Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hwang on Tong

U.S. Senate candidate William Tong was attempting to catch some of that Linsanity, when it was in full swing. So, this week, when I happened to run into Rep. Tony Hwang, the other Chinese-American legislator, I asked him what he thought about Tong and his attempt to associate himself with basketball phenom Jeremy Lin.
Though he expressed admiration for Tong, calling him a friend, Hwang stopped well short of an endorsement.
I don't know, but maybe it's because they're in different parties? Maybe.
"He was the first Asian-American to be elected to the Connecticut General Assembly," Hwang said of Tong. "As a colleague and as a friend, I applaud him"
Hwang did note that he, too, has shared his own background when running for office, and there are some surprising similarities between candidate Rep. Tong and Rep. Hwang.
Both are children of Chinese restaurateurs, though Hwang says there were some significant differences.
Hwang emigrated at the age of 9, and wasn't afforded a high standard of living early on. Tong is fond of saying that his campaign began with the 57 cents his father came to this country with, but through sacrifice was able to send the future candidate to boarding school Phillips Academy.
"I spent the first three years in a housing project," Hwang said. 
Hwang, unable to speak English in his early years, was an ESL student in Syracuse (NY) public schools, before heading off to Cornell.
But, Linsanity or not, the Republican state representative is not put off by Tong's references to his Chinese heritage. Quite the opposite.
"I'm proud of him as an Asian-American," Hwang said.

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The people speak out on the death penalty

Last week, we asked you for your thoughts on the death penalty. You responded. On Monday we posted a bunch, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Below you'll find about 25 voice mail messages people left for and against repeal of capital punishment in the state.

If you want to get involved, you still can. Just call (203) 584-7478 and leave a voice mail with your thoughts.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Debating the minimum wage

The scene at the Labor Committee's public hearing on the minimum wage increase proposed by Speaker Chris Donovan.

Sen. Harp sponsors bill to improve safety and traffic circulation in New Haven's Westville (release)

State Senator Toni N. Harp (D-New Haven) offered testimony today on behalf of legislation she co-sponsored, meant to improve pedestrian safety and traffic flow in and through New Haven's Westville section. The bill, should it be enacted, would provide state funds to underwrite neighborhood upgrades like improved street lighting, enhanced crosswalks, and curb 'bump-outs' to better regulate the speed of cars and trucks.
HB5040, An Act Authorizing Bonds of the State for Traffic Calming and Economic Development in Westville Village, is currently under consideration by the legislature's Commerce Committee.
"The Westville section of New Haven boasts a thriving business district quite removed from well-known downtown landmarks like Yale's main campus and the New Haven Green… at the hub of urban streets and arteries," Senator Harp said. "The trouble with an inviting retail district in this ideal – if busy – location is the way it attracts speeding cars and trucks. In fact, in a 2009 analysis of what's necessary for Westville revitalization, the first thing listed under 'Special Challenges' is 'high traffic speeds;' the second is 'pedestrian safety.'"
Senator Harp's legislation, also co-sponsored by state Representatives Toni Walker (D-New Haven) and Pat Dillon (D-New Haven), calls for state bonding of up to $415,000 for these comprehensive improvements.
"Your favorable consideration of HB5040 will help us underscore what many of us have known for years already, namely, that in our Westville Village we have a jewel in our midst in terms of a vibrant community with person-to-person appeal," Senator Harp testified. "The public safety and security features in this bill are absolutely necessary, and will help perpetuate Westville's reputation as a desirable New Haven address for businesses and residents alike."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Death penalty: What people are saying

Last Friday, we asked you to get on the record about the death penalty. Should it be repealed? Should it be altered? Should it stay the same?
It's easy to do — just call (203) 584-7478 and leave a message with your feelings on the subject. Then we'll embed those voice mail messages here.
And we've already got a few.
But the more that come in, the more we'll post. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.


Wilson-Foley hammers Roraback (again) on the death penalty

Candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley is once again attacking Andrew Roraback on the death penalty. 
"The people who serve in elective office should have principles and not bargain them away for political ends. Keeping the death penalty is a serious matter and it shouldn't become a political trading card. You are either for it or against it."
Last week, Roraback announced that he, maybe, would not be voting for repeal  as he has before, tying the issue to the earned risk reduction credit legislation, passed last year, that allows for criminal sentences to be reduced under some circumstances.

