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Friday, July 08, 2016

Amid Democratic Discord, Malloy Takes Reins of Party Platform Committee

By Ana Radalet

www.ctmirror.org

Gov. Dannel Malloy presided today over the Democratic Platform Committee meeting in Orlando, Fla., an event held under the pall of the shooting deaths of five police officers the night before in Dallas and the shooting this week by police officers of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana.

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy makes opening remarks on the recent shooting deaths at the Democratic Party Platform Committee meeting in Orlando, Fla.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo from C=SPAN

“The events in Dallas twisted a proud American tradition of protest and turned it into a tragedy,” Malloy said in his opening remarks to 187 platform committee members who will approve the final draft of the platform this weekend.

The platform, a document that will be presented to delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia at the end of the month, is a nonbinding document that serves as a guidepost for the party. It usually takes a backseat to the drama of officially nominating candidates for president and vice president at the convention.

But this year, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who challenged former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, has made the platform the final stance of his campaign. He and his supporters on the platform committee are pressing for changes to a draft hammered out by a 15-person drafting committee last month.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Senate Poised to Quash CT GMO Food Labeling Law

By Ana Radalet

www.ctmirror.org

Washington – The U.S. Senate is expected to move forward Wednesday on a bill that would pre-empt Connecticut’s genetically modified food labeling law, replacing it with a national food safety standard advocates say would be much weaker and not apply to many foods.

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A GMO notice on the side of a box of Wheaties. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ctmirror.org photo

Last week the Senate held a procedural vote – approved 68-29 –  on the contentious issue of labeling genetically modified organisms in food, or GMOs. Its sponsors, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich, call the legislation a compromise.

The Roberts-Stabenow bill would create a mandatory labeling regime for food made with genetically modified organisms. Food makers would be required to either print a text message on the package disclosing whether a product contains GMO ingredients, or print a QR code or an internet link directing customers to GMO information not on the package.

Food safety advocates, who say they were caught off guard by the Senate’s action, have dubbed the bill the “Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act.”

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Friday, July 01, 2016

Some ‘Bright Spots’ Seen in CT Economy

By Keith M.Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

While confirming that state government’s finances have slipped yet again, Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo also said today that a few “bright spots” show Connecticut’s economy might not be done growing.

And while the state entered a new fiscal year today, Lembo certified a $315.8 million deficit in the the outgoing budget — a shortfall that worsened largely because of further slippage in state income and sales tax receipts.

The deficit for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which is $56.7 million worse than projected one month ago, potentially could leave Connecticut with only about $90 million in its emergency reserve – a level equal to about one-half of 1 percent of annual operating costs.

Lembo, who recommends a reserve of 15 percent, will not formally close the books on 2015-16 until the end of September.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

New State Budget Threatened Before it Starts

By Keith M.Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

With Connecticut’s new fiscal year set to begin Friday, serious issues — involving both spending and revenue — have arisen in recent weeks that challenge state government’s new spending plan before it’s even begun.

And a major Wall Street credit rating agency questioned Monday whether Connecticut’s fiscal house is in order, If not, the state could face its third consecutive year of deficits.

“With weak tax collections likely to carry over into fiscal 2017, the state has limited flexibility to maintain a balanced budget,” Moody’s Investors Service wrote in its latest Credit Outlook newsletter.

“Budget reductions are especially challenging to achieve in Connecticut, where fixed costs — the sum of pension contributions, retiree health contributions and debt service payments — claimed more than 25 percent of the state’s own-source governmental revenue in fiscal 2014.”

