Does Joe Aresimowicz put his constituents in the 30th Connecticut House District first or public employee unions first?

Joe Aresimowicz:  He just said A to Z because he didn’t want to try Aresimowicz, and I’m glad he didn’t so.

First and foremost, good afternoon, brothers and sisters. How are we going today, alright? I always start this off, yes I do have a position as House Majority Leader and the State Representative from Berlin and Southington. And I am really proud of that, and I have a great job, and I’m able to help people in my district on a daily basis and also help people statewide.

But more importantly I’m a twenty-three year member and dues-paying member of AFSCME, which leaves me almost ready to retire, including time if I would add this duty which I worked at directly to protect your rights. That’s the most important aspect of my career. I would give up the political side of it in a minute and keep working to protect union members rights on a daily basis in the State of Connecticut. So that’s why I always agree with the brothers and sisters, and we talked about that.

Now I know some of you have seen a video tape of me cruising around on the internet. No, not that kind. The one from the Wisconsin presentation that we did in Middletown. I don’t know how many you know the story so I am going to boil it down a little bit for you here today. But I think we need to talk about it. Because I went to Wisconsin right after Governor Walker was elected. I went out there when the bill was cruising its way through their General Assembly thinking what can I do. On my own time I went out there and started knocking on doors.

I spent a long time in the Capitol. One of the days that I was there it was announced either a quarter of a million to a half a million people circling outside the capitol and also inside the capitol. For me being a life-long union member, and as my cousin can tell you that my father was fired for trying to organize a union. So that’s all I’ve ever known. It was probably one of the most powerful moments in my life, and you know, you get the little bumps on the back of your neck, your hair standing up, we’re chanting, we’re caring signs: I thought we were taking over the capitol.

So I straddled up to this gentleman, he was wearing a red shirt that said Wisconsin educator, so it was either college or school, and he started talking about what we were doing there. And I said, “Brother, this is the greatest moment I have ever been involved in my life. We finally said as union members, enough is enough: we’re not going to take it anymore.” And the guy looked over at me and said where are you from, and I said from Connecticut. I am AFSCME member. Well, AFSCME member from Connecticut, the fight we already lost. We’re not rallying because we’re pissed off. But when we could have avoided it in April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and I was begging all of my members to get actively involved in this campaign, because I told them all what was at risk, I heard every story in the world. I heard that my son’s got a ball game. My aunt’s sick. My grandmother has this. So Mr. AFSCME from Connecticut, thanks a lot coming out but my members gave away their rights, and they did it in the months leading up to the election.

So what I thought was a great moment actually kind of humbled me a little bit. So one of the things that I swore to myself was that I was not I’m going to let it happen here in Connecticut. That at least I would do as many tours of this statem including Middletown, CSEA Locals, AFSCME, CEUI, anybody I could talk to, to ensure that that would never happen in Connecticut.

Now come April May June July August of this year, if I told you with 18 days to go it was a dead heat, that our rights were quite possibly going to be protected for the next four years, at least, I think you would take that bet. I think you would look at yourself in the mirror and say, sure because right now it doesn’t look that way because the Governor’s office is in jeopardy, the Senate was in jeopardy, and even my chamber, the House: we’re looking at possibly losing seats.

You guys have one of your own that sits in the caucus room of the General Assembly. You cannot replicate that. The reason I originally ran for office is Dennis O’Neil begged me to run for office because too many times the door closes on that Caucus. And even the smiles and the claps on your back, “don’t worry, we got your back.” And that door closes and somehow you come out and your back doesn’t feel so comfortable anymore. And maybe they went a little lower in your back. And that’s reality.

So you’ve Russ over there in Wethersfield that is one of your members, that when the negotiations are tough, when you’re on the menu instead of being at the table, he’s there to ensure that he is that back stop. He’s in a tough race. Eighteen days to go, if half of this room goes out and door knocks his district, he wins by a landslide. And talks to the members about the issues that are important to you.

