Filed under: State Politics
Endorsed by Congressman Larson and West Hartford’s Mayor Scott Slifka:
Mayor R. Scott Slifka held an announcement Monday afternoon to publicize his endorsement of former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy for governor. The Malloy ticket includes running mate Nancy Wyman for lieutenant governor.
“As Mayor of Stamford for 14 years, Malloy certainly has the experience,” Slifka said at a press conference on the steps of the town hall. “His track record is a great one, and I believe he’s just a natural fit for the position.”
In acceptance of the endorsement, Malloy said: “West Hartford has been a model for providing great services to town residents while still running a tight financial ship. As governor, I’ll work to bring that kind of success to towns and cities across the state.”
In the news recently, an Arizona law which makes it legal for the state to enforce laws against illegal immigration (traditionally, a federal, not state issue) has sparked much controversy with critics citing the tendency for the law to simply be enforced based on race and supporters of the law saying that some action is needed because the federal government hasn’t done anything.
Here’s an example of what a Republican friend said in support of the new law: 30% of AZ is Hispanic & 80% of ill. immig. are Hispanic. oh & 60% of America is with me, i dont need Tancredo!
If his argument doesn’t strike you as discriminating, overzealous, attributing percentages incorrectly, maybe even racist, then read the actual paragraph from the article where he got his data:
Since roughly 30 percent of Arizona is Hispanic and about 80 percentof illegal immigrants are also Hispanic, critics say the law basically mandates that police engage in racial profiling—i.e., apprehending people based on their appearance rather than on any evidence that they may be in violation of the law. After she signed the bill into law, Arizona’s Republican. Gov. Jan Brewer discounted this view, saying at the signing ceremony that she worked hard to amend the bill with language to prevent enforcement from “solely considering race, color, or national origin in implementing the requirements of this section…” Critics have countered that the bill doesn’t say what might be grounds for detention apart from race, color or national origin.
As you can tell, even the article he is basing his argument (in support of the law) off of notes that because 30% of Arizona is Hispanic and 80% if illegal immigrants are Hispanic, the law gives the policy license to racial profile. Simply put, if there is no way to support the new Arizona law without sounding racist, then maybe the problem is that the law you’re trying to support is really racist itself.
In real English: The Citizens Election Program (CT’s public financing system) was slammed in two separate reports on its effectiveness by the Campaign Finance Institute and Center for Competitive Politics.
The CCP is a conservative organization, as opposed to CFI’s nonpartisan status; therefore, only the CFI press release is noted below (campaign finance is an extremely partisan issue, didn’t you know?).
In 2005, Connecticut became the third state in the country to adopt a voluntary system of full public financing for candidates who run for election to the state legislature and statewide constitutional office, the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP). The system went into effect for the election of 2008. In 2006 a team of scholars set out to study the results of what would be a rare natural experiment: the scholars would compare the political system in 2006 with that of 2008. This is a preliminary report on The Campaign Finance Institute’s (CFI) part of the project. CFI is a nonpartisan research institute affiliated with The George Washington University. Its work in this project has focused on donors, with a particular emphasis on the role of small donors. Other aspects of the state’s system – including candidate recruitment, competition, political parties and interest groups – were being considered by others.
CFI is reporting preliminary results at this time because a recent federal district court decision declared that two provisions in the CEP made the law unconstitutional and people in the state say the decision has put pressure on them to respond quickly. Rather than wait until a final research report, which will be forthcoming, CFI decided to publish preliminary results now in case those participating in current deliberations may find them useful.
When the Connecticut General Assembly was considering the CEP in 2005, its supporters expressed two different kinds of policy goals with respect to campaign donors: (1) to reduce the role of large donors and (2) to provide an incentive for candidates to raise their small, qualifying contributions from a broader and more diverse set of constituents. Our major conclusions (detailed below) are:
- The CEP has succeeded in reducing the role of large donors, who were not representative of the state as a whole;
- The requirements for small qualifying contributions meant that candidates actually raised money from a larger number of individual donors in 2008 than 2006;
- However, because there was no incentive for candidates to raise private funds after qualifying, most candidates appear not to have reached out to a broader and more diverse set of donors from the kinds of people who gave in 2006.
Because of this final point, policy makers considering revisions to the system should look for comparison at low-donor multiple matching fund systems that permit donors to become involved throughout the election season (such as New York City’s) or newly proposed hybrid systems that combine grants with multiple matching funds (such as in the federal Fair Elections Now Act).
