BNE Energy, Corporate Welfare, Energy policy, Environment, George Jepsen, Malloy, Raising Hale Corporate Welfare, Ethics, George Jepsen, Malloy
… Or, at the very least, make sure you have really, really good political connections.
Zachary Janowski, the investigative journalist for the Raising Hale Website, has authored another “must read” article. This one entitled “Environmental group sues state for going easy on wind-power company that cut down trees in state forest.”
According to Janowski;
“A conservation group is suing the state to force it to throw out a settlement between state officials and a wind-power company that clear-cut 2.5 acres of state forest.
The Berkshire-Litchfield Environmental Council is suing the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and officials within that agency for settling out of court with the offender.
According to BLEC’s complaint, the 111 largest trees that were cut down are worth more than $1.1 million.
BLEC claims DEEP should have referred the issue to Attorney General George Jepsen instead of settling the matter. Since the case wasn’t handled in open court, BLEC claims, the consent decree is “null and void.”
BLEC asks the court to invalidate the agreement between DEEP and BNE and replace it with one that requires the company to restore the state forest to its “natural state.”
Jepsen, whose office is defending DEEP in court, said the agency “has broad statutory authority to resolve disputes about environmental matters through the use of consent decrees, as it did in this case.”
‘I will, therefore, vigorously defend the lawsuit which is without merit,’ Jepsen said”
The lawsuit is without merit?
Attorney General Jepsen can disagree with the suit, but to call it without merit is a bit much!
Why not just say that BNE is so well politically connected that state officials have made the practical decision to turn the other check and let BNE off the hook with a slap on the wrist.
Long time Wait, What? readers may vaguely remember a post about BNE and their political connections.
BNE Energy, Wind Farms, Occhiogrosso: A lesson on how modern government really works was a post that revealed that BNE Energy is incorporated in Delaware but owned by two Connecticut residents – Greg Zupkus, who serves as President and CEO and Paul Corey, who serves as BNE’s Chairman of the Board.
BNE has been trying to develop commercial wind projects in Prospect and Colebrook Connecticut.
The company has also received at least a half a million dollars in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare grants from the Malloy administration.
Paul J. Corey is well-known in Connecticut politics and government. During the Rowland years Corey served as the Executive Director of the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control, the entity that oversees the development of energy policy in Connecticut. Corey also served as the Chairman of the Connecticut Lottery Corporation’s Board of Directors from January 2000 to December 2004.
Corey’s wife, Christine, was a high-ranking personal assistant to former Governor John Rowland. Together they gave Rowland the famous hot-tub that helped lead to the impeachment hearings and Rowland’s subsequent resignation and trip to federal prison.
After leaving public service Corey joined the law firm of Brown, Rudnick to work in their Public Utility Practice Group. Brown Rudnick, LLP presently does the lobbying and permitting work for BNE. The lead individual from Brown, Rudnick is Thomas Ritter, the former speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives.
BNE Energy has also retained the services of the law firm of Pullman & Comley, the law firm where former State Senator Andrew McDonald worked before becoming Malloy’s Chief Counsel. McDonald now serves as a Justice on the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Since Malloy has become governor, Pullman & Comley has received hundreds of millions of dollars in state business and was retained by BNE to help the company get its wind projects approved by the Connecticut Siting Council.
And finally, BNE’s public relations and grassroots lobbying is conducted by none-other-than Roy Occhiogrosso and the Global Strategy Group. Occhiogrosso having previously served as Governor Malloy’s chief advisor.
Over the past two years alone, Ritter and the Occhogrosso’s Global Strategy Group have received over $200,000 in fees from BNE.
But the pièce de résistance is what happened to BNE after they illegally clear-cut down the two and half acres of pristine forest in one of Connecticut’s state parks.
And for that you need to read Zach Janowski’s piece, “Environmental group sues state for going easy on wind-power company that cut down trees in state forest.
The Janowski article link can be found here: http://www.raisinghale.com/2013/11/07/environmental-group-sues-state-easy-on-wind/ and the previous Wait, What? post on BNE energy is here: http://jonathanpelto.com/2013/01/08/bne-energy-wind-farms-occhiogrosso-a-lesson-on-how-modern-government-really-works/
Denise Merrill, George Jepsen, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy Denise Merrill, George Jepsen, Gubernatorial Election 2014, Malloy
Maybe they just can’t help themselves…
The television advertisement came on during the Cooking Channel’s popular Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show. One moment it was Guy Fieri talking about a fish taco and the next it was Governor Malloy telling people about a forum for distressed homeowners to be held Oct. 22 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. After Malloy extolled his dedication to helping keep people in their homes, Attorney General George Jepsen picked up where Malloy left off.
