The Senate just put on its consent calendar a bill that would give the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station tougher enforcement powers in cases where people or firms ignore their rules or fines. The current fine range of $5 would rise to $500 and the $100 fines would get pumped up to $2,500 under the bill that will head to the governor for final action. “That station is very important to the safety of the people of Connecticut,” said Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, co-chairman of the Environment Committee.
Archive for 2013
This is from the state Department of Labor:
“WETHERSFIELD, May 16, 2013 – On a seasonally adjusted basis, preliminary estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate Connecticut businesses added 6,300 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in April 2013. The private sector added 5,800 workers and the public sector increased 500 positions. The state’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.0% last month. Connecticut has now gained 9,600 jobs in the first four months of the year for a 2,400 average monthly growth pace in 2013.
“Though our monthly data can be volatile, Connecticut’s job growth tempo picked up considerably last month,” said Andy Condon, Director of the Office of Research. “The state appears to be experiencing a solid and more typical spring seasonal job buildup. Seven of ten major industry supersectors participated in job gains in April. Annualized job growth is now back above 10,000.
Nonfarm Jobs: Nonfarm employment in Connecticut for April continued to improve and increased by 6,300 additional jobs or 0.4% growth over the month. Seven of ten major industry supersectors posted job gains in April, and only two exhibited employment declines. The manufacturing component was unchanged. The state has added 10,800 positions (0.7%) since April 2012 and is now at a new employment recovery highpoint of 1,649,300 jobs. This is a big swing from the just 1,000 (+0.1%) annualized gain measured from March 2012 to March 2013 in the prior release.
Recession Recovery: Connecticut has now recovered 57,500 positions or 47.4% of the 121,200 seasonally adjusted total nonfarm jobs that were lost in the state in the March 2008 to February 2010 employment recession. The jobs recovery is now 38 months underway. The private sector has performed better and has restored 65,000 (57.0%) of the 114,000 private jobs that were lost during the same employment downturn. This month marks the highpoint in the nonfarm employment recovery in the state at 1,649,300.
Labor Market Areas (LMAs): Two of the six major Connecticut Labor Market Areas (LMAs) experienced job increases in April 2013, while four of the major state LMAs recorded declines. However, the two increasing LMA’s were the two largest employing regions in size in the state and posted substantial gains. The second largest LMA in the state, the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk LMA (4,200, 1.0%, considered statistically significant), grew the most and the largest LMA, the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford LMA (2,000, 0.4%), also came through with strong job growth over the month. The four other smaller LMA’s tallied job losses that were 300 jobs or less and were as follows: Waterbury LMA (-300, -0.5%), Danbury LMA (-300, -0.4%), Norwich-New London LMA (-200, -0.2%), and New Haven LMA (-100, -0.04%). The major Connecticut LMAs are estimated and seasonally adjusted independently from the statewide numbers.
Hours and Earnings: The private sector workweek, not seasonally adjusted, averaged 33.5 hours in April 2013, down eight-tenths of an hour from the April 2012 figure (34.3, -2.3%). The year ago April hours worked estimate may have been overstated from the record warm weather last year. Average hourly earnings at $28.15, not seasonally adjusted, were down thirty-five cents, or -1.2% from the April 2012 hourly pay estimate. The resulting average private sector weekly pay was estimated at $943.03, down $34.52, or -3.5% over the year. Information for the manufacturing production workweek and earnings can be found in the table section of this release under the “Hours and Earnings” data category. Year-to-year change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U, U.S. City Average) in March 2013 was 1.5%.”
House Minority Lder Larry Cafero, a year after FBI interview, recalls close encounter of the influence-peddling/entrapment kind
House Minority Leader Larry Cafero’s name was slung around Tuesday in the federal corruption trial of former House Speaker Chris Donovan’s former congressional campaign’s former finance director Robert Braddock Jr.
A defense attorney in federal court in New Haven used the word “bribe” to describe a $5,000 cash contribution, after what Cafero thought was going to be a meeting in the Capitol about labor issues, from Ray Soucy, who was then a politically connected prison guard union officer.
Now Soucy’s a confessed felon awaiting sentencing after helping in the FBI sting that resulted in eight arrests and seven guilty pleas. Donovan, whose congressional bid last year was ruined by the scandal, has not been implicated.