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Conservation Voters Honor Westporters

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More than 50 persons gathered today at the Westport home of G. Kenneth Bernhard to honor Westporter Julie Belaga and former Westporter Russ Brenneman for their work in conservation issues in the state. Bernhard, a former state representative, is co-chair of the board of the nonpartisan Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV). The group was founded in 1999 by Belaga, who initiated the procedure of scoring and monitoring legislators on their record of voting on conservation issues. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Faces in the Crowd

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Among attendees at today’s reception by the nonpartisan Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTCLV) honoring Westporter Julie Belaga and former Westporter Russ Brenneman were former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays (l) and former Senior U.S. District Judge Alan Nevas of Westport. Both are former members of the Connecticut House as is Belaga and G. Kenneth Bernhard, at whose home the reception was held. Bernhard is co-chair of the board of the CTCLV. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/26/16 05:19 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, June 23, 2016

GOP Cuts Off Dems Revolt

By Ana Radalet

www.ctmirror.org

UPDATE Washington — House Republicans early today pulled the plug on a revolt by Democrats led by Connecticut Rep. John Larson and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis by adjourning in the middle of the night for the long July 4th break.

Larson and a group of about 20 Democrats, including all of Connecticut’s House lawmakers, seized control of the chamber Wednesday morning and said they would not relinquish it until GOP House leaders allowed votes on gun safety legislation.

But House Speaker Paul Ryan, who called the Democratic sit-in on the House floor “a publicity stunt,” was not moved. He scheduled key votes on bills that would fund the U.S. response to the Zika virus and military construction next year for 2:30 a.m., then adjourned the House for the holiday two days before it was scheduled.

The move to adjourn the House until July 5 angered the protesting Democrats, who cried out “coward,” “shame, shame,” and continued their chant of “No Bill, No Break.”

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06/23/16 04:25 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Monday, June 20, 2016

Westport Thanks to U.S. Congressional Delegation

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A group of Westporters, organized by Melissa Kane, chair of the Westport Democratic Town Committee, gathered for a photo at Compo Beach today to thank U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes for their action and leadership on gun violence prevention. Kane said the photos will be sent to the representatives on behalf of Westport families. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo by Pam Einarsen

06/20/16 05:45 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

For First Time, Legislators Override a Malloy Veto

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy suffered his first veto overrides today, marking a turning point in the Democratic governor’s six-year partnership with the General Assembly’s Democratic majority.

In an election-year distancing of a governor whose approval rating recently sank to 24 percent, the General Assembly overrode the vetoes of three bills and sustained five others. The House was willing to do four more overrides, but the Senate stood with Malloy on others, including one increasing legislative oversight over tax breaks for economic development.

House voted in rapid succession to override the vetoes of five House and one Senate bills. The Senate overrode vetoes of two Senate and two House bills.

An override requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers.

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06/20/16 04:48 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Outgoing CT Budget Deficit Swells

By Keith M.Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

Eroding state income tax receipts identified today by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration not only widened the deficit in the outgoing fiscal year, but threatened to punch a hole in the new state budget 12 days before it begins.

Malloy’s budget office announced the red ink in the 2015-16 finances worsened over the past month by $56.7 million — a problem driven largely by a $75 million drop in projected income tax receipts.

And since prior year’s income tax receipts are a crucial factor used to project likely revenues in the following year, the new forecast raises questions about the stability of the $19.76 billion budget Malloy and legislators approved recently for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

“We’re facing a sustained period of slower-than-normal growth as we adjust to this new economic reality,” Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, the governor’s budget chief, wrote in a statement. “… We are committed to making difficult choices to reduce spending throughout the end of this fiscal year and into the next.”

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06/20/16 04:14 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Murphy Ends Filibuster Saying Two Gun Measures Will Get Votes

By Ana Radalet

www.ctmirror.org

Washington – Almost 15 hours after he launched a filibuster to pressure GOP colleagues to allow votes on gun control measures, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy ended his marathon saying there had been an agreement to vote on two measures.

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Sen. Chris Murphy displays a poster of Newtown shooting victim Dylan Hockley as he comes to the end of his filibuster on the Senate floor early today.. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) C-SPAN photo

One would bar those on a terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms and the other would expand background checks.

“There’s no guarantee that those amendments will pass, but we’ll have some time to take the movement that exsisted before we stared and maybe is a little bit stronger now and try to prevail upon members to take these two measures and turn them into law,” he said.

