May 31, 2013

City blocks its computers from seeing PTR website

City Hall's computers are barred from looking at the website for PTR Industries, the Bristol-based gun manufacturer that city officials continue to praise. It's apparently a prohibited site because it deals with "weapons."
PTR is planning to move out of Connecticut because of the gun control measures adopted by Gov. Dannel Malloy and the General Assembly this spring.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Hey, Connecticut! This man is coming to steal your business

South Carolina state Rep. Alan Clemmons of Myrtle Beach was on a plane early this morning, pictured above, to head to Connecticut to try to convince five gun manufacturers to give up on the Nutmeg State and move south. 
He said he is excited about his prospects but sad for the 2nd Amendment's treatment in Connecticut.
Stuart Kaufman, a South Carolina resident, told the legislator, "Let them know that we value and welcome them. If the people of Connecticut want to be stupid, that's their loss and our gain."
One of this Twitter followers told him, "Don't forget to remind them about mild winters, great people, beautiful beaches, and hoards of pro-2A folks!"
Another told him, "any gov would be a fool to ignore this formula. good business climate + invitation = success."
Among the companies he's expected to visit is the Bristol-based PTR Industries, a gun maker that's already said it is leaving the state soon because of restrictive new gun control laws adopted this spring.
Mike Nicastro, president of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce, said the legislator's effort is typical of the hard-charging economic development efforts of Sun Belt states. They are constantly trying to raid the region to try to convince companies to pull up stakes and move to Dixie, he said.
Nicastro said that whatever happens with PTR, he can't blame them. He said PTR's owners are moving only because they believe they have no choice given the law's restrictions.
Clemmons, a sponsor of a resolution inviting gun makers to move to South Carolina, reached out to PTR shortly after the company declared its intention to leave the state.
Company Chief Executive Officer Josh Fiorini said that among the places he's checked out is Horry County, S.C., where Clemmons lives.
PTR has not yet announced where it will go.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

May 29, 2013

ESPN may be worried about new competition

A clip from Bloomberg Television explaining why Bristol-based ESPN may be trimming employees:

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Wright speaking with colleagues in state House

State Rep. Chris Wright discussing issues with fellow lawmakers on the House floor. Photo provided by the House Democrats.
Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Brown's address to the Democratic Town Committee

Here's the prepared text for City Council hopeful Calvin Brown's address to the Democratic Town Committee last night:

Hello everyone. My name is Calvin Brown. I am a lifelong resident of Bristol; a 2011 graduate of Bristol Eastern High School; and a rising junior at Central Connecticut State University, studying Political Science in the Honors Program.
I believe this city needs new leaders and new ideas. Younger generations need to be engaged and invested in this city's long term health and prosperity. That’s why, as someone who is committed to this city and the true ideals of public service, I gladly declare my candidacy for City Council in Bristol’s first district.
The City of Bristol, as well as the state, the country, and the rest of the world is in a period of transition. This city will need to be in a position of relevance to the new economic climate. We will need to capitalize on our assets, visualize our future, and ensure our long-term health and prosperity.
Some naysayers may claim that I am too young or inexperienced to lead the charge. I disagree. The truth of the matter is that the major changes we see all around us in the world today have been driven by the technological savvy and innovative spirit of the younger generation.
Bristol needs new leaders and new ideas. Younger generations need to be engaged in decisions about the City’s future. That’s why I’m a supporter of Bristol Rising and the Renaissance downtown revitalization efforts. It is important to note that much of the business plan upon which this project is based is dependent on appealing to young up-and-comers. I feel that my age gives me a unique advantage over any other Council candidate as far as being able to help the city reach the very people it will be relying on to attain these long term goals.
One of the best ways to ensure a healthy future for Bristol is to invest in education. I believe that Bristol’s schools are this city’s greatest assets. If you’ll give me the chance to be on the City Council, then the elected members of our Board of Education can count on me to be a reliable and supportive ally to our teachers, school faculty, parents, and students all across this city. I believe that the young people of our community are the future. Investing in them now will pay off tomorrow.
I’m a student of government. I believe in the power of democracy.  I believe elected officials have the moral responsibility to serve their offices and their constituencies with integrity and honesty. As a Democrat, I believe we should treat our public servants with dignity and respect. In fact, we should treat all our citizens with decency, and we need to provide an opportunity for our brothers and sisters all across this city the opportunity to garner for themselves the best life possible; and a platform from which they can voice their concerns about the city.
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know everything there is to know. But I do know I can act with integrity and honesty. I know I can bring energy, enthusiasm, and experience to this office. And I know I can learn about the things I do not know. I’ll seek the advice and the input of any of you who would be willing to give it to me.