2006 DONOR PROFILE
- In the 2006 election cycle – the last in Connecticut before that state’s Citizens’ Election Program took effect – about half of the money raised by gubernatorial candidates came from individuals who gave the candidate $1,000 or more, according to CFI’s analysis of data provided by the National Institute for Money in State Politics (see Figure 1).
- Legislative candidates in 2006 did not raise much money from donors who gave $1,000 or more to a single candidate, partly because of low contribution limits for House candidates ($250 per election for the House, $1,000 for the Senate and $3,500 for Governor). But they received 1/3 of their money from PACs which strongly favored incumbents and 9% from individuals who gave $500 or more (see Figure 2 and Table 1).
- Income distribution: Donors who gave large amounts were not like the rest of the state. Figure 3 shows the distribution of incomes among donors and non-donors based on parallel 2007 CFI surveys of both groups.Nearly 60 percent of the donors in the survey who gave $500 or more (to all gubernatorial and state legislative candidates combined) had household incomes of $250,000 or more. One-quarter were above $500,000. The average Connecticut household earned $65,496 in 2006.
2008 DONORS COMPARED TO 2006
Under Connecticut’s system, participating candidates must collect qualifying contributions of from $5 to $100 per donor. House candidates qualify after raising $5,000 in contributions, 150 of which must be in-district, or from a town at least part of which is in-district. Senate candidates must raise $15,000, with 300 in-district (or town). Excess private contributions go to the Citizens’ Election Fund. Because there was no gubernatorial election in 2008, we cannot yet compare gubernatorial donors before and after public financing.
- Most state legislative candidates who participated in the CEP received money from a larger number of individual donors in 2008 than the predecessor candidate of the same party and same district in 2006. Participating candidates (especially incumbents) were shifting from PACs to individuals. Donors to participating candidates were limited to giving a maximum of $100 in qualifying contributions and the total from private funding was well below the size of the public grant.
- But because there was no incentive to raise money from more donors than were needed to qualify, few participating candidates did so.
- As a result, most candidates seemed to stay within “comfort zones” – going to old donor or business-social networks (excluding lobbyists and their families, and state contractors and their families, whose gifts are prohibited under the CEP).
- The income and racial compositions of typical donor neighborhoods for donors who gave $30 or more was about the same in 2008 as 2006 – wealthier than the state average, with fewer minority residents.
- Information is not available for donors who gave less than $30 in 2006. Donors who gave $5-$30 gifts to CEP candidates in 2008 appear to have come from only modestly less affluent neighborhoods than those who gave more than $30 to the same candidates in 2008.
- Note that because CFI did not conduct a survey in 2008, the comparisons are of donors’ neighborhoods. Without a survey, it is not possible to get income or demographic information for individual donors. The findings are based on census block groups, which are small enough (optimum size of about 1,500) to be reliable for this purpose. Further information is available on request.
The CEP has succeeded in reducing the impact of large donors for participating candidates. In addition, even though the total amount of private money in 2008 was much less than in 2006 (by the same candidate or same party in the same district) the participating candidates actually had a larger number of individual contributors in 2008 than 2006.
However, the CEP seems to have fallen short with respect to another objective. Some legislators said during floor debates in 2005 that one goal was to induce candidates to reach out to a more representative set of donors and volunteers, not simply to get to get private contributions out of the system. The findings reported above suggest that, contrary to this goal, full public funding was not acting for most candidates in 2008 as an incentive for outreach to a broader and more diverse set of donors. Instead, most candidates shut off their private funding when the qualifying requirements were satisfied, knowing that any excess would be turned over to the state.
By comparison, other public systems that allow for more extensive cultivation of small donors would seem to contain stronger incentives for candidates to reach out to new people. These include:
- Multiple-matching fund systems, such as New York City’s six-for-one program, which continues matching through the full election season and thereby gets more people involved; and
- Hybrid systems, such as the one proposed in the federal Fair Elections Now Act. This system, which is not yet in effect anywhere, would begin with a flat grant and then move to multiple matching funds for low contributions. This system does not have a spending ceiling but permits candidates who receive a maximum amount of public funds to continue raising from donors who give no more than a total of $100.
Note that these conclusions comment only on the effects of the CEP program on donor participation. Effects on competition, candidate recruitment, interest groups and policy all are important but were not part of CFI’s research.
