CT Capitol Report Headline Reads – The Oracle: Pelto: Told you so…

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While some tend to fall back on the phrase, “I told you so” much too often, the truth is that rarely does one get a chance to point to someone else confirming an individual’s claim that that they really were right when others were wrong….

So with that as the backdrop and propelled by an opportunity to brag, tempered by an appropriate dose of humility, I am proud to report that ctcapitolreport, the state’s leading news aggregation website, is sporting a headline that reads – The Oracle: Pelto: Told you so…

The reference is to my long-standing and on-going observation that in order to balance next year’s Connecticut state budget, provide sufficient revenue to fund critical services and begin to reduce the unfair tax burden on Connecticut’s middle class, Connecticut’s elected officials must find the courage to actually do what is necessary and that means appending Connecticut’s tax code to require that the state’s wealthy begin to pay their fair share of taxes.

Longer term Wait, What? readers will recall that this blog does cover issues other than the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing Scheme.

In fact, another primary focus of this blog has traditionally been Connecticut’s irresponsible fiscal policies that have resulted in a truly regressive tax system in which the state’s lowest income families pay about 12 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the middle class pay about 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes and the wealthy, who have been coddled by both Democrats and Republicans, only pay about 5 to 6 percent of their income in state and local taxes.

While the inequities in Connecticut’s tax system have been growing for decades, the problem has become particularly severe as a result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s unending fiscal gimmicks and his unprecedented dedication and addiction to irresponsible fiscal policies.

The article the website www.ctcapitolreport.com  is referring to is a news story posted early today by Connecticut’s premier budget reporter, Keith Phaneuf of the CTMirror.

Phaneuf has written another MUST READ story for those who want to understand Connecticut’s state budget and how Governor Dannel Malloy lied his way through the 2014 gubernatorial campaign by claiming there was no state deficit and that if he was re-elected we would eliminate the projected $1.4 billion projected deficit for next year without having to raise taxes or cut services.

Keith Phaneuf’s latest article is entitled “Tax hike ideas abound at the Capitol,” and can be found at: http://ctmirror.org/2015/03/23/tax-hike-ideas-abound-at-the-capitol/

The CT Mirror piece concludes with the following;

Former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto, D-Mansfield, who tried unsuccessfully to petition onto the 2014 gubernatorial ballot, predicted last summer that the big budget deficits projected for the next two fiscal years would eventually force a progressive income tax debate this spring.

“Requiring the wealthy to pay their fair in state income tax is the only responsible way to balance the state budget and begin to reduce the heavy and inappropriate burden on Connecticut’s middle-income taxpayers,” Pelto said last week. “Failure to require the rich to pay their fair share will mean unacceptable cuts in vital services and hurting the middle class and all working families by shifting even more of the tax burden onto local property taxpayers.

Or, in other words, “I told you so.”

Readers – I Need Your Help to Keep Wait, What? Going…

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With no operating funds from big corporations, foundations, unions or advocacy groups, Wait, What? has been a four year journey funded by personal saving and contributions from some generous readers.

But truth be told, I need your help to keep Wait, What? active and continuing its mission of educating, persuading and mobilizing people on a series of vital issues that impact our nation, state and communities.

Maybe you could dedicate your donation in honor of our surviving #Blizzard2015 or #StormJuno

Or maybe you could donate as part of your on-going commitment to supporting citizen journalism and the role we play in providing The People with the truth about what is happening in their government.

Or maybe you could donate based on your belief that we must continue to push back against the Corporate Education Reform Industry and ensure that the word “public” is truly part of “Public Education.”

Whatever reason you choose, the fact is your financial support is needed.

The time and money to keep Wait What? doing what it does best —– is extensive.

I recognize that that most people don’t have a lot of disposable income these days to donate to vital causes, but your help and support is critically important and truly appreciated.