I ask you for your support in this endeavor, by considering me for your vote as a member of the City Council from Bristol’s first District. If you're interested in supporting my candidacy or learning more, please like me on Facebook at “Calvin Brown for City Council-Bristol 1st” and/or follow me on Twitter @calvin4council.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

May 28, 2013

Wilson asks Democrats to back him for mayor

Here is the prepared address that Chris Wilson delivered to the Democratic Town Committee on Tuesday night:

Good evening Town Committee members and guests!  In the worst kept secret I would like to announce that I am a candidate for Mayor in the 2013 election and I ask for your support.
Chris Wilson
Bristol has been my home for over 30 years. I chose to live here. I have happily been in business and raised my family here. I have truly enjoyed the people and relationships I have developed. I have a vested interest in Bristol. I plan to stay in business. My grandchildren are growing up here. But lately I have become concerned with the way things have been going. As I became more involved, mostly through Board of Education activity, member of a charter revision  and mayoral task force on government efficiency, I saw that Bristol has so much more potential. I have learned a lot by watching the current leadership operate. I am convinced that things can improve, but the only way to change and move ahead is for someone else to step up.  Sitting back and watching politics as usual won’t improve things. The best person to lead the city would be someone whose heart is here, who has invested his life here, who has been exposed to various organizations in town, who has spent time in the public and private sectors, who is not beholden to particular loyalties, who has demonstrated leadership in a variety of ways and who has the education to blend those experiences in order to create a positive influence in Bristol. I pondered long and hard about what it would be like to be put oneself “out there” and offer to serve. So here I am, stepping up.

Over the past several months I have focused on three concerns in determining my candidacy for mayor.  First, did I have the support of my wife and extended family and was I willing to sacrifice my time with them? (Since running for mayor really becomes a family affair –

My second concern was did I have sufficient support from you the town committee, given my unusual route to be a candidate, and did I have sufficient support from the general public.  Third, could my business run without me-did I have enough support in my business so that it wouldn’t be harmed by taking on the task as mayor. The answer to all three of these concerns was yes.  Thus I am here this evening to make formal my announcement and commitment to running and getting elected as Bristol’s next mayor as the Democratic Party candidate.

I will tell you the most common reaction I have had from clients and friends is that they think I am crazy to want to get into the politics at this stage of my life. They believe the sacrifice of my personal and professional life is not worth it.   But I believe now is the perfect time and I can provide the leadership that Bristol sorely needs.

In addition, two other factors made me think twice about running for mayor; giving up my positions on the Bristol BOE and my presidency next year of the Capital Regional Education Council, or CREC as many of you know it.  I have been working in those organizations for 10 years and feel very committed to education of the students of Bristol and Connecticut.  I believe I have helped both organizations in dealing with educational reform and will greatly miss the implementation of those reforms.

Before I begin discussing the initiatives I will focus on during my campaign for Mayor, I’d like to address my switch in parties.  Many of you know I am from Massachusetts-where I spent my formative years   developing my political views.  Massachusetts is not known as a bastion of conservative ideology.  Although I was a Republican, I always viewed myself as a moderate: high on social activism while fiscally conservative.  Much like many of you!  As the Republican Party drifted to the far right, I have not drifted with it.  Those of you who know me well know that I have been a little out of step with the party for some time.  I am about solving problems:  something the Republican Party seems in short supply of these days.

