Special comment coming soon
Time: 2:14 PM
I'm getting ready for a very busy Friday as I'm off to do a HUGE interview with Senator Chris Dodd in Hartford (which I'll post later this weekend) as well as attend a fundraiser for freelance journalist Ken Krayeske, and hopefully put the final touches on being part of a speaking panel the Hartford Courant is hosting in regards to bloggers (which should be interesting).
I'll warn you now, this special comment is going to be my longest post ever as it's full of information that is VERY IMPORTANT. As you know, 2007 is election season but what you probably don't know that the poltiical moves are bring pulled RIGHT NOW RIGHT UNDER YOU NOSES. When I unleash my special comment, you'll understand what I'm talking about.
FYI: I'm ALMOST done with the new layout for this blog and I think you're going to love what I have in store for you :-)
Free Kenny Legal Defense Fund Bash
Time: 10:06 AM
Who? You! And as many freedom loving friends as you can bring!
What? The Free Kenny Legal Defense Fund Bash, featuring beer, wine, hors d'oerves, music and free speech.
Where? La Paloma Sabanera, 405 Capitol Ave., Hartford (which is the same place where the Blog Wars screening will take place on this Wednesday)
Why? Because lawyering up to defend free speech isn't cheap.
When? Friday, Jan. 19 from 6 to 9 p.m.
How much? $25 suggested donation, or whatever you can give will help defray Ken Krayeske's legal expenses, which arise from his arrest and detainment after photographing Gov. M. Jodi Rell's inaugural parade Jan. 3. If you can't attend, but still want to support the battle to protect civil liberties, click here for info on how to send a check.
For more information, email Steve Colangelo at email@example.com or call him at 860-508-4740. No RSVP needed.
For more info on the arrest, please see:
Jailed for 13 hours for photographing the Governor at Inaugural Parade The Progressive, 1/15/07
Government Surveillance A Troubling Growth Trend, Say Anti-War Activists from FoxNews.com, 1/15/07
Activist's arrest is raising uncomfortable questions from the Waterbury Republican, 1/14/07
A Lack of Intelligence from the Hartford Courant, 1/09/07
Drop the Charges, Apologize from the New London Day, 1/10/07
More detials of InauguRELLgate emerge
Time: 9:35 AM
Really scary details.
Hours before the controversial arrest of political blogger Kenneth Krayeske at Gov. M. Jodi Rell's Jan. 3 inaugural parade, state police distributed copies of a full-color, two-page document describing Krayeske as an activist who had invited people to join him in a protest outside Rell's inaugural ball that night.Outrageous is the only word that comes to my mind.
The document, containing color prints of Krayeske's current and past driver's license photos, made it seem as if "Ken Krayeske was public enemy No. 1," said Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, a state legislative leader whose committee now plans to investigate.
The security flier, Lawlor said, apparently led to an "overreaction" by Hartford police, who received the document at a pre-parade security briefing for police. Recognizing Krayeske from the photos, a Hartford officer arrested him at 1:20 p.m. as he photographed Rell along the parade route, said Lawlor, who was shown the flier by a police official.
Both the state and Hartford police have refused requests by The Courant to see the two-page Krayeske profile and other documents concerning individuals identified as potential threats.
Police defend their procedures as reasonable to protect a chief executive from public threats. But civil liberties advocates, locally and nationally, agree with Lawlor that it was "inexcusable" to arrest Krayeske and hold him on $75,000 bail for more than 12 hours on charges of breach of peace and interfering with police.
Krayeske, a 34-year-old law student who runs a commentary website, The40yearplan.com, was finally released early Jan. 4 on a promise to appear in court Jan. 30. His lawyer has suggested that authorities kept him on ice until it was too late to get to Rell's inaugural ball.
The Governor and the goon squad that call themselves "the police" have a great deal of explaining to do.
Ken Krayeske is a well-known member of the journalistic/blogging community. He posed absolutely NO THREAT to the governor whatsoever and to holf the guy on 75,000 bond THEN release him on only a promise to appear in court AFTER the governor's ball was over reeks of foul play.