Roraback was quite clear -- he is against the death penalty, though his position was seen by some as a way to  stand against the death penalty (with the majority of his party) and not against his own conscience.
In her release Monday, Wilson-Foley again called forth the statistics Gods, though, some statistics show not "overwhelming" support for capital punishment, as Wilson-Foley suggests:
Wilson Foley said Sen. Roraback should not qualify any decision when the issue is this serious and supported by an overwhelming number of Connecticut's citizens. She noted that a majority of those on death row - seven inmates - were convicted for their crimes committed in the 5thCongressional District.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Zombies in Danbury?

Danbury's Mayor Mark Boughton is one of the best Twitter users in Connecticut's political world. And he's just proven it again.
Apropos of nothing, the mayor of Danbury, lovingly known as Big Poppa, tweeted the following:

I of course jumped on to of it, and asked if he was at all serious. In the best traditions of investigative journalism, I sent him an email. The mayor replied quite quickly.
"LOL. Just kidding."
Oh well.
If he had been serious, he might have used these green-tipped zombie-killing bullets as part if the plan. While Boughton might have been kidding, these guys are not.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Sound Off on the death penalty

What do you think about the death penalty? 
This year there's another attempt at repeal, and both sides of the fence are throwing around statistics. 
Here's a chance to go beyond the statistics —  call (203) 584-7478 and leave a voice mail with your thoughts on the death penalty. Should it remain the same? Should it be repealed? 

Then we'll embed those voice mails on this blog for all to hear. For example, here's the first one we received:

A few important things to keep in mind:
  • These voice mail messages will be made public
  • Don't swear, or make any racist or overtly sexual remarks of any kind
  • Don't leave your phone number
  • Leave your name if you want to, but remember, it will be shared publicly
For reference, check out this Quinnipiac poll that showed that 65 percent of Connecticut residents are in favor of the death penalty, though that number drops significantly when voters are asked to choose between the death penalty and life in prison. 
"Historically, voters favor the death penalty about 2-1 when they are asked a simple yes- no question. When they are offered the choice, however, between the death penalty and life in prison with no chance of parole, voters have been evenly divided," said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, PhD. 
You can also take a look at some comments made by legislators before and after the bill was raised in committee. 


Senate GOP debates nailed down

Chris Shays' campaign has announced four debates with his Republican rivals, significantly fewer than the 10 he had originally proposed.
But, hey, it's a start.
  • April 12th, Host: NBC CT
  • April 19th, Host: The Norwich Bulletin
  •  June 14th, Host: The Hartford Courant
  • July (TBD), Host:  League of Women Voters

“I’m happy to have these four dates set,” Shays said in a release, “and look forward to getting the other six on the books.  Voters in all parts of the state should have the opportunity to hear a healthy debate.”

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Senate Leaders, Lt. Governor Wyman, Commissioner Schwartz: Combat Veterans Should be Welcomed Home with a Job (release)

For veterans who risked their lives on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, State Senate Democrats want to welcome these brave soldiers back to Connecticut with the prospect of a job.
Today, Senate Democrat leaders, Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, and state Department of Veteran Affairs Commissioner Linda S. Schwartz stood with veterans in Minuteman Park, across from the state’s Armory, to call for passage of proposed jobs legislation that would specifically benefit veterans.
“These brave men and women who gave selflessly for their country deserve a fair shot at achieving the American dream,” Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). “This bill would boost job opportunities for returning combat veterans and give them a chance to use their skills and talents in the Connecticut workforce.”
A critical component of the jobs legislation proposed this session, the “STEP-Up for Veterans” initiative seeks to reverse the trend of disproportionately high unemployment among young veterans by connecting them with meaningful employment upon their return. Specifically, the bill would make any Connecticut-based business that hires an unemployed combat veteran who served in Iraq or Afghanistan eligible to receive a grant of up to six months of that veteran’s salary and training costs, up to $12,000 per soldier. The legislation proposes an additional $10 million in bonding to fund the program.
“For thousands of our military men and women here in Connecticut, deployment has meant many months away from their families, their jobs – their lives,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. “I strongly believe that they deserve our support not only when they are in uniform, but when they return home. Programs like this – along with the tax credit for hiring veterans passed last year – are a great way to lend a hand to those who sacrificed so much for us.”
The problem of unemployment among military veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan is particularly pronounced in youth populations. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that 30 percent of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed; double the rate of their non-military peers.
"As America gets ready to welcome back over one million veterans now in uniform as part of the drawdown of our armed forces, the main challenge is to find meaningful and productive job opportunities for these fine men and women,” Commissioner Schwartz said.
“I am deeply troubled by the unemployment problem that plagues many of our veterans. It is simply unacceptable,” said Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn). “We need to act quickly to pass this legislation and, by doing so, send a strong message that we support our veterans and are determined to help them find jobs.”
“Over the coming months, thousands of combat veterans will be returning to Connecticut from Iraq and Afghanistan. These heroes will need good paying jobs, but unemployment is already too high among veterans here at home. Our proposal this year is to give businesses an incentive to hire veterans first by looking to pay their salary and training costs for six months. We need to look at all available options to prepare for the influx of our returning service men and women to our state,” Senator Carlo Leone (D – Stamford), Co-chair of the Veterans Committee.
The STEP-Up for Veterans initiative is part of the Democrats’ proposed five-point plan that builds on the landmark jobs legislation passed during the October Special Session. Included in that comprehensive bill was an incentive program that offered tax credits for new hires, including additional credits for hiring unemployed people and veterans.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wilson-Foley weighs in on the death penalty

