November 30, 2010

Waterbury paper blasts busway

In an editorial today, the Waterbury Republican-American included this: "Gov. Rell continues to push for the Springfield-New Haven commuter line despite a lack of evidence commuters would use it; and the even more wasteful, foolhardy New Britain-Hartford busway."
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 29, 2010

Dodd to give farewell address Tuesday

For three decades, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd has been a force in Congress, a man who didn't hesitate to present his views forcefully and to push his agenda forward, often with success. Like him or hate him, Connecticut's senior senator made his mark in the nation's capital.
At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, he'll give his farewell address in the Senate. It's bound to be interesting.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Colapietro cleared in campaign flap

A campaign complaint filed against state Sen. Tom Colapietro a year ago has been tossed out by the state Elections Enforcement Commission.
The Nov. 17, 2009 complain by T.J. Barnes, Bristol’s GOP leader, accused the Democratic senator of failing to obey state laws governing when legislative candidates have to form campaign committees.
Colapietro said he’s not surprised at the unanimous ruling in his favor.
“It was silly in the first place,” said Colapietro, who lost a reelection bid to Republican Jason Welch.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Rell takes aim at commuter rail lines

A proposal by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to cut Metro North commuter train service on the New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury branch lines is likely to run off the rails.
The plan, part of the governor’s plan to come up with $38 million for more heating assistance, has run into a storm of protest in Bristol and across much of the state.
“It is cynical of the governor to propose shutting down branch line rail service just as a way of getting lawmakers’ attention to the issue of funding the state’s emergency heating program,” said Jim Cameron, the head of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council.
Cameron said Saturday everyone wants fellow citizens “to stay warm this winter” but looking for funding by wiping out rail funding isn’t the answer.
Cutting off the commuter rail lines starting April 1 would save the state $5 million through the end of June, according to Rell’s list of proposed funding cuts.
“It’s silly,” said Mike Nicastro, who heads the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce.
He said the legislature is unlikely to cut the Waterbury line, “the fastest-growing branch line in the state.”  Click here for full story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

New Route 72 proving a hit

The new Route 72 extension, which won’t be finished until summer, is already proving a hit.
The $61 million road has eased morning and evening congestion for commuters, officials said, by providing drivers with more options and a nicer, safer route through Forestville.
“All the comments I’ve heard have been positive,” said Mayor Art Ward.
There are no longer traffic jams in the morning, said Dayton Schroeter, the project engineer for the state Department of Transportation, and evening rush hours are also seeing “a big improvement.” Click here for story.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 24, 2010

Ward a possible pick for state vets commissioner

Given the possibility that Mayor Art Ward may be in line for a top state job, at least two politicians in town are making plans in case there’s a special election for mayor in the next couple of months.
Though nobody wants to admit in public that they’re eyeing the mayor’s job while Democrat Art Ward holds it, they are taking steps to run in case Ward leaves City Hall.
According to political insiders, Ward, who’s been mayor since 2007, may be tapped by Gov.-elect Dan Malloy to serve as commissioner or the state Department of Veterans Affairs.
City Republican Party chief T.J. Barnes said Tuesday the GOP “has thought about it” and talked over what it might do in response.
Ward said Monday he has heard nothing from Malloy or his staff about any potential appointment and dismissed it as a rumor.
“I haven’t been contacted by anyone,” Ward said, including Malloy.
Malloy’s staff is keeping mum about possible appointments.  Click here for story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 18, 2010

Larson retains Democratic leadership post

Following a vote Wednesday by congressional Democrats, U.S. Rep. John Larson remains the fourth-ranking member of his party’s leadership in the U.S. House.
In a letter to constituents, Larson said he is “humbled and appreciative” of his reelection to a second term as the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
Democrats tapped Nancy Pelosi of California to serve as minority leader and kept Steny Hoyer of Maryland as their whip. They installed South Carolina’s James Clyburn to fill the number three slot in the leadership ladder.
Larson said that his leadership position “will continue to allow me to do more for Connecticut and the 1st District as a whole.” The district includes Bristol, Southington and Berlin.
“Over the past two years,” Larson said, “I have had the opportunity to bring administration officials and fellow members of Congress to Connecticut to learn more about our state firsthand, increase our trade opportunities for local businesses through visits by foreign diplomats and ambassadors, and represent your view on important everyday issues in meetings with the president and congressional leadership.”
“I look forward to continuing to do that,” Larson said. Click here for the full story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 16, 2010