Just thinking about this case get me upset beause if it can happen to Ken, it can happen to ANY blogger including yours truly. For those who need to be brought up to speed in this extraordinary case, here's State Rep Mike Lawlor's press conference on the matter.
Cousin Larry's turns eight...and a brief Danbury music history lesson
Time: 8:40 AM
There is a lot of history behind the place now called Cousin Larry's. As a college kid in the 90s during the Seattle grunge era, I can remember GREAT local bands such as Hed, China Pig, Monsterland, Bunny Brains, Creature Did, and Gnu Fuz that helped make Danbury the next big scene with their raw music (Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth was so impressed with the music coming out of HatCity that he proclaimed "Danbury is going to be the next Seattle." back in '94).
One band, Monsterland, was so popular that they actually got a contract with a major label and went as far as to getting their video played on MTV. Unfortunately, the band broke up in 94 and the music in the area was never the same.
Thankfully, Cousin Larry's brings back memories of the past as musicians flock to the ding bar and basically play their asses off. It warns the heart to know that music is still alive in the area and the ghost of the groups of the 90s still lives on.
This weekend marks their 8th anniversary and the News-Times did a write-up and the place many call home. Give it a read.
For a history lesson on the music scene in Danbury, read this excellent article from the Fairfeld Weekly entitled "The Lens of History" (note, you'll have to scroll down the page to find the story. The article gives a basic breakdown of all the great bands of the 90s as well as the great bars they rocked at (AH, HOW I MISS Punk night Sundays at TKs).
Finally, as a bonus, to give you an idea of how great music was in Danbury during the 90s (and why places like Cousin Larry's are SO important today), here's the video from Monsterland that made it to MTV. Watch the video and take a trip back down Danbury's memory lane as they shot the entire vid in Brookfield and Danbury and captured many historical landmarks that are now gone (e.g., the LIKE billboard, the Gasball). Man, I really miss these guys...
Get rid of the property tax?
Time: 4:19 PM
This latest idea being proposed by State Senator David Cappiello has so many holes in it that I'm surprised that it's getting any attention from the media.
I'll let one of my favorite reporters in the state, Ted Mann of the New London Day, break it all down.
Republicans in the state Senate have a solution to the perennial legislative question of how to decrease the burden of the municipal property tax: Let municipalities scrap it altogether.You read this right folks. The Republicans are offering towns and cities to create new tax laws to collect revenue in exchange for scraping property taxes altogether. Well, maybe if you're a senator from an area like Danbury, you can try to peddle something like this due to the amount of commercial development in the area BUT if your from a small town and you lose the revenue from property taxes, you're basically screwed.
The proposal, announced Wednesday by Sen. David Cappiello of Danbury, the highest-ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, would allow cities and towns to implement new local taxes of their own design - on income, product sales, hotel rentals or other sources - in exchange for repealing their local property taxes.
Cappiello knows this so what's the deal?
It's a provocative notion, Cappiello conceded in a telephone interview Wednesday from his office at the Capitol, one intended to stimulate debate on the state's tax system, if not necessarily to become law in the form he and his fellow Senate Republicans propose.Even Stevie Wonder can see that this is JUST A CONCEPT and far from something to even be taken seriously simply because of the HUGE amount of problems axing the property tax would cause on smaller towns.
"It's a relatively simple concept, but I want to emphasize that it's really a concept," Cappiello said.
Again, Cappiello admits the obvious...
Danbury would likely consider such a move, Cappiello said, due to its substantial retail base and a surfeit of hotels — the better to generate municipal revenue with a local sales tax or levy on hotel fees.Just what people need...more confusing tax laws. I thought Republicans wanted to get rid of taxes, not create new taxes.
But he conceded that other municipalities, those for whom taxing residents' income or spending would be distasteful or potentially harmful, would likely pass on the idea.
