Breaking News: Visconti Drops Out, Endorses Foley

With Malloy and Foley having now spent in excess of $30 million to destroy each other and mislead voters, the crushing weight of the corrupt, entrenched and out-of-touch political system has claimed another victim.  Earlier today, petitioning candidate Joe Visconti has dropped out of the race of governor and endorsed Tom Foley. If you feel comfortable with the major party candidates, I urge you to vote accordingly on Tuesday, Election Day. However, for those who believe we deserve better or want to send a message to the power elite, I invite you to darken in the bubble that says Write-in Candidate for Governor and then write in the name Pelto or Pelto/Murphy.

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone,
you will cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” 
                                                                         — John Quincy Adams

When assessing the last four years and examining the positions taken by Malloy and Foley during this year’s gubernatorial campaign, the truth is that no matter who wins on Tuesday, the burden to do what is right for the people of Connecticut will rest in the hands of a Democratic legislature.  They will either rise to the occasion or they will not. So for those mulling over whom to vote for… If you believe that our elected officials need to stop their unwarranted assault on teachers and the teaching profession, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe the state must derail the Common Core and its unfair, expensive and discriminatory Common Core Standardized Testing Scheme, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe we must push back the corporate education reform industry that seeks to privatize our public schools and replace them with unaccountable charter schools that refuse to educate their fair share of Latinos, students who face language barriers and children who require special education assistance, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe our government must stop coddling the rich and reduce the tax burden on the middle class by requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe our state must put an end to the outrageous use of corporate welfare and stop giving our scarce taxpayer resources to wealthy corporations, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe that those elected to office must settle the critically important CCEJF v. Rell school funding lawsuit and develop a fair and constitutional school funding formula that will end the pressure on local property taxpayers, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe the time has come to demand that those in office must stop using budget gimmicks and adopt a fair, honest and effective state budget that truly reduces the long-term debt that will destroy our children’s opportunities, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you feel that we must rid the political system of tainted campaign money and hold those who have violated the spirit and law of Connecticut’s campaign finance laws accountable for their actions, feel free to write in the name Pelto. If you believe our citizens deserve access to an affordable system of public colleges and universities and you oppose what have been the deepest cuts in history to UConn, CSU and our community colleges over the past four years, feel free to write in the name Pelto. Or if you simply feel that enough is enough and that our political leaders have lost their way, feel free to write in the name Pelto for Governor. Because sometimes standing up and being counted is what is most important. And if you intend to write in the name Pelto, please take a moment over the next 48 hours to urge your friends, families, colleagues and neighbors to do the same.

WRITE- IN V1

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

Democracy Hypocrisy

Here we are, a week to go until Election Day and despite the fact that at least 50% of Connecticut voters have a negative opinion of Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, he may very well be on the verge of winning re-election with 43% of the vote.

With the “finish line” in sight, the news is full of reports that Republicans are continuing to condemn third-party candidate Joe Visconti for being a “spoiler.”  These “political leaders” are demanding that Visconti get out of the race.

This, while Malloy has been uncharacteristically going out of his way to complement Visconti for his willingness to stand up and be honest about his beliefs.

Despite Malloy’s apparent public “endorsement” of Visconti’s 3rd  party challenge, my recent blog post informing people how they can write in my name for governor has generated a new round of emails and nasty comments from Malloy supporters blasting me for threatening to be a “spoiler.”

All in all it is a wonderful and terrible commentary about the shallowness of principle that guides our establishment political parties and those who blindly follow their lead.

It would appear that as far as leadership of the Democrats and Republicans are concerned, a spoiler is anyone who has the audacity to utilize their fundamental American right to participate in our democracy — if that person might possibly reduce the number of votes their establishment candidates might otherwise get.

Connecticut’s Ralph Nader once observed that the word spoiler is a “politically bigoted term.”  Nader went on to note that those who condemn 3rd parties believe that,

“All of us who think that the country needs an infusion of freedom, democracy, choice, dissent should just sit on the sidelines and watch the two parties own all the voters and turn the government over to big business?”

