August 27, 2015

Jim Crawford’s Campaign Responds to Partisan Attack

WESTBROOK — Less than 48 hours after the conclusion of Tuesday’s primary elections, Jim Crawford, the Democratic candidate for State Senate from the 33rd District, was hit with a partisan attack from his Republican opponent. The negative statement attempted to begin the general election campaign by making political hay of a recent tragedy in Meriden, CT.

Crawford’s campaign manager David Steuber responded with the following statement:

“It is very disappointing that Mr. Linares has chosen to begin his general election campaign by choosing a partisan attack fueled by the more extreme members of his party, which attempts to score points on a recent tragedy,” Steuber said.

The messaging on the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program began with State Sen. Len Suzio, who promptly had to apologize for racially insensitive language when first making his case on the issue. Suzio also asked for assistance freeing an inmate under the program who was convicted of embezzlement.

“Had Mr. Linares asked ranking Republican leaders who voted for the bill, he would have learned that it saved taxpayers millions in incarceration costs, and actually increased the length of time served by criminals like the Meriden suspect.”

In the Meriden case which Mr. Linares raises, Rep. Crawford’s vote resulted in the accused individual serving more time than he otherwise would have: 91% of his full sentence, rather than only 85% under preexisting law. Ranking Republicans in the General Assembly voted in both the Appropriations Committee and the Judiciary Committee to create the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program.

Forty five of 50 states, including Texas, already have similar cost-saving legislation on the books.

“It’s a shame to see Mr. Linares begin this general election campaign with such a partisan attack. We just finished a very civil, respectful primary this summer. I hope the Republicans will give some consideration to that example for the fall,” said Steuber.

Linares Invites Opponent to Join Call to Suspend Early Release Program

Art Linares, candidate for State Senate in the 33rd district

Art Linares, candidate for State Senate in the 33rd district, last week urged his opponent to join him in asking Governor Dannel Malloy to suspend the early release program for violent criminals.

“The cold-blooded murder of Ibrahim Ghazal on June 27th was tragic proof that early release is a threat to our community,” said Linares.  “Public safety must be the first priority of government.  I urge Governor Malloy to suspend this misguided program immediately, and I urge Representative Crawford to join me in that demand.”

Under the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program, violent felons—including armed robbers, arsonists, terrorists, rapists, and repeat sex offenders—are eligible for early release from prison if they attend certain classes and meet other bureaucratic criteria.  Frank Resto, accused of the murder of Mr. Ghazal, was released under the program, despite a history of violent behavior in prison.

“I don’t know what Representative Crawford was thinking when he voted to let these criminals out early,” said Linares.  “Not only did he support the bill, but he voted against amendments that would have removed sex offenders and violent criminals from the program.

“Whatever his reasoning, now that we’ve seen the results of this policy, it’s time to do the right thing and suspend the program.  Meanwhile we are all in danger, and I honestly believe it’s only a matter of time until early release results in another horrific attack.

“It’s clear that oversight and review required to make such a program work safely simply aren’t in place.  Until that happens—and until the legislature has a chance to revisit the topic next session—we should keep violent criminals behind bars until their sentences are served.

“I believe that’s what the people of this district want—it’s what I will work for as a State Senator, and what I believe has to happen now.”

Letter: Klinck Thanks Voters

To the Editor:

I want to take this opportunity to thank all my supporters in this past  33rd State Senate race. I met and talked to many voters and enjoyed it tremendously. I knew it was an uphill battle against an endorsed candidate but  I wanted to take on the challenge. I am glad I did. I am proud to have run a clean and honest campaign. Now that the Democratic voters have had the  opportunity to choose their candidate, we must now support the truly endorsed democratic candidate Jim Crawford in the November election.

Let’s keep the state senate democratic to help the middle  class, seniors,small business and  the environment.

Thank you for the opportunity to run.

A sincere thank you

 Mary Ellen Klinck

 

Mary Ellen Klinck Endorses Jim Crawford for State Senate

EAST HADDAM — Following the conclusion of Tuesday’s State Senate primary election, challenger Mary Ellen Klinck offered her endorsement and support to Democratic candidate Jim Crawford. Crawford thanked Klinck for a hard-fought, yet entirely civil and respectful primary.

Mary Ellen Klinck said, “I want to take this opportunity to thank all of my supporters. I met so many voters, and enjoyed it enormously. Both sides worked very hard this summer, and ran a good, respectful campaign that all can be proud of. The voters have had their say, and Jim Crawford is now the Democratic candidate. I will be supporting Jim this fall, and I hope all of my supporters will do the same. Now is the time for everyone to come together, and work to rebuild Connecticut’s economy and create more jobs for the middle class.”

Jim Crawford said, “I want to publicly extend my thanks to Mary Ellen Klinck for what proved to be a spirited yet entirely civil primary campaign over these past few months. As I have said before, Mrs. Klink is an excellent public servant and businesswoman, entirely deserving of all the support she received on Tuesday. We had a very friendly conversation Tuesday night. I wish her well in everything, and look forward to benefitting from her support this fall.”

Crawford added, “As a retired teacher and small business owner, I know that we need to do more to help businesses grow and thrive in our state, and to help young people get off to a good start in life. I hope all of Mary Ellen Klinck’s loyal supporters will join me in that cause.”

Jim Crawford is the Democratic candidate for State Senate from the 33rd District. He is a recently retired public school teacher and small business owner, currently serving his first term as a State Representative.

The 33rd Senatorial District is comprised of twelve towns which stretch from the shore of Long Island Sound up the Connecticut River toward the center of the state: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Linares Urges Governor To Suspend Early Release Of Violent Criminals Blasts Crawford For Voting For Dangerous and Irresponsible Program

Art Linares, R-33, candidate for State Senator

Art Linares, R-33, candidate for State Senator, today urged Gov. Dannel Malloy to suspend the Risk Reduction Earned Credit (RREC) program, in light of a recent murder committed by a repeat violent criminal let out of prison early under the program.

“This tragedy has caused serious concern throughout the state about the wisdom of the program and the method of its implementation,” Linares wrote in his letter to the governor. “Because public safety must be our first priority, I urge you to suspend the Risk Reduction Earned Credit program, pending an investigation into its procedures and a thorough review by the legislature next year.”

“What was State Representative Jim Crawford thinking when he voted for this reckless program? He stood with the apologists for violent criminals, and against public safety”, Linares stated.

Linares referenced the cold-blooded murder of 70 year-old Ibrahim Ghazal, a small business owner shot in his store in Meriden on June 27. Inmate Frankie Resto, a violent repeat criminal released under the RREC program, stands accused of the crime.

Resto was sentenced in 2007 for two cases of armed robbery. “Resto qualified for early release even though his behavior in prison showed he had not reformed,” Linares said. “While a prisoner, he was cited for theft and fighting in 2006; for assault and for conspiring to possess contraband in 2007; for fighting and assault in 2008; for disobedience in 2009, at which time he was identified as a gang member and a special security risk; and just last year, for intoxication and for setting fire to his mattress.

“Where is the evidence that this man was ready to reenter society?” Linares asked. “How could this man have been released before his sentence was completed?”

“Michelle Cruz, The Connecticut Victim Advocate, stated that this misguided early release scheme is a “danger” to the citizens of our state. We must heed her warning,” Linares said.

According to the Department of Corrections, 7,589 inmates have been released through the RREC program since it began in September of last year. “I don’t believe we can afford to wait,” Linares wrote to the governor. “The risks of the program have been all too vividly demonstrated, and another such tragedy remains a daily threat.”

Violent criminals belong behind bars, and I will work to keep them there, ”Linares concluded.

 

Contact Art Linares Headquarters at 860 391 8458 for details.

Party Endorsed Candidates Carry Area Towns in Primary

AREAWIDE— The Democrat and Republican party endorsed candidates each carried the three towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex in Tuesday’s primary. In the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate nomination, businesswoman Linda McMahon easily out-polled her challenger, former Congressman Christopher Shays. In the contest for the GOP nomination in the 2nd congressional; District, East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica out-polled challenger Daria Novak.

In Chester, the result was 105 votes for McMahon to 34 votes for Shays. In Deep River, it was 124 McMahon to 39 for Shays. In Essex, McMahon had 343 votes to 139 votes for Shays. For the congressional nomination, the results were 96 Formica to 38 Novak in Chester, 112 McMahon to 48 Novak in Chester, and 335 Formica to 104 Novak in Essex. McMahon and Formica won the party endorsements at nominating conventions in May.

In the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate nomination, Congressman Christopher Murphy out-polled former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz. In Chester, it was 179 votes for Murphy to 76 votes for Bysiewicz. In Deep River, the result was 150 votes for Murphy to 105 votes for Bysiewicz. In Essex, the result was 329 votes for Murphy to 127 votes for Bysiewicz. Murphy won the party endorsement at the state convention in May.

The closest area result occurred in the primary for the Democratic nomination in the 12-town 33rd Senate District, where party-endorsed State Rep. Jim Crawford of Westbrook out-polled challenger Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam. Crawford and Klinck were competing for the nomination to the seat left open by the retirement of  ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook.

Crawford carried Chester and Essex by wide margins, with a vote of 153 for Crawford to 87 for Klinck in Chester, and 325 for Crawford to 124 for Klinck in Essex. The result was much closer in Deep River, where longtime Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith endorsed Klinck. In Deep River, it was 131 votes for Crawford to 120 votes for Klinck. The district-wide result was 2,505 votes for Crawford to 2,007 for Klinck.

Jim Crawford Wins Democratic Nomination in 33rd Senate District

Jim Crawford winner of Democratic Nomination for State Senate in the 33rd Senatorial District

AREAWIDE— State Rep. Jim Crawford of Westbrook won the Democratic nomination in the 33rd Senate District Tuesday, defeating challenger Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam by about 480 votes in the Democratic Primary in the 12-town district.

Crawford, a former teacher who was elected state representative for the 35th House District in 2010, claimed victory around 9:15 p.m. after learning that he had carried Haddam, the last of the towns to report results. Crawford awaited the result with a group of supporters in the parking lot at 190 Westbrook Road in Essex, outside the law office of Adam Stillman, a supporter who serves as Democratic town chairman in Old Saybrook.

Unofficial returns showed Crawford with 2,499 votes and Klinck with 2,007 votes. Klinck carried four of the 12 district towns, winning her hometown of East Haddam by a vote of 438-86, and also carrying Colchester, East Hampton, and Lyme. The result was close in Deep River, where longtime First Selectman Richard Smith supported Klinck, with 131 votes for Crawford and 120 votes for Klinck.

Crawford carried the other district towns, taking his hometown of Westbrook by a vote of 233 to 40. Crawford carried Essex by a vote of 325 to 124, also winning in Chester, Clinton, Haddam, Portland, and Old Saybrook.

After taking a phone call from Gov. Dannel Malloy, Crawford said he was pleased the contest with Klinck was a “clean race,” that helped him become better known throughout the large district without dividing district Democrats. “This was as tight as I thought it was going to be,” he said, adding “now we need to make sure this seat remains Democratic.”

Klinck, contacted at her headquarters in East Haddam, said she was “disappointed, but proud of what we did”, adding “I have proven that at any age you can be a contender.”  Klinck pledged to actively support Crawford in the Nov. 6 election, adding that she had urged her supporters to rally behind Crawford in the fall vote.

Crawford said he is ready for the November contest with Republican nominee Arthur Linares of Westbrook and Green Party nominee Melissa Schlag of Haddam. Crawford said he expects to participate in “more than one” public debate with all three candidates during the campaign.

