October 31, 2012

McMahon to end campaign in Southington on Monday

Linda McMahon
From state Sen. Joe Markley of Southington:
"Mark your calendar: Linda McMahon plans to wrap up her campaign where it began, at Coil-Pro on Center Street in Southington, this Monday the 5th at 11:30 am."
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 29, 2012

Some Republicans charge McMahon betrayed GOP, say they won't vote for her

Calling Linda McMahon "a sellout" for pushing voters to cast their ballots for both her and President Barack Obama, a number of Republican leaders are abandoning the GOP's U.S. Senate candidate.
Joe Visconti, a former congressional candidate from West Hartford, issued a long statement today blasting McMahon and urging Republicans not to vote for Linda McMahon. He said they could write in "Benedict Arnold" instead.
He said her advertising campaign "systematically and deliberately sells out the" Connecticut GOP.
The state Republican headquarters has been bombarded with calls from frustrated, angry party loyalists who want McMahon to pull the ads.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Bristol ready for whatever Sandy delivers

As the first winds of Hurricane Sandy began to blow in Bristol, officials scurried to make sure the city is as ready as possible for the hammering the storm is expected to deliver during the next 24 hours.
Emergency shelter at Chippens Hill Middle School ready.
“It’s scary thinking about what could happen,” said Cheryl Frearson, who was buying gas on Farmington Avenue. “They make it seem like the end of the world.”
Bristol officials, though, don’t expect anything close.  But they do take the warnings seriously.
Before noon Monday, power outages had already knocked out hundreds of customers in Forestville, including the Manross branch library. Plainville also had about 600 residents without power.
Officials anticipate widespread outages as wires come down in the strong winds later Monday and Tuesday.
Flooding is likely, they said, in parts of town that normally wind up inundated when there are heavy rains, including portions of Frederick Street near Coppermine Brook.
An emergency shelter at Chippens Hill Middle School opened at noon Monday, ready to take in anyone displaced by the storm.
Some companies, including many small businesses, have closed or scaled back their operations as the storm nears Connecticut, including ESPN.
It told many workers to stay home Monday and shifted some SportsCenter broadcasts to its Los Angeles studio to ease the crunch.
Craig Bengtson, vice president for SportsCenter said, “The safety of our Bristol-based employees is paramount. It just makes sense to take advantage of our team in Los Angeles. It’s one of the
reasons why ESPN has a facility there.”
After hearing that state highways would close mid-day to non-essential travel, Mayor Art Ward said that city workers who didn’t have a role to play in dealing with the storm should be sent home early.
The public works department won’t pick up trash, recycling, yard wastes or leaves on Tuesday. Instead, it is pushing collections back one day for the rest of the week, with Friday routes being done on Saturday.
Richard Ladisky, the city’s emergency management director, said the city is planning for a major crisis bt hoping that Sandy brings only “localized flooding ad pockets of outages.”
He said officials, who conducted a major hurricane planning exercise last month,  are ready statewide and in Bristol to cope with the storm.
“There have been a lot of changes and a lot of training and a lot of dedication” to making sure everyone is ready, he said, and “these people have been spot-on” in their responses so far.
“We’re blessed in Bristol,” Ladisky said, to have such professional police, fire and public works personnel and leadership, all of whom recognize they have to work together.
City Councilor Ken Cockayne, who stopped  by the shelter in late morning to see if he could lend a hand, said that Monday morning was little more than “a regular rainstorm” but that worse weather was likely coming.
“We can’t be any more prepared than we are right now,” Cockayne said.
Southington has banned on-street parking Monday and Tuesday. It also closed its library until Wednesday. Stay updated on Southington developments with its police Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Southington-Police-Department/164075689755.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 28, 2012