Or perhaps the outspoken populist, Jim Hightower, put it even better when he wrote,

“So now is the time, more than ever, for those who truly value all the principles of democracy especially including dissent, to be the most forceful in speaking up, standing up and speaking out.”

Here is a message for those who support Malloy or Foley, but claim to believe in democracy…your hypocrisy is showing.

Dissent does not undermine democracy.  In fact, dissent is essential to democracy.

Or as Frederick Douglas said,

“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Instead of blaming Visconti or myself for their lack of public support, Malloy and Foley should be looking in the mirror and contemplating the fact that significantly more voters dislike them than like them.

Can we have a little honesty about Connecticut’s state budget problems?

No, because – That’s not how it works! That’s not how any of this works! 

Rather than honestly confront the projected $1.4 billion budget deficit in next year’s state budget and the shortfall of more than $4.8 billion over the next three years, the two major party candidates for governor have decided to simply lie their way to Election Day in the hopes that voters will not discover the magnitude of the fiscal problems Connecticut will face over the next few years.

At last night’s candidate’s debate, Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, knowing that he will actually be forced to cut services and increase taxes, chose to repeat his “read-my-lips” pledge by saying, “Let me be very clear, there will not be a deficit, nor will there be a tax increase.”

Meanwhile, Foley, the Republican nominee who didn’t even bother to show up for the candidate debate, has taken an equally disingenuous approach to the state budget.

The two major party candidates’ — “Budget deficit? What budget deficit?” – strategy was on full display this week as the CTNewsjunkie reported, “Malloy, Foley Both Promise To Hold Towns Harmless.”

So Malloy and Foley are telling voters they will be no tax increases, no significant cuts in state services, no cuts in education or municipal aid and no mass layoffs of state employees.

The incredible truth is that the only candidate being honest about Connecticut’s budget problem is petitioning candidate Joe Visconti who says he’ll slash the state budget until it balances.  It would be a hard, even impossible, strategy to achieve and the impact would be disastrous, but give Visconti an A+ for his honesty.

Readers who want to know the truth about Connecticut’s ongoing fiscal crisis should read the Wait, What? posts of September 3, 2014 (Foley and Malloy are just plain wrong on taxes) and September 16, 2014 (Why Malloy’s (and Foley’s) anti-tax pledge is anti-middle class.)

As noted in the September 3rd post,

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy is fond of saying that he inherited a $3.7 billion budget deficit when he was sworn into office in January 2011.  (The number comes from reports produced by the Legislature’s independent Office of Fiscal Analysis).

The candidate who is sworn in as Governor of Connecticut in January 2015 will be facing a combined budget deficit of at least $4.8 billion over the next three years. YES – You read that number correctly.  Even after taking into consideration increased revenue from an “improving” economy, Connecticut state government will be $4.8 billion short of what is needed to maintain the present level of services and meet its present statutory obligations.

On the campaign trail, Malloy claims that there is “no deficit” in the future; these projections come from the same independent Office of Fiscal Analyses, the entity he quotes in his regular campaign stump speech.

The truth is that Connecticut continues to face a budget crisis, but rather than tell the truth about the fiscal house of cards that has been built up over the past two decades, the two major party candidates have made a calculated decision that politics trumps reality and that their best tactic is to mislead the voters in the hope that Connecticut citizens will remain docile, compliant and unaware of the fiscal crisis that will not only swallow up their economic stability but that of their children as well.

Malloy has based his campaign on a promise never to propose or accept any tax increase in a second term, while telling voters that he will not cut vital services and telling state employees that he will not need to discuss further concessions with their union leaders.

Tom Foley, in turn, has made an equally strong commitment to a “no tax” pledge” saying that he will honor the existing state employee agreement and that he will not use state employee layoffs to balance the state budget.

In a recent attempt to prove that Foley’s “no tax” pledge is bigger than Malloy’s “no tax pledge,” the Hartford Courant wrote that Foley and his running mate, Heather Somers have even launched a new online “No New Taxes Petition.”

