideas that come forth” and that first-line subcommittees exist to consider them, the mayor said.

That an idea is explored doesn’t mean anything will ever come of it, Ward said.

“We’re not going to make a decision until we have all the details,” the mayor said.

At this point, he said, the committee is waiting for more information. He said he doesn’t when, or if, any more information will be offered by anyone.

The city is facing a fiscal crunch that has officials eyeing any proposals that could bring in revenue without socking taxpayers.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 12, 2009

Mills aims to recruit volunteers to help elderly, infirm shovel snow

The mandate that property owners clear sidewalks after a snowstorm has always been a problem for elderly and infirm residents who don’t have deep pockets to pay for help.

Now one city councilor, newcomer David Mills, is hoping to come to their aid.

Mills said that after from residents who have a hardship complying with the law, he contacted with Boy Scouts and both city high schools to find out if they’d be interested in helping provide volunteers to shovel snow for those who can’t do it themselves.

Mills said the youngsters are willing to try.

High school students have community service hours to rack up anyway, officials said, and the Boy Scouts are often ready to chip in for public service.

Mayor Art Ward hailed the effort.

“It’s innovative. He’s taken the initiative,” Ward said.

Ward, a second-term Democrat, said he’ll do what he can to help implement the freshman Republican’s plan.

He said that making it work is going to be trick.

But, Ward said, there is no doubt that volunteers “could address some of the needs” among seniors and others who have long complained about the hardship of making sure their sidewalks are clear.

Mill said that any seniors or homebound residents who cannot do their sidewalks should contact Darlene Coffey at the Beals Senior-Community Center, who is compiling a list of those interested in getting help.

“I thought it was a fantastic idea,” said Coffey, who already has a list started.

She said she’s worried she may wind up with more people seeking help than Mills can find volunteers for.

Anyone interested in receiving assistance with shoveling should call Coffey at (860) 584-7895.

Mills took office this week after winning one of the two 3rd District council seats on Election Day.

Shoveling rules

If a storm ends between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., property owners have nine hours to clear sidewalks. They have 12 hours from the end of other storms.

Failure to comply can lead to a $75 fine.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

Say a prayer for my friend and his family

Joe Killian and his grandfather, Kenneth Rose, Sr.

My friend Joe Killian, a Bristol Eastern High School graduate and a brilliant writer, is waiting for news today after a 44-foot commercial boat sank last night off Cape May, New Jersey. Three men are missing in terrible conditions, including his beloved grandfather, Kenneth Rose, Sr, and an uncle. The Coast Guard is searching for the missing men, but so far all that's turned up is an empty life boat and some debris.
Please keep Joe and his family in your prayers.
My wife, Jackie, took this picture of Joe and his grandfather this summer at the North Carolina wedding of Joe and another of our closest friends, Amanda Lehmert, another great reporter and a Bristol Central High School graduate.
You can read about the missing fishing boat in the Cape May County Herald and the Philadelphia Inquirer, among other newspapers. Here is the Associated Press account.

Update at 7:25 p.m. -- The Coast Guard has suspended its search, the Associated Press reports. It has no plans to renew the search tomorrow. So fading hopes turn toward what comes next. I've talked to Joe and Amanda, who are on their way to his mother's house on the North Carolina shore. They are doing about as well as can be expected in such times. Joe told me he appreciated all the kind words he received today.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 11, 2009

Vandals strike new pedestrian bridge in Forestville

Vandals are having a field day painting the pavers and concrete beneath the new pedestrian walkway over the not-yet-open Route 72 extension in Forestville.
In addition to an array of curse words, they’ve painted the outline of a bicycle in white paint, written ‘KKK’ in bold, black letters and used a can of purple to write ‘Anonymous’ in big letters facing north.
Neighbors said they’ve seen crews trying to clean it all up, but the paint reappears regularly.
Mayor Art Ward said he hasn’t heard about the problem, but he’s not happy to hear that vandals are defacing the state bridge.
“It can’t be tolerated,” the mayor said, because it costs money to clean it up and hurts the image of the city in the meantime.
He said that if police catch the culprits, they’ll be socked with the heaviest possible charges because the city is determined to make examples of vandals who are caught.

