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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Politics

Politics

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Newlyweds Walking in the Moonlight

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Former state Senate minority leader John McKinney of Fairfield and his new bride, Kristin Fox of Westport, take a moonlight walk along Soundview Drive tonight at Compo Beach. The two were married Saturday. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

Posted 09:47 PM
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Malloy Signs, Then Promotes, Newly Tweaked Budget

By Mark Pazniokas and Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

The rocky path to a fiscal plan for the next two years ended Tuesday with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signing the budget adopted June 3 in the closing minutes of the 2015 session — and tax rollbacks passed earlier Tuesday in special session to quell an outcry from business interests.

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signs the budget bills in Hartford today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ctmirror.org photo

“Massachusetts doesn’t have a budget. Maine doesn’t have a budget. Illinois doesn’t have a budget. New Hampshire doesn’t have a budget,” Malloy said after signing the documents at a ceremony attended by the legislature’s top leaders and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. “We got a budget.”

The budget includes tax increases that violate a pledge the Democratic governor made during last fall’s close re-election campaign, and its passage exposes Democratic legislators in swing districts to attacks as they seek re-election in 2016, a campaign that the GOP already is waging.

Malloy did not directly answer a question about how he can reconcile the budget he signed with his campaign pledge. Instead, he said the GOP offered no practical alternative.

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Posted 03:12 PM
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Himes Opposes U.S. ‘Locking Down’ Mideast Chaos

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes said today he does not back an increased U.S. military presence in Iraq and “will not support the role of the United States locking down chaos in the Middle East.”

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U.S. Rep. Jim Himes addresses today’s Westport Rotary Club meeting. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Addressing the weekly meeting of the Westport Rotary Club, Himes said the United States must be very skeptical about creep in U.S. military commitment in the region.

He said the 1,200-year-old history of Middle East conflicts make defining long-term U.S. strategy in the area difficult.

While the United States has achieved victories in removing Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi from power and killing Taliban leaders, he added: “We’re not very good at the next day.”

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Posted 02:40 PM
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Legislature Votes to Roll Back a Share of CT Business Tax Hikes

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

UPDATE The General Assembly sent a revised biennial budget to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy early today, rolling back $178 million of the $1.5 billion worth of tax hikes built into the original plan.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives narrowly passed the changes 78-65 shortly after 1 a.m. after a nearly three-hour debate.

They included a series of last-minute adjustments that canceled planned tax hikes on data processing and web development services and delayed for one year a controversial shift to unitary reporting within the corporation tax.

To pay for these changes, lawmakers ordered several spending cuts. But their chief move was to scale back payments into a sales tax revenue-sharing program with municipalities – placing even more pressure on state finances two years from now, when a major deficit already looms.

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Posted 01:24 AM
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Legislative Wrap Up Set for July 7

Area legislators will discuss the recently finished 2015 Connecticut General Assembly session at a “Legislative Wrap Up” set for Tuesday, July 7, at 10:30 a.m. in the Westport Library’s McManus Room.

Sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce (WWCC) in association with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), the event which runs to noon, will feature state Sen. Toni Boucher, Sen. Tony Hwang, Rep. Gail Lavielle and Rep. Jonathan Steinberg.

“This is a great opportunity to hear directly from your state representatives,” said Matthew Mandell, WWCC executive director. “It will be an informal discussion, so attendees will be able to participate.”

Mandell stressed the relevance of the forum to the business community, noting that state legislators considered many bills “impacting business and company bottom lines in this year’s session in Hartford, including the budget.”

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Posted 01:24 PM
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Op-Ed: Steinberg Explains ‘No’ Budget Vote

By Jonathan Steinberg

I voted against the budget, just as I did four years ago, dissenting from Governor Malloy and the majority of my fellow Democrats.

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Jonathan Steinberg:  against “gimmicks and fudges.” Contributed photo

I don’t like voting against budgets, but I will continue to place sound fiscal policy ahead of partisanship and will press for sensible reforms. We need to proactively manage our budgets, not just paper them over each year through the use of gimmicks and fudges.

The initial budget proposed by the governor indiscriminately cut critical social and health programs, leaving the state’s most vulnerable with nowhere to turn. 

Both Democrats and Republicans resolved to restore some of the most draconian cuts, but the resulting budget was only balanced by new taxes and increases on existing ones.

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Posted 09:51 AM
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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Professor: Dems Could Take U.S. Senate in 2016

A Sacred Heart University political science professor told the Westport Rotary Club today it is possible that Democrats will retake control of the U.S. Senate in the 2016 elections.

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Gary Rose, a political science professor at Fairfield’s Sacred Heart University, addressing the Westport Rotary Club today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“The 2016 Senate races are taking place in blue states where (President) Obama won,” said Gary Rose, chair of the Department of Government Politics and Global Studies at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, who has studied the U.S. political system for four decades. “And control of the Senate very possibly could swing back to the Democrats.”

The political landscape has changed with U.S. Supreme Court rulings that political money is equivalent to speech and is protected by the U.S. Constitution, he told the club’s weekly meeting in Branson Hall at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. This has led to an influx of funds, often from sources that don’t have to identify themselves.

“It’s an almost absurd situation,” Rose said, adding that the unidentifiable funds have become known as “dark money.”

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Posted 04:53 PM
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Friday, June 12, 2015

Malloy Seeks to Roll Back $220 Million in Business Tax Hikes

By Keith M. Phaneuf and Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today proposed to roll back more than $220 million in tax hikes, almost all of them on business, in the new two-year state budget, and replace them with still-to-be-identified spending cuts.