Please consider making a donation to support the Wait, What? Blog

You can donate on–line by going to: https://fundly.com/wait-what-2015-winter-request

Or you can donate via check; Made out to Wait, What? and sent to Wait, What? c/o Jonathan Pelto, PO Box 400, Storrs, CT. 06268

Contributions are not tax-deductible, but they go a very long way toward helping with the maintenance of Wait, What?

Thank you so much,

Jonathan

Please take a moment today and click on the following link to make a donation:  https://fundly.com/wait-what-2015-winter-request?

The Wait, What? Winter request for donations…

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https://fundly.com/wait-what-2015-winter-request

 

Friends

Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of those who have provided financial support for Wait, What? – Along with all the people who have read and participated in the dialogue – The Wait, What? blog has become a leading news and commentary site.

The 1,820 blog posts since January 3, 2011 have attracted over 1.6 million visits and an incredible 23,000 comments.

Thanks to all of you, the blog has become a prime example of the importance of investigative blogging, advocacy journalism and the role social media can play in helping to educate, persuade and mobilize people to stand up and speak out about the important issues of our time.

While the primary focus of the blog has been the on-going effort to push back against the corporate education reform industry and re-take public control of public education, we’ve collectively dealt with an impressive array of issues.

The first blog on Wait, What? was entitled “MIND THE GAAP – Confronting the Cost of Fiscal Honesty 1/3/11).” Less than a week later, the blog of the day was, “Grappling with Connecticut’s Budget Crisis – Part I: What about Education Funding? (1/7/11).”

The article ended with the observation;

“After pledging during the campaign that he would maintain state funding for local education, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy backed off a bit Thursday, saying that is “a goal” that he will “try and accommodate.”

“That’s a goal that I have when preparing the budget,” he said during his first press conference after taking office. “There are many goals that I have. We are going to try and accommodate all of them,”

While some things haven’t changed, other things have.  That post failed to generate a single comment and only a handful of visitors stopped by to read it.

Now, with tens of thousands of visitors a month, an individual blog post can generate dozens and dozens of comments.

With 2015 underway, I hope to ensure that Wait, What? becomes an even more vital and important part of the public debate.

And so, I turn to all of you, again.

Over the four years, many of you have made a contribution to help support Wait, What?

And many provided financial support to my campaign as well.

I truly appreciate each and every one of those contributions for they have provided me with a truly unique opportunity to be heard on many of the issues we care so deeply about.

I know that these are difficult financial times for many of us and that the notion of financial security remains out of reach for many, but whatever financial support you could provide would be extremely helpful as I strive to use Wait, What? as a platform to provide news and commentary about the issues of our time.

A donation will help strengthen Wait, What? and the role of advocacy and investigative journalism in Connecticut.

You can donate on-line here:

https://fundly.com/wait-what-2015-winter-request

 

Or, if you would prefer, donations can also be made by check.  Checks should be made out to Wait, What? and sent to Wait, What? c/o Jonathan Pelto, PO Box 400, Storrs, CT. 06268

Contributions are not tax-deductible, but they go a very long way toward help with the maintenance of Wait, What?

Thanks so much,

Jonathan

Your help would be greatly appreciated https://fundly.com/wait-what-2015-winter-request?

1st piece in Truthout – Corporate America Steps Up for Maine’s Right-Wing Gov. Paul LePage

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Honored to have my 1st article published in the national website Truthout:

Corporate America Steps Up for Maine’s Right-Wing Gov. Paul LePage

http://www.truth-out.org/

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27389-corporate-america-steps-up-for-maine-s-right-wing-governor-paul-lepage

Vote today, but even more importantly, take action tomorrow for our very future depends on it…

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For nearly four years I have written and maintained the Wait, What? Blog as a vehicle to challenge the status quo and try, as best I could, to inform, educate and persuade my fellow citizens to question authority and demand better from those who hold positions of power in and outside of government.

In January of 2011, one of my first posts outlined the primary purpose behind Wait, What? – which was and remains – a belief that we must hold our own (in this case Democrats) to the same standards that we would hold our opponents.

Over the course of 1,761 posts, 26,778 comments and more than 1.5 million visits to this blog, I have tried to remain true to that purpose.