Busway cost is higher than anticipated

The projected cost of the busway between Hartford and New Britain doesn’t include the tab for two new bridges that are vital to the $573 million plan.
Though rebuilding the Cedar Street bridge in Newington will add only $2.5 million to the tab, a plan to put a new bridge over the busway and rail lines at Flatbush Avenue in West Hartford may add another $45 million to the bottom line, according to the engineers overseeing the busway project.
Counting the bridges, which are linked to the project but carried separately on the state Department of Transportation’s books, the 9.4-mile busway’s cost to taxpayers could exceed $615 million.
At a Tuesday morning hearing in West Hartford, transportation officials said they are plunging forward with the busway plan. They said the first bids, for utility work, will be opened in January and construction should be underway in April.
“It’s full steam ahead until we’re told otherwise,” said Richard Armstrong, the principal engineer on the project. A link to the full story will be posted when it is available.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Larson appears set to keep leadership post

Though the Republican takeover of the U.S. House means that Congressman John Larson won’t have the power next session that he wielded this time around, he will almost certainly hang on to his Democratic leadership post.
Democrats plan to pick their leaders Wednesday for the next Congress, which begins in January when newly elected members take office.
Larson is the only Democrat seeking election to head the party caucus in the House, which has been the fourth-ranking post in the leadership ladder. He announced his intention to seek the office again during an election night interview with The Bristol Press.
California Democratic Nancy Pelosi is slated to remain as the party leader while the rest of the leadership team remains the same – with the addition of South Carolina’s James Clyburn to a new slot to be created for him.
“This leadership team represents the diversity of the Democratic caucus and the American people,” Larson said Monday.
Larson, whose 1st District includes Bristol, said the Democrats, even in the minority, “will continue to work well together to put Americans back to work and rebuild our economy.”
The congressman said that holding a top post matters.
“Having a seat at the leadership table means that every citizen of Connecticut has a louder voice in the pressing issues we discuss around that table,” said Larson, who lives in East Hartford and has represented the district since 1998. Click here for the full story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 15, 2010

Busway critics pin hopes on Malloy

Critics of the proposed busway between New Britain and Hartford have new hope they can hit the brakes on the $573 million plan.
But supporters of the project – which would create nearly 1,000 construction jobs – say the 9.4-mile roadway must go forward.
“We’re full steam ahead,” Mayor Timothy Stewart of New Britain said Monday.
Two transportation-related items that critics hope may sway Gov.-elect Dan Malloy to kill the controversial busway are a new scheme to reconstruct Interstate 84 through Hartford and the legislature’s failure to approve a plan to replace Hartford’s Broad Street bridge.
For Stewart, the issues are designed “to create controversy just to muddy the waters” and have no merit.
He said Malloy “would be kind of silly” to shelve the busway project, losing $100 million in the process and making it likely the federal government won’t shovel any more transportation money to Connecticut.
Critics argue, however, that a commuter rail alternative can be done within a reasonable time frame at lesser cost. They said they’re sure the federal government, which is pushing rail, would back it. Click here to see the full story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 12, 2010

New book celebrates carousel museum collection

A beautiful new coffee table book about carousel art, which mostly focuses on items from the New England Carousel Museum and the Bushnell Park Carousel, is available just in time for the holiday season.
The writer and photogapher of “Flying Horses: The Golden Age of American Carousel Art, 1870-1930,” will be signing copies of their $75 volume Saturday at the museum from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, during a craft fair that no doubt has some nice stuff.
The museum gets $15 from each sale. You can get more details from The Bristol Press on Saturday.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 10, 2010

