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Friday, June 03, 2005

Gov Rell vetos crack-cocaine bill

Gov. Rell vetoed the bill that would of equalized the penalites for crack and cocaine posession in CT. Currently, the penality for posession of 28 grams of cocaine and 1/2 gram of crack is the same: 5 years mininum and 20 years maximum.

To put in into perspective, 28 grams of cocaine costs aproximently 2,000 dollars compared to 1/2 gram of crack (about the size of a rasin) which costs aproximently 50 dollars. Now if one is caught with 28 grams of coke, theres a good chance that the person was intended to sell it compared to a person with only a 1/2 gram of crack in his or her prosession. Under the current law, both individuals would recive the same jail time, five years minimum, twenty years maximum.
From the Hartford Courant:

The bill that Rell vetoed would have set 28 grams - or one ounce - as the possession threshold for either crack or powder cocaine. Currently, a person can be charged with intent to sell if he or she possess 28 grams of powder cocaine or 0.5 of a gram of crack - about the weight of half a raisin. The crimes carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum of 20 years.
The problem in the current law is obvious. Crack is cheaper and easliy available in urban cities than cocaine and since there is a larger emphasis on law enforcment in urban areas than suburbs, more African-Americans and Latinos are in state prisons for crack prosession.

Gov. Rell acknowledged that there is a problem with the current law and wants to fix the problem.
"I have also listened to the many painful stories of racial disparities, and I intend to act to address them," Rell said. "I want Connecticut in the forefront of this fight."
There is a Republican proposal on the floor that will set the limit of crack and cocaine posession at 14 grams. This compromise has failed in both houses in the past.
The Republican proposal, co-authored by Rep. Robert Farr in the House of Representatives, would set 14 grams - or one-half ounce - as the trigger for the crime of possession with intent to sell for both crack and powder cocaine. Amendments advancing the 14-gram limit failed previously in each chamber.

The troubling thing about the Republican proposal is not the compromise itself (lets be honest, if your caught with 14 grams of crack or coke, your probably intending on selling it) but why the 14-gram compromise bill failed to pass in the first place? Some people would say that the compromised bill did not pass originally because by lowering the amount of cocaine prosession from 28 to 14 grams, more whites in the suburbs would be being locked up and by increasing the crack possession limit to 14 grams, less minorities would be in jail. Again, since there is a larger emphasis on law enforcment in urban areas than suburbs, more minorities are being locked up under a current law that is clearly wrong (and many deed racist).

Gov. Rell made it pretty clear in the beginning that she would veto the 28-gram crack-cocaine bill so why pass a something that was doomed to fail? The proposal of 14-grams is not only fair, but it makes perfect sense and hopefully the compromised bill will be passed and signed into law without delay.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Move On.org collect over 1000 2nd District signatures

The Norwich Bulletin reports on MoveOn.org petition which was handed to Rob Simmon's office Wednesday.

"Tom DeLay should step down," said Dan Cayer of Stonington, a member of the local MoveOn.org campaign that delivered petitions with 1,123 signatures of 2nd District voters to Simmons' Norwich office Wednesday.

"This really is a credit to Rob that people in his district think he's an ethical representative," Cayer said. "If Rob is ethical he'd want to distance himself from DeLay."

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Simmons comes under fire by CT Democrats

CT Democrats hit the airwaves this weekend attacking Rob Simmons for opposition to an extention to the military's health care program and his reversal on a vote that would slashed 53 million dollars from the base closure program (BRAC).

Seems like Simmons is not too happy about the criticism.

The narrator of the advertisements, Maj. Gen. John Havens, the retired adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, criticizes the vote against the expanded care as “just wrong,” according to a transcript of the spot provided by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“Congressman Rob Simmons was among those who voted to deny these heroes the health care they deserve,” the ad says. “Tell Congressman Simmons he owes those who serve our nation more than Memorial Day speeches.”

Simmons responded with a sharply worded statement – mentioning his military service, including three years in combat in Vietnam – which said he considered it “offensive that the DCCC would engage in deceptive partisan attacks over Memorial Day.”

“This is a time for remembrance and reflection, for placing flags on gravestones, for patriotic parades – not divisive partisan rhetoric,” the statement said. “Shame on them for airing these trash advertisements on such a solemn occasion.”

A spokeswoman for the DCCC, Sarah Feinberg, responded in kind: “Shame on Rob Simmons for voting against health care for National Guard members and reservists,” she said.

As I stated in an earlier post, Simmons and Nancy Johnson have some serious explaining to do and they have no one but themselves to blame for the criticsm they now face. Their bowing down to the pressure from DeLay will come back to haunt them next year.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Clean up your mess

If you're going to leave, the least you could do is clean up the mess you made.

But while the Navy pledges $23.9 million toward cleaning the base it opened as a naval station in 1868, officials said Wednesday that cleanup would only be to industrial standards. State officials fear the money won't be nearly enough to make the land fit for residential or recreational use.

"That's not a redevelopment opportunity, that's a minefield of contamination," said Gina McCarthy, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The military has a history of shutting down bases and leaving behind contaminated land. Thirty-four bases closed since 1988 are on the Superfund list of worst toxic waste sites, and none is completely cleaned yet.

Guess who is going to be felt with the bill?

Johnson, Simmons flip flop a blow to Connecticut military

These two have some explaining to do.

Meanwhile, two Republican House members from Connecticut provided the swing votes late Thursday to kill a measure that would have cut funding for the base closings.

Rep. Rob Simmons, who has been a vocal critic of the Pentagon's process and decisions, and Rep. Nancy Johnson initially voted in favor of cutting $169 million from BRAC and moving it to veterans programs and funding for families of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their support gave the measure enough votes to pass.

But under pressure from GOP leaders, several Republicans including Johnson and Simmons changed their votes at the last minute, and the amendment lost by one vote -- 213-214. Neither would explain the change.

They wouldn't explain their change because it's a disgrace and a vote that will haunt Simmons and Johnson once the election season gets underway.