June 25, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Linares Mimicks Trump’s Strategy While Needleman has Solid Record of Results, Concrete Proposals

To the Editor:

One of Trump’s favorite campaign tactics is to project his own base weaknesses onto his opponent. Got a problem with Trump’s vulgar behavior towards women?  Time to talk about Bill Clinton thirty years ago.  Trump Foundation under investigation? Denigrate the life-saving work of the Clinton Foundation. Being sued for fraud at Trump “university” and still refusing to disclose your tax returns? Deflect to emails. Lack a coherent foreign policy? Let’s talk Benghazi.  You get the idea.

Now behold Art Linares, running for the 33rd District senate seat.  Given Linares’s affection for Trump — Linares was a Trump delegate and actively supports him – it should be no surprise that Linares is now mimicking his role model.  Linares has repeatedly said that his opponent in the current race, Democrat Norm Needleman, is “bankrupt of ideas”. This would be amusing if it were not so flagrantly untrue.

Needleman has a proven record of results both as a successful businessman and a distinguished First Selectman of Essex.  In that role, he has balanced the town budget every year with bipartisan support, while keeping taxes in the bottom 15% in the state.  In the current race, he has laid out a series of specific proposals – cutting estate taxes, rolling back unfunded mandates, freezing state spending, reducing overtime for purposes of calculating state pensions, among others – to restore fiscal discipline and foster economic growth.

Meanwhile, Linares is awash in platitudes and vagaries.  He repeatedly calls for cutting taxes but without telling us where he will find matching spending cuts.  This implies more debt, which his support of Trump tends to confirm.  Linares praises Trump for having “the best economic plan” when in fact it is projected to increase the national debt by $5.3 trillion.  A related issue is Linares’s standing in the General Assembly.  Even if he had a plan, he lacks the stature to implement it.  His own party voted resoundingly against him (13-2) on the recent budget compromise.

A few days ago, Linares inexplicably called Needleman’s supporters “mean and deceitful”.  Here’s my response.  Recently, Linares voted against a bill (which thankfully passed anyway) to protect battered women from gun violence by abusive partners.  The bill required legislators to chose between protecting a woman’s life and removing firearms for no more than 7 days while a court considered a protective order.  Linares thought access to guns was more important.  Meanwhile, he has received the NRA’s highest rating on the basis of a NRA questionnaire that Linares refuses to disclose to voters.

Now that’s what I call mean and deceitful.

Sincerely,

David Harfst,
Essex

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Letters: Senator Linares, Explain Your Voting Record

To the Editor:

The ValleyNewsNow.com (April 29) carries a press release written by supporters of Senator Linares expressing “marvel at what this young man has accomplished in such a short period of time”. Given Mr. Linares’s lamentable voting record, it is hard to understand what the release is talking about.

The record shows that Mr. Linares has waged a quiet but persistent campaign against a wide range of legislation that most constituents in his District support. For example, Mr. Linares has:

  • Voted against an increase in the minimum wage, a measure supported almost three to one by Connecticut voters (71% for, 25% against).
  • Voted against a measure that paves the way to allowing commuters, the elderly, working parents, and many others who have difficulty getting to the polls to exercise their right to vote by means of absentee ballot. Such provisions are prevalent in other states and enjoy strong public support.
  • Voted against bipartisan legislation on gun safety following Newtown that was supported by a super majority of Connecticut voters (anywhere from 68% to 93% depending on the provision) and even by many in his own party.

Mr. Linares’s web site does not even mention these important votes, let alone explain his reasoning for them. The web site is filled with details of his other exploits — toy drives, hosting flag collections, honoring a beauty queen (and, yes, his opposition to an increase in the gas tax and work on some other bills) — but not his opposition to major mainstream legislation that commands widespread public support. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Mr. Linares seeks to draw attention away from his record. Why?

One concern is that Mr. Linares may be more attuned to the interests of the Tea Party than those of the moderate center of his District. Mr. Linares has stated publicly that he was inspired to enter public service by his experience in 2010 working “proudly” for Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, known in political circles “the Crown Prince of the Tea Party”.  When it comes to voting, can it be that Mr. Linares hears the voice of the Tea Party more clearly than any other?

In the absence of information from Mr. Linares on his voting record, constituents can turn to Project Vote Smart, a well regarded, non-partisan, independently funded voter education website. It has posted a report on 10 “key votes” by Mr. Linares over the past two years.

In 7 of the 10 cases, Mr. Linares voted “no” — in other words, his “accomplishment” was to oppose any legislation. In an 8th case, he did not vote at all. In only one case in the sample did Mr. Linares vote for something that actually became law – the legalization of mixed martial arts competitions – a matter most voters would not consider a priority.

Mr. Linares, we are entitled to know why, in our name, you have opposed the exercise of basic voting rights, opposed economic fairness by means of increasing the minimum wage, and opposed protecting the public from gun violence. Please give us a full accounting of your votes on these key issues, so that we may know you by your actions, rather than your press releases.

Sincerely,

David Harfst
Essex

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