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Friday, July 22, 2005

Schaghticoke Indian Nation wins a round in court

I wonder why this story isn't being covered in the media. The Schaghticoke case can have a huge impact on Connecticut if their tribe is recognized by the federal government and they just won a ruling in Federal court today.

U.S. District Court Judge Peter Dorsey has ruled that the tribe may submit new evidence to the BIA about tribal marriage rates during the first half of the 19th century to prove the tribe's continuous community and political authority while the agency prepares its reconsidered final decision.

The BIA's January 2004 decision to grant the Schaghticoke federal acknowledgement was vacated in May by the Interior Board of Indian Appeals on appeal by the state, and remanded back to the BIA for reconsideration.

The new evidence will respond to a statement from the Office of Federal Acknowledgement to the appeals board last December - 18 months after the tribe was federally acknowledged - that researchers had unintentionally used inconsistent methods to calculate intra-tribal marriage rates and had made a mathematical error.

The new documents and reply briefs from interveners will be filed during the next few weeks under a tight timeline set by Dorsey. The federal judge has overseen all procedures in the BIA's evaluation of the Schaghticokes' petition because of the tribe's pending land claims for 2,150 acres of undeveloped land abutting the 300-member tribe's 400-acre reservation on Schaghticoke Mountain.

The ruling also extends the BIA's decision deadline by 30 days to Oct. 12.

[...]

OFA Director Lee Fleming, in a July 14 ''technical assistance'' letter to Schaghticoke Tribal Nation Chief Richard Velky, requested specific documents ''from 1801 to about 1850,'' including vital statistics and court cases cited in previous submissions, and legible photocopies of original handwritten overseers' reports for the same period.




What's at the heart of the matter here is if the Schaghticoke become recognized, they could build casinos in Western Conneticut and that doesn't sit so well with some people.

We'll keep a closer eye on this story and see how it plays out but again I ask, why hasn't this story appeared in the press? You would think this is an important story for obvious reasons.

Computer problems

My computer was attacked by a nasty virus today so I'm going to be down while I do a system check.

The forum is open. I know there's alot of news happening in Connecticut and Washington today but until I can get back online, I'd like to hear from you.

Did Simmons try the rice at Gitmo?

The New London Day Columnist David Collins explains

At first it was hard to imagine even Rob Simmons, great apologist for the sins of the Bush administration, coming back from Guantanamo Bay, a place Amnesty International has branded the "gulag of our time", praising the food.

And of course just one day after Simmons delivered his sunny report from the interrogation chambers at Guantanamo, a new military report to the Senate disclosed more findings of “abusive and degrading” treatment of prisoners there.

The military couldn't find evidence of the specific acts of torture alleged by the FBI, but found enough inhumane treatment of the terminally detained there to embarrass all but the most hardened governments. How could Simmons be talking about the same place?

That's when I realized what was wrong here. Turns out the congressman wasn't in Cuba at all. You see Simmons told aides he wanted to visit that gated offshore community where he's been helping to funnel millions of federal dollars to make infrastructure improvements and fight the war on terror.

So they sent him to Fishers Island. No wonder he had such a good time.

Nothing explains this better, of course, than the congressman's report on the food, what he thought was a typical detainee's meal.

What could be more natural than being served, in some dusty old dining room in one of the island's big shingle piles, the “tasty” gravy over Swiss steak — with wax beans and white rice — that he described?

And all this, no doubt, after a pitcher of dry martinis and a bowl of Goldfish.

[...]

Of course Rob Simmons would always get a warm welcome on Fishers Island. He boasts of securing $4.75 million in federal funds to build a terminal in New London for the ferry service to Fishers, an island that limits public access.

When the more populist-leaning Block Island ferry got $17,500 in Homeland Security grants for port security two years ago, the Fishers Island ferry got $300,000. The Long Island ferry, which carries routine traffic from Connecticut, got $56,000.

This is sort of like the War on Terror's equivalent of another Simmons favorite: tax cuts for the very rich.

Ouch, busted.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Will DeStefano's attack on Rell backfire


The editoral from today's Norwich Bulletin makes the case.