Same thing for the Gubernatorial race. Eighteen days, eighteen days to decide whether you keep your collective bargaining rights because as much as he says he was talking about chambers and agreeing, we know exactly what Tom Foley wants: his Wisconsin moment. And if you really don’t believe it, come with me the rest of the day, I’ll hang out and talk to you, all the little articles I’ve seen, all the things he said, a lie, he really means that.

We want collective bargaining and not collective begging. Eighteen days. Please don’t let me stand up outside the Connecticut capitol and have the same conversation with an individual this time with a Connecticut t-shirt on. I’m talking about how nobody turned up, and how this moment didn’t necessarily have to happen. The last thing we need is a Wisconsin moment in Connecticut. Absolute last thing. I say at all these meetings and groups that I talk to I will never allow an anti-collective bargaining bill to be called to the House floor. I’m the Majority Leader. I can make that guarantee.

If I’m the Minority Leader, not so much. All I can do is I’ll talk as long as I can to avoid them running that bill. So a lot of things are at stake. You know, I know you’ve been hearing it at night and I know at some point we say enough is enough. The numbers of the polls look better, the House will be okay, the Senate is going to be okay, the gubernatorial is a tossup.

I beg of you, I begged, I begged, and I beg again: please don’t allow us to wake up on November 5th, open up your newspaper and realize that because we needed to do what we needed to do in eighteen days, we’re now having to take to the streets. We’re now having to rally at the capitol. There’s a lot at stake. I beg you to get involved in Russ’s campaign, call up your local committees who are working the phones. Get out and get to work. It’s eighteen days to ensure we have benefits for the near future.

You guys have a great evening, proud members, you made this state what it is. Don’t let it go away with one election. Please stand together, stand as brothers and sisters, and be a family and make sure we are looking out for our own. Thank you.

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The SEBAC agreement is the mother of all can-kicks a sweetheart deal protected by contract for a full decade

Sometimes there’s a fine line between kicking the can down the road and gradually phasing in difficult change. Not this year, not in Connecticut. The difference is a chasm. The sweetheart deal that Governor Malloy and his fellow Democrats in the General Assembly cut with state employee unions, the so-called SEBAC agreement, is protected by contract for a full decade —leaving meaningful reforms waaay down the road. The contract is the mother of all can-kicks.

Nevertheless, after the deal was struck, Republicans didn’t give up. They included in their own budget proposal several reforms starting after the expiration of the contract. Lo and behold, the GOP’s budget passed both houses of the Democrat-controlled Assembly.

Why in the world did Democrats in the deep-blue state of Connecticut vote for a GOP budget?  Well, when the SEBAC contract came up for a vote in the Connecticut senate early last August, three fiscally conservative Democrats held out and voted yes only after receiving assurances from senate Democratic leadership that a twelve-point list of fiscal reforms would be instituted.  Then, in the recent budget go-round, the Democrats included only three of the reforms in their budget, while the Republicans incorporated ten of the twelve. So the “threesome” voted for the GOP budget, which passed the senate by 21–15.

Five Democrats in the house of representatives followed suit, and the GOP budget passed the Democrat-controlled house by 78–72. Governor Malloy has vetoed the measure, arguing, amongst other things, that enactment of the reforms constitutes a SEBAC contract violation, even though the reforms take effect only after the expiration of the SEBAC agreement. Malloy & Co. say the budget risks an employee-union lawsuit.

So what happens now? Perhaps more Democrats will defect and the Assembly will override Malloy. If the Assembly Democratic leadership wants to block an override and pass their own budget, they’d better keep the reforms and bring the threesome back into the fold (along with their house colleagues). But wait, that runs the purported risk of a union lawsuit. On the other hand, can they pass a budget without the reforms — can they bully the threesome and the house fivesome into backing down, or buy them off somehow?

Even though the reforms take effect ten years hence, their impact is worth $322 million in
savings today, according to actuarial analysis. Even though they will be realized only in years 11 through 30 of the actuarial time horizon, they impact the schedule of payments over the whole 30-year horizon, resulting in the $322 million reduction in the state’s required contribution to the pension fund over the fiscal 2018–fiscal 2019 biennium.

