August 31, 2010

Photographs from the Crocodile Club 2010

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Crocodile Club gets underway

Here at Lake Compounce, the Crocodile Club has gotten down ot business for the 129th time, making it the nation's oldest eating club.
Here are a few pictures to show what it's like:
U.S. Rep. John Larson

City Councilor Ken Cockayne and Dan Malloy, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate. 

State Rep. Bill Hamzy, enjoying a cigar (his own, not the ones provided by the Crocodile Club)
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

'The sun always shines on Crocodile Day'

Don't miss reporter Jackie Majerus' blog entry today with the lyrics of Wally Barnes' smash hit from the 1954 Crocodile Club bash at Lake Compounce.
It looks like it's going to be a terrific day again today, with most of the state's political bigshots gathering again beside the lake -- and, thank God, in air conditioned comfort for the first time! And no cigars inside either!
***** Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

August 30, 2010

Tornado damage too little for federal help

A tornado that ripped through the heart of Bristol last month, downing hundreds of trees without injuring or killing anyone, failed to do enough damage for the city to qualify for federal disaster relief.

Though officials tallied a bit more than $500,000 in damage suffered by public and private property owners, the number fell well short of the level required to trigger federal help.

That means that residents whose insurance failed to cover all of their costs are going to get stuck with the bills and city taxpayers are going to have to cough up the cash to cover swollen overtime tabs for municipal workers who cleaned up much of the debris from the July 21 tornado.

There remains a small chance that the federal Small Business Administration may offer low-interest loans to assist businesses slammed by the tornado.

The city totaled up its own costs and heard from dozens of residents who also got clobbered by the storm.

Raymond and Katherine Guimond of 128-130 Blakeslee St., the hardest hit area of town, reported to the mayor’s office that they lost at least 15 trees and expected to be out at least $5,000 for the cost of hauling away the downed timber.

High Street resident Elizabeth Banks reported that a 150-year-old tulip tree smashed through her garage, destroying the building. She estimated the damage to her property at $71,396.

The manager of the company that owns the Shoppes at Larson Farms, Stephen Larson, said that “during the mayhem” at the height of the storm, “the winds took the top off our pylon sign and tossed it into the middle of Route 6.”

“We thank God no one was injured or killed,” Larson added.

Combined with the loss of some metal sheeting on the L.A. Fitness building, the plaza suffered $6,118 worth of damage that insurance won’t cover, he said.

Mayor Art Ward said he’s sorry that so many people are going to be stuck with cleanup and repair costs.

On the other hand, he said, he’s glad the storm wasn’t any worse.

In order to have a shot at Federal Emergency Management Agency aid, the mayor said, the storm would have to cause at least $2.7 million worth of damage in Hartford County and more than $4.2 million statewide. He said that even when Bristol added in the damage in Plainville and New Britain, it fell well short of the required levels.

The SBA may be able to assist a bit, however.

Ward said that if 25 or more business owners report damage, the SBA can offer low-interest loans to help them get back on their feet. It isn’t clear whether enough companies need the help, though.

The single biggest tally for damages came from the Park Department, which estimated it lost $75,000 worth of trees, most of them at Rockwell Park and Muzzy Field.

Ward said the city will have to absorb its large overtime and other expenses just as it would if it was hit with a major blizzard or ice storm.

For now, departments are dipping into their normal budgets to pay the cost, but it’s likely some will need additional appropriations this fiscal year to cover normal operating expenses after coping with the tornado’s aftermath.

Ward said he’s not sure how the Board of Finance will choose to handle the situation.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Union contract on special council meeting agenda

City councilors will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday to consider whether to back a contract negotiated between Mayor Art Ward and Local 233 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers.

Local 233 represents most of the workers at City Hall.

The terms of the deal remain a secret, but Ward said the union has already signed the pact. He said the city has to act before its next regular council meeting in order to meet mandatory time requirements.

At least one councilor, Republican David Mills, said he can’t make the meeting because he had already planned to be out of town.

In addition to the union contract, councilors also plan to appoint a fair housing officer and perhaps deal with a property tax dispute over watershed land in Harwinton.