DeStefano, mayor of New Haven, at a cost of $15,000 recently mailed 2,000 DVDs to potential donors with the message Rowland may be in jail but "the same old policies are in charge."

While that voice-over runs, a picture of Rowland and his inmate number morphs into a picture of Rell.

This is a very dangerous game, and a seasoned politician like DeStefano should know better.

The people of Connecticut have taken a liking to Rell. Five months after being cast into office when the allegations of corruption against Rowland became too much for him to bear, Rell was operated on for breast cancer.

That was in December. In April, a Quinnipiac University poll put her approval rating at 80 percent -- the highest ever for a statewide leader.

The people like Rell.

DeStefano should challenge Rell on the issues facing the state -- that is, if Rell chooses to run, a decision she has not yet revealed.


DeStefano took a risky move making the DVD bashing Rell and I can see the Bulletin's point, she's a popular politician with very high approval ratings. On the other hand, this is hardball politics and if there is one thing from the national election we're learned, it's that if you can label your opponent early and make it stick, you'll put that person on the defensive (which will ultimately work to your advantage because you'll knock your oppenent off message).

If DeStefano can make enough noise linking Rell to Rowland, if anything, he'll be the candidate getting all the free press coverage while the others are on the sidelines. On the other hand, people might get turned off with the his smear campaign. The jury is still out on whether this will work in DeStefano's advantage, we'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

Why the Rove scandal is SO important

Oh, this is getting too easy and it finally seems like the wheels are coming off the Bush wagon. Today's story in the Washington Post goes beyond the Rove scandal and exposes the more lies from the Bush team. The guys at AMERICAblog cuts to the chase about the Bush administration lies and shows more evidence that the administration lied when they suggested that Iraq was trying to aquire uramium from Niger.

I'm posting a majority of their post because I think it's terribly important that you understand that the Rove/Plame case has less to do with the leak itself and MUCH more to do with the rationale we were sold in the run up to the war.

But the irony I love is that anyone actually READING the memo would know Bush lied in the State of the Union address.

Almost all of the memo is devoted to describing why State Department intelligence experts did not believe claims that Saddam Hussein had in the recent past sought to purchase uranium from Niger. Only two sentences in the seven-sentence paragraph mention Wilson's wife....

The material in the memo about Wilson's wife was based on notes taken by an INR analyst who attended a Feb. 19, 2002, meeting at the CIA where Wilson's intelligence-gathering trip to Niger was discussed.

The memo was drafted June 10, 2003, for Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, who asked to be brought up to date on INR's opposition to the White House view that Hussein was trying to buy uranium in Africa.

The description of Wilson's wife and her role in the Feb. 19, 2002, meeting at the CIA was considered "a footnote" in a background paragraph in the memo, according to an official who was aware of the process.

It records that the INR analyst at the meeting opposed Wilson's trip to Niger because the State Department, through other inquiries, already had disproved the allegation that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. Attached to the INR memo were the notes taken by the senior INR analyst who attended the 2002 meeting at the CIA.
So even before the first of THREE seperate investigations were launched by the Bush administration, the State Dept. had already dismissed the rumour that Hussein had tried to buy uranium in Niger as without merit. Think about that. A rumour -- based on poorly forged documents that the Hardy Boys could have exposed in five minutes -- pops up overseas. The State Dept. investigates and realizes there is absolutely no evidence to back it up -- it ain't even worth investigating. Bush is desperate for "proof" so he can justify going to war and sends the esteemed Joseph Wilson (praised by Bush's father as a "hero" and eminently qualified for the task) to check it out anyway. Wilson comes back and says it isn't true. They launch a second investigation -- still no evidence. They launch a THIRD investigation. Nope -- nothing, nada to back up a shaky rumour the State Dept. had already dismissed as meaningless.