Sandy shuts down Bristol schools for two days

Bristol schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
Superintendent Ellen Solek decided Sunday morning that forecasts justified the closure of the schools for two days.
The city plans to open its emergency shelter at Chippens Hill Middle School at noon Monday.
Mayor Art Ward said Sunday that he intends to open an emergency operations center at 9 a.m. Monday to coordinate Bristol's response to Hurricane Sandy. The shelter would open three hours later, he said.
Ward said that he expects heavy winds to start Sunday night and to see a prolonged storm during the next couple of days that could bring power outages, flooding and other woes.
Chippens Hill Middle School
Ward said that plans could shift if there is new information about the storm. He said city crews are getting ready to cope with the problems they anticipate after seeing what happened during several major storms a year, including the pre-Halloween snowstorm that knocked out power for many residents for as long as a week and a half.
Ward said one thing he won't do this year is declare Halloween cancelled.
If that happens, he said, it's going to be Solek's call. It's a school night after all, the mayor said.
Anyone who thinks they may need to use the city's emergency shelter should make preparations ahead of time.
If it's possible, bring clothing, bedding, sanitary supplies and other necessities. It's especially important to bring medications, oxygen and other critical health-related supplies that are not available at the shelter, officials said. The shelter will have cots, food and water. 
The city's backup shelter, at the Beals Senior-Community Center on Stafford Avenue, is not available this month because of ongoing construction there. Only Chippens Hill Middle School is ready to handle residents seeking shelter.
One thing that officials hope people will do to help themselves is to clear leaves and debris from storm drains. That will allow storm water to flow off the roads and prevent some flooding and keep streets open that might otherwise be unavailable.
They also urge residents to check on elderly and frail neighbors if the storm gets bad. They may need help.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 20, 2012

Nicastro, Betts and Welch gain CBIA's backing

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association endorsed several incumbents seeking state office in Bristol next month.
It backed the reelection of state Sen. Jason Welch, a Bristol Republican along with two state House members from Bristol, Democrat Frank Nicastro and Republican Whit Betts.
It did not endorse anyone in the 77th state House race between state Rep. Chris Wright, a Bristol Democrat, and Republican challenger Jill Fitzgerald.
The CBIA says its endorsement "tells you a candidate demonstrates a commitment to making Connecticut's business climate more competitive and therefore deserves the support of the business community."
It said it looks principally at a contenders support for "business issues," but also considers a candidate’s "overall legislative work, accessibility to constituents, philosophy on how government should operate, and leadership potential."

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 19, 2012

Fundraiser slated to help Nate Peabody

I just saw a note from the chamber about a fundraising pasta dinner to help out Nate Peabody, former owner of Peabody Landscaping. According to the notice, Peabody was injured four years ago and subsequently had 12 surgeries along with serious complications and setbacks. He hasn't been able to work and lost his business.
I didn't know he was having such troubles. I remember him as a parks commissioner up until his injury, a guy who worked hard summer and winter to get by and still found time to serve his community.
Now, it seems, he's the one who needs help.
One thing about Bristol is that once the community know somebody's in need, it rallies behind him. That's something I've seen over and over for many years.
The fundraising pasta dinner is slated for 6 to 11 p.m., Friday, Nov. 2 at Nuchies, 164 Central St.
For details, see this flyer, in PDF format.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 16, 2012

New Citigroup boss is a Bristol native

Michael Corbat, 52, the new boss at Citigroup, is a Bristol native, according to his company biography. He's a 1983 Harvard University graduate and, I think, attended Choate before that.
Anyone out there remember him from Bristol?

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 15, 2012

Wright: No raises for judges

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


State Rep. Chris Wright
State Representative Chris Wright (D-Bristol) says this is not the time to be considering raising the salaries of judges and he opposes a proposal that would hike the salaries for judges by an estimated $45,000 or more over the next four years.

Rep. Wright found a news report in the Connecticut Law Tribune disturbing that said Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers, in a 20-page report, called for the state’s judges and judicial magistrates to receive a pay raise of 11.3 per cent next year and 5.5 per cent for each of the following three years.