That’s a huge amount, especially when you consider that the savings have been inflation adjusted at the 3.5 percent inflation rate used by the state actuaries Cavanaugh McDonald. At that rate, one dollar of savings in 2028 is worth only about $0.70 today, and a dollar in the 30th year, 2047, is worth only about $0.35.

Imagine the savings if those reforms were instituted now and realized for all 30 years, with the inflation-adjusted savings over the next ten years worth between $0.70 and one full dollar.  Indeed, it would have been much better if the “threesome” had voted against the SEBAC deal in August. Not only would the savings have been much greater, but that would have avoided the anomaly of achieving savings by reducing funding of an already underfunded pension fund in the face of still mountainous obligations over the next ten years.

What are the key reforms? First, the GOP budget bill eliminates overtime spiking, i.e., calculating pensions based on overtime earned in the years immediately prior to retirement, as opposed to average overtime over a full career. Spiking allows soon-to-retire employees to log extensive overtime hours in order to inflate their pensions. Second, the GOP budget requires state employees to contribute to their own pensions at the nationwide average for public employees, presently about 7 percent of salary/wages (versus 2–4 percent under SEBAC).

Third, it eliminates cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) for post-2027 retirees until the pension fund reaches 80 percent (presently, Connecticut is only about 35 percent funded). Fourth, for employees with salaries near and above the Social Security “tax and benefit base” ceiling ($127,200 annual earnings), it eliminates a pension supplement that “makes up” for “lost” Social Security benefits near and above the ceiling. Finally, the GOP budget mandates that future labor contracts not have a term of more than four years.

These reforms introduce basic fairness. Overtime spiking is a notorious abuse. Two other reforms bring Connecticut employees in line with national averages. The fourth simply applies to the state’s retirement program the same needs-based philosophy that governs the federal Social Security retirement program. Indeed, even after these pension reforms, Connecticut state employees will still have far more generous pension and health-care benefits than most workers in the private sector, where pensions have all but vanished and health-care costs have skyrocketed.

If these reforms are included in the ultimate budget, we’ll see if the employee unions file a lawsuit. It would be a court fight worth having. If they are not included and the “threesome” caves and votes for the budget anyway, well, so much for political courage — indeed, voters may wonder whether “fiscally conservative” means anything at all when describing Democrats. all when describing Democrats.

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Anne Reilly raises questions regarding Berlin’s Board of Education urging more transparency and accountability

13012717_10207211819267637_1546177010943021041_n-1In a Letter to the Editor, Anne Reilly raised questions regarding Berlin’s Board of Education. Democrats have been objecting to the BOE becoming partisan under the new Charter; however, Anne observed that the Superintendent of Schools and other administrators donated to Berlin’s Democratic Town Committee, and that many BOE members were members of the Democratic Town Committee, suggesting such constituted partisanship.

Also she observed that historically the votes on the BOE have been largely 9-0 in agreement, with some votes after private, closed door discussions as opposed to public discussions.

Annie also was critical of the BOE keeping secret a BOE report regarding its defense of a former BOE Chairman, costing $100,000 in legal fees.

Isn’t it somewhat disingenuous, hypocritical, and insulting to taxpayers for one to claim that the BOE has been nonpartisan?

Below is a transcript of her letter as it appeared in the Berlin Citizen, October 20th, 2016.

More transparency, accountability

To the editor:

During last November’s town election, the Republican candidates pledged to create a Charter Revision Commission to review areas of our Town Charter, including greater input on town budgets and a reformed Board of Education.

I am thankful to the commission members. I find it sad that Democrats who appointed their members to the commission now reject every proposal which their own members passed.

The commission made its best effort to be fair and nonpartisan as it grappled with key issues. It is telling that nearly all their key issues received unanimous support. Many residents feel these changes will make the town more accountable and more transparent to the residents.

