October 31, 2010

Candidates get ready for Election Day

Note: Check the end of the story later for more additions.
Preparing for a Halloween Sunday afternoon, city Republican Party leader T.J. Barnes wore a Batman costume at GOP headquarters as officials worked on logistics for Election Day.
But Republicans don’t think they need superheroes to win this year.
“I feel very good about our chances,” Barnes said.
Democrats, though, have a different take as Election Day draws near.
“We’re in good shape,” said Elliott Nelson, the city’s Democratic leader. “I think we’re going to get all our seats back.”
Nelson said the GOP managed this year to “put up some viable candidates” and to make some races tight, but his counterparts on the Republican side are still going to come up short Tuesday.
Voters will get the final say Tuesday. Those casting ballots in Bristol will help pick a new U.S. senator, a new governor, statewide officers, a congressman, a state senator, state House members, a registrar and a probate judge.
They’ll also have six proposed charter changes to consider, including a controversial measure to double to the time between municipal elections by giving the city’s elected officials four year terms instead of two.
Perhaps the hottest race in town has been the 31st District state Senate showdown between newcomer Jason Welch, a Republican lawyer, and 18-year incumbent state Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Democrat,
Colapietro sat in Democratic headquarters Sunday afternoon with a long list of voters in front of him, calling them one by one.
With one, he started to give a prepared comment after introducing himself as the city’s state senator, when he stopped, listened, and told the person on the other end of the line that he really was Colapietro and that, no, this was not a robo call.
He said he doesn’t have “a pretty face” or vans festooned with political signs – as Welch does – but he has a solid record that he hopes voters will remember. He said he’s an ordinary guy who’s willing to say what he thinks and do what he says.
But Republicans believe they can send him packing.
Welch has focused on an agenda that includes reducing government spending, lowering taxes, improving schools and easing burdensome regulations on businesses. His goal, he said, is to spur job creation.
He argued that Colapietro’s stances hinder job creation and have helped keep the economy stalled.
 What is certain is that snatching Colapietro’s seat would be a political coup for the perennial runners-up.
Colapietro said he knows there is “a lot of anger” in the electorate about what’s happened to the economy. He said he hopes people will remember that Wall Street, not the Democrats, caused the economy’s collapse.
Among the state House races, Republicans have high hopes of winning the 78th District, where Democrat Rich Covello of Plymouth and the GOP’s Whit Betts of Bristol are vying for the right to succeed state Rep. Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican who’s stepping down.
The Republicans would also dearly love to knock off first-term state Rep. Chris Wright, a Democrat in northeastern Bristol’s 77thDistrict. The GOP standard bearer in the district, Jill Fitzgerald, has run a vigorous contest that amounts to a rematch of the 2008 race when Wright beat her.
In the 79th District, two-term Democrat Frank Nicastro, a former mayor, faces Republican newcomer Pete Del Mastro.
In the 22nd District, which includes a sliver of Forestville but is mostly in Plainville, state Rep. Betty Boukus, a Democrat, is squaring off against Republican Helen Bergenty, who also lives in Plainville.
Everyone already knows who will win the registrar and probate judge races because the candidates face no opposition.
For probate judge of a newly expanded district, Democrat Andre Dorval is a shoo-in while the city’s registrars will be Republican Sharon Krawiecki and Democrat Mary Rydingsward. Rydingsward defeated Nelson in an August primary to claim the party’s ballot slot.
 In the 1st District congressional contest, Democratic U.S. Rep. John Larson has three challengers: Republican Ann Brickley, the Green Party’s Ken Krayeske and Chris Hutchinson of the Socialist Action Party.
The polls are open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Republicans plan a victory party at Nuchies in Forestville while the Democrats plan to celebrate at the Polish Club on North Main Street.
1st District Congressional race:

You can watch videos of all four debates here --

(Thanks for the links, Ken Krayeske)
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

DeFronzo trashes busway

State Sen. Donald DeFronzo, the New Britain Democrat who co-chairs the transportation committee, couldn't make his position any clearer on the proposed $573 million busway between Hartford and New Britain than he did in a Q&A today for the Herald Press.
Here's what he said:
There is currently a debate over the use of rail or bus to meet Central Connecticut’s future transportation needs. While this difference exists, all sides have agreed for years that it is important to reduce traffic congestion on 1-84 eastbound into Hartford and achieve the economic development benefits of mass transit.
I believe rail has the greatest potential for region-wide economic development. Both rail and bus have advantages and disadvantages, but once the 9.6-mile busway is built at the astronomical cost of $600 million, New Britain will be permanently isolated from the New Haven-Springfield rail line. New Britain will be the only major city in Central Connecticut not on the rail line. New Britain has made its share of transportation policy mistakes (Route 72 through the city); it cannot afford to make one now that will doom the city to economic isolation for decades.
A rail system linking Waterbury, Bristol and New Britain to Hartford will allow for a direct commute from Central Connecticut to New York City and it will also allow for the joining of the New Haven-Springfield line in New Britain before moving on to Hartford. The potential economic development of that system will far out perform the limited and questionable busway concept.