“I have nothing against our judges, but this is not the time to be raising anyone’s salaries in state employment,” Rep. Wright said. “There are thousands of state employees who are now in the second year of a salary freeze and raising the pay of judges who are already earning high salaries makes no sense.”

“We have just witnessed the fiasco of the pay raises awarded to employees of the state Department of Higher Education that has resulted in the resignation of the two top administrators and the revoking of other salary hikes,” Rep. Wright continued. “We are still facing a serious budget challenge, so let’s take pay raises off the table.”

“While there are judges who may have left the bench to join the private sector, the fact is there are lawyers in every court room in Connecticut yearning to be appointed a judge,” Rep. Wright said. “Judges probably deserve a pay raise, but there are people everywhere, both in the private and public sector, who deserve pay raises, but do not earn as much as judges.”

Rep.Wright is Vice Chair of the Housing Committee and serves on the Environment and Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committees.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 14, 2012

Democrats: What is Senator Welch hiding?

The state Democratic Party issues this press release:

State Republicans Pushing for More Secret Money in Politics

State Senator Jason Welch, others, display a chronic failure to
tell voters who is funding their campaigns

(Hartford, Connecticut) Republican state Senator Jason Welch, running for re-election in the 31st Senatorial District (Bristol, Harwinton, Plainville, Plymouth and Thomaston), has accepted a CEP grant for his campaign, but is refusing to disclose the names and occupations of his donors on the last two filing reports, a requirement very clearly spelled out in the CEP guidelines. 
Not only did Senator Welch—a practicing attorney—not disclose this important information in this election cycle, he also failed to disclose it in 2010. 
Is Senator Welch hiding the names of his donors from voters for a reason?  Is he just unable to follow the guidelines and practices applied to all candidates?  Or, is it both?
The CEP guidelines provide that candidates must report:  “The principal occupation of the contributor, and the name of the employer (if the contributor is unemployed, retired, a student, or a homemaker, he or she must be reported as such).” See SEEC 2012 Guide at pg. 83 (http://www.ct.gov/seec/lib/seec/2012generalelection/2012_participating_c...)
Nancy DiNardo, Chairwoman of the State Democratic Party, called for all candidates participating in CEP to fully comply with the guidelines and disclose the occupation and name of the employer for all their donors.  “It is critical that voters fully know and understand who is funding the candidates seeking their support.  The CEP was put in place to provide the citizens of our state with a level of transparency necessary for them to make informed choices at the polls. Without full disclosure, our democracy suffers.  All you have to do is turn on TV and see how the airwaves are filled with ads funded by special interest money that, under the Citizens United ruling, is now allowed to flow unchecked into our state and distort the electoral process.”
Unfortunately, Senator Welch is not the only Republican flagrantly ignoring the CEP guidelines while also accepting grant money.  A scan of the latest filing shows several Republican state Senators failing to comply: http://seec.ct.gov/ecrisreporting/SearchingCommittee.aspx

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 11, 2012

Mudrys rack up miles campaigning for Murphy

Joseph Mudry and Joella Bouchard Mudry are about as diehard Democrats as anyone. Here they are at a rally the other day for U.S. Senate candidate Chris Murphy outside the Channel 3 studios in Rocky Hill:

Josephy Mudry, campaigning for Chris Murphy

Joella Bouchard Mudry in Rocky Hill
There were quite a few Linda McMahon supporter there. I didn't see anybody from Bristol, though.
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Pink shirts to be sold at city fire stations