Why is this needed? Did you know that the Berlin Board of Education has spent almost $100,000 on legal fees to keep secret a report concerning intimidation charges made by a coach against former BOE Chairman Gary Brochu? Why has the board supported Mr. Brochu when the coach was trying to do his job?

Did you know that the superintendent and other administrators donate to the Berlin Democratic Town Committee even though he doesn’t live in town? Isn’t the BOE supposed to be nonpartisan? Many former and current BOE members are also members of the Democrat Town Committee.

Why does the BOE feel it is necessary to have discussions in private and the votes in public? Why are all votes 9-0? Why do they not allow other opinions to be voiced publicly? This does not sound like a school system that supports and teaches respect and diversity.

With the charter amendments, there will be a healthy debate of the issues decided in open session. Neither party can have a “super-majority” on Town Council. This will lead to compromise and communication across party lines.

Please vote “yes” on the five questions for transparency and accountability.

Anne Reilly
Berlin

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The State of the Union: It’s a big club and you ain’t in it

“The politicians are put there [in office] to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t! You have no choice.

You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations.

They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the State Houses, the City Halls, they got the judges in their back pockets, and they own all the big media companies so they control all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want.

Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. They don’t want people smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they are getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard thirty something years ago. They don’t want that.

Do you know what they want? They want obedient workers: people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork and dumb enough to placidly accept the increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime, and the vanishing pension that disappears the moment that you go to collect it.

Now they are coming for your social security money. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street.

And you know something? They’ll get it all from you sooner or later because they own this fucking place. It’s a big club and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club.

And by the way it’s the same big club that beats you over the head all day when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head in their media telling you what to believe, what to think, and what to buy.

The table is tilted folks, the game is rigged, and nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care. Good honest hard working people–white collar, blue collar, it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on–good honest hard working people of honest means continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don’t give a fuck about them. They don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t care about you at all, at all, at all!!!!”

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Berlin Connecticut needs candidates from a third political party to stop the strict partisan voting on the Town Council

522156_397391523604538_1693998518_n-506x400There are approximately 5,000 unaffiliated registered voters in Berlin, Connecticut in comparison to approximately 4,000 Democratic voters and 3,000 Republican voters. There must be reasons why voters did not register with either of the two major political parties.

Perhaps one of the reasons so many voters registered as unaffiliated was because of their disgust with major political parties. At the national level, our government has encountered gridlock on many important issues, leaving serious problems unresolved. Immigration, tax reform, money in politics, unfair trade agreements, invasion of privacy, are just some of the issues that a majority of American voters want addressed in this country.

On the Town Council in Berlin, Connecticut, we have witnessed voting by members on key important financial matters along strict party lines even though each election cycle we have been assured that they would reach across the aisle to work with those who belong to a different political party. The result, in my opinion, has been the party in power succeeding in promoting its party’s economic agenda, whether it be in the best interests of the citizens of Berlin.

Results of referendums have been largely ignored, if not dismissed entirely. Taxes this year have increased 4.7% over those of the previous year even though real disposable income of the majority of Berlin residents have not been increasing. Businesses have closed while it has been rumored that some new businesses have shunned Berlin, going to adjacent towns. Even some residents have voiced concerns over fear of being targeted by employees of the Town of Berlin, Connecticut. Do you recall the Berlin coaches who feared coming forward publicly to address their concerns with the Town’s School Board?

Are special interests controlling our two major political parties? Are small cliques of our citizens—who lead and/or control these two political parties—attempting to benefit from these two major political parties? Do governmental unions control one political party in Town? Do certain individuals control the other political party in Town, preventing the free expression of views and participation of all of its members?

If Berlin citizens support and vote for individuals running as independent candidates, perhaps we can change the political climate on our Town Council. For instance, if three Democrats and three Republicans need the vote of the independent candidate on the Town Council, perhaps then control of our Town can be wrested from the dominance of any one political party, which would ordinarily be in control of the Town Council by the mere fact that seven members serve on it.