Thanks to the neighbor who sent me the picture!
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

Veterans Day in Bristol

As old soldiers read the names of those who left Bristol for war during the past century and never returned, the audience at the annual Veterans Day ceremony remained hushed save for a few suppressed coughs and the whispers of antsy children.

The names, said clearly and carefully, one by one, echoed through the historic, slightly tattered auditorium at Memorial Boulevard Middle School.

“The greatest honor you can give our veterans is to remember them,” said Lori DeFillippi, a former Marine who hosted the annual gathering.

With every passing year, there are fewer who can remember the young men who headed off to battle and vanished forever in the jungles of Vietnam, the snowy mountains of Korea, the blasted beaches of Pacific atolls, the hedgerows of Normandy and scores of other bloody locales whose names cascade through time.

Since the doughboys answered their country’s call in 1917, 232 men from Bristol have perished while serving in the military, the last of them more than 35 years ago.

They never got the chance to swap war stories at the American Legion, to see children and grandchildren grow, to watch the passing of time as daffodils danced in the spring and the leaves fell in the fall.

But they made it possible for their community -- and their nation -- to carry on in freedom and prosperity, as speakers emphasized.

In Bristol, which has the largest veteran population in the state, officials take pride in treating military men and women, past and present, with honor.

“I’ve never seen veterans treated so well and with such respect as in Bristol,” said Spc. Kristen Masiero-Carter, who trains troops for the U.S. Army Reserve’s 405th Combat Support Hospital.

Masiero-Carter, the keynote speaker, said that after joining the Army in 2006, she worked in a military hospital helping burn victims who had returned from the Middle East.

Seeing what they go through, she said, taught her that no matter how bad a day she has, it could be worse.

The ceremony featured students from Chippens Hill Middle School singing the National Anthem and “God Bless America.”

A troupe from Reach for the Stars Academy of Dance performed to a sad song about a veteran found by Santa Claus sleeping on the floor of a small apartment. It got a standing ovation from the 200 people attending.

Veterans got recognition, too, as they stood with others from their branch of the service. About 80 got to their feet as former members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force.

“It made me cry a little,” said Nancy Santino, a-15-year-old from Waterbury who came with her grandparents. “You don’t think most of the time about all the troubles people have had to give us what we have today.”

Veterans should get what they deserve

Mayor Art Ward told a crowd gathered for the city’s annual Veterans Day ceremony Wednesday that it was “very sobering” for him to read on the front page that morning how the U.S. Veterans Administration was failing some veterans.

Other news stories that talked about homeless veterans and the struggle to come to grips with the consequences of the Agent Orange sprayed in Vietnam also stung, the mayor said.

“That is just wrong,” said Ward, who served in the U.S. Marines in Vietnam and was wounded there.

The host of the city’s Veterans Day ceremony, Lori DeFillippi, who also served in the Marines, said, “Sometimes a veteran’s biggest battle is when he comes home and has to fight his own government.”

Ward said that for veterans “service is never over. It is always with us.”

But when the troops return to their communities, he said, the nation should follow through on its promises to the men and women it sent into harm’s way.

“It’s the country’s responsibility to honor its commitments to its veterans,” Ward said.

They shouldn’t have to keep fighting daily “to get the services and the benefits that they have truly, truly earned,” the mayor said.

All too often, Ward said, veterans return home only to find they still have to “stand up and fight” to get their due from the country they served.

Ward said people should read the stories in the papers and let them sink in.

Then, he said, they need to call their congressmen, pigeonhole their state lawmakers and tell those in power to make sure veterans are not ignored.