It wasn’t immediately clear who paid for the advertisement or why Malloy and Jepsen were the most appropriate people to tell those of us having problems keeping our mortgage payments current that help was available.
But apparently it was part of a multi-pronged public relations initiative following their press conference on the matter. (See Connecticut launches mortgage assistance forum; braces for prolonged shutdown, Connecticut To Hold Mortgage Assistance Event In Hartford On Oct. 22 or Sixth Mortgage Assistance Event Set Next Week In Hartford.
Considering none of the articles mentioned the television ads, maybe Malloy and Jepsen forgot to inform the media that they were using the mortgage crisis as a way to help push up their name recognition.
Television ads cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars, a piece, to run.
And most politicians love to have others pick up the cost of some of their ads. For example, “old timers” will remember Governor Rowland and his wife paddling around in a canoe as part of the state’s strategy to convince tourists to come to Connecticut.
Thinking about who is picking up the tab for the Malloy/Jepsen TV ads, it is hard to know what would be worse. Are the taxpayers paying or the banks that are involved in the program including Bank of America, CitiMortgage, First Niagara Bank, HSBC National Bank USA, JPMorgan Chase & Co., McCue Mortgage, Nationstar Mortgage, Ocwen Loan Servicing, People’s United Bank, PNC Mortgage, U.S. Bank Home Mortgage, Webster Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Meanwhile, the saga of Secretary of State Denise Merrill’s newsletter continues to attract attention.
The Courant’s Jon Lender broke the story last Friday with an article entitled Merrill Uses State Office To Send Newsletter To Democratic Activists.
As Lender reported, “Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has been using her taxpayer-funded office to maintain a computerized list of names and email addresses of thousands of Democratic activists and campaign contributors — to whom she sends a monthly newsletter touting her accomplishments.
Her actions are reminiscent of widely condemned practices by her predecessor in the office, Susan Bysiewicz. Bysiewicz’s campaign for state attorney general failed in 2010 amid a scandal over a politically tinged “constituent database” — which Bysiewicz maintained in her office and utilized to send a similar newsletter of her own.”
Following Lender’s story, Secretary of the State Merrill started back-peddling.
First came Merrill Says She’ll Talk ‘Later In Week’ About Newsletter
And then: Merrill Apologizes And Ends Newsletter and Denise Merrill Sees The Light, Drops Email List
These two situations raise significant questions about what is and what isn’t okay when it comes to maximizing the power of incumbency.
It seems pretty clear that sending a newsletter to political supporters is stepping over the line.
But is working to build name and image recognition by gratuitously featuring the Governor and Attorney General in television ads about mortgage assistance really any more acceptable?
It’s not as if the end game is any different.
Just ask all the Democrats who condemned and taunted John Rowland and his wife when they appeared in ads paddling around a Connecticut lake.
Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], Education Funding, George Jepsen, Malloy CCEJF, ECS, George Jepsen, Malloy, school funding
The lawsuit is called CCFEF v. Rell.
As we know, it is the most important school funding lawsuit in more than 40 years. Despite their previous support for the lawsuit, Governor Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen are now working overtime to try and prevent he case from even being heard.
And now the Connecticut Post’s editorial writers weigh in…on the side of Connecticut’s students.
The CT Post writes;
“Eight years and countless hours of work into a suit that seeks more money for children in underserved communities, the governor and attorney general are asking that it be dismissed. While that would certainly make their lives easier, their reasoning is flawed, and a judge should reject their pleas and allow the suit to continue.
It was during the governorship of M. Jodi Rell that the suit was filed under the banner of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, arguing that Connecticut children are being shortchanged by state funding formulas, and that the state is not meeting its obligation to provide an “adequate” education to all children.
Parents and officials in the state’s major cities were behind the effort, and their ranks included the mayor of Stamford at the time – Dannel P. Malloy.
Now Malloy, as governor, and Attorney General George Jepsen are urging a court to dismiss the suit, and using a number of specious arguments. For one, they say the group lacks standing to sue the state, which is odd, considering parents and school officials in underfunded districts have more stake than anyone in the quality of education offered in Connecticut.
Jepsen has argued that it would be unfair to decide the case based on conditions from 2005, when the suit was filed. But surely it’s not the fault of the suit’s backers that it has taken this long to work its way through the courts. If that argument is successful, anyone sued would have everything to gain by simply delaying whenever possible and then calling the action old news, as the state is trying to do here.