Let’s consider electing an independent, unaffiliated voter to represent the majority of citizens living in the Town of Berlin. If you are interested in supporting this proposal, forming a committee to nominate a candidate, petitioning citizens to place an independent candidate on the ballot, or running for office on the Town Council in Berlin, please contact us: berlinctpropertyownersassn@gmail.com.

Thank you.

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Why Bernie Sanders is destined to lose

BernieSanders

Save your money folks and don’t contribute to Bernie Sanders’ campaign. You will be throwing good money away because Bernie Sanders is destined to lose. Why? Because he has been merely grandstanding, apparently only promoting his value as a politician by his continued refusal to fight the good fight for his supporters.

Although Bernie Sanders calls his campaign a political revolution, he is not a fighter. Yes, he gives speeches on issues; and he is an excellent gadfly; however, gadflies don’t fight but merely annoy. And to defeat an opponent with the backing of Wall Street, name recognition, an establishment of professionals in one’s campaign organization with a war chest of $2.5 billion, Bernie Sanders needs to fight and fight hard. After all, isn’t he calling for a political revolution? Giving speeches to an empty Senate chamber may make for great oratory, but elections involve calling out and attacking one’s opponent on one’s political positions and history. Bernie Sanders refuses to do so.

Bernie Sanders keeps saying that he has “enormous respect” for his opponent. But his opponent represents Wall Street, not Main Street, the very evil that he wishes to overthrow, and his opponent would continue the destructive policies of the economy for the middle class, the environment, the Bill of Rights, etc. How can one continue to say that one has enormous respect for someone who would continue the destruction of America for the 99%?

Yes, Bernie Sanders is destined to lose. Next April, the primary will be over and his opponent will win. Those who think otherwise are naive, gullible idealists, if not delusional Pollyannas. Never has a revolution been won solely by cheerleading and minuets; history is full of many involving countless bloodbaths. Permitting oneself and one’s supporters to criticize one’s opponent is not only ethical, but a necessity in order to prevail. It’s not as if substantive criticism constitutes a bloodbath.

Of course, Bernie, as a Senator, has his pension with full benefits to fall back on, and will retire to his country estate and work on his $30 million book deal after his defeat. After all, he is not paying for his campaign, but rather his supporters are. Unfortunately, because of the unwillingness of him and his supporters to confront his opponent in thoughtful, substantive, and critical attacks, his supporters will be doomed to another eight years of his blue-dog Democratic opponent representing the will of Wall Street and enriching the 1%.

In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve. And if the people are unwilling to fight the good fight against the tyranny of Wall Street, and the spokespeople of Wall Street, they deserve to lose.

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During hiring freeze, after losing Connecticut Senate election in 33rd district, Democrat Emily Bjornberg gets $85,000 job in Office of State Treasurer Denise Nappier

Democrat Loses Election, Then Gets $85K State Job During Hiring Freeze

Emily Bjornberg

Sometimes when you lose in politics, you win.

Case in point: Emily Bjornberg, a Democratic political newcomer from Lyme, who was soundly defeated by first-term incumbent state Sen. Art Linares, R-Westbrook, in the Nov. 4 election for the 33rd District state Senate seat in the lower Connecticut River valley.

Next thing you know, Bjornberg, 34, is on the state taxpayer-funded payroll as of March — with an $85,000-a-year position as “senior executive assistant for financial literacy” in the office of Democratic state Treasurer Denise Nappier. More later on what that job title means and what her duties are.

Bjornberg didn’t go through a competitive process or take a test to get the job, because it’s a politically appointed position, not part of the classified civil service — and high-ranking officials such as Nappier and the attorney general and the governor can hire whoever they want in such budgeted positions. There were no other candidates for the job, records show.

There’s constant talk of hiring restrictions during the state’s ongoing budget crisis — including not filling vacancies — but there always seems to be room for somebody with the right connections.