“There’s this voice out there that has to be heard -- and we’re bringing that forward,” the mayor said.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

Garbage advertising

Get this, from the September meeting of the Public Works Board's Miscellaneous Matters Committee:

Advertising on Bristol’s trash bins
The Committee had a general discussion the concept of allowing ads to be placed on both sides of the automated rubbish collection barrels for a yearly fee and determined that it [Miscellaneous Matters Committee] would not rule out the concept but would like to have a presentation on the details of the program before proceeding any further. No action taken. The Committee went on to say that an update on the status of the concept should be provided in person or in writing for the next meeting of the Miscellaneous Matters Committee.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

November 10, 2009

City councilors happy with committee assignments

All six city councilors said Tuesday they’re happy with the way Mayor Art Ward divvied up committee assignments and council appointments.
“I’m very excited about them – and ready to get going,” said city Councilor Kevin Fuller, a Democratic newcomer.
The mayor met with each of the six councilors elected last week – four Democrats and two Republicans – to ask what panels they were most interested in serving on. Ward said he tried to make sure everyone generally got what they wanted.
The most senior councilor, Democrat Kevin McCauley, emerged as the chair of two key panels, the Real Estate and Ordinance committees.
McCauley said the selection process “really worked out well” and that he’s content.
“It’s a bit overwhelming,” he added.
Both other veteran councilors, Republican Ken Cockayne and Democrat Cliff Block, snagged the leadership of a committee as well.
Block heads the Building Committee while Cockayne will be at the helm of the Council Matters Committee, which mostly deals with claims against the city.
Freshman Republican David Mills secured some important assignments as a member of the Public Works Board, the Ordinance Committee and the 5-Year Capital Improvement Committee, which has the power to approve or reject projects. He is also the liaison to the Park Board.
Fuller was tapped to serve on the Police Board as well as the Capital Improvement panel, the Real Estate Committee and the Bristol-Burlington Health District. He is also the liaison to the Water Board and Housing Authority.
City Councilor Kate Matthews, a newly elected Democrat, will hold a seat on the Retirement Board and the Transportation Committee. She also has a slot on the Salary Committee, which Ward plans to chair.
Matthews said she is most pleased with her assignment to the Forestville School Building Committee, which is crucial to her 3rd District. “That’s my cup of tea,” she said.
Cockayne kept his seat on the Bristol Development Authority and will also serve on the Youth Commission and West Side School Building Committee.
Block, who called himself “more than happy,” remains as the liaison to the Board of Education and holds a seat on the Fire Board and Public Works Board.
Ward said he never imagined he could get the appointments done in a week, but everyone proved cooperative so it was possible to do the work.
Here's the complete list of all the council appointments:


COUNCIL LIAISONS (No Confirming Votes Necessary)

Fed. Hill District Committee____Kevin McCauley
Board of Park Commissioners David Mills
Housing Authority of Bristol Kevin Fuller
Commission on Aging David Mills
Board of Library Directors Kate Matthews
Board of Water Commissioners Kevin Fuller
Bristol Community Organization Kate Matthews
Board of Community Services Ken Cockayne
Board of Education Cliff Block
Commission on Disabilities Kate Matthews
Forestville Village Assoc.____ David Mills
Bristol Downtown Development Corp. Ken Cockayne

MAYOR’S APPOINTMENTS(No Confirming Votes Necessary)

Hoppers-Birge Pond Ken Cockayne
Pine Lake Kate Matthews
Affordable Housing Ken Cockayne
Mayor’s Talk Force on Energy Kevin Fuller

COUNCIL COMMITTEES(No Confirming Votes Necessary)

Council Matters Committee (Fence, Claims, Str.) Kevin Fuller, Ken Cockayne, Cliff Block,
Salary Committee Mayor Ward, Cliff Block, Kate Matthews
Real Estate Committee____ Kevin McCauley, Kevin Fuller, Ken Cockayne
Ordinance Committee Kevin McCauley, Cliff Block, Dave Mills
Building Committee Dave Mills, Cliff Block, Kevin McCauley
Veterans Committee Mayor Ward, Kevin McCauley
5 Year Capital Improvement Committee Dave Mills, Kevin McCauley, Kevin Fuller
Government Efficiency Study_________________
Bristol/Burlington Health District Kevin Fuller
School Readiness(part of Board of Ed) Cliff Block
Public Hearing & Assessment Committee Cliff Block, Kevin McCauley, Dave Mills
Code Enforcement______Kevin McCauley