Bush tries to insert it into a speech anyway -- this inflammatory claim that a foreign power is trying to obtain nuclear weapons-grade material that he HAS ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT. The CIA strenuously objects and gets the claim removed. But then Bush goes ahead and makes the claim anyway in his State of the Union address and the American people believe he speaks the truth. Meanwhile, the Downing Street Memo -- minutes of a meeting with the top leaders of the UK -- made crystal clear that our closest ally believed Bush was going to war no matter what and was lying, ie. fixing the evidence to justify it.

Joseph Wilson ultimately comes forward after the war was launched and says simply there was no evidence to back up those 16 words. He is attacked and mocked and smeared. His WIFE is attacked. And national security is endangered, all to smack down the fact that Bush's central evidence in going to war -- the attempt to buy uranium in Niger and the "tubes" -- didn't hold water AND BUSH KNEW IT.

If you don't want to call Bush a liar, if you want to pretend that maybe he didn't know about the State Dept.'s objections (who listens to Colin Powell anyway?) and maybe he didn't know about the first or second or even third investigation into this rumour, the simple fact remains that President Bush took this nation to war and made the most serious claim against a foreign power that he could and did it during the solemn occasion of the State of the Union address on the eve of war and HE HAD NO PROOF TO BACK IT UP.

The info in this story about the memo makes that fact even clearer. And this isn't second-guessing -- EVERYONE AGREED the rumour didn't hold water. NO ONE argued that it did except political hacks who wanted to justify going to war.

Why did Bush tell the American people something as serious as this without being ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN it was true? Why did Bush go to war based on "smoking guns" that turned out to be nothing more than water pistols? And the joke was on the American people. This is why Rove smeared a public servant with an impeccable record and endangered national security by outing a covert operative -- the FIRST TIME a politcal hack has done so in our nation's history. What more "evidence" does Bush need? He's gone to war on far, far less.

CT lawmakers meet with BRAC members

Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Leiberman met with members of the BRAC committee who were unable to hear the CT delegation's presentation earlier this month and were unable to visit the sub base in Groton last month. With some BRAC members expressing concern over the value of closing the base in Groton, hopefully the continued criticisms from the CT delegation can ultimately lead to BRAC taking Groton off the list of and saving the base.

From the Norwich Bulletin:

Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation met Wednesday with Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commissioners Jim Hansen and James Hill to discuss the importance of the Groton submarine base to national security.

U.S. Sens. Christopher Dodd and Joseph Lieberman and U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, met with the two commissioners who have not heard the state's argument for keeping the base open.

Hansen and Hill did not tour the sub base June 1 with other BRAC commission members and they did not participate in the July 6 hearing in Boston, when the Connecticut delegation presented its case for removing the base from the Pentagon's closure list.

"We delivered a very clear message: Sub Base New London is our nation's premier submarine facility and closing it would do irreparable damage to our national security and the American taxpayers' wallet," Dodd said. "This is a national security issue and I believe the commissioners listened carefully to our arguments."

Dodd said it was just one more step in a "marathon" to try to keep the base open. And work was not done yet.

Hey Rove, the "S" is for secret buddy.

Wow! I guess the press is back on the Rove story again. Pushing the Supreme Court nomination didn't give Rove much breathing room after all. Hope he got a good night sleep because he's on the FRONT PAGE of the Washington Post again.

From the Washington Post:

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Plame -- who is referred to by her married name, Valerie Wilson, in the memo -- is mentioned in the second paragraph of the three-page document, which was written on June 10, 2003, by an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), according to a source who described the memo to The Washington Post.

The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.

Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said. It is a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a federal official to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert CIA official if the person knows the government is trying to keep it secret.

[...]

The memo may be important to answering three central questions in the Plame case: Who in the Bush administration knew about Plame's CIA role? Did they know the agency was trying to protect her identity? And, who leaked it to the media?

Almost all of the memo is devoted to describing why State Department intelligence experts did not believe claims that Saddam Hussein had in the recent past sought to purchase uranium from Niger. Only two sentences in the seven-sentence paragraph mention Wilson's wife.

The memo was delivered to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on July 7, 2003, as he headed to Africa for a trip with President Bush aboard Air Force One. Plame was unmasked in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak seven days later.