Bjornberg’s work experience, as shown in documents obtained by Government Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request, isn’t typical for one seeking a position in a state agency that handles billions of dollars in state investments. Since 2006, she had worked as director of youth and family ministry at the Deep River Congregational Church, a 22½-hour-per-week, part-time position.

Other entries on the resume include: administrative assistant at an accounting firm in Norwich from February 2005 to July 2006; and a volunteer coordinator from August to December 2003 for a Christian-based organization in Johannesburg, South Africa, that offered services including free home-based care for inner-city patients with HIV and AIDS. She also was a unit leader in summer 2003 at the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp in Ashford for children suffering from cancer and chronic illnesses.

So how did Bjornberg get the job, and who helped her?

It appears to be the latest version of an old story of who you know, and who thinks you have a future in politics. People in the state’s Democratic establishment thought that Bjornberg was intelligent and impressive — with a campaign-flier-photogenic family of two kids and an Iraq war veteran for a husband — and that she did well enough in defeat to justify accommodating her desire to work in a government job in the state’s capital city.

Sources said that she liked her first real taste of politics, and that Democrats saw her as a possible candidate for local or legislative office in the future, sources said.

“I have not made a decision” about whether to run again for the 33rd District seat in 2016, Bjornberg said in an interview Friday.

Even with the expected boost that any Connecticut Democrat gets in a presidential election year such as 2016, it would still be a challenge for her to beat Linares (if he runs again that year instead of trying to win election to something bigger, as many believe he will someday). Bjornberg didn’t come all that close last year: Linares got about 56 percent of the vote, compared with Bjornberg’s 43 percent, with just over 1 percent for Green Party candidate Colin Bennett.

Anyway, the basics of what the political sources were saying about Bjornberg and her new state job was confirmed Friday by Howard Rifkin, a veteran Democratic aide who has served for decades in top-level positions for political figures ranging from Gov. William A. O’Neill to Nappier. He’s now retired from full-time service and works part-time for Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. But Rifkin still is in close contact with Nappier, for whom he served for years as deputy treasurer.

Rifkin said of Bjornberg: “I met her several times in the campaign, and was very impressed.” After the election, Rifkin said, the state Senate’s Democratic caucus asked him “whether I could keep an eye out for potential opportunities for her in state government. … They reached out and said she’s great, and I agree, so I referred her over to Denise Nappier.” Nappier had a couple of vacant, politically appointed executive-assistant positions that she wanted to fill. “I sent her the resume … and they talked and one thing led to another and she was offered a position.”

Rifkin took about less than three minutes to give a clearer and more concise explanation than Nappier’s office has produced in the three weeks since Government Watch sent written questions about how the hiring occurred as well as the FOI request for documents involving it.

‘Financial Literacy’

What does the “senior executive assistant for financial literacy” do? The treasurer’s office provided a long explanation involving phrases like “assist in carrying out the duties of the Treasury’s corporate governance function.”

According to Nappier’s director of communications, David Barrett, the term “financial literacy” means: “To promote an understanding of personal money management that will empower the people of Connecticut with information and training that can help them build a better future.”

That involves competency in managing finances in ways such as opening personal bank accounts and planning for a family’s financial future, starting with school-age children and ranging up through adulthood, according to treasurer’s office officials and Rifkin. Nappier’s office has worked with corporations and banks on such programs to assist the public in past years, and although “financial literacy” is part of Bjornberg’s job title, she’s not the first employee in the office who has ever worked on it, officials say.

Bjornberg also will assist in administration the Connecticut Higher Education Trust and its annual scholarship program, and will provide “administrative support services and assist in coordinating and conducting research in various areas.” One example is helping the office perform its statutory responsibilities concerning more than a dozen “quasi-public authorities,” a treasurer’s office document says.

emily__Joe_C-580x412

One of the big Connecticut Democrats she was in touch with about getting a job was U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, an email from last December showed.

