Weekend Update: Okay kids, spread the word … OIB will release results of its first public opinion poll next week.
OIB has partnered with an accomplished Connecticut-based pollster (more on that later) to provide insight into the standing of Mayor Bill Finch as he approaches two years into his four-year term. We are currently in the field polling electors.
We are surveying Democrats that voted in the municipal election of 2007. Why this universe? They are serial voters that will best provide a snapshot into Finch’s mayoralty and how he measures up against potential Democratic primary opponents in 2011. Finch defeated State Rep. Chris Caruso by 270 votes in the Democratic primary in 2007. But Finch overwhelmed his underfunded Republican opponent Mike Garrett in the 2007 general election.
Some of you will be happy. Some of you will be exasperated by the results. Some of you will not be surprised.
We are measuring Finch against the following potential candidates and elected officials head to head and collectively in a large field: State Rep. Chris Caruso, former Mayor John Fabrizi, former Mayor Joe Ganim, Probate Judge Paul Ganim, retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez and State Rep. Andres Ayala.
I could have thrown in others such as City Councilman Bob Curwen who’s looking at a mayoral run, but had to limit the length of the poll. I tested Lopez and Ayala in the poll to provide context with how Finch measures up with better known political figures such as Caruso.
Deals, Deals, Deals
Election Day is just around the corner. What deal is in the works?
The Board of Education election has eight candidates to fill five slots.
Democratic candidates for Board of Education: incumbent Bobby Simmons, City Council member Leticia Colon and former council member Patrick Crossin. All Dems are overwhelming favorites to get in. (Incumbent Dems Max Medina and John Olson decided not to seek election.)
Assuming the Dems win that leaves two seats.
The Republican candidates: Nate Snow, Juan Hernandez and Raul Quiroga. We heard from Nate Snow earlier this week. If Juan and Raul want to introduce themselves to OIB, feel free.
Connecticut Working Families Party candidates: Sauda Baraka, a GOP incumbent dumped by her party and Maria Pereira. We also heard from Sauda and Maria this week.
If Republican political operatives don’t pay attention to this race they’ll risk losing one or perhaps two seats. The BOE has Republican members by virtue of state-mandated minority-party representation. That means any minority party, and Working Families political operatives are pretty good at identifying and pulling a vote. Could it be enough to blowtorch the Republicans?
The GOP city registration is roughly 5,000. What could turnout be in this yawner of a municipal election, 20 or 25 percent? Maybe 1,000 or so Republicans vote.
Well, that opens the door for Baraka and Pereira to stitch together a coalition of Republicans, Dems and independents to squeeze past the Republican candidates. Dem political operatives clearly want to do battle with Superintendent of Schools John Ramos. They see this as their chance to control one third of the city budget.
Pereira says she decided to jump into education politics after she learned her daughter had nine different teachers for one math class. She talks and acts like someone with a populist message ready to make noise. Could Dems play a little winking game with Sauda and Maria to make sure they get in, assuming one or both commit to line up against Ramos? We’ll throw you some votes on election day if you pledge to vote with us.
Or could they cut the same deal with the GOP candidates?
Ah, don’t ya just love city politics?
Most of the juicy action is in the suburbs where many mischievous city political operatives ended up residing. Stratford Democratic Mayor Jim Miron is in a dogfight with Republican State Rep. John Harkins. The GOP candidate from four years ago Domenic Costello, a former Bridgeport cop, is running as an independent. How many votes will he pull from Harkins?
In Shelton, can Democrat Chris Jones upset popular Republican Mayor Mark Lauretti who’s in the crosshairs of a federal corruption investigation although he has not been charged with any wrongdoing? Taxes are low in the land of Lauretti. Shelton features a mighty grand list built on Lauretti’s watch. Can Mark, who served as Barnum Festival ringmaster a few years ago, perform a little election day magic? Will the electorate give Lauretti the benefit of the doubt?
In Trumbull, the town that sends the state’s largest city its garbage, sewage, sick and homeless, four-term Democratic First Selectman Ray Baldwin has his hands full with Republican Tim Herbst, chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission. Ray, a darn good golfer, said he bogeyed when he proposed a double-digit tax increase last year. Looks like both camps will spend $100K by the time election day approaches.
News release from Governor Rell
Governor Rell: 7 More Weeks of Federal Benefits For Individuals Exhausting Unemployment
Governor M. Jodi Rell announced today that Connecticut’s unemployment rate has qualified the state to provide seven additional weeks of benefits to unemployed individuals. Under federal guidelines, individuals can begin filing their claims beginning Nov. 15.
The federal extension called High Extended Benefits (HEB) is provided when a state’s total unemployment rate averages eight percent or higher over three consecutive months.
The latest unemployment rate released this week by the Connecticut Department of Labor is 8.4 percent for September while unemployment rates for July and August were 7.8 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively. As a result, the average for these three consecutive months now stands at 8.1 percent.
