April 30, 2013

Old Press building sold... sort of

The old Bristol Press building
A land sale of $1,050,000 last week appeared on its face to show that the old Bristol Press building at 99 Main St. had changed hands.
The Journal Register Co., the paper's former owner, sold it to something called 99 Main St. LLC.
But it turns out that 99 Main St. LLC is headquartered in New York City at 5 Hanover Square on the 25th floor, which happens to be the same address as Digital First Media, a company that owns the JRC.
So it was just a paper transaction of some sort, perhaps related to the JRC's recent escape from bankruptcy proceedings.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 29, 2013

Czenczelewski to seek second term

This is the address that first-term Republican city Councilor Derek Czenczelewski delivered to the Republican Town Committee tonight:

It is with excitement and optimism that I, on this 29th day of April 2013, announce my intention to seek a second term on the City Council, representing the 3rd District of the great city of Bristol. Helping me make this decision, and with this challenge, are a number of people I would like to thank up front: My fiancĂ©e Sarah, with whom I built a house here in Bristol and look to spend the rest of my life. My parents, Bruno and Maureen, who have encouraged me to pursue each and every aspiration I’ve ever had. My sister Breanna, and the rest of my family, who have supported me and can still say I make them proud. I’d also like to thank the Republican Town Committee for giving me the opportunity, and my fellow councilors, who have truly been my four other “amigos.” And finally, the two very intelligent, well-respected, and hard-working individuals who will help lead my campaign: Mary Alford and Peter DelMastro.

Before taking office in November 2011, I pledged that if elected I would represent the citizens of Bristol to the best of my abilities and uphold the values and guidelines of our City Charter. The wishes of the citizens were very clear in 2011: cut spending, make our government more efficient, stop with the massive and often unpredictable tax increases, and do something to attract more business.

18 months later, I can confidently say this Council has worked towards accomplishing these wishes. But make no mistake, we still have a ways to go.

I voted against raising taxes, wasteful spending, and sub-par contracts. But I wasn’t just a no-vote. I proposed numerous cuts, pushed for restructuring and more efficiency, questioned our current fee structures and supported measures to better market our City’s countless assets and opportunities. In addition, I scheduled a series of monthly informational town hall meetings to better keep the public informed of what is going on in our City.

Within my committee assignments, I’ve been a voice for the disabled citizens of Bristol, ensuring their needs are met. I’ve worked with board members, City staff, and State officials to finish the Pine Lake handicapped-accessible fishing pier and parking lot project. This project will be completed by early summer, 2013.

I’ve also outlined a vision for the future of Bristol through the implementation of recommendations from the myriad past completed studies. Those recommendations include the implementation of a multi-family homebuyers program to increase private ownership in our multifamily homes, increased West End foot patrols, and better connectivity between our gateways and downtown. Understanding that the City taxpayers are spent, I’ve worked with our State legislators to identify other potential funding sources for community improvements such as streetscaping and multimodal safety improvements, environmental cleanup and redevelopment, economic development, and the creation of new recreational space.  

All in all, I’ve learned a lot in my first term, primarily from asking a lot of questions that hadn’t been posed in the past. Because of this, I’ve also rattled a few cages. But those reactions only further reinforce the voter’s feelings that this City has gotten by on the status quo for far too long. Although the many political roadblocks that exist to protect the status quo can be incredibly frustrating, they have made me that much more driven to ensure the will of the people is enacted. With the experience I’ve garnered in my first term, I’m confident we will be able to further break these barriers down and rid the City of its pessimistic attitude in my second term.

In short, my fellow councilors and I have gotten our feet wet, and have set the stage for brighter days ahead. If given the opportunity to serve a second term, I will continue fighting for the taxpayers and representing the citizens of Bristol. I will continue to be accessible to anyone, anytime. But most importantly, I will continue providing a unique, independent perspective from a young professional demographic that is essential to the City’s revitalization. Together, we can, and will make Bristol a better place to live, learn, work, and play.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Municipal candidates for 2013 election

These are the declared candidates for this year's municipal races. Who am I missing?
Ken Cockayne (R)
City Council, District 1

Kevin Fuller (D)
City Council, District 2
Tim Gamache (D)
Henri Martin (R)
City Council, District 3

