March 18, 2013

Term limits may not be possible

Though Bristol's Charter Revision Commission has endorsed a proposal to adopt term limits on the mayor, City Council and Board of Education, it's possible that state law won't allow it.
There's nothing in particular to prohibit term limits, but that may not matter.
According to a recent piece on the New Haven Politics blog, it appears that municipalities can't monkey with election-related issues unless state law specifically allows it.
But "state law is silent on the subject of term limits for municipal elected officials," according to a 2001 Office of Legislative Research paper by Mary M. Janicki.
She said that "it neither imposes a ban on enacting term limits; nor does it expressly authorize towns to do so." A 1985 law review article -- The Myth and Reality of Home Rule Powers in Connecticut, by Timothy Hollister - said that "despite home rule authority granted in the state's Constitution and statutes, the Connecticut Supreme Court has held that the General Assembly, by its specific enumeration in the statutes of the powers delegated to municipalities, has implied that town cannot exercise powers not expressly delegated to them," as Janicki summarized it.
A 1985 Connecticut Supreme Court ruling in Simons v. Canty determined that towns did not have the power to enact provisions allowing the recall of elected officials because the state never explicitly backed the idea in its home rule legislation.
At the first meeting of the current charter revision panel in New Haven, an outside counsel told commissioners that "term limits were probably unenforceable under state law" because New Haven has never been given the authority to enact them, according to a story in New Haven Politics blog.
Just because term limits may not be legal in Connecticut, though, doesn't mean the charter issue can't go on the ballot.
Bristol could move forward with the idea in the hope that it would not be challenged or that state lawmakers might endorse the concept before a court ever ruled on the matter.
In any case, it's an issue that might well come up before the measure lands on the general election ballot in November.
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

March 15, 2013

Weber opts out of City Council race

Republican Brock Weber, who considered running for City Council, has decided to stay out of the race. In a post on the Bristol Republicans Facebook page, he wrote this:

Friends - 
After much thought and consideration, I have decided to not seek the Republican nomination for City Council in Bristol's Second Council District in this year’s upcoming election. Though I would have loved to wage a campaign fighting for our common conservative beliefs, new found time constraints, would have made any such effort remarkably difficult to pursue and maintain. I sincerely appreciate the great outpouring of support from all of you during my exploratory process; your staunch commitment to common sense conservatism and encouragement of my potential candidacy was overwhelming and for that I am truly grateful. I hope you will join me in supporting common sense conservative candidates in the upcoming election.
Brock L. Weber

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

March 14, 2013

GOP holding budget forum on March 21

Press release:

On Thursday, March 21, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, Senator Jason Welch and Representative Whit Betts will hold a state budget forum at the Bristol Public Library, Meeting Room 2.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will run from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The forum is the fourth stop on Sen. McKinney’s eight-town “Fiscal Responsibility Tour” to discuss Governor Daniel P. Malloy’s budget proposal and to gather public input for the coming legislative debate.

“Over the next two months, there will be a vigorous debate about the direction of our state and particularly its fiscal management. I want public input to be at the center of this debate. That’s why I’m hosting this tour,” Sen. McKinney said. “The governor’s budget is the most dishonest I’ve seen in my 15 years in the legislature. There are a number of areas where his rhetoric simply doesn’t match the reality of his proposal. For example, he claims $1.8 billion in cuts, but his budget actually spends $1.8 billion more over the next two years. And he promised no new taxes, but instead extended several taxes that were set to expire. People deserve to know the truth, so we will spend some time on this tour separating fact from fiction.”

Sen. Welch agrees the governor’s proposed spending increases are unaffordable.  But he also believes the governor’s budget fails to prioritize essential government functions. For example, while the budget increases spending on state employees, it would result in significant cuts to state hospitals.

“In Bristol we are dealing with the potential for savage cuts to our community hospital,” said Sen. Welch.  “Bristol Hospital is central to this community.  The Governor’s proposed budget slashes nearly $500 million to hospitals around the state this is not only unfair it’s a threat to jobs, community and the public health.”

“This public forum is a must for all the people who want to know why the adoption of Governor
Malloy’s budget will force Bristol to increase by a significant amount our local taxes and lead to the likely elimination of medical service programs/jobs provided by Bristol Hospital,” said Rep.Betts.