The “I’m no tax, no I’m no tax” charade make Foley and Malloy the modern day equivalents of  Frick and Frack, the two Swiss skaters who rose to fame as original members of the Ice Follies,  doing ice skating tricks while wearing Lederhosen.

But if the Democrat and Republican candidates for governor succeed in ducking the real tax issue facing the state, the people of Connecticut, especially our middle income taxpayers, will be the true losers.

The truth is that most of the expenses related to the $4.8 billion projected budget deficit over the next three years must be paid.  Neither Malloy nor Foley can wish or lie the problem away.

For example, Governor Malloy’s irresponsible borrowing policies mean that the state MUST increase its debt service payments by at least $672 million dollars over the next three years and mandatory payments to the state employee and teacher pension and healthcare funds will account for an additional $620 million.

Putting aside critically important issues like the increased costs for education, healthcare, transportation, support and services for citizens with developmental chalengees, our public colleges and universities and all the other areas of state expenditures, Malloy and Foley can pledge that they will not raise any taxes all they want, but the winner of the gubernatorial election will need to come up with $1.3 billion over the next three years just to pay the additional debt service on the state credit card and the minimum payments into the state pension and healthcare funds.

On top of which, while the “no tax” pledges sound good in a television ad, the major party candidates owe the voters a detailed list of where they are going to cut billions from the state budget and how they are going to sidestep having to sit down and talk with state employee unions about the financial crisis.

This isn’t a magic show.  It is an extremely serious decision about who will lead the state and how they will deal with the very real issue of increased taxes.

As taxpayers across Connecticut are aware…

When Malloy introduced his record-breaking tax increase in 2011, he increased the income tax rate for everyone except those making over $1 million a year.  He told a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly that he wasn’t increasing the income tax rate on the wealthy because he didn’t want to “punish success.”

As if Connecticut’s middle class and working families weren’t the ones who really deserved to be called successful.

Furthermore, a growing number of people are aware that in Connecticut, middle income families pay about 10% of their income in state and local taxes, the poor about 12% and the wealthy about 5-6%.

When Malloy and Foley say they will not support any increase in state taxes, what they ARE saying is that the full burden for maintaining our schools and other important local services will fall on Connecticut’s already overburdened local property taxpayers.

In fact, every time a Connecticut voter hears a gubernatorial candidate say they he will not support additional taxes, they should understand that he is saying that he will continue Malloy’s strategy of coddling the rich and dumping the burden on homeowners, car owners and those who pay property taxes through increased rent.

When it comes to the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, one truth stands out.

Foley and Malloy will use their television ads to claim that they won’t raise taxes.

But there should be a huge disclaimer on those ads that should read:

If this candidate wins, vital state services will be cut and Connecticut’s middle class will be facing massive local property tax increases or face unparalleled cuts to their local public schools.

And no voter, liberal, moderate or conservative, should cast their vote for either Malloy or Foley until each is willing to explain how they will actually deal with the fiscal realities that are facing Connecticut.

The problem is poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs!

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and Tom Foley both claim that they are committed to doing something about Connecticut’s “failing” schools.

Democrat Malloy began his approach by becoming the only Democratic governor in the national to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining in the poorest and lowest performing schools which he euphemistically calls “turnaround schools.”   Malloy also proposed massive amounts of new Common Core standardized testing for all public school students and tied his modest funding increases for poor schools to inappropriate privatization strategies.

Republican Foley has also proposed more standardized testing.  According to a recent article in the New Haven Register, “Foley also wants a third-grade reading test before children are promoted and a regents’ style exam to test basic skills in order to graduate from high schools.”

However, to his credit, Foley recognizes that state education funding formulas must address the needs and challenges students face.  Foley explains that the school funding grant “’should be variable depending on the needs of the child,” with less money for capable, independent students with a lot of enrichment at home and more for special needs children.’