City seeks permission to offer tax amnesties

City leaders are seeking the right to offer tax amnesties to property owners who have fallen behind on their taxes.
Mayor Art Ward said Tuesday the change, which needs state approval, would create “another vehicle we could use in lessening the amount of delinquent taxes.”
City councilors unanimously endorsed the request that lawmakers representing Bristol in the General Assembly push to change state statutes so that municipalities could lower the amount of interest and penalties that delinquents must pay.
The mayor said state legislators can set whatever conditions they desire, but opening the door to reducing the bills that some people have piled up might help get more taxes paid.
The city’s tax collector, Teresa Babon, said that about $2.5 million worth of this year’s property taxes wasn’t paid – not much different than most years. She said that aggressive pursuit of unpaid bills probably helped keep the number down despite tough times. Click here for the full story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Larson opposes Social Security cuts

Here's a press release from U.S. Rep. John Larson, the East Hartford Democrat whose 1st District includes Bristol, about the draft plan from the Debt Commission:
Offers Common Sense Solution to Lower the Deficit
Washington, DC – Congressman John B. Larson (CT-01), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, released the following statement after news that the President’s debt commission released its plan to reduce the federal deficit and make cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
“I am disappointed with these initial recommendations from the debt commission. As I’ve said before, any plan to cut Social Security benefits for the elderly and disabled is quite simply dead on arrival.
“We have already proposed a simple plan that would reduce the deficit without hurting America’s hardworking middle class. Preserving tax breaks for the middle class while letting the Bush tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans expire would mean billions less in borrowing from foreign countries like China and Brazil; billions less that our grandchildren need to repay. Rather than raising taxes on the middle class by eliminating tax breaks like the mortgage interest deduction and making draconian cuts to our federal budget, let’s take a responsible and reasonable approach to lowering the deficit that won’t impact our economic recovery and won’t make it harder for working families to make ends meet.”
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Neighborhoods get the boot, too

City leaders this week agreed to boot the vehicles of property tax scofflaws wherever they’re found, including private driveways anywhere in Bristol.
The move by the City Council allows a private contractor to search for the vehicles of owners who haven’t paid their taxes and to boot them anywhere they’re found.
To get the boots removed requires paying the back taxes and at least $175 to remove the device so the vehicles can be driven.
Teresa Babon, the city’s tax collector, said the initial policy, which precluded searching residential areas for scofflaws, wasn’t fair.
“It should not matter where you live,” she said, because everyone should pay or face the same consequences.
Only one city councilor opposed the program’s extension into residential sections of town, Democrat Kate Matthews.
I'll add a link to the entire story when it is available.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 8, 2010

Energy panel delivers report

A report by the city’s task force on energy consumption urges Bristol to create a new energy manager to oversee municipal efforts to conserve.
The panel also recommends the city take a range of steps to encourage more walking, bicycling and mass transit in town.
The city should also pursue alternative energy options, including photovoltaic cells to turn sunlight into electricity, the report recommends.
The task force, created two years ago at the urging of former city Councilor Craig Minor, has been looking into ways the city could reduce its carbon footprint, save money on energy and become a greener community in general.
Click here to see a PDF of the report.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