Many people have used their comments to add vitally important information to the discussion, others have simply added their support or observations, and some have vehemently criticized and condemned the content of some articles or the value and intent of the blog itself.

A common refrain has been that by criticizing Malloy and Democrats, among others, I have been siding with the enemy and promoting the success of the Republicans and those who are even more out of step with the needs of our citizens and our society.

As a true believer in our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, I fundamentally respect everyone’s right to articulate their beliefs.  That said, skimming back over the many blog posts, I will stand my ground and say that I have not wavered from my belief that we must hold our own to the same standards we hold our opponents and that the transgressions and errors that I have consistently sought to challenge deserved the attention and light of day that I have tried to provide.

We know that real change is not easy.  By its very design our government is slow and often cumbersome. While there are sometimes benefits to the notion that a steady pace wins the race, the problems facing our state, country and citizens are growing exponentially and our window of opportunity to change course is closing.

As regular readers of this blog know, a common practice has been to seek out and use a quote that helps to clarify and amplify the points I am working to highlight. With that in mind, I turn once again to one of the greatest Americans in history, Martin Luther King, Jr. who said,

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.”

King opened that speech by reminding his audience and the world that, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.”

I believe that we have reached that time and then some.

There are many battles ahead.

I am not sure to the extent that the Wait, What? blog will be part of the dialogue.  As of today I am putting the blog on “pause” as I tackle some other anti-corporate education reform industry projects and consider various options for restructuring Wait, What?

But I have learned much from this process and assure my readers, both supporters and opponents, that I will continue to do all I can to raise awareness of the problems we face and force the changes we need in order to beat back those who seek to destroy the middle class, create a permanent underclass and continue their efforts to undermine the most basic values that are should be guiding our government and society.

I am but a foot soldier in this larger battle, nothing more. But like all good foot soldiers, I will not be dissuaded for doing all I can to do my part in the effort to create the change we need.

While I recognize that my posts have generated insults, condemnation and even blacklisting from groups and individuals who claim to be the “true” representatives of the people, I honestly believe that I am doing what I can to stand up and speak out about the important issues and challenges we face.

It cannot be compared in any way to what I’ve personally witnessed, for this battle here is minor compared to the truly greater battles that have taken place in our nation’s history, but I can’t help but be reminded by what occurred to Martin Luther King Jr. when he spoke out against the Vietnam War in his famous speech at New York’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967.

In an editorial in the Washington Post two days later, the newspaper wrote that by opposing the Vietnam War and speaking out against our nation’s constant use of war, violence and destruction, King “has done a grave injury to those who are his natural allies … and … an even graver injury to himself.”

The Washington Post added “Many who have listened to him with respect will never again accord him the same confidence. He has diminished his usefulness to his cause, to his country and to his people. And that is a great tragedy.”

Thus has been the message to those who seek to speak the truth and seek to force a true accounting of the problems we face and the solutions our citizens need and deserve.

It has always been that way and it will undoubtedly continue to be that way, but no matter how small our contribution may be to the greater effort, we must never shy away from standing up and speaking out.

I close this chapter by thanking all of you who have been part of Wait, What? and my associated activities these past few years.

I look forward to continuing to work with you in the months and years to come.

For as I am especially fond of saying to those who criticize our work, upset now?

Just wait for “We have not yet begun to fight!”

Your thoughts, advice, guidance and suggestions are always welcome,

And thank you for all that you have done, all you are doing and all you have yet to do in the future,

Jonathan Pelto
[email protected]
 

Breaking News: Visconti Drops Out, Endorses Foley

51 Comments

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

Why Malloy’s (and Foley’s) anti-tax pledge is anti-middle class

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In a September 3, 2014 Wait, What? post entitled, Foley and Malloy are just plain wrong on taxes, the blog explained that Malloy and Foley are being fiscally irresponsible with their pledge not to propose raising taxes if they are elected. The article begins with the following;

Although 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 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 it is needed to maintain the present level of services and meet its present statutory obligations.