The special meeting will take place in the council chambers on the first floor at City Hall.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Voting machinesworked just fine

A state-ordered audit Monday of voting machines in two precincts found no discrepancies between the machine count and the paper ballots used in the August 10 primary.

The precincts at Stafford School and Chippens Hill Middle School were among those randomly picked by the secretary of state to make sure that electronic scanners used to tally votes worked properly.

The city’s two registrars, Republican Sharon Krawiecki and Democrat Bob Badal, said after counting the paper ballots in the 77D and 78A precincts, the numbers matched what the machines reported at the close of voting on primary day.

Even so, the electronic memory cards from the scanners will be checked by the University of Connecticut to make sure they match both the hand count of paper ballots and the ticker printed out by the machines after the primary.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Back from vacation

I'm back.
What have I missed?
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

August 29, 2010

5 years after Katrina, a teen's tale of hope and survival stands the test of time

When all is said and done, the piece of journalism first published in The Bristol Press that is most apt to stand the test of time was written 5 years ago today by a teenage girl fleeing Hurricane Katrina. Many of you no doubt read it in the paper -- where it was published by The Tattoo -- but if you didn't see it then, this anniversary is a good time to catch up. Check out this link.
For those who don't know, reporter Jackie Majerus and I run a nonprofit named Youth Journalism International that has introduced hundreds of talented teens in dozens of countries to the world of journalism. The Katrina journal is just one of thousands of stories for which we have helped teens find an audience. We are blessed to have the chance to provide a voice for the next generation to be heard. Every day, it gives us faith in the future.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

August 11, 2010

City cuts deal with McDonald's to move downtown restaurant

The city is trying to work out a deal that would have the downtown McDonald’s move to a spot next door to Dunkin’ Donuts on North Main Street.
City councilors have given tentative backing to a land swap that would shift the fast food restaurant to a new spot on the 17-acre former mall site.
The move may be made before the rest of the property is redeveloped as part of a bid by the Long Island-based Renaissance Downtowns to remake the city center.
Edward Krawiecki, Jr, the city attorney, said the new eatery will likely be “more upscale” than the existing McDonald’s.
Krawiecki said its owner is eyeing 80 seats, including some outdoors, and an atmosphere akin to the McCafe-style that some of the chain’s establishments have adopted.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Tom Foley's victory speech in Rocky Hill last night

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Malloy's victory speech last night

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Larson talks on House floor about Manchester murders

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Larson seeks debates with Brickley

Press release from U.S. Rep. John Larson:


East Hartford, CT –John Larson (CT-1) released the following statement on the results of the 1st Congressional District Republican Primary.

“I congratulate Ann on winning the primary. I look forward to the campaign, and an invigorating discussion of the issues facing the families, veterans, seniors, and small business owners of Connecticut.

We’ve accomplished much - historic legislation reforming Wall Street, ensuing quality affordable health care for all Americans and putting people back to work here in Greater Hartford.  But there is much to be done; rebuilding Connecticut manufacturing by ensuring that we “Make it in America”, and sell it around the world, and by creating clean energy jobs that will help our economy emerge stronger than ever.”  

The Larson Campaign also announced its intention to hold a debate and joint appearances with Brickley.     

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Primary voting results in Bristol

Here are the results in yesterday's primary. Turnout was an anemic 21 percent.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Brickley wins GOP congressional primary