For what it's worth, the last time I asked Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy about the busway, he told me he'd "listen to Senator DeFronzo."
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

A guide for the undecided voter... if he or she exists

By tonight sometime, I'll have a post here with links to information about every local race on this year's ballot and perhaps more.
If you want to know what you need to vote intelligently on Tuesday, come and check it out.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 30, 2010

Republicans getting ready for Election Day

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Betts and Welch campaigning Saturday

Republican state Senate hopeful Jason Welch and GOP state House contender Whit Betts standing with Uncle Sam today, waving at passersby.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 29, 2010

Tuesday's ballots -- online

Want to see the ballot in Bristol? You can see PDFs of all four of the ballots that will be used in Bristol on Tuesday by clicking here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

New video assails Welch

By the way, I now do know who produced this and a previous video. I'll have that information on here soon.
Here is the note, in its entirety, that I got from the person who created this and a previous video about Welch:
Good morning.  I wanted to write you a quick note of thanks for posting my video, "The Real Jason Welch, Don't Get Fooled". 
At the time, I was upset that Mr. Welch was playing the "victim" card, whining about mudslinging, when at that time, none existed.  A quick tour around the internet and 10 minutes later, "Don't Get Fooled Again" was born.  
I have no ties to either campaign, and am flattered the video received a wider viewing audience thanks to your website.  I am a newcomer to the area, an independent voter who normally votes Republican.  I can simply no longer abide with Tea Party backed candidates such as Mr. Welch, pandering to a crowd of people who scream how they "Love America" but appear to hate Americans.  The Republican Party has been hijacked by "Cafeteria Constitutionalists" who want to pick and choose what they deem worthy from our Founding Fathers and the Constitution.  
Mr. Welch is nothing more than an effete political opportunist who fails to confront the basest elements of his party.  If he did, I would support him.
A quick look at BristolToday this morning has me thinking...
If pandering wasn't bad enough, Mr. Welch (or his rabid attack dogs) now resort to rumor mongering, scurrilously promoting an absurd, slanderous lie that "Union Thugs" will descend upon Bristol Election Day.  This is exactly what Welch did back in September, throwing out a baseless attack:  "Colapietro is Mudslinging" (he wasn't) forcing Colapietro respond.  What is next from the Welch Campaign?  Will Mr. Colapietro be forced to deny he is a witch? 
I would encourage you to ask Mr. Welch how his gutter political tactics create a single job for anyone here?  Further, are these the sorts of useless political stunts we can expect from Mr. Welch should he be elected?  
Since I will be voting for Colapietro for the first time, I think you know my answers, but Welch should be held accountable to his tasteless, baseless campaign.  Until those questions are answered, and in the spirit of Mr. Welch (and his James Carville like tactics), I present to you:  "Jason Welch:  Just Like Us?". 

I hope you find it worthy of posting on your site, as I certainly enjoy reading BristolToday.com.  I don't want to be the focus of this campaign, as I am not running for public office, but I thought I owed you an explanation. 
Thanks again for posting my previous video, and in advance for your consideration.
M Jennings
Harwinton, CT