Asked about it Friday, Courtney said in a statement: “I got to know Emily well over the past two years, learning about her work overseas and in eastern Connecticut. On the campaign trail, I saw firsthand that she is a powerful advocate who connects with young people and cares deeply about her community. After the election, I met with her to discuss how she could exercise her passion for public service, and sent her resume to a contact in Hartford in case a suitable opportunity for her came along.”

Bjornberg was interviewed Friday by speaker phone from a room in Nappier’s office where Barrett, the communications director (who was editor of The Courant two decades ago) also was present.

She didn’t have much to say.

“We have instructed Emily to answer factual questions that amplify the responses that we sent to you,” Barrett said, referring to written answers that Nappier’s office provided Thursday night in response to questions that The Courant submitted April 16. Those responses were far less specific than Rifkin’s comments.

When Bjornberg was asked how she learned of the availability of the job in Nappier’s office and how she landed it, there was a long pause as she and Barrett consulted at their end of the line. When they came back, Bjornberg said she would not go beyond the office’s written response. She also declined to disclose her most recent salary.

Here are some of the written responses that Barrett referred to, which were prepared and sent to The Courant by the office’s general counsel, Catherine E. LaMarr:

“Before discussing the specific hire [of Bjornberg], it may be helpful to understand something of the Office’s needs in the areas of the position’s responsibilities and the Office’s tradition of leadership in corporate governance and promotion of financial education — especially under the Nappier Administration. It may also be helpful to understand the number of the Treasurer’s ex officio board seats and attendant responsibilities.”

In the category of “Corporate Governance,” LaMarr wrote: “Institutional investors have long appreciated the benefits derived from investment in companies with sound corporate governance, responsible environmental practices and appropriate treatment of employees and communities where such companies do business. … [W]ith recent enhancement of available analytical tools for assessing performance, data gathering, research and analysis is necessary as this Office prepares and files shareholder resolutions and works to advance shareholder friendly legislation and rulemaking.”

Under “Financial Education,” she wrote: “With a desire to ensure that adults and youth, particularly those among Connecticut’s under-served populations, gain access to financial education programs to help them achieve economic self-sufficiency and greater personal financial management skills, this Office has collaborated with businesses and non-profits to develop and launch more than a dozen programs to serve both general and targeted populations.”

LaMarr also wrote: “Emily Bjornberg came to the attention of the Office of the Treasurer in multiple ways. Ms. Bjornberg recalls spending time with Denise Nappier during the campaign season, affording an opportunity to learn something of this Office and build a rapport. In addition to this interface, Ms. Bjornberg was also referred to this Office by individuals with knowledge of both the needs of the Office and Ms. Bjornberg’s skills.”

“During courtesy interviews,” LaMarr wrote, “the Office of the Treasurer learned more about the depth and breadth of Ms. Bjornberg’s research skills and her experience working with people in the lower half of the income spectrum, which is undoubtedly where the rubber hits the road for financial literacy. Emily Bjornberg has spent her professional career working inside of non-profits and communities of faith all over the planet. She has run an AIDS clinic in downtown Johannesburg, founded a non-profit that provides services for children living with serious illness, and nurtured broad coalitions of community organizations that work together to make this world a better place for people living at the lower end of the income spectrum.”

“These experiences have developed a critical skill set that is transferrable from her work in the non-profit and faith-based communities to that of the Office of the Treasurer. Demonstrated cultural competency, proficiency in communication and coalition building, and a demonstrated understanding of and experience with critical resources (i.e. WIC, food pantries and soup kitchens, youth educational and enrichments programs and healthcare providers) established Ms. Bjornberg as an inspired and unique candidate to fill the position of Executive Assistant responsible for financial education and other activities of the Policy Unit.”

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Two more unarmed youth gunned down and murdered by police, including a 12 year-old boy

The latest victim of police violence is a 12 year old innocent and unarmed boy from Cleveland.  It was reported that he was shot and killed for having an air pistol that a rookie police officer mistook for a real gun.

And in New York an innocent 28 year old man was killed by a rookie police officer in an unlit stairwell.

Who will protect citizens from police officers who shoot first and ask questions later?!