ROCKY HILL – Republicans appear to have given the 1st District congressional primary nod to Wethersfield engineer Ann Brickley.
Though many results were not yet in, Brickley held at least a 10 point lead over challenger Mark Zydanowicz late Tuesday when the paper went to press.
With about half the precincts counted, including many in Zydanowicz strongholds, Brickley held what appears to be an insurmountable lead in the far-flung district, earning her the opportunity to take on U.S. Rep. John Larson in the November 2 general election.
Zydanowicz was not ready to throw in the towel, however.
“We’re still not sure,” the West Hartford dairy executive said from his home. “We’re still waiting to hear.”
At deadline, Brickley had yet to make an appearance before a crowd of about 100 supporters at the Rocky Hill Marriott, across the hall from a gathering for gubernatorial hopeful Tom Foley.
In Bristol, Zydanowicz garnered 649 votes to 632 for Brickley, but Bristol was considered by both sides in the primary fight to be heavily in Zydanowicz’s corner.
Larson, an East Hartford Democrat, has represented the 1st District since 1998. A Republican hasn’t won the district since 1956.
Brickley said she plans to break the half century streak of one party dominance in the district.
In talking points prepared for Brickley’s address, she thanked Zydanowicz and Joe Visconti, who lost out at the Republican convention, for running a clean campaign that avoided personal attacks.
She said in the prepared remarks that with rounds one and two behind her in the campaign, “I am ready for the main event.”
Brickley vowed to take it to Larson because “the problem with entrenched incumbents is they only talk to each other” and they don’t listen to constituents.
She said she’s had “enough of the rhetoric” and intends to force Larson to do a lot of explaining.
“I can’t wait to debate,” Brickley said. “I’ll debate him on his front porch if I have to.”
“We will be heard,” Brickley said, because “our government is broken and it’s time for all the residents in the 1st District to come together and send the message to Washington that we have had enough.”
Larson has a built-in advantage with more than 20 times as much campaign cash raised – so much that he’s given more away to other Democrats than the Republicans have any hope of raising themselves for the race.
The 1st District includes Bristol, Southington and Berlin. It is centered on Hartford.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

The Democratic establishment takes it on the chin

There's no way to view Mary Rydingsward's defeat of city Democratic Party leader Elliott Nelson except as a rebuke to the party establishment.
After all, the town committee overwhelmingly backed Nelson.
No doubt some of Rydingsward's support came from women who feel like outsiders dealing with the male-dominated party leadership team.
But there's also no doubt that some of those votes she racked up came from Democrats of both sexes who feel left out or shunned by party officials who are largely loyal to Mayor Art Ward.
Rydingsward worked hard in this campaign -- but so did Nelson. Both of them put in the effort that winning requires.
But when a Democratic Party chair loses a political race that only rank and file Democrats can participate in, the outcome is not just a referendum on the boss. It's about something more.
And that something may spell trouble for Ward, too, when it's his turn to run again next year.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

August 10, 2010

Watch primary returns live right here thanks to CT News Junkie

Free video chat by Ustream

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Turnout lackluster for both parties

Turnout in today's primary is poor among both Republicans and Democrats.
As of noon, 10.2 percent of the city's registered Democrats had voted while 10 percent of GOP voters had turned out.
Those are the latest figures from the registrar's office.
PS: If anyone has photographs from the polls, send 'em to me and I'll post some. Use to send the pictures as attachments. Thanks in advance.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

GOP congressional hopeful Mark Zydanowicz at Edgewood School today

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Voter turnout is "very light" in Bristol

For all the money that’s poured into today’s primary campaign, voters appear largely uninterested.

As of noon today, only 9.9 percent of the eligible voters in the Republican and Democratic primaries had turned out to cast their ballots.
“It’s very light,” said Bob Badal, the city’s Democratic registrar.
At this pace, it’s unlikely that voter turnout will reach even 25 percent by the time the polls close at 8 p.m.
At the same time in last year’s mayoral election, where just 26 percent of the city’s 34,000 voters bothered to help pick the city leaders, 12 percent had voted as of noon.
In the hotly contested Democratic mayoral primary in 2007, nearly 10 percent of Democrats had voted by 10 a.m. – a much faster pace than today’s primary turnout.
Even so, only 28 percent of Democrats wound up voting in that primary, when Art Ward defeated Ellen Zoppo to claim his party’s line on the general election ballot.
At noon on Election Day in 2007, 14.9 percent of the city's registered voters had shown up to cast a ballot.
During the presidential race in 2008, 32 percent of registered voters in Bristol had trekked to the polls by noon.
At this point, the city registrar’s office can’t break down the turnout by party, but Badal said it appears that turnout is light for both Republicans and Democrats.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Spat over Carros appointment turns ugly