While both Malloy and Foley lament the large achievement gap that exists in Connecticut, neither appears willing to set aside the nonsense of more testing and focus the state’s resources on the factors that do limit academic success – poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs.

Malloy and Foley would do well to read the recent CT Newsjunkie commentary piece written by Barth Keck.  Keck’s piece is entitled, “It Doesn’t Take Captain Obvious to Identify A Stacked Deck,” and he explains,

Among the obvious realities of public schools:

1. A disadvantaged family life negatively affects educational Achievement.

“A family’s resources and the doors they open cast a long shadow over children’s life trajectories,” says Johns Hopkins sociologist Karl Alexander , whose research tracked nearly 800 Baltimore schoolchildren for 25 years. “This view is at odds with the popular ethos that we are makers of our own fortune.”

Another recent study  from the Washington University School of Medicine found that “children who are exposed to poverty at a young age often have trouble academically later in life” since poverty “appears to be associated with smaller brain volumes in areas involved in emotion processing and memory.”

Brain scans of 145 children between 6 and 12 showed that “poverty also appears to alter the physical makeup of a child’s brain; those children exposed to poverty at an early age had smaller volumes of white and cortical gray matter, as well as hippocampal and amygdala volumes.”

This is especially bad news for Connecticut, as poverty among children has increased by 50 percent since 1990, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Barth Keck’s latest commentary piece can be found at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_it_doesnt_take_captain_obvious_to_identify_a_stacked_deck/.

His message is clear and concise.

Poverty limits academic achievement and poverty among Connecticut’s children has increased by about 50% in recent years.

When it comes to dealing with Connecticut’s achievement gap, both Malloy and Foley are wrong.  We need less testing and more learning, not the other way around.

We can and must confront Connecticut’s achievement gap…

But the solution is definitely not the anti-teacher, pro-privatization effort being pushed by Governor Malloy, Stefan Pryor and their allies in the corporate education reform industry.

Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

And from the Wall Street Journal – Spoiler Fears on Left in Connecticut Governor Race

In a story entitled, Spoiler Fears on Left in Connecticut Governor Race – Jonathan Pelto’s Campaign Poses Risks for Gov. Dannel Malloy, the Wall Street Journal’s Jospeh De Avila writes,

Some Republicans argue a conservative third-party candidate cost GOP nominee Tom Foley the governorship of Connecticut in the 2010 election.

This year, a liberal third-party candidate has emerged, raising questions about the impact on Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy’s re-election plans for the fall.

Mr. Foley, a Greenwich businessman, is once again the GOP front-runner, leading his opponent in the Republican primary scheduled for Aug. 12. Mr. Malloy is the unchallenged Democratic nominee.

The men fought a close battle four years ago. Mr. Malloy received 49.5% of the vote and Mr. Foley 48.9%, with Mr. Malloy winning by about 6,400 votes. Conservative candidate Thomas Marsh garnered about 17,600 votes, roughly 1.5% of the total—enough to have given the victory to Mr. Foley.

So far this year, Messrs. Malloy and Foley are virtually tied in the polls.

Now, though, Jonathan Pelto has entered the picture. The former state representative and onetime Democratic Party star began submitting petitions earlier this month that would let him mount a third-party general-election bid.

Wall Street Journal

While Mr. Pelto’s campaign faces steep challenges, political observers said if he siphons off even a relatively small number of voters from Mr. Malloy, the governor could be in trouble.

“Malloy has to be concerned,” said Gary Rose, chairman of the Department of Government and Politics at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. “It’s obviously his base that [Mr. Pelto] can eat into.”

Conservative political activist Joe Visconti also is collecting signatures to run as a third-party candidate, although he is even less well known than Mr. Pelto.

Mr. Pelto formed the Education and Democracy Party for his run and has focused his candidacy on a critique of Mr. Malloy’s education policies. He welcomes the possibility that his candidacy could help elect a Republican.