Breaking news in CT politics:
Secretary Of State Susan Bysiewicz is expected to announce that she will drop her bid for governor and run for the attorney general’s office.Bysiewicz’s campaign office said she will make a formal announcement on Wednesday regarding her political plans.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced last week he will not seek re-election for the office and that he will run for U.S. Senate in lieu of Sen. Christopher Dodd‘s announcement that he will not seek re-election.
Bysiewicz had been a front-runner in the gubernatorial race. According to a recent poll by Public Policy Polling, Bysiewicz held a lead of 25 and 22 points over Lt. Gov. Michael Fedel and Tom Foley respectively. PPP pollsters surveyed 522 Connecticut voters on Jan. 4 and Jan. 5.
Last week, former state chairman of the Democratic Party George Jepsen said he is considering a run for the attorney general’s office.
Okay so let’s get this straight:
Susan Bysiewicz is running for AG
Richard Blumenthal is running for Senate
Now who is going to be our democratic nominee for governor?? Dan Malloy (he’s my pick), Ned Lamont, or someone new??
Filed under: State Politics
How did WeHa lose best holiday shopping destination?
The Center vs. New Haven. Come on! Was this a competition? I say all the Yale kids threw it!
The Center, as locals call it, is a bustle of activity during the day and at night. Between West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square, the newest addition to the town, there are 140 shops and restaurants in a walkable downtown location. Small mom-and-pop shops dot the landscape and large retailers have moved into Blue Back, creating an interesting alternative to the shopping mall.
And this commentator hits it on the head:
West Hartford is CLASS. New Haven-Not so much.
Can’t wait to get back to this classy place. Although us college kids troll around Cosi and Starbucks rather than that steakhouse place in what used to be Town Hall and the expensive old school movie theater next to it!
Filed under: State Politics
West Hartford, CT. Home.
Municipal elections were held in West Hartford on Nov. 3rd, just as many towns and cities across the United States held their own elections. The Democrats won an unsurprising majority – propelled by budget issues (the Republicans on the Town Council tend to vote down budgets causing referendum after referendum in the spring) and an overwhelming amount of Democrats registered in town.
So what did the Republicans run on? How did they conduct their underdog campaign in the face of overwhelming odds against them?
Well – taking a page out of the way the national GOP is headed – West Hartford’s Republicans used a very controversial issue to try to win the 2009 Municipal Elections — race.
Connecticut. A Yankee state. Succession – no way. But yeah, how about we use the threat of racial redistricting to try to scare all of those poor white grandmas that live in West Hartford. Seriously? This isn’t the 1960s! This isn’t the South! This type of campaigning is NOT APPROPRIATE, ever!
Here’s what the Republicans did – they ran on a firm platform (mind you, their own platform) of being against “a state statute that requires racial balance in individual schools to reflect the racial balance of the district as a whole.” Yes, the Republicans were against racial redistricting. And GOP town chair, Justin Clark, credits the Republican’s stance on this issue to helping the party as a whole gain votes - mind you, the top vote getters for TC and BoE were all Democrats.
But back to the point – the town Republican’s key issue was opposition to a state statute that mandates redistricting to reflect racial balances. This is not just a state statute – it’s a NATIONAL LAW! If the West Hartford Republicans took over the town council – do you think that they would not have to comply with this law? Of course they would have to – it’s the law. A national law. Unless they want the NAACP and the ACLU up on them and a case to be brought to the US Supreme Court – West Hartford public schools would get redistricted regardless of what party was in power.
Now that we’ve established the fact that the West Hartford Republicans need to go retake high school government, we can turn our attention to using race-baiting as a strategy in an upper-middle class New England suburb. This just shocks me. It’s West Hartford. Yeah, there’s a lot of white people – it’s because we live in Connecticut. But – we also border Hartford. Hartford kids are bused into our schools. Conard High School does so well on national scales because it is so diverse and does so well. I think it’s easy to view West Hartford a two distinct towns – the Conard side and the Hall side. Hall – of course they would submit to fear mongering and race baiting, I mean in their minds, it’s an attack on their culture of perfect pretentiousness. The Conard side – well even the lower per capita income of this side would not push this crew towards the Republican side. Our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues are all different. Why shouldn’t that be acceptable?