The possible appointment of Republican activist Alex Carros has created a firestorm that’s become the talk of the political establishment these days. The growing controversy may have even played a role in the vandalism this past weekend of the business run by Carros’ father and uncle, Bristol Instrument Gears. Carros said the place was “severely vandalized” Sunday night with 30 or so windows smashed, including the windshield of a company pickup truck. Carros, who hasn’t worked there in four years, called it “a vicious act of vandalism.”
Sources said today that police are investigating the vandalism and looking into whether it’s connected to the political spat.
The controversy can be seen rather clearly from a few emails that have been bouncing around city circles recently. Here they are:

June 28, 2010 email from city Councilor Kevin McCauley to city councilors:
Hello Colleagues,
I know I don¹t have to remind you of 'Concerned Conservative' who inappropriately attacked Terry Parker last Fall, as it was discussed when he last asked to be considered for appointment.
This is a much more serious appointment and I believe Alex Carros is not someone we should consider at this time.
I am critical of Alex for any of the land use boards, as my concerns for the lack of decorum he has shown time and again should preclude him from consideration.
I would consider Alex for some lesser board/commission if he learns how to restrain himself on the blog and in public. It may be tough for him.
Thank you for considering my position.
See you on Tuesday,
Kevin McCauley

July 21 letter from Alex Carros to Mayor Art Ward, city councilors and others:
Dear Mayor Ward:
It has come to my attention that recently my name was put up for appointment for two volunteer city official positions. One was the Historic District and the other was the Planning Commission. I’ve discovered both times my name was brought forward, it was blocked by Council-person Kevin McCauley.
An audacious and maligning statement (via email) to all of the Bristol City Council was sent by Kevin McCauley urging council-members not to allow my name to be brought forward for appointment. In the emailed statement Council-person McCauley referenced anonymous blog comments that he unsubstantially cites as mine, and stated that my “lack of decorum he has shown time and again should preclude him from consideration” and “I would consider Alex for some lesser board/commission if he learns how to restrain himself on the blog and in public. It may be tough for him”. This is obviously twisted logic by Councilperson McCauley. How could he cite my “decorum” and public conduct by anonymous blog comments? Besides being misguided, McCauley’s email remarks to Bristol City Council-people (and the public) are slanderous and hypocritical. The statement from Council-person McCauley via email to the Council is an insulting and defamatory act against me and the entire Carros family. How dare he criticize my decorum and ability to conduct myself correctly in public! McCauley obviously used poor judgment in stating that I, with a graduate and undergraduate degree and with my career in business cannot conduct myself professionally. Not to mention my tenure on the Planning Commission and the numerous other volunteer activities that I have been involved in. In actuality, it would truly surprise me if McCauley actually believed that I can’t or have not conducted myself in a proper manner publicly. It is bad politics (on his part) inhibiting what is best for Bristol.
With this in mind one must wonder if McCauley knows or realizes that I served a full five year term on the Planning Commission already from 1998 to 2003. After finishing my term I asked not to be reappointed because my graduate school classes would have interfered with my duty on Planning. Upon announcing to Mayor Nicastro that I was not seeking reappointment, I received a letter of appreciation voted unanimously by the City Council in 2003.
I am probably one of the best qualified people to serve on the Planning Commission in the entire City of Bristol, but McCauley has blocked voting on me apparently for political reasons. During my term on Planning, besides serving on the Commission that oversees subdivisions, certain site plans, and numerous other tasks associated with land use, the commission in coordination with the city staff developed the current Ten Year Plan of Development. I am well educated and experienced in regards to city land use procedures, ordinances and protocol.
Since I am a fifth generation resident of Bristol and a fourth generation resident on Federal Hill one would think McCauley (the Council Liaison to the Federal Hill Association) would be enthusiastic to my appointment to either the Historic District Commission or the Planning Commission. That would be of course if he was relying on common sense rather than innuendo. Then again of course since McCauley’s only attended approximately one meeting per year of the Federal Hill Association in the last three years, apparently he doesn’t care much for the input of that area of the city anyway.
Obviously Kevin McCauley has no respect for all the accomplishments I have made in my life including my education and my career and this I believe reflects McCauley’s lack of respect for business and higher education all together. If it is so tough for me to restrain myself as he claims, how could I have achieved what I have? It’s a ridiculous statement on his part!
I know Councilman McCauley a bit and have had a conversation or two with him in the past. Never would I have imagined that this person felt this way about me. If McCauley was truly concerned about my name being brought forth by Mayor Ward perhaps he would have done the professional thing and scheduled and interview rather than simply relying on here-say?
Although the blocking of my appointment is a loss for Bristol, it’s certainly Council-person McCauley’s right to make decisions regarding appointments and lobby as he feels fit. But it would have been appropriate if McCauley kept his unjustified statements regarding me to himself. I believe because of what he has said and done, Council-person McCauley should be reprimanded in some way by the City Council. I also believe that the position as liaison to the Federal Hill Association should be given to another Council-person based on McCauley’s lack of respect for one of the Association’s members (me), the bad relationship this action of his has caused with an officer of that organization (my wife) and his poor attendance.
I truly hope that you will agree with my position on this issue. Thank you for your time.
Alexander J. (Alex) Carros
CC: Councilman David Mills, Councilman Kevin Fuller, Councilman Cliff Block, Councilman Kate Matthews, Councilman Kevin McCauley, Councilman Ken Cockayne, Elliot Nelson, Bristol DTC Chairman, Thomas J Barnes Jr., Bristol RTC Chairman, Michele Boyko, Federal Hill Association President