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 28, 2010

No pensions for state lawmakers, two GOP candidates say

Press release just issued by state Senate hopeful Jason Welch and state House contender Whit Betts:
GOP: Kill Legislative Pensions. (Bristol) Two of Bristol’s candidates for the General Assembly, State Senate nominee, Jason Welch (31st. Senatorial) and State Representative candidates Whit Betts (R-78) today issued a joint statement concerning Connecticut’s fiscal crisis.
Whit Betts, the candidate vying to replace long-time Representative Bill Hamzy mentioned that when the General Assembly was formed it was supposed to be made up of Connecticut citizens from all walks of life. “The General Assembly is a Representative form of government,” Betts continued, “Our founding fathers never intended for it to be a career position.”
Welch echoed Betts sentiments.
In the joint statement, the candidates are advocating that if they are elected to the General Assembly next month they will introduce legislation to remove members of the General Assembly from the state pension plan.
“This position at its very core is a part time position, “Republican state senate candidate Jason Welch added, “If it’s a part time position then why should the members of the General Assembly receive a pension?”
Betts added that the move would help save pension funds over the years. “This General Assembly has abdicated its responsibilities with regards to funding the state pension system. Betts continued, “They have turned their backs on the retirees of Connecticut and part time elected members of the General Assembly should not be receiving a golden parachute for a position that was never meant to be a career.”
The Republican State Senate nominee stated that this proposal is being put forth as an act of fairness. “Our intention is to keep the promises made to the current legislators and change it for the next class,” Welch added, “With the budget deficit near record numbers and state spending cap being shattered by the Democratic controlled General Assembly we need to lead by example.”
Betts added, “If the General Assembly cannot reduce its own spending and benefits how can we ask other state employees and agencies to do the same?”
In conclusion, Welch mentioned that this is the real difference this year between the Republican candidates and the Democratic candidates. “We are working as a team to offer comprehensive solutions to the problems facing Connecticut,” Welch concluded, we will be working together to represent the interests of our constituents – no more talk, it’s time for action.”

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

No "union thugs" from Jersey coming

For reasons I can't quite explain, Republicans in town are aflutter over a rumor that four busloads of United Auto Workers would be coming in from New Jersey Tuesday to help state Sen. Tom Colapietro at the polls.
Why the union would haul workers from the other side of New York City to Bristol is unexplained.
It turns out, though, that the talk is wrong.
Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat, said there is no truth to it.
"I honestly don't know where they came up with that union thing," Colapietro said this afternoon.
He said he even called the union to make sure it didn't have something planned that he didn't know about. It didn't.
So if there are union workers at the polls Tuesday, they'll likely be from Bristol or nearby, not from Jersey.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

The congressman and the billionaire

A billionaire energy tycoon from Texas and a liberal congressman from Connecticut make for an unlikely pair.
Yet U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, and T. Boone Pickens have become, well, friends.
“When my brothers met T. Boone Pickens, they said they wanted to be adopted,” Larson joked recently.
What drew the pair together was Larson’s strong support for Pickens’ plan to begin tapping the nation’s vast natural gas reserves to end its dependence on foreign oil.
Pickens said recently that Larson is “number one” in championing the plan in the Congress, where a $5 billion down payment on the scheme has passed the U.S. House and is now in the U.S. Senate’s hands. Pickens said it’s enough money to get started.
The two men have met in Hartford and in Washington on a number of occasions to plot strategy, sometimes over hotdogs at East Hartford’s eatery of choice, Augie & Ray’s Drive-In.
“We’re both working for America,” Pickens said. “This is a security issue.” Read the full story here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Main Street streetlights forgotten in new project

God only knows how come nobody noticed that the plans for a streetscape project on Main Street failed to include any provision for the existing light poles. So now they sit in the middle of what will soon be a new sidewalk. Read reporter Jackie Majerus' story here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 26, 2010

Colapietro and Welch face off in sole state Senate debate

Photo shared by James Bailey Brislin

During the sole debate of the campaign Tuesday, both of the men seeking the 31st District’s state Senate seat agreed they have sharply contrasting views of what the legislature should do in its next term.
The 18-year-incumbent, Democrat Tom Colapietro, said his views are “absolutely opposite” those voiced by his Republican challenger, Jason Welch.
Welch said they have “two different visions of government” and dismissed Colapietro’s as “the vision of the past.”
Welch, an attorney, said the state needs a new direction away from two decades’ worth of stagnant job growth, high energy costs and high taxes.
He said his own vision includes “a fiscally responsible government,” across-the-board spending cuts, reductions in unfunded mandates and other measures aimed at convincing businesses to take a chance on Connecticut and to begin hiring.
Colapietro, a retired factory worker and former union lobbyist, said he’s proud of what he’s achieved in Hartford over the years.
“I have a record. I’ve done a lot of good for a lot of people,” Colapietro said.
The two faced off at Chippens Hill Middle School in a forum sponsored by the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce. About 125 people attended
I'll post a link to the full story by morning.
Update: You can watch some of the debate thanks to Press photographer Mike Orazzi:

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Don't miss tonight's debates in Bristol

The sole 31st District state Senate debate is slated for 7 p.m. tonight at Chippens Hill Middle School.
At 8, the candidates for the 78th House district will face off.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Go ahead and wear political garb at the polls -- but be prepared for possible headaches at the polls