When people ask me why I want to be Mayor several thoughts come to mind:
     First, I want to change the culture in city hall.  I want more civility and professionally run meetings.  I want thoughtful discussion and reasoned responses.  Too much time is spent on bickering and being partisan.  I will work with anyone who wants to make Bristol a better community to work, raise a family and live.
     Secondly, I want to engage the public in a larger and deeper manner.  We must allow, encourage and nurture those who are younger, more diverse and female to become involved in city government instead of letting a few people make all the decisions.  The demographics of Bristol are shifting: we need an inclusive government that represents the entire city.
     Third: We need more focus by the City Council on public policy and legislative issues and less on operational issues.  We have professional staff and managers who can and should be allowed to carry out their responsibilities of administering city business.  We must empower them and hold them responsible. Our elected officials should not drift into micromanaging routine operational issues.  I intend to set an agenda that will keep us focused on policy and legislative issues.
      Jobs: We must create an environment whereby entrepreneurs and developers want to invest in Bristol and create jobs.  We must streamline the permitting process with land use boards and must become more public friendly. Growth of the grand list is critical for the growth of Bristol.  Entrepreneurs and investors have choices to make about where they will invest their resources.  We must make Bristol one of their first options.
     Education: We must support and finance a first class 21st century education system in Bristol.  Education is a critical quality of life issue as well as an economic issue.  If we want new citizens to invest in our community by buying the existing housing stock or building new homes, we must provide the quality of life  that competing towns offer such as quality education, including all-day kindergarten.
     Quality of Life issues also include a robust, clean and safe park system and numerous activities for the youth of our city including athletics and arts.
     Safety and security issues are a major concern of residents in Bristol.  I plan to make sure we have a strong and active public safety infrastructure in Bristol.
     Additionally, I will support the allocation of resources for code enforcement and the remediation of blighted properties in Bristol.
     All of these initiatives will be implemented with the clear understanding that Bristol has limited fiscal resources.  I intend to rely on my experiences in public service, my own educational experience (a graduate degree from Barney School of Business at the University of Hartford) and my experience leading many organizations in Bristol and elsewhere. These include Bristol Rotary, the Board of Education, McCabe Waters Little League, Professional Insurance Agents of CT, Trustee of New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church as well as serving on the boards of the Bristol Day Care Center, The Family Center for Boys and Girls, United Way, Greater Bristol Chamber of Commerce.  I haven’t just talked about leadership; I have worked hard to provide it.

The challenges facing Bristol are significant. But if we all work together we can make Bristol a better place to live, work and raise our families.  I believe our best days are ahead of us.  We must embrace this new vision so that we as a city can be successful.  I plan to work very hard campaigning, attending meet and greet sessions and  walking door to door and supporting my fellow Democratic candidates so that we can provide a unified team that the voters will be energized to vote for.  My experience, public service record and commitment to Bristol are what I will hold up to the people of Bristol and ask them to support; a record of leadership, a record of engagement, a record of making Bristol a better place to live, work and raise your families.  I appreciate your help and support.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

May 26, 2013

Another council hopeful: Calvin Brown

Democrat Calvin Brown has jumped into the race for a 1st District City Council seat.
Calvin Brown
Brown, 20, announced his entry into the race this weekend with the creation of a Facebook page for his campaign.
On his own page, Brown wrote, "We need to show how excited people are about our generation taking the lead. it STARTS here, and ENDS in the White House."
The only other candidate to formally enter the contest is Republican Tom Hick, who also declared his intention to run recently on Facebook.
Incumbent GOP city Councilor Eric Carlson has not said whether he will seek a second term. The other incumbent, Democrat Mayra Sampson, promised she would not run for the part-time post when Mayor Art Ward tapped her to fill a vacancy created when Democrat Kevin Fuller resigned on May 1.
Despite his young age, Brown has been active in city politics for years. He ran unsuccessfully for a Board of Education seat two years ago.
Brown is a political science student at Central Connecticut State University. He graduated from Bristol Eastern High School in 2011.
He plans to declare his candidacy at Tuesday's Democratic Town Committee meeting, a session that may see the emergence of a handful of candidates, among them Chris Wilson, who plans to announce his mayoral bid there.
Full disclosure: My son and Calvin are friends who serve together on U.S. Rep. John Larson's Youth Cabinet.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

May 24, 2013

Layoffs not easy or taken lightly, ESPN president says

The president of ESPN, John Skipper, sent a Memorial Day message to company workers today that touches on the recent layoffs a little more than any previous statement. It said:

Dear Colleagues,

As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, I hope that you will take time to remember those who have given so much in service to our country. I want to extend my sincere gratitude to our nation's veterans and to our ESPN colleagues who are currently serving on active or reserve duty and to their families who support them.