I guess we can assume this is where the information regarding Joe Wilson's wife originated. It's pretty hard to now say that Rove and other White House officals didn't know that Wilson's wife was undercover because the memo clearly stated that she was a covert agent. Also, since they were all on Air Force One together, it would be very easy for anyone (Rove, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Ari Fleischer) to learn about the memo as everyone in the Bush administration shares information with each other and they needed to find a way to discredit Wilson as soon as possible.

London hit again

Three trains and one bus bombed. No reports of anyone killed yet (and hopefully it stays that way).

From the AP wire
Explosions struck three London Underground stations and a bus at midday Thursday in a chilling but less deadly replay of the suicide bombings that killed 56 people two weeks ago.

Only one person was reported wounded, but the lunch-hour explosions caused major shock and disruption in the capital and were hauntingly similar to the July 7 bombings by four attackers.

The London police commissioner confirmed Thursday that four explosions took place in what he described as "a very serious incident."

"We've had four explosions — four attempts at explosions," Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair said outside police headquarters at Scotland Yard.

"At the moment the casualty numbers appear to be very low ... the bombs appear to be smaller" than those detonated July 7.

Police also said an armed police unit had entered University College hospital. Press Association, the British news agency, said they arrived shortly after an injured person was carried in.

Sky News TV reported that police were searching for a man with a blue shirt with wires protruding. In a memo to hospital staff, officers asked employees to look for a black or Asian male, 6 feet 2 inches tall, wearing a blue top with a hole in the back and wires protruding


Go to BBC News for more information.

How much will it really cost to clean the base?

How much it will cost to clean up the sub base in Groton if the military closes the facility. The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Department of Enviromental Protection can't seen to agree on how much it wil cost to clean up the place. One has to wonder how much the cleanup is going to cost average taxpayer (you can bet no one wants to answer that question). Whatever the agreeed estimated pricetag turns out to be, if I was a betting man, I'd automatically double that amount.

From the Hartford Courant:

When it comes to the proposed closure of the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, are the U.S. Navy and the state Department of Environmental Protection really looking at the same 700-acre site?

There is a $133 million difference between what the two agencies say it would cost to properly address decades of environmental ravages from pollutants such as lead, diesel oil and PCBs.

Environmental cleanup has emerged as a key argument made by the state delegation fighting to keep the sub base from being mothballed. Both the DEP and the state Attorney General's office have pushed the case.

For instance, the state disputes the Navy's claim of $10 million in immediate or unavoidable cleanup costs at the base, which 15 years ago was placed on the country's federal Superfund list of worst hazardous-waste sites.

DEP analysts say the more accurate figure is four times that much - that ensuring up-to-par sealing and monitoring of all the underground tanks, some of which are larger than the typical home, would cost $1.4 million alone.

"Like a gas station, you can't just go away and leave the tanks in the ground and say we decided not to run this gas station anymore," Connecticut DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy said.

DEP analysts believe that in making the calculations to determine the closure list, the Navy demonstrated tunnel vision by focusing on costs for Superfund areas - ignoring the adjacent grounds that suffer from their own pollutants and a host of other issues.

The result, these analysts say, is that widespread and expensive factors have been disregarded - such as a potential $35 million in pesticide work that would likely be required around some 200 buildings on base.
On second thought, take the final estimated cost, and triple it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

DeLauro's proposal doesn't get a vote

You have to give Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro credit, she tried her best to save jobs in Connecticut but the House and Rules Committee turned her down.

The 3rd district democrat's proposal would of put a hault to the outsourcing of the construction of presidential helicopter, Marine One to Lockheed Martin and AgustaWestland, an Italian-English company. Her proposal also would of saved the jobs of the construction workers at Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft, the current builders of the helicopter. Unfortunately, the House and Rules committee crushed her proposal before it reached the House floor.

From the Hartford Courant:
Connecticut congressional efforts to revisit the Pentagon's decision to award the Marine One contract to a team that includes foreign companies all but ended Tuesday when House leaders refused to even allow a vote on the issue.

Under a proposal authored by Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3rd District, any companies working on Marine One, the presidential helicopter, would not be allowed to do business with terrorist states.