My town has a lot of problems – that’s for sure. But the vote returns from the 2009 Municipal Elections show that the voters here are not swayed by the tactics displayed by the Republican party. If things change – and who knows, they might – or if a fight breaks out when the redistricting issue comes about – I’m sure that there will be a lot of people on both sides of the aisle screaming at each other. I’ll be there too – because people need to understand that this type of campaigning and this behavior displayed by the town Republican party is not acceptable. Not today. Not then. Not ever.
Val’s coverage of Congressman Larson’s town hall yesterday in my hometown. Taking down the critics, one by one:
Yesterday, I attended the town hall health care forum with Congressman John Larson and an excellent panel of speakers. I happen to come across a blog post by Rick Green on his Courant.com blog, CTConfidential, entitled, “Paranoia runs deep: Read memo from CT Tea Party Central!.” Green’s commentary focuses on a memo that was sent to “Liberty Supporters” about yesterday’s event. The memo states that:
“[T]here were many of our people who showed up at the West Hartford town hall and although we were not allowed to go inside – because the room was packed with Obamacare supporters…we had plenty of people outside protesting and shouting down the other side.
Larson’s folks bused people in – I hear that some came from Massachusetts. There were a bunch of kids – like 12 year olds … also SEIU people and Planned Parenthood people and union employees … plus some high school and college kids – who clearly did not know what they were asking for or what this issue is really about.” Full article.
I am a proud resident of West Hartford, Connecticut. I say proud because residents in my town, like many others, have a longtime reputation for being actively involved in our community. We regularly come out to town hall gatherings to hear from our elected officials and others on any given issue that is important to us. In fact, this is one of the reasons why we have one of the best K-12 public school systems in the country, and enjoy one of the highest voter turnout rates in our state. Moreover, when there is a town hall gathering on a critical issue close to us all, we all know to arrive early, or at the very least on time, to ensure that we get not just a seat, but a good seat.
There were no buses at yesterday’s event. There was a large representation from the community (and the first CD), i.e., elderly/retired citizens, small business owners, families, clergy, students, community activists, elected officials, as well as groups and organizations that are, in fact, a part of every community. In other words, do some of us belong to unions, to organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, AARP? Are some of us community activists, members of the Faith community, and more? Are some of us students? Do we come out as a family? Yes to all of these and more.
As for those who oppose some of the proposals of health insurance reform, I found that the majority of these individuals stayed clear of a relatively small group of loud hecklers. Once inside, one man who stated that he opposed health care reform called out for hecklers in the rear of the room to stop heckling so that we could hear what the speaker was saying. It was clear that the majority of participants, regardless of their personal viewpoint, wanted to hear from Congressman Larson and the excellent panel that was there.
Rallies are all about a call to action for a cause through signs, slogans, buttons, stickers, handouts etc. Prior to the forum, both sides rallied outside on the green in front of town hall.
Just prior to the forum, supporters of health insurance reform hosted a press conference outside on the front steps of town hall. Clergy and speakers did their best to be heard over those who shouted at them in opposition. The most heart-wrenching scene was the shouting at a person who shared their story of health insurance denial, sickness, loss and despair by those in opposition stating that they did not care about that person’s problems. This is heartless and shows a complete lack of humanity in every way.
To disagree on an issue or policy proposal on how we will accomplish health insurance reform provides for a healthy debate and allows for a diverse pool of thoughts and ideas, when done constructively. To deliberately stop the flow of dialog at all costs, to disparage those who, of no consequence of their own doing, become victims of our broken health insurance system, is despicable and unconscionable behavior that creates no value for anyone.
We must all call on our sense of humanity and engage in meaningful dialog. It matters not what our personal viewpoint on health insurance reform is. We are all in this boat together and there is a hole in the floor of the boat called health insurance costs. If we do not act constructively to close that hole, we will all sink.
CDM recently lobbied for Election Day Registration (EDR) in Massachusetts. One of SAPP’s new initiatives is to get more young people at BU to register to vote. Here’s why voter registration law needs to change – to benefit young people:
I’ve written multiple times, on many different blogs, about the need for fundamental voter registration reform. Normally I make that case on behalf of the young voter/voter registration community. The most recent data from CIRCLE put young voter turnout in 2008 at 51.1% - one of the highest rates ever, yet still lower than any other portion the electorate. But we also know that upwards of 80% of all registered young votersactually make it to the polls to cast their ballot – a turnout rate not much lower than that of the rest of the electorate.