August 6, 2010 email from Mayor Art Ward to city councilors and Carros:
This is to inform everyone that I, along with the Democratic and Republican Town Chairpersons and the President of the Federal Hill Association, have received a communication from Alexander J. Carros regarding an E-mail forwarded to the council members by Council member McCauley regarding any potential appointment of Mr. Carros as a member to any city boards/commissions.
I would strongly recommend, in the best interests of the City of Bristol and both individuals, that a meeting be conducted between Council member McCauley and Mr. Carros to address and resolve these concerns as soon as possible.
If so requested, I would be willing to provide use of the Mayor's office to hold these discussions.
Mayor Art Ward
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Primary Day! - Updated!

How are things at the polls today? Anyone encounter anything odd, funny or different? The machines all working the way they should? How's turnout?
I'll keep this thread updated with any news that I get.
Update at 9:15 a.m. - Turnout for the primary was 3.2 percent as of 9 a.m.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

August 9, 2010

McMahon coos at a Bristol baby

As part of a whirlwind tour across the state, Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Linda McMahon spent an hour Monday afternoon hobnobbing with GOP officials and diners at Panera Bread.
When McMahon walked in, she quickly spotted retired city Registrar Ellie Klapatch.
“We’re popping in” all over, McMahon said, as her eyes wandered to a 7-week-old baby boy held by former city GOP leader Gary Schaffrick.
She quickly scooped Evan Schilling, one of Bristol’s youngest residents, and quietly whispered some baby talk to him.
Handing him off after a couple of minutes, McMahon proclaimed, “That was my treat for the day.”
McMahon said she is “cautiously optimistic” about her chances in today’s three-way primary – former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons and stock market guru Peter Schiff are running against her.
“I feel good momentum in this race,” McMahon said.
She apparently has one voted locked up already. Her husband, Vince McMahon, voted absentee because he’s in California this week.
The primary winner will face Democrat Richard Blumenthal, the state's longtime attorney general, in the November 2 general election for the open seat created by U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s decision to step down.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

The biggest primary in state history

Tuesday marks the biggest primary day in Connecticut’s history.
There are more candidates vying for more offices, including governor and U.S. Senate, than the state has ever had before.
“It’s unbelievable,” said retiring state Rep. Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican. He called it “the most dramatic primary day that I can ever remember in Connecticut politics.”
“This is going to be one for the books,” said Whit Betts, the GOP candidate from Bristol who hopes to take Hamzy’s place in the state House.
Even so, city Democratic Party leader Elliott Nelson said he doubts more than 25 to 30 percent of the 13,238 registered Democrats in town will turn out to vote. Click here for the full story.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Tuesday's primary - Who's on the ballot in Bristol?