A modest proposal

"Mr Hayes, I know you can not read this but you should suffer and have a painful death for the crime you have committed." - posted by Die, Die, Die on The Bristol Press website
"Woohoo, death to the Monster Hayes! I hope Connecticut doesn't wait too long to carry out the sentence." -- posted by sirieulyheather on Twitter
Not surprisingly, there's joy across Connecticut that a jury in New Haven sentenced Steven Hayes to death for strangling a Cheshire mother to death and setting lashing her two daughters to their beds, leaving them to die in a fire.
While the jurors themselves are holding hands and wiping away tears, most of the reaction elsewhere is more akin to the wild woops of a frenzied football crowd.
That got me thinking.... The mob wants blood (and, really, who can blame them?). And Connecticut needs some greenbacks.
So how about we hang Hayes from the 50-yard line at Rentschler Field? We can sell tickets to the highest bidders -- and maybe have a lottery to give poorer residents a chance at winning some good seats. I figure there must be 20,000 people or more who would pay $200 or more for a chance to watch Hayes depart the planet.
That's $4 million in cold, hard cash, at a minimum, and it can all go to the state's depleted coffers.
But the real money is probably in selling the television rights.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say Fox might be interested in acquiring the rights, but of course we should bid it out. It's always possible that a dark horse contender might pay even more.
Oh, sure, there are some who would cringe at a TV show of Hayes' execution, but we're talking serious money here -- millions of dollars for sure.
The best part is that we can sell the tickets and the rights up front so the state can pocket the money right away.
If it turns out that endless legal delays and bizarre, upsetting appeals put the whole thing off for 10 or 15 years, well, taxpayers at least get something out of it quick. And if in the end the show doesn't go on, refunds would not include interest so the state would still make out.
Chances are pretty good, too, that the state can do it all twice when Hayes' partner in crime goes on trial early next year.
Why should the state keep losing money on the death penalty? Let's return to the good old days when big crowds gathered for a hanging -- and make some money off it while we're at it.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 7, 2010

Could Larson be the odd man out in leadership fight?

Mike Allen's brilliant Politico Playbook today doesn't paint too good a situation for U.S. Rep. John Larson, the East Hartford Democrat whose 1st District includes Bristol. Here is what Allen reported about the leadership battle within the Democratic caucus:
--PALACE INTRIGUE - A former House Democratic leadership staffer e-mails that Rep. Steny Hoyer, who's being challenged for the #2 spot in the House Democratic leadership now that Pelosi is staying, is “going to end up with the support he needs to be whip. Members feel like he needs to stay in leadership. That said, people want [Rep. James] Clyburn [who's challenging Hoyer] at the table, too. Bottom line is: When the music stops, there will be enough chairs for Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn to each have one. I think Clyburn becomes Caucus Chair. Pelosi really helps herself by resolving this without bloodshed and [Rep. John] Larson [now caucus chair] is low guy on totem pole and a 'Pelosi ally.' Why didn't she work it out [in advance, to head off a Hoyer-Clyburn clash]? Neither Hoyer or Clyburn are 'Pelosi allies.' In determining whether or not to run, she didn't talk to them or their supporters. When she's testing waters, she's talking to her base and conversations are all about her. She had to move quickly to announce her candidacy and that process didn't afford her time to figure this out before. Now that she's talking to 'persuadables' about her candidacy, she'll be hearing about the broad desire to keep the existing team together and it will enhance her candidacy to figure it out. …
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

To my anonymous friends

There's something uniquely funny about anonymous posters calling me a coward. After all, my name is on my stories. My phone number is public. My email address is, well, just over there to the right. Anyone is welcome to contact me.
And yet.
This story about Robert Mosback's on-duty crash in June, where records show he was intoxicated, appears to be bringing out the worst in some faceless accusers.
One questioned if I'm in love with Mosback since I've written about the case extensively. "I wonder if Collins is the giver or the receiver," he speculated.
That's such a nice thing to say that I'm simply shocked that whoever posted it declined to put his name to his words.
Another person, or maybe the same guy, claims I have "nothing positive to write" and that the Press should "get a new reporter."
Whether the Press should find a replacement for me or not I leave to my bosses. I'm sure there are days they would agree.
The reality is that I don't set out to write anything positive or negative. I just head into every day aiming to tell the news as best I can. The hardest part of it is trying to figure out how to get as much done as I can when there's so very much more that could be written (while simultaneously trying to keep an editor who often has different priorities at least vaguely content).
I don't really mind having abuse heaped upon me along the way. A thick skin is the best tool a reporter can have, after all. But I liked the old days when I knew who was gunning for me (so, politicians, I do sympathize with your similar complaints about the web).
What I do know for sure, though, is that I'm going to keep writing every day until somebody sends me packing --- or I wise up and find an occupation that actually pays a living wage.
Gripe all you like, but I've got a job to do.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 6, 2010