As we all know our business doesn't take a holiday, which means many of our colleagues will be working over the long weekend. To those of you who will be here serving sports fans, I express my deepest thanks and appreciation.

I also want to acknowledge our restructuring and the impact of that on some of our colleagues. Any decision to reduce staff is not an easy one nor is it something that we take lightly. We have taken steps to ensure affected employees are treated with respect and appreciation for the contributions they have made to this company. Through notice, severance, advice on other job opportunities in the company and continuing contact with HR, we are working to support their transition forward. We, of course, remain focused on future growth for ESPN and will continue our work with all of you to achieve that. We ask anyone with questions or concerns to please talk with your HR business partner or manager.

Thank you.


Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

May 23, 2013

Republican council contender emerges in 1st District

A Bristol native, Tom Hick, announced on the Bristol Republicans Facebook page that he plans to see election in the 1st District this year. Here's what he wrote:

Tom Hick
I will be seeking nomination for city council in the first district of the city of Bristol. I believe with my experience I will be able to work with all the different areas of the city to ensure that we keep the city moving in a positive direction, while controlling spending and keeping taxes stable. There are some important and interesting changes happening in the city and we will need to have a strong leadership team in place to ensure things are done in the tax payer’s interest. Below is some information about myself and some of the projects I see evolving in the near future that will need strong leadership.

About me
Born and raised in Bristol
I married my wife Michelle in 2008 and we have a daughter Emily that is 15 months old
I have worked at Aetna since December 1999, I have held multiple positions since joining Aetna as a temporary employee in 1999 including claim error correction analyst, trainer, team Lead and I am currently a project lead. Prior to working at Aetna, I was employed at CT Spring and Stamping in the maintenance department from 1994 – 1999.
Hobbies – Along with spending time with my Family, I enjoy maintaining, driving and showing my classic cars and currently have a 1965 Pontiac GTO and 1955 Chevy pickup. I also enjoy riding my motorcycle with my friends and hopefully finding a new coffee shop while we are out.

The widening of RT 6 – this should assist with the constant congestion in our area and provide our current and future businesses/customers easier access for the main artery into our city.

Creating and retaining businesses in our city - there are currently some exciting projects to market the city of Bristol, we need to make it a priority to open our doors to new businesses and ensure our current businesses have the support they need. I intend to work with our city and state representatives to make sure this happens.

Continued improvements to our public housing complexes and senior activities - I believe our senior citizen community is more active than ever and we need to ensure we provide an affordable, safe, secure and interesting environment for them.

The Depot Square development (mall Site) – there are lots of exciting things that will be happening with this property, I heard the ground breaking will be taking place this year and the city’s leadership will have to be very involved to make sure the community’s voice is heard.

Public involvement – I think there are some awesome people in this city that would be willing to volunteer their time, personal and professional experiences if the process was explained and shared with a larger audience.

If you have any questions, suggestions or time to help, I can be reached at the below email address and through my Facebook page.

If you would like to make a donation please contact Gary at


Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

May 22, 2013

Downtown grocery store may yet bounce back

City officials are not ready to throw in the towel on the grocery store they hoped would serve downtown for years to come.
Bristol's Marketplace closed this spring after a falling out between its owners, but it may not be gone for good.
"Hope is still alive," said Frank Johnson, chairman of the nonprofit Bristol Downtown Development Corp.
"Oh, absolutely," said Ryan Porter, the project manager for the Long Island-based Renaissance Downtown that seeks to redevelop the former mall property.
Porter played a crucial role in getting the new store up and running last year after the city demolished Discount Food Outlet, the last remaining municipally-owned building on the mall site.
Porter said a partnership dispute led to problems for the new store, but he hopes they can be worked out so the store can reopen. He said is "fairly confident" it will remain as a grocery store.
He said the store is fitted out for selling groceries now and the spot has already proven it can draw customers.
Porter said that in its early months, it drew more customers than DFO, though their orders were typically a little smaller than the previous store.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Welch calls for state to help laid-off ESPN workers