Word of the proposal, which has yet to be raised in the legislature's Planning and Development Committee, was greeted with guarded skepticism in the city government of New London, which has struggled for years with a limited amount of taxable property with which to fund its basic services.
Declining to comment in the abstract on a proposal he hadn't seen, City Manager Martin Berliner nonetheless said he believed allowing individual jurisdictions to write their own tax laws could lead to unintended consequences and a "mish-mash" of confusing or contradictory tax law.
Fox 61 did a great report last night that detailed the various problems with the proposal Cappiello's offered yesterday.
Look, you just can't get rid of property taxes...period. Offering stuff like getting rid of the property tax might sound great but ultimately is totally unrealistic because of the enormous problems it would create for small towns and cities that rely on the revenue.
Think about it.
If a Republican mayor like Boughton sounded alarm bells over a Republican governor's proposal to eliminate the car tax, imagine the outcry if property taxes were wiped out.
You do the math.
Since cities and towns reply so much on property taxes to survive, at the very least, if you're someone who has a "plan," goes through the trouble to call a presser, look straight into the camera, and give the public your "plan" to wipe away something as critical as property taxes, you better have a serious plan make up for the loss in revenue, which is clearly non-existent in Cappiello's proposal.
Which brings me to this quote from Mayor Boughton in today's News-Times regarding Cappiello's proposal to eliminate the property tax.
"I think anything we can do to provide more flexibility to cities and towns would definitely be welcomed. This is a serious proposal and it warrants serious consideration," Boughton said.Hmm...now lets go back in time and take a look at just a few of the problems Mayor Boughton and Newtown's Herb Rosenthal had with Governor Rell's proposal to scrap the car tax.
Now remember, these are just a few problems presented by the elimination of the car tax.
Property tax relief is critical, and Governor Rell deserves praise for putting it at the top of this year's legislative agenda.Now, if the mayor had so many concerns with Governor Rell's elimination of the car tax (and rightfully so), imagine the amount of problems there would be if the property tax was axed (which he didn't mention when interviewed by the News-Times).
In making her groundbreaking proposal to eliminate the car tax, the governor has gone where others have feared to tread.
The problem of Connecticut's motor vehicle property tax has long been a vexing one for both state and municipal officials.
But the governor's proposal as drafted needs a major tuneup in order to ensure that it provides the intended relief to property taxpayers and does not undermine local government finances in the short term and long term.
And while the governor's proposal did not make it out of the General Assembly's Finance Committee, it is expected to resurface during upcoming state budget negotiations.
As the 2003 Blue Ribbon Commission on Property Tax Burdens and Smart Growth Incentives said: "... this particular property tax is viewed as especially unfair because residents in different communities pay vastly different taxes on the same property. This system encourages some Connecticut residents to register motor vehicles in other lower-tax municipalities or even out-of-state, causing significant local revenue losses and administrative difficulties."
The governor's proposal would eliminate, as of July 1, property taxes on most passenger cars and motorcycles; create a new $500 million "grant" called the Casino Assistance Revenue Grant (CAR), which is intended to reimburse each town for the municipal revenue lost as a result of the elimination of the car tax; and eliminate the $400 property tax credit on the state personal income tax to help pay for the elimination of the car tax.
According to the governor, the program would pay each municipality a grant equal to or greater than the amount it would lose in revenue in fiscal year 2006-07.
This is because, the governor says, towns and cities would be reimbursed for 100 percent of the property tax owed on all eligible vehicles, even if a municipality's tax collection rate is less than 100 percent.
But there are major problems with the governor's proposal as embodied in Senate Bill 50. These problems need to be corrected if the governor's proposal is to fulfill its promise to property taxpayers and their hometowns.
The bill should be changed so that the proposed payment schedule for municipal reimbursements avoids negative cash-flow impacts on towns and cities.
The proposal raises concerns among local officials that future reimbursements would disappear.
The state's track record on this front is dismal. There are numerous examples of things being taken off the property tax rolls, only to have promised state reimbursements shrink or disappear completely.