“That would send a very powerful message to Connecticut Democrats and Democrats across the country—that you can’t walk away from these constituents and not have significant repercussions,” said Mr. Pelto, 53 years old. “Democrats across the country will have to recognize that one of the reasons he lost is because he walked away from public education.”

Jon Blair, campaign manager for the Malloy campaign, declined to comment on Mr. Pelto.

Mr. Pelto said he had collected the 7,500 signatures required by the state to get his name on the ballot. He has continued collecting additional signatures as a buffer, in case election officials reject any names in the certification process, which could take weeks.

Mr. Pelto’s criticism of the governor’s educational policies has its roots in a February 2012 speech where Mr. Malloy proposed tightening teacher tenure policies. Mr. Malloy also outlined changes to teacher evaluations and adding charter schools. The state Legislature later passed a compromise education bill.

In June, Mr. Malloy defended his record in a rare public statement addressing Mr. Pelto. He pointed to the state’s expansion of prekindergarten programs this spring and improvement in high-school graduation rates.

“I don’t need to respond to what Jonathan says,” Mr. Malloy said then. “I’m more than happy to have my record in education measured by results.”

The state’s major labor unions are supporting Mr. Malloy. The governor established collective-bargaining rights for personal-care attendants, raised the minimum wage twice and enacted the nation’s first paid-sick leave law, said Lori Pelletier, executive secretary treasurer of Connecticut AFL-CIO.

While labor-union leaders back Mr. Malloy, rank-and-file members are unsatisfied with him, Mr. Pelto said. “Their level of anger is high,” he said.

Some political observers said Mr. Pelto isn’t guaranteed to have an impact on the race. He lacks financial resources and name recognition, and his message is tailored to government employees, said Scott McLean, professor of political science at Quinnipiac University.

Mr. Malloy also has the advantage of being in office this time around.

“It’s just so rare to see an election that close with an incumbent,” Mr. McLean said.

Mr. Pelto was elected to the state House of Representatives at age 23 in 1984 and ran Gary Hart’s presidential primary campaign in Connecticut that year. He also helped run Democratic Gov. William O’Neill’s successful re-election bid in 1986.

His relationship with party leaders eventually turned frosty, though. He was fired in 1992 after six years as state Democrats’ political director. He resigned in 1993 from the House.

Mr. Pelto eventually established a political consulting firm. In 2011, he began writing a blog that has mainly focused on criticism of Mr. Malloy’s education policies.

Mr. Malloy’s supporters said Mr. Pelto’s bid is fueled by personal animosity toward the governor and his circle of advisers.

“I do think he has an ax to grind,” Ms. Pelletier said. “Running for governor is not about revenge.”

Mr. Pelto said his campaign isn’t personal.

“Grow up,” Mr. Pelto said. “Let’s have a debate about the issues.”

For the full article go to: http://online.wsj.com/articles/spoiler-fears-on-left-in-connecticut-governor-race-1405905844

Photo  by Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal

Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

Connecticut Labor Leader attacks Pelto/Murphy (including on education)

Yesterday, the Political Director of the Machinists Union posted a commentary piece at My Left Nutmeg (http://www.myleftnutmeg.com/) belittling Ebony Murphy and my effort to give voters an alternative to the Democratic and Republican candidates in this year’s election for governor.

My Left Nutmeg then provided me with the opportunity to respond.

If you don’t read MLN on a regular basis, you should.  The blog is Connecticut’s premier site for learning about, and participating in, the on-going effort to push a liberal/progressive agenda in Connecticut.

The two pieces are also reprinted below, but the Political Director for the Machinists Union lays out his case by making the following claims;

  • “Despite heroic attempts by parents, educators, and well-meaning political leaders, lack of progress in poor people’s education has opened the door to charlatans. The exposure of this element of the crisis has been Jon Pelto’s main issue, although he has offered no solution to the underlying economic gap.” 
  •  “Malloy is trying hard to correct the mistakes he made in education.” 
  • “A Pelto candidacy could usher in a Foley victory, a la Ralph Nader in Florida, 2000. The participants in this quixotic mission may find that they have earned the contempt of the very people they are trying to influence, both for them as people, and for our ideas.
  • These times call for a Center-Left alliance. In an even more dangerous time, Europe in the 1930’s, the left failed to understand this necessity, with disastrous results

 His full commentary piece is as follows.  After you’ve read the two pieces, please feel free to weigh in on this important debate at http://www.myleftnutmeg.com/ and here at Wait, What? 