The Republicans are making an issue out of a misguided directive that poll workers might want to prevent voters from wearing World Wrestling Entertainment garb when they're casting their ballots. I don't blame them.
But I don't understand why nobody's focusing on the larger issue: why do we allow election officials to prohibit political buttons and other paraphernalia at the polls at all?
The law in Connecticut says that "no person shall solicit in behalf of or in opposition to the candidacy of another or himself or in behalf of or in opposition to any question being submitted at the election or referendum, or loiter or peddle or offer any advertising matter, ballot or circular to another person within a radius of seventy-five feet of any outside entrance in use as an entry to any polling place or in any corridor, passageway or other approach leading from any such outside entrance to such polling place or in any room opening upon any such corridor, passageway or approach...."
But the law clearly flies in the face of the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech and the state's own Constitution, which proclaims that "every citizen may freely speak."
While few of us would want to be harassed by party workers as we cast our ballots, it's plain silly that supporters of Linda McMahon, for example, can't wear a shirt with her campaign logo on it when they go to vote. Who's harmed?
Moderators at every polling place already have the discretion to prevent people from causing any problems that might hinder the voting process. Heck, they can even throw out a too-pushy reporter if they must.
But since when is a political button or a leaflet in someone's hand or a Dan Malloy hat or a Ann Brickley t-shirt undermining anybody's ability to do anything?
This law amounts to a dress code policy for voters. It's an absurdity that is patently unconstitutional and, even worse, just plain dumb.
In this country, we have faith in free speech. We shouldn't chuck it come Election Day.

Update: After reading the entire section of the code dealing with polling places, it's pretty clear to me the whole thing is ridiculous. Students are allowed to watch only between noon and 3 p.m. and only if no more than four of them are present. Children are only allowed to accompany a parent or guardian until they turn 16, then I guess they're not to be there, though even that's a little unclear. Violators face up to $50 fines and three months in prison. God forbid a fifth student comes down to watch! And why would we care if a 17-year-old watches his mom vote? I'm perplexed by the logic of all of this.
By the way, the only penalty in the statute for wearing political garb is to get booted from the polling place so don't worry about going to jail for three months if you decide you just can't take that John Larson t-shirt off before you go to vote.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Congressional hopefuls debate and then debate again

In two different debates Monday, the four congressional candidates in the 1st District took sharply different stances on a wide range of issues.
U.S. Rep. John Larson, who has held the seat for a dozen years, got battered from left and right but never faltered in his defense of the record he’s compiled as one of the Democratic leaders in the House.
Larson said it was healthy for democracy to have so many voices speaking out during the campaign because “no party, no individual, holds all the answers.”
Squaring off with Larson were Republican Ann Brickley, Ken Krayeske of the Green Party and the Socialist Action Party’s Chris Hutchinson, all of whom are on the Nov. 2 ballot.
They participated in a student-sponsored debate at the Jumoke Academy in Hartford and at a Hartford Votes Coalition-sponsored faceoff at the city’s main library.
Krayeske said it is “a rarity” for an incumbent such as Larson to agree to appear with minor party candidates.
“The Democrats and Republicans don’t want anybody else to play in their sandbox,” Krayeske said.  Click here for the full story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 25, 2010

Colapietro fires back at family institute

State Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat, said that attacking him for allegedly being "anti-family" is ridiculous.
"I think they're stooping to a new low," said Colapietro, who is seeking reelection to the 31st District seat he's held since 1992.
The Family Institute of Connecticut's political action committee, which accused the senator of voting against families,  is "anti-gay, anti-abortion," Colapietro said.
In fact, he said, "They're anti-human being."
Colapietro, who is locked in a tight race with Republican challenger Jason Welch, said he has a family so the attack doesn't even make sense.
He said his critics are waging "a win-at-all-costs type of campaign" that depends on badmouthing him.
But the senator said he's not worried.
"The people will decide" next week, he said.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Tunxis students back Democrats in mock election

Press release from Tunxis Community College:
Tunxis Students Vote in Mock ElectionTunxis Community College students participated in a mock election on October 18 and 19, using a new voting machine lent by the Office of the Secretary of the State.
A total of 377 students cast ballots in the election. “I was pleasantly surprised by the voter turn out,” said Rafaele Fierro, Ph.D., Tunxis assistant professor of history and organizer of the mock election. “It was a fun way for students to become more aware of how the political process works.”
The students voted for Richard Blumenthal, who defeated Linda McMahon 204 to 128 in the race for U.S. Senate. Dan Malloy beat Tom Foley 213 to 118 in the gubernatorial race. On the ballot question, 149 students were for and 215 were against abolishing the death penalty.
Tunxis Community College, which first opened for classes in October 1970, is celebrating its 40th year of service to the community. From fine arts, health, and technology to liberal arts & sciences programs, Tunxis offers almost 60 associate’s degrees and certificates, providing critical thinking and problem-solving skills that prepare students for transfer to bachelor’s degree programs and employment in areas with industry need. Tunxis is located at the junction of Routes 6 and 177 in Farmington. Visit Tunxis on the Internet at tunxis.commnet.edu.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Don't forget important charter issues on the ballot