The forum will include a brief presentation of the governor's budget proposal and an update on the budget process in the General Assembly, followed by an extensive question and answer period for the general public. 

Sen. McKinney said he expects that the budget the legislature ultimately votes on and passes will look much different from the governor’s current proposal. “There are simply too many holes in the governor’s budget for it to gain legislative approval without significant changes. I want Connecticut residents to be heard as those changes are being considered by their elected representatives.”

The Bristol City Hall Council Chambers is located at 111 North Main St., Bristol.  For more information, please contact (860) 240 8884.
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

March 7, 2013

Ward won't hand over specifics of possible budget cuts

For more than a month, Mayor Art Ward has been sitting on paperwork submitted by municipal departments that outlines what each of them would do if they had to slice 10 percent from their annual budgets.
He won’t let anybody see what they had to say.
Ward, who is on vacation in Florida, said that he is still reviewing the documents and won’t release them to city councilors, Board of Finance members or The Bristol Press until he’s made sure they are completely ready. Until then, he said, they are drafts that don’t have to be handed over. Click here for full story.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

March 4, 2013

Wright seeks state funding for health care for uninsured

Press release from state Rep. Chris Wright, a Bristol Democrat:


State Representative Christopher Wright (D-Bristol) is co-sponsoring a bill that seeks to  fund community hospitals, like Bristol Hospital, that provide services for people who are uninsured.

Rep. Wright has joined legislative colleagues from Vernon and Putnam, to sponsor HB 6004, “An Act Concerning Health Care Services For The Uninsured At Community Hospitals.”

The bill is now before the legislature’s Public Health Committee which received favorable testimony at a recent public hearing.

“This is the beginning of a long legislative process to maintain funding for our community hospitals,” Rep. Wright explained, “The purpose of the bill is to guarantee funding for community hospitals, like our own Bristol Hospital, to help them pay for the vital services they provide for the uninsured.”

“There are certain core values that government needs to protect,” Rep. Wright said, “Among those priorities is healthcare help for our citizens.”

As legislative momentum continues to grow to restore the funding for community hospitals, HB 6004 may serve as the legislative vehicle for that goal.

“It’s necessary to point out this legislation represents an important first step that hopefully will restore the needed funding to our community hospitals who provide these very expensive services to the uninsured,” Rep. Wright said.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

March 1, 2013

Find the GOP city councilors on Facebook

Press release from the Republicans on the City Council:

In an effort to provide an additional mode of communication between the public and the City Council, this week the Republican Council majority unveiled a new public Facebook page. The page, titled “Bristol Council Republicans” is aimed at providing frequent updates on issues of importance to the public, as well as reminders about community events, open board positions, public hearings, board and commission reports, and poll questions.
This week’s current poll question asks visitors of the page “what would you like to see in the former Memorial Boulevard School?” Responses so far have shown the public’s desire for commercial development, non-profit and educational space as well as the need for a performing arts school to ensure frequent use of the historic theater.
One thing the page will not feature is campaigning. Our goal is to help facilitate discussion through questions and frequent informational updates so the citizens of Bristol can be heard throughout the year, instead of just on Election Day. Community engagement and open government was a pledge we made to the citizens of Bristol back on Election Day 2011, and continues to be a focus today.
In addition to utilizing social media, we have organized monthly “Town Hall” meetings with the public at the Main Library. These meetings are informal, and they allow for open discussion on a variety of topics. The mission of these meetings is not to provide a soapbox for us to talk, but rather a forum for the public to offer their opinions, concerns, and questions – and for us to listen.
We understand there are a number of citizens who want to make their voice heard, but are turned off by the idea of speaking publicly in front of the press and TV cameras. These meetings allow every citizen the opportunity to discuss what’s important directly with the Council, without the pressure of the spotlight.
It is our hope that over time these meetings will become very well attended, and that the Facebook page regularly generates solid traffic. We are currently exploring utilizing Constant Contact and Twitter as well, and are planning on scheduling additional meet and greets in alternate forums across the City to make accessibility even easier for our citizens.
We were elected to represent Bristol’s best interests, and with your feedback we will continue to do everything in our power to make sure your message is heard loud and clear.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at