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 26, 2013

Shopping carts at City Hall

For at least the last few days, two shopping carts have been sitting in front of City Hall, empty and ignored.
What makes them especially interesting, though, is that they are from Walmart.
How on earth did they get from Walmart, way over on the Farmington town line all the way to City Hall.
It's a 3.3-mile journey.
And it's not an easy one. In between there are major roads, a pretty hefty hill or two, tons of traffic and, well, plenty of other stores.
So how did the carts get to City Hall? Did somebody throw them in the back of a truck and dump them outside City Hall for some reason?
And then there's the other obvious question: how come nobody's done anything with them? Are they an art installation that escaped my attention until now? Is the city using them for something?
It was only a few years ago that city councilors showed much less tolerance for stray carts.
A 2010 law allows police to charge anyone caught of-site with a shopping carts that belongs to a store with an infraction carrying a $90 fine.
Property owners can be held responsible when a cart is found on their land. They, too, can be slapped with a fine.
I'll let everybody know if the city fines itself.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 25, 2013

Newcomer eyes council seat in 1st District

A Democratic newcomer is eyeing a possible City Council run in the 1st District.
Steve Jeffries, a human resources recruiter, said he is interested in seeking election this fall to one of the two council seats representing northeastern Bristol.
The incumbent Democrat in the district, Kevin Fuller, is running for a third term after giving up his mayoral bid this week. First-term Republican city Councilor Eric Carlson hasn't said whether he'll seek reelection there.
Jeffries has a political science degree from Central Connecticut State University and a master's in human resource management from Capella University. He's working on a doctorate there, too.
Jeffries is also a U.S. Army Reserve veteran.
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 24, 2013

Cockayne takes a blow to the nose

City Councilor Ken Cockayne, the Republican mayoral candidate, recently took a pretty savage blow to his nose.
The surprising thing is that he did it to himself.
During a Florida vacation with his son and fiancee, he rented  mini-van, against his better judgment, and discovered he had to slam the rear door down after loading it up.
He did a fine job of yanking the door down.
But Cockayne didn't do such a good job of getting out of its way. He slammed it down on the bridge of his nose.
The blow left him dazed and bleeding.
At a walk-in clinic, Cockayne was told he needed serious stitches and a CAT scan to make sure his head was okay. He said he refused and insisted on some butterfly stitches on the spot so he could get on with vacationing.
He also chipped one of his teeth in the process, enriching his dentist by some $1,400 upon his return home.
Cockayne, a three-term councilor, is unopposed at this point.

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 23, 2013

Anti-gun legislators 'a bunch of cowards'

One of Bristol's representatives on the state Democratic Committee, Joella Bouchard Mudry, this week called lawmakers who voted against the gun bill "a bunch of cowards" and declared she would not work for their reelection.
One of those legislators was state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat.
Nicastro opposed the measure, he said, because it was "a feel-good" bill that would do nothing to prevent future killings.
Spurred by public outcry over the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 students and six educators dead, the legislature approved the gun control measure on a bipartisan basis with most Democrats favoring it.
Gov. Dannel Malloy signed it into law the same day it passed the General Assembly.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 22, 2013

Fuller lays out case for Memorial Boulevard School sale

City Councilor Kevin Fuller, who heads the Real Estate Committee, recently laid out the panel's record and thinking about the proposed sale of Memorial Boulevard School in an April 18 letter to the Planning Commission. You can read it here.
The planning panel will likely discuss the proposal at its 7 p.m. Wednesday meeting in the council chambers on the first floor of City Hall.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 10, 2013

Cockayne calls on Malloy to save gun makers

Press release from GOP mayoral hopeful Ken Cockayne:
City Councilman and Republican Mayoral candidate Ken Cockayne today sent a letter to Governor Dannel Malloy urging him and the office of Economic and Community Development to reach out to the Gun manufactures in Connecticut and urge them to stay in Connecticut.

Cockayne’s letter comes after PTR Industries of Bristol wasthe first Gun Manufacture in Connecticut to announce it is leaving the state. “At a time when municipalities as well as the state could use all the revenue it can get, we should be doing everything in our power to not let these jobs walk away from our state.  Our unemployment rate in Bristol is hovering at 9.3% and every business is sacred to our local economy,” Cockayne wrote to the Governor.
“I am hopeful that the Governor and DECD have a plan to keep gun manufactures in Connecticut and I am hopeful that they will be sharing that plan with local officials,” Cockayne continued, “Our economy in Bristol and Connecticut is sputtering and I hope no one in the Governor’s office or administration is jumping for joy that these businesses and jobs are leaving the state.”
“if elected Mayor, I will be placing an emphasis on bringing new jobs to Bristol and working closely with the Chamber of Commerce and the marketing committee to make Bristol more attractive for businesses to locate here,” Cockayne ended.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Effort to block Boulevard School sale