State lawyers also argue that the education reform package signed by Malloy last year makes the issue moot. This argument has the least merit. While those reforms do many things, they do not approach a solution for the chronic underfunding of urban districts, and some would argue they make the system worse. To say the law needs a few years to gauge its effectiveness is yet another delaying tactic.
The Connecticut Supreme Court in 2010 ruled that every child is entitled to an “adequate” education, and sent the case back to the lower court to determine whether the state is providing that. Connecticut does spend a lot of money on its schools, some $3.8 billion this fiscal year. There is good reason to think that money could be spent more wisely.
But that is for a court to decide. What must not happen is for the suit to be dismissed before it is heard.
The lawsuit, and Connecticut’s students, deserve a day in court.”
You can find the Connecticut Post’s editorial here: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/State-students-should-get-their-day-in-court-4824907.php
It sure would be a refreshing change if our elected officials stopped spinning in circles, took the time to read this editorial and then followed the CT Post’s advice.
Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], Dianne Kaplan DeVries, Education Funding, George Jepsen, Malloy Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], George Jepsen, Malloy, school funding
Starting this year and next, Connecticut public school teachers will be judged, in no small part, by factors beyond their control such as their student’s standardized test results. Some will lose their jobs after two years under Governor Malloy’s “education reform” bill.
But as reported in yesterday’s CT Mirror, “The state’s top attorneys Monday asked a Superior Court judge to dismiss the [CCJEF v. Rell] case and give the education reforms passed by the legislature last year “at least three years” to be implemented.”
Attorney General George Jepsen, with the support of Governor Malloy, moved to destroy the most important school funding case in more than half a century, despite Malloy’s earlier promises to support the case.
And the media coverage of this extraordinary event?
Ah… minimal, at best. As of 7 a.m. on the day after the court hearing:
The Hartford Courant had reported – Nothing.
The CT Mirror has a story entitled, “Malloy’s school reforms may be headed for trial,” Ken Dixon, a reporter for the Connecticut Post and Hearst Media wrote, “Court hears case for, against dismissal,” and the CT Newsjunkie ran “Education Adequacy Case Headed Back To Court” last week.
As the CT Mirror reported, “The Connecticut Supreme Court in 2010 ruled that every child is entitled to an “adequate” education, and sent the case back to the lower court to determine if the state is providing that.”
As mayor of Stamford and candidate for governor, Dan Malloy not only supported the case but was listed as a plaintiff with the CCJEF, the organization which brought the suit against Governor Rell as a way to force the state of Connecticut to face its historic underfunding of public schools in Connecticut.
Now with this extraordinarily important trial scheduled to start in July 2014, four months before the next gubernatorial election, Governor Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen are trying to get the case dismissed by claiming that Malloy’s “education reforms” do away with the need to deal with the fact that Connecticut underfunds its public schools by as much as $2 billion.
As Ken Dixon explains in his Connecticut Post Story,
“The [CCJEF] coalition is suing to get more aid for struggling schools in Connecticut’s cities, and for a new formula of support that takes municipal wealth into account and shifts the burden of public education from local property taxes. The current system, plaintiffs say, penalizes cities such as Bridgeport that have limited taxable real estate in relation to the needs of their schools.”
Dixon adds that “After the hearing, Dianne Kaplan deVries, project director for the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, said that drastically changing the system for local school funding is important.
‘With political will seemingly always lagging, the only way those resources are going to be made available is for this lawsuit to succeed,’ she said.
Thus, ironically, the state seems to not understand that for the state of Connecticut to win — as well as its school children, communities, colleges, and employers — the state needs to lose this case.’”
As noted repeatedly here at Wait, What? for years Malloy claimed to be a strong supporter of the lawsuit but he suddenly switched his position following the last gubernatorial election.
Starting last year, Attorney General George Jepsen began a more aggressive effort to undermine the suit. With Malloy’s support, Jepsen first moved to try to remove early childhood education from the issues to be covered by the lawsuit and is now he is trying to get the whole case dismissed.
In response to criticisms that Malloy has failed to fulfill his promise on school funding and the CCJEF v. Rell case, his spokesman said, “Through additional funding and reforms in the bill he championed last year, we’re making great strides in improvements to public education.”
Of course, the Malloy administration’s political spin completely overlooks the reality that an extra $50 million a year, funds that are primarily targeted to selected schools, doesn’t begin to resolve the $750 million to $2 billion underfunding problem that leaves Connecticut’s public schools underfunded and disproportionately shifts an unfair burden to local property taxpayers.