Polls Open 14 Hours Tuesday for Democratic , Republican Primaries

AREAWIDE— Polls in Chester, Deep River, and Essex will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday for Democrat and Republican primaries  to decide party nominations for U.S.Senate, 2nd District Congress, and the 33rd State Senate District.
Republicans will choose between businesswoman Linda McMahon and former fourth district Congressman Christopher Shays for the U.S. Senate nomination, and East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica and challenger Daria Novak for the GOP nomination for the 2nd Congressional District that comprises eastern Connecticut. McMahon and Formica won the party endorsement at conventions in May.
Democrats will choose between Congressman Chris Murphy and former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz for the U.S. Senate nomination, and state Rep. Jim Crawford and challenger Mary Ellen Klinck for the party nomination in the 12-town 33rd Senate District that includes Chester, Deep River, and Essex. Murphy and Crawford have the convention endorsement. Voting will be at the Deep River Public Library community room, Chester Town Hall, and Essex Town Hall.

Jim Crawford of Westbrook and Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam Compete in Cordial Democratic Primary for 33rd Senate District Nomination

After a campaign with no public debate and few differences on issues, State Rep. Jim Crawford of Westbrook and party activist Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam face off in a Democratic primary Tuesday for the open state senate nomination in the 12-town 33rd Senate District.

Tuesday’s vote marks the conclusion of an abbreviated contest that began on May 15, when ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook announced she would not seek a new term this year. Three candidates emerged at the Democratic nominating convention on May 21, including Crawford, Klinck, and former state Rep. Dean Markham of East Hampton. After four ballots, Crawford edged Klink for the party endorsement on a 31-27 delegate vote. Contending both candidates were not well known by district Democrats, Klinck decided to wage a primary for the nomination.

Crawford, 62, is a lifelong Westbrook resident who, after serving in the U.S. Army, in 1974 began a 37-year career teaching social studies in the Westbrook school system. Crawford and his wife, Elaine also ran the Maples Motel on Route One in Westbrook, which was owned by Crawford’s family from 1947 to 2001. The couple are parents of two grown children. Crawford was elected to the Westbrook Board of Selectmen in 2007, serving nearly two terms until 2010, when he was elected state representative for the 35th House District comprised of Clinton, most of Westbrook, and Killingworth.

Klinck, a 58-year East Haddam resident who declined to specify her exact age, has been active in the Democratic Party for decades, serving on the East Haddam Board of Selectmen in the 1970s, and as Connecticut’s Commissioner on Aging through most of the 1980s during the administration of the late former Governor William O’Neill of East Hampton. A widow since 1984, Klinck is the mother of three grown children with six grand-children. A realtor for decades, she also ran the Hale and Hearty Restaurant in East Haddam for 11 years.

In telephone interviews this week, both candidates declined to criticize each other, and suggested the lack of a public debate during the primary campaign was no accident. “We have agreed to keep it clean,” Klinck said, suggesting a debate would have spotlighted criticism and differences that could sow divisions among Democratic voters.

Klinck contended the primary would help each candidate become better known in the large district that extends along both sides of the Connecticut River to include the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Crawford said he and Klinck “are both good Democrats,” adding “I have nothing but respect for what she has done for the party.” But Crawford maintained his single term as a state legislator over the past two years gives him an edge in experience. “It comes down to her experience and my experience, and my experience is current,” he said.

A review of likely issues for the 2013 legislative session shows few differences between the two candidates. Both would support authorization of red light cameras for traffic enforcement under a pilot program, and both are open to new state restrictions on assault rifles and multiple-shot ammunition clips in the wake of the recent mass gun killings in Colorado and Wisconsin. Both say spending cuts must take priority over new or higher new taxes to deal with any lingering state budget deficit. Crawford, who supported tax increases last year as part of Governor Dannel Malloy’s budget plan, said “I don’t think there is any way we can raise taxes more.”

One issue that has emerged involves the controversial, but now cancelled, Connecticut River land swap that had been supported by Daily as an economic development measure for the Tylerville section of Haddam. Crawford had supported the land swap in a House vote last year, while a recent mailing to district Democrats declares Klinck is ” a Democrat you can trust to make the right decision with open space.”

Party support and endorsements have broken down largely along geographic lines within the district, with leaders from the southern shoreline towns supporting Crawford, and leaders from the northern and east-of-the-river towns backing Klinck. Crawford has received endorsements from Daily, Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller of Essex, and Democratic first selectmen Willie Fritz of Clinton, Norman Needleman of Essex, and Edmund Meehan of Chester. But longtime Deep River First Selectman Richard Smith is backing Klinck, who has also received support from longtime Democratic State Rep. Linda Orange of Colchester, and donations from Nicki O’Neill, widow of the former governor, and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, who owns a house in East Haddam.

Both candidates have received a $37,590 state Citizens Elections Program campaign finance grant, and each has nearly $50,000 on their campaign coffers leading up to the primary. The two rivals have campaigned door-to-door in various towns, and sponsored multiple political mailings to registered Democrats in the district.

The winner of Tuesday’s contest will face Republican nominee Art Linares of Westbrook and Green Party candidate Melissa Schlag of Haddam in the Nov. 6 election.

Letter: Despite Previously Enjoying Klinck’s Support, Daily Endorses Crawford

To the Editor:

Wow!  What a surprise and disappointment.  I just received a promotional piece for Jim Crawford—candidate for the 33rd District State Senate seat.  While I am sure Mr. Crawford is a worthy candidate, as is his opponent Mary Ellen Klinck, I was shocked to see he is heavily endorsed by retiring Senator Eileen Daily.

Twenty years ago Mary Ellen Klinck worked tirelessly to help Ms. Daily get elected to her first term as State Senator.  Over the years, Mary Ellen donated time, money, her years of experience with the Democratic Party, and even her home to host fundraisers—all to benefit Ms. Daily.

I would have hoped Ms. Daily to be a better person.  For her to turn her back on a loyal, hard-working friend is discouraging and wrong.  The better solution would have been for Ms. Daily to simply wish both candidates good luck.

Sincerely,

Jim Johnson
Moodus, CT  

Rep. Phil Miller Endorses Jim Crawford for State Senate

ESSEX –– State Rep. Philip J. Miller (D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, Haddam), offered his support today to Jim Crawford, the party endorsed Democratic candidate for State Senator from the 33rd District.

“Jim Crawford knows how important it is to protect our local environment and I have no doubt he will be a staunch defender of it,” Miller said, “Jim raised his family here, taught several generations of students here, and ran a family business here for more than two decades,” Miller said.

Rep. Miller is Vice Chair of the General Assembly’s Environment Committee and serves with Crawford in the state House of Representatives. Both are serving their first terms as legislators and have worked closely together as their districts border one another.

Miller pointed to Crawford’s 100% 2012 legislative rating from the League of Conservation voters along with his bipartisan work on the Shoreline Preservation Task Force to protect the shoreline from rising sea levels. He also praised Crawford for his efforts on the Energy & Technology Committee.

“The groundbreaking energy legislation Jim helped to pass last year has put Connecticut on the map as a leader in renewable energy. Dozens of Connecticut renewable energy companies are now growing rapidly thanks to the programs created in that bill.”

Crawford pledged to continue his work to protect the local environment.

“The Connecticut River valley and Long Island Sound are defining characteristics of our region, essential to its character and our local economy in so many ways. I will always make their conservation a top priority,” Crawford said.

The 33rd Senatorial District is comprised of twelve towns which stretch from shore of Long Island Sound up the Connecticut River toward the center of the state. The towns include Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Terrance Lomme, Private Lawyer for Private Legal Clients, While Serving as State Judge of Probate

Attorney Terrance Lomme representing a private client before the Essex Zoning Commision

Essex resident Terrance D. Lomme is a busy man.  Not only is he the personal attorney for private clients, such as the New York City developer involved in the Foxboro Point case in Essex, but also Lomme is also a sitting state Judge of Probate, who has exclusive jurisdiction over probate cases in nine Connecticut towns.

It should be noted that Lomme’s representation of private legal clients, while serving at the same time as a Judge of Probate, is perfectly legal under Connecticut state law.

Furthermore, when it comes to any conflicts between his two roles, as private attorney and judge, Lomme says, “I have never had a problem.”  However, he did admit in a recent interview, “I do have to be very sensitive to conflicts, and the appearance of conflicts.”  Also, Lomme said that he had mentioned his position as a Judge of Probate to the private developer of Foxboro point, Frank Sciame, Jr., and, “It was never a problem.”

Judges of Probate Are Paid $110,000 a Year

In addition to the monies that he earns from his private practice of law, as a State Judge of Probate, Terrance Lomme also receives an annual salary of $110,000 a year from the state.  This amount is calculated at 75% of the salary paid to a Connecticut Superior Court judge.

Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme in his judicial chambers at Old Saybrook Town Hall

However, judges of the Superior Court, as well as judges of the Appellate Court and Supreme Court, are prohibited from engaging in the private practice of law.  Among these judges, only Judges of Probate are permitted to have private law practices.

Lomme’s Very Public, Private Practice of Law

Terrance Lomme has some high profile clients in his practice of law, as illustrated by his appearance as the private attorney of the would-be developer of Foxboro Point.  Not only did Lomme represent the developer at the at the July 12 meeting of the Essex Planning Commission, he has done the same at five previous hearings as well.

Lomme estimates that there could be two or three more Planning Commission meetings on the Foxboro Point development before all outstanding issues were resolved.  Lomme, himself, will be on hand at every one of these future meetings, as the developer’s private attorney.

Also, on July 16 Lomme appeared before yet another Essex regulatory body, this time it was the Essex Zoning Commission.  Lomme was representing as a private client, the developer of a senior citizens housing development in Essex.  In this appearance Lomme made an extensive presentation, complete with large picture boards that he showed to the commission.  He also participated in an extensive discussion of his client’s application with commission members.

Lomme’s arguments on behalf of his client were successful in this instance, and the Zoning Commission approved the construction of the senior citizen development with certain attached reporting requirements.

Lomme also had a second private client at the July 16 meeting of the Zoning Commission, which was the Foxboro Point developer.  However, the commission deferred consideration of this matter for a future meeting.

Lomme’s Official Duties as a State Judge of Probate

In his official position as a Judge of Probate, Judge Lomme decides probate cases in the towns of Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.  Also, the judge is assisted in his official duties by a staff of nine clerks.

The Old Saybrook offices of Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme staffed by nine clerks

Lomme’s probate headquarters is located in the Town Hall of Old Saybrook, and it consists of a multi-room suite of offices and an official hearing room.  Whenever there is a probate matter to be adjudicated in the judge’s nine town district, it will be done by Judge Lomme, acting on his interpretation of the law and the facts of the case.

Limits on Practicing Law by Judges of Probate        

Although expressly permitted to engage in the private practice of law, under the state’s Code of Probate Judicial Conduct, there are some general prohibitions that Judges of Probate must obey.  They include a provision that, “A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in the judge’s activities.”

Also, “A judge shall conduct all extra-judicial activities as to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial obligations.”  In addition, the Code includes a specific reference to the fact that a Judge of Probate law, “Can maintain a private law practice.”  Under the Code, there are eight specific Canons that must be obeyed by the state’s Judges of Probate.

Jurisdiction of State Judges of Probate

As for the kinds of cases that the state’s Judges of Probate decide, they are limited although extremely important. Among the powers of Judges of Probate, in addition to the probating of wills, they include passing on the formation and maintenance of Trusts and Estates, as well as overseeing testamentary and living trusts.

Also, a Judge of Probate has extensive jurisdiction over Guardians, Conservators and Civil Commitment cases.  These include the power to appoint the guardians of a child, as well as to order the sterilization of a person of intellectual disability.

In addition, a Judge of Probate like Lomme has jurisdiction over removing children from unfit parents, and hearing the claims of paternity of unwed fathers.  Also probate judges can grant name changes, approve or disapprove of the marriages of persons under the age of 16, and can assist persons in obtaining passports.

And these are by no means all of the significant powers of state Judges of Probate.