A bipartisan bid to block the proposed sale of the former Memorial Boulevard School is underway.
Last weekend, two Republican city councilors met with at least a handful of community members who are opposed to the sale in order to plan strategy.
Among the participants, according to several sources, were former Democratic city Councilors Craig Minor and Ellen Zoppo and Dawn Leger, a planning expert. The incumbent council members were Republicans Henri Martin and David Mills.
The group discussed ways they might derail the Real Estate Committee's apparent willingness to sell the historic school to a Rhode Island developer who wants to use it for apartments, a fitness club and a community theater.
If the committee endorses the sale, as expected, it would fall to the City Council to make a final decision.
But it appears that it would take a super majority to pass the motion because the Planning Commission called on the city to keep the site, or at least that's one reading of its decision. Without its support, the council needs a two-thirds vote to proceed, or five favorable votes if everyone is present.
It isn't clear if there are five votes to sell.
Anyway, here's the planning recommendation (click on it to increase size):

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 8, 2013

Two potential City Council candidates emerge

There are two big guns waiting in the wings.
Former city Councilor Ellen Zoppo answered "maybe" when I asked her if the talk she may run in the 3rd District is true. She's a Democrat who gave up her council seat in 2007 for an unsuccessful mayoral bid.
On the Republican side, city Finance Chairman Rich Miecznikowski said he is seriously considering a council run in the 2nd District. He's been unaffiliated since 1963 but is eyeing the GOP line, where he would be on the ticket with incumbent Henri Martin.
More to come!

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 5, 2013

Martin to seek 2d term on City Council

Press release:

Henri Martin is pleased to announce his intention to seek a second term as City Councilman of the 2nd District.
City Councilor Henri Martin

Henri is appreciative and thankful for the overwhelming backing and support he has received during his first term from family, friends, Republican town committee members, members of his church, community leaders, and the citizens of Bristol.
In his first term, Henri said “because of the economic situation, new leadership and fresh ideas concerning how city government operated was needed on the Council”. Henri has encouraged creative collaboration within city government to promote long term fiscal sustainability and organizational transparency.
He believes with the experience he has gained, a second term would provide him greater opportunity to effectuate his ideas. “The goal”, Martin says, “is to make Bristol work better.  It’s imperative to address the challenging economic times we are in by improving the delivery and quality of public services in cost-effective ways that our citizens can afford.”
He will continue listening to citizen’s concerns, to be their voice, and promote what he believes is the right course of action for Bristol. 

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 4, 2013

Cockayne takes aim at Wilson on school spending

Don't miss Republican mayoral candidate Ken Cockayne's letter to the editor today, which includes some shots at potential Democratic contender Chris Wilson. Click here

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

April 3, 2013

Welch votes no on gun control compromise

Press release:

Harford, CT – State Senator Jason Welch (R-Bristol) released the following statement today re: SB 1106:An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety.

“All of us were moved by this horror in Newtown, and this horror demands action with mental health access, action with hardening our schools, action in ending straw purchases and action in getting guns out of the hands of criminals, with the goal of preventing a madman from committing such a horror again.
State Sen. Jason Welch

“But this bill falls short of that goal.  It also comes with a loss of liberty.  This country is about freedom. Whether you believe liberty to be granted through the divine or that it came to be following our natural law, with liberty comes great responsibility.  Not all have lived up to that responsibility. 

“But the irresponsibility of some ought not cause the loss of liberty of others. 

“Evil is the common theme in these horrific mass shootings.  I don’t see this bill getting to the heart of evil.  I don’t see this bill convincing mass murderers to change their hearts and minds.

“I do applaud those who came up with some really good ideas. Things we ought to follow through on including: mental health first aid for district safe school climate coordinators and reconstituting the statewide gun trafficking task force to get illegal guns off the streets.  But when I weigh what this country stands for I can’t support the loss of freedom in this bill, therefore I cannot support it at all.”

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Larson aide wins public service award

I know Eva Bunnell. She's absolutely wonderful. So it's nice to see that she's getting some serious recognition for her sterling work with U.S. Rep. John Larson, where she played a critical role in the creation of the nation's first Youth Cabinet, something my son now serves on. Anyway, here's the press release:


(Washington) - Today Congressman John B. Larson announced that Eva Bunnell of his Hartford district office has won this year’s Congressman John Joseph Moakley Award for Exemplary Public Service. The award, presented once a year during Public Service Recognition Week, recognizes the outstanding accomplishments and achievements of one staff member of the New England Congressional delegation. Nominees are reviewed by a panel of New England Federal Executives and the Moakley family and are required to have shown strong innovative methods of thinking and effective work on behalf of their constituents, the people of New England and the nation. Eva is the first staff member of Connecticut’s House delegation to win the award.