Republican candidate for Congress Lisa Wilson-Foley took the opportunity Wednesday to jab her Republican opponent Andrew Roraback on his vote in favor of moving a death penalty repeal bill forward. 
"All Republicans need to be counted and I urge State Sen. Andrew Roraback to reconsider his position and vote to keep the death penalty the law of the land," she said.
But perhaps Wilson-Foley, and her potential supporters, should be reminded of one or two things.
First, Roraback did not vote in favor of death penalty repeal Wednesday. He voted in favor of the the bill in concept, which does little more than open the bill for a public hearing. Legislators very often vote in favor of a bill they do not support, at this stage, merely because it is a weighty enough issue to warrant a conversation.
Roraback has not, yet this year, voted in favor of repeal. He may, but Wednesday's vote was not a vote cast against the death penalty. It was a vote cast in favor of conversation.
Second, while Roraback, as a sitting legislator, does have to address the issue, and even vote on it. Wilson-Foley, not currently in office and seeking a position in U.S. Congress, will most likely never cast a vote either for or against, even if she wins.
Wilson-Foley's full release is below:

"Wednesday's vote to bring the Death Penalty back into public debate is a wake up call to those who believe in justice for heinous crimes against innocent people. Keeping and strengthening the death penalty is critical to keeping our communities safe, not repealing it.
"It is important for all Republicans, Democrats and Unaffiliated voters to call their legislators and make their voices heard. It is unbelievable that the liberals would defy the overwhelming will of the people who support a death penalty for capital crimes."
"This is a critical moment for those who are tired of politicians putting their interests before the safety of our citizens."
"All Republicans need to be counted and I urge State Sen. Andrew Roraback to reconsider his position and vote to keep the death penalty the law of the land."
"We need to keep our death penalty on the books and work on methods to make it a more effective tool to protect us from those who have done harm to innocent victims."

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Courtney wants Congress to honor Jack Nicklaus

Congressman Joe Courtney must like golf. A lot.
Last week, the 2nd District U.S. representative cosponsored, along with 39 of his colleagues, a bill that would award a gold medal to golfer Jack Nicklaus "in recognition of his service to the Nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship in golf."
The bill, by the way, was sponsored by California's Joe Baca. To be fair to Nicklaus, known for some reason as "the golden bear," he is a great golfer.
Nicklaus, lest we forget, also famously said that there aren't so many black golfers because African Americans have "different muscles that react in different ways." He later apologized for the statement, having made it only shortly before Tiger Woods won the National Amateur Golf Tournament on August 28, 1994.
We are not saying that Nicklaus' outburst should prevent him from getting a gold medal from Congress. After all, Byron Nelson got one. But then, the question arises: Why should Congress be giving out medals to golfers at all?


Women on the state police force

A report issued by the Office of Legislative Research last week examined state police staffing levels throughout history.
The OLR does research on behalf of legislators. In this case, they sought to answer, "How the law on state police staffing levels has changed over time," but what they produced was an interesting look at the history of the Connecticut State Police, an a fascinating look at the history of women on the force.
For example, until 1940 the law only provided for men on the state police, and that, when the law changed, it allowed for only two women on the force?
These two women were Evelyn Jennie Briggs and Kathryn Betts Haggerty — they were called "State Police Women" and only took part in plain clothes investigations. A few years later the law was changed to allow 12 women on the force, but it wasn't until 1973 that the law was changed to allow the state to hire as many officers, men or women, as was required — “an adequate number ... to efficiently maintain the operation of the department in keeping with budgetary allowances.”
The history of the Connecticut State Police is a fascinating one. The force has grown from a group of five men in May 29, 1903, paid $3 a day, who traveled the state by railroad to deal with moonshiners, to the group of thousands of men and women on the force today (a minimum of 1,248 as required by law since 1998).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Salcedo makes it to Mexico - "All is normal"