Lost amidst the swirling sea of political campaign advertising and yacking candidates are proposed charter changes that might have a lasting effect on how City Hall operates.
Though the ballot contains half a dozen questions for voters to decide, two are potentially significant revisions to the city government’s blueprint.
One proposal would double the length of the time between city elections from two years to four years, extending the time city councilors and the mayor would serve before facing the voters again.
The other would mandate that the mayor ensure that performance reviews are conducted annually on the city’s department heads.
The most controversial question backed by the Charter Revision Commission and the City Council is one that would give twice as much time between municipal elections.
Former Mayor John Leone said the extra time would give a mayor time to learn the ropes and to push through his agenda before he had to face the voters again.
But another ex-mayor, Frank Nicastro, said that political leaders who are doing a good job should have nothing to worry about from running every two years. On the other hand, he said, the people ought to have a chance to remove a mayor they’re not happy with without waiting four years.
Stortz, who served two stints as mayor, said that longer terms would “take the responsibility and need for involvement away from the voter.” Click here for the story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Colapietro called "anti-family" by state group

The Family Institute of Connecticut, best known for its opposition to gay marriage, has called on supporters to back Republican Jason Welch in his bid to unseat Democratic state Sen. Tom Colapietro.
The Institute said in its statement that Colapietro is "an anti-family incumbent" who is pro-abortion and "hostile to homeschooling."
The Bristol incumbent has "a long history of voting for legislation that is anti-family and anti-life," according to the group.
Welch, on the other hand, "completely supports family values," the organization's Action Committee said in the release.
It said that Welch is one of three state Senate hopefuls who are "pro-family" who may upset an anti-family incumbent.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 22, 2010

First socialist candidate since 1960 seeks congressional seat

As the first socialist on a Connecticut ballot in half a century, Chris Hutchinson knows he’s going to get clobbered come Election Day.
But the 27-year-old Hartford art teacher doesn’t mind.
Hutchinson said that by running for Congress, his Socialist Action Party gets the chance to present ideas to the public that stand in stark contrast to what people are hearing from the Democrats, Republicans and Tea Party activists.
Hutchinson, who grew up in Newington and graduated from Central Connecticut State University, isn’t shy about offering a political agenda that doesn’t often get much notice.
In a recent debate with three other contenders for the 1st District congressional seat, he called for cancelling all government debts, making higher education free, ceasing all aid to Israel,  putting all corporations under worker control, bringing every American soldier home and imposing a 100 percent tax on all earnings over $250,000 a year.
“We’re not crazy,” Hutchinson said. “We’re quite reasonable.”  Click here for story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Wright, Fitzgerald face off at chamber debate

Don't miss reporter Jackie Majerus' story on the 77th District state House debate:
The state must work with municipalities to identify unfunded mandates that can be eliminated or changed to ease the burden on cities and towns, said Jill Fitzgerald and Chris Wright, the two candidates in the race for state representative in the 77th district.
But the two didn’t agree with much more than that during a well-attended debate at City Hall Thursday night.  
Click here for the story

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Nicastro, Del Mastro face off at debate

Republican state House hopeful Peter Del Mastro came out swinging Thursday in the 79th District debate held at City Hall.

Del Mastro said at the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce-sponsored debate he feared for the future of Connecticut given its inability to create jobs, its high energy costs, its burdensome taxes and its stagnant population.

“Connecticut is sick today,” said Del Mastro, who is aiming to knock two-term state Rep. Frank Nicastro from office.

If people want more of the same, he said, they should re-elect Nicastro and leave the Democrats in charge.

Nicastro, a former mayor, said he’s proud of his record and declared that it’s time “to start talking up our state” instead of hauling it down.

“Too many people badmouth our state,” Nicastro said.

Nicastro said both Republicans and Democrats need to pull together and work for the betterment of Connecticut and its residents.

“I will put my record up for scrutiny,” Nicastro said. “You’ll see that I haven’t sat there. You’ll see that I haven’t been a yes man.”

He also said Del Mastro didn’t live in Bristol during his mayoral terms. “He doesn’t know what our record was” in bringing new business to town and holding down taxes, Nicastro said.

The two men differed sharply on a number of issues.

Del Mastro called for the state to consider privatizing some of its functions, including information technology and the motor vehicles department.