Finally, the web site of the Judges of Probate makes the point that, “In carrying out their responsibilities, the probate courts strive to protect the rights of individuals while affording those involved in probate matters an approachable and consumer friendly environment.”

Still, unless there is a change in state law, Judges of Probate such as Judge Lomme will be permitted to continue to represent private legal clients, while at the same time they exercise their important judicial duties.

Mary Ellen Klinck Qualifies for Public Financing

Mary Ellen Klinck, the Democratic candidate for the 33rd district senate seat

Mary Ellen Klinck, the Democratic candidate for the 33rd district senate seat, has met the qualifications for funding under Connecticut’s Citizen Election Program (CEP).

To earn CEP dollars, which help level the political playing field, a senate candidate must raise $15,000, with 300 of the contributors being residents of the 12-town district.

“I have raised more than $15,000 and have more than 300 contributors,” Klinck announced Thursday.  “It was hard work.  I thank all my supporters for contributing so quickly.  Now I can concentrate on talking to the voters about my campaign.”

Klinck has a very diversified resume and has been an active volunteer in Middlesex County for years.  Her past accomplishments include serving as State Commissioner on Aging, as an East Haddam Selectman, as a 33rd District State Central Committeewoman, as Chair of East Haddam’s Democratic Town Committee, and as Chairman of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.  Presently, she is Vice-president of the East Haddam Historical Society, and President of the C21 Root Real Estate Agency, having previously owned an insurance office and a restaurant.

Widowed, she is the mother of 3, devoted grandmother of 6, and loyal friend to hundreds of people

“My platform includes home care and housing for Seniors, educational review, college, housing, and energy affordability, environmental and open space protection, job reaction,  and respect for veterans’ rights,”  Klinck said.  “I promise honest leadership, open government, and help for small and medium businesses.”

CT League of Conservation Voters Names Phil Miller Legislative Champion

State Representative Phil Miller who is serving his first term representing the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. He is Vice Chair of the legislature’s Environment Committee.

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) has named State Representative Phil Miller, who represents Chester, Deep River, Essex, Haddam in the Connecticut General Assembly, a ‘Legislative Champion’ for fighting proactively to promote the state’s open space plan and advancing the GMO (genetically modified organisms) labeling bill.

“I’m humbled to be so recognized. I am grateful to the people of Haddam, Chester, Deep River and Essex for encouraging me to vote well on conservation issues which help ensure air and water quality in Connecticut. I also want to thank the Speaker of the House, Chris Donovan, for appointing me Vice Chair of the Environment Committee in my first term,” said Rep. Miller, who has received a perfect environmental score two years in a row.

“Phil spent every day ensuring that all significant legislation we supported stayed on the agenda of committees and his chamber. Environment was his top priority this session, and his enthusiasm and support for even the most difficult issues—from GMO labeling to reducing chemical exposure to children to water conservation incentives—really helped make this year a good year for the environment at the Capitol. We applaud his work” said CTLCV Executive Director Lori Brown.

CTLCV annually grades lawmakers on their environmental voting record. Rep. Flexer received a perfect score of 100% in The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters’ 2012 Environmental Scorecard. This year the scorecard grades legislators’ votes on 15 bills that came up during the 2012 legislative session.

Formed in 1998, the bipartisan CTLCV works on laws that affect Connecticut’s air, water, wildlife, open space, transportation, energy choices, and health.

33rd Senate District Candidates Submit Campaign Finance Reports

AREAWIDE— Democratic state senate challenger Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam has out-raised party endorsed candidate Jim Crawford of Westbrook in the Aug. 14 primary contest to succeed retiring Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily in the 33rd Senate District, but Republican nominee Art Linares of Westbrook has raised more campaign dollars than the two Democrats, according to finance reports filed this week with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Klinck, a longtime party activist who served as state commissioner on aging in the 1980s, had raised $11,098 as of June 30. With expenditures of $1,199, Klinck had a balance on hand of $9,898 at the end of the reporting period. Crawford, a retired teacher who has represented the 35th House District since 2010, raised $5,590. With expenditures of $3,012, Crawford had a balance on hand of $2,577 as of June 30.

Linares, a 23-year-old political newcomer who became the GOP nominee after convention-endorsed candidate Neil Nichols of Essex withdrew from the race, has raised a total of $14,957, including a beginning balance of $6,004 and $7,732 raised during the month of June. With expenditures of $5,355, Linares had a balance of $8,380 on hand at the end of June. Melissa Schlag of Haddam, running on the Green Party line, had raised $4,635 as of June 30. With expenditures of $272, Schlag reported a balance on hand of $4,362 at the end of June.

All of the candidates, including Schlag, reported many $100 contributions. Among the $100 contributors to Klinck are former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, a part-time East Haddam resident, Nikki O’Neill of East Hampton, widow of former Governor William O’Neill, former East Haddam first selectmen Brad Parker and John Blaschik, former state consumer protection commissioner Mary Heslin of Hartford,  Kenneth and Michele Barber of East Hampton who each donated $100, and Andrew Tierney of East Hampton, who serves as town manager of Hebron.

The $100 contributors to Crawford include retiring Senator Daily and her husband, Jim, of Westbrook, who each donated $100, Democratic State Central Committee member Lon Seidman of Ivoryton, State AFL-CIO director John Olsen and his wife, Janeen, of Clinton, who each donated $100, Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman and companion Jacqueline Hubbard of Essex, who each donated $100, and Raymond and Karen Rigat of Clinton, who each gave $100. Rigat, a former Clinton judge of probate, was the unsuccessful challenger for the Democratic nomination for regional judge of probate in 2010.

The $100 contributors to Linares include  former congressman and 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Robert Simmons of Stonington, Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, East Lyme First Selectman and 2nd District congressional candidate Paul Formica, State Senator Scott Frantz of Greenwich, and former state representative Andrew Norton of Colchester. Nichols contributed $50, while his wife, Allison, donated $100. There was a $50 contribution from former congressman Christopher Shays of Bridgeport, the challenger for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in the Aug. 14 primary.

Among the $100 contributors to Schlag were her campaign treasurer Diane Stock, who has run unsuccessfully for first selectman of Haddam as a Democrat and petition candidate, Edward and Anne Schwing of Haddam, who each contributed $100, and Stephen and Patricia Goldblatt of Haddam, who each contributed $100.

The 33rd Senate District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Klinck Receives Realtor Endorsement

Mary Ellen Klinck, State Senate candidate for the 33rd District, received the endorsement of the Connecticut Association of Realtors and the support of its PAC.  Joseph Christ, chair of the Realtors’ PAC, stated, “We support candidates from all occupations, not just real estate professionals, who possess attributes favorable to free enterprise, private property rights, and housing opportunities and choices.  We seek allies to promote and protect the American Dream.”

Klinck, a realtor for many years, is President of Century 21 Real Estate in East Haddam, where her daughter Kathleen is Vice-President and broker for the office.

Presently on the State Commission on Aging, Klinck has been an East Haddam Selectman, Chairman of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, and for 8 years the State Commissioner on Aging.

“We need honest leadership, open government, job creation, and affordable housing,” said Klinck.  “In addition to the real estate office, I have owned an insurance agency and a good-sized restaurant.  I know the problems and benefits that go with running a successful business.  Other priorities include education, elderly issues, and the environment.

I am pleased with the realtors’ endorsement,” she added, “and will work tirelessly to win the Democratic primary on August 14th and to win the election in November.”

Sen. Eileen Daily Endorses Jim Crawford for State Senate

WESTBROOK — Incumbent State Senator Eileen Daily (D-Westbrook) announced her endorsement today of Democratic State Representative Jim Crawford to be the next State Senator from the 33rd District, the position from which she is retiring at the end of the year.

Jim Crawford is the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for the seat, having won the Democratic Convention in May. A primary will be held August 14th.
“I am pleased to support Jim Crawford,” said Senator Daily, “He is qualified, experienced, and ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead.  He taught both of my children when they were in school, and in a long and varied career, he has demonstrated good judgment and solid character time and again.”
Crawford spent nearly four decades as a teacher in the Westbrook Public Schools. He served as an officer in the US Army, and in recent years was elected twice as a Selectman for the Town of Westbrook. He currently serves as the State Representative for the towns of Clinton, Killingworth, and Westbrook. He and his wife Elaine also owned a small business, the Maples Motel in Westbrook, for over twenty years.
“Jim brings a great deal of experience to the table, but perhaps his most valuable insight is his perspective as a small business owner. I know that as a State Senator, he will work tirelessly to get our economy back on track and create the good paying jobs we need,” Daily added.
Jim Crawford said, “I thank Senator Daily very much for her support, and for her twenty years of service to our community. I am flattered by her endorsement, and am sure she will have an active retirement. I look forward to working with her on matters of local concern far into the future.”
The 33rd Senatorial District is comprised of twelve towns which stretch from the shore of Long Island Sound up the Connecticut River toward the center of the state. They include: Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Congressman Courtney Applauds the Supreme Court Affordable Care Act Decision

Congressman Joe Courtney calls the Supreme Court’s decision “a Landmark moment in the fight for stable, secure health coverage for all Americans,”

Terming the court’s decision, “a Landmark moment in the fight for stable, secure health coverage for all Americans,” Congressman Joe Courtney, whose district covers most of eastern Connecticut, lauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 28 decision that upheld the Affordable Care Act.

The Congressman further noted that the Affordable Care Act “is not the final word on health care. This Congress and future Congresses can make commonsense amendments in response to real-life problems,” he said.

As one example of amending the Act, the Congressman cited the new law now in place that permits young people to remain on their parents health care policies until they reach the age of 26. The Congressman said, “In eastern Connecticut last year, 4,600 young people were able to remain on their parents’ health policy until the age of 26 while they transitioned into the workforce, ” he said.

Praising Other Provisions of New Health Care Law

Courtney also noted that, “7,700 seniors in our district have received more than $5 million in prescription drug discounts in 2011,” adding, “That number will grow as the Affordable Care Act closes the Medicare Part D donut hole entirely.”

Also, already under the Act, the Congressman said that in his eastern Connecticut district, “88,000 seniors have taken advantage of preventive care benefits, including cancer and cardiovascular screening without co-pay, coinsurance, or deductible.” In addition, thanks to the Act, “At least 39,000 children [in the district] now have health insurance that covers preventive services without paying co-pays, coinsurance or deductibles.”

In addition, since 2011 under the new health care law, “470 small businesses in the district received tax credits to maintain or expand health care coverage for their employees,” he said.

More Benefits Coming in the Year 2014

“By 2014,” Courtney said, “ALL of eastern Connecticut’s residents with pre-existing conditions will be protected, and health insurers will not be able to deny them coverage.” “Also, by 2014 the district’s 570,000 residents with private insurance coverage will no longer face annual limits on coverage,” he said.

Summing up Courtney said, “Congress debated, the Supreme Court decided, and now the implementation of the Affordable Care Act can move forward.”

Ed Munster Endorses Art Linares for State Senate

Art Linares running for the 33rd district State Senate

The last Republican Senator to serve the people of the 33rd district, Ed Munster has announced his support for Art Linares of Westbrook CT for the position he once held. Calling Linares the future of the Republican Party, Munster called upon his former constituents to join the campaign and donate to Linares who is in the process of raising money for his campaign in November.

Munster, a former Congressional candidate, who came very close to winning the election in 1994, made his opinion known in a letter to the Linares campaign earlier this week. He called upon all Republicans to rally behind Linares who is seeking the Senate office for the first time.  Linares is a confident, intelligent and dynamic candidate who can think outside the box and bring a different way of thinking to Hartford. He is a strong and hardworking candidate who has the best chance of winning the Senate seat for the first time in a long time, according to Munster.  Linares in a phone conversation thanked Munster for his support and asked Munster for continued  advice going into November.