In furthering our continuing coverage of Senate candidate Sylvester Salcedo's whirlwind trip to Mexico, we can  announce that Salcedo has made it South of the Border.
Two days ago, Salcedo was kind enough to let us know he was hitting the road.
Here's a hasty email he dashed off in between expressions of solidarity with victims of the drug war.
...rushing to Laredo bishop's residence...more soon, Sylvester ...all is safe and normal...
 The photo here shows Salcedo, at left, with the Nuevo Laredo mayor's private secretary, Enrique Garza Flores.
A bit later, Salcedo sent the following. Keep in mind, he was only expecting to spend a couple of hours in Mexico. After all, he's got a two-year-old - and a Senate campaign - to manage.
very fun visit...bishop is out town, spoke to his #2 who was very receptive, just leaving US consul general..nice guy, great chat, great insight, now mtg with staff of a returning migrants insttute, then to walk across bridge to my car in Laredo...

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5th District endorsements that shocked nobody

Today, two candidates for the 5th district announced some endorsements that were, well, not unexpected.
Democrat Chris Donovan announced the support of the New Britain DTC.
"I've fought for the middle class families of New Britain since the beginning of my career, and I look forward to continuing that work with my friends on the New Britain DTC," Donovan said in a release.
Well, New Britain is well within Donovan's core area.  Here he is in 2009 talking about the closure of New Britain's DMV:

And then there's Andrew Roraback, the other sitting legislator seeking a bump up to U.S. congress in the 5th. Roraback received the endorsement of the Torrington RTC - no shocker there. Roraback, like Donovan, points out his connections to the city:
“Torrington has a special place in my heart, as a city I am proud to represent in Hartford, and as the home of my family’s law practice."
Now, if they did NOT get endorsed by their home town committees, that would have been interesting.

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Legislature moving (slowly) into the 21st century

Should mail to legislators fly first class? No longer.
A bill is being brought up in committee today that would allow notices of special sessions to be sent to legislators "by means other than by first class mail."
What those means are has not yet been specified, but as the proposed bill notes, it must be a "true copy," which leads me to assume no email. 
At the same time, a bill in being raised that would let constituents opt out of mailings from legislators.
It would force lawmakers "to include a note on all future informational mailings providing constituents with the option of receiving information from their legislators by electronic mail rather than posted mail."
The purpose of the bill, so it states, is, "To reduce the cost of legislative mailings and provide savings to the state."
So instead of a mailbox bursting with junk, your spam filter can catch it, I suppose. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Salcedo gets on the road to Mexico

I heard from Senate candidate Sylvester Salcedo today. If you don't know, Salcedo is heading down to Mexico to show solidarity with the victims of the war on drugs.
I'll post any updates he sends but, for now, here's the latest:

Ck'd passport, tire pressure, oil changed, new wipers, lovey off to surgery early, just drp'ed off Leo at granma/PA ryan's house...on the Merritt p'way...headin' south to the border! Hasta luego. S.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Rob Kane to run for reelection (release)