GUEST POST: Jon Pelto and the challenge to the Connecticut Left

In an effort to have a discussion regarding Jon Pelto and the potential his candidacy could have on the race for governor, Bill Shortell, Political Director Eastern States Conference of Machinists and Carol Lambiase, International Rep, UE, retired, wrote the following guest post.

The biggest trend in US politics today is the growth of the Right: the flood of right-wing big money into elections at every level; right-wing populism in the form of the Tea Party; the broad attack on the unions; the explosion of the reactionary firearms obsession; the proliferation of small white supremacist groups; the domination of neo-cons in the State Dept….all fed by a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. In Europe there is a dangerous reassertion of fascism.

This is not to say that the left is dead, especially in places like Connecticut, but given our defensive posture, we must be carefully strategic in the allocation of our slender resources.

EDUCATION

Lately a key battleground has been the schools. The “achievement gap,” and the absence of a root cause analysis, has opened the door for privatization and teacher-bashing.  It is a fundamental principle that there will be no equality in educational achievement in the face of drastic economic inequality. In Connecticut especially, the contrast between the poverty of the cities and the wealth of the suburbs is shocking.

Despite heroic attempts by parents, educators, and well-meaning political leaders, lack of progress in poor people’s education has opened the door to charlatans. The exposure of this element of the crisis has been Jon Pelto’s main issue, although he has offered no solution to the underlying economic gap. Neither can the governor of a small state, of course. In spite of Dan Malloy’s best efforts, the lingering Great Recession, and the pre-existing desolation of post-industrial cities, is a national, even an international crisis of capitalism.

THE DANGER OF TOM FOLEY

Foley enters this crisis masquerading as a moderate, just as did George W, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Does anyone doubt that if elected he would immediately attack the unions, layoff state employees, slash social services, cozy up to the gun lobby, and try to drag Connecticut into the whole Koch-led national right-wing insurgency?

Pelto’s candidacy, and the support  he is getting from the left, is a sign of frustration. We have no strong independent voice, and are rarely able to make policy. Nationally, hamstrung by a Republican majority in the House, the Dems are unable to implement even the narrow jobs program they espouse.

SPOILER?

There is room, even in these dangerous times for 3rd party candidacies. The minority party representation statute has been successfully used by Working Families in the cities. The Dems, who today have a comfortable majority in the General Assembly, cannot complain if 3rd parties run against right-wing legislators. In a safe Congressional district they would not be threatened by a left candidate who runs on, say, Fair Trade. In other times, and with electoral reform, we can envision an even greater role for third parties.

But not in the 2014 Connecticut Governor race. The stakes are too high; the differences in the candidates too stark. If there is a repeat of the tight 2010 race, a Pelto candidacy could usher in a Foley victory, a la Ralph Nader in Florida, 2000. The participants in this quixotic mission may find that they have earned the contempt of the very people they are trying to influence, both for them as people, and for our ideas.

These times call for a Center-Left alliance. In an even more dangerous time, Europe in the 1930’s, the left failed to understand this necessity, with disastrous results. Malloy is trying hard to correct the mistakes he made in education. Let’s not forget all the national pressure there has been for this misguided “ed reform,” including among some inner-city people, who cannot wait for an end to the entire achievement gap to find a path out of joblessness.

This is a period for those of us on the left, to work within mass organizations, like the unions and the Democratic Party. We need to build our numbers and hone our ideology before grasping for a ring as heavy as a governorship.

And my response:

Pelto:  Labor Leaders to the Left:  ‘Shut up and sit down’

In an effort of fairness, Jon Pelto requested to publish a repsonse to today’s guest post…here it is.