Also present at that meeting were two figures in the roll-your-own tobacco business, whom Cafero initially thought were also corrections officers.
But the cash – unacceptable under state and federal election law – was immediately returned and a few days later, checks arrived for a House GOP political action committee. When Cafero was interviewed by the FBI at the end of May last year, he told them he would return the checks.
Cafero, who has declined comment on the issue for almost a year, told the Hearst Connecticut Newspapers that he didn’t personally receive contributions from the shop owners.
“I was never, to my knowledge and belief, bribed because you need a quid pro quo with a bribe,” Cafero said, remembering the mid-March meeting last year.
Here’s more of the recorded interview:
“He introduced them as smoke shop owners. I said ‘Ray, what’s your connection to them? and he said ‘well I’ll be retiring soon and I want to get into the business.’ Oh, all right. They introduced themselves. They told me about their business. I told them I was familiar with it. I have a neighbor that owns Tracey’s Smoke Shop (on Connecticut Avenue in Norwalk) and his mother lives across the street from me. I said what’s the issue? There’s nothing in the news. They said ‘well, nothing, you know, we just want to introduce ourselves and tell you about our business.’ They said there was a lawsuit, or some movement afoot with the DRS (Dept of Revenue Services) to tax…I said well that’s not a good thing taxing small business, blah, blah, blah. I said is there a bill? No? Well, it’s nice to meet you. After that Ray Soucy said ‘my guys want to give a donation, which they had in the past. Now I’m thinking corrections guys. They had given donations to our PACs in the past. I said no problem, let me get my staff guy (John Healey) and I said we don’t do that here. Wait until after hours and we can meet outside the building…It’s about 5 o’clock, day’s over, I go back to my law firm. John goes and meets them at the O (Officer’s Club in the nearby State Armory) Club. They give him an envelope. He comes back and opens the envelope and it’s full of money. He calls me. I said ‘Are you kidding me?’ I told him to run back and give it back. So he went back and gave it back to them and said ‘look, we don’t take money, or cash. If you want to donate I’ll show you legal ways to donate.’ So he sent them an email. He didn’t hear from him for two or three weeks later. Then John said ‘oh, Ray Soucy gave us $5,000 in checks.’ Everything legit? Yeah, he had the certification. I didn’t know who they were from. Next thing I know it’s now May 31, or May 30, I get the call from the FBI, go down to their offices in Meriden. They unveil this scheme and I’m like Oh my God. And they talked about this $5,000 and I said ‘Wait a minute, you gave Soucy that money to give to us?’ They go ‘We think so,” but they weren’t sure. I said we didn’t take cash. Well, I said we’re giving that money back. They said ‘well, we’d appreciate it if you didn’t do that.’ I said ‘listen guys, I don’t want to interfere with any investigation, but I’m not having that money in my PAC. I’m giving it back.’ So I called John, I told him I don’t know who gave you the money but find out who did and send it back. Say that the FBI said it was of questionable origin and we don’t want any part of it and that’s what he did. That’s the last I heard of it.”
The DRS effort to tax the roll-your-own tobacco machines was approved in the so-called implementer phase of last year’s budget that was passed after the regular legislative session.
Sen. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich, was just speaking about a bill that would allow school crossing guards to seek up to $450 fines for drivers who ignore their stop signs.
He said that protecting our children is a lot more important than worrying about hitting drivers with fines of up to $450 that they might not be able to afford. The fiscal conservative regretted what he said next. “I don’t want to give anybody any ideas here in the circle,” he said of the circumference of Senate desks, “but what they’ve experimented with in Europe, in Switzerland in particular, is if you’re speeding by an inordinate amount over the speed limit, what they do is take a portion of your personal income. People don’t speed in Switzerland anymore. Please disregard that idea. Throw it away. That was to drive the point home today.”
HARTFORD – Legislation that would have allowed towns and cities to publish truncated legal notices and save money had one foot in the recycle bin this afternoon, when Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney used a parliamentary move to sideline it – at least temporarily.
The bill was put on the “foot” of the Senate calendar, meaning it’s on life support with three weeks left in the legislative session.
Adam Joseph, spokesman for the Democratic Senate majority said it is still under consideration.
The bill, which was opposed by the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association in a series of full-page newspaper ads, would allow towns and cities, when they are required by local charter or the law to advertise a legal notice in a local newspaper of general circulation, to instead only advertise a “brief description” of the issue.