Murphy took the floor at 11:21 a.m., running down the list of mass shootings that have occurred since Adam Lanza shot 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012. He ended his marathon speech with a tribute to two of the Newtown victims, student Dylan Hockley and teacher aide Anne Marie Murphy, in whose arms Dylan was found after the shooting.

He yielded the floor at 2:11 a.m.

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06/16/16 10:35 AM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Monday, June 13, 2016

Westport Legislators Report

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State legislators representing Westport reported to constituents tonight in a sparsely attended session at Westport Town Hall. They included (l-r) state Sens. Tony Hwang and Toni Boucher, and state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

06/13/16 07:44 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Himes Won’t Take Part in Silence for Orlando Victims

See video here

Addressing the House of Representatives today, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes said he will not participate in a moment of silence for the Orlando massacre victims.

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Jim Himes addressing Congress today.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) C-SPAN.org phto

He denounced what he said was the moral failure of Congress’s continued silence in the face of gun violence.

“Silence, that is how the leadership of the most powerful country in the world will respond to this week’s massacre of its citizens,” said Himes, whose 4th District includes Westport.

“If this Congress had a single moral fiber, we would force ourselves to get to know the slaughtered innocents,” he added, citing a victim.

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06/13/16 07:02 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Malloy’s Line-Item Budget Vetoes Stand as House, Senate Split

By Mark Pazniokas and Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

www.ctmirror.org

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s line-item vetoes of $22 million in spending, primarily from undisclosed municipal aid accounts, will stand as the House and Senate disagreed today on whether to attempt election year overrides.

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House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey (l) and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz brief reporters as their caucus members stand by to show support for an override. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Pazniokas for Ctmirror.org

Senate President Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said his caucus concluded that overriding the line-item vetoes would be “largely symbolic,” since Malloy still could make the same cuts under discretionary authority granted him in the recently adopted budget. The Senate Democrats reached that decision knowing House Democrats were eager to override the vetoes and distance themselves from an unpopular Malloy.

The acquiescence by the Senate Democrats, who say they are prepared to override other vetoes not related to the budget, immediately became election-year fodder. Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, tagged them as subservient to Malloy and said the price eventually would be higher property taxes.

“It’s not surprising that they did once again cave to this governor. It speaks to the fact we need a change up here in Hartford,” said Fasano, whose caucus needs a net gain of four seats this fall to take control of the Senate for the first time in two decades.

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Westport Republicans Honor Three

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The Westport Republican Town Committee (RTC) tonight honored three members it said to “have gone above and beyond the ordinary” to serve Westport. They are (l-r) Jennifer Tooker, Board of Finance member, Rick Towers, RTC treasurer, and Catherine Walsh, Planning and Zoning member. Walsh has been nominated to oppose Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, who is seeking his fourth, two-year term. The gala took place at Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s Branson Hall. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Westport Democrats Honor Two of Their Own

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Westport Democrats tonight honored two of their own. Arline Gertzoff (2nd l) received the Martha Aasen Yellow Dog Democrat Award and Keith Stein (2nd r) received the Dora Stuttman Campaign Leadership Award. Both recipients have long been active in Democratic town politics with Stein a former chair of the Westport Democratic Town Committee (DTC). They are pictured with state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, who introduced Gertzoff’s award, and Mellisa Kane, chair of the DTC. The event was held at The Boathouse Restaurant at the Saugatuck Rowing Club. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

06/09/16 07:40 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Malloy’s Approval Drops to All-Time Low of 24 Percent

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s approval rating hit a low of 24 percent today in a new Quinnipiac University poll, reflecting voter dismay over a chronic fiscal crisis that has come to define his six years as governor, most recently requiring service reductions and state employee layoffs.

“Voters feel Connecticut’s economy is going down the drain, and they are sending Gov. Dannel Malloy’s approval ratings right down the same drain. Even Democrats disapprove of the way he is doing his job,” said Douglas Schwartz, the poll’s director.

The poll is an across-the-board repudiation of Malloy, the first Democratic governor in decades, and a vote of no-confidence in the state’s economy, factors Republicans hope will enable them to shrink the Democrats’ majorities in the General Assembly or even capture control of a chamber.