Bristol Development Authority Ken Cockayne
Board of Fire Commissioners Cliff Block
Board of Police Commissioners Kevin Fuller
Board of Public Works Kevin McCauley, Dave Mills, Cliff Block
Retirement Board Kate Matthews
Transportation Committee Kate Matthews
Youth Commission Ken Cockayne
West Side School Committee_____Ken Cockayne
Forestville School Committee_____ Kate Matthews

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at

Lieberman's go-it-alone health care stance draws praise from GOP, criticism from Democrats

In blue collar Connecticut, where U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman found the support he needed to secure reelection three years ago, Republicans are hailing the senator’s battle against the Democrats’ proposed health care overhaul.
Democrats, though, are increasingly disheartened – even disgusted – with their party’s former vice presidential standard-bearer.
“Joe Lieberman has broken every promise he made to get re-elected,” said Allen Marko, a former City Council candidate.
He said Lieberman lied about backing a Democrat for president, lied about the Iraq War and is now breaking another promise to pass health care reform.
“It's all about Joe and what will get him the spotlight. And when it isn't, it’s about protecting the health insurance and pharmaceutical industry, two of his biggest financial supporters,” Marko said.
But GOP activists said they strongly support the junior senator’s bid to block a public option for health care.
“Not only do I approve of Sen. Lieberman's intent to filibuster, I'd be his water carrier if I could,” said Mary Alford, this year’s unsuccessful Republican mayoral contender.
Republican city Councilor Ken Cockayne, who opposes the public option idea, said, “Joe has always been willing to stand up for what he believes even if it means standing alone.”
“Health care reform is necessary, but the plan being proposed is over reaching considerably and Joe knows this,” said Cockayne, an insurance seller. “If their motivation is truly to promote competition and to bring prices down, there are many other alternatives to be tried first.”
David Mills, a new GOP city councilor, said, “This is too big a topic and too expensive to have it forced through the process because some people want another government program.”
“There are so many inefficiencies in government run programs. What makes anyone think that this will be different?” Mills said.
Former Mayor William Stortz, a Republican, said, “One has to give Sen. Lieberman credit for having the courage of his convictions. He has access to more information than most of us, and obviously is not comfortable with what is being proposed.”
Stortz said he has many questions about the plan and is sure others do, too.
“I am happy that the senator is trying to get the legislation out in the open and also to have it more reflect what the people want,” Stortz said.
“We cry for more non-partisan behavior, yet when it happens as it is in this case, the individuals are castigated. As I see it, Sen. Lieberman is still playing by the rules of the Senate,” Stortz said.
Lieberman has said he backs health care reform, but opposes a public option that would include government-run health care for some Americans who choose it.
Democrats who back the public option, including Sen. Chris Dodd and U.S. Reps. John Larson and Chris Murphy, said it’s vital to the plan because it will hold insurance rates down.
Dodd said he hasn’t talked with Lieberman about the issue.
“Joe makes up his own mind,” Dodd said. “We disagree on this one.”
“Joe has said it’s a matter of conscience,” said Larson. “Everybody has to follow their own conscience.”
Dodd said no one has said Lieberman should be ousted from the Democratic caucus over the issue.
“This isn’t about where Joe stands or I stand,” said Dodd. “This is a very important issue.”
People are worried about whether they can hang on to their job or their home, or whether they’ll have health care when they get sick, said Dodd, not about political disputes.
“Most people in this state have little or no interest in that,” said Dodd.
Larson said it’s also important to look at the impact the legislation would have on so many people.
“I think a public option’s what makes the bill,” said Larson. “It provides the competition.”
Former city Councilor Craig Minor, a Democrat, said it is obvious that Lieberman’s “real concern is for insurance industry profits, not sick and dying Americans.”
“Decreased premiums means decreased profit for the insurance industry,” Minor said.
“Those leeches will always demand their quart of blood from the sick and dying,” Minor said. “Thanks for standing up for us, Joe!”
Alford said that free competition “will bring those premiums down a lot faster than anything else” that anyone can do.
“Washington should not be in the business of being in business,” she said. “They can't manage the job description they have and they want us to trust them with health decisions? Laughable.
So I say, go for it Sen. Lieberman. Fight that good fight.”