You can read more background on the case in the following two Wait, What? blog posts:
Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], Connecticut Supreme Court, Dianne Kaplan DeVries, Early Childhood Education, Education Funding, George Jepsen, Malloy, School Funding/ECS CCJEF v. Rell, Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], George Jepsen, Malloy, school funding
Today, as explained in a Wait, What? blog post last Friday, Attorney General George Jepsen, with the help and support of Governor Dannel Malloy, is asking a Connecticut Superior Court judge to dismiss the most important school finance lawsuit in nearly five decades. As noted in that blog, the case, CCJEF v. Rell, may well be the most important school finance lawsuit in Connecticut history.
Friday’s post, entitled “Jepsen/Malloy move to destroy most important school funding lawsuit in modern times,” points out that once upon a time, when Governor Dannel Malloy was Mayor Dan Malloy of Stamford, he not only supported the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit but was an original plaintiff in the historic battle to force the State of Connecticut to fulfill its constitutional obligation to the children of Connecticut.
As a candidate for governor, Malloy repeatedly proclaimed that he would implement a solution to Connecticut’s school finance crisis and end the need for the CCJEF v. Rell case.
But now with Malloy’s support, Connecticut’s attorney general is trying to dismiss this important case altogether.
Governor Malloy and Attorney General Jepsen have the opportunity of a lifetime to put Connecticut’s school funding system on track, not only for this generation, but for generations to come. Instead of rising to the occasion, they are squandering the opportunity to make a profound difference for Connecticut and its children.
To understand the depth of their failure on this vital issue, read some of the previous Wait, What? blogs on this topic;
The Dan to Dannel transformation on the most important education lawsuit in Connecticut history (April 5)
Despite having promised their support for the lawsuit, they are now not only trying to get the case dismissed, but are asking the court to prevent the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], a broad coalition of towns, schools, parents and public school advocates, from even serving as the plaintiffs in the case.
They are taking this unholy action despite the fact that the Connecticut Supreme Court ordered the lower court to hear the case.
And perhaps worst of all, this destructive action is being perpetrated by people who not only said they supported the lawsuit, but used that support to deceive the people of Connecticut into voting for them.
Dan Malloy and the education lawsuit of our lifetime;
On November 22, 2005, Stamford Mayor and Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Malloy issued a press release entitled “Malloy Supports Lawsuit Challenging Education Funding System…says that reforming the education funding system is an issue of ‘fundamental fairness.’”
Jepsen/Malloy Continue to Squander the Opportunity of a Lifetime; (Feb 7)
Sometimes you’re just left shaking your head; wondering what on earth has happened to our “Leaders.”
A few months ago, Attorney General George Jepsen, with the direct approval of Governor Dannel Malloy, filed a legal motion in an attempt to ensure that Early Childhood Education was not included in the definition of what the Connecticut Supreme Court called the “adequate education” that is guaranteed in the Connecticut Constitution.
Now, Attorney General Jepsen has filed an unprecedented subpoena seeking tens of thousands of pages of documents belonging to ten of the school districts that brought the now-famous CCJEF vs. Rell lawsuit that led the Supreme Court to define what an “adequate education” meant. More
Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], Education Funding, George Jepsen, Malloy CCJEF, Education Funding, George Jepsen, Malloy
Next Monday, on September 16, 2013, Attorney General George Jepsen, with the help and support of Governor Dannel Malloy, will go before a Connecticut Superior Court judge in what could be termed a despicable attempt to dismiss the most important school finance lawsuit in nearly five decades. In fact, the case, CCJEF v. Rell, may well be the most important school finance lawsuit in Connecticut history.
Once upon a time, when Governor Dannel Malloy was Mayor Dan Malloy of Stamford, he not only supported the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit but was an original plaintiff in the historic battle to force the State of Connecticut to fulfill its constitutional obligation to the children of Connecticut.
As a candidate for governor, Malloy repeatedly proclaimed that he would implement a solution to Connecticut’s school finance crisis and end the need for the CCJEF v. Rell case.
But now with Malloy’s support, Connecticut’s attorney general is trying to dismiss this important case altogether.
Long before Malloy became governor, before governors Rell, Rowland, Weicker, O’Neill and Grasso, there was the famous Connecticut lawsuit of Horton v. Meskill, a case designed to force Governor Meskill and the Connecticut General Assembly to adopt a fair school financing system. In 1977, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled, “that the right to education in Connecticut is so basic and fundamental that any intrusion on the right must be strictly scrutinized.” The Court said that “public school students are entitled to equal enjoyment of the right to education, and a system of school financing that relied on local property tax revenues without regard to disparities in town wealth and that lacked significant equalizing state support was unconstitutional. It could not pass the test of strict judicial scrutiny.”
The court ordered the executive and legislative branches to develop a new school funding system.
