Friday, July 27, 2012

State GOP may sue over ballot order

Republicans want to be top of the ticket, arguing with Secretary of the State Denise Merrill that the GOP should be on first on the ballot, and may take the state to court to get it.
"We are considering our options, but most likely we will seek equitable relief," Jerry Labriola said. He defined "equitable relief" as "seeking an action and/or an order from the court."
Yesterday, State Senate Republican Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield), State House Republican Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. (R-Norwalk) and Connecticut Republican Party Chaiman Jerry Labriola today issued a formal challenge to the ordering of candidates on state ballots for the November election, according to a release issued by the GOP.
They cited state law, but Merrill shot back with some state law of her own. See her letter to Labriola below.
The GOP's argument is based on the detail that ballot order for major parties is determined by which party got the most votes in the previous election. When Dannel Malloy won against Republican Tom Foley, in fact the Republican got more votes than the Democrat. It was only the Working Families Party votes that kicked Malloy over the threshold.
And therein lies the rub, Merrill said. The Democrat won. Yes, he was also a Working Families Party candidate, but the Democrat won.
Her rather more detailed explanation is below, but Labriola said the law is on the Grand Old Party's side. "Our party earned the top line on the ballot. We feel the statute is clear," he said. "Our intention is to pursue this as far as it is required."

7.27.12 Merrill Letter GOP

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Malloy: State getting ready for a planned disaster

After last year's severe storms, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy put together a panel to figure out what went wrong. The state went black. Communications went down. 
To make sure such a thing doesn't happen again, a state-wide, two-day drill is planned to begin on July 28, "designed to simulate a Category 3 hurricane," according to Malloy's office. 
“This drill is an important part of our commitment to ensure that the people of Connecticut receive the timely, coordinated response they deserve when the next inevitable catastrophe hits,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said in a release. “These four days will create a blueprint of how we can improve our infrastructure and preparation so that our residents never have to endure the level of hardship and frustration that they dealt with last fall.”
As the release says: Coordinated by the state’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS), the exercise is designed to improve communication between the state’s utility companies and state and local governments in the event of an emergency or other natural disaster.
Participants in the exercise will include the relevant state agencies; the state’s municipalities and tribal nations; the Red Cross; United Way 211; utility companies (CL&P, United Illuminating, AT&T, Comcast, Cablevision, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, Charter, Cox and MetroCast); and representatives of the private sector.
Materials related to the exercise and to the Governor’s Emergency Planning and Preparedness Initiative can be found at

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Monday, July 16, 2012

State to start implementation of medical marijuana

The state's Department of Consumer Protection will start implementing the medical marijuana law passed this year by the legislature on Oct. 1. And in case you considered getting in line right now, the DCP has a convenient Q &A set up to explain the truths and myths of medicine weed. 
For example:
Q. Can patients be placed on a waiting list?
A. No.
 And just in case you thought you now have carte blanche to set up a grow operation in your closet:
Q. Who will grow the marijuana?
A. Only producers licensed by the Department of Consumer Protection will be authorized under the bill to cultivate marijuana.


Friday, July 13, 2012

SOTS: 45,000 new voters since 2011 ended

According to the secretary of the state, Denise Merrill, an additional 45,191 voters registered since the beginning of the year, bringing the total number to 1,962,905. That is still below 2008 numbers, Merrill's office said.
“Many thousands of Connecticut citizens are recognizing that 2012 is a major election year, and we have some hotly contested statewide primaries coming up in just one month,” Merrill said.
 The SOTS' data suggests that "the largest group of new voters are some 18,952 voters between the ages of 18 and 29. Among voters aged 30-44, there are 10,334 newly registered voters. The age bracket of 45-59 gained 7,340 new voters while those aged 60 and over comprise 5,792 newly registered voters."

Real Merrill's full release below.