State Sen. Jason Welch, a Bristol Republican, sent out this letter today regarding the ESPN layoffs:

May 22, 2013

Commissioner Sharon Palmer
Connecticut Department of Labor
200 Folly Brook Blvd.
Wethersfield, CT 06109

Dear Commissioner Palmer,

As you know, ESPN announced today that they will be laying-off employees in areas and job descriptions "across the board," according to spokesman Mike Soltys.  I understand that the reduction will also include positions eliminated by attrition.

As one of the State Senators representing the city of Bristol, I am requesting that you immediately dispatch your Rapid Response Team to address the needs of the displaced workers as a result of the layoffs.

In addition, I would like my office to be notified of any meetings taking place between ESPN and the Department of Labor so that I can participate in helping those who will be losing their employment.

I am hopeful that we can work together to help re-locate these workers in new jobs as soon as possible.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance for you or your office.


Jason Welch
State Senator, Bristol

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

May 21, 2013

Mass layoffs in the works at ESPN

Some ESPN workers are calling it Black Tuesday.
Despite record profits, the Bristol-based company handing out layoff notices Tuesday to an unknown number of employees in what appears to be a cost-cutting move dictated by Walt Disney Co. executives.
It appears that about 6 percent of ESPN’s workforce got a pink slip.
In a companywide message sent out this morning on ESPN’s internal system, its president, John Skipper said, “We are implementing changes across the company to enhance our continued growth while smartly managing costs. While difficult, we are confident that it will make us more competitive, innovative and productive. “
Mike Soltys, an ESPN vice president, said the layoffs are worldwide. The company has 7,000 employees, with more than 4,000 of them based in Bristol.
Even after any layoffs, however, “we remain on track to reach the increase in jobs that are called for” under the First Five agreement reached between ESPN and Gov. Dannel Malloy, Soltys said.
That 2011 deal included a $17.5 million loan from the state Department of Economic and Community Development for the construction of a new 193,000-square-foot production facility.
The company vowed to create 200 jobs within five years in Bristol. The development package has incentives for the company to add up to 600 more jobs over 10 years.
The company is also on track to open its new production center next spring and to finish work on two other projects, a new welcome center and a generator facility, Soltys said.
Soltys said he couldn’t discuss the number of layoffs.
The author of a book about ESPN, Jim Miller, said on his Twitter account this afternoon that the cutbacks will number “between 300 and 400” people, but that “includes open jobs that won't now be filled.”
“Any layoff/firing/buyout is rare for Bristol culture. It is not being taken lightly. By anyone. No gain, just pain,” Miller wrote in another tweet.
ESPN is owned by Disney, which this month reported that its second quarter profits were up 32 percent.
Disney said at the time that much of the profit increases was due to ESPN, which was bringing in more revenue from affiliates and advertising that more than made up for “increased programming and production costs.”
The company laid off some workers at the height of the recession in 2009, but generally has increased its workforce over the years.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

May 13, 2013

Malloy to hold forum in Bristol on Thursday

Press release from Gov. Dannel Malloy:
Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman today announced that they will host a community forum in Bristol onThursday, May 16, 2013, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Greene-Hills School (718 Pine Street).

These town hall-style events provide an opportunity to discuss the state’s pressing issues face-to-face with state residents.  They are open to the public; tickets are not necessary and seats are available on a first come, first served basis.
Those who would like an opportunity to ask a question should arrive a little bit earlier to fill out the sign-up sheet.  Doors open at 6:15 p.m.

Additional dates and locations across the state will be announced as they are scheduled.  For the latest schedule, please visit

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Ward says he will nominate Sampson for council seat

Press release from Mayor Art Ward, just issued:

Mayra Sampson
Effective at the May 14th Bristol City Council Meeting, Mayor Arthur J. Ward will be requesting City Council confirmation of the appointment of Mayra Berrios Sampson to complete the remainder of the City Council term of former City Council Member Kevin Fuller, who has resigned.

The City Council term will expire upon the swearing in of the newly-elected representative resulting from the November municipal election.