He also said the state has to bring government employee compensation back in line with the private sector.

Nicastro said the state may need to merge some departments and make cuts starting with top management.”

But, he warned, “we have to be super careful” to do it effectively.

“We don't want to put our citizens at risk,” Nicastro said. Click here for full story.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 21, 2010

Colapietro: Republicans are whining babies

A new campaign mailing from state Sen. Tom Colapietro slams his Republican challenger as a carpetbagger who doesn’t care about his new hometown.
Featuring a moving van on its front, the mailer declares that Jason Welch “just moved here. Now he thinks he deserves to be your state senator.”
It goes on to point out that his job is out of town and that Welch’s children “don’t go to our schools.”
“He has never had any connection to our community,” the Bristol Democrat’s mailer continues.
The whole thing belongs in a gutter, said city Republican Party leader T.J. Barnes.
“Tom has taken the low road,” Barnes said, and has chosen to follow a “disgusting” path of attacking his opponent instead of talking about the many serious issues facing both the 31st District and the state.
“I’m sick of this,” Barnes said.
Colapietro, though, was not about to back down.
“My answer to them is pretty simple: they’ve been negative on me ever since I’ve taken office” back in 1992, the senator said.
“They gotta get real,” Colapietro said. “This is an election and it’s time to stop whining.”
“As soon as I come out with the truth, they cry like babies,” Colapietro said. “I didn’t say anything in there that wasn’t true.” Click here for the story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 20, 2010

Mosback unlikely to regain his job

It doesn’t look too promising for former Police Officer Robert Mosback’s bid to regain his old job.
“If I were to have to vote today, I would vote to deny it,” said city Councilor Kevin Fuller, who serves on the police panel.
In a move that stunned commissioners, Mosback and his attorney, Theodore Wurz of Plainville, went to the Police Board Tuesday to ask them to ignore his Sept. 30 resignation and to restore him to the force.
"He wishes to rescind that resignation at this point in time," Wurz told commissioners.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Another Bristol cop under investigation

The Hartford Courant's Don Stacom has this story about a Bristol police officer who has been charged with a felony for allegedly choking his pregnant fiancee at Disney World.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 19, 2010

Two probes underway of Mosback case (updated)

[Breaking news: Mosback seeks his job back.]
Two investigations are getting underway soon into the handling by city police of an on-duty accident involving an officer who later resigned after records showed he was intoxicated – including a probe of possible criminal misconduct.
“We were looking for a totally objective assessment of the entire situation,” Mayor Art Ward said Tuesday.
The state’s attorney in New Britain, Scott Murphy, will look into the case to determine if anyone committed a crime, according to city officials.
An internal affairs investigation will examine the police department’s handling of former Officer Robert Mosback’s June 26 crash to discern if police rules and regulations were followed and perhaps recommend revisions to department policies.
The parallel investigations will try to determine if Mosback arrived at work drunk and whether anyone knew about it, Police Chief John DiVenere said. He said they will also answer the question hanging over the case: “Was there a cover up?”
The chief, who last month suggested there was one, took a different tack Tuesday.
“I really don’t believe there was any type of cover up,” DiVenere said.
He said the entire case has “hit the department very hard.”
Mosback, the chief said, “was a well-liked officer. Everyone was shocked.”
DiVenere said the case “certainly has taken a toll on morale” in the force.
“We need to get this to get over with as soon as possible,” the chief said.
Officials said they had no idea how long the investigations might take or how much they might cost the city. Click here for the full story.

Here are some links many of the documents in this case:
Click here to see a PDF of the June 26, 2010 accident report.
Click here to see a PDF of the July 19, 2010 report by Capt. Osanitsch.
Click here to see a PDF of an October 19 memo to police from the mayor and police chief.
Click here to see a PDF of Lt. Grimaldi's resume.
Click here to see a PDF of Lori Coppinger's resume.
Here is the Form 43 denial of Mosback's workers compensation claim:

At some point soon, I'll add the mayor's letter to the state police and to the state's attorney, as well as Mosback's own statement.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Mosback asks for his job back

Former Police Officer Robert Mosback asked police commissioners Tuesday to give him his old job back.
City officials said late Tuesday that Mosback appeared before the board with his attorney to request that he be rehired for the police officer post he resigned from on Sept. 30.
Plainville lawyer Theodore Wurz, representing Mosback, said the former officer "doesn't believe there was any possibility" that he could have had a blood alcohol level of .15, as city officials stated before his resignation.
Mosback quit the force a week after the city discovered from one of its insurers that Mosback had been intoxicated at the time of his on-duty June 26 accident in which he totaled a police cruiser on Riverside Avenue.
"He wishes to rescind that resignation at this point in time," Wurz told commissioners.
Mosback had been on the force for five years before stepping down following his suspension by Police Chief John DiVenere.
At the time, several city officials said they were glad he spared them the chore of having to fire him.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Photos from the congressional debate