The night Mosback crashed his cruiser

Seconds after Police Officer Robert Mosback veered off Riverside Avenue at high speed at 11:22 p.m. on June 26, a woman phoned 911.
“A cop just hit a pole,” she said.
“A cop hit a pole?” the dispatcher responded.
“Yeah, real bad,” she answered.
“Where?” the dispatcher asked.
“Riverside Avenue,” she said, before naming a nearby business.
“We’re sending help,” the dispatcher said, then asked rather plaintively, “Can you see if he’s OK?”
At about the same time, another caller, a man, reached a different emergency dispatcher.
“Hey, listen, we’re on Riverside Avenue and one of your cruisers just hit a telephone pole,” the man said.
“A cruiser?” the dispatcher answered. “A police cruiser?”
“Yeah,” the fellow said.
The caller said “the guy seems to be unconscious” behind the wheel. “He’s not responding,” the man said.
“Are you sure it’s a Bristol police cruiser?” the dispatcher asked.
“Listen, this isn’t a joke,” the caller said.
Digital audio files obtained by The Bristol Press through a Freedom of Information Act request provide a glimpse into the confusing minutes surrounding the on-duty crash that sent Mosback to St. Francis Hospital and knocked out power to thousands of residents for hours.
Mosback, who suffered only minor injuries, resigned from the force in September after an insurance company for the city declined to pay his workers compensation claim for medical bills after discovering a laboratory report that showed the officer had been intoxicated at the time of the late night, on-duty wreck.
Nothing in the hours of audio provided by the city – including dispatch messages, phone calls and other communications – proves that anyone knew Mosback had been drinking before totaling the 2008 Ford Crown Victoria.
Mosback, a 5-year veteran who has since asked for his job back, was briefly suspended for violating departmental policies in the accident but has not been charged with any crime. Two outside investigations are underway into the police department’s handling of the case.
The audio files, which encompass the first hour after the crash, do not disclose the names of the people talking. Most are calls among public safety personnel and dispatchers.
In addition to the Mosback crash, police also had to deal with another accident, a death and a young man who had a seizure, the ordinary background of many a night.  Click here for the full story.
Here's a video I made to let everybody hear some of the audio:

If you go back to this posting, you can see some of the documents pertaining to the case. I have more to add there. Have to get to that.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 5, 2010

Just in from the mayor - Don't forget to vote Tuesday

A whole bunch of people, including me, just got this from the Mayor's Office:

                    Ballot questions and explanations are on the home page of the City website.
                             If you need to know where your voting location is, contact the Registrar's Office
                    at 860-584-6165.

It's your right and duty to vote.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Police audio from night of Mosback crash

Hey look, I made a video of sorts:

Watch for the story in Saturday's Bristol Press.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Malloy is the next governor

Barring some unexpected development, Dan Malloy is the winner. But it's not official yet.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 4, 2010

Barnum's alive and well in Bridgeport

Your average Third World dictator runs elections better than Bridgeport.
Today, after two days in the spotlight, Bridgeport officials found a bag of uncounted ballots lying around somewhere.
They still don't seem to have a grip on the results.
You can't help but think the city's most famous native son, P.T. Barnum, is alive and well in Bridgeport.
There is, he once said, a sucker born every minute.
Barnum, of course, was a politician, too, as well as the great showman of his age. So he knew of what he spoke.
But I'm not sure even Barnum could have imagined the secretary of state announcing a gubernatorial winner based on "unofficial" counts when the state's biggest city was still fumbling around in the dark to figure out who voted for what.
Nor could he have foreseen the Associated Press declaring a winner, then revoking it, then making it seem like a certainty that the guy did in fact win.
I don't blame Tom Foley for calling for state police to seize the ballots and have somebody impartial count them.
He's probably worried about corruption.
But I'm not sure they know how to count high enough in Bridgeport. Lord knows its educational test scores lend some support for my concern.
In any case, if Dan Malloy and Foley can't figure out who won, there's a rich woman in Greenwich who's looking for a job. She'd probably take the governor's post as a consolation prize.
Plus, of course, anyone who made her money from professional wrestling is intimately familiar with Barnum's insights.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

