that the trial court properly denied the petition.”
that the trial court properly denied the petition.”
Don’t you hate it when you’re a state ethics commissioner and you have to follow the rules? Here’s today’s amusing release from the Office of State Ethics. Its appointed chairman, Ken Bernhard of Westport, is a former member of the House.
Office of State Ethics Issues Statement
Regarding Political Contributions by
Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board Chairman G. Kenneth Bernhard
February 26, 2010
The Office of State Ethics (OSE) announced today that Chairman G. Kenneth Bernhard, a Westport attorney, may have inadvertently violated the Code of Ethics by making small political contributions to two friends and Governor Rell’s exploratory committee. In 2008, while serving on the Board and before he became Chairman, Mr. Bernhard made political contributions to persons subject to the Code of Ethics. Connecticut law prohibits members of the CEAB from making political contributions to any person subject to the Code of Ethics for Public Officials and State Employees.
Mr. Bernhard made political contributions on three occasions during 2008:
· $50 to the “Say Yes to Nitzy” campaign for State Representative
· $100 to the “Marino 2008″ campaign for State Senate
· $100 to Governor M. Jodi Rell’s Exploratory Committee
Chairman Bernhard stated:
“It was brought to my attention yesterday that because I made small contributions to three political campaigns, I may have violated the State Code of Ethics that prohibits someone in my position from making any political contributions in state races. The contributions were done openly with full disclosure. When I made these contributions as a gesture of support for the political process, I was unaware of the prohibition. As a member of the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board, I have been entrusted with a great responsibility and I am very distressed at having technically violated the Code, even as everything was in public view and inadvertent. I expect that my conduct will be evaluated and handled in the same fashion as everyone else who is subject to the code.”
CEAB vice-chairman, Thomas H. Dooley, of Vernon, will appoint a sub-committee early next week to review this matter and make recommendations, consistent with Board policy regarding alleged violations of the Code of Ethics by CEAB members. Options include instructing the Ethics Enforcement Officer or another member of the enforcement division to conduct an evaluation or preliminary investigation; conducting the review as a subcommittee; or referring the matter to another state agency or outside counsel for review.
Today’s candidate forum in the Stamford Holiday Inn was kind of like watching the first 100 yards of the Kentucky Derby, except there wasn’t a lot of dirt and certainly not much mud, flying.
Republican Tom Foley, who seems to be ready to spend as many million of his own dollars as it takes to become governor, tried to take a perceived position against Dan Malloy, the Democrat who has the most experience governing, with 14 years working as Stamford’s mayor.
Foley: “If you’re talking about investing in people and investing in infrastructure and laying the nest and feathering the nest for targeted industry to come into this state, I’m a total supporter of that. But governments are not good pickers of winners and that is well established and I don’t think the state of Connecticut should be investing in companies and choosing which companies and those industries are going to be the ones who win.”
Malloy took the position that Rell should not have purchased $90 million worth of buses manufactured in another state. “I would have invested $90 million in fuel cell technology in this state, bolstering an industry in this state, so we could participate in the growth of that industry as we can reasonable predict it’s going to play out in the next 20 years.”
Here’s a release from the Dept of Revenue Services
“Department of Revenue Services (DRS) agents on Tuesday arrested the owner of a Norwalk landscaping business for not filing state-mandated tax returns.
Michael Delgado, 41, was arrested on nine counts of failure to file state sales tax returns for his Norwalk-based business, Mike Delgado Landscaping. He was later released on a $10,000 non-surety bond, and is scheduled to appear in the Hartford Superior Court on March 15, 2010.
Failure to file sales tax returns is a class A misdemeanor, with each count punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
DRS Commissioner Richard Nicholson said he hopes knowledge of Mr. Delgado’s arrest will reinforce the importance of voluntary compliance with Connecticut tax laws.
“While DRS would prefer that taxpayers voluntarily report their tax obligations to the state,” Nicholson said, “taxpayers should be aware that we will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that Connecticut tax laws are being followed.”