She also sought to have any component of Marine One approved by the State Department's export control office before it could be sold overseas. The office approves any technology that has or could have a military use.

[...]

The delegation's chief hope for changing the decision was to put limits on foreign countries involved in building the helicopter. But with the Bush administration close to Italian and British leaders, and eager to build the new generation of presidential helicopters quickly, that tactic has gone nowhere.

DeLauro tried. She cited a study showing some companies that will build the helicopter have indicated interest in doing business with Iran, North Korea and China, among others.

"The Marine One helicopter is expected to have the most advanced parts, security features, communications equipment and survivability of any rotorcraft in our military's arsenal," DeLauro said Tuesday.

"To allow that technology and equipment to fall into the hands of America's enemies is a risk that none of us should take," she said. "But incredibly, that is exactly what the House Republican leadership has done."

Outsourcing the construction of the President's helicopter doesn't sound very American. How is rewarding the helicopter contract to companies overseas benefit the United States when the result of the outsourcing will be American workers losing their jobs?

Bush rushes nomination

Well, it's now offical. President Bush rushed his Supreme Court nominee in order to get the Rove story off the air for awhile. Hopefully the mainstream media will continue to cover the Rove scandal and fall for this stunt.

From Bloomberg News:

President George W. Bush's nomination of a new Supreme Court justice may give White House adviser Karl Rove a temporary reprieve from public scrutiny of his role in the disclosure of an intelligence operative's identity.

[...]

Bush accelerated his search for a Supreme Court nominee in part because of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name, according to Republicans familiar with administration strategy.

Bush originally had planned to announce a replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on July 26 or 27, just before his planned July 28 departure for a month-long vacation at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, said two administration officials, who spoke on the condition they not be named.

The officials said those plans changed because Rove has become a focus of Fitzgerald's interest and of news accounts about the matter.

Incredible.

Scotty has beemed up


RIP

Did Rove lie to the FBI?

Seems like Rove didn't follow the Martha Stewart rule: NEVER LIE TO THE FEDS!

Murray Waas from the American Prospect gives the details.
White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove’s first interview with the FBI, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

The omission by Rove created doubt for federal investigators, almost from the inception of their criminal probe into who leaked Plame's name to columnist Robert Novak, as to whether Rove was withholding crucial information from them, and perhaps even misleading or lying to them, the sources said.

Also leading to the early skepticism of Rove's accounts was the claim that although he first heard that Plame worked for the CIA from a journalist, he said could not recall the name of the journalist. Later, the sources said, Rove wavered even further, saying he was not sure at all where he first heard the information.

Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, has said that Rove never knew that Plame was a covert officer when he discussed her CIA employment with reporters, and that he only first learned of her clandestine status when he read about it in the newspaper. Luskin did not return a telephone call today seeking comment for this story.

Oh, he is in SO much trouble...

Are BRAC members showing concern for the Northeast?

Is this good news for Groton?

From the Hartford Courant
The chairman of the base-closings commission said Tuesday that he's concerned the military is "virtually abandoning" the Northeast, particularly New England, by closing or scaling back several of its bases.

"Closing all the bases in the Northeast is just the wrong thing to do," said Anthony J. Principi, chairman of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, "and sometimes I get the feeling that's what we are doing."

"I remain concerned about closing any base in the Northeast. ... It's something that concerns me, and something we'll consider as we go forward," the former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs secretary told colleagues.

None of the nine-member panel's votes Tuesday directly affected the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, the largest single closure on the Pentagon's original list of recommendations. But the session at a Senate office building offered some insights into the thinking of the members.

Asked if his concerns meant he would be more willing to keep the Groton base open, Principi said: "The commission would need to make that decision. But I'm concerned about it."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Courtney slams Simmons over Rove defense


Amazing. Simply amazing.