Showing a newfound willingness to lend public support to a nationwide push to raise breast cancer awareness, Mayor Art Ward announced Thursday that he would fling open the door of all five city fire stations later this month to help firefighters raise more money .
Ward said the city’s fire houses will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28 “so that the public can buy pink t-shirts in support of the efforts toward breast cancer awareness.”
“I will be the first in line to buy a t-shirt,” the mayor said, “and encourage all residents to join me in supporting this important cause.”
The move was announced at a press conference during which Ward gave up his opposition to firefighters wearing the shirts on Thursdays in October and threw his support behind their bid to raise awareness and funds.
Firefighters said they are seeing a surge in t-shirt sales aimed at raising money for the Susan G. Kormen for the Cure, which is receiving all the proceeds. They said they will have to figure out how to make sure there are enough shirts available to meet the demand.
Sean Lennon, the fire union president, said he’s been getting calls and emails from all over the country from people who want to buy a shirt to show their support for the firefighters and finding a cure for the deadly disease.
“My hope is that this controversy ends with a positive result and I look forward to lending my wholehearted support toward this effort,” Ward said.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Mayor gives in on pink shirt controvery

Mayor Art Ward, right, and Sean Lennon, president of the Bristol firefighters union.
After a week of escalating criticism and growing attention across the nation, Mayor Art Ward this morning agreed to let city firefighters wear pink shirts this month.
After "reflecting on the sentiments" of the public, comments at this week's City Council session and his own experiences, the mayor said, he realized the controversy "was taking on an identity larger than the cause."
Sean Lennon, fire union president, said he appreciated Ward's "change of heart."
More to come.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Why did Mayor Ward decide to bar pink shirts on firefighters?

Mayor Art Ward is expected this morning to defend what seems on its face to be indefensible: his refusal to let firefighters wear pink shirts once a week during October in order to raise awareness about breast cancer.
So far, obviously he hasn't done a very good job of making his case.
Bristol Mayor Art Ward
In fact, the absurdity of the position is what has made it national news: Look, folks, there's a place in Connecticut that's so backward and silly that its mayor won't even let firefighters wear pink shirts like almost every other department in America.
For the major media, it's always nice to have such quirky tales happen someplace other than Florida or Long Island.
Most of the people who see something about this pink controversy in Bristol no doubt just figure its mayor is some kind of neanderthal, a knuckle-dragging moron who could care less if women drop dead of cancer.
We know better, of course.
The mayor himself explained it right off the bat, in his response to resident Regina von Gootkin's open letter that burst the whole issue into a public controversy.
"This is less about breast cancer and more about my relationship with the fire union," the mayor said.
It's not really about concerns that one department will take up this cause and another that cause, that employees will wind up in a vast array of shirts promoting the cure of this disease or that one. Such management issues haven't been much of a problem, if any, and don't appear likely to become one.
No, this is all happening because the fire union and the mayor loathe one another.
The union has censured Ward, sued the city and generally had sour relations with the mayor about all sorts of things.
But the union didn't make this issue explode onto the public stage. It actually tried pretty hard to keep it all hidden away, in the hope of a quiet resolution.
Ward, too, said nothing.
But von Gootkin blew the whistle. Once I posted her letter online, the thing escalated immediately -- thanks to Capitol Report -- and by the end of the weekend, Bristol was in the spotlight.
So why does Ward get along so poorly with the firefighters?
Like so much else in his administration, it goes back to the bitter 2007 primary in which he defeated former city Councilor Ellen Zoppo to claim the party line on the general election ballot.
Zoppo was -- and probably is -- tight with the fire union.
Neither side has ever been able to get past that showdown, one that ripped the local Democratic Party in half, one that remains a gaping wound that has cost it elections and helped hand the Republicans control of the City Council, Board of Education and more.
Ward surely cares about breast cancer victims, however much it may appear otherwise. He's helped raise money and attract attention for other diseases, too. He's not some sort of insensitive brute.
But his deep-seated disgust for those who fought him back in 2007 -- the people who currently control his own Democratic Party's town committee -- blinded him to the consequences of standing against something as seemingly harmless as pink shirts on firefighters.
Sometimes it just isn't worth picking a fight, but Ward couldn't see that. And now he's likely done more political damage to himself than Zoppo and her allies ever could.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 10, 2012

Woman who started it all calls Ward "a dictator"