Mayra has been employed with the City of Bristol for the past 31 years. She has served in various volunteer and leadership positions as a member of Local 233, the Bristol Democratic Town Committee, Ivy Drive PTA, Bristol Midget Football, the Bristol ARC Board of Directors and City of Bristol Retirement Board, along with other numerous activities.

Mayra was presented the Exceptional Women’s Award for 2013 from the Queen Anne Nzinga Association for the promotion and advancement of young women role models and the Women And Girls Fund award for volunteerism. Mayra is a life-long resident of Bristol and is married to Patrick Sampson and has four children, Kristen, Amaris, Morgan and Sienna.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Bristol's Muzzy Field eyed for movie

Bristol’s historic Muzzy Field may play a leading role in a film about a young baseball phenom who “struggles to maintain his dignity and gain acceptance in the traditional world of professional baseball” after he is outed as a homosexual.
“The First Out” is “a film about being yourself,” said producer and director Joshua B. Porter. “It’s a family drama. That’s the way we’re looking at it.”
If all goes according to plan, Muzzy Field would become a movie set for a couple of weeks next spring or summer as the third baseman Brad Hawley’s home ballpark as a star on the mythical Bristol Wolves. Click here for rest of story.

See the trailer for "The First Out" here.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

May 10, 2013

The new Kevin Fuller? Bet on Mayra Sampson

Though Mayor Art Ward said he's ready to name his pick to succeed former city Councilor Kevin Fuller, who resigned recently, it's pretty obvious he plans to tap Mayra Sampson for the part-time post.
Sampson, a former city Democratic Party chairwoman, has long been a close ally of Ward's and is well known and liked within city government. She heads the union local that represents most of the workers at City Hall.
Republican city councilors said Sampson called all of them this week and had pleasant conversations with them. It doesn't appear they'll attempt to block her nomination.
Ward said he won't pick someone who intends to run for the 1st District seat so Sampson would likely  serve only until voters pick a new city councilor in the November general election.
One funny thing: Sampson once pegged the five GOP councilors serving today as "the five amigos," which they proudly embraced as a new moniker.
Now I think they'd make a good rock band name: Mayra and the Five Amigos.
Ward said he would likely announce his pick by Monday. The council is slated to pick Fuller's replacement at Tuesday's meeting.
Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

May 6, 2013

Who will replace Kevin Fuller?

In choosing a successor for Kevin Fuller, who resigned from the City Council last week, Mayor Art Ward said he won't nominate any of the candidates who are eyeing a council run in the 1st District.
Ward said it wouldn't be fair to pick one candidate out of the field and give him an advantage over the rest.
He said that he instead wants to pick someone who won't try to hang on to the seat in November general election.
Ward said he wants someone who knows how city government operates and is up on the issues facing the city so that he or she can hit the ground running and get something accomplished.
Ward did not mention any names.
He didn't say it, but he's likely to pick a woman since the rest of the council is all male.
It's a pretty safe bet, too, that whoever Ward selects will be somebody he knows and trusts.
Whether the Republican-controlled council will back the mayor's choice remains uncertain. There is an argument floating around that if the three GOP councilors who oppose selling Memorial Boulevard School simply refuse to vote for anyone Ward picks, they will have effectively made it impossible to gain a majority vote to unload the historic building until after Election Day.
If the empty slot isn't filled, the council would split 3-3 on the issue.
But it's not clear the GOP critics of selling the building would be willing to take such a tough stance to ensure their side prevails.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

O'Brien Funeral Home seeks more parking

If you spot one of those yellow signs in front of O’Brien Funeral Home, you can’t help wondering what’s going on at the Forestville landmark.
It turns out that the funeral home is seeking the Zoning Commission’s approval for 20 additional parking spaces behind the building.
The application goes before zoning commissioners next Wednesday. The meeting is slated for 7 p.m., Wed., May  15 in the City Council chambers on the first floor of City Hall.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