In Bristol, there is only one local primary – two Democrats are battling to become a registrar -- but the state’s trove of registered voters has attracted the attention of nearly every major candidate scrambling along the campaign trail.
Democrats face a number of tough choices in hard-fought races.
In the local showdown, city Democratic Party leader Elliott Nelson got his party’s endorsement to succeed Bob Badal as one of the city’s two registrars.
Mary Rydingsward challenged him because, she said, the office needs someone who wants to bring professionalism rather than patronage to the $47,000-a-year position.
But there are plenty of other races on the ballotl.
In addition to choosing a registrar, Democrats will also pick a gubernatorial candidate.
Former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy and businessman Ned Lamont are locked in a tight race for the party’s backing.
For lieutenant governor, state Comptroller Nancy Wyman and Simsbury’s leader, Mary Glassman, are facing off. Wyman is Malloy’s running mate. Lamont picked Glassman.
For secretary of state, Democrats must choose between two state lawmakers: Denise Merrill and Gerry Garcia.
For comptroller, Kevin Lembo, the state’s health care advocate, is battling with Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura.
Republicans have a plethora of picks to make as well.
In the 1st congressional district, Wethersfield engineer and consultant Ann Brickley squares off against Mark Zydanowicz, a West Hartford dairy executive.
For governor, the GOP has to pick from among former Ambassador Tom Foley, Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele and Oz Griebel, the head of the MetroHartford Alliance.
Two Republicans are seeking the lieutenant governor’s post, entrepreneur Lisa Wilson-Foley and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.
In the U.S. Senate race, former World Wrestling Federation CEO Linda McMahon got the party’s endorsement in a bitter three-way contest. But two men, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons and broker Peter Schiff are challenging her.
In the attorney general’s race, Martha Dean, the endorsed candidate, is locked in a tough battle with Ross Garber. Both are lawyers.
For voters in Plymouth and some other neighboring towns that are not in the 1st congressional district, there is a 5th District GOP primary that pits Waterbury state Sen. Sam Caligiuri, the endorsed candidate, against Justin Bernier and Mark Greenberg.
The winner will take on U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, a Cheshire Democrat who took office four years ago.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Only registered Republicans and Democrats can vote in their respective primaries. They will each have separate ballots to cast.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

August 6, 2010

Watch 1st District GOP congressional debate

Here's the CT-N tape of Thursday's 1st District GOP congressional debate between Ann Brickley and Mark Zydanowicz:

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Foley, McMahon coming to Bristol

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley is making a campaign stop in Bristol on Saturday morning.
He's supposed to stop by the Crystal Luncheonette at Mafale's Plaza on Main Street about 8:30 a.m. and then shake hands in a few other, unidentified locales.
On Monday, GOP senatorial hopeful Linda McMahon is heading over to Panera Bread at the Shop-Rite Plaza at 3 p.m. She's supposed to hang around for about an hour.
These are great opportunities to shake hands and ask a question. These are real people, not just television characters, and it's best to make sure they never forget that.
If you're trying to make up your mind about who to vote for, they're trying to make it easier for you. Give 'em credit for coming.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Brickley, Zydanowicz hold only real debate

In their only full-scale debate, two Republicans vying for the right to take on U.S. Rep. John Larson in the general election showed a surprising civility Thursday and expressed views that largely mirrored one another.
But Ann Brickley, an engineer from Wethersfield, and Mark Zydanowicz, a dairy executive from West Hartford, clashed sharply on one key issue at the showdown at Trinity College: the proposed $574 million busway between Hartford and New Britain.
Zydanowicz scoffed at the plan, calling it “financially irresponsible” and a poor substitute for a commuter rail line.
Brickley said the busway is “ready to go” and would begin to alleviate congestion on Interstate 84 within three years.
Holding out for rail, she said, would be much more costly and take a decade if it ever came to pass.
Generally, though, the candidates offered only slightly different takes on the issues raised during the debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters and co-sponsored by Trinity and CT-N, which recorded it and plans to show it sometime this weekend. Click here for the full story.
I'll endeavor to post a link to the CT-N video whenever I find it online.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