Overall, 68 percent of voters disapprove of his performance, 24 percent approve and 8 percent have no opinion. He was upside down in every subset of voters, including Democrats, whose disapprove/approve split was 47 percent to 40 percent.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Himes Lauds Clinton, Says Focus Now is on Defeating Trump

U.S. Rep Jim Himes tonight lauded Hillary Clinton as she claimed the Democratic nomination for president and said the focus now must be on defeating Donald Trump.

“By winning the national popular vote and the most pledged delegates, Secretary Clinton has shown herself to be the person best poised to lead our country and continue the progress we have made over the past eight years,” said Himes, whose 4th District includes Westport.

“This primary season energized millions of Democratic voters, due in no small part to the efforts of Senator Bernie Sanders.

“Senator Sanders has been a passionate voice for many who have been traditionally underrepresented in our political process and has made valuable contributions to the national debate on inequality and justice.

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Poll: Sanders Stronger Than Clinton Over Trump in CT

Connecticut voters favor Hillary Clinton over Donald J. Trump for president by only 7 percentage points, despite seeing her as better qualified on key measures by wide margins, while Bernie Sanders leads Trump by 19 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

The first public poll since the Connecticut presidential primary finds little enthusiasm for the presumptive nominees of either party. In head-to-head matchups, Clinton leads Trump, 45 percent to 38 percent, which is consistent with polls last fall and earlier this year. Sanders, whose path to the Democratic nomination has all but disappeared, leads Trump, 54 percent to 35 percent.

“While Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump, her single digit lead is smaller than might be expected from true-blue Connecticut, and her negative favorability rating is almost as bad as his,” said Douglas Schwartz, the poll’s director.

Clinton’s favorable/unfavorable split is 37 percent to 55 percent. Trump’s is even worse, 33 percent to 61 percent. Sanders is viewed favorably, 52 percent to 34 percent.

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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Malloy Signs CT Budget But Trims Town Aid

By Keith M.Phaneuf and Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy showed legislators today there was a fiscal price to be paid for rejecting his bail reform and other anti-recidivism proposals.

The governor signed the legislature’s $19.76 billion budget for 2016-17 into law, but only after using the rarely employed line-item veto to cancel more than $22 million earmarked for municipalities, health clinics and the Connecticut Humanities Council.

This was done largely to offset savings that otherwise would have been achieved, according to Malloy, by enacting his Second Chance Society initiative.

“We have a line item veto in Connecticut,” Malloy said. “I actually crossed out lines. I actually put my initials next to them. And we believe we are executing our responsibilities in accordance with state law.”

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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

NEAT Time in Westport for Himes

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U.S. Rep Jim Himes met with constituents today at NEAT at 6 Wilton Road—a coffee bar by day, craft cocktail bar by night. He discussed a wide range of issues and predicted a Clinton victory for the White House with Democrats regaining control of the Senate and Republicans retaining control of the House. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Former Rivals Get Together

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U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (r) shares a laugh today with Steve Obsitnik of Westport, his 2012 Republican opponent, at a luncheon hosted by the Democratic Women of Westport at a private Westport home. Himes, who is seeking his fifth term in Congress, later met with constituents at the NEAT coffee shop/bar on Wilton Road. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Democratic Women Present Award

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The Democratic Women of Westport (DWW) today gave its annual Silver Donkey Award to Janis Collins (l), former member of the Westport Board of Finance and co-founder of The Refinery, a mentoring organization for new business entrepreneurs.  Presenting the award is DWW co-president Jennifer Gorin. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Do-It-Yourself Anti-Trump Campaign

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A Westport family appalled at the rise of Donald Trump is selling “amusing” anti-Trump bumper stickers outside their 18 Silver Brook Road home. Steve Ellis says 60 stickers have been purchased so far (first one free, $5 for any after that). Working on an honor system, the stickers are available daily 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from a stand outside their home. He said all profits will be donated to an immigration cause in Connecticut and an organization promoting climate change awareness across the globe.—“two causes Donald Trump definitely does not support himself.” Ellis is pictured with daughters Vivian, (l) 12, and Ginger, 14, sixth and eighth grade students at Coleytown Middle School. Their brother Sam, 17, a Staples High School junior, was not available for the photo. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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‘Westport Isn’t Fooled’