As a result of Governor Malloy’s irresponsible borrowing policies, the state MUST increase its debt service payments by at least $672 million dollars over the next three years.  The additional mandatory payments for the state employee and teacher pension and healthcare funds will require an additional $620 million.

And that doesn’t even count the minimum increases needed to maintain the most vital state services.

There is absolutely no way to balance Connecticut’s state budget without additional taxes.  The question is not whether we will have tax increases, but who will be providing that additional state revenue.

Furthermore, by pledging not to “raise” taxes at the state level, there will be no meaningful state increase in state aid to municipalities and that will translate into massive increases in local property taxes, as towns face the growing costs of education, public safety and other local services.

While Malloy and Foley can try and claim they won’t raise taxes, by forcing higher local property taxes, the two major party candidates will – in fact – be raising taxes that disproportionately hit middle-income families and small business that are particularly hurt by the way in which Connecticut raises revenue at the local level.

But Malloy and Foley’s “no-tax” pledge is even more unfair than it seems because they are promising to maintain the existing tax system that coddles the rich.

As the non-partisan CT Voices for Children has reported;

  • In Connecticut, wealthy residents pay a smaller share of their income in state and local taxes than the rest of us, while families raising children are uniquely hurt by Connecticut’s present tax system.
  • After federal income tax deductions, Connecticut’s wealthiest families pay an average of 5.5% of their income in state and local taxes, while the middle class pay 10.5%, and the poor pay 11% of their income in state and local taxes.
  • In addition, Connecticut is one of only two states that make no adjustment in their income taxes for the cost of raising children.  A family with $60,000 of income with three kids owes the same as the family with $60,000 of income and no kids.  It is a tax policy that is hardly pro-child.

The candidates for governor who have made a “no tax pledge” is not only being fiscally irresponsible, but is sending a loud and clear message to Connecticut’s middle class.   What Malloy and Foley are saying is that not only are they refusing to take responsibility for properly running the state of Connecticut, but they are admitting that they will be leaving Connecticut’s unfair tax structure in place while increasing the burden on local property taxpayers.

As of now, the Democrat and Republican candidates for governor have made a strong case for why they SHOULD NOT BE ELECTED.  Only 3rd Party candidates Joe Visconti (and I) have had the courage and wisdom to admit that the next governor needs to keep all the tools of governance on the table.

It is time for Malloy and Foley to admit their no-tax pledge is bad fiscal policy.

Or worse, while they know that additional taxes will be needed to balance the state budget and reduce the burden on the middle class, they’ve decided to lie rather than tell the truth in an attempt to get elected.

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

Pelto/Murphy Register as Write-In Candidates for 2014

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

Over the past few weeks more than two hundred people have written to tell us that they will be writing in the names of Jonathan Pelto for Governor and Ebony Murphy for Lt. Governor on November 4, 2014 – Election Day.

Some undoubtedly have made the decision to write in our names because they believe in our candidacy and our message.  Others want a mechanism to send a message to the powerful and the elite that change is in the air and that they will not be getting that person’s vote this year.

Of course, despite the fact that we were all taught that every vote counts, according to the laws of the State of Connecticut, a write in vote DOES NOT COUNT unless the candidate(s) file an official state form.

Section 9-373a of the Connecticut State Statues reads, “Any person desiring to be a write-in candidate for any state, district or municipal office to be filled at any regular election shall register his candidacy with the Secretary of the State on a form prescribed by the secretary.”

If the “prescribed” form is not filed, the vote will not be counted.

As many of us are becoming painfully aware, in the United States, Democracy is a relative term.

It was former President Lyndon Johnson who said something like,

“A person without a vote is a person without protection.”

So with that in mind, we are hereby filing the appropriate form and inviting the voters of Connecticut to write in our names for Governor and Lt. Governor in this year’s critically important election.