August 5, 2010

Gridley House corner from Bristol's old downtown

I love that car out front. And I wonder who the one guy standing there was.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

O'Brien stings elections enforcers on dumb ruling

State Rep. Tim O'Brien, a New Britain Democrat, makes a strong case against what appears to be a ridiculous decision by the state Elections Enforcement Commission that would make it a little harder for politicians to use free social networking sites. We should be encouraging politicians to get online and interact with their constituents rather than doing anything that would discourage it.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

August 4, 2010

Mayor's brother-in-law barely escaped Manchester rampage

Take a look at reporter Jackie Majerus' blog for the story. Check it out here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Malloy in Bristol today

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy is slated to shake hands at the Shop-Rite plaza on Route 6 beginning about 3:30 this afternoon. Mayor Art Ward is hanging with him, according to the Malloy campaign.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Brickley, Zydanowicz to debate Thursday in Hartford

Media Advisory
Ann Brickley, Mark Zydanowicz to Compete in August 10 Primary
What: Ann Brickley, the Republican Party’s endorsed candidate in the 1st Congressional District – which includes Hartford – and challenger Mark Zydanowicz will participate in an hour-long debate. The two will appear on the August 10 primary ballot, with the winner squaring off against Democratic incumbent John B. Larson in the November election for the right to represent central Connecticut in Congress. The debate, which is open to the public and will be taped and broadcast by CT-N, is being hosted by the League of Women Voters.
When: Thursday, August 5 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: The Washington Room in Mather Hall on the Trinity campus, 300 Summit Street.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Bristol man among victims in Manchester rampage

The Waterbury Republican-American reports today that Francis Fazio, 57, who has lived at 264 Wolcott St. since 1982, was among the victims of a deadly workplace shooting yesterday in Manchester that left nine dead.
If anyone who knew him would like to talk about him, I'd love to hear from you.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

August 3, 2010

City buys decrepit gas station near Rockwell Park

City councilors agreed Tuesday to buy a former gas station at the entrance to Rockwell Park for $185,000 as part of a package that includes snagging $150,000 in federal stimulus funds to clean up contamination on the site.
The 316 Park St. property needs the costly cleanup to remove wastes that have leaked from underground fuel tanks in years past.
Robyn Bugbee, the city’s grants coordinator who has spearheaded a five-year effort to purchase and clean up the site, said the work has reached “a pretty exciting stage” where the end is in sight.
The council endorsed the deal on a 4-1 vote, with Republican Ken Cockayne in opposition. It merely ratified terms already agreed on back in 2006.
Cockayne said the property will enhance the entrance to Rockwell Park, but the price is too high. He said prices in 2006 were higher than they are now.
“This was dumped in our lap,” Cockayne said.
Mayor Art Ward said he agreed, but pointed out that the city backed the terms four years ago and shouldn’t undermine the deal at this point. Click here for the full story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Fire request sets off heated discussion

City fire officials are turning up the heat in a bid to win the right to douse any fires in town that they deem a nuisance.
“We’re just looking for something really simple,” Fire Chief Jon Pose said.
The Fire Department wants a legal change that would allow senior fire officers who determine a blaze presents a problem – from smoke or embers –to order it doused.
The request, however, has sent sparks flying.
The Ordinance Committee, which is pondering the request, is wary about handing off the power to firefighters to put out backyard fires that are burning in a controlled setting.
Tom Conlin, a city attorney, said he’s concerned about handing over the power to put out campfires, bonfires and other controlled fires merely because a fire official deems it a possible nuisance.
He said he would prefer any new law include a more defined, measurable standard.
It isn’t clear what that standard could be. Click here for the full story.