The proposal eliminates the property tax credit on the state personal income tax, thereby negating existing relief to residential property taxpayers.
This would not be a proper tradeoff. One form of tax relief should not be sacrificed for another.
The governor's proposal should be changed so that the property tax credit on the state personal income tax is retained and increased to at least $400, as existing statute provides.
If these concerns are addressed in a modified car-tax proposal, then this initiative will be truly revenue neutral to towns and cities and will provide the promised property tax relief.
The irony is that unless municipal aid is significantly increased, as called for by the General Assembly's Appropriations and Finance committees, and the car tax proposal is significantly modified, the result will be statewide property tax hikes and local service cutbacks.
The governor's proposal to eliminate the car tax needs a major tuneup - before it moves down the legislative highway.
The problem with these types of pie-in-the-sky ideas is simple. If your going to offer a radical proposal, at least have confidence in what your offering to the public or people will be left with the impression that you're just grandstanding for the media.
UPDATE: CTNewsJunkie has more:
The 2003 Blue Ribbon Commission Report on Tax Reform concluded, "One of the methods to reduce over reliance on the property tax is to enable municipalities to generate revenue from other means."This is just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to something as radical as what Cappiello is proposing. Politicians are always offering proposals which ultimately get killed (e.g. Rell's car tax). It's one thing to offer something...it's another thing to offer something that is somewhat realistic.
But it felt the best way to get there was through regional cooperatives. The report concluded, "The commission believes that local-option taxes on a municipality-by-municipality basis in a small state like Connecticut are generally counterproductive--they tend to foster tax competition between communities and make high-tax towns that opt for additional taxes less competitive."
Heidi Green, president of 1,000 Friends of Connecticut, a group that advocates for smart growth said she applauds the Republicans for starting the conversation, but worries about the land use issues it may create. She said towns that rely on a local income tax may want to attract higher income people by building big houses and towns that rely on the sales tax will try to entice lots of retail business.
Time: 10:35 AM
The new site will include many new features which I'll have to test over the next couple of weeks. I'll give you a sneak preview of some of the new goodies real soon.
I really can't wait to unleash the new site on everyone...we're going to take local blogging to the next level.
State Rep. Jason Bartlett reports on Project Universal Health Care
Time: 2:08 PM
Click here to read Democratic State Rep Jason Bartlett's report for the New Haven Independent on his efforts to make universal health care a reality for everyone.
Time: 9:47 AM
Seems like Chuck Hagel's bitchslapping of Joe Lieberman on Meet the Press generated a lot of interest. With over 35,000 views in 48 hours, it seems like Lieberman struck a nerve with many who are upset with his delusional support of this President's Iraq policy (complete with the usual GOP talking points).
It's obvious that we're at a tipping point in this country over this god-awful war. No longer is this a Democrat versus Republican thing...it's a majority of the public from different political, religious, and social backgrounds standing together and screaming in unison:
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
NO TO THE ESCALATION!
NO TO THE WAR!"
BRING THEM HOME!
I'm embarrassed to have a senator from my home state who outright refuses to listen to the voices of the people he is suppose to represent. His views on THE ISSUE OF OUR LIFETIME will scar his career for life...and he has no one to blame but himself.
Senator Hagel's breakdown of Holy Joe was so good, it's worth watching again.
The response to this clip is so over-the-top, that I wanted to share with you some video responses I've received from around the country.
I'll update this post as more video responses come in...
Just in case you don't think this will be an issue
Time: 12:39 PM
Like I stated, the development issue will be THE issue in this election and with a three term record, Mayor Boughton has a record to run on that can either help or hurt him.
I'm planning a poll of my own but unlike the News-Times, I'm going to get the assistance of folks down at Western Connecticut State University to help me create the first scientific blog poll in the state. You'll see the results (and many more goodies) on the newly re-designed site (which seems to consume all of my time right now).
Wait till you see what I have in store for everyone...oh, it's going to be fun!