Linares is the founder of Green Skies energy in Middletown and is a former aide to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, working in his Washington DC office until this past December.

For more information Contact: Ben Mitchell Presssecretary@artlinares.com

Mary Ellen Klinck Files for Democratic Primary in 33rd Senate District

AREAWIDE-— Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam confirmed Friday that she will pursue a primary challenge to James Crawford of Westbrook, the Democratic convention endorsed candidate for the open seat in the 12-town 33rd Senate District.

Klinck, a former state commissioner on aging and a Democratic State Central Committee member, said she has established a candidate committee and filed for the Aug. 14 primary. It would be the first Democratic primary for the senate nomination in decades, though district Republicans had primaries in 1982 and 1990.

Crawford, a former social studies teacher at Westbrook Middle School who has represented the 35th House District for the past two years, won the Democratic endorsement over Klinck with a 31-27 delegate vote on the third ballot at the May 21 nominating convention. A third candidate, former state Rep. Dean Markham of East Hampton, also qualified for the primary but has decided not to remain in the race. The candidates are competing to succeed ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook, who announced on May 15 that she would not seek another term this year.

Klinck, who confirmed she is “a little older” than the 69-year-old Daily, said the incumbent senator’s late withdrawal had led to a “rushed” nominating process in the days before the convention. “We had very little notice, only a few days, and we never had a chance to meet with the Democratic town committees in the district,” Klinck said.

At the convention, Klinck received most of her delegate support from towns in the northern section of the district, particularly Colchester and East Haddam, while Crawford was supported by delegates from the southern towns, such as Clinton, Westbrook, and Essex. The district includes the towns of Clinton, Chester, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

Klinck said she does not believe a primary would divide district Democrats, but instead “would give us both exposure,” and a chance to become better known to voters in all sections of the district. Klinck said she stands ready to debate Crawford before the Aug. 14 vote, but intends to “run a clean campaign,” that begins with a pledge to actively support the winner of the nomination contest.

A primary for the Republican nomination in the district was averted last week when Neil Nichols of Essex, who won the endorsement at the May 14 GOP nominating convention, withdraw and endorsed his convention rival, Art Linares of Westbrook. Nichols, who had unsuccessfully challenged Daily in 2010, edged the 23 year-old Linares on a 24-22 delegate vote at the convention.

Crawford said Friday he accepts Klinck’s decision to wage a primary. “Mary Ellen Klinck has been an important part of the Democratic Party in our state for a long time and if she feels a primary is necessary I’m prepared to go that route,” he said.
 Crawford added that he does not believe the contest would be divisive for district Democrats, and could help each candidate become better known to district voters. Crawford said he is prepared to meet Klinck in a public debate if a group steps forward to organize one.

Neil Nichols Withdraws from 33rd Senate District Race, Endorses Art Linares

Neil Nichols Steps Aside and Shows Support for Art Linares (Photo courtesy of Kris Seifert)

AREAWIDE—Neil Nichols, the Republican convention endorsed candidate for the open 33rd Senate District seat, Friday withdrew from the race and endorsed Art Linares, his rival at the May 14 GOP nominating session.

Nichols and Linares appeared before a crowd of about 40 supporters at Essex Town Hall. The group included Edward Munster of Haddam, the last Republican to hold the 12-town 33rd District seat from 1991-1993, before Munster began a series of three unsuccessful runs for Congress in the second district. Munster was replaced in 1992 by Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook, who announced on May 15 that she would not seek a new term this year.
Nichols, of Essex, had edged Linares on a close 24-22 vote at the May 14 convention, with Linares declaring that evening that he would contest the nomination in an Aug. 14 primary.
Nichols, the unsuccessful Republican challenger to Daily in 2010, said he began to reconsider the race over the past week before deciding to step aside in favor of the 23 year-old Linares of Westbrook. Nichols said he has had a “long-standing goal of recruiting and electing qualified Republicans,” and decided it would be “in the best interest of the party and the party’s future,” to give Linares a shot at the open senate seat without a primary contest. Nichols said he would actively support Linares in the fall campaign.
Linares, a grandson of Cuban immigrants, praised Nichols and pledged to wage an active campaign.”We will ring every phone and knock on every door,” he said.
Linares, who served as an intern for Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, is the co-founder of Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC, a Middletown-based solar energy company. Linares had formed a candidate committee for the senate race in April.
Democrats have endorsed State Representative Jim Crawford of Westbrook for the senate nomination. Crawford, who has represented Clinton, Killingworth, and Westbrook in the 35th House District seat since 2010, won the endorsement at the May 21 convention over two challengers, former State Rep. Dean Markham of East Hampton and Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam. Both Klinck and Markham received enough delegate support to contest the nomination in a primary. Each has until June 4 to file for a challenge.
Crawford spent more than 30 teachers as a teacher at Westbrook High School before retiring last year. One of his seventh grade students at the start of the last decade was Art Linares, setting up a Nov . 6 contest between a former teacher and a former pupil. Melissa Schlag, a Haddam resident who opposed the now cancelled Connecticut River land swap that was supported by Daily last year, is on the ballot as the Green Party nominee.

Democrats Nominate State Rep. Phil Miller for Second Term in 36th House District

AREAWIDE— Democrats Tuesday renominated State Representative Phil Miller of Essex for a second term in the 36th House District. The 15 delegates from the district towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam, along with other supporters, jammed the small Whistlestop restaurant on Route 154 in Deep River for the nominating session.

As the group enjoyed apple pie provided by the restaurant for the occasion, Miller said the Whistlestop is the kind of “homemade and homegrown business” he hopes to support as a legislator. Miller was nominated by Deputy Secretary of the State James Spallone, who held the 36th House seat from 2000 until he resigned in January 2011 to assume the state job. Spallone said Miller “hit the ground running and he’s just beginning.”

Miller, the former director of the Bushy Hill Nature Center in the Ivoryton section of Essex, served as first selectman of Essex from 2003 to 2011. Miller won the House seat in a February 2011 special election, defeating Republican Janet Peckinpaugh, the former television news anchorwoman, by about 220 votes.

Miller praised the administration of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy, noting the current state budget has nearly eliminated a $3.5 billion deficit while preserving state aid to cities and towns. “I think we are really poised for sustained recovery and growth,” he said.

Republicans have nominated former Essex Selectman Vince Pacileo to challenge Miller’s bid for a second and full term. Pacileo served as the minority selectman on the Essex Board of Selectmen while Miller held the top job.

Miller acknowledged he “has an opponent who I know very well,” adding “I think it’s going to be a very clear choice for the voters in our district,” in the Nov. 6 election.

State Rep. Jim Crawford Wins Endorsement at Democrats Nominating Convention

AREAWIDE— State Rep. Jim Crawford of Westbrook won the Democratic Party endorsement for the 33rd Senate District at the district nominating convention held Monday at Essex Town Hall.

Crawford won the endorsement on a third ballot of the 58 delegates from the 12-town district, out-polling Mary Ellen Klinck of East Haddam and former state Rep. Dean Markham of East Hampton. The final vote was 31 for Crawford to 27 for Klinck, with Markham eliminated from the roll call after the third ballot.

A long-time social studies teacher at Westbrook High School, Crawford was elected in 2010 in the 35th House District covering Clinton, Killingworth, and most of Westbrook. He had served previously on the Westbrook Board of Selectmen.

Crawford is hoping to succeed ten-term State Senator Eileen Daily, who attended the convention Monday and received a warm standing ovation from the delegates. Until last week, Crawford had been set to accept renomination this week for a second term in the 35th House District. But Daily’s May 15 announcement that she would not seek a new term this year led him shift to a run for the senate seat.

Crawford, Klinck, and Markham confirmed their plans to run over the weekend, and met informally with many delegates in an informal gathering Sunday at Deep River Town Hall. The 33rd District includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Crawford was nominated by former state Rep. Brian O’Connor of Clinton, who held the 35th House District seat from 20000 to 2010. O’Connor said Crawford has “proven himself an effective and pragmatic legislator after only one term.” In his own remarks to the convention, Crawford said he has the best experience for the position, adding “I am currently able to tell you where the battle lines are.”

Klinck, a realtor, former restauranteur and party activist who served as the first commissioner of the state Department on Aging during the 1980s, was described in a seconding speech from former East Haddam First Selectman Brad Parker as “the ultimate Democrat for our region.” Klinck told the crowd she had wanted to run for the seat in 1992, but deferred to Daily.

Markham, a realtor and certified public accountant who represented the East Hampton-based 34th House District from 1979-1993, was nominated by East Hampton Councilwoman Barbara Moore. Markham told the delegates he “has a great insight in to the process and will be able to hit the ground running,” with a focus on boosting the area economy.

The vote on the first ballot was 24 for Crawford, 19 for Klinck, and 15 for Markham. Crawford had all or most of the delegates from Clinton, Essex, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook, while Klinck’s support was centered around East Haddam and Colchester. The vote on the second ballot was 29 for Crawford, one vote short of the 30 delegates required for a majority endorsement, with 17 for Klinck and 12 for Markham. Most of Markham’s support, which was centered around East Hampton, shifted to Klinck on the third ballot.

Crawford said after the vote he believes district Democrats would “stay united” moving toward the Nov. 6 election, though Klinck and Markham each said they would consider contesting Crawford for the nomination in an Aug 14 primary. District Republicans are expected to have a primary for the senate nomination after Neil Nichols of Essex edged Art Linares of Westbrook for the endorsement at the May 14 GOP nominating session. Klinck and Markham have until June 4 to formally file for a primary with Crawford, who as the convention-endorsed candidate would have the top line on the ballot.

 

Rep. Phil Miller Named ‘Children’s Champion’

State Representative Phil Miller, who represents Chester, Deep River, Essex, Haddam in the Connecticut General Assembly, was recognized as a “Children’s Champion” during a ceremony held at the State Capitol.

Rep. Miller received the recognition for showing a strong commitment to early childhood issues in his district and at the legislature.

“Investments in early childhood education are an investment in our children’s futures,” said Rep. Miller. “I’ve been well influenced by the many great early childhood educators in my district, who have helped me to try to do right for our children. I’m honored to receive this recognition and want to thank everyone at the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance for this award and for all the great work they do.”

“Rep. Phil Miller was chosen as a 2012 Children’s Champion for demonstrating a strong level of commitment to early childhood through leadership on policy issues during the 2012 legislative session, and active involvement on local early childhood initiatives,” said Maggie Adair, Executive Director of the CT Early Childhood Alliance.

The Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance is a statewide membership and advocacy organization committed to improving developmental outcomes in the areas of learning, health, safety and economic security for children ages birth to eight.

Phil Miller is serving his first term representing the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. He is Vice Chair of the legislature’s Environment Committee.

Romney Carries Three Towns in Extremely Low Turnout Presidential Primary

AREAWIDE— Former Mass. Governor Mitt Romney carried Chester, Deep River, and Essex in a Republican Presidential Primary that generated extremely low voter turnout after the GOP nominating contest was settled two weeks ago.

What began as a competitive nomination contest wound down earlier this month after Romney won the Wisconsin primary and former Pa. Senator Rick Santorum suspended his campaign on April 10. The date of the Connecticut primary had been changed from a February date in 2008 as the state teamed with Delaware, New York, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania in an effort to establish a northeast regional primary. Romney, who won statewide Tuesday with about 67 percent of the vote.

In Chester, Romney had 45 votes, with seven votes for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, four votes for Texas Congressman Ron Paul, six votes for Santorum, and three uncommitted votes. A total of 65 Chester Republicans turned out during the 14 hours of balloting.

A total of 91 Republicans turned out in Deep River. Romney had 55 votes, with 13 votes for Newt Gingrich, 14 votes for Ron Paul, seven votes for Rick Santorum, and two uncommitted votes.

