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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Hartford Courant goes soft on Newton

What was The Hartford Courant thinking when they published this article?

A state senator that takes bribes and The Hartford Courant does a soft feature story on State Senator Ernest Newton's political life? You have to be kidding me right? Why is he getting a pass from the state largest newspaper? You would think that after the Rowland scandal, the press would be more critical on any political officals who allegedly took bribes. Why then would the Courant write a story that profiles Newton's entire life in such a way that the reader could have pity for him.

The story of Newton's life shows a man of contradictions - an ex-drug addict from the inner city who is also a former music teacher and an accomplished piano player of classical and gospel music. He is a fighter for the poorest of the poor and is under investigation for taking bribes from the head of a job-training agency.

During his 17-year career in the legislature, Newton has become known as a champion of the underprivileged and a proponent of the so-called millionaires' tax on the state's wealthiest residents. As the former co-chairman of the legislature's public safety committee - he stepped down earlier this year after news broke that he was under investigation - Newton pushed for a bill to counter racial profiling by the police in motor-vehicle stops. He later sought to equalize the penalties for possession with intent to sell crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

It's all nice that Newton was able to get his life together but this has nothing to do with the web of corruption he has created. Actually, I could care less about his past, I care about what the person is doing today and from what I read and saw this past week, Newton could be facing some serious trouble.

This week we find out in court that FBI has a tape recording of Newton accepting a bribe, Warren Keith Godbolt of Brideport's Progressive Training Associates admitted to bribing "a unnamed political official" thousands of dollars and anyone who has watched this case knows that the unmamed political offical is Newton.
Newton's friends want to believe he is not guilty, but prosecutors say they have a wiretap recording of a discussion concerning the $5,000 bribe. Public documents show investigators conducted wiretaps over 178 days last year, collecting 391 "incriminating" intercepts in a corruption case that is believed to be focused on Newton.

[...]

But friends and insiders say that the allegations took on a new level of seriousness when Warren Keith Godbolt went to federal court this week and pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges. Godbolt admitted embezzling as much as $120,000 from Progressive Training Associates Inc., a Bridgeport nonprofit agency that was awarded $100,000 last year to renovate its headquarters. Court documents said the unnamed official who took the bribe from Godbolt issued two press releases taking credit for the state aid; both came from Newton's office.

With all this evidence against him, you would think the Courant would rake Newton over the coals or dig deeper into his involvment with other agencies and see if he has accepted bribes from other people. Instead, he's called a political survivor and we get cute quotes of support from his supporters such as Lt. Gov Kevin Sullivan.

"Ernie is a survivor," Sullivan said. "He's a street kid who made it, then lost it - getting heavily involved in a bad cocaine addiction while serving in the legislature. Then he beat it, and came back. That's what strikes me as incomprehensible - to put himself in this position after having clawed and scraped and fought back to be where he is."
NOTE TO SULLIVAN: If your running for governor, please make this the last quote about Edward Newton you ever make. The last thing you would want is offering support to a crook who the FBI has on tape accepting a bribe.

One thing that the Courant has right, a majority of the democrats have been silent on the Newton problem when they should be asking for his resignation.

On Friday, state Republican Chairman William Hamzy said that the Senate Democrats have been remarkably silent in not calling for Newton's resignation.

"These same Democrat lawmakers who were so quick to articulate their indignation during the Rowland scandal have, for the most part, displayed an overt double standard when it comes to the ethical misconduct of their own," Hamzy said.

But Patrick Scully, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats, noted that Williams did say that Newton should resign if the allegations are true. Scully noted that Democrats did not call for Rowland's resignation until he had admitted lying to the general public and accepting gifts from contractors. By contrast, Newton maintains his innocence and has not been charged with anything.

"Rowland and Newton are two totally different things," Scully said. "It's not a double standard, and [Hamzy] knows it."

The double standard is that Rowland wasn't stupid enough to get caught accepting a bribe on a wiretap.

Every newspaper should be treating the Newton case as a critical hard news story and not a cute profile story. After the Rowland scandal, people in Connecticut should expect that the press would be more critical on political officials when it comes to corruption and Newton should be no exception.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Time to face reality in Iraq


This Iraq War is a complete mess and has been managed poorly from the start. As each passing week goes by, the American public becomes more convinced that the war wasn't worth the price and the war is being fought based on a false information presented to us by the present administraion.

The people who are paying the price is our soliders who are fighting over there and as each passing day goes by, the insurgents are getting smarter and are killing more Americans with greater accuracy. The amoured vehicle pictured is the same type of vehicle used by the 14 soliders who died this week when they were blown up by a roadside bomb.