Now, nearly four decades later, Connecticut still doesn’t have a fair and equitable school financing system.
But the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, a statewide coalition of municipalities, local boards of education, education associations, unions, pro-education advocacy organizations, parents, public schoolchildren and taxpayers, are working to change that once and for all.
Founded in 2004, the coalition filed a lawsuit against the state of Connecticut in 2005. That suit is called CCJEF v. Rell and it charges that Connecticut has failed to “adequately and equitably fund the public schools in accordance with its constitutional obligation.”
In March of 2010, the Connecticut Supreme Court took up CCJEF V. Rell and ruled all public school students in Connecticut have the constitutional right to an effective and meaningful (quality, adequate) education and CCJEF’s claim for a new public financing system was appropriate.
The Connecticut Supreme Court sent the case back to the Superior Court for a full trial on the merits and the trail is scheduled for July 2014.
But whether Governor Malloy and Attorney General Jepsen have reversed themselves and no longer believe in the constitutional right of Connecticut’s children or are simply trying to push the case past the next gubernatorial election, the duo have asked the Connecticut court to dismiss the case entirely.
Their move is an insult to every student, parent, teacher and taxpayer in the state of Connecticut.
It is hard to conceive that Jepsen and Malloy, two long-time Democrats, would be wasting time and scarce taxpayer resources in an attempt to dismiss this case.
The children of Connecticut deserve better.
More information on CCJEF go to: http://ccjef.org/
Bridgeport, Carmen Lopez, George Jepsen, Malloy, Paul Vallas, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor Bridgeport, Carmen Lopez, George Jepsen, Malloy, Paul Vallas, State Board of Education
Despite clear-cut legal rules that limit communication with a judge during the appeal process, late yesterday, a resolution adopted by the Connecticut Board of Education, and signed by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, was hand-delivered to the Office of the Connecticut Chief Justice. The Chief Justice is scheduled to rule tomorrow on whether the Supreme Court will review Judge Bellis’ ruling in the case of Lopez v. Vallas.
But the resolution did not come from Attorney General George Jepsen, the State Board of Education’s official legal representative, it came from Paul Vallas’ attorney.
As reported yesterday, the Connecticut Board of Education had schedule an Executive Session to discuss strategy in the case of Lopez v. Vallas, the case in which the Connecticut Superior Court determined that Paul Vallas lacked the credentials necessary to serve as a superintendent of schools in Connecticut and was ordered to leave his position as head of the Bridgeport School System immediately.
Vallas decided to appeal that decision to the Connecticut Supreme Court, and using lawyers that are being paid for by the taxpayers of the City of Bridgeport and the State of Connecticut, filed the necessary documents and briefs to ask the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to determine whether the Supreme Court should or should not take the case.
According to a report in the CT Mirror yesterday, faced with questions as to the legality of an executive session that would allow decisions to be made behind closed doors, Allan Taylor, the Chairman of the State Board of Education, “said that he believes the board has the legal authority to meet in private over the matter but since there is no action the board was planning to discuss, he pulled the item from the agenda.”
But then later in the meeting, the State Board of Education did adopt, on a vote of 6-0, a resolution that read;
“The Board considers the trial court’s decision in the case of Lopez v. Vallas to raise significant issues public interest concerning the future of the Bridgeport schools and the authority of the State Board of Education and Commissioner, and one that merits an expeditious review. The Board directs that the Commissioner, on its behalf, request, regarding any appeal or other review of the trial decision in Lopez v. Vallas, that the Attorney General, take such steps as he deems appropriate and necessary to present the Board’s and Commissioner’s with the court’s determinations regarding the authority and prior decisions of the Board and Commissioner in regards to Bridgeport’s Acting Superintendent Vallas.”
Although the resolution asks the Attorney General to identify “such steps as he deems appropriate and necessary,” long before the Attorney General could have even reviewed the request, the resolution was hand-delivered to the Chief Justice’s Office by the Hartford law firm that has been retained by the City of Bridgeport to help with the case.
Legal observers are saying the move by Vallas’ attorneys is unprecedented. “Ex-parte” communications, that is communication by one party directly with the court is strictly prohibited under the Connecticut Court Practice Book and certainly no one but the Attorney General has the authority to speak for the Attorney General…so how or why a resolution calling on the Attorney General to review whether to take some possible action would be hand-delivered, off-line, to the Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court is…at best…incredible and bizarre.
But of course, it is consistent with the notion that “special”people play by “special” rules while the rest of us are forced to live by what we are told are the rules that apply to everyone.
Let’s not forget, the case was a suit brought by two people against Paul Vallas. The City of Bridgeport was not a plaintiff and yet the powers that be are diverting scarce resources away from Bridgeport public services to pay for Paul Vallas’ lawyers.
