February 22, 2011

Rail advocates speak out at state Capitol

Here's a video that the state Senate Republicans made on Friday featuring a couple of commuter rail advocates who came to speak in favor of state Sen. Jason Welch's bill to shift state money to the proposed commuter rail line between Hartford and Waterbury instead of the busway pushed by the state Department of Transportation. Take a look.

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

February 17, 2011

Malloy is key to busway's future

The $45 million allocated in President Obama’s new budget for the proposed busway between Hartford and New Britain won’t make much difference in whether the plan moves forward.
The key decision-maker remains Gov. Dannel Malloy, who said as recently as Monday that he hasn’t made up his mind.
With the state Department of Transportation preparing to put parts of the project out to bid next month and a full funding agreement between the state and federal highway officials due soon, the momentum for the busway project could carry the day unless the governor opts to hit the brakes.
Whether that will happen remains a giant question mark. Click here for the full story.

Source of funding
Federal New Starts Funds -- $275.3 million
Federal Urbanized Area Funds - $18.2 million
Federal Fixed Guideway Modernization Funds - $21.2 million
Federal Bus Discretionary Funds - $25.9 million
Federal Flexible Highway Funds - $112.7 million
National Highway Funds - $6 million
State Transportation Fund - $113.3 million

Busway hearings
The Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce will hold two and possibly more informational sessions about the busway.
The sessions are slated to begin at 6 p.m. on both Monday, Feb. 28 and Wenesday, March 2 at the chamber office at 200 Main St. in Bristol.
The sessions are free and open to the public. Since space is limited, those who wish to attend should pre-register by calling (860) 584-4718 or at CentralCTChambers.org.

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

Malloy: honest broker or wimp?

For some, Gov. Dannel Malloy is coming through as promised with a tough budget that keeps municipalities happy and shares sacrifice widely.
For others, though, he’s a wimp.
One thing that’s for sure, though, is that his proposed spending plan shows at least one marked difference from those of his Republican predecessors: there is nothing in it about shutting down either the courthouse or the Bristol Technical Education Center.
It seeks to preserve existing levels of education aid, considered crucial to keeping property taxes in check, and generally holds the line on most state aid. Click here for the story.

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

February 13, 2011

Bristol government's Top 50 earners

The ever-popular list of the city's top municipal wage earners is in the paper today. You can find it online here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

February 10, 2011

Courant says city workers shouldn't serve on City Council

Figured many readers would be interested in the Courant's editorial today calling for an end to city workers serving on the City Council. It is based largely on reporter Don Stacom's scathing indictment of the city police department in this story last Sunday.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Joseph Mike, former insurance head, dead at 64

A former state insurance commissioner from Bristol, Joseph Mike, died this week. George Gombossy has a nice tribute here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

'Three stooges' and more from Bristol's always entertaining City Council

I haven't been doing well at keeping this blog up to date lately. I'll try to do better.
First off, there are two stories on the City Council's battle over the Charter Revision Commission that are pretty much required reading if you want to follow the details here. So go read this story and the second-day story here.
Now let's take a closer look.
Here is what I know about who was selected for service on the charter panel.
Four council members picked someone whom Mayor Art Ward found acceptable. They were:
Edward Krawiecki, Jr -- chosen by Ward himself
Richard Saporito - chosen by city Councilor Kevin Fuller
Jon Fitzgerald -- chosen by city Councilor Ken Cockayne
John Fasolo -- chosen by city Councilor David Mills
Beyond that, we know that city Councilor Kate Matthews selected a retired firefighter, Dana Jandreau. Ward refused to name him.
I'm not sure who city Councilor Kevin McCauley wanted and I haven't heard who city Councilor Cliff Block initially asked for either.
All three of the so-called Stooges -- Cockayne's term for Matthews, McCauley and Block -- were told by Ward they could pick someone from a list of a dozen other contenders the mayor found acceptable. Block looked over the list and decided to pick one of them, Pastor Laura Galbraith.
McCauley and Matthews refused to go along.
So the mayor added two more members off his list, Richard Lacey and Dr. Val Vitale. A memo given the council indicates that Cockayne is the one who suggested the mayor tap Lacey.
Those on the list who were not selected were:
David Preleski, Stephen Allaire, Dr. Kenneth Benoit, Rev. Alphonso Fontana, Dr. Michael Ptaszynski, James Donovan, Robert Cummisky, Cheryl Ann Assis and Gary Lawton.
All but the last three have an asterick beside their name on the memo with the notice that their names were offered "based on knowledge of law and life and death decisions."
In the big picture, then, the mayor had 16 people he was willing to appoint. At least six of them are lawyers and two are ministers. At least four are medical folks, though I'm not sure that Saporito's status as a chiropractor really meets the standard that he regularly deals with life and death decisions. He is, however, a bright, community-spirited guy who used to serve on the Board of Education.
The other picks on the mayor's list were Fasolo, a former personnel director, and Cummisky, Assis and Lawton. I only know Lawton, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last time around. He's a decent guy, too, but has no expertise in law or "life and death decisions."
Matthews pointed out that her pick, Jandreau, was a first responder to emergencies in town for years. He's been there time and again when life hung in the balance.
Matthews correctly pointed out that if it weren't for people like Jandreau who were present when the mayor started choking in December, the council wouldn't be trying to fix the charter now. It would be wrapped up in a special election for mayor. Tough words, but true.
Already, one problem has arisen. There are three city officials on the charter panel - Krawiecki, Lacey and Fitzgerald -- but state law says no more than one-third of the membership can hold city office. That translates to two members on a sever-member commission.
So either one of the three has to go or the mayor has to expand the membership of the commission. (Or, I suppose, one of the three could quit his other city post.)
Stay tuned for whatever happens next. It's become clear it's going to be a wild political year.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.comhttp://bristolpress.com/articles/2011/02/10/news/doc4d535ed005948749263176.txt

February 3, 2011

Read the Blazejowski report

To understand why Police Chief John DiVenere was suspended today, you really need to read the executive summary of consultant Lori Coppinger's report on the handling of Office Marc Blazejowski, who is out on sick leave.
You can read the PDF of the report here.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com