With a sub base in Groton to save, 2nd district Congressman Rob Simmons should have alot to do but not only does the Congressman he have time to make a quick pitstop at Gitmo and try the rice, he also has the time to make what can be only considered "outrageous" comments regarding the Karl Rove scandal

Simmons claims that Karl Rove did not violate a law in outing CIA operative Valerie Plame because she worked at Langley VA. Anyone who has followed this case knows that the statements from Simmons doesn't even pass the smell test as numerous news outlets reported that Plame was not only a undercover at the time, but worked undercover as an anaylsis at Brewster-Jennings & Associates (a CIA cover job).

Wisely, Democratic challenger, Joseph Courtney (pictured), pounced on Simmons'silly defense of Rove.
Simmons also said that neither Rove nor any other White House official violated a law intended to protect covert agents working abroad, especially since Plame worked at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.

Rove, President Bush's key political operative, is embroiled in a controversy over who leaked the identity of Plame to the media, including a New York Times reporter who has been jailed for refusing to identify her source for a story she did not write.

Plame is the wife of former diplomat Joseph C. Wilson, who publicly protested Bush's assertion in his 2003 State of the Union address that Saddam Hussein was seeking to obtain uranium from Africa.

Courtney on Monday pounced on a comment Simmons was reported to have made last week that the Justice Department investigation into the Plame leak was "much ado about nothing."

He accused Simmons of "parroting his minders at the Bush White House in an effort to save Rove's job."

"It's disturbing and disheartening that Rob Simmons' convictions seem mushy as best," Courtney said, referring to Simmons' previously reported statements that the exposure was "a very serious matter" and "may be a matter of life and death."

Courtney continued the offensive today, arguing that "the only thing that's changed from the beginning is the fact that we now know Karl Rove was involved.

[...]

Simmons, meanwhile, insisted that "assertions that Rove or the White House staff violated the law do not ring true" and that the brouhaha was simply "just another case of Washington partisan politics."

Simmons said he had spent a decade living undercover on assignment for the CIA and that he knew of "the risks associated with the pernicious activity of "naming names."'

If Simmons knows the risks of naming names, then can he explain how Rove's outing of Joe Wilson's wife (simply for political revenge), exposing the cover company she worked for, and placing other agents lives in danger (assume that if her cover was blown, that agents she worked with were in trouble also) not a big deal and just partisan politics?

With only 25 percent of the country believing that the President is being truthful about the White House involvement in the Plame case, you would think SImmons would be wise not to make such comments.

Maybe it's that Gitmo rice.

Looks like Bush, sounds like Clinton


Here is the text of Bush's remarks at the swearing-in ceremony for senior members of the White House staff on January 22, 2001.

An excerpt: "We have all taken an oath, and from this moment on it is our jobs to honor it. . . .

"[W]e must remember the high standards that come with high office. This begins with careful adherence to the rules. I expect every member of this administration to stay well within the boundaries that define legal and ethical conduct. This means avoiding even the appearance of problems. This means checking and, if need be, doublechecking that the rules have been obeyed. This means never compromising those rules."

I guess these rules don't apply to Karl Rove.
After originally saying anyone involved in leaking the name of the covert CIA operative would be fired, Bush told reporters: "If somebody committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

Forget about moving the goalposts, he moved the entire football field.

Are politicians playing politics with eniment domain?

Are lawmakers going too far in proposing changes to the eniment domain law? That's what some Connecticut municipalities think and they're concerned that lawmakers are just playing politics.

Here's an interesting article from the New Britan Herald.
A group representing Connecticut municipalities warned Monday that state lawmakers may have gone overboard in asking cities and towns for a moratorium on the use of eminent domain to seize properties.

"Eminent domain, properly exercised, is a long-recognized and essential tool of state and local governments," Joel Cogen, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said in letters to legislative leaders and Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

[...]

State House Minority Leader Robert M. Ward, R-North Branford, with the support of Rell, a fellow Republican, has called for a special legislative session to immediately ban the use of eminent domain for such private development.

During the recent legislative session, Republican lawmakers unsuccessfully attempted to limit state and local powers of eminent domain.