To see more comments about Lieberman’s stance, please continue reading:

Mary Alford

Not only do I approve of Sen. Lieberman's intent to filibuster, I'd be his water carrier if I could .
This whole "debate" is not about health care but about power and control over every aspect of our lives. Our so-called leaders are voting on something most of them haven't even read and something they didn't write.
Public "option" is nothing of the sort. In the fine print, as it were, are requirements for the purchase of insurance with resulting heavy financial penalties for failure to do so. Nowhere in our Constitution does it give the Federal Government the power to demand that any citizen buy anything. This is so far out of their purview it's ridiculous. Add to that the fact that every single thing they try to run they run into the ground and you have a recipe for disaster, at our expense.
Take a look at Oregon and Massachusetts. Disasters - both of them - and yet Washington wants us to believe that they have somehow managed, in all of their infinite wisdom and knowledge, to figure out how to do this on a national level. Can anyone say Canada? Americans are not going to Canada for medical care but countless Canadians are coming here to get the care they would have to wait too long for in their own country.
Just a thought. How about trying tort reform and opening state borders for insurance sales?
Competition in a free market society will bring those premiums down a lot faster than anything else. Washington should not be in the business of being in business. They can't manage the job description they have and they want us to trust them with health decisions? Laughable.
So I say, go for it Sen. Lieberman. Fight that good fight. I'm with ya.

David Mills

I do believe there needs to be reform in health care. However, I do not believe the public option is necessarey to get the cost of insurance down. The Democratic controlled Congress is trying to ram this health bill down our throats and they have not read the bill and are not representing their constituants desires. Most people do not want the public option.
This being said, I believe Senator Lieberman is following the interests of the people of the state and is telling the Congress where he stands. He is not looking for a "Sweetheart" deal from the leadership and is acting in our best interest.
I realize his position is controversial. However, this is too big a topic and too expensive to have it forced through the process because some people want another Government program. There are so many ineffeciencies in goivernment run programs. What makes anyone think that this will be different?

Craig Minor

If you analyze the closing comment in his Hartford Courant op-ed piece, it’s obvious that his real concern is for insurance industry profits, not sick and dying Americans. “A new public option will likely increase premiums for the 170 million Americans who already have private insurance…” Hmm…will “likely increase premiums”. Why is that? Shouldn’t more competition DECREASE the cost of premiums? Oh, of course…because decreased premiums means decreased profit for the insurance industry. Those leeches will ALWAYS demand their quart of blood from the sick and dying. Thanks for standing up for us, Joe!

William Stortz

One has to give Senator Lieberman for having the courage of his convictions. He has access to more information than most of us, and obviously is not comfortable with what is being proposed. I too have questions, as do many others I am sure, and I am happy that the Senator is trying to get the legislation out in the open and also to have it more reflect what the people want.
We cry for more non-partisan behavior, yet when it happens as it is in this case, the individual(s) are castigated. As I see it, Senator Lieberman is still playing by the rules of the Senate.
I say give the Senator credit, put it all on the table, LISTEN to the people and then vote. In our government, a democracy, the majority stills rules.
Keep at it Senator!

Ken Cockayne

Joe has always been willing to stand up for what he believes even if it means standing alone. I respect him a lot for the stances he takes even though I might not always agree with him.
As far as his stance on this issue, I believe he is correct. Health care reform is necessary, but the plan being proposed is over reaching considerably and Joe knows this. If their motivation is truly to promote competition and to bring prices down, there are many other alternatives to be tried first, like allowing purchases of health insurance across state borders. Lifting some of these regulations will promote more competition then a public option and would not cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. There are also others, mandates on insurance carriers are very costly and I believe some are unnecessary. Many of these mandates do not allow coverage’s to be tailored to the individual or the group.

Allen Marko

Joe Lieberman has broken every promise he made to get re-elected:
I will work to get a Democrat in the White House - supported McCain.
Nobody wants the war in Iraq to end more than I do - Tried to spread it to Iran.
Now he has broken another - I represent the best chance to pass health care reform.
It's all about Joe and what will get him the spotlight. And when it isn't, it’s about protecting the health insurance and pharmaceutical industry, two of his biggest financial supporters.

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