And now the Malloy Administration is trying to do the same thing. But the State Board of Education has yet to explain what legitimate interest the Attorney General has in spending time and money trying to bail Vallas out of his problem.
The language requiring Paul Vallas to complete a school leadership program was written by the Malloy administration. It was passed by the General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Malloy. Andrew McDonald, who is now a Supreme Court Judge, was Malloy’s chief legal counsel at the time and even signed off on the law before the Governor signed it.
And now a Superior Court Judge has determined that Paul Vallas violated that law.
Paul Vallas may think he deserves having the City of Bridgeport and the State of Connecticut defend him but the taxpayers of Connecticut and the students, parents, teachers and citizens of Bridgeport deserve elected officials who will stop coddling Vallas at their expense.
Democratic Party, George Jepsen, Malloy, Mayor Bill Finch, Paul Vallas, Sarah Darer Littman, Stefan Pryor Sarah Darer Littman, The Democratic Party
Public education advocate and CTNewsjunkie columnist, Sarah Darer Littman, has produced another “must read” column articulating the anger and frustration that so many of us are feeling toward much of the leadership of the Democratic Party.
I pretty sure it was actually on my 18th birthday that I raced to the Old Town Hall to register as a Democrat. Less than two years later, I become, what I think, was the youngest Democratic Town Chairman in Connecticut history, beating out my former boss and mentor, Sam Gejdenson.
Today I watch a Democratic President and Democratic Governor undermine the public education system and coddle the rich, while here in Connecticut we witness the deepest cuts in history to our public colleges and universities, while slashing some of the most vital human services, such as respite care for parents of the developmentally disabled.
In recent years, time and time again, we’ve witnessed the Democratic leadership taking our party away from its core beliefs and principles.
In what is certainly an award-winning response, Sarah Darer Littman says enough is enough:
A Woman Without A Party (By Sara Darer Littman)
When my son registered to vote two years ago this month, he wanted to register unaffiliated. “Both parties are just corporate shills,” he said.
I had a hard time disagreeing with that point of view, but I talked him out of it with the same words my father told me thirty years earlier, when I was a new voter: “You should always join a party in a closed primary state so you can vote in a primary.”
My son listened to me, as I listened to Dad. So he was shocked when I told him that I’d gone to Town Hall this week and changed my registration from Democrat to Unaffliated in the final stage of my journey to disgust and disillusionment with the two-party system.
“Welcome to my world,” he said.
At 18, I was a registered Republican. At 36, I became a Democrat. And now, as a woman of a certain age, Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Attorney General George Jepsen, and their BFF Arne Duncan, have persuaded me to join the fastest growing voter group in both Connecticut and the country — the Unaffiliated.
(Read her full post at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/a_woman_without_a_party/)
Sarah ends by saying, “One of the books that has most influenced me was one I read in that 10th grade honors English class, George Orwell’s ANIMAL FARM. The reason I’ve become unaffiliated is because as I looked from one party to the other on education, “already it was impossible to say which was which.”
I know Sarah speaks for many of us…
Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], Connecticut General Assembly, George Jepsen, Malloy, School Funding/ECS CCEJF, ECS Formula, Education Funding, George Jepsen, Malloy
Connecticut Mirror, March 22, 2010;
“The state Supreme Court [ruled] that Connecticut schoolchildren are guaranteed an adequate standard of quality in their public schools — a crucial legal victory for a coalition seeking to force a dramatic increase in state spending on education.”
Connecticut Mirror, April 10, 2013:
“State moves to dismiss long-standing challenge to education funding
Calling their demands “extreme and radical” as a trial draws nearer, the Connecticut attorney general has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed by parents and educators demanding more funding for education.
In a motion to dismiss filed earlier this year, Attorney General George C. Jepsen argues that the education problems in the complaint dating back to 2003 have since been addressed by lawmakers through the changes to state law made in 2012.”
So there you have it. Democrat Attorney General, George Jepsen, calling the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education funding (CCJEF), “extreme and radical.”
Democratic Attorney General, telling the CT Mirror’s Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, that, “’It is too late to evaluate the adequacy of the education system that existed at the time the lawsuit was filed’…By the same token, he added, ‘It is too early to adjudicate Connecticut’s newly reformed education system.’”
However, despite Jepsen’s outrageous comments, everyone associated with Connecticut public education recognizes that the State’s ECS funding formula is at least $2 billion under-funded. Even the Malloy Administration’s own budget director, Ben Barnes, has confirmed that number.