It’s snowing hard in SW CT and the Blogster has just parked the dog sled in the garage at the Holiday Inn in Stamford to cover the Business Council of Fairfield County’s gubernatorial forum. Looks like about 18 tables for 10 have been set up in a ballroom as I type here in a corner. It’s 6:45, well before the 8 a.m. start and I’m the only soul here as I eye one of the big pitchers of OJ. Fortunately for the CTN employees making the video, their bosses at the propaganda arm of the General Assembly paid for their overnight stay in the hotel.
Here’s the statement of the US Chemical Safety Board Investigations Supervisor Don Holmstrom in a public update on the February 7 explosion at the Kleen Energy plant under construction in Middletown that killed six.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Good morning I am CSB Lead Investigator Don Holmstrom; thank you for coming to this CSB news conference. The Chemical Safety Board is an independent federal agency that investigates and reports to the public on the causes of major chemical accidents at industrial sites across the country. The CSB is headed by five board members appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
The CSB’s reports and safety recommendations to Congress, federal and state regulators, and industry are widely followed and applied throughout the United States. Our mission is to prevent disastrous accidents of the kind that occurred here less than three weeks ago.
The safety issues raised by this accident are not limited to Connecticut. These issues are larger than any particular company, facility, or individual. The U.S. has embarked an ambitious construction effort for new natural gas power plants. Thousands and thousands of workers across the country will be involved in constructing these plants. The safety of these workers and the nation’s energy independence are at stake as these gas-fired plants are built over the next 20 years.
The CSB has a team of ten here investigating at the Kleen Energy accident site. On behalf of all of us at the CSB, we extend our deepest condolences to the families of Ronald Crabb, Peter Chepulis, Raymond Dobratz, Kenneth Haskell, Christopher Walters and Roy Rushton. The goal of the CSB investigation is that terrible accidents like this will not happen again and that no families will suffer such tremendous losses in the future.
The CSB team arrived at the site on February 8th. Since that time, the CSB team has conducted a large number of interviews, reviewed documents, and closely examined the accident site on numerous occasions. We appreciate the outstanding cooperation from the workers at this facility, who despite living through such a horrible ordeal have provided valuable information to CSB investigators.
This accident occurred during a planned work activity to clean debris from natural gas pipes at the plant. To remove the debris, workers used natural gas at a high pressure of approximately 650 pounds per square inch. The high velocity of the natural gas flow was intended to remove any debris in the new piping. At pre-determined locations, this gas was vented to the atmosphere through open pipe ends which were located less than 20 feet off the ground. These vents were adjacent to the main power generation building and along the south wall. The open pipe ends are visible here in the photographs.
You can actually see the high-pressure gas venting out of one of these open pipe ends in this photograph taken a short time before the accident on February 7.
This cleaning practice is known within the natural gas power industry as a “gas blow.” Industry personnel have indicated to CSB investigators that gas blows are a common practice during the commissioning of new or modified gas pipes at their facilities.
CSB investigators have reviewed gas utility records for the morning of the accident. These records together with written pipe cleaning procedures and witness testimony confirm that the gas blows occurred intermittently over the course of the morning. At the same time that gas blows were underway, there were potential ignition sources present in the surrounding area, including inside the power plant building. There were many construction-related activities underway inside the building.
Determining the exact ignition source is not a major focus of our investigation at this point. In most industrial worksites, ignition sources are abundant and efforts at accident prevention focus first and foremost on avoiding or controlling the release of flammable gas or vapor.
Initial calculations by CSB investigators reveal that approximately 400,000 standard cubic feet of gas were released to the atmosphere near the building in the final ten minutes before the blast.
That is enough natural gas to fill the entire volume of a pro-basketball arena with an explosive natural gas-air mixture, from the floor to the ceiling.
This gas was released into a congested area next to the power block building. This congested area likely slowed the dispersion of the gas. The gas built up above the lower explosive limit of approximately 4% in air and was ignited by an undetermined ignition source.
In the days since the accident, companies and safety regulators from around the world have contacted the CSB asking about the circumstances of this devastating accident. Some companies, including a power plant here in the region, indicated that they themselves have been planning similar gas blows as part of commissioning pipes in the very near future.
