November 29, 2009

Journal Inquirer > No more 'sacred cows' but still a lot of mooing

Journal Inquirer > Archives > Chris Powell > No more 'sacred cows' but still a lot of mooing: "No more 'sacred cows' but still a lot of mooing"

No more 'sacred cows' but still a lot of mooing
By Chris Powell

Published: Saturday, November 28, 2009 1:14 AM EST

Municipal officials throughout Connecticut are waxing indignant that, amid state government's worsening insolvency, an exploding state budget deficit, Governor Rell has proposed reducing state financial grants to towns by 3 percent. If the grants are cut, cities and towns will have to reopen their budgets and raise property taxes again or cut spending.Yes, state government could hardly be more incompetent than it has been here. The governor and General Assembly could not enact a budget on schedule and then the Democratic budget the governor allowed to become law without her signature was a fraud, built on ridiculously excessive revenue and savings estimates. But the complaints of the municipal officials suggest that they haven't been paying attention. For anyone reading the newspaper dispatches from the state Capitol knew that the budget was phony and would catch up with cities and towns eventually.

Throughout the year the governor, a Republican, pretended that municipal governments could be insulated from state government's financial strains. She insisted that state grants should be maintained at current levels. Town officials were only too happy to pretend along with her. But the other day the truth was admitted officially, as state budget director Robert L. Genuario announced, "There cannot be any more sacred cows." State grants to cities and towns, Genurario said, inevitably are tied to state government's own financial situation, and as that situation worsens, municipalities have to expect to feel it.Of course Genuario thus suggested that the Rell administration and the legislature had been protecting sacred cows all along. And those sacred cows have been easy to see: particularly municipal employee unions, whose members consume, via their compensation, the bulk of the state grants now in question. Particularly sacred have been members of teacher unions, who, throughout the state, have been boasting among themselves of the political influence that has earned them immunity to even modest concessions like those obtained by the governor from the state employee unions.

But the grants to towns won't be the most painful cuts proposed by the governor. She also proposes to reduce state payments for welfare patients in nursing homes and hospitals, for school health clinics, and for general medical and dental care for the poor.To implement spending cuts, the governor said she would summon the General Assembly into special session on Dec. 15. Democratic leaders at first acted stunned, as if they hadn't realized their budget was phony. The first few Democrats who found their voices started talking about raising taxes on the rich again, which had just been done already, the one part of the budget that was not phony. This is how Democrats talk when there is little public support for raising taxes generally just to maintain a defective status quo.Former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, quickly postured along these lines. Malloy urged that the poorest and neediest be spared from spending cuts, while declining to identify any recipient of public funds who might not be so poor and needy.The governor proposed appointing a committee of legislators and municipal officials to review state grants and identify state mandates on municipalities that might be suspended to save money. But the most expensive mandate is binding arbitration of contracts for public employee unions, the most fearsome special interest, and few elected officials have the courage to go there, even as most municipalities have just appropriated again for raises and benefit increases.Indeed, compensation for public employees in Connecticut might be reduced by 35 percent or more before the compensation for similar work in the private economy would start drawing many away. As the columnist Mark Steyn wrote recently, "A snapshot of America in the 21st century would show a motivated, can-do small businessman working around the clock until he's 78 to pay for a government worker who retires at 52 with pension and other benefits the private-sector schmuck could never dream of. That's why big government produces no economies of scale. The bigger the government, the more everything it does costs."In these circumstances Connecticut's only hope may be the old revolutionary slogan, "The worse, the better." Down to their last dollars, eventually Connecticut's elected officials and the people who elect them will decide explicitly that there are a few public purposes more important than the contentment of public employees. It's just a matter of how many years and how much degradation it will take.

-----Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer

Rell visits to give McCoy 2nd oath

Article ReminderNews: "Rell visits to give McCoy 2nd oath"

Dozens of family members, friends, town staff and supporters attended the swearing-in ceremony last Monday for Jason McCoy, who began his second turn as Vernon’s Mayor.

Among them was Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who on the same day, announced she will not seek another term in the state’s top office.

“It is my pleasure, and I appreciate that Jason has asked me to come and swear him in,” Rell said.

“I was reminded, as I got to the office, to swear him in, and not swear at him,” the governor joked.”

McCoy thanked the governor for supporting him, but more importantly, for supporting the community of Vernon.