Even more to the point, as a Connecticut State Representative, State Senator and candidate for Governor, George Jepsen, like all major Democratic leaders, pledged to increase Connecticut’s education funding up to a level in which the state paid at least 50% of the total costs of primary and secondary education, while local property tax payers were left paying the remaining amount.
In fact, the decision to adopt an income tax was driven, in no small part, by the commitment Democrats made to shift the responsibility for funding education away from local property taxpayers and onto the state.
Now, more than 20 years later, Connecticut is far where it needs to be when it comes to adequately funding its public education system.
And now, leaders like Governor Malloy and Attorney General Jepsen are conveniently forgetting the promises they made time and time again.
As Wait, What? readers read last week, Governor Malloy was not only a supporter of the CCEJF school funding lawsuit, he was one of the initial plaintiffs in the case.
In the earlier Wait, What? post entitled, “The Dan to Dannel transformation on the most important education lawsuit in Connecticut history,” we reviewed how candidate Dan Malloy approached the most important education lawsuit of our lifetime.
That approach included a November 22, 2005 press release by Stamford Mayor and Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Malloy entitled “Malloy Supports Lawsuit Challenging Education Funding System…says that reforming the education funding system is an issue of ‘fundamental fairness.’”
As a candidate seeking votes, Malloy’s gubernatorial campaign wrote, “Stamford Mayor and Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Malloy joined fellow members of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF] today in filing a lawsuit challenging Connecticut’s existing school funding formula as inadequate. Malloy is a founding member of CCJEF coalition, which commissioned a June 2005 cost study demonstrating that 92 of Connecticut’s 166 school districts fell short of funding levels deemed to be necessary for providing children with an adequate education, as demanded under Federal and State law.”
Malloy’s press release quoted him as saying, “The bottom line is that Connecticut’s Education Cost Sharing [ECS] Formula should be scrapped and rebuilt and the State of Connecticut must finally live up to its obligation and pay its share of our education costs. The existing ECS formula has been deliberately under-funded and arbitrarily capped. This isn’t an urban versus suburban issue or a big government versus small government issue; it’s an issue of fundamental fairness. Every child in Connecticut deserves the opportunity to get an adequate education. Our constitution demands it.”
Over the years, George Jepsen claimed to be equally committed to a fairer, more equitable school funding program. But now, as Connecticut’s Attorney General, Jepsen is asking the courts to dismiss this historic and fundamentally important lawsuit.
Instead of standing up to ensure Connecticut’s Constitution is followed, Jepsen is maneuvering to try to keep the judicial branch of government from playing the very role it was created to do.
In the recent motion to dismiss the case Jepsen wrote, “The bottom line is that plaintiffs’ extreme and radical requested relief would amount to taking the state’s funding decisions for public schools away from the citizens’ elected representatives…”
That statement is totally and absolutely untrue.
It is beyond untrue, it is an outright lie.
No one is expected the Connecticut courts to eliminate the role of the Connecticut General Assembly, and Attorney General Jepson knows that better than anyone.
The fact is that the Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that Connecticut’s children have a Constitutional right to a quality education.
A series of Connecticut governors and Legislatures have refused to provide the funding necessary to fulfill that Constitutional requirement.
The lawsuit is a necessary and appropriate mechanism to ask the courts to require that governors and legislatures actually stop ducking their constitutional responsibilities
It is one thing for Attorney General Jepsen to argue that the state doesn’t want to provide sufficient funding; it would even be plausible for Attorney General Jepsen to argue that the existing funding is enough to provide a quality education, but it is beyond outrageous that any elected official, especially a Democrat, would claim that his lawsuit is radical or extreme.
By clicking the link below, you can read the full CTMIrror story, including the powerful and persuasive counter-argument to Attorney General Jepsen’ that is being put forward by State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield. Unfortunately, a full reading of the article will drive home the appreciation that for some politicians, there is simply no limit to their willingness to say anything in their effort to stretch and twist the truth.
The complete CTMirror story is here: http://ctmirror.org/story/19681/were-education-reforms-passed-enough-derail-school-funding-lawsuit
Connecticut General Assembly, George Jepsen, Malloy, School Safety, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor Connecticut General Assembly, Malloy, School Safety, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor
It is one of the most important reports that the State Department of Education produces.
It was supposed to include recommendations for how to create safer school environments.
It WAS DUE February 1, 2012…almost fifteen months ago!
Where is it?
Although Connecticut is learning the hard way that lawyers, with no classroom or education background, don’t make the best education leaders, it’s impossible to believe that Governor Malloy’s Education Commissioner, Stefan Pryor, and his senior leadership team fail to understand that creating a safe school environment is one of the most important educational issues of our time.