A major focus of the CSB investigation is to determine what regulations, codes, and good practices might apply to these gas blows. To this point, no specific codes have been identified, but we are continuing our research.
In the meantime, we strongly caution natural gas power plants and other industries against the venting of high-pressure natural gas in or near work sites. This practice, although common, is inherently unsafe.
The CSB is investigating possible alternatives to this practice, including the use of air, steam, nitrogen, or water or the use of combustion devices to safely destroy the gas. Combustion devices like flares can safely burn up flammable gas or vapor, preventing the possibility of an explosion.
Recommending safer alternatives will be a primary focus of the CSB investigation as we move forward.
Just three days prior to this tragic accident, the Chemical Safety Board recommended changes to the National Fuel Gas Code to prevent disastrous explosions involving gas purging. We note with great appreciation that just yesterday, at a meeting in San Francisco, the NFPA panel responsible for the fuel gas code voted to move forward with the CSB’s recommendations to make purging practices safer at work sites across America. These provisions will apply at hundreds of thousands of facilities, once fully adopted.
The type of purging described in that code is different from the gas blows used in the power industry, and power plants remain exempt from the national fuel gas code. However, gas purging as defined in the code has certain similarities to gas blows, in that gas is applied at one end of a pipe and gas is intentionally vented at the other end to the atmosphere.
There is an underlying common theme among the tragic accidents at Kleen Energy, the ConAgra Slim Jim plant in North Carolina, the Ford River Rouge power plant in Michigan, the Hilton Hotel in San Diego, and many other purging-related accidents. Companies must ensure that flammable gases are not vented into close proximity with ignition sources and workers. That is a vital safety message from all these tragedies.
We encourage the gas power industry to closely study the very positive actions recommended by the NFPA and the American Gas Association committees yesterday. The CSB investigation will focus on determining what permanent changes in standards or practices are needed to prevent future accidents involving gas blows.
Thank you for attending this morning and we will be happy to answer questions from members of the media. Please state your name and affiliation with your questions.
Matt Fritz, Gov. Jodi Rell’s special assistant who has been in charge of sorting out the state’s applications for federal stimulus money, said today that it might have been mistakes on the part of the federal Transportation Department that resulted in Connecticut getting shut out of that TIGER funding last week.
“We put together very comprehensive applications for the TIGER money,” he said during a couple of interviews. “We covered a wide spectrum of transportation initiatives and we sought $329 million for projects throughout CT. Our applications were well put together. It wasn’t just the work of the (state) DOT. They worked in collaboration with DECD (Dept. of Economic and Community development), with private contractors and consultants to put together and develop the best project applications possible.”
Among the projects rejected was $37 million for the nearly $400-million reconstruction of the Moses Wheeler Bridge on I-95 over the Housatonic River. The project will go ahead as scheduled, though.
“I’m not sure where we failed, if we failed at all,” Fritz said. “Certainly it was very competitive. It was only 3 percent of the projects that were awarded. Our applications we thought were strong. We worked pretty hard on them. We’re trying to figure out where we might have fallen short. And we’re looking toward potential funding over the next several months and see what we could do better.”
He said that conversations with federal officials by members of Congress this week could lead to future awards in upcoming rounds.
“We took sort of a wide approach with our first applications, hitting on a variety of transportation areas,” Fritz said. “Maybe we have to be more specific. We’ll have to look at that, see what’s worked in the past, learn from those examples and see what we do going forward.”
House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, R-Norwalk, and Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, just held a news conference outside the Senate chamber during which they complained that Democratic support for the so-called paid sick days legislation, which has failed in recent years, sends the wrong message to business. Supporters of the bill say that it’s a necessary benefit and will keep people who are contagious from showing up at work.
”For God’s sake, our business community needs help,” Cafero said. “Sadly, we’re back to business as usual,” McKinney said, charging that as majority Democrats have adopted the mantra of “jobs,” the law requiring paid sick days sends another signal to businesses that are hurting. “These are businesses that live day-to-day,” McKinney said. “Their doors will close and hundreds of people will lose their jobs.” He asked Democratic leaders for an “unequivocal statement that this bill is dead.”