The turnout was slightly higher in Essex, where Republican registration is higher than in Chester or Deep River. There were 315 ballots cast Tuesday. Romney had 244 votes, with 22 votes for Gingrich, 28 votes for Paul, 14 votes for Santorum, and seven uncommitted votes.

Estuary and Midstate Regional Planning Agencies to Merge Under Proposed Regional Council of Government

AREAWIDE— The Connecticut River Estuary and Midstate regional planning agencies are expected to merge by this summer under a proposed new Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments that would replace an existing and more informal Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Elected Officials.

The Essex Board of Selectmen last week received a report on the proposed changes. The board has scheduled an April 4 public hearing on an ordinance authorizing Essex to join the proposed new council of governments, a step that would precede a town meeting vote on the issue.

East Haddam First Selectman Mark Walter appeared at the board’s March 7 meeting to explain the plan. and the reasons for the proposed changes. Walter is the current chairman of the existing council of elected officials, a group that allows the chief elected officials of the Middlesex County towns, along with Lyme and Old Lyme, to meet monthly to discuss regional and state issues that effect each of the municipalities.

Walter said state officials, including leaders in the General Assembly, are pushing to reduce the number of state supported regional planning agencies. He said the elected first selectmen of the Connecticut River Valley had proposed merging the Old Saybrook-based Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency and the Middletown-based Midstate Regional Planning Agency to avoid the possibility that area towns could be shifted under a state mandate to much larger regional organizations based in Hartford, New Haven, and Norwich. “This is a positive step and also a defensive step,” Walter said.

The 17 towns currently served by the Estuary and Midstate regional planning agencies would have the option to join the proposed Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments. Under the plan, the council governments, made up of each town’s chief elected official, would serve as the board of directors for a merged regional planning agency serving the river valley region. Walter said the state has about $250,000 set aside to assist the merger plan.

The proposed member towns of the new council of governments would be the Estuary towns of Chester,Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook, and the Midstate towns of Cromwell, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam, Middlefield, Middletown, and Portland. Approval from at least nine towns would be required to establish the COG.

Deep River voters approved resolutions supporting the RPA merger and the new council of governments at a Feb. 28 town meeting. Walter said the plan has also been approved by Cromwell, East Haddam, Haddam, Killingworth, and Portland. The Chester Board of Selectmen has discussed the plan, and is expected to bring resolutions supporting the changes to a town meeting vote later this spring. The April 4 public hearing in Essex is set for 6:30 p.m. at town hall.

Area Legislative Districts Remain Intact After 10-Year Redistricting

AREAWIDE— The state House and Senate districts that cover Chester, Deep River, and Essex have remained largely unchanged by the 10-year legislative redistricting. Redistricting of the state 151 House districts and 36 Senate districts is required every ten years after completion of the national census.

In maps released Thursday by the General Assembly redistricting panel, the 36th House District will remain comprised of the towns of Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam. The four Connecticut River valley towns have been together in a single House district since 2002, though from 1992 to 2002 Chester, Deep River, and Essex were in district that also included Lyme and portions of Old Saybrook. The district is currently represented by Democratic State Rep. Phil Miller, the former Essex first selectman who won the seat in a special election held last February.

Chester, Deep River and Essex will also remain in a largely unchanged 33rd Senate district. The 33rd Senate District will remain comprised of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook. The district, with some changes after the 2001 redistricting, has been represented since 1992 by Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook.

Departing Essex First Selectman Philip Miller Looks Back at his Record of Service to the Town

Former First Selectman Philip Miller at the new boat ramp at the end of Main Street in Essex

Question:What were your first priorities as First Selectman of Essex?

Miller: Several things; first, my philosophy was to promote Essex’s  commercial and light industrial base, and to keep residential taxation manageable, not by offering tax breaks or other gimmicks, but by keeping our tax rate low and investing in infrastructure. This would enable us to move goods and people safely and efficiently, and to avoid costlier deferred maintenance later in our facilities.

 

Question: Did you inherit a lot of deferred maintenance in the town, when you first took office?

Miller: Yes, we did have a lot of deferred maintenance, because in the nineties our population grew rapidly, and we added so many more children in our schools that in order to keep taxes from rising dramatically, maintenance had been sacrificed here and there.

 

Question: How did you address this problem?

Miller: We have a small municipal workforce, so I recruited talented, citizen volunteers to help research grants and to write them, and when grants were approved, these volunteers helped us to prepare bid packages, choose subcontractors, and review plans with our professionals. Also, we have used our Public Works Director, David Caroline, as our General Contractor, and we subcontracted out labor and materials.

 

Question: Did you encounter any problems with the approach?

Miller: With a few of a dozen projects we faced some delays, as with our first Small Cities grant at Essex Court, and with an Essex Elementary School project. Also, on a few occasions, when our applications were stalled, we received some helpful advocacy from our legislators like Senator Eileen Daily.

 

Question: What are some specific grants that you were successful in getting?

Miller: Well, the $190,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) funded three projects; (1) reconstructed the boat launch at the end of Main Street last winter; (2) the recently completed Novelty Lane public access project, which received some financial help from a neighbor to resolve a drainage issue; and (3) construction of a new paddle launch also at the foot of Main Street. Yet another grant also allowed for the construction of a new paddle park at the foot of Teal Lane off of Bushnell, where the Harbor Commission and our Public Works people built an observation deck, kayak racks and added landscape improvements to accommodate our ever increasing paddling public, who enjoy North and South Coves.

 

Question: What do people think about these projects?

Miller: All of these projects to improve public access to the river have been well received, and we also have benefited by having terrific neighbors who keep an eye on these areas, which is helpful to our Commissions in charge.

 

Question: Were there any other similar grants before these?

Miller: Yes, this was the fourth STEAP grant that Essex solicited and received, and there were three earlier grants of $486,000, $491,000, and $90,000. These earlier grants funded new street lights, new curbs and sidewalks, and rebuilt drainage systems in both downtown Essex and in downtown Ivoryton. A $90,000 STEAP grant also enabled us to build a sidewalk connector from Main Street in Ivoryton to Pond Meadow.

 

Question: Any other grants that you wish to mention?

Miller: Yes, we received a $450,000 Federal Safe Routes to School grant, which will be used next spring to rebuild the existing sidewalk which runs from downtown Ivoryton through Centerbrook. Also, we received a $135,000 state transportation planning grant, and a federal Weatherization grant of $44,000, which has been used to replace thermostats and windows at Town Hall.

 

Question: Any others?

Miller: In addition to these, our Emergency Management Director, Bill Buckridge, has researched and written other successful grants, which has funded our   generator at Town Hall, and enabled us to modernize and advance our communications capabilities. Buckridge teams with his Assistant Stewart Schenk, and the officers of the Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services.

 

Question: Who deserves the credit for the town’s successful grant program?

Miller: The people who have been instrumental in our success have been our Public Works people; our Treasurer Bob Dixon; our Selectmans’ Assistant and Grants Administrator Maria Lucarelli; Deputy Treasurer Kelly Sterner; our Planner John Guszkowski; our Town Clerk Fran Nolin; our Economic Development Commissioners Lee Thompson and John Beveridge; our Harbor Commissioners Jeff Going and Joe Zaraschi; and our Harbormaster Paul Riggio. We have also had some very good partners at some State agencies, like the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Department of Economic and Community Development, and the Department of Transportation.

 

Question: Anyone else you want to thank?

Miller: Yes, I want to say that our Park and Recreation Commission continue to make substantive improvements to our parks. They seem to get a lot done on a modest budget, and they are currently raising funds for the Basketball Center and supporting an effort to upgrade Grove Street Park, which is a necessity as it gets a lot of use. Also, it is such a nice place for a park. Also, I want to thank Frank Hall, Keith Christman and the Essex Citizens for Clean Energy, who helped us, get a Town Hall grant and photo-voltaic arrays for both the Town transfer station and John Winthrop Middle School.

 

Question: What’s ahead for the Town’s future, now that you are stepping down as First Selectman of Essex?

Miller: I believe that the Town must continue to upgrade emergency response capabilities, and we shall need to execute more capital projects in the next few years. I know that the new Board of Selectmen of Norman Needleman, Stasia Rice-Libby and Joel Marzi will do an excellent job of recruitment, preparation, evaluation and execution of these Town improvements. Coupled with some new potential open space acquisitions, this will strengthen the Town for many years to come.

 

Question: I have heard that in your service as First Selectman, you brought $5 million in federal and state grants to the Town of Essex. Is this true?

Miller: Yes, it is.

 

(Phil Miller served as First Selectman of Essex from 2003 to 2011).

Letters: Moving On

To The Editor:

Another Essex election has come and gone with an outcome that would have and should have been very different.  It is now up to our residents to attend meetings, ask questions and hold these elected officials, who work for us, accountable.

With that stated, let us say that we are both very proud of Bruce MacMillian for running a squeeky clean campaign.  He has more integrity in one finger than most people have in their entire body.

Thanks Bruce and thank you Jerri, his wife and most ardent supporter.

A clear conscience makes a soft bed pillow.

We were happy to support you and Joel Marzi.

Sincerely,

Melanie and Paul Phoenix

Essex, CT

A one-two punch from winter weather – Message from Congressman Joe Courtney

Connecticut was hit hard by its second massive storm last weekend – a one-two punch from Tropical Storm Irene, then Winter Storm Alfred. With thousands of families still waiting for power to be restored, including my own, I wanted to update you on what I have been doing over the past few days.

Congressman Courtney joined other members of the Connecticut Congressional delegation and Gov. Malloy yesterday in Hartford to discuss federal aid that will help with storm cleanup.

 

After the storm hit and the lights went out, my office immediately arranged for a conference call with CL&P and town leaders from across eastern Connecticut. We learned in Irene that communication is key in this process, and connecting CL&P directly with town leaders is the fastest way to get resources where they are needed to deploy town work crews for “clear and cutting.” Despite that initial effort, the allocation of utility line crews has been excruciatingly slow and uneven. One thing that has been flawless though is the effort of countless volunteers and first responders across the district who have come together to keep us safe and warm.

Since the storm hit, I have visited Emergency Operations Centers in Vernon, Stafford, Suffield, Somers, Enfield, and Tolland, as well as emergency shelters. The professionalism and care on display in these town has been inspiring. The good nature of residents at shelters at Vernon Middle School, Suffield High and others was really impressive.

Federal resources to get the lights back on

At the end of the day though, Connecticut needs more crews and we need to get the lights back on. The Connecticut Congressional Delegation has worked with the Department of Energy to get CL&P the resources they need to accelerate the recovery process, turn the lights back on and reheat homes. As a result, the Department sent Bill Bryan, their Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Security and Energy Restoration to Connecticut to help ensure that the federal government is doing everything possible to respond. Still, the onus is on CL&P to take advantage of the assistance they have secured so they can meet their projected Sunday restoration times.

As I write this, my own town of Vernon is still over 90 percent without power, and most of us know people who are struggling. The most immediate priority is getting the power back on, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Connecticut Congressional Delegation and federal officials to help coordinate additional resources, like work crews, to help speed up the process of restoring power.

With nighttime temperatures hovering around freezing, getting to shelters is critical. If your friends or family are still without power, 2-1-1 has a list of shelters and warming centers across eastern Connecticut. Help get the word out and share this valuable information.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office and me if we can be of any assistance.

Sincerely,

Joe Courtney
Member of Congress

Churchill: A Celebration of His Life and Accomplishments

Sir Winston Churchill

The Churchill Society of Connecticut, in association with the Essex Library, will present a talk on Churchill; A Celebration of His Life And His Accomplishments by G.R. Barber, President of the International Churchill Society of Canada, on Wednesday, November 16. The talk will be held at Essex Meadows’ Hamilton Hall at 7 p.m., and a wine and cheese reception will precede it at 6:30, courtesy of Essex Meadows. The talk is free and open to all.