May 2, 2013

Ward taps Cockayne as designated replacement

Ken Cockayne, left, and Art Ward
Mayor Art Ward has chosen three-term city Councilor Ken Cockayne to serve as acting mayor, a designation that makes it possible for the senior Republican councilor to step into the mayor's shoes if Ward falls ill or can no longer serve.
Cockayne is the GOP's mayoral candidate.
Ward had to pick one of the five Republican councilors for the charter-mandated position after the council's only Democrat, Kevin Fuller, resigned Wednesday.
Cockayne has served in place of Ward before, filling in for him when Ward was in a coma after choking on a piece of steak in 2010.
After Ward's recovery, the city put in place new procedures to ensure the acting mayor slot would be held by one councilor picked by the mayor. The designation remains in effect unless the mayor revises it.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Replacing Kevin Fuller is next task

Mayor Art Ward has to pick a successor to city Councilor Kevin Fuller lickety split.
By May 15, he has to nominate another 1st District Democrat to fill the vacant council seat and get the City Council to endorse it.
Ward faces an interesting chore now.
There's a good argument that he should try to find someone who can hit the ground running, somebody who knows his or her way around City Hall and doesn't have to spend months getting up to speed on the issues.
The obvious choice, if he's willing, is former city Councilor Cliff Block, who lost a reelection bid in 2011 in part because he backed a raise for the mayor.
But it's not clear Ward would turn to Block, assuming the former councilor would take the job.
After Block, it becomes pretty hard to guess who the mayor might want. Ward himself held one of the 1st District seats from 1993 until 2007 so there aren't a lot of former Democratic councilors to pick, especially if you want somebody who's reasonably current on what's happening in municipal government.
Ward could also elevate one of the Democrats who are eyeing a council race in the district already, perhaps Dave Roche or Calvin Brown. I believe there are others vying for the party's nod as well.
Another issue that Ward has to consider is whether he can find a woman to fill the post. The rest of the council is all-male so there is a desire by many to see a woman replace Fuller.
Then there's one other factor the mayor has to keep in mind: whoever he picks has to be acceptable to the council. The all-Republican council has to endorse a Democrat, because the charter requires it, but it doesn't have to give a green light to any Democrat. Ward has to pick someone who's not going to pose a big issue for the GOP.
All in all, it's an interesting development. Anybody who wants to take a crack at it -- and is a Democrat in the 1st District -- should send Ward a resume right away.
There's never been an easier time to snatch a council seat without the headache and possible heartbreak of running for office.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

May 1, 2013

Fuller resigns from his City Council seat

City Councilor Kevin Fuller is resigning from his council seat as of 5 p.m. today.
Citing “personal reasons,” Fuller told the mayor he was leaving with “a heavy heart.”
Fuller, a Democrat, is in his second term. He had sought to run for mayor this year, but pulled out of the race recently.
“Kevin has served his constituency and the city of Bristol with both distinction and dedication, committing his sole mission to be for the betterment and best interests of the people of this community,” Mayor Art Ward said.
Ward said that Fuller told him of the decision Wednesday and handed in a short resignation letter.
“It has been an honor to serve as a councilman under your terms of mayor,” Fuller wrote. “Not only have you been an example to follow but I consider you a friend for life.”
Ward said he did not know what personal reasons may have caused Fuller to resign.
Fuller, a computer technician for the Board of Education, has been working long hours lately. He also runs Dunphy’s Ice Cream Parlor on Stafford Avenue and plans to expand it.
City officials who heard the news late Wednesday expressed shock.
City Councilor Ken Cockayne said that Real Estate Committee slated for Thursday to discuss the fate of Jennings and Memorial Boulevard Schools will no longer take up the schools issue.
“I’m alone now,” Ward told officials at an industrial committee meeting Wednesday.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at

Memorial Boulevard School can be used for anything

Though there have been a few news stories about it, many people are still under the false impression that Memorial Boulevard School can't be sold because of strings attached by industrialist Albert Rockwell, who deeded the property to the city and oversaw construction of the building.
Late in 2011, the city agreed to sue Attorney General George Jepsen as part of an orchestrated legal move to clear up any questions surrounding the deed. The attorney general enforces the terms of old trusts and wills.
A stipulated agreement settled the case immediately and granted the city the right to do whatever it wanted with the building.
Lawyers said there's no legal grounds to challenge the move.

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