Here are some pictures from Monday night's congressional debate in West Hartford:

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Congressional debate had the air of a circus

With four candidates pitching often radically different ideas on a host of issues, Monday’s 1st District congressional debate seemed at least half circus – not so different than Congress itself.
Though Republican Ann Brickley and Democratic incumbent John Larson are far ahead in the polls, the two minor party challengers, Ken Krayeske of the Green Party and Chris Hutchinson of the Socialist Action Party, stole the show.
Even GOP stalwarts said the radical ideas floated by Krayeske and Hutchinson overshadowed the more conventional political stances of the two mainstream candidates.
“I felt kind of luck an odd duck,” Brickley said, with the other three all taking stands to her left.
Larson, an East Hartford Democrat who’s held the job for a dozen years, said Brickley offered only “Republican talking points” while Hutchinson and Krayeske offered solutions to the nation’s problems, even if they’re not the right answers.
Former Bristol Republican Party leader Art Mocabee said that Larson’s own answers amounted to “stale cigar smoke.”
In the 90-minute debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters and West Hartford Community Television at the West Hartford town hall, Krayeske said the quartet of candidates had “an excellent exchange of ideas.”
They certainly offered a variety of them.  Click here for the full story.

Here is Krayeske's summary of the debate, from his Facebook page today:

Yesterday was amazing. Let's agree on a few things. 1) LWV didn't moderate well, 2) They systematically cut off Hutchinson at least 4 times, 3) Larson spoke louder + banged his fist to rile up the crowd, 4) the crowd was rude + snickered repeatedly, 5) brickley was a robot + read her website's talking points, verbatim, 6) hutchinson read from notes the entire time + 6) i had fun. Let's do it again, like 3 more times!

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 18, 2010

'Bristol Stomp' on November 6

Mayor Art Ward sent this out recently:
Celebrate Bristol's 225th Birthday
"The Bristol Stomp"
Saturday - November 6, 2010 - 6pm - ??
Bristol Polish American Club
Buffet, Dancing, Prizes, Raffles
$15.00 per person
Tickets available - Bristol Mayor's office
City Council members - 225th Anniversary Committee
Though it's not actually related, here are The Dovells singing "The Bristol Stomp" --

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Overview of congressional race fundraising, spending

Check out this PDF to see an overview of the spending and fundraising in the 1st congressional district race through October 1.
For more details about all of Connecticut's federal races this year, see the Federal Election Commission website.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Watch tonight's congressional debate live

Tonight's 1st District congressional debate will be shown live by West Hartford Community Television. You can watch it over the web by clicking here.
I am pretty sure you can also watch the archived version later if you can't park yourself in front of a computer at 6:30 this evening.
By the way, take a look at the site in general. It's great that they allow people to watch town council meetings on demand and other community events. Bristol really should aim to do the same.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

National Republicans see Brickley 'on the radar'

Though Republican congressional hopeful Ann Brickley remains a longshot in her quest to capture the 1st District seat long held by Democrat John Larson, the national GOP is no longer ignoring her completely. Take a look at this.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Congressional debate tonight in West Hartford

When Democrat John Larson has sought reelection to Congress in the past,  the campaigns had all the drama of grass growing.
Everyone involved knew that Larson would roll over his challengers and emerge on Election Day with a landslide victory in the safely Democratic First District.
This year, though, the Republicans sense an opportunity to send him packing.
Some of that newfound passion may be on display today in West Hartford when the four contenders for the seat meet in a 6:30 p.m. debate.
 Click here for the full story.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

State GOP eyes Colapietro

No surprise to anyone watching the 31st District state Senate race this year, but the state GOP thinks it may be able to knock off state Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat.
Democrats control two-thirds of the Senate's 36 seats and no matter what happens to Colapietro, the Republicans will almost certainly still be outnumbered. The GOP's legislative clout is so paltry that even a big win for Republicans in General Assembly races this fall is only going to make a little dent in the Democrats' control.
Jason Welch, an attorney, is taking on Colapietro for the Republicans.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Another 1st District congressional debate scheduled