Here's a sombering article on the present situation in Iraq from today's New York Times
The explosion that killed 14 marines in Haditha yesterday was powerful enough to flip the 25-ton amphibious assault vehicle they were riding in, in keeping with an increasingly deadly trend, American military officers say.

In recent months the roadside bombs favored by insurgents in Iraq have grown significantly in size and sophistication, the officers say, adding to their deadliness and defeating efforts to increase troops' safety by adding armor to vehicles.

The new problems facing the military were displayed more than a week earlier, on July 23, when a huge bomb buried on a road southwest of Baghdad Airport detonated an hour before dark underneath a Humvee carrying four American soldiers.

The explosive device was constructed from a bomb weighing 500 pounds or more that was meant to be dropped from an aircraft, according to military explosives experts, and was probably Russian in origin.

The blast left a crater 6 feet deep and nearly 17 feet wide. All that remained of the armored vehicle afterward was the twisted wreckage of the front end, a photograph taken by American officers at the scene showed. The four soldiers were killed.

[...]

"This was a catastrophic event," said Sgt. Jason Knapp, an Air Force bomb technician who arrived at the scene of the multiple attacks the next morning. He found a foot from one of the American soldiers in the shallow water of a nearby canal. "It was pretty disturbing," he said.

Military personnel involved said the attack last month indicated to them that a new and deadly bomb-making cell singling out American patrols was operating near the large allied military base at the airport, an area that two officers said had seen little insurgent activity in months.

There was further evidence for that on Saturday. Less than a mile from the July 23 attack, four more American soldiers were killed when their Humvee was struck by another hidden bomb.

From the earliest days of the insurgency there has been a constantly evolving battle of wits between insurgent bombers and soldiers trying to stop the roadside bombs and suicide attacks.

As the threat from bombs and suicide attacks has grown, the Pentagon has rushed 24,000 armored Humvees to Iraq since late 2003. But the insurgents have responded by building bombs powerful enough to penetrate the vehicles' steel plating.

Senior American commanders say they have also seen evidence that insurgents are making increased use of "shaped" charges, which concentrate the blast and give it a better chance of penetrating armored vehicles, causing higher casualties.

This situation we face in Iraq is not looking good and there is no sign that it will get better in the future. The only good solution is to start seriously talking about pulling out and letting the Iraqis defend themselves. It's only with a withdrawl of troops will the soliders get the bullseye off of their backs.

Connecticut Post gives Newton the thumbs down

Newton is toast and the editorial in today's Connecticut Post says it all.

Yes, it's true that Newton was never specifically mentioned by name during the court proceedings. Federal prosecutors referred only to the recipient of the bribe from Warren Keith Godbolt as an elected "public official" and a member of the General Assembly.

However, evidence detailed in court by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Finnerty — including a reference of wiretaps of the public official's phone on which the bribe was discussed — leads directly to Newton.

While Newton has not yet been charged in the matter and certainly is entitled to a presumption of innocence, this is yet one more disgraceful episode — and the most egregious to date — involving the senator that have brought our repeated call for his resignation.

Newton has continually disgraced his office during the past year starting with his intimidating courtroom remarks in July 2004 to a Superior Court judge during a trial involving one of Newton's sons.

That was followed by the senator's inexcusable verbal tirade against Bridgeport police last September when he said some of Bridgeport's youths might want to "take the law into their own hands and shoot some cops" after a controversial shooting on the East Side.

Now, Bridgeport and its residents — still trying to restore the city's tarnished image after years of municipal corruption and convictions — are faced with yet another "pay-for-play" incident, the result of a federal probe of Newton first publicly disclosed last January.

Godbolt pleaded guilty to paying a $5,000 bribe to the "General Assembly member" for the official's help in securing $100,000 in state bonding to renovate the facilities of Progressive Training Associates in Bridgeport.

Newton is an disgraceful jerk of a politician who makes the past political crooks in Bridgeport look like nice guys. He's serves nothing but a disservice to all democrats in Connecticut and he should do the right thing an resign but knowing the type of person he is, you won't see him quit anytime soon unless all the democrats gang up on him and force him out.

Who did John DeStefano piss off at the New Haven Advocate

Wow, that's rather harsh.

The New Haven Advocate obviously has a gripe with John DeStefano and they went in full attack mode against him in their latest issue. The lead article centers around DeStefano's campaign contributions and basically calls his comment of running a "clean" campaign hypocritical.

His website boasts that he's a longtime supporter of public campaign financing and of getting "the corrosive influence of money" out of politics.

