Weekend Update: Did you catch this from the Hartford Courant:
HARTFORD — Connecticut came away with absolutely nothing in a competition for $1.5 billion in federal transportation grants this week, angering the congressional delegation enough that it has demanded a meeting with federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood next week.
Connecticut is one of just nine states to come up empty.
“I was outraged when I got the news,” U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, said Thursday afternoon. “Chris Dodd was exceedingly angry. John Larson was not happy. We all called the White House. This is just unacceptable,” Himes said.
What happened to Connecticut’s White House juice?
Can you believe it? Joe Ganim and Ernie Newton free men. Soon, very soon completely. Former State Senator Newton is now in a halfway house in Waterbury following his release from a federal prison camp in Pennsylvania. He received a five-year sentence on corruption charges in 2006. Ganim is serving out his time in a halfway house in Hartford.
Newton will be under the supervision of halfway house staff until the completion of his term in August. He’ll be required to perform chores. He’ll also be allowed to work in the community but must turn over 25 percent of his pay. Once he hits the last 10 percent of his sentence, and that will be soon, he’ll be eligible to serve out his final days under home confinement.
Ernie was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Alan Nevas following his guilty plea to corruption charges. Before Ernie left town he said he was The Moses of my people. Why do I get the feeling we’ll be hearing from Ernie very soon? Will he run for public office again? I say yes, but before he can do that and restore his voting rights he must satisfy all court-ordered fines and restitution. Under Connecticut law signed by former Governor John Rowland, a felon can vote provided he/she is not incarcerated and has paid all fines and restitution. Ernie must pay nearly $14,000 to the State Elections Enforcement Commission in restitution, but that amount can be lowered based on his ability to pay. Once Ernie finishes his term of incarceration he’ll be turned over to the U.S. Probation Department for three years of supervised release. There is no prohibition, according to the special conditions set forth by Judge Nevas, on Newton seeking public office during his three-year probationary period.
Shays Weighs Decision
It’s decision time for Christopher Shays. Will he? Or won’t he? The former congressman and key supporters have been grappling with the various scenarios of how he changes the race for governor. A major issue for Shays is a lifestyle change. He recently purchased a home in Maryland after living 10 years in Bridgeport and most of his life in Connecticut. He has placed a deposit on a condo in Bridgeport, but has stated he’d likely buy a place in the state irrespective of a run for office.
Whether he jumps in depends on how much fire he has to get back in the game. If he gets in it’s a game changer. He instantly becomes a leading candidate, along with former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley, for the Republican nomination. Shays brings a base of support to the table, Fairfield County Republicans. For sure, however, no one is going to hand this race over to Shays. It will be a fight. Foley, and his money, will make sure of that. If Shays gets in he’ll be the beneficiary of a free media blast that builds his statewide profile and buys him time to kick-start a political operation and raise money leading into the Republican state convention in May.
Shays will be outspent dramatically by Foley who continues to blast his new-guy image across the state. But low turnout primaries are weird birds. They’re not like general elections. You can be outspent and still win provided your message is sharp and you have a ground operation to entice your voters. It’s all about identifying friends and dragging them to the polls.
Lots of lesser-known Republicans are in the race including Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele who has two problems, no money and no name recognition. Say what, no one knows the lieutenant governor? Nope, and that happens often to the person occupying the second spot. For the most part lieutenant governors show up to fill in at chickenshit events. Jodi Rell, John Rowland’s lieutenant governor, had the benefit of serving more than two full years as governor before winning election in 2006. You can have name recognition and get in the game. You can have money and get in the game. When you have neither, it’s tough. Fedele is taking the public financing route which means he’ll not have his taxpayer-financed money until convention time, and will get an additional amount, according to campaign finance rules, depending on how many millions Foley spends. Fedele must rely on political support, he has some, to keep him afloat until his money kicks in. Until then, Fedele’s a second-tier candidate.
Time is of the essence for Shays because of Foley’s money. If Shays jumps in, the Republican dynamics change instantly. If not, it becomes Foley’s to lose.
From Superintendent of Schools John Ramos
Nearly everyone is familiar with chicken soup – Chicken Soup for the Soul, that is. For the first time in more than a decade, Chicken Soup for the Soul has published a groundbreaking book that includes contributions from all 55 of 2009’s State Teachers of the Year as well as 46 others from teachers and students. And a beautiful and powerful story by Read School teacher, Patricia Marini, is a part of this wonderful collection called Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales.
“I Wish Every Teacher a Kevonna,” is Marini’s tribute to Kevonna Edwards, a special student who was considered difficult by others but who blossomed as a student and a volunteer with Marini, decided to become a teacher, and then died in a car accident.
“Her story needs to be told. I think that there are a lot of Kevonnas in Bridgeport,” said Marini. “This is why teachers go into teaching.”
Marini and Kevonna met in a summer school program in 2002 before Kevonna’s eighth-grade year at Read at which time Marini was a resource teacher. Marini decided to make Kevonna a helper in a class for students with special needs. Kevonna blossomed.
Marini felt that she was a natural teacher, and when Kevonna went on to attend high school at Bunnell in Stratford, she even joined Future Teachers of America.
Unfortunately, three years ago, in her senior year of high school, Kevonna died in a single-car accident on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Woodbridge.
It was about a year later when Marini learned that the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series was looking for stories from teachers.
“I love the books and I was on their Web site. I thought Kevonna had such an impact on me, I decided to write about her,” said Marini. She wrote the story in one sitting, tweaked it a bit and then submitted it.
Early last December, right around the time of what would have been Kevonna’s birthday, Marini learned her entry was in the top 5 percent and would likely be included in the book.
Marini plans to use the $200 fee she received as seed money for a scholarship in Kevonna’s name, awarded each year to a student most improved at Read School.
“Kevonna is a success story. It’s unfortunate what happened to her, but she would have come back to this district and taught. I know it. On those days when your patience is worn thin, I hope teachers have a student like Kevonna to think about,” said Marini.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher’s Tales was released on February 2, 2010 and is available for purchase at your local bookstore.