State Senator Robert J. Kane today announced his plans to run for re-election this November, saying he will continue to be outspoken on the need to pass policies which improve the state’s business climate and create jobs.
 “As a small business owner, I feel I bring an important perspective to the State Capitol,” Sen. Kane said.  “And the fact is, small businesses are struggling.  They are struggling because of the recent tax hikes and they are struggling because of the burdensome mandates that government places on them.  I am fighting to get government out of their way so that they are free to grow and expand.”
 Senator Kane, a long-time resident of Watertown, was first elected to represent the 32nd Senatorial District in a special election in 2008. In addition to Watertown, his district includes the communities of Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Middlebury, Oxford, Roxbury, Seymour, Southbury, Thomaston and Woodbury.
 He is a Senate Deputy Minority Leader, and serves as the leading Republican Senator, or Ranking Member, of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee. Also, Senator Kane serves as a member of the Education and Public Health committees.
 “Our state government has an addiction,” Senator Kane said.  “It is addicted to spending your money.  Because of that addiction, we saw our taxes hiked by record amounts last year.  I voted against that tax hike and put forth a no tax hike plan which cut wasteful state spending.  I will continue to be a voice for taxpayers in Hartford if re-elected.”
 Senator Kane is a proud husband and father, a successful business owner and an active member of the community. He is past chair of the Watertown Town Council and has served as chair of its Finance Subcommittee and founding chair of its Business Development Subcommittee. Senator Kane is a former chair of the Wolcott Street/Lakewood Road Business Association, a past president of the Professional Network Organization (Profnet), and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Waterbury Chamber of Commerce. Also, he is a former board member of United Way, of the Waterbury Association of Retarded Citizens, and of Regional Workforce Investment Board. Senator Kane is a past recipient of the Waterbury Regional Chamber Malcolm Baldrige Award for Volunteerism, and a past recipient of the Waterbury Regional Chamber Harold Webster Smith Small Business Award.
 Senator Kane is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University and received an MBA from the University of New Haven in 2009. He continues to operate the business he founded, KarTele Cellular Phones in Waterbury.  He and his wife, Dr. Marcy Kane, are the proud parents of Aidan and Deana.
“It has been an honor to serve the taxpayers of the 32nd senatorial district,” Sen. Kane said.  “If voters return me to the State Capitol in November, I will continue to fight for lower taxes, lower spending and policies which allow our Main Street businesses to thrive.”


Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Deaf Child Bill of Rights

Among the sweeping changes to education proposed by the Malloy administration, amid the controversy of so-called "scream rooms" and the drive to ban them, a little-known issue will get taken up by the legislature's education committee Friday.
It's called "A Deaf Child Bill of Rights."
Proposed by The Connecticut Council of Organizations Serving the Deaf (an organization with perhaps surprisingly deep roots in the state), among others, a bill of rights would, "ensure the choice of language and communication mode of deaf/hard of hearing children is respected and to ensure these children have fully accessible educational opportunities through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) focused on language and communication needs."
You can read the a larger summary of the proposal below, but, according to the CCOSD, attorney Terry Bedar, parent of a deaf son, and Dr. Harvey Corson, retired Executive Director of American School for the Deaf wrote the following email to fellow advocates, urging them to encourage legislators to get on board:
This DCBR would require a Language & Communication Plan to be attached to every deaf/hard of hearing child’s IEP so that the IEP is: (1) language & communication driven; (2) focused on unique language & communication needs, (3) effective by developing an action plan to meet these needs with the goal to close the unacceptable wide achievement gap for deaf/hard of hearing children.

DCBR-Deaf Child Bill of Rights Summary-2012


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The dog lobby

Amid the hustle and the bustle of the 2012 legislative session, while the African American Affairs Commission makes a display, a little-known lobby will also be making its stand.
Starting tomorrow, The Connecticut Dog Federation will be presenting a display in the concourse of the Legislative Office Building.
"Too many people don't know about us," Ellen Keiffer, corresponding secretary for the organization, told me. "We have our own lobbyist."
In fact, it's not clear how powerful the dog lobby is in Connecticut. Roger Garrish, president of the CDF, didn't know just how many lobbyists are focused on the needs of dogs. There are animal advocacy organizations — like Friends of Animals and Connecticut Votes for Animals,  both of which sport a lobbyist or two — but as far as I can tell, the CDF is the only canine-specific advocacy organization with a lobbyist in Hartford.
What do they lobby for? Well, there's this bill, which went into effect last October, requiring people who import  animals to register as animal importers.
Now, I don't know it for a fact, but one imagines that the Pet Industry Advisory Council, which also has a lobbyist or two in Hartford, argued against that one.
If you care, as this legislative session gets going, I have included the complete list of all registered lobbyists in Hartford below, all 1,000-odd pages of it.

Combined Lobbyist List by Registrant With Type of Lobbying and Issues

Gov. Malloy welcomes restoration of state crime lab's accreditation (release)

Governor Dannel P. Malloy today welcomed news that the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors restored accreditation to the state's crime lab following improvements made during the last six months to alleviate the backlog of cases that stretched over a period of years.
"The decision today by the accreditation panel is welcomed news and certainly a positive step forward as we continue making improvements to restore the state's crime lab," said Governor Malloy.  "As I've said before, prior years of allowing dwindling resources for the lab resulted in an intolerable backlog and undermined our criminal justice system.  My administration will continue its efforts to implement improved procedures and provide the critical resources necessary, so that once again the crime lab will be a national model.  I'm also very grateful to the work of the lab's scientists who over the past six months have worked to make sure this would happen."
In August, calling years of backlog at the facility as "unacceptable," Governor Malloy formed a panel of 17 key stakeholders<> to develop a short and long-term strategy for the lab, urging the panel to find efficiencies and consensus on how to prioritize requests for testing.  Shortly thereafter, the Governor announced that funding had been authorized to increase staffing at the lab.
"With this good news, we can immediately seek full access to the FBI DNA data bank, and we are optimistic that will happen soon," said Office of Policy & Management Under Secretary Mike Lawlor.