All the while, John DeStefano continues raking in campaign contributions from people who owe him their livelihoods. People who work at or get contracts from City Hall, over which he presides as New Haven's mayor. People who work for the school system whose board he appoints. People who want public favors--including public money--for their downtown real estate projects.

And people who would love to have a good relationship with the man DeStefano hopes to be: the governor of Connecticut.

If you expected a clean-money campaign from the guy who calls himself a clean-politics candidate, you will be disappointed.

If, on the other hand, you expected a sustained and aggressive shaking of the money tree, your expectations will be met. In the cash-hungry race for the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, DeStefano has far outraised his two rivals, pulling in more than $2.2 million since early 2004. More than $450,000 of that came in the last three months alone--an April-through-June cha-ching that roughly equaled the combined totals of opponents Dan Malloy and Susan Bysiewicz.

It's all perfectly legal under our current system.

Although it might seem suspect, The Advocate does says DeStefano has done nothing illegal so I don't understand the point? To run a campaign (especially when running for governor) cost alot of money so I say shake every tree you can shake before the other candidate grabs the cash. I'm not endorsing him but I can see DeStefano's logic and it's all legal (it isn't like he's taking bribes). Now, if he's illegally raking in money, that's a whole different matter but the article doesn't say that, it just lists the contributors to his campaign and leaves it to the readers to connect the dots.

I don't know what the true point of the article is but on first read, it seems much more opinion than news. It would be interesting to look into the history of DeStefano and the Advocate and see how far back the bad blood goes.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Newton has nothing to smile about

Note to state Sen. Ernest E. Newton, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE RESIGN NOW!

Look Senator Newton, it's simple, you've been caught red-handed because the executive director of Progressive Training Associates in Bridgeport admitted to bribing you 5,000 in court. Your tenure need to come to an end now because the last thing democrats need is another dishonest, corrupt politician in their ranks.

From The Hartford Courant

Warren K. Godbolt, executive director of Progressive Training Associates in Bridgeport, pleaded guilty Tuesday to paying a $5,000 bribe and conspiring to embezzle between $70,000 and $120,000 from Progressive Training. He admitted spending the money on an ocean cruise, a foreign sports car, a health club membership, a boat, home renovations and other personal expenses.

He is accused of paying the $5,000 to Newton to ensure that Newton, until Tuesday a member of the state Senate's Democratic leadership, used his political influence to secure $100,000 from the State Bond Commission for renovations to Progressive Training's headquarters on Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport.
What is it with democrats from Bridgeport? The feds even have Newton agreeing to the bribe on telephone!
During the legal proceeding before Senior U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas, Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Finnerty said FBI agents have a secret recording of a June 17, 2004, telephone conversation in which Godbolt and the "public official" discuss the $5,000 bribe. Godbolt, 50, admitted paying the money in installments of $1,500, $1,500 and $2,000 between June 17 and July 9, 2004.

It's over so please do us all a favor and just resign in disgrace.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Dan Malloy comments on Juvenile Training School closing


Malloy offers his opinion on Rell's decision to close the corrupt Juvenile Training School and makes an interesting point that many of Rowland's appointees are still in office.


From Malloy's website
"Governor Rell should immediately launch a thorough and open investigation of the Office of Policy and Management, the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Public Works at all levels to determine who knew about any wrongdoing and when they knew it, who engaged in inappropriate behavior, and who may have turned a blind eye to corruption," Malloy said. "Given the breadth of the corruption in the Rowland Administration, it is disconcerting that most of Rowland's political appointees in these departments remain in the Rell Administration. What's more, many people had warned that this was an ill-conceived facility and officials in the Rowland Administration pushed forward nonetheless.

"This is not just about criminal wrongdoing, but importantly about accountability and how people on the State's payroll performed their jobs," Malloy said. "To truly change Rowland's climate of corruption, we need to change government at all levels, and that can't happen unless Governor Rell holds everyone accountable.

Many in the media criticized John DeStefano's linking of Rell with the Rowland administration but Malloy links the two administrations together in a way that people can easily understand. The Juvenile School was the center of the corruption scandal which is something the people in Connecticut will never forget and if Malloy can show that many of the players involved in the scandal are still employed by the state, he could make the Rell-Rowland connection stick...and all without creating a DVD.

Shays comes out swinging against baseball

After the news that Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for steriods (BTW: he testified under oath that he never took steriods), it comes to no surprise that Congress is considering a bill that would give any baseball player who tested positive for steriods, a two year ban from the game.