While reasonable people can debate whether Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy deserves another four years in office, the discussion about my challenge to Malloy’s policies and his re-election aspirations took another odd turn with the publication of a commentary piece written for the blog, My Left Nutmeg, by the Political Director of the Eastern States Conference of Machinists.

My Left Nutmeg is Connecticut’s premier blog when it comes to presenting a platform for discussions about the ongoing efforts to further a liberal or progressive agenda in Connecticut so it comes as no surprise that Connecticut labor leaders would seek to use the blog to defend Malloy and belittle the challenge being mounted by the Pelto/Murphy 2014 campaign.

What is surprising is that Connecticut labor leaders would use MLN to continue their effort to mislead their members and Connecticut’s progressive community into believing that Malloy’s very likely loss in November will mean that Connecticut will became the next Wisconsin – and that we will see a successful Koch Brothers effort to destroy Connecticut’s collective bargaining laws and undermine the existence of the state’s public employees and public services.

In the piece entitled, JON PELTO AND THE CHALLENGE TO THE CONNECTICUT LEFT, the Machinists’ political director and his colleague write,

“Foley enters this crisis masquerading as a moderate, just as did George W, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Does anyone doubt that if elected he would immediately attack the unions, layoff state employees, slash social services, cozy up to the gun lobby, and try to drag Connecticut into the whole Koch-led national right-wing insurgency?

But of course, the authors fail to reveal that Wisconsin Tea-bag Republican Scott Walker achieved his goals thanks to the support of Tea-bag Republican majorities in both the Wisconsin State Senate and State Assembly.

Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation, known as 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, passed because the ultra-right controlled the Wisconsin State Senate by a margin of 19-14 and the Wisconsin Assembly by a margin of 51 to 45.

The truth is that regardless of who becomes Connecticut’s next governor, as a result of the legislative re-districting of 1990, 2000 and 2010, the Connecticut State Senate and Connecticut House of Representatives will remain safely in the hands of the Democratic Party.

While few really know what a Tom Foley administration would be like, one thing we can be sure of is that an effort to repeal collective bargaining in Connecticut would not receive the legislative support necessary to become law.

We can also safely say that Connecticut has already witnessed a “Wisconsin moment.”

It occurred in February 2011 when Governor Dannel Malloy become the ONLY DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR in the country to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for unionized teachers in so-called “turnaround” schools.

In response to Malloy’s historic, unfair and unwarranted attack on teachers, the Connecticut General Assembly stripped out those two provisions, before unfortunately passing the remainder of Malloy’s inappropriate corporate education reform imitative.

But as if their claim about Connecticut becoming Wisconsin wasn’t misleading enough, the labor leaders use their commentary piece to mock our ongoing effort to push back the corporate education reform industry and re-take control of our system of public education.

The authors claim,

“Despite heroic attempts by parents, educators, and well-meaning political leaders, lack of progress in poor people’s education has opened the door to charlatans. The exposure of this element of the crisis has been Jon Pelto’s main issue, although he has offered no solution to the underlying economic gap.

Offered no solutions?

Such a statement is so absurd, that it doesn’t even deserve a response but I’d urge the labor leaders to take the time to read through the 1,636 Wait, what? posts that I’ve written on these subjects over the past 3 ½ years

Finally, as to whether a “left candidate” has a right to run, the Malloy apologists opine,

“In a safe Congressional district [we would not] be threatened by a left candidate who runs on, say, Fair Trade. In other times, and with electoral reform, we can envision an even greater role for third parties…But not in the 2014 Connecticut Governor race. The stakes are too high; the differences in the candidates too stark. If there is a repeat of the tight 2010 race, a Pelto candidacy could usher in a Foley victory, a la Ralph Nader in Florida, 2000.”