There will be another 1st District congressional debate in New Hartford on Tuesday, October 26.
It will include Democratic incumbent John Larson, Republican Ann Brickley and Green Party contender Ken Krayeske. Chris Hutchinson, the Socialist Action Party candidate, was not invited.
The debate will be shown live on the web. I'll be sure to have the links on here that night.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 17, 2010

Krayeske and Hutchinson, the longshots for Congress

Here's a picture from Green Party congressional hopeful Ken Krayeske's Facebook campaign page, showing him talking with Chris Hutchinson, the Socialist Action Party contender in the 1st District:
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

ESPN takes on the Bristol police... for charity

Photos taken by ESPN's John Atashian at the charity flag football game Saturday night at Muzzy Field in Bristol between ESPN's talent and the Bristol police:
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 15, 2010

Brickley has spent nearly $200K of her own money

Though Republican congressional hopeful Ann Brickley, a Wethersfield business consultant, has a long way to go before reaching Senate candidate Linda McMahon's spending spree, but she's still dipping into her own money in a way rarely seen in Central Connecticut.
Her latest campaign filings show she has donated or loaned nearly $200,000 to her campaign, which has only collected $254,000 in all, through October 1.
Larson has managed to attract nearly $2 million in donations so far -- but none of it is his own. I'll have more on that in the days ahead.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Wright opposes Rell's call for four more judges

State Rep. Chris Wright, a Bristol Democrat, just issued this:

“Time To Freeze Judicial Appointments”
State Representative Christopher Wright (D-Bristol) says he is opposed to Governor Rell’s most recent call to nominate four attorneys to be Superior Court judges because of the state’s ongoing budget crisis.

The Governor announced last month that she had nominated four attorneys to the Superior Court bench

“This sends the wrong message to Connecticut’s residents,” Rep. Wright said. “”Everyone in state government is being asked to economize and this is not the time to be increasing the number of Superior Court judges whose salaries start at $146,780 a year, plus benefits.

Rep. Wright explained that his position against nominating new judges is not a reflection of the attorneys nominated by the Governor because “they are highly qualified individuals, but this is a matter of holding down state spending.”

Rep. Wright voted against the nine new judges nominated by the Governor earlier this year at a time when courthouses and other judicial facilities faced potential closure.

Because the legislature is not in session, the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee must meet to consider the Governor’s four nominees and could approve them as interim appointees.

“It is my hope that this group of four nominees will not be approved,” Rep. Wright stated. “If called upon to vote for more judges, I will again vote no.”


Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Welch says state can't keep shortchanging pension funds

Press release from Jason Welch, a Republican running for state Senate in the 31st District:
Welch: Fully Fund the Pension Fund
(Bristol) Jason Welch, the Republican nominee for the State Senate from the 31st district, today called upon the General Assembly to fully fund the State’s pension obligations and to stop deferring payments to future years.
“The General Assembly, including my opponent Senator Tom Colapietro, over the years has voted to approve state employee contracts with employee pension obligations, but deferred making required state contributions into that pension fund.” Welch added, “This has created a massive amount of debt and unfunded obligations, which ultimately puts those pensions at risk and wrongly burdens future generations. With more than $60 billion in current unfunded obligations, each Connecticut resident’s share is about $17,500.”
Welch stated that all pension funds are under-funded and that the time has come for the members of the General Assembly to meet the state’s current obligations and stop deferring the payments. “They need to stop funding their pet projects and fund the promises that they have made to our state employees and retirees,” Welch said.
“As a member of the State Senate, I will not vote for any budget that grossly underfunds current pension obligations.” Welch added, “Our children and our grandchildren should not have the added burden of paying for the promises that we made today, and our state employees and retirees deserve to know that their pensions are intact. Though the benefit structure for new employees ought to be reformed and brought more in line with private sector benefits, which is a part of my plan to control state spending, we need to keep the promises we have made to date.”
Welch’s Democratic opponent, 18 year incumbent Senator Tom Colapietro, is well known for his contention that Republicans are going to gut state government. The reality is that Senator Colapietro has been gutting union pensions to the tune of 100s of millions of dollars (200 million last year alone). Welch has called for a 7-10% across the board reduction of state costs, starting at the top and excluding understaffed and public safety agencies such as Corrections, in addition to other cost savings. That is hardly gutting.
Welch pointed out the irony that Senator Colapietro prides himself on representing the working person, yet he has routinely underfunded the working person’s pension rather than trim the fat in upper-management at state agencies.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 14, 2010

Photos from the crash scene

Here are some of the police photographs taken at the scene of the June 26 crash on Riverside Avenue when former Officer Robert Mosback veered off the road and into a utility pole. They were released today by the city in response to one of my many Freedom of Information Act requests in recent days:
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com