From the New York Daily News

"Baseball has been given enough chances, and they keep swinging and missing," said Rep. John Sweeney (R-Glens Falls), adding that he asked lawyers to look into Palmeiro's statements, made under oath.

"We've already asked counsel if there was perjury, and more importantly, if perjury can be proved," said Sweeney, although he suggested Palmeiro probably covered himself yesterday by saying he must have taken performance-enhancers by mistake.

Legislators, however, were dubious about that claim and the ballplayer's now-suspect testimony before the Committee on Government Reform alongside admitted 'roid rager Jose Canseco and one-time home run king Mark McGwire.

[...]

Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), vice chairman of the committee, wants to see Congress pass the bill that came out of the spring hearings that would carry an Olympics-style two-year ban for a first offense in all four major sports.

"This guy is our star witness and comes before the committee and points his finger at us, and he's the one taking steroids," Shays said. "It's discouraging."

Rell orders crackdown on truck companies

After a series of deadly accidents involving trucks, Gov. Rell call for the inspection of truck companies that have poor service records. The real question here is why did it take a series of accidents to finally get something to happen against these truck companies which are allowing unsafe trucks on the roads? It's not like this particular trucking company, American Crushing and Recycling, never had a violation before as the truck in the latest accident in Avon failed inspection several times before.

From the New York Times
Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Monday ordered state inspections of trucking companies with poor safety records after four people died and 20 were injured in a crash here on Friday involving a dump truck with a history of brake violations.

Mrs. Rell directed the State Department of Motor Vehicles to inspect all vehicles owned by American Crushing and Recycling of Bloomfield, which the police say owns the dump truck that careered down Avon Mountain and caused the crash involving 18 cars and a commuter bus. She also ordered inspections of vehicles owned or operated by the 25 trucking companies or individuals with the most vehicle or driver violations in the past three years. Violations must be repaired before a vehicle can return to the road.

[...]

In the past two years, the state found safety violations in 10 of 16 random roadside inspections of trucks owned by American Crushing and Recycling, said Bill Seymour, a spokesman for the Department of Motor Vehicles. Truck drivers for the company were ordered off the road twice in that period.

The long-bed dump truck involved in the Avon accident was ordered off the road three times since December 2002 after inspections found safety violations, including problems with its brakes in July 2004 and with its steering last October. Each time, the company certified in writing to state officials that it had repaired the vehicle, Mr. Seymour said.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Rell closes Juvenile School

It's about time! This was a no-brainer for Rell to shut the Connecticut Juvenile Training School down and should of been closed a long time ago because the program never worked. If anything, the place was more of a prison than a training school and you can thank John Rowland for wasting your taxpayer's money into the construction of this pointless facility.

From the Stamford Advocate
Rell had asked the state Department of Children and Families for a report on what to do with the Middletown detention center, which cost $57 million to build and has been plagued with problems since it opened in 2001.

A half-dozen state agencies have been working on the recommendations since April.

Rell said she has to decide to close the center by 2008.

"I'm making the tough decision - the right decision - in closing CJTS," Rell said Monday. "It is increasingly clear that the programs at CJTS are not working."

[...]

The 240-bed facility for boys opened in 2001 to replace the old Long Lane School, but critics charged that it operated more like a prison than a school.

The contracts for the center, fast-tracked through the legislature, became the focus of a corruption probe into former Gov. John G. Rowland's administration. Rowland is serving a year-and-a-day federal prison sentence.

Head of BRAC concerned with Groton base closing

Will this mean that BRAC will take the Groton sub base off the list?

From the Navy Times
Anthony Principi, head of the base closing panel that will decide the fate of the Submarine Base New London, Conn., said Friday that he and other commissioners are “concerned” about the Pentagon’s recommendation that it should be closed.

Principi declined to say how many commissioners are opposed to the plan, but he indicated that base supporters’ arguments have had a receptive audience in the independent Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission.

Principi said the commissioners needed to collect more information about the submarine base before they can decide whether to overrule the Pentagon’s plan.

“There is much more work that needs to be done,” he said.

The base closing commissioners will begin voting on each of the Pentagon’s recommendations on Aug. 24. The votes of at least five out of the nine commissioners are needed to take a base off the closure list. The commissioners must give President Bush a final list by Sept. 8.

“Is there concern about closing New London? Yes there is,” Principi told Gannett News Service. “Several commissioners, including myself, have concerns about closing New London.”

Manic Monday Open Thread

What's happening in Ct today?

Sunday, July 31, 2005

The weekend

If your reading this post, step back from your computer and go outside, it's too nice to be indoors!

This is a open thread to all those that didn't take my advise. I'll be back later, I have a basement to clean out.