The Bristol woman who kicked off the pink shirt controversy, Regina von Gootkin, said she's glad she "started a great debate."
Von Gootkin, who wrote a letter last Friday castigating Mayor Art Ward's refusal to let firefighters wear pink t-shirts once a week to raise awareness about breast cancer, said that if nothing else the escalating media attention is shining a spotlight on the disease.
"It is bringing awareness to this very serious issue," she said tonight.
Von Gootkin said, though, she is concerned that Ward is trying to portray this as a management problem rather than "a political issue" caused solely by his dislike of the fire department.
"It's clearly a political vendetta" by Ward, she said, adding that "the fact that he can use his power like this is atrocious.
She said he is basically acting like "a dictator."
Von Gootkin said she hopes Bristol voters won't forget the mayor's politicization of breast cancer when next year's municipal election rolls around.
"I hope they vote him right out of office," von Gootkin said.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Ward to tell media... something

Mayor Art Ward said tonight he plans to discuss the pink shirt controversy in a rare 9 a.m. press conference in his City Hall office.
The mayor said he intends to talk about the matter in a general way as opposed to a specific announcement, which may indicate he remains unmoved by critics.
Or it may not.
Ward has become the focus of national attention as the media picks up the story across America. Reporters from such media giants as Time magazine and The New York Times have called around for potential stories. Ward's morning presser was apparently spurred at least in part by the growing interest in the controversy.
In any case, I'll be there in the morning.
The only question I have now is whether to wear a pink shirt or not. Hmmm.....
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Carlson apologizes for 'ta-tas' comment

Statement from City Councilor Eric Carlson:

    To all those I have offended I want to take this opportunity to apologize. I used indelicate and irreverent humor in referring to a serious organization, with an irreverent name. Save the Ta-ta’s is a serious organization dedicated in the fight against breast cancer through research. They wisely choose an irreverent name because it is a great marketing strategy that grabs your attention. Their name does not make light of a serious problem but instead allows us to step back from the horrors of cancer and perhaps gain a little more humanity through humor. It’s something we all need when facing the problems that life throws our way. Dr. Patch Adams used humor in his work; he also got in trouble with some people in his profession by not appearing serious.

     There are many organizations that deal with breast cancer, Susan B. Komen being one. The Firefighters Union chose wisely to support them. I had only one concern with the pink shirts, and before the council meeting I asked the fire chief if there could be any OSHA violation if the shirts did not meet uniform standards. He said the material on the tee shirt was not going to be a problem. With that answer I have no problem with firefighters wearing pink on Thursdays. I would encourage the off-duty fire fighters to wear the shirts around town while grocery shopping or doing other activities. It is a great opportunity to spread the awareness.

     With this tempest stirred way beyond the Teapot the issue is solely with Mayor Ward. He has the final decision.

     I ran for office one year ago promising to be honest and thoughtful. When the thoughtful train left the station with this issue, I clearly was not on it.

Eric Carlson
1st District Councilman

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Alford: Nicastro failed to 'exhibit any leadership' on budget, taxes

Mary Alford, the GOP candidate for the 79th District state House seat, who is taking on incumbent Democrat Frank Nicastro, issued this press release:

Nicastro Needs To Explain Budget Votes!
(Bristol) 79th Assembly District candidate Mary Alford, endorsed by both the Republican and Independent parties today challenged her opponent’s votes on the state budget that increased taxes by two billion dollars.
“From the night of my endorsement, I have said that Representative Nicastro needs to explain his voting record.” Alford continued, “As Election Day nears, the time has come to ask the questions that Bristol residents deserve to have answered.”
While Nicastro voted against the overall budget, he voted “No” on the proposed Republican budget that would have paid the bills without raising taxes. He also voted “No” on every Republican amendment that removed the most troubling tax hikes from the budget. “If Mr. Nicastro was truly opposed to the sales tax increasing to 6.35%, or clothing getting taxed from dollar one, he had a perfect opportunity to say so by voting yes on those amendments. He didn’t.”
“His votes against a budget that included these taxes while also voting against the Republican proposals to eliminate these taxes is an inconsistency that demonstrates a lack of leadership. “ Alford added.
Alford said, “We need and deserve representatives who are going to stand up and be leaders in Hartford.  We need and deserve representatives who will develop proposals that do not require constantly raising taxes. Mr. Nicastro, as an Assistant Majority Leader, was well positioned to be a leader in this debate. Yet, he did not exhibit any leadership qualities. By simply voting No he abdicated his responsibilities to Bristol residents.”
“As your next State Representative, I will hold quarterly town hall meetings to keep you informed and seek your opinions and thoughts on what is happening in Connecticut so that I can be your voice in Hartford.
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 8, 2012