At the very least, we would expect that as lawyers, these “education leaders” would appreciate the need to follow the law. But these days, even that appears to be a reach.
The fact is that parents expect and demand that our state, the Department of Education and our schools are doing everything possible to keep our children safe. It is especially understood that a safe and healthy school environment is the single most important element in creating successful learning environments.
It is also the law in the State of Connecticut.
Although some elected officials can’t seem to get enough of the limelight on school safety issues since the nightmare of Newtown, some of our most dedicated elected officials have made creating a safer school environment a top priority for years.
Connecticut’s initial school bullying law dates back to 2002. It was passed following the tragic suicide of a Meriden student who killed himself after being bullied. The law was significantly expanded in 2007 and included additional responsibilities for the State Department of Education including a requirement that the Commissioner of Education submit a Bullying Policies in Connecticut Schools report on February 1, 2010. (See http://www.cga.ct.gov/coc/PDFs/bullying/SDE_bullying_report_02-01-10.pdf)
Reading news headlines over the past few weeks, one might think today’s leaders are coming to the school safety issue for the first time. However, in July 2011, Governor Malloy signed Public Act 11-232, An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying laws.
This comprehensive new law was called one of the most important school safety initiatives in the nation.
The legislation required schools and districts to develop “safe school climate plans,” it established deadlines for reporting, investigating, and notifying parents about bullying incidents, it prohibited retaliation against those who report bullying (i.e. the Torrington situation) and required school officials to notify police when they believe bullying conduct constitutes a crime.
The law further required that no later than February 1, 2012, the Connecticut State Department of Education submit a report on “the number of verified acts of bullying in the state, an analysis of the responsive action taken by school districts and any recommendations it may have regarding additional activities or funding to prevent bullying in schools and improve school climate.”
For reasons beyond comprehension, it appears that Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, never released the report.
At a legislative public hearing on this major safe schools legislation, those who spoke or wrote in support of the legislation included Attorney General George Jepsen, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, State Representatives Mary Mushinsky and Catherine Abercrombie, State Senator Edith Prague, the Executive Director for the CT Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, the Executive Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the Legislative Analyst of the African-American Affairs Commission (AAAC), the state’s Victim Advocate, the Connecticut Education Association, CT Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), CT Association of School Psychologists (CASP), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-CT) , Governor’s Partnership to Protect CT’s Workforce , Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Family Equity Council , Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, CT Psychological Association and dozens of students, parents and school administrators who recounted their own experiences with bulling and the effects of bullying.
The legislation passed multiple committees, the Connecticut State Senate and the Connecticut House of Representatives
As the Vice President of the United States, Joe Bidden, would say…it was a “Big F***ing Deal.”
But the vital report required by Public Act 11-232 was never forthcoming.
Yet the law required the report be given to the Legislature.
And the report would certainly have contained vitally important information.
But the report is nowhere to be found!
Making the whole situation even more disturbing is the fact that just last week, with extraordinary bipartisan fanfare, Governor Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly passed and signed into law Connecticut’s response to the Newtown tragedy.
In addition to what is being described as the nation’s toughest gun control law, the measure included a series of provisions designed to create safer school environments.
Leading the way is Section 89 of the new gun control and school safety bill. It seeks to strengthen Connecticut’s anti-bullying and school climate laws by requiring the State Department of Education to do more to determine what schools are doing, identify best practices, to provide training to school districts and generally ensure that schools are doing everything they can to create safer learning environments for their students.
And the cornerstone of that new effort is?
(You can guess what’s coming)
The report that the State Department of Education was supposed to produce on a biennial basis must now be produced on an annual basis.
The VERY REPORT that the Governor and General Assembly are expecting to use on an annual basis to track the school safety elements of this new legislation is the VERY REPORT that Commissioner Pryor failed to produce despite the law requiring him to do so.
All the speeches, all the reporters, all the cameras, all the publicity and neither the Governor nor his Commissioner of Education bothered to admit or explain how it is possible that Commissioner Pryor and the Malloy Administration failed to fulfill the existing law on creating a safer school climate.
The President of the United States is coming to Connecticut to get in on the act. He will undoubtedly use Connecticut’s new law as a clarion call for action in Washington.
Let’s just hope that no one tells him that inside this new law are elements of the very problem that people find so frustrating. As we have all come to recognize, it doesn’t do any good to have strong laws, if you have leaders who are unable or unwilling to enforce those laws.
So I ask again…Commissioner Pryor, where is the State Department of Education’s mandated report on school safety and bullying and why wasn’t it released, as legally required, no later than February 1, 2012?