Isn’t it time we hold police officers and their superiors responsible for these murders, and instead of placing them on paid administrative leave with benefits, just put them in jail as is done for murderers?

Police officers are public servants, not soldiers in Kabul fighting the Taliban.  Our hometowns are not battlegrounds.  In the United Kingdom police officers ordinarily are not armed and behave as true public servants.  It is time to disarm our police officers and transform them from soldiers to public servants so they stop killing innocent citizens.

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Tom Foley skips last televised Connecticut Gubernatorial debate on NBC Connecticut, WVIT, Channel 30, Thursday, October 23, 2014

Screen-shot-2014-08-07-at-6.56.53-PMTom Foley refused to attend the last televised Connecticut Gubernatorial debate broadcasted by NBC Connecticut, WVIT, Channel 30, October 23, 2014.  In my opinion, his refusal showed a disrespect to Connecticut voters and our democratic process.

The people of Connecticut deserve to know the specifics of Tom Foley’s plan to bring more jobs back to Connecticut and to control spending.  All I have heard from Tom Foley is basically generalities about deregulating business and making Connecticut more business friendly.  Gee, is that going to bring all of those millions and millions of jobs back from China, India, the Philippines, Mexico, South Korea, et al, where workers are paid as little as $0.25 per hour?!  LOL!  Fat chance, Tom.

Dear Mr. Foley:

You are running for Governor of Connecticut.  If you want the peoples support, you have to go out and woo them, not by attack ads on Governor Malloy, but by explaining how you precisely can turn this state around.  You have failed to tell me precisely on how you will do this.

In addition, debates are part of our democratic process.  In spite of all of your millions of dollars, you are not entitled to be anointed and crowned as Governor of Connecticut.  You have to win an election by persuading the voters that you can do better than Governor Malloy.

Not too long ago, Republican State Senator, John McKinney, was quoted as saying this of Tom Foley:

“Tom Foley appears to think he is entitled to this election….  He offers no specifics, refuses to answer questions about his positions on issues and challenges reporters and citizens who confront this lack of detail.”

And this from not only a Republican State Senator but the Minority Leader in Connecticut’s Senate!

Your absence told me everything about you.  I, for one, certainly hope you are not crowned Governor of Connecticut in November.  We don’t need another multimillionaire in politics whose effective marginal tax rate is lower than that of the average working Connecticut voter.

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Berlin Police Department: Military Weapons?

AR-15

In the Berlin Citizen article, dated September 2nd, “Taxpayers’ group calls for police downsizing“, there appeared the following statements:

“There are some in Berlin who would have the public believe that our police force is the height of militarization. Fortunately, the facts don’t support their claims,” [Berlin Mayor Rachel] Rochette said….

In a phone interview, [Berlin] police Chief Paul Fitzgerald disputed the claim that the department is militarized…

According to Channel 3 News, “Berlin looks to build $21 million police department“, on August 25th, Berlin Police Deputy Chief “Klett said there isn’t necessarily military equipment in the department….” On the video, Klett states, “we do not have any, per se, military equipment.”

Under a Freedom of Information Act request, I obtained the following inventory of weapons of the Berlin Police Department:

  1. Seventeen (17), and one (1) on order, of Colt AR-15, 5.56mm rifles (one to be carried in each marked cruiser)
  2. Forty-eight (48) Smith & Wesson Model M&P45, .45 caliber handguns
  3. Five (5) 12 gauge pump action shotguns
  4. Twenty-eight (28) Advanced Tasers
  5. Various batons, and pepper spray.

The AR-15 was first built by ArmaLite as a small arms rifle for the United States armed forces.

And the forty-eight (48) Smith & Wesson Model M&P45 is the model designed for the military and the police:  the “M&P” in the model number stands for “military and police”.

109306M&P

So are the police chief, deputy chief, and mayor quibbling over semantics when they state that the eighteen AR-15 rifles and the forty-eight Smith & Wesson M&P45 handguns are not military weapons?

William Brighenti

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