Essex Meadows is at 30 Bokum Road in Essex. For more information or to register for this program, please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560.

Rep. Miller Votes Yes on Jobs

State Representative Phil Miller is serving his first term representing the 36th Assembly District of Essex, Chester, Deep River and Haddam. He sits on the legislature’s Environment, Human Services, and Public Health Committees.

State Representative Phil Miller (D-Chester, Deep River, Essex, and Haddam) voted for bipartisan legislation today that improves Connecticut’s ability to grow and retain jobs.

“Small businesses drive job growth in Connecticut and today’s legislation gives them the state support they need to truly thrive. Investing more money into Connecticut businesses will put more state residents back to work in stable, good-paying jobs,” said Miller.

Miller said one of the key components of today’s Jobs Bill (HB 6801) is the Small Business Express Package making $50 million a year available to small businesses through incentives, grants and loans.

“We shortened the time it takes businesses to get permits and eliminated the bureaucratic red tape which had gotten in the way of business growth in the state,” said Miller. “I’m proud that we have made it easier for businesses without jeopardizing worker safety or weakening our environmental laws.”

The Jobs Bill also contains short and long-term strategies to help ensure Connecticut’s workforce matches business demand by aligning programs at the state’s vocational high schools, community colleges and universities with the needs of employers, including manufacturing and technology companies.

Some of the key provisions of the Jobs Bill include:

  • Cutting the business entity tax
  • Streamlining the business permitting process
  • Consolidating and increasing the tax credit for new hires
  • A second “First Five” program
  • Remediating old industrial sites/brownfields
  • Computer upgrades to foster seamless communication between business and the state
  • Investments in roads and bridges
  • Replenishing the Manufacturing Assistance Act (MAA)
  • Main Street commercial centers improvement initiative

In addition, the legislature today approved the deal with Jackson Labs to build a $1.1 billion, state-of-the-art research facility at the UConn Health Center campus in Farmington. The State of Connecticut will invest $291 million and Jackson Labs will raise the balance of $860 million for the project.

According to the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), the project is expected to create over 660 new positions at Jackson Labs in Farmington within 20 years. DECD estimates more than 4,600 bioscience jobs would be generated through spin-off companies, and another 2,000 would be added to local service and area retail stores. The project would yield more than 840 construction jobs as well. Most importantly, it represents a critical step in establishing Connecticut as a global hub for genomic research, attracting companies and world-class minds dedicated to the pursuit of diagnostic and therapeutic medical breakthroughs.

Courtney Approves Iraq Withdrawal Plans by President

A message from Congressman Joe Courtney.

Rep. Courtney and Connecticut's Captain Frank R. DuVerger III in Afghanistan this month

Last week, President Obama announced that all U.S. military personnel will be out of Iraq by the end of the year. Many of our servicemen and women who have been away from their families for too many birthdays, milestones and celebrations during the war will be home this holiday season.

President Obama’s decision to protect U.S. military personnel from unacceptable exposure to prosecution in Iraqi courts and instead execute the final removal of American troops from Iraq is the right decision for both countries. This milestone was achieved through negotiations between our two countries that provided a clear path for the transition of responsibility to the Iraqi government. After eight long years, our brave volunteers have given that country the opportunity to create its own future with a sizable security force and the rudiments of democratic institutions.

With the Fifth Fleet nearby in Bahrain and U.S. bases in Kuwait and Qatar, our ability to respond to any threat to American national security in the region is more than adequate. As the President said, our two nations will continue to have a special relationship for many years to come, built on the sacrifice and effort of our troops. Now is the time to pay particular homage to all who served in Iraq and their families – the “one percent” who have stepped up and volunteered to wear our nation’s uniform through a difficult time in our history.

On the ground in Afghanistan

 Of course, even as American troops leave Iraq, our servicemen and women remain on the ground in Afghanistan. Earlier this month, as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I visited the country, where I was briefed on operations, met with Connecticut troops and top commanders, and learned more about the training of Afghan police and military personnel. Most importantly, General John Allen, commander of U.S./NATO troops, gave an encouraging brief on the planned draw down of U.S. troops: 10,000 this year and 23,000 by the fall of 2012. 48% of the Afghan nation will be under the control of the Afghanis in the near future, and the transition will continue until full control of Afghanistan’s future is in the hands of the Afghan people.

This was my third trip to Afghanistan since coming to Congress, and the progress was plain to see. More girls and young women are traveling to and from school, the education system has improved, and security forces are better trained and better equipped to keep the peace. While there are substantial hurdles left to clear, these are encouraging milestones that demonstrate movement in the right direction.

But to have gotten to this point – a place where real progress is clear – is a testament to the strength, bravery and resolve our military. As the war in Iraq winds down, their hard work has brought us to a place where, after 10 long years, Afghans are on the brink of reclaiming their country and their future.

Courtney Statement on Drawdown of U.S. Forces in Iraq

October 22, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Joe Courtney today release the following statement after President Obama announced that all U.S. military forces will be withdrawn from Iraq by year’s end:

“President Obama’s decision to protect U.S. military personnel from unacceptable exposure to prosecution in Iraqi courts and instead execute the final removal of American troops from Iraq is the right decision for both countries. This milestone was achieved through negotiations between our two countries that provided a clear path for the transition of responsibility to the Iraqi government. After eight long years, our brave volunteers have given that country the opportunity to create its own future with a sizable security force and the rudiments of democratic institutions.

“With the Fifth Fleet nearby in Bahrain and U.S. bases in Kuwait and Qatar, our ability to respond to any threat to American national security in the region is more than adequate. As the President said, our two nations will continue to have a special relationship for many years to come, built on the sacrifice and effort of our troops. Now is the time to pay particular homage to all who served in Iraq and their families – the “one percent” who have stepped up and volunteered to wear our nation’s uniform through a difficult time in our history.”

Congressman Courtney Questions Panetta on Strategic Value of Submarines

On October 13 at a  hearing of the House Armed Service Committee, Congressman Joe Courtney questioned Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on his views of  the strategic value of submarines in the light of the critical role of submarines in recent events in Libya.

Watch the exchange below:

Needleman: A Businessman and a Community Leader

Letter To the Editor:

Running a business and running a local government are two very different things, but as we face increasing challenges it’s important that Essex’s next First Selectman has experience in both.  That’s why I’m supporting Norm Needleman and his running mate Stacia-Rice Libby.

Norm built his company Tower Labs from scratch into a major manufacturer of pharmaceutical products that employs about 100 people right here in Essex.  He also has volunteered for our  community on a number of boards and commissions over the last two decades, currently serving as a Selectman since 2003.  Norm has contributed greatly to the success of a number of organizations in and around our community, including the Ivoryton Playhouse and the Rushford Center.

His work was not done alone.  Norm is a team builder and someone who is driven by his love of this community.  He will continue the bi-partisan spirit of cooperation that our town has fostered throughout its history.  Our town needs his leadership in the years to come, and that’s why Norm has earned my vote.

Sincerely,

Stanley Sheppard
7 Mikes Terrace
Ivoryton, CT 06442

 

Chester and Essex First Selectman Candidates Appear Before Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce

DEEP RIVER— The four rivals competing for the first selectman job in Chester and Essex appeared Friday before the Chester, Deep River and Essex Division of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.

The candidates, Democrat Edmund Meehan and Common Ground Party nominee Andrew Landsman for Chester, and Democrat Norman Needleman and Republican Bruce MacMillian for Essex, were each given five minutes for presentations at the meeting held at Mount St. John School in Deep River. There is no contest in the Nov. 8 election for the top spot in Deep River, where Democratic First Selectman Richard Smith is unopposed for a record 12th term.

Meehan, a 40-year Chester resident who has served previously on the planning and zoning commission and board of finance, said he was running for the open first selectman seat “to keep Chester as it is.” Meehan said his past experience in town government, and employment history as town planner for Newington, ensures “there won’t be any need for on the job training.”

Landsman, a five-year resident who currently works as facilities manager for the local Aaron Manor Skilled Nursing Facility, said he has a “passion for the town,” that led him to step forward to run as the nominee of the Chester Common Ground Party, a local political party that formed in 2009 that is running its first ticket for board of selectmen this year. Chester Republicans did not nominate a candidate for first selectman.

Needleman, who has served on the board of selectmen since 2003, said he was running to continue progress made in Essex under the administration of Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller, who was elected state representative for the 36th House District earlier this year and is not seeking a new term as first selectman. Needleman said he would be a “full-time first selectman,” despite his role as founder and president of Tower Laboratories, a local manufacturing company . “I have been able to remove myself from the day-to-day operation of the business,” he said.

MacMillian, who serves on the board of directors for Middlesex Hospital, said he would bring decades of business management experience to the job of first selectman “managing the town’s physical and human resources.” MacMillian said he would also be “the town’s chief salesperson,” while seeking to develop a “bipartisan approach” to town government.

Friday’s joint appearance for the candidates is expected to be one of only a handful planned before the Nov. 8 vote. Needleman and MacMillian will face off in a more formal campaign debate on Nov. 1 at the Essex library. No debate has yet been scheduled for the Chester contest, though a campaign debate has been held in most recent contested elections for the town’s top job.

 

 

Candidates to Square Off at Essex Town Hall Debate

Norman Needleman

Bruce MacMillian

The candidates for the office of Essex First Selectman, Mr. Bruce MacMillian and Mr. Norman Needleman, will square off at Essex Town Hall on Tuesday November 1 at 7:30 p.m., in a debate organized and sponsored by the Essex Library.  Also participating will be candidates for Second Selectman, Stacia Rice-Libby, and Joel Marzi. All are welcome to attend.

Do you have a question for the candidates? Questions can be submitted to the Essex Library, whose director, Richard Conroy, will screen them to ensure that they do not favor any particular point of view. All questions addressed in the debate will come from the public, and must be submitted in advance; none will be taken from the floor.

If you’d like to submit a question, you can do so in several ways. You can stop by the Essex Library in person, or call the  Library (860-767-1560). You can submit your questions on the Essex Library’s FaceBook page, or email them to staff@essexlib.org. You can also go to the Essex Library website, at www.essexlib.org, click on the “About Us” tab, click “Contact”, and submit a question in that way. All questions must include the sender’s name and contact information, please, for verification.

Courtney statement after Obama jobs speech

Congressman Joe Courtney

Congressman Joe Courtney released the following statement on Thursday after President Obama’s jobs speech to a joint session of Congress:

“Washington’s focus veered off course with the unnecessary, distracting debate over the debt ceiling. With today’s speech, we are rightly focusing where we should have all along: on creating jobs and protecting our economic recovery.

“President Obama presented some positive initiatives tonight. I am particularly pleased that he will change refinancing rules to help homeowners who are current in their payments qualify for a lower mortgage. As I have repeatedly stated, we got into this downturn because of a falling housing market, and, in the end, a recovery will not happen without addressing that root cause. This change, which does not require Congressional action, will provide real, immediate benefits.

“I am also pleased by the President’s targeted tax breaks aimed at helping our small businesses grow and add jobs, as well as his focus on infrastructure investment. This spending will provide a quick uptick in jobs and has long-term benefit as well. Maintaining ports and harbors, fixing highways, and growing rail systems are essential steps toward getting our economy back on track.

“However, there are other large, bold ideas still on the table. Last month, American manufacturers set a record for exports, but their true potential is unrealized today because of bureaucratic red tape that prevents them from selling products even to allies. Eliminating these restrictions – some of which date back to the Cold War – would help local companies like BNL Industries in Vernon add new jobs, while still safeguarding national security.”

Earlier today, Congressman Courtney spoke on the House floor, and urged House Republican leaders to tackle big issues, including jobs, and to add additional work days to Congress’ work schedule. The GOP House floor schedule currently includes just five full days of work for the remainder of September.