GOP on a roll in Bristol

A decade ago, Bristol Republicans were so down and out that nobody in the GOP held office from Bristol except for a few positions that the law barred Democrats from possessing.
The mayor, the entire City Council and the city’s legislative delegation were all Democrats with one exception: Plymouth’s Bill Hamzy held a state House seat that included a portion of northwestern Bristol.
Things have changed.
In the wake of Tuesday’s election, Republicans from Bristol will hold a state Senate seat, Hamzy’s former state House seat and two City Council slots as well.
“We’ve come a long way,” said T.J. Barnes, the city’s Republican leader. “We were able to show we are a viable party in a tough town.”
Capturing the state Senate seat is a particular coup.
Bristol hasn’t had a GOP state senator in four decades, since Wallace Barnes gave it up in 1970 in an unsuccessful bid to gain his party’s backing for a gubernatorial run.
Click here for the full story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Longer terms? No way, voters say

When voters gunned down a proposal to double the terms of the city’s elected officials Tuesday, they left the idea so dead it is unlikely to arise again.
Though voters backed four of the six charter revision measures, including one that requires annual performance evaluations for city department heads, they buried the plan to let politicians serve four years between elections instead of two.
The measure failed by a 2-1 margin with15,478 voters taking a stand.
Click here for the full story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Can't anybody count?

It's crazy that we still don't know the vote count in the governor's race.
The secretary of state, Susan Bysiewicz, tossed out unofficial numbers and declared Democrat Dan Malloy the winner yesterday.
But the Associated Press yanked back its claim that Malloy had won after totalling 98.5 percent of the vote and finding Republican Tom Foley ahead.
The simple truth is we have no idea who won.
And Bysiewicz should clam up until she has all the numbers. Already, no matter who wins, there are going to be voters who don't trust the results.
This is simply nuts given how easily everything can be checked with the new machines. In Bristol, for example, we know the precinct totals within minutes of the polls closing. How come statewide it takes 36 hours and counting?
Our incoming secretary of state, Denise Merrill, should fix this problem ASAP so that it never happens again.

Update at 9:15 a.m.: Officials results due at noon.
It does appear that the AP got the results from New Haven wrong and that Malloy probably won by enough to avoid a recount.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 3, 2010

One thing we know Colapietro's loss means: Sunday liquor sales

Without state Sen. Tom Colapietro to swat down the plan, it's likely that lawmakers will allow Sunday liquor sales beginning sometime next year. Colapietro has been the champion of liquor store owners who want a day off.
But given the state's desperate search for cash, there's not much doubt that adding another day of liquor sales is going to happen.
As co-chair of the General Law Committee, Colapietro has blocked the measure for years, with the backing of his committee.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

How come Colapietro lost?