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Some of the 70 self-designed anti-Trump stickers available outside the Ellis family home at 18 Silver Brook Road.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

LWV Forum on ‘Getting Money Out of Politics’

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The League of Women Voters of Westport tonight sponsored a Town Hall forum, “Getting Money Out of Our Politics: Returning Our Democracy to We the People,” about the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. The panel consisted of James H. “Jim” Dean (l), chair of Democracy for America (DFA), which was founded in 2004 after the presidential campaign of Dean’s brother, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and Jeffrey Clements, president of American Promise and co-founder of Free Speech for People. The forum was moderated by John Hartwell of Westport, a former chair of the Westport Democratic Town Committee. The LWV is working on trying to overthrow Citizens United which held that corporations should be treated as individuals and should be able to give high amounts of money to politicians without restraint or having to identify.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

05/25/16 11:15 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dems Nominate Rep. Steinberg for 4th Term

By James Lomuscio

The Westport Democratic Town Committee (DTC) tonight unanimously nominated state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg for a fourth, two-year term representing the 136th District.

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State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg addresses Democratic Town Committe members tonight. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

In November, he will square off against Republican Catherine Walsh, Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) chairwoman nominated by the Republican Town Committee last week.

“Jonathan is a terrific legislator who’s focused on transportation and the environment, both issues that concern Westporters,” said John Hartwell, former DTC chairman and member of the Board of Finance.

“He’s also the leader of the Moderates Caucus in the Democratic Party, fighting for structural reform on the state’s broken budgeting process,” he added.

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Malloy Says It’s Foolish to Believe Trump on Guns

By Ana Radalet

www.ctmirror.org

Washington – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said today “you’d have to be a fool,” to believe what presidential hopeful Donald Trump says on gun control or any other subject.

This week Trump clarified his position on allowing guns in schools. He had said he supported the elimination of gun free-zones in schools, prompting Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to say Trump wanted to “mandate that every school in America allow guns in the classroom.”

On Monday, Trump said he would only eliminate guns in school zones “in some cases,” and trained teachers and school resource officers should be the ones carrying guns.

At an all-day summit at the White House on gun safety, Malloy took a break to speak to reporters and was asked about Trump’s apparent change in position.

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

CT Gets Credit Downgrades From Wall Street

By Keith M.Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

The new state budget’s ability to mitigate longstanding fiscal problems got poor marks today on Wall Street as two of the four major rating agencies downgraded Connecticut’s credit ranking — probably boosting borrowing costs in the future.

Fitch Ratings Inc. and Standard & Poor’s both lowered their bond ratings in response to the $19.76 billion budget Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature’s Democratic majority crafted for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The other two firms, Kroll and Moody’s Investors Service, didn’t change their ratings, but did maintain a “negative outlook.” This represents a warning that they intend to monitor state finances closely over the next year, and sometimes is a precursor to a formal downgrade.

“The message from the credit rating agencies couldn’t be any clearer: It is high time for a sustained commitment to fortify the state’s financial footing, in the midst of persistent economic uncertainty,” state Treasurer Denise L. Nappier wrote today in a statement announcing the downgrades.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

P&Z’s Cathy Walsh to Run for State Rep

Westport Planning and Zoning Commission member Catherine Walsh has been tapped by the Republican Town Committee (RTC) to run for state representative for the 136th District, it was announced tonight.

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Catherine Walsh: will face incumbenent Jonathan Steinberg. Contributed photo

The position is currently held by state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, a Democrat. He is expected to be nominated for a fourth two-year term next week.

According to the RTC, Walsh was unanimously selected after being nominated by P&Z Chairman Chip Stephens and commissioner Jack Whittle.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of Westport Republicans to be a candidate for the Connecticut State Legislature for the 136th District representing Westport,” said Walsh.

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