7.13.12 One Month to Register to Vote for Primary

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Want to run? Number of uncontested races fewer than last year

Here's a press release from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. She says there are 41 percent fewer general Assembly seats NOT being sought by a major party than there were last year:

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is reporting today that the number of General Assembly races not contested by a major party in 2012 is nearly 41% lower than the same figure reported in 2010. Only 32 of 187 seats for State Senate or State House lack either a Democratic or Republican candidate this year as compared with 54 total contests unchallenged by a major party in 2010 (a decline of 40.7%). The 17.1% of General Assembly races uncontested by a major party marks the lowest such figure since these numbers were first tracked in 1998 when 26.7% of races were uncontested by a major party.

“I am very encouraged to see so many candidates stepping up and running for office, especially in a year when there are numerous retirements from the Connecticut General Assembly,” said Secretary Merrill, Connecticut’s chief elections official. “The decline in State Senate and State House races not contested by a major party means more Connecticut citizens are becoming involved in our elections. We would still like to see even less seats left unchallenged by a major party. It is probably not a coincidence that the sharp decline in uncontested General Assembly seats since 2008 has happened with the introduction of clean campaign financing of legislative races through the Citizen’s Election Program. It is clear that public campaign financing is having its intended effect, which is to motivate more of our citizens to take ownership of the political process. Connecticut must continue to be a national leader when it comes to clean election laws.”

In State Senate races, five of 36 (13.9%) contests lack a major party candidate, the lowest since 1998 when again just five of 36 races went unchallenged. In races for the State House, only 27 of the 151 district races (17.9%) are uncontested, the lowest percentage of unchallenged elections in that same time period.

The number of General Assembly races uncontested by a major party for 2012 has decreased significantly from those of the past several election cycles. The number of races in which a major party has not fielded a candidate for the State Senate has diminished considerably from 2006 when nine of 36 races (25%) went uncontested. In 2008, seven (19.4%) State Senate races were uncontested by Republicans or Democrats and in 2010 that number dropped to six (16.7%). The most dramatic decline in races uncontested by a major party, however, can be seen in elections for the State House of Representatives. In 2006, 62 races for house seats (41%) lacked a major party candidate, while in 2008, 53 races (35%) remained uncontested. In 2010 the number of uncontested races by a major party was still high at 48 (31.8%). This year, however, that percentage has been cut significantly to 27 (17.9%). In 2008, public campaign financing for Connecticut General Assembly races became available for the first time through the Citizen’s Election Program. That year some 250 of 343 General Assembly candidates, equivalent to 73% of those running, elected to use the clean elections program to finance their campaigns. In 2010, 252 of 362 General Assembly candidates, equivalent to approximately 70% of those running, elected to use the program. Thus, the vast majority of sitting legislators came to office free of special interest money.

Secretary Merrill is also reminding voters that statewide primaries for registered Democrats and Republicans are quickly approaching on August 14th. To register to vote by mail, voter registration cards must be received by the local Registrar of Voters by August 9th. The last day for in person registration at town offices is Monday, August 13that 12:00 p.m. Unaffiliated voters face those same deadlines if they wish to register with a major party and vote in the primary. Voters can go to to learn how to register to vote, find polling locations, and download absentee ballots and candidate lists.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