And they conclude their attack on our fundamental right to stand up and speak out by actually writing,

These times call for a Center-Left alliance. In an even more dangerous time, Europe in the 1930’s, the left failed to understand this necessity, with disastrous results. ”

So let us truly understand what these Connecticut’s labor leaders are telling their members and the majority of citizens who oppose Malloy’s re-election.

They appear to be suggesting that my candidacy in opposition of Malloy’s effort to undermine state employees and teachers, destroy public education, coddle the rich, place an unfair tax burden on the middle class and institute a record breaking system of corporate welfare in which scarce public funds are being diverted from vital services to support multi-million dollar corporations is not only inappropriate but nothing short of a precursor to the events that led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the 3rd Reich.

Let no one be mistaken, these are, in fact, dark times.

However, the growing array of people who are willing to stand up and demand change are not the problem.  The problem is that some insiders, including some in leadership positions, remain committed to the notion that the “left” can best serve our nation by shutting up and sitting down.

If there was ever an effective argument for why I decided to create the Education and Democracy Party and run for governor in 2014, the new commentary piece submitted by the leadership of the Machinists Union is that treatise.

Upon reading their piece, one can’t help remember the wise words of Woody Guthrie who wrote, “Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen.”

Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto

A final word about the AFL-CIO’s decision to block my speech to delegates

“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” – President John F. Kennedy

Yesterday the delegates to the 2014 AFL-CIO political endorsing convention heard from Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dannel “Dan” Malloy.

In response to a question about why the leadership of the AFL-CIO decided to prevent Jonathan Pelto, the gubernatorial candidate for the Education and Democracy Party, from addressing the delegates who are charged with endorsing candidates in this year’s election, the head of the AFL-CIO said,

“The reality is I don’t like that we have a two party system. I wish it was different. But the playing field is what it is. The fact is, it’s going to be a major party that wins. Until that changes, we have some change in that electorate, then I am perfectly comfortable with how we decided to invite the candidates to come to this convention.,” – Lori Pelletier

So it came to pass that Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy went unchallenged when he told the delegates;

“I stand with labor, I always have, I always will. It goes back to who I am and what I am,” – Governor Malloy

Banned from speaking at the AFL-CIO convention, I was unable to point out the following…

  • Malloy is the only Democratic Governor in the nation to have introduced legislation eliminating teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers working in schools “turnaround schools.”  While we rightfully fight to prevent a so-called “Wisconsin moment,” Connecticut has a governor who actually proposed what the California judge ruled in his anti-teacher, anti-tenure ruling last week.  But of course, in our case, we have a Democratic legislature that stopped Malloy’s outrageous attack on tenure and collective bargaining.
  • Malloy’s 2011 tax increase unfairly and disproportionately raised income tax rates on the middle class while giving the rich a free pass.  Instead of proposing a progressive income tax, Malloy told the Connecticut General Assembly that he wasn’t going to demand that the wealthy pay their fair share in income taxes because he didn’t want to punish “success.”
  • And faced with a projected $1.3 billion budget deficit next year, Malloy failed to explain how he has determined that there will be NO deficit, that he will be able to pay for vital services, proper staffing of agencies and the scheduled raises and benefits for public employees and yet, under no circumstances, will he propose or accept any tax increase during the four years of his second term.

As I said in a press release yesterday and will repeat today,

 “While I appreciate that reasonable people can disagree when it comes to politics and a number of union leaders have already committed to Malloy, the AFL-CIO leadership’s decision to refuse to allow me to speak to the delegates responsible for endorsing a candidate for governor is insulting and flies in the face of the democratic principles that are purported to be among the core values of unions …The decision to prevent me from addressing the union delegates is simply unfair and undemocratic.”

Yesterday the forces that seek to silence dissent and prevent the open and fair discussion of ideas won a short-lived victory, but the rest of us will not forget the words of Robert Kennedy, who so eloquently said,

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”  – Robert Kennedy

You can read more about the AFL-CIO political endorsing convention at http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/

Paid for by Pelto 2014, Ted Strelez, Treasurer, Christine Ladd, Deputy Treasurer, Approved by Jonathan Pelto