Democratic legislative leaders say they need time to study the issue and have planned public hearings for later this month. But they also say they expect the General Assembly will make changes in the eminent domain laws.
In the article, New Haven Mayor accuses Gov. Rell of hypocrisy and raises an interesting point; the biggest taker of land in New Haven is not the city, but the state.
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. accused Rell and Ward of "playing pure politics" with the eminent domain issue. "They’re being hypocritical..because they want this (proposed prohibition on using eminent domain in some cases) to apply to cities and towns but not to the state."

"The biggest taker of property in New Haven has been the state," said DeStefano, who is one of several candidates for the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial nomination. "This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black."

A spokesman for Rell said the governor’s administration would not use eminent domain to take property for economic development purposes until the legislature takes action.

"In the year since Jodi Rell became governor, the state has not taken any land by eminent domain for economic development purposes," said Rell spokesman Judd Everhart. "It is the administration’s intention to abide by a moratorium for economic development."
Hopefully, changes to the law will be done based on a true desire to change the law and not simply to score political points (this is a election year). Again, as I stated before, if the lawmakers in Connecticut were so concerned with eniment domain, where where they when the New London case was going through the courts?

Farrell suggests camera surveillance for trains

Smart idea. Makes you wonder why this hasn't been done already.

From The Danbury News Times
Cameras in train stations could be an option for Connecticut and neighboring states in the wake of the London train bombings.

Westport First Selectman Diane Farrell, a candidate for Congress, proposes installing cameras at Connecticut train stations in an attempt to prevent similar bombings here.

London police quickly got leads on bombing suspects because of a high-tech video security network in the subway system, Farrell said.

Such surveillance equipment could help prevent terrorist attacks on Metro-North Railroad or help police track suspects if something happened at a station, said Farrell, a Democrat who plans to run against Republican U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays in 2006 for the 4th Congressional District seat.

"There ought to be improved surveillance equipment along the entire Metro-North line," said Farrell, who is also chairwoman of the South Western Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, a state agency made up of the eight municipal leaders in lower Fairfield County. "There should be cameras on platforms and cameras in the parking lots. We should at least try to improve the surveillance technologies that we have in place."


I couldn't agree more.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Wonder why schools are so bad in Connecticut

Maybe it's because cities are stealing money that was allocated to schools and are using it for other purposes. If you think it's unfair, than you'll like the new law just passed that will forbid towns and cities from stealing funds from education.

From the Hartford Courant:

Taxpayers might not know it, but the state aid sent to cities and towns for education does not always find its way to schools. Municipal officials have been able to divert or "supplant" portions of educational cost sharing grants to pay for roads, heavy equipment and other expenses having nothing to do with education.

A provision tucked into a bill passed in the waning hours of the state legislative session last month is changing that. The added language is putting teeth in the Education Cost Sharing program and giving school officials the leverage they need to claim the money.

"It's basically saying if a town receives additional education dollars, those funds must be spent on education," said state Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, and House chairman of the legislature's education committee. "Unfortunately, there are a number of towns who have a lamentable history of reallocating education dollars for other needs. "

[...]

The tussle over the money is rooted in the fact that education cost sharing grants and other state aid for education are deposited in the general fund of a city or town and then doled out to school boards. Because any additional education cost sharing money is not allocated until the end of the legislative session in late June, city officials have the option of hanging on to whatever they receive above the amount requested for school budgets.

"It beefs up the fund balance when it's more than anticipated," said Glenn Clocko, comptroller for Bristol, who estimated that 80 percent to 90 percent of cities and towns in the state use the money for expenses other than education.

"That's the game," said Mark DeNicholas, director of finance for the Winsted Board of Education. "As long as [city officials] zero out the budget in the end, they can manipulate the money."
Makes you wonder how much towns and cities really care about education if they're stealing the money for other purposes.

First it's fire anyone who was involved in leak, now it's fire anyone who committed a crime

Oh, this is just too much. Bush just flip-flopped and says now that he'll fire anyone in his administration who committed a crime in the Valerie Plame leak when earlier he said that he would fire anyone in his administration who was involved in the leaking of a CIA operative. Maybe he moved the goal posts because we now know that Rove fulfilled the earlier requirement because he was Robert Novak and Matthew Cooper's source.