An analysis of the bill, which was approved in the Government Administration & Elections Committee, says that under the legislation, towns and cities would be allowed to publish the full notice “in a conspicuous place on its website,” with a reference to the website published in the newspaper.
McKinney, noting apparent IRS agenda targeting Patriot-Tea Party groups, renews call for CT inspector general
This from State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, who cheered on the recent revelation about the IRS’s targeting Tea Party and Patriot conservatives, as exposed by J. Russell George, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration.
McKinney: “The continued success of federal inspectors general in rooting out waste, fraud and abuse in government should give the Connecticut legislature pause. The IRS scandal represents a reprehensible abuse of government power and without the watchful eyes of an independent inspector general, it may have gone unchecked. We should provide the same protection to taxpayers here in Connecticut.” In recent years, McKinney has proposed a state office of inspector general who would have “broad authority to conduct audits and investigations of all facets of state government; access directly all records of state agencies; subpoena information and documents; administer oaths when taking testimony; and receive and respond to complaints from agency employees, whose confidentiality would be protected. Every day we read about government becoming more secretive, more political, and less accountable to the public. An Office of Inspector General helps to ensure government transparency and make sure your hard-earned tax dollars are being spent wisely. Taxpayers would be the greatest beneficiaries of a state Office of Inspector General.”
McKinney said that in 2011, federal inspectors general identified $93.9 billion in savings from audit recommendations and investigative recoveries, produced 6,500 indictments and made over 6,000 successful prosecutions, according to the Annual Report of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
Bill inspired by the death of Kenneth Dorsey, struck by distracted New Canaan HS athlete Brianna McEwan, advances in Judiciary Committee
The Judiciary Committee today approved legislation that was provoked by last year’s death of a Norwalk jogger who was struck by an SUV driven by a distracted New Canaan High School athlete. The bill heads to the Senate.
The bill would allow police to seek up to $1,000 in additional fines, above and beyond any criminal penalties and charges. The legislation is aimed at protecting so-called vulnerable users of state roads, from joggers to transportation workers, bicyclists and horse-back riders.
The proposal was filed in response to the Saturday, 24, 2012 death of Kenneth Dorsey, 44, who was jogging in Norwalk when an SUV operated by 16-year-old Brianna McEwan, a multi-sport athlete at New Canaan High struck him. She was using a handheld electronic device to check the high school website at the time her vehicle struck Dorsey. She was charged with negligent homicide, but pleaded guilty last October to a lesser crime and received a suspended prison sentence in state Superior Court.
Connecticut’s 5,000 vehicular crashes per month have created an analytical bottleneck of paperwork, so Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, State Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Redeker and UConn Provost Mun Choi announced today that the six-month-old Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center at UConn in Storrs will become an important new resource, replacing the paper chase. The DOT has committed $600,000 in federal funds for the first year of the center, which will provide public information on collisions.
“The Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center will certainly distinguish Connecticut as a national leader in transportation safety research and analysis—but more importantly, it will help us make our highways safer and will save taxpayer dollars in the process,” Malloy said. “The system modernizes crash reporting—law enforcement can file reports faster, first responders can clear crash scenes more quickly, and traffic flow will be restored sooner.” The backlog in crash report analysis, on traditional paper, will be replaced by an electronic record of crash information, including “the number of crashes in a town by location, date, street, injury type, and collision type. The data is analyzed to identify hazardous areas, crash patterns, and trends. The new electronic system will save taxpayer dollars through reduced use of resources and labor, and will result in a more efficient highway safety program. ”
“The Safety Research Center will assist us in creating an ‘E-Crash’ data collection system designed to dramatically improve the way information for the state’s car crash data is collected and processed,” said Commissioner Redeker. “The ‘E-Crash’ system will allow for 100 percent electronic filing of state crash reports and easier analysis of the data.”
The center opened last fall in association with Connecticut Transportation Institute at UConn.
“Highway safety and the public health of our citizens is important to all us and the University of Connecticut is proud to partner with the DOT in creating this new Research Center dedicated to making Connecticut’s roads and highways safe for everyone,” said UConn Provost Mun Choi. “The Transportation Safety Research Center will provide an important service to the people of Connecticut and UConn is proud to part of that effort.”