Change is in the air.  We may not have been the ones to knock the gates down, but we have – and will continue – to shake the chains that seal the gates shut so that future candidates will be better positioned to knock them down and thereby allow the People to re-take control of their government and their future.

We thank you for allowing us to be part of this historic effort,

Jonathan Pelto and Ebony Murphy

 

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

To blog or not to blog?

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That is the question…

In these difficult times, many of us are grappling with the question – How can one be useful and relevant in what increasingly appears to be a new dystopian age.  (Look up the word dystopian if you don’t know what it means).

Coming off my recent “campaign” for governor, I find this question to be particularly vexing.

In particular, do I continue to use my blog to raise what I perceive to be legitimate issues about the state of our state or do I throw in the towel and move on to something new?

For guidance I sought the advice of the “Common Core Guru.” You can find it under a local bridge, hanging out with three Billy Goats Gruff.  He suggested that I utilize a writing prompt to explore my deepest feelings and emotions about how to proceed.

To explore that path, the Common Core Guru suggested I use the writing prompt, “What I learned on my summer vacation?”

But, truth be told, I remain troubled by this advice because I recognize that, thanks to Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy, Stefan Pryor (Malloy’s Commissioner of Education) and their merry band of corporate education reform industry groupies, that anything I write will be judged – not by humans – but by the Automated Essay Scoring (AES) System that accompanies the unfair, ill-conceived, inappropriate and expensive Common Core Testing Scheme.

As the SBAC Common Core industry has explained,

In 2010, when it was starting to develop the new Common Core exams for its 24 member states (Connecticut being one of them), the group wanted to use machines to grade 100 percent of the writing.

“Our initial estimates were assuming we could do everything by machine, but we’ve changed that,” said Jacqueline King, a director at Smarter Balanced.

Now, 40 percent of the writing section, 40 percent of the written responses in the reading section and 25 percent of the written responses in the math section will be scored by humans.

“The technology hasn’t moved ahead as fast as we thought,” King said.

But still, let’s face it, despite the failure of the technology as we “move forward,” 60% of the tests will still be scored by computers.

And as one expert recently noted,

AES algorithms can be gamed.  That is, a critic of AES can write a nonsensical piece that the AES engine will score with a high score point.  Critics cite this fact as a fatal flaw in AES.  However, to write the “hot mess” that receives a high score, the critic must be fully versed in many of the aspects that make writing strong:  a wide vocabulary, a variety of sentence lengths, a variety of sentence types, use of transitions, grammatical correctness, etc. In other words, an AES can only be tricked by a good writer.

So to trick the computer you have to be a good writer…

Which returns me to the fundamental question, how best should I proceed?

In a blog post about the issue, fellow public education blogger Alice Mercer wrote;

Basically, the programs can judge grammar and usage errors (although I suspect it will lead to a very stilted form of writing that only a computer could love), but it’s not in the position to judge the facts and assertions, or content in an essay.  The only way to do that is to limit students to what “facts” they are using by giving them a list.

And friend and fellow blogger Anthony Cody added,

If this is the “Smarter” test, it seems far less intelligent than a qualified teacher, capable of challenging students with an open-ended question. And if we are sacrificing intelligence, creativity and critical thinking for the sake of the efficiency and standardization provided by a computer, this seems a very poor trade.

All of which leaves one very confused!

Because, if truth be told, as I contemplate continuing my Wait, What? blog or calling it a day, I’m left wondering how relevant a blog could even be in Governor Malloy’s Common Core world?

God knows, along with my readers, that my understanding of grammar and spelling is, at best, limited.

And if the computer is looking for “a wide vocabulary, a variety of sentence lengths, a variety of sentence types, use of transitions [and] grammatical correctness” then maybe the time has come to accept that fact that I should throw in the towel and admit that my notion of right and wrong simply can’t compete against the computer’s understanding of the Common Core and its associated testing scheme.

Finally, in conclusion, let me say that advice from the peanut gallery, let alone my readers, would be welcome.

Oh and by the way, you get an extra point if you know where the term “peanut gallery” comes from.