Although this additional requirement just might saves Rove's head from being placed on the chopping block, it will seriously damage the President's credibility. I don't the people are going to fall for this change in language and you can be sure that the Democrats will pounce all over Bush.

From the AP:
President Bush said Monday that if anyone in his administration committed a crime in connection with the public leak of the identity of a CIA operative, that person will "no longer work in my administration." At the same time, Bush yet again sidestepped a question on the role of his top political adviser, Karl Rove, in the matter.

"We have a serious ongoing investigation here and it's being played out in the press," Bush said at an East Room news conference.

Bush, appearing at a news conference with visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, spoke a day after Time magazine's Matthew Cooper said that a 2003 phone call with Rove was the first he heard about the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson apparently working for the CIA.

Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone in his administration shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have be shown that a crime was committed.

Asked at a June 10, 2004 news conference if he stood by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked Plame's name, Bush answered, "Yes. And that's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts."

[...]

Some Democrats have called for Rove, whose title is deputy chief of staff, to be fired. They have suggested that he violated a 1982 federal law that prohibits the deliberate exposure of the name of a CIA agent.

"It's best people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. I don't know all the facts. I want to know all the facts," Bush said Monday. "I would like this to end as quickly as possible. If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

It was the second time that Bush, when asked specifically about Rove's involvement in the matter, passed up an opportunity to come to his adviser's defense.

Bush has appeared with Rove at his side several times over the past week, however. And White House spokesman Scott McClellan has said Rove — as well anyone who works now at the White House — continues to have the president's confidence.

The president did not respond directly to a reporter's question on whether he disapproved of Rove's telling a reporter that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA on weapons of mass destruction issues.


The White House had no problem commenting about this on going case a couple of years ago when they said that Rove was not involved in the leak. Now, not only are they tight-lipped and not commenting, the President is changing his requirements for firing the person who leaked the name.
Wonder if Clinton would of been able to get away with something like this in his administration?

Most CT lawmakers still quiet on eniment domain

Although the Supreme Court's eniment domain ruling was based on a case form New London, most Connecticut lawmakers aren't doing much to help curb the law.

From today's Connecticut Post

Connecticut lawmakers are taking a back seat in a fast-moving congressional effort to blunt a Supreme Court decision that allows the government to take private land for economic development.

The decision, issued June 23 and based on a New London, Conn., case, drew sharp criticism from some members of Congress, who see it as an assault on individual property rights.

However, no one from the Connecticut delegation is spearheading efforts to limit the practice, although a few state lawmakers are co-sponsoring bills.

And so far, none have participated in floor debates and none have posted any comments about the New London decision or eminent domain on their Web sites — although dozens of other lawmakers have done so.

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, expressed concerns about the decision when asked for their opinion.

But Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., sided with the Supreme Court.

At least 30 House members and six Senators have posted statements criticizing the Supreme Court ruling on their Web sites; others, notably members of the House Western Caucus, have spoken out against it.

[...]

Simmons was the only member of the Connecticut delegation to support another amendment offered by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, which would have stricken $1.5 million from the Supreme Court's $60 million budget as a punitive measure. The amendment failed 374-42.

Simmons, whose district includes New London, has been quiet about the issue, although he has supported every eminent-domain resolution and amendment that has come before the House.

In a press statement, Simmons said he has "great sympathy for the homeowners and business owners" affected by the decision and is taking steps to remedy what he considers a flawed reading of the Constitution.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Sunday open thread

Watching "Face the State" right now and just finished watching "Meet the Press" and all I can say is the President has a very big problem on his hands with the Karl Rove saga.

I'll be posting about Nancy Johnson and her amazing war chest later today but for now I just want to say that I was struck by the amount of money she has on hand right now. If it was just based on money, then Johnson is going to be very hard person to compete against but I'll get into that later.

Thank goodness I have a DVR, there is so much political stuff on TV now that without my ReplayTV, I would miss alot of information.

What's happening in Connecticut that I should know about. Have at it!