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman at today’s Hartford news conference. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Pazniokas/ctmirror.org photo

The governor – whose proposal followed a meeting with the state’s chief business lobby — comes on the heels of threats from General Electric and other major corporations to shed jobs and possibly leave the state.

Malloy said he anticipates the changes will be considered later this month when lawmakers gather in special session to adopt budget policy bills needed to implement the new spending plan.

“I have always been clear that I believe that we need to be smart about spending, about revenue, and about our future,” said Malloy, who met earlier today with Connecticut Business and Industry Association President Joseph F. Brennan. “…Even as we have one of the the lowest effective corporate tax rates in the nation, these steps are being made to protect Connecticut’s long-term interests.”

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Posted 12:13 PM
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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Marpe: Senior Housing Need, Pension Costs Keep Him Awake

By James Lomuscio

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe said today the need for senior housing, the fear of state-imposed high density multi-family housing, and the needs to cut pension and other benefits costs in three upcoming contract negotiations “keep me awake at night.”

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First Selectman Jim Marpe addresses today’s meeting of the Westport Rotary Club. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Addressing the Westport Rotary Club, he asked, “What allows me to fall asleep?”  And then answered: “The town’s strong financial position, the continuing growth of the grand list at $10 billion, our reserves and a triple-A bond rating.”

Marpe, who took office in November 2013, also said he finds comfort in the quality of town employees, “and what really makes it work so well, is that so many Westporters are committed to service on behalf of their fellow citizens.”

“I am constantly reminded that there are so many good things that happen here, not because the government makes it happen, but because so many of our citizens volunteer to make things happen,” Marpe said.

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Posted 03:18 PM
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Awarded a Silver Donkey

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The Democratic Women of Westport today gave its annual Silver Donkey Award to Selectman Helen Garten (r), the 2013 unsuccessful Democratic candidate for first selectman and former board of finance member. At left is Bobbie Herman, outgoing president of the group. Introduced were incoming co-presidents Jenifer Goren and Beckie Martin. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

Posted 02:33 PM
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Monday, June 08, 2015

For First Report Card, Sound Gets A to F Grades

By James Lomuscio

See full report here

Scientists today issued what they said was the first Long Island Sound health report card, giving the estuary an F in the area of New York’s East River and an A 110 miles away where it stretches to eastern Long Island and Block Island. 

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U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal addresses today’s Long Island Sound report card news conference at Sherwood Island State Park. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Westport waters were not specifically graded but local officials speculated they were in the B to B-minus range.

The results from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) were announced at a news conference at the Nature Center at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport with federal, state, and local politicians on hand.

The report card assessment of the 1 million-acre open and coastal waters sea was conducted by the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science (UMCES).

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Posted 02:54 PM
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Sunday, June 07, 2015

No Surprise: Malloy Makes It Official—He’s for Hillary

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

It’s not a recent decision, nor is it a surprise. But the time has come to go public: With the legislative session over, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

“I’ve been an admirer of hers for many years, going back to when she was first lady. I want to see her get elected president. I also think she is the best candidate the Democrats could run. I think she is one of the most experienced candidates that any party has run,” Malloy said.

Clinton was elected U.S. senator from New York in 2000 as her husband’s presidency was winding down. After losing the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, she joined the administration of Barack Obama as secretary of state.

“I’ve known the Clintons for a long time. I think she is the best prepared candidate, and I’m really excited about helping her get elected president,” Malloy said.

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Posted 05:43 PM
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Himes on Air Force One Ride to Germany With Obama

The White House said President Barack Obama hosted U.S. Rep. Jim Himes and three other House Democrats aboard Air Force One this weekend as he traveled to a summit of leading industrialized countries in Germany.

The lawmakers all support Obama’s efforts to win special authority to negotiate a Pacific rim trade deal.

Obama is courting Democrats for his trade agenda against vigorous opposition from labor unions, environmental groups and liberal organizations. A majority of Republicans support the legislation, which allows Congress to reject or approve, but not change, trade deals negotiated by the administration.

In addition to Himes, the other lawmakers include Reps. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, and Mike Quigley of Illinois. They are among only 17 House Democrats publicly backing Obama’s request for “fast track” trade negotiating authority.

Posted 01:16 PM
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Thursday, June 04, 2015

Tooker Takes Over as Board of Finance Chair

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Jennifer Tooker is the new chair of the Westport Board of Finance. The Republican was elected unanimously at Wednesday night’s meeting after chair John Pincavage (l) said he would be stepping down from the position—- but remain on the board— to focus on other commitments. Tooker is a retired senior manager of Gen Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies.  She was a member of the Board of Education before being elected to the Board of Finance in 2013. Tooker and her husband Morris have lived in Westport since 2008 and have three children. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com/file photo

Posted 09:57 AM
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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Senate Dems Threaten ‘Nuclear Option’ to Pass Budget

By Keith M. Phaneuf, Mark Pazniokas, and Arielle Levin Becker

www.ctmirror.org

Senate Democrats late today took the extraordinary step in the final hour of the 2015 session of threatening to cut off debate to ensure passage of a new state budget that raises tax revenues by $2 billion.

With less than an hour until the midnight adjournment deadline, Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney stood to call the question, a move to end debate that is considered the nuclear option in legislative process, to stop a five-hour debate that had morphed into a Republican filibuster to kill the proposed two-year budget.

The process was last used at the State Capitol in 1978, also to end a budget debate, according to one senior legislative staff member.

After a brief discussion, Looney yielded to Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, who rose and announced he would conclude debate, but not before criticizing the Democratic leadership for muscling passage of a much-maligned budget through both chambers in little more than 12 hours on the last day.

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Posted 11:46 PM
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