A midnight ban on outdoor fires?
City leaders are eyeing the possibility of banning open fires after midnight.
City Councilor Cliff Block said that officials are thinking of declaring a midnight curfew for burning campfires, bonfires, outdoor fire pits and the like,
There is no time limit now for most fires.
Brush can only be burned from sunrise to sunset, officials said, so they are thinking of making it so that nothing can be burned outside between midnight and sunrise. Click here for the full story.

Update: The story that appears on the Press website has an error that city Councilor Kevin McCauley pointed out. Here is the correction:

BRISTOL – The Bristol-Burlington Health District regulates the open burning of brush, not bonfires, as a story in Tuesday’s paper incorrectly stated.
There is a possibility that bonfires may also be regulated, but for now at least they are not.
City Councilor Kevin McCauley, who heads the Ordinance Committee, said Tuesday that the first step in the process for burning brush is to get a permit from the health district.
That permit needs to be put on file with the city fire marshal’s office.
On the day that someone wants to burn the brush, they must contact the Fire Department for specific authorization, which will be granted or not depending on weather conditions, McCauley said.
The department doesn’t want to take a chance that it could turn into a wild fire or brush fire, said McCauley, a city firefighters.
The Ordinance Committee is considering the possibility of permits for bonfires, McCauley said, which would likely be processed through the Fire Department alone.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

City councilors meet for special session today

A special City Council session at 5 p.m. today has a couple of interesting items on its agenda.
First, the city appears ready to buy the decrepit gas station at the entrance to Rockwell Park -- at 316 Park St. -- for $185,000. It's part of a brownfields cleanup deal. Details to follow.
Second, there's an executive session slated "to discuss negotiations for relocation" of the McDonald's restaurant in the middle of the former mall property.
One of the odd things about the site is that McDonald's owns the land on which it sits. It's not part of the overall 17 acres that belongs to the city. Moving it elsewhere is considered a crucial step in the revitalization process.
I know absolutely nothing about what's under discussion. But with luck, perhaps we'll get some light shining on that, too.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

August 2, 2010

Bristol 'the most boring place in the world,' actor says

During a Moviefone 'Unscripted' interview with comedian Will Ferrell released Monday, actor Mark Wahlberg called Bristol "the most boring town in the world."
His reasoning was a little shaky, but here's the Hollywood star's rationale: "That's why all those people at ESPN are having sex with each other. ... They're doing wife swaps and all sorts of craziness."
The 39-year-old Oscar-nominated star doesn't appear to have visited Bristol, apparently relying purely on its reputation. He did say, though, that he was joking.
Find out more about Wahlberg here.
Update: ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said that Wahlberg has, in fact, been in Bristol.
He headed over to ESPN's studios in the fall of 2008 to plug Max Payne.
"He did seem to really enjoy it when he visited us in 2008," Soltys said.w
Another update: In a video provided by ESPN, taken while Wahlberg walked through ESPN's campus in 2008, the actor said the place was "bigger and cooler" than he expected and that "everyone was very hospitable."
"It was awesome," Wahlberg said on the video. "It's always amazing. It's surreal just to see everything behind the scenes once you've bunch of television to actually see the studio."
He didn't look bored.
Yet another update: "I guess it depends on your definition of boring. If that's the only positive comments he can make about the community, I would venture to say he hasn't spent much time here," Mayor Art Ward said.
"Coming from someone with experience in Hollywood and tabloids," Wahlberg may not appreciate Bristol, Ward said.
The mayor said he suspects Wahlberg spent only a short time here -- but not short enough.
"I hope his exit was quicker than his entrance. And hopefully there were no impediments on Route 229 to hinder his exit," Ward said. "And let him know I'm in my office whenever he'd like to talk."
The mayor said Bristol warrants its recent designation as one of the top 100 places to live among small American cities and will someday climb to the Top 10 on its way to the top spot.
And still another update -- Keith Olbermann wants to know this: "Swapping them for WHAT?" That's on his Twitter feed.
Sport Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch adds this on his Twitter feed: "Well, this is unexpected: Actor Mark Wahlberg says people at ESPN swap wives."
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at