Click here to watch video clip of Courtney speaking on the House floor.

Residents Offer Suggestions on Preserving Connecticut River Ferry at Chester Meeting

CHESTER— Area residents offered suggestions on ways to preserve the Chester-Hadlyme Connecticut River ferry, including higher fares, at a public information Thursday.

About 45 residents from towns on both sides of the river turned out at the Chester Meeting House to urge state Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker to keep the Connecticut River ferries, including the one connecting Rocky Hill and Glastonbury, off the table in any future state budget dispute. The turnout for the meeting, which was scheduled earlier this month at a time when the ferries were threatened with closure in early September, was clearly reduced after state officials announced last week that funding for the ferries was in place through 2013 based on state employee union’s approval of the labor concession package negotiated with the administration of Governor Dannel Malloy.

Redeker, a former New Jersey Transit official, had been appointed by Malloy as permanent commissioner for DOT Thursday after serving as acting commissioner since February. A similar meeting on the ferries was held Monday in Rocky Hill.

Redeker said the department has begun work on a “long term strategic investment and operating plan,” for the ferries that should be completed before 2013. Under questioning from residents, he also declared the ferries do not have to be “revenue neutral” or a money maker for the state. “All public transportation is subsidized to some degree by the state,” he noted.

Redeker pledged to work with and consider input from citizen’s groups supporting the ferries during preparation of the plan. One group, Friends of the Connecticut River Ferries, is preparing to organize as a non-profit foundation.

Privatization and higher fares were among the suggestions from residents for preserving the ferries. David Williams of Essex said the current fare of $3 per car could be raised , possibly to $5 per car, without undercutting usage.

Both river ferries are scheduled to continue operation, interrupted only by the threat of Hurricane Irene this weekend, through the end of the ferry season in late October.

Courtney joins bi-partisan majority in voting “yes” on compromise debt legislation

Eastern Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney was one of 95 Democrats who voted in favor of a bi-partisan “compromise debt agreement,” which passed in the House of Representatives on August 1. Joining Courtney in voting for the compromise bill was Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who returned to the House for the first time, since she was severely wounded by a  gunman in Arizona on January 8.

Also, 174 Republicans voted for the bill, while 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans voted against it. The final tally was 269 votes in favor, and 161 against the measure.

In a statement following the vote Courtney said, “With just hours to spare before the United States would default,” the bill is “the only viable path to avoiding economic catastrophe.”

Courtney, who last Saturday voted for a debt bill sponsored by Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid, stressed that like the Reid bill, “the compromise protects seniors by prohibiting automatic cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries”
Courtney also said that the legislation “provides long-term peace of mind to families and financial markets by ensuring that we are not engaged in this divisive, unnecessary debate just six months from now.”

However, the Congressman admitted, “This plan is far from perfect, but it succeeds on some critical fronts,” noting that it “locks down a significant payment toward deficit reduction, while also establishing a bipartisan process to address larger savings and tax reform in the future, including waste at the Pentagon.”

The Congressman, whose district includes the Connecticut River towns of Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River, Chester, Lyme and Old Lyme concluded, “With this long process finally over, Congress must focus its attention where the American people have wanted it all along: on job creation and protecting our fragile economic recovery.”

Local Congressman Courtney Busy Voting “No’, and “Yes,” on Federal Debt Ceiling Measures

Congressman Joe Courtney, who represents most of the eastern half of Connecticut, including the towns of Old Lyme, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River and Chester, is in the thick of the nation’s current debt ceiling crisis.

First, on July 29 he voted “no” on House Speaker John Boehner’s bill to address federal debt ceiling crisis and related issues. Courtney charged that the Boehner bill “is no solution at all,” and is no more than “a short term patch that provides no certainty to the American people or to the financial markets.” Also, the Congressman said that the legislation “sets the stage for a repeat of this divisive, unnecessary debate just a few months from now.”

Courtney also attacked the Speaker’s bill in that it would impose “a grotesque requirement that Congress deface the Constitution with an amendment that would cripple the country’s ability to meet the challenges it faces” by requiring a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

Next, on July 30 Courtney cast a “Yes” vote in favor of Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “compromise bill to end the default crisis.” The Congressman said, “Like any compromise that includes Democratic and Republican ideas, Senator Reid’s bill is not perfect.” However, he said that the Reid bill “accomplishes what Speaker Boehner’s plan would not,” in that “it protects seniors, Social Security and Medicare,” among other federal programs. Most importantly, the Connecticut Congressman said, the Reid bill is “the only bipartisan option before Congress.”

A big bone of contention for Democrats is that the Boehner bill would require that the nation’s debt ceiling limit be renegotiated again in just six months. However, there is agreement under both the Boehner and Reid bills in that there are no tax increases in either measure.

Courtney speech on default crisis; “Downgrade is as bad as default”

Congressman Courtney spoke yesterday on the House floor in favor of a balanced solution to address our default crisis and prevent economic catastrophe. Citing a CNN report prior to Speaker Boehner’s speech the night before, Congressman Courtney highlighted that even if the Speaker’s plan passes, ratings agencies still may downgrade U.S. Treasury bonds from their current AAA rating, driving up lending costs and damaging a fragile economy.

 

Protecting the promise of Social Security and Medicare – a Message from Congressman Joe Courtney

As Congress considers proposals to get our fiscal house in order, I have heard from and spoken to hundreds of constituents from across the district who, like you, are concerned that the Social Security and Medicare programs they rely on will suffer major cuts. I share your concerns about reckless cuts to these programs, and I want you to know: I consider it my sacred duty to protect these programs that are the bedrock of middle class retirement security.

Click to watch Congressman Courtney vow to protect Medicare on the House floor.

 

Seniors have paid into Social Security and Medicare over the course of their lifetime. Cutting promised benefits is not only wrong, but it would have grave economic consequences for millions of older Americans who are faced with increased financial hardship and erosion of their retirement savings. As a member of the Congressional Seniors Task Force, I cosigned a letter to the President last week, raising these and other strong objections about proposed changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Preserving and improving a system that works

While it is necessary to address thoughtful modifications to Social Security and Medicare to preserve the programs for decades to come, recent projections by the Trustees confirm that drastic changes to both programs are unnecessary. The 2011 Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees projected that Social Security will remain completely intact until 2036 even if no changes are made today. For Medicare, the program is expected to meet all benefit obligations until 2024 – and 90 percent of obligations between then and 2045. Considering a majority of seniors currently rely on these programs to meet basic life necessities, like groceries and medical care, there is no reason to drastically change benefits.

There is no doubt that raising the debt ceiling and addressing deficit reduction are serious issues that deserve thoughtful and long-term bipartisan solutions. However, the promise of Social Security and Medicare should not be undermined in these negotiations, and I will continue to oppose efforts to scale back benefits in these talks.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me about this subject, or if I may be of assistance in any other way.

Sincerely,


Joe Courtney
Member of Congress

Essex Republicans Nominate Bruce Macmillian for First Selectman After Caucus Challenge

ESSEX— Town Republicans nominated Bruce MacMillian, a retired business executive and former vice-chairman of the Essex Housing Authority, for first selectman Wednesday after a caucus challenge that is not expected to lead to a September primary for the party nomination.

MacMillian outpolled Leigh Rankin, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer, on a 36-24 paper ballot vote at the caucus. Both MacMillian and Rankin had declared before the result was announced that they would support the caucus winner without a primary contest, and Rankin joined in a standing ovation for MacMillian and other members of the Nov. 8 municipal election slate.

MacMillian, 64, is a former executive with the Traveler’s Insurance Company. A 25-year town resident, he served as a member and vice-chairman of the Essex Housing Authority from 2004-2007. MacMillian was recommended by the party nominating committee and endorsed for the first selectman nomination by the Essex Republican Town Committee last week.

Rankin, a mother and resident of the Centerbrook section, had joined the town committee earlier this year, and also serves as an appointed member of the park and recreation commission and the water pollution control authority/sanitary waste commission. Rankin had indicated at the July 13 town committee meeting that she would not contest MacMillian at the caucus, but told the crowd Wednesday she wanted to offer party members a choice for the top position on the slate. “I am here because I’ve been asked to be here,” said Rankin, who was nominated by resident Kenneth Bombaci.

MacMillian, in remarks to the caucus, said the town needs a change from the administration of Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller and Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman that was first elected in 2003. MacMillian contended the “Miller-Needleman team” has “mismanaged” town hall, and shown a “lack of focus” on controlling expenditures and improving the business climate in Essex. He said the Democratic administration has demonstrated a “lack of transparency” on various issues in recent years, adding “their complacent attitude to me is an insult.” MacMillian said he would serve as a full-time first selectman if elected in November.

Republicans nominated incumbent Selectman Joel Marzi for a second term on the board of selectmen. A former member of the zoning commission and board of finance, Marzi had lost the 2009 first selectman race to Miller by about 400 votes, but later decided not to run for the top job again this year.

Republicans nominated two incumbents, Keith Crehan, an accountant, and Jeff Woods, a retired businessman, for new six-year terms on the board of finance. Judy McCann, a children’s librarian, was nominated for a six-year term on the Essex Board of Education, with Adam Conrad nominated for a two-year term on the local school board. The caucus accepted the nominating committee’s recommendation to cross-endorse incumbent Democrat Chris Riley for a new six-year term on the Region 4 Board of Education.

Miller, who was elected state representative for the 36th House District in a February special election, is not seeking re-election as first selectman. Needleman is seeking the Democratic nomination for first selectman with Stacia Libby, a former Republican who serves on the park and recreation commission, as his preferred running-mate for board of selectmen.

Needleman and Libby are expected to face a challenge for the nominations at the Essex Democratic Town Committee endorsement session Monday from Anthony Chirico, running for first selectman, and Linda Savitsky, running for board of selectmen. The contest for the nominations could lead to a Sept. 13 Democratic primary.

 

Chester Democrats Expected to Nominate Edmund Meehan for First Selectman

CHESTER— Town Democrats are expected to nominate Edmund Meehan, a former member and chairman of the board of finance who works as town planner in Newington, for first selectman at the party caucus next week.

Peter Zanardi, chairman of the Chester Democratic Town Committee, said the committee has endorsed Meehan for the open first selectman seat, with incumbent Democratic Selectman Larry Sypher seeking a second term as his running-mate for board of selectmen. Zanardi said five people had expressed interest in the first selectman nomination, while adding that he does not expect Meehan to face a challenge for the nomination at the party caucus set for Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House.

Meehan is seeking the seat now held by First Selectman Tom Marsh, a Republican-turned-unaffiliated voter who has held the top job since 2005. Marsh is resigning effective August 1 to relocate and become town manager in Windsor, Vermont. Zanardi said he does not expect Meehan, who currently works full-time in Newington, to be in a position to accept the position of interim first selectman next month to complete the remainder of Marsh’s term that ends on Nov. 22.

Meehan, a long-time town resident, worked as a staffer for the Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency and the Connecticut River Gateway Commission, before taking the planner job in Newington. He has served previously as a member and chairman of the board of finance.

Town Republicans have not announced a prospective candidate for first selectman, or an interim replacement for Marsh.  Mario Gioco, chairman of the Chester Republican Town committee, said the committee is seeking a candidate for first selectman, but “does not have a definite yes from anyone yet.” Incumbent Republican Selectman Tom Englert, who was elected with Marsh in 2009, is seeking a second term on the board of selectmen, but is not interested in running for the top spot. The Republican nominating caucus is set for Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House.

The decision on appointment of an interim first selectman rests with Sypher and Englert, who cannot make the appointment until Marsh’s resignation is effective on Aug. 1. Under state law, if the two selectmen are unable to reach agreement on the interim appointment within 30 days, the appointment is made by a committee of Republican office holders because Marsh had been re-elected to his third term as a Republican in 2009. The GOP committee would be comprised of Englert and Marsh’s wife, Kathy, who serves as the town’s Republican registrar of voters. Gioco said town Republicans hope to announce a choice for the interim position before Marsh’s resignation is effective.