Republicans support Ward in breast cancer t-shirt battle

With Democratic Mayor Art Ward under assault for refusing to let firefighters wear pink shirts to spread awareness of breast cancer, Republican city councilors are coming to his defense.
“I agree with the mayor’s call,” said city Councilor Eric Carlson. “This really is a tempest in a teapot.”
Ward refused to let Bristol firefighters join their brethren across the country in wearing pink t-shirts once a week this month – which is designated as a time to raise breast cancer awareness – in order to benefit the Susan B. Komen Fund for the Cure. The shirts sell for $20 apiece.
Union leaders said the mayor’s decision to bar the shirts was clearly a personal and political jab at firefighters who have clashed with him repeatedly.  Click here for the full story.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

October 6, 2012

Firefighters: Ward turns breast cancer into 'political football'

The city's firefighters' union sent this along to add its voice to the firestorm surrounding Mayor Art Ward's refusal to let union members wear pink uniform shirts to increase breast cancer awareness this month:

Bristol Firefighters Take Mayor Ward to task for Breast Cancer Awareness Position

After overruling the Fire Chief on whether the Bristol Fire Department could join thousands of other firefighters across the country in wearing pink uniform shirts to increase breast cancer awareness on Thursdays in October, Mayor Ward stated on Friday that it is the Fire Union who is making the issue "political.

Mayor Ward recently told reporters that he believes this is more about his relationship with the Fire Union and less about Breast Cancer.

This is absolutely correct. However, the only person making THIS ISSUE political and personal is Mayor Ward.

Why would Mayor Ward respond to a recent letter written by a citizen criticizing his decision by, in turn, ataicking the Bristol Firefighters? Answer... Because he chose to make this issue of Breast Cancer awareness personal. I find it both troubling and somewhat sad that when a citizen criticized his actions in a letter to the newspaper, as is her First Amendment right, the Mayor reacts by attacking the Fire Union.

Mayor Ward writes that he supports breast cancer awareness, yet he put a stop to the Firefighters wearing awareness shirts. He also writes "How much more awareness do you need than the pink ribbons at City Hall". Really Mayor Ward? There can never be enough Breast Cancer Awareness. This makes no sense to me. Unless of course it was personal. By taking a meaningful community event and politicizing it, Mayor Ward has reduced this issue to a political football.

As Union President, I have one point to make to the community we serve: the Bristol Firefighters set out on this campaign with one goal which was to increase breast cancer awareness. When we were originally told yes by the Fire Chief and then no by the Mayor, we did not approach the media - we simply asked the Mayor to reconsider which he refused to do.

At no time did we sensationalize this issue. Nor did we pack the meeting of the Fire Board last month with supporters and breast cancer survivors to take the Board to task as many suggested we do. We worked through the process in hope the that Mayor Ward would change his stance and allow Bristol to participate along with most Connecticut fire departments, as well as thousands more throughout our country.

We will continue our efforts to raise awareness in honor of our wives, mothers, sisters and friends who have battled this disease. We apologize to all those affected by this disease and to the Susan G, Komen Foundation who encouraged us to partner with them that this important conversation about early detection and mammograms has gone astray. To date, we have raised several thousand dollars and will continue to do so throughout the month. I hope the community will join us in these efforts.


Sean Lennon, President
Bristol Firefighters
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com