“These benefits offer the lifeline we need to help our families weather this economic storm,” Governor Rell said. “More than $150 million in unemployment benefits is currently being provided to our residents each month. While I am confident our nation will soon emerge from this recession, until we do recover and begin to create new jobs, we must provide assistance to those who have felt the brunt of this downturn.”
According to Governor Rell, the HEB is in addition to the 26 weeks of regular state benefits, the 33 weeks of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC), and the 13 weeks of Extended Benefits (EB) currently being provided to the state’s jobless residents. With the addition of the seven weeks of HEB, claimants can potentially receive 79 weeks of unemployment benefits.
The HEB will be available to those claimants still searching for work and who have exhausted all 72 weeks of the current state and federal benefits. According to the Labor Department, claimants now receiving the 13 weeks of Extended Benefits will automatically receive the additional seven weeks. For those who have exhausted their 72 weeks of benefits, the agency will send letters to all potentially eligible individuals to notify them of the additional HEB weeks.
“The Labor Department is updating its records to allow claimants to seamlessly transition from the 13 weeks of Extended Benefits to the seven additional weeks of High Extended Benefits,” noted Governor Rell. “Although we are fortunate that Connecticut’s current unemployment rate is well below the national rate of 9.8 percent, finding a job in these challenging times is extremely difficult. This newest extension is a welcome relief to the thousands of citizens who want to work, are diligently seeking employment, but have had little success.”
Additional information about the seven weeks of HEB, including Frequently Asked Questions, can be found on the Labor Department’s Web site at www.ct.gov/dol.
Individuals needing information about other possible assistance can contact United Way’s Infoline program. This is a free referral service, with information about community services, basic needs assistance, crisis intervention and much more. 2-1-1 is toll-free from anywhere in Connecticut and it operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The service, which offers multilingual operators and TTY access, can be contacted by dialing 2-1-1.
News release from Connecticut Common Cause
“Common Cause in Connecticut is pleased that the Government Administration and Elections Committee is holding an informational hearing to take up the critical issue of the landmark Citizen’s Election Program in the wake of a district court ruling in August,” said Cheri Quickmire, Executive Director of Common Cause Connecticut.
Common Cause is working actively with Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s office in the Green Party of Connecticut et al v. Jeffrey Garfield case as an Intervenor represented by the Brennan Center. “While we are grateful that the Attorney General is fighting to appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals a damaging district court decision, we believe that we cannot wait the outcome of that appeal before acting to ensure the viability of the Citizens Election fund,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, Vice President for the national office of Common Cause.
We believe that we must act quickly to fix the law and that we cannot wait for the outcome of the appeal for a number of reasons.
This is a highly complex legal case. The 2nd Circuit will take time to deliberate. Legal experts that we work with suggest that a decision probably will not be reached until at least April of 2010. In addition, plaintiffs will undoubtedly want to challenge the appeal and take the case straight to the Supreme Court, which will drag this case on well beyond 2010 elections.
Candidates who want to run for statewide office for the first time under the program need to know the program is viable. Uncertainty will inhibit participation by legislative candidates as well.
The State Elections Enforcement Commission will need time to reconfigure the program in time for candidates who would like to participate.
Although the General Assembly modified a reversion clause in 2006, Section 9-717 is still in place. On April 15 if the CEP is still enjoined, the law will revert back to pre-2005 until December 2010, opening the doors to special interests, lobbyist and state contractor money and a return to pre-reform days.
“Connecticut has come a long way from the days of “Corrupticut” to become a nationwide leader on comprehensive reform,” said Quickmire. “We believe it is incumbent on us to find a way to address any questions of constitutionality.”
Hobert Flynn added, “There are a number of constitutionally permissible options that give lawmakers many avenues to explore a permanent fix or a temporary fix that allows the program to move forward in 2010. We urge the General Assembly make these changes as soon as feasible before we get too far into the election.”
Poise Your Applications. News release from Jim Himes.
Himes Reminds Military Academy Applicants of Oct. 30 Deadline
WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) today reminded students applying for 2010 admission into one of the nation’s four military academies that applications are due to his office by 4:00pm on Friday, October 30th. Applications are available on the Congressman’s website and from high school guidance counselors throughout the 4th District.
“I’m honored to play a part in nominating young men and women to our country’s prestigious military academies,” said Congressman Himes. “Attending a military academy is an incredible but challenging opportunity. I look forward to meeting the young leaders who will make this impressive commitment to serving our country.”
A panel of judges will review applications and conduct interviews with candidates in early December. Applicants must have turned 17 but not yet reached their 23rd birthday on July 1, 2010 and live in the 4th Congressional district.
More information is available by calling the Congressman’s office at 866-453-0028 or by visiting the Academy Nominations page on this website.