Norman Needleman Declares for Democratic First Selectman Nomination with Stacia Libby, Former Republican, as Running-Mate

ESSEX— Democratic Selectman Norman Needleman formally declared as a candidate for the open first selectman nomination Monday, announcing Stacia Rice Libby, a former Republican, as his running-mate for board of selectmen.

About 35 Democrats turned out for the announcement on the front steps of town hall. Needleman was introduced by Democratic First Selectman Phil Miller, who has served on the board with Needleman since their first election in 2003. Miller, who was elected state representative for the 36th House District in a February special election, said Needleman and Libby would be a “strong team” for the town.

The Essex Democratic Town Committee will hold an endorsement session for the 2011 election slate Monday at 6:30 p.m. in town hall. The Needleman-Libby ticket is facing a challenge for the party nominations from Anthony Chirico, running for first selectman, and Linda Savitsky, running for board of selectmen. Chirico, a former Republican, was the unsuccessful GOP challenger to Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook in 2000 and 2002. Chirico, who became a Democrat in 2004, served previously on the zoning commission with Savitsky, a former employee of the state Office of Policy and Management.

Needleman, 59, moved to Essex in 1987, founding Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing company located at the Essex Industrial Park. Before running with Miller in 2003, he served on the zoning board of appeals and the economic development commission. Needleman said he asked Libby, who currently serves on the park and recreation commission, to change her party registration and become his running-mate.

Libby, 38, is a 14-year town resident who has also been active on the board of the Essex Community Fund. Until last week, Libby was a member of the Essex Republican Town Committee. Town Republicans accepted her letter of resignation from the committee on July 13, and Libby changed her registration from Republican to Democrat the following day. She is married and the mother of two children.

Needleman said he has the experience needed for the position of first selectman. Needleman said “the role of first selectman would be the first priority to me,” noting that he has “an experienced, capable management team in place,” to run his company.

Needleman said he is prepared for a possible challenge from Chirico, which could lead to a Sept. 13 Democratic primary to determine the party nominees. “I am going to work very hard to get us elected as a team,” he said.

Candidates who do not receive the town committee endorsement could force a primary by submitting petition signatures signed by five percent of the town’s registered Democratic voters, or about 60 signatures, by an early August deadline. Town Republicans are expected to nominate Bruce MacMillian, a former member of the Essex Housing Authority, for first selectman, and incumbent Republican Selectman Joel Marzi as the running-mate at the party caucus Wednesday evening.

Towns Agree to Explore Legal Route to “Save The Ferries”

The towns of Lyme, Chester and East Haddam have agreed to explore whether to seek a court injunction to bar the state Department of Transportation (DOT) from closing the Connecticut River ferries.

The inter-town agreement was announced by Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno and East Haddam First Selectman Mark Walter Sunday evening at a “Save the Ferries” meeting at Hadlyme Public Hall.

About 125 local supporters of the Chester-Hadlyme and Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferries cheered the announcement and went on to work on plans to galvanize public opinion to convince the state to keep the ferries running.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) has scheduled the closing of the ferries for next month.  All eight employees of both ferries received termination notices from DOT last week as part of Governor Malloy’s lay-off of more than 6,000 employees in order to balance the state budget after pubic employee unions rejected a revised contract designed to save the state $1.6 billion.

Eno explained that the DOT will be violating two state laws by following through on its plans to shutter the ferry service.

The first is a section of the state Transportation Law that requires DOT to “maintain and operate” both of the ferries, he said. ( See Sec. 13a-252 detailed below.)

The second is the section of the Transportation Law regarding sections of the state highways officially designated as “scenic roadways.” The Chester-Hadlyme Ferry is part of Rte. 148, and the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry is part of Rte. 160.  The routes of both ferries are incorporated into sections of both highways designated by the state DOT as “scenic roads.”  (See Sec. 13b-31d  detailed below.)

Eno pointed out that Transportation Law prohibits any alternation of a state highway designated as a “scenic road” without publication of notice of such changes and providing a period for the public to “comment” on the proposed changes.

Eno and Walter said their plan is to team up with other towns – Chester, Glastonbury and Rocky Hill – to seek a court order barring the DOT from closing the ferries based on these two state statutes.

Eno said the Lyme Board of Selectmen will meet today (July 18) with the town attorney to decide whether to seek such a court order.

Both State Senator Eileen Daily (D-33rd) and State Representative Philip Miller(D-36th) told the ferry supporters that they hope the state employee unions will reconsider their rejection of the contract changes so that the Governor can rescind the lay-off notices.  Both urged the ferry supporters to continue their efforts to convince the Malloy administration to maintain ferry service.

The meeting was sponsored by Hadlyme Public Hall.  The organizers outlined plans to reach out to ferry users and others locally and across the state to communicate support for the ferries to the Malloy administration.

Those who would like to help can contact the organizers at hadlymehall@gmail.com or call Humphrey Tyler at 518-253-4844 .

Sec. 13a-252. Certain ferries to be operated by state. Fees. Rocky Hill ferry deemed a state historic structure. (a) The ferries crossing the Connecticut River, known as the Rocky Hill ferry and the Chester and Hadlyme ferry, shall be maintained and operated by the Commissioner of Transportation at the expense of the state. The rates of toll or the charges to be made for travel upon said ferries shall be fixed by the commissioner with the approval of the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management. The commissioner may establish a discounted commuter rate for travel upon said ferries.

      (b) All expense of maintenance, repairs and operation of said ferries shall be paid by the Comptroller on vouchers of the commissioner. The commissioner shall include in his report to the General Assembly a report of the receipts and expenditures incidental to the control and maintenance of said ferries. Said Rocky Hill ferry shall be maintained as a state historic structure and shall be so marked with an appropriate plaque by the commissioner in cooperation with the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.

Sec. 13b-31d. Alteration or improvement of scenic road. Prior to altering or improving a state highway or portion thereof that has been designated a scenic road, pursuant to section 13b-31c, the Commissioner of Transportation shall cause to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality or municipalities in which such scenic road is located, a notice describing the alteration or improvement. There shall be a comment period following the public notice during which interested persons may submit written comments.

Deep River Democratic Town Committee Annual BBQ

The Deep River Democratic Town Committee will be holding their annual chicken BBQ at Plattwood Park on July 30,  from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Meet and greet the slate of candidates for the upcoming election as well as other special guests who will be stopping by.

As well as great food there will be raffle prizes and music provided by the Brian Shepley Band.

Tickets: Adults $10, seniors $8, children aged 5-12 $6.  Contact Lisa Bibbiani for further details 860-227-1697.

 

 

 

 

 

Local legislators split on state’s new “land swap” law; Daily in favor, Miller against

View of the state land in the swap, which has a river view

The “Haddam land swap” bill, which the Governor approved last Friday (July 8), is now the law of the State of Connecticut. The two local legislators who represent the towns of Essex, Deep River and Chester took completely opposite views on the issue.

State Senator Eileen Daily was the enthusiastic sponsor of the new law, whereas State Representative Phillip Miller strongly opposed it, consistent with his reputation as an uncompromising environmentalist.

The new “land swap” law provides that the state can enter into an even swap of 17.4 acres of a state owned, wildlife management area in Haddam, for an 87 acre track of woodlands adjacent to Cockaponset State Forest in Higganum, owned by a private developer.

A big issue is whether this is a fair deal for the state, since the state paid $1.3 million for the property that it is swapping, and the private developer paid only $428,000 for its property in the deal. Furthermore, the purchase dates of the two properties were only six years apart, 2003 in the case of the state, and 2009 for the developer.

There is no money involved in the swap. The entire deal, sanctioned by the new law, is a pure swap, one parcel of land for another.

Haddam bridge and Goodspeed Opera House, close to the state land being swapped

The state’s 17.4 acre land in the swap overlooks the Eagle Landing State Park, as well as in the distance the Haddam swings bridge and the Goodspeed Opera House across the river. The private developer’s Higganum land in the swap is 87 acres of woodlands, next to the state’s second largest park. In addition, according to swap sponsor Daily, “as many as 33 new single family homes could be built on the Higganum parcel.”

To still the controversy over the fact that the state paid far more for its land than the private developer, the new law mandates that current appraisals be made of the properties to make sure that they are, presently, of equivalent value.

Also, both parties under the new law must make “all reasonable efforts” to conclude the details of the swap by the end of this year. In addition, the new law provides that the State Properties Review Board must approve the swap deal.

The mission of the Review Board, according to its website, is “to provide oversight of State real estate activities … as proposed by State Executive Branch agencies.”

Furthermore, the Board is directed “to assure that transactions are done in a prudent, business-like manner that costs are reasonable, and that proposals are in compliance with State laws, regulations and procedures.”

This language could address the question as to whether or not the state was getting a good or bad deal in the swap, regardless of disparities in the original costs involved in acquiring the two properties.

State Senator Eileen Daily

Also, of course the Governor’s view of the swap could weigh heavily on what the Review Board ultimately decides. As for the Governor’s take on the deal, the Hartford Courant reported that Governor Malloy visited both parcels last Thursday (July 7), and said, “I came to the conclusion that it is potentially a fair transaction, subject to a process,” which would include valuation of both properties and local zoning approvals.

Swab bill sponsor, Senator Eileen Daily said, “I supported this initiative because it makes good sense to concentrate development in the built-up area of Tylerville and add 87 contiguous acres to what is already Connecticut’s second-largest State Forest.  This plan makes good sense environmentally and in terms of economic development for the area,” she said.

In his comments freshman State Representative Miller was careful to be respectful of Senator Eileen Daily, who is a five term incumbent Senator. He said, “I wish I was not against Senator Daily on this [issue], since her public service is quality.”

Miller then went on to harshly criticize the Governor’s actions in signing the swap bill into law. “I am surprised that Governor Malloy would not recognize the bad public policy and false argument  that this bill represents, ” Miller said.

State Representative Phil Miller

Miller also said the bill “presupposes that the legislature would first convey what is clearly conservation land, as though it were surplus to a private developer.” This precedent undermines the foundation of our conservation [policies] hundreds of years in the making here in Connecticut,” he said.

Miller then took a swipe at the state’s new environmental commissioner, saying, “It is too bad that a world [class] academic like Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Esty would not commit to study this issue.”

“Conservationists, sportspeople and citizens from all walks of life in Connecticut are disappointed with the process,” Miller said. “Some citizens of Haddam feel disenfranchised because not a single Board or Commission has had this subject on their agendas, and no town-sponsored public forum was ever convened.”

The Representative Miller concluded, “I am proud to still stand with citizens who feel as we do about this issue.”

Deep River environmental activist John Kennedy was even more outspoken in his criticisms of the swap law. Kennedy criticized what he called “the shameful way that Governor Malloy and his appointed environmental chief, Dan Esty, dodged and fumbled this matter.”

John Kennedy

Kennedy also criticized swap sponsor Senator Eileen Daily. “Daily clearly has an agenda, whatever it is,” he said, and he added, “She is powerful because no one gets any money for their constituent’s projects without her.”

Furthermore, Kennedy charged that Governor Malloy and Commissioner Esty had “no understanding of the state’s environmental law,” exemplified by the Governor’s signing of the new swap law, which Kennedy called “this scarlet letter.”

As for the new law’s impact on Haddam and East Haddam, Kennedy predicted that it will mean “the death of almost all of their small, local businesses … , suffocated by the new shopping mall and hotel.”

“But – [both towns] will have the wonderful bonus of a new river view of a hotel and shopping center – instead of that horrible and ‘polluted’ wildlife management area,” he said sarcastically.

“My – what a great idea this is. This is a perfect storm of stupidity and greed.”