By the way, if I don’t continue with my blog, Wait, What?, I have to admit that I do have a second blog set up and ready to go.

It will be called, “Failure is an Option.

Meanwhile, I hope you all have had a restful, rejuvenating and safe Labor Day weekend and I wish you well as we head into the remainder of 2014.

Jonathan

An appreciated editorial from the Hartford Courant

7 Comments

While it doesn’t remove the sting of failing to get the 7,500 signatures needed to get on the 2014 gubernatorial ballot, the Hartford Courant has written an editorial that is appreciated and helps illuminate some of the challenges petitioning candidates face.

While the bottom line is that a candidate should never try to be their own campaign manager and the failure to collect a sufficient number of names is mine, and mine alone, the Courant successfully highlights why our democracy would be improved by modernizing the petitioning process.

The single most important thing I heard while spending the last few months campaigning is that Connecticut voters want a broader array of candidates to choose from.

In their editorial entitled, “Pelto Falls Short In Clunky Ballot Petition Process,” the courant writes,

Jonathan Pelto was really looking forward to the gubernatorial debates, to his chance to engage Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and GOP challenger Tom Foley on education and other issues. But to paraphrase Adlai Stevenson, a funny thing happened on the way to the Capitol.

Mr. Pelto, a blogger and former state legislator, failed to get the requisite 7,500 verified signatures of registered voters to qualify as a petitioning candidate for the 2014 governor’s race. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill notified Mr. Pelto Friday afternoon that he had submitted only 4,318 qualified signatures, so his proposed nomination was “disapproved.”

Meanwhile, the other petitioning candidate, former West Hartford councilman Joseph Visconti, did get enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Mr. Pelto concedes that there is no one to blame but the person he sees in the mirror: “We dropped the ball on good campaign structure.” In retrospect, he said he would have run a more centralized campaign operation with more control over the signature-gathering operation — as Mr. Visconti did — and perhaps have started sooner. He was also critical of the process, at one point calling it rigged against petitioning candidates and also cumbersome and inefficient.

Process Is Hard, But Not Impossible

Mr. Visconti’s success suggests the process is navigable, but it is cumbersome. A petitioning candidate has to have separate petitions for each of Connecticut’s 169 towns, and the petitions must be turned in to each town — or sent to the secretary of the state’s office for forwarding to each town — for counting and confirmation.

Mr. Pelto said some town clerks or registrars improperly rejected signatures because the signers failed to include their dates of birth. Though the petition form has a space for birth dates, signers aren’t required to fill it out. He identified some other situations — people using maiden names, people with mailboxes in one town who vote in another, or town clerks failing to check inactive voter lists — where valid signatures may have been rejected.

Mr. Pelto concedes that if all the errors were corrected, he still would not have had enough signatures to qualify. But he maintains that if the threshold is 7,500 names — a number that is reasonable — then a candidate shouldn’t have to send in an extra thousand or two to be sure of qualifying. (Mr. Visconti reportedly submitted more than 10,000 names.) He wondered why the statewide electronic voter database couldn’t be used for a faster and more accurate process.

[…]

As for Mr. Pelto, though some have called him a spoiler or worse, he had every right to run. Third-party candidates rarely win unless they are statewide political figures on the outs with a major party. But they sometimes raise concerns that influence the campaign. Mr. Pelto may have done that with education, his signature issue…

Like any campaign, we had our ups and downs, but among the high points was the fact that while the incumbency parties and political establishment consistently sought to belittle our 3rd party aspirations, Connecticut’s reporters and media outlets worked to level the playing field and provide the 3rd party candidates with appropriate media coverage.

The Hartford Courant’s editorial is appreciated, not only for the fact that that it respected my right to run for office, but that it correctly highlighted some of the problems that limit our democratic system.  While politicians like to claim that they are pro-democracy, we must do a better job ensuring that we really are the democracy that our citizens need and deserve.

You can read the full Hartford Courant editorial at: http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-pelto-comes-up-short-20140829,0,7429710.story

 

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