“Today I am proud to celebrate the work of Eva Bunnell, this year’s winner of the prestigious Congressman John Joseph Moakley Award for Exemplary Public Service,” said Congressman Larson. “For years her efforts and determination to help Connecticut’s children, families and most vulnerable populations have been an inspiration to all those fortunate enough to work with her. Eva has also worked to ensure better outcomes from federal spending and advocated for increased youth engagement in government, successfully coordinating efforts between state and federal agencies and establishing the first in the nation Congressional Youth Cabinet.”

“Congressman Joe Moakley was a powerful and effective figure in Congress, serving with some of our nation’s most storied leaders on issues of human rights, environment and housing. Above all, Congressman Moakley was known for never forgetting where he came from,” Larson continued. “The announcement of this award is a great honor for our office, and exemplifies everything Eva does for the people of Connecticut.”

Eva Bunnell began working for Congressman Larson in 2008, recently rising to her current role as Senior Policy Advisor in Hartford. Eva has worked on numerous projects in the first congressional district including legislation to help military families who have children with autism, efforts to increase positive outcomes from federal funding for children and families and the creation of the First Congressional Youth Cabinet. Eva currently resides in East Haddam.
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

Wright favors gun measure, Betts stands opposed

At least one of Bristol’s four lawmakers plans to vote for the bipartisan gun control measure before the General Assembly today.
Rep. Chris Wright
State Rep. Chris Wright, a Bristol Democrat, said he favors the proposal because he’s convinced it will bring down the number of gun deaths in Connecticut without intruding on the rights of law-abiding citizens.
Another Bristol lawmaker, Republican Whit Betts, said he plans to vote against the bill. He said it would further reduce gun owne
rs’ rights. He said it doesn’t address the root cause of the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings that left 20 students and six educators dead in Newtown on Dec. 14.
The other two legislators from Bristol, Democratic state Rep. Frank Nicastro and Republican state Sen. Jason Welch, haven’t yet said how they’ll vote. But both generally favor the positions of gun advocates.
State Rep. Whit Betts
Wright said he came to his position in part because of what he’s seen while working as a billing clerk in the St. Francis Hospital emergency room. He said he’s seen “so many people coming in after being shot” that the issue is personal for him.
He said he watched one day as a 20-year-old was pronounced dead. Another time, he said, he stood by as doctors told the mother of a 15-year-old that her son had died after being gunned down at the end of his driveway.
“It’s such a waste of life,” Wright said. “I’m tired of it and the people in my district that I hear from are tired of it.”
Betts said, “My heart goes out to those who’ve lost loved ones as a result of the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook.  However, I don’t think this proposed legislation could ever prevent another Sandy Hook tragedy."
“Unfortunately, criminals and those wishing to do harm to others will find a way, regardless of what legislation is adopted,” he said. “I believe we should be putting a primary focus on addressing mental health, which is what I believe to be the root cause of the terribly shooting tragedies.”
Wright said he understands the measure agreed on by legislative leaders won’t bring an end to the gun violence. But, he said, “it will bring the numbers down. And I think that that is important.”
Betts said his constituents oppose the measure because they believe it curtails their constitutional right to bear arms.
Wright said he doesn’t believe there is a Second Amendment issue involved.
He said the provision in the Bill of Rights was designed to ensure the government had “an armed, trained militia” ready in case it had to put down rebellions, not to provide the people a right to arm themselves against the government itself, as so many believe nowadays.
He said many people have “a fundamental misunderstanding” of the nature of the Second Amendment.
Wright said the new provisions included in the measure “are not the most intrusive things in the world.”
Requiring a permit to purchase to buy ammunition is “a logical next step” that “makes it just a little bit harder for the criminal” to get hold of bullets. Those who have a permit already won’t have any trouble, he said.
“We’re not confiscating anything,” Wright said.
The only restriction is that gun owners won’t be able to buy more high capacity magazines in the future.
Wright also hailed the bill’s call for the creation of a dangerous offender registry in Connecticut to make it easier for police to know who isn’t supposed to possess a gun.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

The guns of April - Updated

When the General Assembly votes today on a bipartisan gun control measure, it appears that Bristol's legislative delegation will likely split.
State Rep. Chris Wright, a Bristol Democrat, is expected to vote in favor of the measure. But the city's other three lawmakers -- Reps. Frank Nicastro and Whit Betts as well as state Sen. Jason Welch -- are far from certain yes votes.
Nicastro, a Democrat, is likely to vote against it. Welch and Betts could go either way.

Update: Betts will vote against it.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com