While there's no doubt that Republicans across the country found many Democrats to be easy picking in a blowout election, that's not what happened in Connecticut.
In fact, it appears this morning that Connecticut Democrats may be in better shape today than they were before the election.
The Democrats retained all five congressional seats, turned aside Linda McMahon and her $50 million to hang on to a U.S. Senate seat and may well have captured the governorship for the first time in a quarter century.
So Colapietro's loss wasn't just the result of a shifting tide.
It was more personal than that.
Voters in the 31st District installed a GOP newcomer, Jason Welch, at least in part because they wanted a new state senator, not so much that they wanted change generally.
Colapietro, who was supremely classy in his defeat last night, said it was time for him to go out to pasture.
The truth is that Colapietro was ready to call it quits after 18 years in the Senate. He'd done much of what he sought to do -- the 'no call' list, subcontractor reform, holding off Sunday liquor sales and more.
He didn't have a burning desire to go back and finish anything in particular. He seemed, to be truthful, kind of tired of it all.
From the Democrats' perspective, it probably would have been best if Colapietro had simply stepped down, opening the door for a fresh face to claim his party's line.
But he wasn't quite ready for that.
Neither, though, was he ready for the rigors of a campaign.
He didn't bother to get his public financing in order until the last possible date. He didn't do much campaigning at all until the last few weeks, when the state Democrats stepped in to lend a hand.
Meanwhile, Welch was out there day after day, week after week, month after month, showing his face, telling voters about his more conservative vision for Connecticut, and sounding thoughtful, decent and solid.
In the sole debate, where the candidates had the questions in advance, Colapietro sounded confused and halting. Welch rolled over him. It was hard for most of us watching to imagine that Colapietro was the legislative veteran.
I've known Colapietro for a long time now -- 16 years -- and I've come to like the man. Politics aside, he's genuine. He says what he thinks and he doesn't really care what the consequences are.
When I first got to know him, he complained endlessly about the paper, about the vicious editorials that an anti-union former publisher used to write. He saw a conspiracy against him at the Press in every story.
But over time, he recognized that whatever had been the case, the paper no longer had it in for him. It just reported the news, which sometimes made him mad and sometimes happy.
Colapietro was always good ink.
I've read with horror the terrible things people write on this blog and elsewhere about Colapietro when they can bat out anonymous nonsense. Much of it is so cruel and beside the point that I can't figure out how come the words get spewed out.
I know some of that stung the senator, however much he claimed to have thick skin.
I really don't have any doubt that Colapietro and his wife Susan are going to have some good years ahead. The legislature is hard on anyone -- and the next couple of years are going to be especially difficult.
Welch thanked Colapietro last night for his 18 years of public service. That, too, was classy.
The new Republican senator has found Bristol a welcoming home. Let's hope he serves the city as well as he ran his upbeat, positive campaign.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

November 2, 2010

Larson: A 'classic confrontation' looms in Washington

For U.S. Rep. John Larson, the apparent Republican takeover of the House is a tough blow.
He said he knows many of the losers well and “your heart just aches” for their defeat.
Larson said he is dismayed by the way "money and negativity" has taken hold of the political process, even in Connecticut.
As the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, Larson has been a top lieutenant of Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.
Larson said he expects “to be in the Democratic leadership as the caucus chair” again in the next Congress.
But, he said, “It’s not about the caucus. It’s about the country.”
Larson said the situation is "kind of ugly nationally."
Larson said he is worried the GOP will follow the road map it has promoted and will try to “balance the budget on the backs of the poor instead of the billionaires.” He fretted that efforts to privatize Social Security are likely as well.
Larson said that Republicans “haven’t sugarcoated” their plans. They’ve laid them out clearly.
“President Obama will be Horatio on the bridge,” Larson said. “This will be on the classic confrontation.”
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Wright, Nicastro, Betts win

Two incumbent Democratic state representatives, Frank Nicastro and Chris Wright, had little trouble winning reelection. Nicastro creamed challenger Pete Del Mastro while Wright won pretty handily his rematch against Republican Jill Fitzgerald.
In the open 78th District seat, Republican Whit Betts whomped Democrat Rich Covello, a former Plymouth mayor.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Charter measure to double terms shot down

Voters clearly detested the idea of giving elected officials four year terms instead of two. They voted it down 2-1 while apparently approving all of the other questions on the ballot, including mandatory evaluations of non-elected department heads every year.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Colapietro lost to Welch

State Sen. Tom Colapietro, an 18-year incumbent from Bristol, lost a close race today to Republican challenger Jason Welch.
Colapietro said he wished Welch luck.
"I don't envy him," Colapietro said.
Colapietro fell short mostly because Plymouth and Harwinton voters backed Welch strongly. In Bristol and Plainville, the race was a true squeaker.
Anyone know when Bristol last had a Republican state senator?
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Results from the American Legion precinct