Major Youtube honors
Time: 11:51 AM
It seems like Youtube just gave me the following honors early this morning:
#40 - Most Viewed (Today)
#2 - Most Viewed (Today) - Directors
#79 - Most Viewed (This Week) - Directors
This was based on a videoclip of Holy Joe Lieberman yesterday that's spreading across the blogs nationally right now. I'll honor list on my Youtube page will change throughout the day since the clip was posted almost 24 hours ago.
Wow, this is huge seeing that there is tens of thousands of video directors who use YouTube (I'm number two in the country? That's crazy!)
A great deal of work goes behind providing readers with video presentations so it's great whenever there is a big response and feedback to videoclip I post online.
Thanks to everyone who read ConnecticutBLOG as well as HatCityBLOG for this amazing honor. In the future, I hope to bring more of my clips to a wider audience as I'll expand the use of my posts, photographs and personal videos to a larger audinece at America Online.
Time: 7:39 AM
Believe it or not, many people have never watched or heard the entire "I Have a Dream" speech.
Watch, listen, and learn.
One man made a difference.
More development madness
Time: 7:27 AM
I've been working on a video post detailing the history of this bizarre diner (legal put sneaky) as well as how projects like this can be avoided in the future. I've interviewed people who were on the Planning and Zoning board and they'll give you a better understanding why an area, which was designed for another purpose, turned into a diner which many believe makes no sense. I've also talked to several residents in that area and they'll tell you why they feel this place doesn't stand a chance in being successful.
It's times like this where I wished I'd finished updating the site. I could have posted this video a couple of weeks ago but blogger has been unstable for some time. In any event, here's what the News-Times had to say about this insane development.
A new diner under construction on Padanaram Road is causing concern for some drivers who question why the city would allow another restaurant in an area notorious for traffic congestion.There ia a bit more to this story that the owner isn't telling the public that will better explain why something as stupid as this diner was able to exist in the first place. This story isn't as easy as a project that's properly zoned as the owner has you to believe and city hall could have placed safetyguards to stop something like this from happening in the first place.
Nearly 25,000 motorists drive on Padanaram Road between Hayestown Avenue and Golden Hill Road each weekday, according to city traffic statistics.
That traffic volume makes it difficult for people like Marge Nebinger to get through the area without strife during her drive from New Fairfield to work in Danbury nearly every weekday.
The diner, across from the North Street shopping center, is only going to add to the problem, Nebinger said.
"I'm not trying to make waves. I just don't understand why they give approval to these things when it is just creating more problems," she said.
The city's Planning Commission in March approved Elmer Palma's plans to build a diner called Elmer's. Palma's site plan was later revised and approved in November.
Crews are building the nearly 3,500-square-foot diner, which will be open 24 hours a day, on about a half-acre of land. It will have 22 parking spots, and is expected to open at the end of February.
Dennis Elpern, the city's planning director, said the site is properly zoned for a diner, and therefore, a diner can be built.
"A pattern has been established. It's hard to go back," Elpern said.
The diner is closer to the road than most establishments along Padanaram Road. It was able to be constructed with only a 3-foot setback from the property line because of special variances attached to the land that date back to 1999.
The property was then owned by Ann's Place, an organization dedicated to helping people with cancer that is now located on Old Ridgebury Road.
...well get into that later.
For now, as a quick flashback, here's a short videoclip of the traffic on North Street during a typical weekday. The diner will be located in this area, down the street by McDonald's (just outside the range of this clip by about an 1/8 of a mile).
UPDATE: Oh look at how the apologists try to spin the story...too funny.
I've been alerted by a number of readers to excuses people are making regarding this story. It's taking everything I have to hold back simply because I've been working on this story for some time and as I stated before, I didn't post it yet due to the updating blogger is going through right now (the service is still somewhat unstable for old blogs that are still working under the old system).