Caligiuri endorses Roraback (release)

Sam Caligiuri, the 2010 Republican nominee for Congress in the 5th District, today announced his endorsement of Andrew Roraback for Congress. Caligiuri, who also served with Roraback as a member of the State Senate, made the announcement with Roraback on the steps of Town Hall in Cheshire.
“Andrew Roraback clearly represents our party’s best chance at winning this Congressional seat. Andrew’s years as a conscientious, fiscally-conservative member of the state legislature and his proven electability make him the very best choice to be the Republican nominee for Congress in the Fifth District. He will serve the district ably and with great integrity. I am honored to endorse his candidacy,” said Caligiuri.
Roraback said he was thankful and humbled to receive Caligiuri’s endorsement.
“Having served with Sam in the State Senate, and knowing what a smart, capable leader he is, I am honored to receive his endorsement for Congress, and grateful for his expression of confidence in our campaign,” said Roraback. “This endorsement further fuels the growing momentum our campaign is experiencing every day. It serves to strengthen my firm conviction that my proven record of winning elections, serving competently, and being grounded in conservative pro-growth economic policies make me our party’s very best hope to take back this seat in November.”
Caligiuri joins an ever-growing list of Republican leaders and elected officials who have endorsed Roraback’s candidacy. A complete list of endorsements can be found at 

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Whitnum: 'They should rename themselves the Jewish American Civil Liberties Union'

Democratic Senate candidate Lee Whitnum announced recently that the ACLU has refused to take part in her lawsuit against the Town of Greenwich, saying the ALCU’s decision was “motivated by bias.”
Whitnum, during a recent interview, said she was “very angry at the ACLU in Connecticut.” “They should rename themselves the Jewish American Civil Liberties Union,” she said.
Whitnum has filed suit against the Town of Greenwich for allowing a Bar Mitzvah to be held at Town Hall.
A selectman (our mayor) allowed a highly publicized Bar Mitzvah in the Greenwich Town Hall while no other religious groups are allowed the same access for religious services. It is the double-standard once again,” Whitnum said in a release.
Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei, named as a co-defendant in the complaint, refuse to comment on the case, as it is currently in process.
In 2010, Whitnum sued now Gov. Dannel P. Malloy after the then-gubernatorial hopeful allegedly called Whitnum "anti-Semitic" and "motivated by hate" in 2008, a day before Whitnum lost a race for the 4th Congressional district to Himes. Malloy's office did not return request for comment on the matter, but Whitnum, who is representing herself in the defamation suit, said she is asking for $500,000 and, well,  something else — she wants Malloy to read, from cover to cover, the book "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." She also wants Malloy to make a public apology. Whitnum clarified in 2010 that she is not anti-Semitic, but anti-AIPAC, and said that the book is "the Bible of the cause."
Perhaps as a result of the ACLU’s denial, Whitnum is amending the complaint against the town — she said she’s “not going to fight in federal court whether the star of David is a religious symbol or the symbol of a country.”
She’s also amending the case “to demand that the celebration for Israel’s Independence Day stay within the same guidelines that the Columbus Day and Saint Patrick’s Day festivities must follow in the Town of Greenwich,” according to a release.
Whitnum, described Israel’s Independence Day, the festivities for which coincided with the Bar Mitvah, as “the trail-of tears for the Christian and Muslim indigenous culture.”
“What is there to celebrate?” Whitnum said in a release. “The indigenous Christian and Muslims were forced from their homes and remain in concentration camp-like conditions three generations later. To make matters worse Zionist Americans continue to this day, along with more than 500,000 settlers, to encroach on other peoples’ land.”
According to Whitnum, the ACLU of Connecticut did not offer any reason for the denial, “just that the case load was too great.”
“Too much work load? I don’t believe it,” she said in a statement. “This rejection proves that the ACLU is a biased organization.”
Requests for comment from the ACLU were not returned by press time.

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