At the American Legion hall -- precinct 79B -- the results just got printed out.
Take them for what they're worth.
In the 79th state House race, Democratic incumbent Frank Nicastro garnered 1,239 while his Republican challenger, Pete Del Mastro, trailed with 609.
In the 31st state Senate race, Democrat Tom Colapietro pulled in 1,016 while GOP challenger Jason Welch had 824.
In the 1st District congressional contest, U.S. Rep. John Larson snagged 1,101 while Republican Ann Brickley collected 660. The Green Party's Ken Krayeske got 34 while Chris Hutchinson of the Socialist Action Party racked up 14.
In the governor's race, Democrat Dan Malloy got 950 while Republican Tom Foley collected 889.
In the U.S. Senate race, Republican Linda McMahon had 754 and Democrat Richard Blumenthal piled up 1,107.
On the ballot questions about longer terms for the city's elected officials, those opposing it racked up 1,182 compared to 520 in favor. So that's a goner.
This is generally a Democratic precinct, by the way.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Turnout down sharply in Bristol

Four years ago, during the U.S. Senate race that installed Joe Lieberman in the Senate as an independent, 44 percent of the city's electorate had cast a ballot by 5 p.m.
Today, with a whole range of hot races on the ballot, just 40 percent of the city's registered voters had shown up by 5 p.m.
A 10 percent drop since the last midterm election is a pretty sharp decline and makes it virtually certain that Bristol will come nowhere near the 60 percent turnout that Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz predicted statewide.
What it means, however, is less certain.
In general, insiders said that Republicans appear to be hyped up to vote this time around so they are perhaps more likely to turn out.
Democrats and independents may be sitting this one out, turned off by negative advertising and disgusted by the failure of both parties to fix the economy in the wake of 2008's financial collapse.
Polling across the country today clearly shows that the economy is the number one issue on voters' minds -- and the betting is that in many places, incumbent Democrats are going to pay a heavy price for the economy's failings.
What will happen in Bristol, however, could be entirely different.
We won't know until the votes are counted in a few hours.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

No busloads from Jersey, but...

State Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat locked in a tough fight with Republican Jason Welch, has been bopping around the polls today.
"I'm still looking for the four busloads of thugs from New Jersey," Colapietro joked.
He said, though, he met one person campaigning who was from New Jersey - Welch's mother.
Colapietro said she came up to him and introduced herself.
"She's a very nice lady," Colapietro said.
Welch's mother, who raised her son by herself, is a property manager.
Colapietro said turnout has been OK today, but not as much as some expected.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Jason Welch at the polls today

Here's state Sen. contender Jason Welch at the polls today:

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Larson voting today

U.S. Rep. John Larson voted this morning at the Anna E. Norris Elementary School in East Hartford.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Turnout down from 2006

During the last midterm election in Bristol -- featuring the hotly contested reelection fight by Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2006 -- some 27.1 percent of registered voters had turned out at the polls by noon.
This year, only 24 percent had voted by noon, despite the nice weather.
But there are some 2,000 more registered voters this year than in 2006 so the total number of voters casting a ballot by noon is down only a little from 2006's level.
The registrar's office reports that voting so far today has been "smooth as butter," which is exactly what everyone hopes for.
There have been on reports of any problems at the polls.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Election Day in Bristol

I'll have some data soon on turnout, but thought I should open up a post about what's going on at the polls. What are you seeing out there?
Here's a photo that city Councilor Ken Cockayne took this morning at South Side School:
If anyone has pictures to share, send them to me at (an address, by the way, that I rarely check but will today).
Here's today's election story in the Press:
Despite anger about the sour economy, the Democratic grip on Bristol voters remains pretty tight.
Whether that will make a difference at the polls today is the question of the day.
Though Republicans made a slight gain during the past year, Democrats still hold the allegiance of 41 percent of the city’s 33,634 voters.
Small changes could, however, make big differences in the outcomes of close races. Turnout will also play a role.
Elliott Nelson, the Democratic leader in town, said he anticipates 60 to 65 percent of registered voters will show up at the polls this year.
But T.J. Barnes, the GOP boss, said he expects fewer at the polls because all the negative advertising has turned off some voters.
It isn’t clear, though, which party benefits most from a high turnout since it appears conservatives and tea party sympathizers are the most enthusiastic voters this year. They are likely to vote Republican, officials said.
Voters have a lot to choose from if they do turn up at the polls. Click here for the full story.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at