Afternoon Update: Yikes! Be careful what you request.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal dealt, at the very least, a public relations blow to Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz who wants Dick’s job as he seeks Chris Dodd’s U.S. Senate seat. SuBy asked Dick for an opinion: does she have the legal professional qualifications to run for AG? Dick says not likely, but a state judge would have to decide the issue. From Jon Lender Hartford Courant:
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Tuesday that the state law requiring 10 years’ “active practice” as a lawyer before running for attorney general is constitutional, and that it takes more than merely being licensed as a lawyer to be considered as actively practicing law.
The opinion could have a serious impact — politically, if not legally — on the person who requested it: Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who declared her candidacy three weeks ago to replace her fellow Democrat, Blumenthal, in the November election. He is not seeking re-election as he runs for the U.S. Senate.
Almost as soon as Bysiewicz entered the race, questions arose as to whether she meets the requirement in a state statute that Connecticut’s attorney general must have “at least 10 years’ active practice at the bar of this state.” A few critics have said that Bysiewicz does not meet that “active practice” requirement, even though she has been registered as an attorney here for 23 years.
Before Bysiewicz became secretary of the state in 1999, she had worked for eight years for two law firms and a corporation’s legal department – six of those years in Connecticut. Bysiewicz and her supporters say that all 11 of her years in office should count as “active practice” because although she doesn’t need to be a lawyer in the job, she and her staff dispense legal advice on laws affecting elections and corporations.
Nearly two weeks ago, Bysiewicz, in her official capacity as Secretary of the State, asked Blumenthal for the opinion on statutory and constitutional requirements for the office of attorney general that are personally relevant to her.
One of the fundamental questions she asked was whether the 10-year “active practice” statute is constitutional; her supporters say the century-old status predated the state constitution by seven decades, and the constitution just says you need to be an 18-year-old voter. Others, however, say the legislature has the right to elaborate on the constitution as long any statute that is passed does not contradict it.
Statement from Dem AG candidate George Jepsen:
“The people of the state are looking for a qualified law enforcement leader. I will bring 26 years of active law practice on day one of the job. The people deserve an Attorney General who is 100% committed to the office.
I have also pledged not to run for U.S. Senate in 2012 or for Governor in 2014, so that I can be a full-time Attorney General who is totally committed to serving the people of Connecticut.
The people of Connecticut deserve clarification of Susan’s legal status as a candidate for Attorney General. It falls on her to take appropriate steps to resolve the question of her qualifications.”
Steel Deal Stuff
City Councilman Bob Troll Walsh is back in action joining forces with several of his council peers pushing a resolution that would oblige the city to produce quarterly reports related to the 52-acre Steel Point development. Language states:
Recommended Changes to City Council Rules of Order
Amend Section XII – City Council Committee to include
Committee on Development Districts – Steel Point
Amend Section XIII – References to Committees
14. The Committee on Development Districts – Steel Point shall have sole or shared jurisdiction over all matter related to the Steel Point Development District.
A. The Mayor and / or the Economic Development Director shall refer to the Committee quarterly progress reports that detail the developers’ efforts to meet all of the deadlines / goals established in the Land Disposition Agreement (LDA). Precise assessments must be given as to whether or not the city believes that the deadlines established in the LDA will be met in accordance with the plan. Any negative comments must be accompanied by further documentation as to the steps being taken to get the project back on track.
B. All amendments to existing contracts and / or new contracts or actions relative to the establishment of a Taxing District and / or Inter-Local Agreement must first go to this Committee and the Committee will report its recommendations to the appropriate City Council Committee, i.e. Contracts, Economic and Community Development, Ordinance, etc.
C. The Committee shall be made up of seven council members. The majority of the members must represent the districts that are currently geographically most impacted by the plan. At time of passage this would require both members of the 137th and 139th Districts. The chairmen of the committee must come from these districts. The other three members shall be appointed by the council president with the approval of the council.
Joining Walsh are East End council members Andre Baker and James Holloway, and Lydia Martinez and Manny Ayala who represent the East Side. The resolution is before the Miscellaneous Matters Committee.
One Tax For Another?
Hard for me not to eye Bill’s Deadline For Jodi’s Jail: two days and counting. What will the city counter propose? And what will Jodi do in response?
Mayor Bill Finch has a lot on his mind these days. More than just Jodi’s Jail. This is some budget cycle for hizzoner, who’s up for reelection next year, as well as anyone running for state office this year. The next governor, barring an act of the high heavens, will inherit a multi-billion dollar budget deficit forecast by state bean counters. Nice job, eh?
We have a lot of smart folk reading OIB. Why is it the country’s highest-taxed, wealthiest state, hangs by its budget fingernails with nothing but pavement below? (Splat!) Unless, of course, another tax increase is on the horizon to bail out the last taxpayer soaking. The way the state blowtorches little businesses is nuts. The local one-shingle concern (that would be me) must pay the same $250 Business Entity Tax that General Electric pays. Enough of my whining.
Everything that happens inside the capitol impacts Bridgeport’s budget. The State Legislature is back in session on Wednesday facing a $500 million deficit with five months left in the budget year. Governor Jodi Rell will announce her suggestions on Wednesday to close the gap. The state is relying on a few billion in savings and $1.5 billion in federal stimulus dough to hold things together for the two-year budget passed last year. This is the time of year that Connecticut’s big-city mayors weigh in with suggestions to persuade a suburban and rural-dominated legislature to see things their way. For instance … could you support a repeal of the municipal auto tax in Connecticut in exchange for a statewide property tax? That’s what New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2006, proposes as the Connecticut Legislature heads into session. From the New Haven Independent:
HARTFORD—As lawmakers prepared for a deficit-marred session, Mayor John DeStefano made a surprise pitch.
He called for getting rid of municipal tax on automobiles in Connecticut—as part of a bargain to create a statewide property tax.
The proposal came on the eve of the new three-month state legislative session, which opens Wednesday amid a $6 billion two-year deficit forecast.
And it represented a 180-degree reversal from the mayor’s position four years ago, when he was running against Gov. M. Jodi Rell for the governor’s seat. At that time, Rell proposed eliminating the car tax; DeStefano called her “oblivious” for making that suggestion.
This time, DeStefano isn’t running for governor. He still shows up in Hartford as one of the most outspoken municipal leaders lobbying on statewide issues. Now DeStefano says he’d be willing to cut the car tax—but only as way to broker a deal on statewide property tax reform.
He floated the idea at a subcommittee meeting last Wednesday of a new blue ribbon commission called Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies (MORE). It was the first meeting of the Revenue Streams and Economic Development subcommittee, a group of local and statewide leaders tasked with coming up with new ideas to save money and bring revenue to towns.
DeStefano set the stage by telling the room how New Haven provides jobs, infrastructure and social services for the region—but is forced to rely on the municipal property tax as the sole tool to raise revenue. That’s a problem, he said, because of the great portion of the town that’s tax-exempt.
Sound familiar? Bridgeport too.