I'll explain the real story behind the land use from people who would know...individuals who were on the board at the time. Trust me, there is more to this story than the 1999 decision that the elephants in the room are now calling a bad ruling by Democrats.
There is a world of difference between approving a variance for a place that is to help people with cancer and a diner. When I present my presentation in full, you'll see EXACTLY how this diner can into existence, how it could have been prevented AFTER 1999, and how sneaky developers who get away with idiotic projects like this can be stopped in the future.
InauguRELLgate still in the headlines
Time: 11:52 AM
I caught up with Krayeske in Hartford yesterday and hopefully, I'll be able to have an interview with Krayeske's attorney Norm Pattis very soon. In the meantine, on Fox 61, Beyond the Headlines, State Rep. Mike Lawlor, Attorney Pattis and AP "reporter" Sue Haigh had a roundtable discussion on the matter.
Pattis also wrote on op-ed in today's Hartford Courant about the dangers of a "secret list" and it's worth a read.
"License and registration, please?" The officer stands beside your car. Behind you, his cruiser lights are flashing. Other motorists slow down to gawk. Your heart pounds.Amen.
"What have I done?" you ask. The officer explains that you ran a stop sign several blocks back. You never saw the sign, but no matter. It will be a small fine and off you will go. Everyone makes simple mistakes from time to time.
The officer takes your license and registration to his car. He enters your name into a database linked to his car by computer. A message flashes across his screen:
WARNING - APPROACH WITH CAUTION
THIS INDIVIDUAL IS ASSOCIATED WITH TERRORISM ...
USE CAUTION AND IMMEDIATELY CONTACT THE TERRORIST SCREENING CENTER AT (866) 872-9001 FOR ADDITIONAL DIRECTION.
Your plans for the evening have changed. You are now on a federal radar, listed and tagged as a potential threat. Your name is part of the FBI's Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File (VGTOF). Will you go home, or to a jail cell?
How did your name get on the list? You don't know. You may never know. Perhaps you were seen at an antiwar rally. Or perhaps you contributed money to a candidate or cause that some anonymous soul views as suspect. Like it or not, however, every law enforcement officer in the country now need only log onto his computer to learn that you are a suspect.
We saw how innocent acts become crimes at the inaugural parade for Gov. M. Jodi Rell this month. Ken Krayeske, a free-lance journalist, law student and former campaign director for Green Party gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton, was arrested there and charged with breach of peace and interfering with a police officer. Why? He was taking pictures of the parade.
Of course, that is no crime. But before the parade began, Hartford police officers were told by the Connecticut Intelligence Center and the Connecticut State Police Central Intelligence Unit that a number of political activists posed a threat to the governor.
These intelligence groups are part of the new state-federal security network that is sharing information about all manner of things that can go bump in the night. The state police had photographs of the activists listed as threats. Krayeske's picture was among them.
Ken Krayeske was not arrested for taking pictures. He was arrested because he was on a list of potential threats. His innocent conduct took on a sinister cast when viewed through the secret lens of suspicion.
The state police deny maintaining any such lists. I suspect the denials are a mere linguistic trick. The state may not maintain a list. The lists of who is naughty and who is nice are most likely in federal hands. State lawmakers can hold all the hearings they want in Hartford to find out about these lists and they will learn almost nothing. State law enforcement officials are merely participating in federally managed and funded programs designed, we are told, to protect the security of this, our blessed homeland.
These lists are dangerous and easily misused. Was Ken Krayeske arrested because he had threatened to attend the gubernatorial ball and protest? Or because he once questioned why Gov. Rell refused to demand that gubernatorial debates be open to all candidates?
I did not pledge allegiance to a national-security state. We proclaim in the federal Constitution's preamble that "we the people" created government for limited ends, to assure our life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
"Live free or die," read license plates in New Hampshire. These are words to live by. When did we yield the freedom to be let alone to bureaucrats who decide without meaningful review who is and is not a threat? More important, who regulates the men and women sitting up nights deciding who among us to include on lists that can transform innocent conduct into crimes?
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