DeLauro to Panetta: Don't deal with Russian arms dealer

According to a release issued by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro's office, she and a bipartisan group of lawmakers today "urged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to cut ties with the Russian state-owned arms dealer Rosoboronexport." 
DeLauro's office said that the U.S. Department of Defense buys "Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan Security Forces from Rosoboronexport," while Russia continues "to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, supporting his brutal crackdown on his own people."
Here's DeLauro's office on The National Defense Authorization Act:
The National Defense Authorization Act passed by the House of Representatives contained a provision authored by DeLauro, Granger and Ellison that would ban DoD from purchasing helicopters for the Afghan Security Forces from any firm “controlled, directed, or influenced by” a nation that provides weapons to Syria or other state sponsors of terrorism.  It also requires any such future contracts be competitively bid.
The letter to Secretary Panetta is as follows:
July 2, 2012
The Honorable Leon Panetta
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Panetta,
            We write to express our deep concern over the Department of Defense’s reported decision to purchase ten additional Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan Security Forces from the Russian state-owned arms dealer Rosoboronexport, a firm that is enabling mass atrocities in Syria.  We find this practice completely unacceptable and strongly urge you to reconsider your department’s dealings with the firm. 
For more than a year now Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has responded to peaceful demonstrations by his own people with a brutal crackdown, which has resulted in gross human rights violations, the use of force against civilians, torture, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary executions, sexual violence, and interference with access to medical treatment.  According to U.N. estimates, at least 10,000 people in Syria have been killed since the violence began in March 2011, with some estimating as many as 15,000 have been killed.  In just the past month the murder of civilians in Syria has sharply escalated, including the massacre of more than108 people in Houla and at least 78 in Qubair, most of them women and children.
            Last year alone, Syria’s top arms supplier, Russia, reportedly sold Damascus $1 billion in weapons thereby greatly enabling the Assad regime’s murder of innocent men, women and children.  Recently, on June 12, 2012, Secretary of State Clinton expressed concern that Russia is sending attack helicopters to Syria. 
Yet, your department at the same time has procured 21 Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan Security Forces through a no-bid contract with Rosoboronexport and is now reportedly planning on purchasing ten more helicopters from the firm this year.  This has created an untenable situation in which the U.S. Government is criticizing Russia for selling helicopters to Syria while at the same time purchasing helicopters from Russia. 
As you know, the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act recently passed by the House includes a provision that would prohibit the Defense Department from awarding a future contract to supply helicopters to the Afghan Security Forces, directly or indirectly, to any entity controlled, directed or influenced by a state that has supplied weapons to Syria or a state-sponsor of terrorism.  It would also require any such contract to be competitively bid.
Members of Congress have raised concerns over the Department of Defense’s purchase of Mi-17 helicopters for a number of years and the consistent response from your department is that the Mi-17s are the only helicopters Afghan pilots know how to fly, are the ones they want and are the only helicopters capable of meeting mission requirements.  We find this position completely unacceptable, particularly in the current environment. 
The Department of Defense has not pursued a requirements-based competition to supply helicopters to the Afghan Security Forces.  Instead, it has always been dictated that the Mi-17 was the only solution for the mission. We firmly believe there should be an open competition, particularly when there are other available American-made aircraft that have the capability to operate in Afghanistan.  The use of such U.S. helicopters would increase interoperability with both U.S. and NATO forces in the region.  Moreover, it is our understanding that the Department of Defense recently purchased U.S. made helicopters as new pilot training vehicles and that Afghan pilots are learning to fly and maintain U.S. made helicopters. 
We firmly believe that the Department of Defense should not engage in contracts with companies arming the Assad regime in Syria and enabling his mass atrocities against his own people.  Moreover, if we are going to spend U.S. taxpayer dollars to provide helicopters to the Afghan Security Forces, U.S. manufacturers should be able to compete for the opportunity to provide such helicopters.  We therefore strongly urge you to ban any future contracts with Rosoboronexport, reconsider any future purchase of Mi-17s for Afghanistan or any country, and hold an open competition for the procurement of helicopters based upon valid requirements whereby U.S. manufacturers can compete. 
We appreciate your prompt attention and look forward to working with you on this critical matter.
Rosa L. DeLauro
Kay Granger
Keith Ellison
Jack Kingston
James P. Moran
Martha Roby
Chellie Pingree
Walter B. Jones
James McGovern
Frank Wolf

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Arrests down 23% from last year

According to OPM's Mike Lawlor, arrests this June were 23 percent lower than in June, 2011, and prison population "continues to trend down," as he said in a Facebook post. There are 16,591 people in Connecticut prisons, the lowest since 1998.
Here's Lawlor's complete monthly indicator report: 

Monthlyindicatorsreport July 2012pdf

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