As city bean counters build a budget to submit to the City Council in early April, the spending plan that begins July 1 will include a new key item, $6.9 million to support library services approved last year in a referendum by city voters.
Yes indeed, a one mil library allocation each year is now the law of the land, thanks to electors. By law, according to Library Board President Jim O’Donnell the attorney who successfully argued the recluse law that a Superior Court judge ordered placed on the ballot, the city must set aside money as a dedicated library allocation from overall tax collections. Current year library budget costs including salaries, benefits, utilities and debt services, etc. are roughly $5 million.
O’Donnell told OIB the library board has several priorities to modernize and improve facilities chief among them repairing a leaky roof at the main branch downtown creating havoc for the Historical Collections. The library board does not have the authority to enter into an agreement with a financing entity for capital expenditures so must use the city’s bonding powers to finance improvements. Moving forward, items such as debt service and utilities will be factored into the one mil library appropriation. In addition, library priorities include staff increases, longer branch hours, two full service branches serving the East Side and East End and additional cosmetic and lighting improvements for the main branch.
Remember all the meowing we heard from city pols that worked against the referendum? (Paging City Councilman Bob Walsh, paging Council President Tom McCarthy, paging Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa) You know what, what the voters want the voters get and I’m betting the city will have in time the finest public library system in the state. And that’s not a bad thing to promote.
Russo Hits Himes On Rangel Loot, News Release
HIMES’ DIRTY MONEY
Russo to Himes: Return the Rangel Money
Fairfield, CT – Demonstrating that all press is not assuredly good press, The Washington Examiner yesterday spotlighted CT Congressman Jim Himes in Mark Hemingway’s “Dirty Money Watch.” www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/dirty-money/Rep_-Jim-Himes_-D-Conn_-84976292.html The topic? Congressman Jim Himes has received $16,000 in campaign donations from New York Congressman Charlie Rangel’s National Leadership PAC and Congressional Campaign.
“This kind of sleazy pay-to-play politics is exactly why only 10% of the country think Congress is doing a good job,” said Rob Russo, Candidate for Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District. “You can’t campaign on ethics, pretend it’s an issue for you and then take $16 thousand dollars from a man who has severe ethics problems of his own. The people of the 4th District deserve more. Congressman Himes must return this dirty money.”
Congressman Rangel has been embroiled in an ethics investigation surrounding his failure to report or pay income taxes on properties in New York and the Dominican Republic, securing earmarks for a building in NY to be named for Rangel and using official office staff and stationary to solicit political contributions.
Congressman Himes’ hypocrisy doesn’t end with his refusal to return the Rangel Money. In October, Himes voted against removing Congressman Rangel from his powerful position as House Ways and Means Chairman while an ethics panel continued to investigate the allegations against him.
Oddly enough, just three months after voting to keep him, he told the Connecticut Post that Charlie Rangel should not be in his position. ‘”There is a willingness in Congress to tolerate the intolerable,’ noting that U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), should have been asked to step aside during his ethics probe.” Himes faces tough crowd in New Canaan www.ctpost.com/local/article/Himes-faces-tough-crowd-in-New-Canaan-315921.php, By James Lomuscio, Correspondent, Saturday, January 9, 2010.
“More double speak from a Washington politician is not going to help the people of the 4th District get through these tough economic times. It’s not going to give us jobs. If we can’t trust that they are listening to their own words, how can we trust they are listening to ours when we demand cuts in spending, health care reform without a public option, reduced regulation and tax burden on small businesses. We need leaders who are willing to make tough decisions, and we need to end the practice of Congress being more accountable to itself than to the people,” said Russo.
For more information on Rob Russo, visit his website at www.russoforcongress.com.
News Release From Himes
Himes Votes to Restore Competition, Fairness in Health Insurance Market
WASHINGTON, DC –Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) helped pass legislation today that will ensure American consumers get real choice and a fair deal when purchasing health insurance. The Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act will eliminate the anti-trust exemption for health insurance companies, requiring them to compete fairly and adhere to the same anti-trust laws as other companies.
“Repealing the unfair anti-trust exemption that health insurance companies enjoy will improve choice and competition for health care consumers across the board,” said Himes. “This unfair practice drives up costs and, left unchecked, will ensure that we continue to pay too much for too little when it comes to our health care.”
For 65 years, the health insurance industry has been legally exempt from anti-trust laws, and the federal government was banned from even investigating evidence of possible collusion. In the last 14 years alone, there have been 400 mergers among health insurers and now 94% of all insurance markets are “highly concentrated” – meaning consumers have little or no choice between insurance providers.
Health insurers that were previously exempt from anti-trust laws will now bear legal responsibility for price fixing, dividing up territories among themselves, and sabotaging their competitors in order to gain a monopoly in the marketplace. Such practices have been outlawed in other industries for decades.
The legislation is supported by numerous groups including the American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumers Union, and the Consumer Federation of America.
This Will Be Fun, From Jon Lender, Hartford Courant
The state’s Republican Party has decided to hire a lawyer to challenge Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz in the lawsuit that she filed last week to seek a “declaratory ruling” that she is eligible to run for state attorney general.
At a meeting Tuesday night, the Republican State Central Committee committee authorized GOP state chairman Chris Healy to hire a prominent Hartford attorney, Eliot B. Gersten, to intervene in the lawsuit. He would be paid with the party’s funds, Healy said.
The move by the state Republicans increases the possibility that the question of Bysiewicz’s legal qualifications will be aired prominently in a court hearing. It also means that Bysiewicz may face the highly unusual prospect, as a statewide elected official, of having to testify under oath about how she has spent her time during her 11 years in office.
Asked Wednesday morning if he planned to call Bysiewicz as a witness in the case, Gersten answered this way: “I think all participants in this proceeding would anticipate providing testimony in support or in opposition of her factual claims.”
Bysiewicz claims that her 11 years as secretary of the state should count as the practice of law, but Healy has disputed that.
The question is critical to Bysiewicz’s hopes, because a state law says that to serve as attorney general, a person must have accumulated “10 years’ active practice” as a lawyer in Connecticut. Bysiewicz had only six years of private law practice in Connecticut, for a law firm and a corporate law department, before winning the 1998 election to the office she now holds.