The conclusion is simple, and one that we are all familiar with: voter registration is a barrier to participation, and reforming it could well be the single most effective means of creating lasting gains in voter turnout rates, especially among young people. Such reforms are in the works, and the proposed changes usually include some form of automatic registration and/or election day registration failsafes.
One of the biggest hurdles in achieving such reform is convincing the various local Secretaries of State that such reforms are in their interest and, rather than increase their burdens, will make their jobs easier. Secretaries of State will wield enormous influence over the outcome of a voter registration reform debate. Without their support, it will be difficult to convince Senators or Congressmen to sign on to any voter reform legislation. That’s why a new report by the US PIRG Education Fund on the cost effectiveness of voter registration reform is so important: Saving Dollars, Saving Democracy – Cost Savings for Local Elections Officials Through Voter Registration Modernization (pdf).
In a survey of 100 counties, the report found that:
- Over $33,467,910.00 of public money was spent on simple registration and error-correction issues in 2008.
- That equals $86,977.00 of the elections budgets in counties with populations under 50,000.
- The average office in counties with 50,000 to 200,000 people spent $248,091.00.
- The average county elections office in jurisdictions of 200,000 to around one million people spent $1,079,610.00.
- Some of the largest counties in our survey spent far more than this average, for example St Louis County, with a population of 995,118, conservatively spent over 3 million dollars on registration implementation and issues in the 2008 cycle.
In addition to the monetary costs of the current system, the report also outlines other inefficiencies that current boards of election routinely face, and which could be overcome through sensible reform of the registration process:
- Missing Information: inaccurate, incomplete, duplicated, or illegible forms;
- Citizen Confusion: a lack of clarity for any particular registrant concerning citizenship status;
- Overtime/Staffing: there are many problems and costs associated with hiring part-time staff or paying overtime to data-entry floods of forms in time for Election Day;
- Acknowledgment Cards: some states require a card be sent to registrants to confirm registration details;
- Reaching voters in rural areas: states face challenges when reaching out to register eligible citizens across a geographically complex rural jurisdiction; and
- Provisional ballot printings, mailings, and outreach: once a registrant is not accurately entered, HAVA requires that they be allowed to cast a day-of-election provisional ballot. States must provide said ballot, and then in order for it to count, states need to follow up with the voter and state to determine their registration status.
The report makes a number of recommendations on what effective, efficient reform would look like:
- A federal mandate should be passed to require affirmative and automatic registration. Specified and privacy-protected data transfers and information sharing should occur from federal and state databases to the state voter rolls as a means of continuously updating the list. By eliminating the data entry and duplicate and error verification follow-up responsibilities of local officials, there will be large cost savings at the county level.
- Federal funding should be provided to make it possible for states to implement this mandate.
- States should also use specified private database transfers or information sharing to keep citizens on the rolls permanently at their most up-to-date address.
- States should perform same-day balloting as a catch-all for citizens.
The full report offers regional, state, and municipal data on all of the inefficiencies outlined above. At some point in the next few years, we are likely to face a fight in congress over voter registration reform. Ground zero in that fight will be convincing local Secretaries of State that they should be in favor of reform rather than the status quo. This new report(pdf) by US PIRG Education Fund is an invaluable information for those looking to construct effective arguments in favor of reform.
And an EDR bill comes up at the CT State Capitol in debate next week. Check here for updates on that.
Filed under: State Politics
AIG, Dodd involved… d’oh!
Initially, Mr. Dodd said he did not know how the loophole got into the legislation that sought to crack down on executive compensation. But then in an interview Wednesday with CNN, he acknowledged that his staff helped write the revisions after receiving a request from the Treasury Department.
Newspaper headlines that greeted morning commuters throughout Connecticut on Thursday underscored Mr. Dodd’s problems. “Dodd’s Flip-Flop,” declared The Hartford Courant. “Dodd Takes Bonus Blame,” announced The Advocate of Stamford. “Dodd Admits Bonuses Role,” trumpeted The Norwich Bulletin.
The firestorm has encouraged Republicans, who see an opportunity to pick up a Senate seat in next year’s election. Last week, Quinnipiac University released a poll showing Mr. Dodd trailing former Representative Rob Simmons, who has jumped into the race, railing against the senator’s ties to the financial industry.
Come on Dodd – I mean, I don’t like you, I would rather have Courtney be our senator. But Simmons – seriously. Not even my dad will be able to vote for Simmons, I’ll be sure of that!