He also thanked voters for returning mostly incumbents to office.

“The voters & taxpayers in town... sent me back, as well as my council and the Board of Education, because we’ve delivered results for the last two years.”

McCoy said he is bracing for the impact of the next budget season. “We all know things are going to get much worse,” he said, referring to the national economy’s effect on the town. “But, I feel confident that we are going to be able to handle those problems. I know that there is going to be less [state and federal] revenue here, and we are going to have to handle things that we’ve never had to handle before.”

McCoy said he and the governor have a friendly relationship that goes back many years. “I’m fairly close with Gov. Rell and her staff,” he said.

“We’ve been doing stuff together for a long time. I always do stuff to try to help her, and she’s helped me.”

McCoy said he first met Rell many years ago, at a campaign event with his grandfather, former Vernon mayor Frank McCoy.

Since Rell is not going to run again, McCoy said he is hopeful that Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele gets the job.

“It would be nice to see a guy [in office ] who is a true business owner, of a good-sized business, who understands economics and entity management and administration,” McCoy said.

November 22, 2009

M. Jodi Rell, Connecticut Governor, Won’t Seek Re-election -

M. Jodi Rell, Connecticut Governor, Won’t Seek Re-election - "Connecticut Governor Won’t Seek Re-election"

Nine Face Charges In Vernon Drug Sweep --

Nine Face Charges In Vernon Drug Sweep --

Nine Face Charges In Vernon Drug Sweep
The Hartford Courant

7:21 PM EST, November 17, 2009

VERNON - Nine people are in police custody and 23 pounds of marijuana have been recovered in a crackdown against illegal drug dealing in the town.

Members of a regional task force and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency intercepted a package containing 23 pounds of marijuana that was on its way to 85 Old Town Road unit 21 Friday. They removed the drug from the package and replaced it with other contents, then sent it to the address, police said.

A man, later identified as Lance Roberts, took the package and put it in a car driven by another man. At a different residence, Roberts transferred the package to his own car and took it back to his Tolland home. There, police arrested him without incident.

A search of his Hurlbut Street home turned up marijuana, illegal prescription pills and evidence of marijuana trafficking. Three cars were also seized during the investigation.

Roberts, 57, faces charges including criminal attempt to possess more than a kilo of marijuana, criminal attempt to possess marijuana with intent to sell, criminal attempt to possess drugs in a school zone, possession of narcotics and possession of marijuana.

Police expect more arrests in that case.

A separate investigation on Tuesday yielded eight more arrests.

Members of the East Central Narcotics Task Force and the Vernon Police Department served two search warrants at the Park West Apartments in Vernon. One of the warrants targeted an alleged marijuana dealer, Raymond Walker. Walker wasn't home, but police tracked him down at the Quality Inn on Hartford Turnpike in Vernon.

The second warrant targeted an alleged crack cocaine dealer identified as Ty-Juan Simmons. Simmons and his girlfriend, Deborah Hayes, were taken into custody without incident. Police found crack cocaine, drug packaging materials and drug paraphernalia in their home.

Walker, 45, faces a lengthy list of charges, including sale of marijuana, sale of the drug within 1,500 feet of public housing and multiple counts of possession and conspiracy. Simmons, 21, is charged with sale of crack cocaine, sale of the drug within 1,500 feet of public housing and six counts of possession. Hayes is charged with possession of crack cocaine and possession of the drug within 1,500 feet of public housing.
Three Rockville High School students were arrested the same day for alleged drug offenses that occurred off school grounds, police said. A 17-year-old male student was charged with operating a drug factory, sale of marijuana and several counts of possession. A 16-year-old male student faces charges of sale and possession of marijuana. Neither were identified because of their ages.
The third student, 18-year-old Jason Ciampa, is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Officers also arrested Roger Blouin, 49, and Donell Penrice, 22, on Tuesday. Blouin, who was taken into custody at his 59 High St., Apt. 1 in Vernon, faces charges of sale and possession of crack cocaine, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia. Penrice, who was arrested at his Oak Street apartment, is charged with sale and possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
-- Jenna Carlesso

Posted using ShareThis

November 2, 2009

Journal Inquirer > McCoy Vernon’s choice: progress or innuendo

Journal Inquirer > Letters To The Editor > Vernon’s choice: progress or innuendo: "Vernon’s choice: progress or innuendo
By Jason L. McCoy
Published: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 12:05 PM EDT"

Vernon’s choice: progress or innuendo
By Mayor Jason L. McCoy

In the election for mayor and Town Council in Vernon, our residents have two choices: They can choose progress fiscally, technologically, and environmentally by supporting me as mayor of Vernon, and the folks running with me — Town Council candidates and members Dan Anderson, Bill Campbell, Dan Champagne, Mark Etre, Judy Hany, Brian Motola, Sean O’Shea, Harry Thomas, and Board or Education candidates and members George Apel, Laura Bush, Anne Fischer, and Vicky Rispoli. Or they can choose accusation and innuendo not based on fact or reality.Recently there has been a lot of rigmarole advanced by political operatives who try to confuse issues they have created to blur the progress over the last two years in Vernon. They have made personal attacks on me; these political operatives have made personal attacks on anyone who has supported progress and change in Vernon.

In the last two years the budgets I have proposed to citizens of the town of Vernon have been supported by the Vernon Taxpayers Association, as well as the Vernon teachers association (Vernon Education Association).These last two years have been difficult for our town and every town in Connecticut, just as they have been difficult for the public. These people have worked to control the unnecessary growth of this town’s governmental spending, they support cooperation between the Town Council and the Board of Education, and have worked to increase non-property tax revenues to the town so it is not totally reliant on real estate property taxation to fund its budgets. They have held town governmental spending at less than 1 percent, and brought you two budgets with two tax rate or mill rate decreases. They have found cost savings each year that amounts to over $2 million in areas like in health insurance, passed policies that reduce fixed costs for governmental fuels and electricity, increased the police job clearance rates, increased the Connecticut Mastery Test scores for students each year, and paid off $1 million in debt the town owed, thereby reducing future budgets before they even start.

They also have implemented electronic citizen complaint systems; hired top department heads to implement policy initiatives; repaired dangerous bridges after the town had ignored the danger for the last 20 years; completed school building projects on time, without delay and under budget; replaced 20-year-old math books and replaced reading books and resources for grammar-school students; added school readiness at each grammar school; saved sports for kids without implementing pay-to-play programs; supported our school bands; with new uniforms; passed budgets on the first referendum in 2008 and 2009; implemented senior tax-relief programs; required school budgetary transfers be made only after the Board of Education’s elected officials vote to approve the budget transfers; passed a hybrid vehicle tax exemption ordinance to encourage citizens to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

We have implemented a legislative support program through hiring governmental relations experts to work on Vernon’s behalf to work on stopping state laws that force requirements that drive our budgets up every year for no reason. You have seen huge support for Vernon from Gov. Jodi Rell when she funded the Roosevelt Mills project, funded the completion of the Town Hall renovations and funded the Vernon Arts Center at the old kindergarten building and the Vernon-Bolton Lakes Water Pollution Control Authority, along with the redevelopment of Village Street.This was done in the face of the 2004 and 2005 road and school bonding of $100 million of bond debt starting to be repaid in 2008, a decreases in local revenue totaling of nearly $604,000 for recording fees, building permits, conveyance taxes, along with a reduction in state revenue sharing from the State of Connecticut and Vernon in the amount of roughly $1 million. Just take a look at your tax bill — it tells the story of the decrease in revenue, $19 million this year and $20 million last year.All of these things have been accomplished by these folks I refer to who are running with me, with the support of department’s heads I have hired and or managed, without pay cuts, without layoffs, without threats of service reductions.

Over the last two years you never heard me as mayor or these folks I refer to who are running with me threaten to cut services for residents or hike your taxes. We have only said: We can figure it out. I am sure that would have been easier. No tricks, no threats, just good fiscal management of our government. As your mayor along with people running for Town Council and the Board of Education we have restored Vernon’s budget to an honest and open document requiring transfers to be voted on and approved.

I ask that you support lower taxes, controls on spending, better schools and safer streets by voting for me, Mayor Jason McCoy and the folks running with me for the Vernon Town Council Dan Anderson, Bill Campbell, Dan Champagne, Mark Etre, Judy Hany, Brian Motola, Sean O’Shea, Harry Thomas, and Bd. of Ed candidates and members George Apel, Laura Bush, Anne Fischer, and Vicky Rispoli.

The writer is the mayor of Vernon.